Tuesday, January 27, 2009


There is No State Solution; There is a No-State Solution

Hi, I am Amir. I am 24 years old and I am a designer of electronic systems that control uranium fission reactions. I think there are controversial people in Iran who can copy these first two sentences, but I am not an Amir of Iran. I am Amir of the Desert, Negev, and I am an American: Ben Franklin is my homeboy. Happenstance allows this Amir to work on nuclear fission reactors without much fear of politically inspired death from above.

I'm going to Israel in two months. This year, I hope that I will not be attacked by rockets as I visit my grandparents.

This is a nearly universal human sentiment. Nearly, for I do not doubt the existence of those who yearn for their chance to explode. And despite the persistence of those exceptions, all humans should protest the notion that it is acceptable to cause violence for other humans. The rational voice must also contradict the voice of those who equivocate for violence. It is unacceptable to transform people into meat, numbers or rhetorical devices like "collateral damage," "human shields," "friendly fire," and especially "intended targets" for it is the intent of violence we should seek to subvert with utmost urgency.

When empathy is lost, we divide ourselves into us and them and ignore justice. I read about "us versus them" and how that plays out: those who do not study the Bible are doomed to repeat it.

Before I was a teenager (before the Second Intifada and before Oslo) there were Palestinians from Gaza working among Jews in the Negev Kibbutzim, but now the Arabs are not let out of Gaza. A Thai woman now milks the cows on my grandfather's kibbutz. When you hear about traumatized workers after a Qassam attack turns a cow into hamburger, there is a 60% chance those workers were from Thailand.

There is nothing quite like sitting in your grandmother's kitchen and hearing explosions in the background. When you hear the boom, everyone's eyes look somewhere else. It's a somewhere that is not a place in the room, but a place in your head where you are calculating how far away that was.

I am usually in America, and I cannot hear the explosions.

When I am in the Negev, I hear the booms and I realize that I am an intended target of the TNT. I start thinking about how to mix enough sugar and potassium nitrate to send the pieces of the rocket back. Trebuchet is the sport of engineers, after all. And I recycle. At MIT, I met people who build guidance systems, fly remote control aircraft, fabricate semiconductors, set off large redox reactions (for entertainment value), and program robots that visually approximate Terminator. I could be a much more prolific terrorist than the people attacking me.

And then I remember Isaiah. Lo Yisa Goy. Rockets don't have a good plough-share-esque poetic substitute and we should probably research the use of scramjets to reach orbital velocity with higher specific impulse, but I digress. If the fates conspire for me to die in a rocket explosion, let it be in pursuit of the lunar surface, and not from the lunacy of my neighbours.

In America, Arabs and Israelis celebrate together the "weirdness" of their ethnic names. I love that America has a president named Barrack Hussein Obama (though I wrote in Ron Paul). Perhaps our new King will comprehend that drawing lines for Israel and Palestine will not solve the racial divide between Jews and Arabs. There is folly in forging state solutions to racism problems. The Western powers that toot the horns of a two-state solution are like the Chinese observing the 1992 riots in LA and suggesting to segregate California so that the Black people and the White people have their own separate (but equal) states. There is no state solution to racism.

There is a no-state solution: we have to stop segregating our populations as though the separation will breed peace and not resentment. We need to form joint-ventures to establish our interconnectedness and courts to provide equality before common law. We are sojourners of the ground on which we stand. We must muzzle the dogs of war that claim to own the dirt upon which they leave their droppings. A righteous man once built a raft to survive the wrath of the Creator, indeed we need to build much bigger rockets if we are to become as numerous as the stars.

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