Israel/Palestine: Where Do We Go From Here?

Magdalena Smieszek Cognitive, Ethical, Integral Justice Warrior, Leadership, Moral, Perspectives, Spiritual, Video, World Affairs, Worldviews 7 Comments

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t’s hard to think of a problem more wicked than the Israel/Palestine. In recent weeks our social media feeds have been flooded with truly heartbreaking videos of violence and displacement, prompting some to go as far as to declare Israel an apartheid state. But as is often the case, reality remains far too complicated to fit into such oversimplified narratives. As I say in the discussion, this is one of those problems where the more I learn about it, the less I feel I understand.

It’s hard to know how to move forward. Fortunately our special guest today, Magdalena Smieszek, has some really good ideas. Magdalena is an international human rights lawyer who has spent a good deal of time in the region, and who is using integral ideas, perspectives, and practices in order to reduce suffering in the world. She is a truly inspiring and deeply accomplished woman, and we are thrilled to have her on the show with us today to help us make more integral sense of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and how we might begin to loosen this Gordian knot.

Watch as Magdalena, Mark, and I explore the long and complex history of the region, offer our own thoughts on whether Israel qualifies as an “apartheid state”, and suggest some next step solutions in order to inch ourselves closer to genuine peace, stability, and justice for the men, women, and children on all sides of this seemingly intractable conflict.

Topics include:

0:00 — Introducing Magdalena
12:26 — A Brief History of the Israel/Palestine Conflict
37:23 – Is Israel an Apartheid State?
58:51 — How can Integral Ideas Help?
1:16:02 — Evolutionary Optimism
1:30:52 — The Power of Nonviolence

If you enjoy this episode, be sure to check out more episodes of Integral Justice Warrior. Watch them all for only $1!

Written and produced by Corey deVos

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Magdalena Smieszek

About Magdalena Smieszek

Magdalena Smieszek is an international lawyer, human rights advocate, scholar and educator, having worked over twenty years around the world with humanitarian and development-focused organizations, including a decade with the United Nations.

Mark Fischler

About Mark Fischler

Mark Fischler is a Professor of Criminal justice and current program coordinator for the criminal justice and criminology programs at Plymouth State University. Prior to joining the Plymouth State faculty, he practiced law, representing poor criminal defendants for the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office. Mark has worked extensively with alternative theoretical models in law, constitutional law, and higher education, and has published on integral applications to teaching, being a lawyer, and legal theory. His focus in the classroom is ethics and criminal procedure, and is well respected for a teaching philosophy that emphasizes recognizing the humanity and dignity of each student. Professor Fischler was awarded the outstanding teaching award at his university in 2014. He currently offers a weekly Spiritual Inquiry class through Satya Yoga Studio.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Notable Replies

  1. Three smart and good-hearted people (including a thoughtful Magdalena with first-hand knowledge of some of the issues, and a well-informed Mark) in a well-structured and timely conversation about the history and complexities (including its religious and humanitarian roots and aspects) of a current critical event of interest to worldcentrists, and looking for reasons (and finding a few) for an “evolutionary optimism”–what’s not to like?

    In answer to the question “what can integralists do to exert influence,” I would say have more conversations that focus on global events such as this one, not just on happenings in the US. I think that would engage people in the larger world and get them thinking and conversing; people after all have to know about things before they can have any influence. I think it would help everyone to think “bigger” and climb the cognitive line, and would also reduce some of the repetitive (and often rabid) conversations about the latest phenomenon of the US culture wars. I remember integral speaking about wokeism and cancel culture and such long before mainstream media was; but now those topics are everywhere in mainstream media; an occasional uptick to international or global events such as this one is not only refreshing or in service to worldcentrism, but accentuates that first principle of Integral: inclusion. (There are people on this IL community site right now who are not from the US of A.) I have full confidence in the talent at Integral Life to be able to address more world events, and hope to see more of it. This discussion was great!

    What I did as follow-up to it was to research and learn a little more. I think anyone who saw those death toll numbers from the latest conflict (about 250 Palestinians killed, 12 Israeli’s) might have wondered just a little about the power imbalances. Corey mentioned the developmental stage differences: red/amber Palestinians, amber/orange Israel. Those orange accomplishments of Israel are evident not only in the Iron Dome (partially funded by the U.S., who also was due to sell an immense amount of military weapons to Israel during the conflict, but was delayed due to Congressional members, progressive Democrats primarily), putting up a resistance), but also in GDP: at the end of 2018, Israel’s GDP was 369.69 billion; Palestine’s was 16.3 billion. Per capita income also speaks: Israel’s in 2019 was $43,592 in USD; Palestine’s was $1,036 USD in 2020.

