Tag Archives: gaza

The Healer and the Warrior Face the Middle East and the Meta-Crisis

Facing the reality of our time, the mega-crisis or meta-crisis, many of us find ourselves asking, “What is my role in all this? What can I do or what am I called to do?” I’d like to reflect here at two aspects of myself that get my attention and move me in different ways. I think of these as distinct identities, two parts of myself that have their own sensibility and ways of being and acting. They come from different sources of my own development and ancestral inheritances. They sometimes collaborate and sometimes appear to conflict.

I’m especially drawn to examine how these two parts of myself, and I suspect many others, relate to the crises we are currently dealing with, the overlapping and intersecting issues of: climate change, militarism, poverty, mass migrations, authoritarian governments, patriarchy and racism, economic insecurity for the many and super-abundant wealth and power for a select few and paralyzing political polarization. Given the horrific events unfolding in Gaza right now, I want to pay specific attention there.

Where there is conflict, the healer in me will focus on the repairing of relationships, building bridges of understanding and empathy, and helping people move towards more cooperation and community. Where there is violence or war, the healer seeks to have the two sides dialogue and learn to empathize with each other. In the case of our ecological crises, the healer works towards repairing damaged areas of the Earth and restoring species in danger of extinction. In group conflicts and wars, the healer aims for diplomacy, seeing the other sides point of view and compromise to avoid violence. The healer may also work with people to awaken to a healthy relationship with non-human life, to care for and be respectful with the animal and plant realm, the rivers and oceans. In his book The Six Pathways of Destiny, Ralph Metzner says, “the core value of the healer, whether at the level of the individual, the family, community or society is wholeness and harmony.”

An alternate approach is that of the warrior. In the world, the warrior gets engaged in the struggle to protect and defend oppressed and abused human beings, animals, ecosystems and the whole of Mother Earth. The warrior will fight to change systems of injustice, challenge prejudice and combat authoritarianism. While the word warrior is often associated with violence, there is increasing awareness that it is an archetypal aspect of all humans. Warriors can function non-violently and with compassion even for those they oppose in the struggle. My Agni Yoga teacher, Russell Schofield, taught that the immune system of our body is a manifestation of the warrior energy and consciousness in that it defends and protects our physical organism at the cellular level.

In the present moment, many of us have turned our attention to the war raging in the Middle East, especially between Israel and the Palestinians. Several decades ago, I was involved in dialogue groups that included Israeli and American Jews, and Palestinian and other Muslim Arabs. Our time together helped all of us feel friendlier and understand each other with greater empathy. But it did nothing to change the ongoing drastic imbalance of power and the military Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza which we all agreed needed to be ended. Today, there are continued efforts at dialogue and interpersonal healing both in the U.S. and Israel/Palestine. (See Roots https://b8ofhope.org/roots/ for example). There are even communities of Jews and Palestinians living and working together in the hope of spreading the message that people do not need to fear or hate each other and can genuinely get along. (See Oasis of Peace: https://www.oasisofpeace.org/, for example).

I strongly support the healers working as individuals and groups committed to this work even through extremely challenging times. However, it seems to me that there is a need for the warrior spirit as well. As I write this and as you are reading this, I am quite certain more than one Palestinian has been killed by Israeli forces (currently approximately 100/day). The devastation in Gaza is almost beyond comprehension and the violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and the seizure of yet more land continues unabated. At times like this, it feels important to make a choice to defend and support those being overwhelmed by violent aggression. It’s for this reason that I support non-violent resistance to Israel’s armed invasion of Gaza and the decades-long Occupation. For me, this includes the support of the ceasefire movement and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement: https://bdsmovement.net/.

It is important to say that the healer and warrior can work simultaneously and collaboratively. They can be embodied in one person. In many ways, both Ghandi and King were both healers and warriors. Another contemporary example is Dr. Gabor Maté, best known for his work with healing trauma, especially in treating addictions. He is a Holocaust survivor and was raised as a strong believer in Zionism. Yet he speaks out strongly against the Israeli Occupation and the role of Zionism. Here is an interview in which he speaks movingly of “Trauma and the Israel-Palestine Conflict.” https://scienceandnonduality.com/videos/a-call-for-healing/

When we look more deeply at the causes of abuse, domination and violence, we see that perpetrators are often themselves conditioned by experiences of abuse and trauma. They are themselves in need of healing. Compassionate dialogue with them can sometimes lead to changes in their orientation and behavior. At the same time, the warrior is needed to stand against the violence and injustice and challenge the belief systems that support destructive and abusive behaviors. The two kinds of activity working together bring hope that peace with justice can be achieved on Earth.

However horrible the events are in Israel/Palestine, there are dozens of other places and significant issues in the world that need attention. The healer and the warrior are necessary, but not the only paths or identities for people who want to help. Various authors have pointed to the role of the artist, scientist or organizer for addressing problem areas. I hope these reflections are helpful to you in finding your path to creatively and actively being part of making our world more healthy and just.

May peace with justice prevail.

