THE CRONE PAPERS:
Notes on the Mideast
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
18 September 2001, 1:07pm (PDT)
It's been a week since the Twin Towers fell in New York City. Before the nation had time to decently grieve, Washington was already planning a war of retaliation.
The military leaders are looking at all the options, we're told: cyber war, sending in "special ops," massive bombing of Afghanistan (and perhaps Iraq), and ground troops. They speak of the effort in terms of lives, years, patience. They want Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." We're told it'll cost the lives of American soldiers. There'll also be civilian casualities here and abroad.
I imagine them hunched over charts and maps, scheming, plotting, hatching. I can "feel" their somber excitement as they explore all their options. The scheming "boys," the wrinkled puers, I thought earlier today. Well, why don't I become a scheming crone?
So I've been doing my own plotting and hatching -- and I do see other options. I know they'll be called impractical. But how "practical" is it to spend years, much money, and human lives tracking down a shadow-enemy with nothing to show for it at the end but a corpse and dozens of new shadow-enemies to take up the martyr's cause?
My schemes actually began yesterday when I found myself adding something unexpected to my new Afghanistan page:...In my view, a better solution, or "revenge," would be to match Osama bin Laden's fortune, dollar for dollar, and then get our Middle Eastern allies to do the same. While bin Laden continues to use his fortune to train terrorists, we -- i.e., Arab nations, Israel, and the USA -- could use our combined fortune and go into the wretched Palestinian refugee camps and build beautiful little villages, filled with fountains, orange trees, olive groves -- and, above all, filled with hope. We could then move on to Afghanistan and do the same there, and in Pakistan, and keep on going, and going.When I awoke today, I thought to myself, "But what about Jerusalem?" That's always the crux of the problem in the Middle East. The children of Sarah claim it through the son Sarah bore Abraham in her old age: Isaac (lit., "laughter," for Sarah laughed in disbelief at the angel who told her she was pregnant). The children of Hagar claim it through the firstborn son born to Abraham by his concubine (Sarah's young Egyptian slave), Hagar: Ishmael (lit., "God hears").
Would this not shrink bin Laden's supply of angry young men? Would this not do more than all our military strikes to end terrorism? I know that such a plan is unlikely to be heard, especially in our passion for capturing bin Laden "alive or dead" (George W. Bush's words on 17 September 2001). Yet at least I have to give voice to it....
As I see it, neither Hagar's children nor Sarah's children have shown themselves competent to hold Jerusalem in a sacred manner. They hold it with passionate rhetoric, weapons, fanaticism, and constant oppression. Both claim it's a holy city but they don't act like it. They have turned it into one of the bloodiest places on earth -- and all in the name of God.
So why don't we, as an international community, take it away from them and make it an international city belonging to all of us. Israelis and Arabs will need to make their capitals elsewhere. Jerusalem will belong to the world.
Who will run it? I would suggest that we ask, for example, the Dalai Lama, Sai Baba, Maya Angelou, and New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani to run the city. We might also wish to add a few others who possess wisdom, common sense, and humor, all in equal measure.
Then I'd suggest that we build a fine, old-fashioned, sturdy ten foot mudbrick wall around the entire city. Paint it, perhaps, a lovely faience-blue. Then all the children of the region, Arab and Jew, from infancy to age 21, should be invited to the wall and asked to dip their hands in pots of many shades of blue paint and put their handprints on the wall. In that part of the world, such handprints are an ancient "magick" of protection, for a child's energy is fresh, potent, clean, filled with hope and dreams, wild, strong. These would be children of Ishmael and Isaac, children of listening and laughing in delighted disbelief that such a thing could happen. Jerusalem would be protected by the energy of all those millions of children, whose hands would heal, create, and dream, not carry arms. And woe betide anyone who would attempt to violate those children's energies.
We could then name Jerusalem our new "World Trade Center," but also our "World Tolerance Center," our "Pearl of Great Price," our "Vessel of Milk and Honey," our "Tower of Gold," our "Gift from Hagar and Sarah," our "City of Peace."
Related Myth*ing Links Pages:
New York City, 11 September 2001
Letter from an Afghan-American
Wars, Weapons, and Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
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Text and Design:
Copyright © 2001 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Written & launched 18 September 2001.
27 May 2002, 1:50am: added to larger Crone Papers collection.