Israel and the Palestinians

   The problem of Israel in the Arab world centers on the opposition to the existence of Israel and the consequent displacement of the Palestinians, the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. The Palestinians became Islamic after Mohammedans took the region from the Byzantine empire in the Seventh century, though there have always been a few Christians and Jews there as well. The history of the area is important for the understanding of why this problem is so persistent and unsolvable, leading to much war. The existence of modern Israel is the result of the Zionist movement of the late 1800’s, British sovereignty in the early twentieth century, and the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis in the second World War. As a result of the Holocaust, the world was led to answer the call for a Jewish homeland. In 1947, the United Nations, having been asked by the British to solve the problem, decided to divide Palestine into two sovereign nations, with Jerusalem remaining an International city. Israel declared itself a nation, and the Palestinians joined the five surrounding Arab nations in attacking Israel. Israel won the war, and the Palestinians lost their state and much territory. 750,000 people became refugees, living in Jordan and between Syria and Lebanon and elsewhere.

   It is important that the Palestinian did not originally have a sovereign state, and were given this, but lost it in refusing to allow Israel to exist. That is, what appears so often to be a part of the solution, a Palestinian state, has been impossible because the Palestinians would not admit the existence of Israel and cease attacks.

   Given the present difficulties in this neighborhood, we often wonder why we did not settle the Jews somewhere more hospitable. As a Michiganian, we often suggest Ohio, since we are not doing anything with it!

   But the history of this area, and all the holy sites there, is central to the reason that the Jewish homeland is in Israel. The religious difference between the Arabs and Jews of Palestine may go all the way back to the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. The twelve sons of Isaac become Israel, while Ishmael traveled south. But the connection of Mohammed to the land is through Ishmael.

   The sons of Abraham went into Egypt for a few centuries, but after being led out by Moses, Israel continued in the land until the Assyrian conquest of the Seventh and the Babylonian exile of the sixth century B. C. As a result of idol worship, the ten northern tribes were scattered, while Judah and Benjamin remained around Jerusalem. The Jews then returned and continued as an Alexandrian and then a Roman province, with a brief revolt under the Macabees in the second century before Pompey conquered Judea for Rome. After the destruction of the temple by Rome in 70 A. D., the Jews enter into the great dispersion, where they are scattered throughout the world, especially throughout Europe. Palestine was governed by Rome and then by Byzantium before being taken by Arabs following Mohammed and then by Turks, who took the area from the Arabs about 1000 A. D. The Crusaders then took Jerusalem and four states from the Ottoman Turks in 1095, but lost these by the thirteenth century, through the failure of three crusades. Here Saladin excelled the Christians in mercy at Jerusalem. The British took Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks in 1918, after the Axis powers, including Turkey, lost World War One. In exchange for assistance in the war, the British had promised Palestinian independence, in correspondence with Hussein Ibn Ali of Mecca, in 1915-16. Yet the British had made other conflicting agreements, and in 1917, issued the Balfour Declaration, a statement favoring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The League of Nations approved the Declaration, and in 1922 appointed the British to rule the territory. Jewish immigration increased tensions, including Jewish terrorism when immigration was limited by the British. Hence, the British handed the problem to the United Nations, which, after the Holocaust, imposed the two state solution found unacceptable to the Arabs and Palestinians.

   The Palestinians have continued attacks and lost more territory, including Jerusalem, in the 1967 war. This gave Israel sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, offered the sacrifice of bread and wine at Jaru-salem, the city of Salem, or city of peace. There are four hills about Jerusalem, including the Mount of Olives and the Mount Zion, but the temple Mount is Mount Moriah. This is traditionally the site of the near sacrifice of his son by Abraham, and the site of the threshing floor bought by David as the site for the temple built by Solomon. Herod rebuilt the temple in Roman times, and it is this of which one wall, called the wailing wall, remains. The Temple Mount is also the place from which Mohammed is said to have ascended into heaven to receive revelation. And so, when the Arabs took the land from the Byzantines in the seventh century, the Mosque was built on the site, already destroyed from the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A. D.

   There is ancient prophecy, of both Isaiah and Ezekiel, of the return of the Jews from a second world wide dispersion. This is quite astonishing, but does not seem to have been the first reason for the Zionist movement. Nor does the world seem to understand the 2000 year significance of the return of the Jews to Israel nor of Jerusalem to the Jews.

