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Thursday, May 25, 2006

J-town context.

Uh... just to offer some context for the last few posts. I was wondering about what's possible and what's not possible in Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, and what's possible for our peoples. So, in a state of meditative sensitivity, I went to ask some questions of the spirits.

There is such a thing as too much, right? There's such a thing as not enough, or the fear of too much being more damaging and inhibiting of good than too much itself, and when you get to the place of solid ivory, don't say it's too much, or you'll be lost, swept away in the terror... and there's times when the army you're up against really is unbeatable, and you might just have to run for your life.

So too with culture, I am often amazed at what has been possible to sustain as a culture, everything from positive restaurants to open honest relationships, how could it be that anything this good has been allowed by those maybe threatened by it to allow it to go on? and the only answer can be is that they are less threatened by the freedom than by what might happen in response to the repression.

Terrence Mckenna Z"l was once asked, after a long speech detailing the virtues and varieties of psychedelic exploration, and the horrors and follies of the prohibition movements against them , why aren't you in jail? How could it be that you're allowed to study these things and live free?

I've wondered these things myself, he answered, and i've come up with two serious possibilities:
You'll notice, I use big words. They may not consider me a threat for this reason.
Or maybe,
they're curious
about what i'm finding

Maybe, as much as they're afraid of the psychdelic condition weakening their controls over the populace, they're thinking to themselves, hm. We really don't have any ideas how these things work, and maybe, seeing as there's this whole problem in the world, and all these weird trippers claiming that these substances might be in strumental in working out the problem, maybe we should leave some of these people alone to work some information out of these substances. Worst comes to worst they'll just destroy themselves, and either way, we'll get some useful information out of them.

Jerusalem is either controlled by really good people who just let really bad things go on, or really bad people who just let good things go on. Or said another way, is it a bad religion layed on good people, or a good religion layed on bad people?
Which one should we try to fix when?

It's a mystery to me, what's possible to do in Jerusalem. I was tripping the other day, pondering the question of what does it take to make good things happen here. There's an astounding amount of secular culture here, which is not generally repressed or harangued outside of certain neighborhoods. This is because jews rights to secular culture is strongly defended by the authorities in the state of Israel, one of the main cultural priorities of the zionist enterprise, and probably what some religious people resent most about the state.

But maybe not. Maybe it has more to do with the ruthless control.

Because the state is willing to kill whoever endangers it, and is not ashamed of it. They don't generally assasinate people they don't perceive as threats, but they do when they do. Or, if not kill, arrest, hire, or otherwise neutralize. One could argue that said attitude is the hallmark of all effective authorities, and that's pretty terrible and sad.

And so, it's a mystery to me, how much we as a subculture, as a people, can get away with here.

In the early eighties, there was the beginning of an alternative religious subculture forming in Jerusalem. Really cool, apparently, with music and torah of the highest variety happening constantly, it was a time of great hope for neo-chassidic freakelach. R Shlomo Carlebach was at the hight of his well connectedness, his religious outsider status and non-judgemental zionism allowed him all kinds of connections within the state and military establishment to get taken to secret army bases and do inspiring concerts for soldiers or in prisons, and to pull off other subtle cultural coups, his music soon being semi-official Israeli-religious anthems. The yeshiva world had largely, at least officially, shunned him, but some kind of grace had been earned for him in the eyes of the state, a powerful tool for the zionist inspiration.

And in kikar tzion, zion square, a center of super-cool stuff was happening, with two of the greatest Torah thinkers of the generation at it's helm. They'd have secret New Years parties, and all kind of other exctatic parties and thought interactions going on. I really have no idea how cool it was. The kids felt confident,safe, and excited for a cooler future, where the relgion would be understood clearer and higher, where the boundaries would be relaxed and the true priority of love your neighbor realized.

And that was shut down, rather forcefully. One of the main guys running it, Dovid Hertzberg z"l, was arrested for grass, and promptly and harshly convicted, and sent to prison for three years, where, according to friends, he was poisoned with the cancer that would later take his life.

Now. There's a lot of stuff going on in this town, in this country, with a certain amount of protectzia backing it up. Halacha teaches us about law in general: it always depends on accusations. This is why Jews (except for the hated betrayers and informers) were so careful about not reporting information to the governement under any circumstances traditionally, keeping all the buisness secret, and often being encharged by the local government to police ourselves, and have our own courts and sentencing.

Of course, alot of that goes into the mystery of the King who will not make a law that will not be kept, lest it be proven that he's not really a king. Things that once theatened people might not after some social trigger makes it ok. An example includes the spiritualization of secular society. One of the dangerous things going on in that place in Jerusalem was the softening of that line between religious and secular, a line that was crucial for many different Israeli's self identification. A secular person is not relgious, and a holy person must not go to unholy places, right? It's easier now, thanks to Sheva and Shivi and Shlomo and Madonna and the whole world learning what it has, maybe. But a center where secular people are encouraged to pray in the language of the hated enemy dumb religious, and where the religious people are so open to all the things that they're not supposed to open to, dammit, might really freak some people out.