    While these numbers do not tell the whole story of course, add to them the fact that Palestine has lost the majority of its land since the end of WW II, due to war with Israel and Israeli settlements, and it’s not easy to deny there are definitely some power imbalances. Even some of the mainstream media seemed to pick up on this, and I noticed some of them also used some softer language, even referring, right or wrong, to Hamas as a “militant” organization rather than the usual “terrorist” term, for instance. (Some say that it was internet and social media that pushed the legacy media in this direction of at least hinting about power imbalances; if so, score a rare point for the internet and SM, so often the villain.)

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflicts are incredibly complex, and I certainly don’t have answers, except to say I think it’s good to provide this content to Integralists, along with the many ideas for bettering the situation, and I hope you all come back in a few months or so to revisit the topic, after the new Israeli Prime Minister and a new coalition government that includes for the first time an Islamist party have had a little while to exert their influence. Thanks again.

  2. Oddly I don’t find any mention of the Abraham Accords here on Integral Life. About as much coverage as we see in the main stream media :slight_smile:

    Would a discussion along the lines of the Abraham Accords brokered by President Trump’s team and signed between Israel, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco, & Bahrain be a great place to “start the conversations”.

    If an Abraham Accord between Qatar (largest funder of Palestinian “freedom fighters”) and Israel could be brokered, would that lead to de-escalation and perhaps progress for the people of Palestine?

    Would these Abraham Accords be a conversation that the Integral community would want to support/influence moving forward?

  3. Here is a very recent (published today) mainstream media article on the Abraham Accords, how each of the signatories are viewing it. I don’t have answers to your questions FermentedAgave, but there are lots of articles on the subject and maybe this one will shed some light on some of the questions you posited. From what I’ve read, outside observers question how effective the Accords can be, but of the signatories, everybody’s pretty happy with the Accords for various reasons (e.g.technological and economic development opportunities). The Palestinians are not happy.

  4. Thanks for posting the article. It’s a good synopsys.

    What would make the Palestinians happy?
    We all know Hamas’ stated goal of total destruction of Israel and genocide likely isnt very Integral.

    If having their own happy nation is it, the next time they might want to take the offer (it would be the 4th offer).
    Only caveat is that setting up missile and artillery attacks on Israel likely won’t end well, just as it didn’t end well for this umpteenth time recently.

    Hamas does intentionally target Israeli civilians, while Israel very precisely targets military opponents which just so happen are setup in residential neighborhoods.

    There are some very fundamental moral differences in how Hamas and Israel operate

  5. Back with ya, briefly.

    My comment that the Palestinians are not happy was in reference to the Abraham Accords. According to the article I provided a link for in the prior post, the Palestinians see the signatories as “selling out Pan-Arab and Palestinian interests for financial or political gain.” They see the Accords as treating them as a “conflict-management exercise” and not addressing the root causes of the conflict(s) with Israel. Here are a couple more articles, with different perspectives (from two different countries, U.S. and UAE) and written 6 months apart (Nov. 2020 and May 2021) and

    Still, to consider your question more generally, I think there might be at least slight shading differences to any Palestinian common answer (e.g freedom from occupation and annexation attempts by Israel of Palestinian territories, Israel recognition of Palestinian statehood, i.e.two-state solution) if the question of happiness were asked of, say, a leader in Hamas, or an impoverished Palestinian family, or an Arab living in Israel (most of whom are Palestinian descendants or identify as Palestinian.)

    As for “Hamas’ stated goal of total destruction of Israel and genocide”–during this IL discussion, Magdalena mentioned that that specific part of the Hamas Charter has not been applicable since 2017. I did a little research on this, and it sort of reads that way, with statements such as they don’t see themselves as at war with the Jewish people, but with Zionism which they hold responsible for the occupation of Palestine. Don’t know how good or impartial this Wiki article is…but there’s a lot of info there.

    The moral “high-ground”–what is most considerate of rights, most just, most responsible, most demonstrative of care/caring–may shift from side-to-side, depending on the point in time and what aspect of the conflict is being looked at, and who is doing the looking.

    It is all very complex! and I’m still getting educated in order to see a fuller, more whole picture.

    It’s also quite painful. Accounts I’ve read of people living in the area describe it as “surreal to have rockets flying overhead,” and speak of the deleterious effects on the psyche of living with such tensions (not to mention the death and destruction all around), and the weariness and fatigue. Some seem desensitized and cynical, see it all as a “joke,” that “nothing ever changes.” Perhaps new leadership will do better. We’ll see.

    Oh yes, one more article you might be interested in, about Arab protests in Israel

Continue the discussion at

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