   The suggestion of Theodore Herzl that the Jews have a homeland has resulted in the displacement of the Palestinians, but this because they have as a people refused to live as neighbors with the Jews. This part of the solution is then to admit the right of Israel to exist, which the Palestinians have been slow to do. And why should the Palestinians and Arabs dislike Jews more than they dislike, say Jordanians or any other nation? Are they not both descendants of Abraham, believers in one rather than many Gods? And is not their God of Abraham the same God? Is this the new fleshment of the ancient broil between the brothers, an ancient division between the followers of the one God of Abraham?

   The Palestinian refugees must be somewhere, and this part of the solution is for the Palestinians to take up non-violent protest, after the manner of Martin Luther King, instead of the extreme violence of the current opposition, called terrorism. The Palestinians do not have access to the ideas of non-violent protest in their traditions. The Jews are mostly from Europe, Russia and the United States, and so prosecute their own terrorists, rather than encourage them. So long as the young are taught to revere terrorists as martyrs, there will be no solution but defense, and so we tend to sympathize with Israel. It is not Israel that denies the right of its neighbors to exist, but the other way around, and this, like the difference in method, cannot be ignored. Still, there must be a fair solution for the refugees.

   What if territories were granted, even house by house, in the West Bank, as semi-sovereign Palestinian territory, to those who would agree to live as neighbors with Israel? George W. Bush would ask incredulously why the Palestinians do not rather want to go to work, come home, raise their children in peace and watch them go in safety to school, rather than destroy Israel. With those who will not agree, Israel would remain at war, but at least there would be a place of peace, a seed of peace, in this Holy land of horrible sorrow inflicted by men on one another in the name of their God.

The Government Action Paradox

Often when government tries to address a pressing problem, a very strange effect occurs, leading to new and unforeseen problems. The effect is like a paradox of legislation, similar to Fenno’s paradox in Political science text books, that we tend to like our own congressperson but disapprove of congress, both for the same reason, because they serve their constituents at the expense of the nation. The Government action paradox is just a strange anomaly of bureaucracy that seems to result due to some law in the nature of things.

Government has tried to respond to the crisis regarding the abuse the pain killer Oxycodone, and our governor has had a group working on the problem for over a month. The Federal government, too, has responded, with a policy to limit the amount of the painkiller leaving the pharmacies. The most recent story, on NPR, was that genuine pain patients were unable to fill legitimate prescriptions, with the pharmacies themselves attempting to police the amounts. Pharmacies run out of an allotted monthly amount, sometimes within a week.

There are many examples of this effect of government action, and one suspects that these things might be looked for and foreseen by the legislators. Property seizure laws result in legalized theft, and the effect could have been foreseen. What is surprising is how difficult the effect is to correct, when everyone can see what is occurring. In Michigan, an attempt was made to crack down on Enemployment fraud. A computer program was apparently enlisted, and all fitting certain categories were charged, resulting in a ninety percent error rate. Even after this became clear, there was no court order to immediately stop all such prosecutions, but victims are forced to hire lawyers and defend themselves in court. It amazed me how patiently they were enduring the adventure. But they apparently have no choice. To compensate them would have to be done from tax money.

Enemployment checks and welfare are alike in that the incentive for abuse is rampant. These programs are set up to serve a purpose, and the strange things about human nature that a legislator might be able to foresee result in unintended effects that wilt the result.

The property seizures law might have watched the money more closely, though no one could have suspected how quickly the municipalities would be corrupted by the opportunity for legal theft.

The acts of congress allowing the violation of the Fourth Amendment, due to the threat of war and attacks, might have secured liberty had these acts arranged for meaningful recourse when these new powers granted to government are abused. At present, there is no abuse of covert powers known, and the examples disappear. Gag orders prevent the revealing of unwarranted searches. Surely, if the powers are never abused, there should be little reason not to establish a way that congress can look into abuses. But something prevents us from these measures.

Look, America, where we once complained that there was a McDonald’s on every corner, now there is a CVS.

And what moron put a computer in charge of indicting Unemployment fraud?

The Spirit of the Hippocratic Oath

   Doctors no longer take the Hippocratic Oath as regularly as they once did, for a number of reasons. The first was that the Christians do not swear oaths to Apollo, and the second was that the oath forbids abortion and assisted suicide. This is from the Greek tradition, independent of the Biblical tradition, which is the basis in America for the opposition to these things. This independent confirmation is stronger than the support from scripture for the conservative positions on assisted suicide and abortion. The purpose of medicine is to heal, and medicine is not to be used to kill. Hippocrates lived about 460-377 B. C, a contemporary of Socrates. He turned away from the superstitious attempts to ascribe the causes of disease to the divinities, and showed that diseases have natural causes. As such, he is the founder of modern or scientific medicine. He also taught “Our natures are the physicians of our diseases,” and treated many problems with proper diet and living. The World Book Encyclopedia (1972, vol. H, p. 227) includes: “His favorite medicine was honey.” The Hippocratic oath is still the basis of medical ethics. It binds physicians to practice no injustice and to keep secrets and to refrain from the seduction of patients and their relatives.

