Monday, March 26, 2018

Unease in Israel: the case against the evolving fortress world

I had a long conversation yesterday with two friends, Israeli citizens, now living in exile in another country. They spoke of a “coarsening” of the entire nation, a reduction in high culture and even a degeneration of the language (their polite “high” form of Hebrew is having increasing trouble being understood). There is increasing dehumanisation of the “other” (including Arab citizens of Israel) - even the commandment to “not steal” is sometimes being interpreted as non-applicable if it means cheating a non-Jew.

Even if catastrophic war is avoided, and "fortress Israel" survives a 1000 years (they even spontaneously said it now has elements like Nazi Germany in the 1930s, except in reverse) the Israeli fortress is paying a heavy price.

Australia, too is losing its “moral compass”. I am sure we spend more on what I call “fend” (deterrence to asylum seekers) than what I call “glue” (good aid that seeks to improve the quality of life in low-income settings, as Professor Malcolm Potts and his colleagues are trying in the Sahel with the OASIS initiative).

Also relevant is a forthcoming workshop at the University of Waterloo, Canada, to which I have been invited. I wrote, in part, a section called "Tolerance, thresholds and the fallacy of Garret Hardin"

Tolerance can thus be considered as a limited resource, just as fossil fuels, fresh water and fertile soil are. But this statement should not be interpreted as support for ethnic cleansing, although some writers, influenced by their interpretation of Malthus (and social Darwinism) have written articles which can be interpreted in this way, such as by Garret Hardin. One problem with the “lifeboat” strategy Hardin advocates (subtitled as"the Case Against Helping the Poor" is that it assumes the fortress strategy he recommends is indefinitely sustainable. I suggest that it is, instead, a recipe for endless resentment and tension.

I have written much else critical of the fortress world, including (in 2013) "The abject moral and strategic failure of a “fortress world”"