From Rage to Empathy – From the River to the Sea

I’ve compiled some resources here that I hope will be helpful to you regarding the raging horror taking place in Israel/Palestine. Please save this and explore them when you have time. Feel free to share.

Blessings for peace and justice,


No problem can be solved from
the same level of consciousness that created it.”

–Albert Einstein

The recent events in Israel/Palestine tear at my heart and I struggle to find words that will not add to the pain. Fortunately, there are a good number of people who, even in the midst of the worst suffering, have found the wisdom and compassion to build bridges of understanding between the two sides. As I searched, I found many groups of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, who are working together for a real peace. Below are just a few. Please take some time to check them out. I hope that they will be helpful to you, as they have been for me, in facing the horror and being able to communicate with friends or family with whom you may disagree.

Following these few links I offer some of my own thoughts.

Combatants for Peace: These are folks who were Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who’ve laid down their arms and are working for a just peace. Their website: https://afcfp.org/
Also, Here is an 8 minute interview with two of their activist peacemakers: ‘We feel the pain of the other… Our lives are intertwined,’

For a more in-depth view, register for this free event on 12/8 (which will hopefully be recorded): Two of the speakers, Avi and Ahmed, will share how they have been intimately impacted by the violence. Avi is CEO of Rabbis for Human Rights and a survivor of the massacre at Kibbutz Nirim in the Negev. Ahmed is a former Hamas member, second generation refugee, and long-term CfP member. Ahmed has lost over 51 loved ones in Gaza. 

Parents Circle Family Forum: Members of this group have all lost members of their family to violence from the other side. They have chosen to be with each other’s grief and share in developing solutions with goodwill and respect. https://www.theparentscircle.org/en/pcff-home-page-en/

Abrahamic Reunion: Composed of religious and spiritual leaders who are Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze who focus on the the common ground of their faiths seeking peace. Here is a good 5 minute video summarizing their work: https://www.abrahamicreunion.org/

Roots: Jews and Palestinians fostering a grassroots movement of understanding, non-violence, and understanding among Israelis and Palestinians. Roots/Shorashim/Judur has created and operates the only joint Israeli-Palestinian community center in the entire West Bank. This safe, holy space hosts social, religious, and educational activities, bringing together hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis who begin to realize that there are two truths, two stories – not one – in this land, and the only way forward is to cherish both.
7 minute video https://www.friendsofroots.net/

The Wall Between – Here is one of the best dialogues I’ve listened to on the conflict. Raja Khouri and Jeffrey Wilkinson, a Palestinian and a Jew, wrote the book The Wall Between – What Jews and Palestinians Don’t Want to Know About Each Other. Excellent insights and thoughtful sharing in their discussion:

My thoughts/feelings: While I have plenty of opinions about what is going on, the rights and the wrongs and possible solutions, this message is about the subjective aspects of the conflict and how we transform our fear and rage into understanding and empathy and the will to act for peace and justice.

Although I am Jewish, my life has been blessed to not feel very much of the sting of antisemitism. Yet I know it is very real and that it has taken some of the most horrid forms imaginable. I know the pain and fear that our people carry from across the centuries through the Holocaust. I understand the hope that Israel would provide, finally, a safe home for the Jewish people. I have watched as suicide bombers and knife wielding terrorists have killed brothers and sisters. I understand how fear makes building walls and shutting people out seem reasonable. And now, the horrific, brutal assault on October 7th has brought about boiling rage and crystalized the thought, “Jews cannot have peace with the people who want to destroy them and their nation.” It’s hard to resist the feeling of wanting to drive Palestinians further away or have them killed, to kill or be killed.

I have not experienced anything close to the suffering of the Palestinian people. I am merely a pained witness to the taking of their land and the presence of an occupying army on the little land left for them – an army watching and controlling all their movements, attempting to turn neighbors against each other by paying and pressuring them to spy on each other. The restrictions, the checkpoints, the raids and home demolitions seem endless. There are also the countless humiliations from aggressive Israeli settlers who continue to take more land, harass people and uproot olive groves with the support of armed soldiers. Many Palestinians have been killed or wounded in raids on their communities by the Israeli army or settlers. It is hard for me to imagine how all this, how all of these things and more, must tear at the heart and soul. It’s hard to imagine not sinking into despair or feeling a boiling hot rage and wanting to drive Israelis out or have them killed, to kill or be killed.

All of the darkest feelings any human can have are understandable in light of all this. Yet all wisdom and spiritual traditions tell us that we are not compelled to act from our emotional reactions no matter how seemingly natural or understandable. As humans, we have the ability to open to a higher vision, to find understanding and empathy for ourselves and those who have been our “enemies.”

Who am I to say what is possible for anyone else? I sit in the safety and comfort of my home in New York. But I am heartened to see that there are Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, who have felt the deepest wounds possible and are in the midst of it, who have passed through their own rage and hate, and yet now reach out and embrace those they have been taught to hate and fear. They are teachers for all of us in our personal and collective conflicts.

May we all find some peace in knowing they are here and give them our support.