[These thoughts have been rolling around in my head for some months now. I finally set it out formally in a reply to a commenter here. I believe I have only one more before I run dry. A contemporary understanding of the yetzer hara (evil inclination)and yetzer tov (good inclination) as it applies to all sides in this conflict. I use Pfalestinian as a courtesy to the Levantine Arabs There is no velar plosive in Arabic]
It is my view that we are witnessing an addiction epidemic that dwarfs the drug and alcohol addictions seen elsewhere; or, possibly, the manifestation of addiction on a societal/cultural level.
Addiction always involves three actors. The Pusher, who ensnares addicts for personal gain of one kind or another. The Enabler/Co-Dependent, who supports and abets the Addict, in their addiction, for reasons related to their own issues. (While they loudly protest that they “care” about the addict, this is simply denial. It is the boost to their own self-image that they crave.) The Addict him/herself. Often the roles of Pusher and Enabler become interchangeable.
In all cases the Addict is responding to their inner turmoil, most often from the sharp disconnect between an exaggerated sense of their worth and the considerably meaner reality. They turn to their intoxicant to relieve this internal stress. The pattern is invariably the same. The intoxication prevents the addict from actually dealing with their internal issues and taking steps to change their condition. Since these remain unaddressed, they fester and grow ever worse, forcing the addict to use greater and greater doses of their intoxicant. This is multiplied by the fact that all intoxicants lose their potency in proportion to their frequency of use.
Addiction manifests itself (apart from rapidly deteriorating physical and mental health) in grandiosity, projection and delusion, byproducts of the underlying denial employed by the Addict to avoid the pain of detoxification they must endure before they can begin their recovery, and as justification for their actions.
Addiction cannot be cured, only managed. Weaning the addict onto another intoxicant has proven ineffective. Heroin was developed to combat, in this way, the plague of morphine and laudanum addiction that sprang up after the American Civil War and other contemporaneous wars in Europe and Asia.
The first requirement is to convince the Enabler/Co-Dependents to stop their support of the Addicts self-destructive behaviors, in the hope of hastening the time when the Addict comes to recognize that their addiction is the reason their lives are becoming increasingly unlivable. Interdiction of the intoxicant’s supply is problematic. In this particular case, since the addiction is to a meme, impossible
It is a very tenuous process. The recovering addict requires constant support which can only be provided by other addicts in recovery (Only they have the necessary authority.)
We have all of these elements in the Muslim world of today, except a recovery mechanism. Islamic culture was once the acme of human culture. Now it is ever more rapidly becoming an irrelevant backwater, plagued by illiteracy, misogyny, corruption and warfare, falling further and further behind the rest of the world.
The Muslims of the Levant are acutely confronted with this disconnect by the presence of the modern state of Israel. This is especially acute because in their worldview the Jews are the lowest of the low, fit only to be dhimmis, “protected” minorities whose continued existence is to be discouraged by religiously mandated apartheid until they disappear.
The Pushers, in this schema, are the Levantine Arab rulers and elites who are in desperate need of a distraction from their monarchical or oligarchical mis-rule and endemic corruption, thereby to preserve their privileged position.
For whimsical reasons I’ve taken to calling the addiction “The Jews Ate My Homework”. Hence the Pushers mantra is “The Jews Ate Your Homework”
The Enablers/Co-Dependents are of two varieties. Other Muslim rulers/elites who have the same interest in a distraction from their mis-rule as the Levantine Arabs, and the Western intellectual, political and media elites. These persist being Enablers because of the warm fuzzy glow they get believing that they are supporting the “brown” man from the depredations of the malevolent “white” colonialist Jews. Their mantra is “The Jews Ate Their Homework.”
This is absurd. First of all 50% of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi (“brown” by the standards that they use to make such distinctions.) Secondly, it has been less than 70 years since the Jews were deemed, in the most scholarly scientific way to be an “inferior race.”
Jews are slightly less than 0.2% (.002) of the worlds population. By successful use of the propaganda technique known as the “Big Lie”. The actual “David v Goliath” relationship between the Jews and the Arabs has been inverted. This is what drives the shitstorm of bile directed at Israel from the academy and other elites. But such are the delusions of the Enabler/Co-Dependent.
The Addicts are the Levantine Arabs, with reflected occurrences throughout the Muslim world, who either become addicts themselves or their most vociferous enablers. Their mantra is “The Jews Ate My Homework.”
The rapid and disastrous declines in mental and physical health of individual Arabs and its cognates in the physical infrastructure and political economy is evident. Denial, and its byproducts of grandiosity, projection and delusion are apparent everywhere in Levantine Arab discourse. “We’re going to open the Gates of Hell on you.” When, in fact, Iron Dome sweeps away their pea-shooter rockets, and the IAF strikes them with impunity. “The foremost duty of all Muslims is the “Resistance to the Zionist Colonial Occupier.” It is not possible for an indigenous people to be colonial occupiers of their ancestral lands; that is an oxymoron. The projection of the Levantine Arabs violent fantasies of what they desire to do to Israel onto Israel in particular and Jews generally. Thus 150 killed in Gaza (primarily a function of Hamas’ use of civilian shields) becomes “Genocide” in the mouth of Abbas.
Unfortunately this analysis does not provide any insight (I can discern) about a way forward. Muhammad (may peace come to abide in his dwellings) forbade his adherents alcohol, so there is no recognition of this phenomenon, and no mechanism to model recovery on. The honor/shame dynamic which permeates their culture makes the first step of recovery, admitting to yourself and publicly that you have screwed up (behaved shamefully), virtually impossible to undertake.
Since the addiction (as I stated before) is to a meme, interdiction of the supply is impossible. Transferring the addict to a different intoxicant (Jinns, Europeans, Americans, Multinational Corporations) is ineffective, as described above, and morally dubious at best.
Western philosophy is predicated on individual agency. The idea of collective action and collective responsibility cannot exist in this universe of discourse. The Laws of Warfare and the related Geneva Conventions are explicitly stated in terms of individual agency. The distinction between civilians and combatants; and the prohibitions and distinctions which must be drawn by warring parties between such, and the doctrine outlawing “collective punishment” all spring from this paradigm.
It is also deeply embedded in Jewish tradition. One of the most important memes of Jewish culture are the verses 20-32 of Genesis 18. In this brief text Abraham (the founder) argues and negotiates with the “Creator of the Universe” concerning the fate of Sodom. “Wilt thou slay the righteous with the wicked? So that the righteous shall be as the wicked? Shall not the God of Justice do justly? (paraphrased)
This prevents actions such as carpet bombing, the cutting off of electricity, medicines, foodstuffs and economic support, so that the Addicts are forced to confront the consequences of their actions, untenable.
But that is what must happen. I just don’t see how. Contemplating it makes me very depressed. I have no answers. I float this out onto the “collective unconscious” (now embodied as the internet), in the hope that a brighter mind than mine (or many minds working together) can find a way.