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REALIZING THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM

Appendix "B"

A Herzlian neo-Zionist dramatization:
A "Jewish-Arab Akedah" over Jerusalem.


Note: This appendix was written before November 1995. We found it possible to leave it as it was, since its symbolic value remains. Obviously, other such scenarios can be made to fit the leaders of contending parties at any particular time - in accordance with their biography and character.

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Dr. Theodore Herzl, the author of Political Zionism, was one of the most successful dramatist of Vienna. His play "The New Ghetto", for example, showed how the seemingly rational and emancipated Jews of that period were still reliving the same ancient Jewish problems and phobias. A new cultural and spiritual Zionist initiative, predicated upon the theme of the Heavenly Jerusalem as the city of understandings, can use the dramatic medium to portray how the current problems of modern Israel/Palestine still recreate the most ancient aspirations and fears of the Jews - and of the Moslems - namely that of the Binding of Isaac - and of Ishmael - and the sacrifices at and for the Temple of Jerusalem.

Remarkably, the recent prime ministers, and thus dramatic representatives, of contemporary Israel, Shamir and Rabin - are both called Isaac. Looking into Islamic mythos, we learn that in the Koran the identity of the son that Abraham sacrificed is undetermined, and is generally understood to be Ishmael. It is therefore possible for us to say that there is an eternal Binding, constantly being recreated in heaven even in our times, and that it is the binding of both Isaac and Ishmael, being bound to each other and to the tradition of their Father who brought them there. The Isaac half is the "Palmach Generation" of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin's generation, the generation bound to ceaseless warfare because of the dedication of the Founding Fathers and to the State of Israel. It is one of the most obsessive themes of Israeli art and literature. (Also personally, premier Yitzhak Rabin seems to have been sentenced by providence to be tied and bound for some 20 years to his foremost political and personal rival (Shim'on Peres) and thus became bound to, and increasingly entangled by, the negotiations with the Palestinians.)

Ishmael, the shadow half, the rejected and exiled brother of the Isaac figure is nowadays portrayed by the leaders of the exiled Palestinians, as either the Kefiyah donning Arafat or the old Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, founder of the Hamas (who is indeed long imprisoned). As we are emphasizing cultural issues, we will choose the latter figure.

Traditional drama often uses the device of "Deus ex machina" to introduce out of the ordinary situations. Using the same dramatic license, we can use the popular modern surrogate of Unidentified Flying Objects (which has already been used by an Arab winner of the Israel prize, Emil Habibi in his novel and play - "The Opsimist") and depict how a UFO operated by an unknown HEJERA (Heavenly Jerusalem Agency) abducts both Yitzhak Rabin and Sheikh Ahmed Yasin and puts them tied back-to-back in a spaceship that flies over Jerusalem, navigating through both space and time. (As an added attention-catching feature, this HEJERA UFO might look strikingly similar to the Dome of the Rock of the Temple Mount, as this form, when flattened out a bit, is indeed similar to the most commonly reported shape in UFO sightings).

These are fictional dramatic devices. The value of the exercise would derive from doing meticulous scientific background work by scholars using the techniques of CT, as discussed in sec. 3.2. A massive "Conversational Domain" would be built of all the issues which would be dealt with by both sides, and on many levels of cognition; (even such as may not be experienced by the particular people) which could form the basis for a variety of educational curriculums on the subject of Jewish-Arab Reconciliation.

A creative team of scholars, writers and artists, employing the methods of Conversation Theory, could create credible scenes and acts of a fantastic drama such as the one described above. These two dramatis personae would thus fly over the sites of the battles of Jerusalem in 1948, were Yitzhak Rabin earned his fame and fixed his character; over the village of Deir Yasin, where Sheikh Yasin would reexperience the horrors of the Palestinians as victims of the Israelis, and even over the Temple Mount, where both have deep roots. There, these two dramatis personae would have an unprecedented opportunity to recreate their youth and to reconstruct and heal their worlds.

(It could even be shown that these two "spirits" come thus to occupy the same cell, or adjacent cells, in a virtual reality realization of the future Temple of Jerusalem.)

In another variation of this drama, each actor would face a control panel where he can direct the moves of the other, but not of his own. The possible moves of the other, however, are severely restricted at each stage by preoccupations and limitations imposed by the self and by the other. This is a very particular casting of "vehicles for driving through knowledge" (Pask 1982), which are the professional domain of Conversation Theory. In such devices, all the data needed to navigate in a complex cognitive space is supplied at data screens that respond only to particular questions. The usual moves they are likely to choose are likely to drop them again and again into the hell of wars, suffering and exile. Yet at each stage they may try not only to pass the customary domains, but to orient themselves towards the Heavenly Jerusalem of Peace and Healing, where they face each other and "walk with God" in the Garden of Eden which this land can potentially become.

While scholars could draw fairly elaborate and full scenarios for each scene and eventuality, artists and writers could select the most striking passages from which to construct the displays that would catch the attention of a wide audience in the Middle East and bring them to contemplate facts and possibilities that they would otherwise have never considered.

It is likely that such a project might not initially enlist support from any establishment organizations. But a good poster of the basic scene could be easily sold to many thousands of Jews and Arabs. An illustrated short story (or even better a comics-type version) and modest promotion might secure the opportunity and funds for the employment of the appropriate team members and for making mass-media productions. Among such feasible productions, a computerized adventure game (preferably a dual-user or multi-user versions) would allow each person to engage interactively with any and all of the possible scenes that make up the "Conversational Domain", which the dramatic versions can employ only a very small part of. This detailed Conversational Domain could indeed constitute an appropriate realization of the Heavenly Jerusalem.


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