   As a doctor not of medicine to cure to body, but of politics, and a bachelor of psychology, we consider the principles of the Hippocratic oath to be minimal. But it is Socrates, in Plato’s Republic, who teaches the things most relevant to prescription drug abuse and the questions of contemporary medicine. In Book One, Socrates distinguishes the art of medicine, and all arts, from the art of money making, and states, “medicine doesn’t consider the advantage of medicine, but of the body” and “not the doctor’s advantage, but that of the sick man” (342 a-c). Later, while discussing gymnastics as the art that produces health, Socrates famously contrasts two kinds of medicine, ours with that of the ancient Aesclepiads, who would not flatter the valetudinarianism of the rich, treating many maladies, living to keep medical regimens, but rather, like carpenters, would do medicine to get back to work, but otherwise would be content to die rather than live to no purpose (404-408). He then contrasts a doctor, who treats a body with the soul, with a judge, who treats “a soul with a soul.” For the latter, it is not good to be too familiar with the diseases until they are older.

   As with my radiator leak on my car, the solution to some maladies is to simply “put up with it.” So far, it has proven to be not worthwhile to have spent 850$ to fix my radiator leak because I need only pay attention and add a bit of fluid once in a while. These principles by analogy are very important to our attempts at a national health care system. We have said repeatedly that this will be unworkable if we do not end insurance fraud and the lobbying of the prescription drug industry. We need not invent new names for maladies ad infinitum, like “restless leg syndrome,” which then need prescription drugs for their treatment and cure.

   The practice of the art of psychology and medicine depend upon the more fundamental practices of chastity and justice, and of what- in the matters of the soul- is like gymnastic in the health of the body. As there is medicine and gym for the body, so there is “therapy” and study for the soul, contemplation and inquiry, and certain other liberal practices like music that tend the health of the soul as gym does the body. The psychologist must study the nature of man and look upon the health of the soul. That these would prescribe drugs not as a last resort, but as a first and most profitable resort, would be unthinkable within a Socratic psychology. And for us it has become a hopeless corruption.

   I once thought it would be a good business to nicely print the oath and frame it for doctor’s offices. So here it is for free on “da plog.” Print it out if you like. The Hippocratic Oath, translated not by me but by an encyclopedia, reads as follows:

I swear by Apollo the physician and Aesculapius and health and all-heal (panacea) and all the gods and goddesses making them my witness that, according to my ability and judgement I will keep this oath and covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents, and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art – if they desire to learn it- without fee and stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons and to those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a covenant and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others.

I will follow that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgement I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such council; furthermore, I will not give to a woman an instrument to produce abortion.

With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my art. I will not cut a person who is suffering with a stone, but will leave this to be done by practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary art of mischief and corruption; and further from the seduction of females or males, bond or free.

Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I may see or hear in the lives of men which ought not to be spoken abroad I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.

While I continue to keep this oath inviolate may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men at all times but should I trespass and violate this oath, may the reverse be my lot.

 The supremacy of the oath above political law one interesting point. The “Doctors Without Borders” view of the supremacy of medical practice to political law has been with us for some time. Another interesting point is the dependence of medical ethics upon common sense and philosophic principles of justice that cannot possibly come from the science of medicine. For example, is it unhealthy to seduce one’s patients, or would one not thereby obey Darwinian principles of survival and reproduction that are the supposed goals of the body? How could medicine determine that it is unhealthy to attribute the purposes of the body to the soul? Or that it is unjust to subject the art of medicine to the art of money-making? The health of the soul is the higher study, and even Hippocrates knew regarding the body that nature is, and our natures are, the physician or the guide regarding health and disease, and the knowledge that guides practice is a knowledge of this and these: the intelligible health of the body and soul on one hand, and the diseased particulars on the other. Even if one has never seen the healthy body empirically, or the virtuous soul, it is still the principle that guides both medicine and psychology or education. It is truly amazing just how the body knows by genetically coded knowledge how to heal a cut, and some animals can grow whole new appendages. Socrates taught that the soul contains knowledge of the soul, and that is the basis of politics and psychology. And don’t forget that spoonful of honey!