So, I wonder, how safe is it to live in Jerusalem? And I don't mean in terms of explody safe, I mean policeman safe. Is it possible/worthwhile to try to build or at least make a space for a positive, self sustainable, open and intelligeable culture, one potentially less transitional than the one currently doing it's thing there? Who should I be wary of?

We had a cool thing happen the other night. David K. let us throw a party on his roof for Jerusalem day at the last minute. This party started late, musicos jamming till a little after midnight when I finally got my turntables up and running.
And sure enough, a half hour after I start spinning, the neighbor comes and asks us to turn it down.

So David, looking around and approving of the scene we're creating, makes a command decision: No, i'm afraid we can't do that. This is too special.

So the neighbor calls the cops. And that's usually how the party ends.

But not tonight. It was Jerusalem day, so the cops wouldn't come. We blasted the music till 4:20 in the morning, when the transformer blew. We sang new songs and old ones, and danced like psychedelic chimps. The police would not come to stop us, because the State was on our side.

Isn't that weird? And by weird, I mean, "the way things should be."

Jerusalem, as I understand it messianically, should be a sacred party city; that's what a temple is for. There should be quiet meditative places, and, more centrally, eternal fires burning in bodies of undying youths, jumping for the stars. These things are what Jerusalem is for, the only way to justify the bad things we do to keep it.

All cities are only justified by their parties, otherwise, what would they be worth?

But the police and the State are not always on our side,a nd this is the mystery to me a little: How much can we keep them on our side without becoming evil, in service to the thugs that let me walk down the street without stealing my lunch money because i'm "cool." It's good to have the people around you watching your back, if you want to feel safe while opening up and want to maybe lower your guard and look at the stars for a minute. How much can you trust the bad people who like what you're doing? How much can you let them be there for you, or suspend judgement about what they do?

To what is the matter likened? imagine someone has their father killed by gangsters. Can he then join the gang, in an attempt to be strong where his father was weak, in an attempt to secure safety, either idealistically to make a more righteous gangland, or, y'know, just to survive. Is it wrong to survive at the expence of righteous pride, or loyalty to a memory?

Look up the story of Yaakov Dehaan, and wonder why Neturei Carta resents the state so much. It might have to do with more than just dogma. Check out this excerpt from Wikipedia:


His assassination by the Haganah on July 1, 1924, allegedly
for his political stance
has been well researched
and reported in the book De Haan: The first political assassination in Palestine written by Shlomo Nakdimon and Shaul Mayzlish
(Hebrew edition. Modan Press, Tel Aviv, 1985).

Nakdimon and Mayzlish conducted and in-depth investigation and their findings caused an upsurge of interest in the mysterious death of de Haan in Israel following their book's publication in 1985. They were able to trace the assassin, then living in Hong Kong as a business man, Avraham Tehomi. Tehomi was interviewed for Israeli TV by Nakdimon and openly stated:

"I have done
what the Haganah decided
had to be done.

And nothing was done without the order of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
(who later became the second president of Israel 1952-1963)

...I have no regrets
because he (de Haan) wanted to destroy our whole idea of Zionism."
(emphasis mine)"

The secular Zionist establishment would not allow the established Haredi community in Israel to be represented in the powerful Jewish Agency in the 1920's.

In response, the Haredim founded an Agudat Israel branch in Jerusalem to represent their interests during the British Mandate of Palestine. The leader of the Haredi Jews in Palestine at the time, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld chose de Haan to organize and represent the Haredi position on a diplomatic level equal to that of the secular Zionists. When Lord Northcliffe, a leading British publisher, was about to visit the Middle East, de Haan went to Alexandria in Egypt to present the case of Palestine's Orthodox Jews to him, before he reached Palestine:

He spoke about the tyranny of the official Zionist movement. The journalists of the Northcliffe party gleefully reported all that back home. As a result of this contact, De Haan was appointed correspondent for the Daily Express, a one-penny paper that made much of everyday scandals. Already in Dutch circles he was the reputed volksverrader, traitor of his own people, and now his views spread throughout Great Britain and its Global Empire. Although his messages were short and few compared to his articles in the Handelsblad (the news from the Middle East in the Daily Express was more concerned with the mysteries of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt than with the intricate Palestine politics) the Zionist authorities both in Palestine and London became very worried. There was a great potential danger from these critical reports from a Jew who actually lived and worked right on this hot spot.

De Haan also opened negotiations with the Hashemite leader Hussein bin Ali for the recognition of a Jewish state and the establishment of an official Palestinian state in Jordan within a federation. These bold moves threatened and alarmed the secular Zionist leadership and were factors contributing to the decision to eliminate him from the scene.
Because they have made our drugs illegal, because they fear our freedoms, our insensitivty to the popular terror, or something, they will be willing and able to take any of us down whenever they want, and make our friedns and families apologize for the trouble, chas v' Shalom. They have After Dovid was arrested, most of the community became more zionistic, not less. The trial as i've heard, was a farce, with reliable, non-exaggerative people using the word "crucifixion" to describe it.

And ever afterwards, he wouldn't talk snap about how bad the state was, at least not to me. There was alot he wouldn't say, and part of it was certainly a religious/spiritual thing: One doesn't put accusation against Israel, against another Jew. However our kings want to kill us, we're still so committed to the community and it's life, with no anger, only tears for the poor lost brothers, so hurt they would treat us this way.

Now, as i mentioned, I was tripping very hard the other day, and I was wondering about what I can ever hope to do in Jerusalem as far as scale and depth, exstacy (not that kind! stam...) and consistancy... What can I create that won't be burned down, and is there any of way of fixing my personal conduct in such a way that the good i'm hoping to protect won't be endangered. Because i'd happily never own grass again if it meant I could build something with real messianic cultural potential. How much will I have to sacrifice, and how much am I better off, stronger and safer, not being afraid.

An ok Torah tells you don't bother trying to do what you want, because X, Y, Z. A better Torah tells you: unless you have A, B, C, in which case want you want is possible. A progressively better Torah helps you get away with being progressively better.

Angels and seraphim are policemen, and what they let us get away with depends on what looks safe to them, and sometimes, what they're afraid to stand up against, for whatever reason. An effective mafia is one that the police are afraid to trouble. In Northern Humbolt County, local police would either be bribed to defend the wealthier ganja farmers, or scared of booby traps if they came in too close. I've heard stories of fedral helicopters being shot down by dope farmers for flying over their land.

Technically, the helicopter were violating the law by flying over, at least at the time. That's how the farmer got away with it, assuming he wasn't hunted down quietly later by federal agents. Otherwise he'd have the whole army on his ass, and he probably didn't have had the armament to face them, the resources to face down the biggest, best armed army in the world.
Don't go into a fight that you can't win, unless you're really gonna get something out of dying.

check this out: from the interview, on Israeli radio, with Dehaan's assasins. They were able to publicly discuss, with pride, their murder of a non-violent person, on the radio in the early seventies. listen:
In November 1970 (and eventually rebroadcast November 21, 1971), a program on Israel radio "zarkor" broadcast a program, that had Yehuda Slutski, editor of Kitsur Toldoth ha-Haganah, Avraham Tehomi, and police officer [David Tidhar] discussing their foreknowledge and role in the assassination. Slutski wrote:

"... [T]he old yishuv refused to surrender and submit to secular domination... when they broke away and formed an independent community... no one disturbed them. Were it not for De Haan, they would have organized their small community devoid of any communal or political significance. De Haan used his connections to move the struggle into the realm of international politics. He aspired to establish a political organization to rival the Zionist movement, which was still then in its infancy and not yet fully established-- this was the danger of de Haan... Yosef Hecht, commander of the Haganah received instructions to eliminate the traitor. He relayed orders to Zechariah Urieli, Haganah commander of Jerusalem, .....I do not want to enter into details, it is extremely unpleasant, but this was an order--- they could not allow him to remain."

Later in the broadcast police officer David Tidhar said: "I regret I was not chosen to liquidate him, my job was to protect those who did..." I moved into the area and waited for the shots... Naturally I appeared on the scene immediately. Since I knew in which direction the gunman had to escape... I directed the police to pursue them [ in the opposite direction]..."

Thank g-d, one of the great benefits of living in a state with no constitution and relatively infinite police powers, is that they will ignore you as easily as persecute you if you find grace in their eyes, be it through surrender or whatever else Officer Gavriel likes. There's much temptation to just do my thing as quietly as possible, the advice every older stoner not in prison gives me. Except the really angry ones.

There's such a taiva to judge the weak and judge the strong, to hate either one for how they got to where they are, and what their successes say about you. To pick a side a defend it against the other, to love my gang and hate our enemies, as if, as if , as if our enemies existed.

God, please give us wisdom to be righteous, to judge righteously and enact justice without endangering ourselves or anyone really. give us grace in the eyes of our enemies, that they should defend us rather than oppress us. And courage to love and party.

And for heaven's sake, don't let anybody stop us from Living.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Koznitzer said...

Good post on De Haan, I would add Joseph Blau, brother of Amram Blau, who was supposedly poisoned by the Haganah on board a ship.

On the other hand, David lives in a shikun with families with little kids, so maybe you were insensitive with your party.

5:22 PM

 

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