The Hundredth Monkey

Let me tell you a story.

Years ago, a group of scientists traveled to a remote island in the South Pacific to study a species of monkey called the قرد.

قرد = “monkey” in Arabic.

They observed the قرد every day and watched them climb to the top of the tall mango trees, shake the fruit off, and then climb down to eat it.

south pacific island

This didn’t seem so unusual, but one day something strange happened. A scientist noticed a single monkey high in the tree shaking his fruit off. When it fell, the  قرد climbed down and picked up the fruit and took it over to the water’s edge to wash off the sand before he ate it. Maybe he didn’t like the gritty taste of the sand and wanted to try something new.

The next day, the scientists noticed a few other monkeys mimic the same action as the first.


During the following days and weeks, more and more monkeys were washing their fruit off at the water’s edge before eating — a totally new phenomenon that had never been observed in this species of قرد anywhere in the world.

The scientists were so excited, they called their colleagues back in California and announced their new discovery.

Astonishingly, their colleagues had observed the very same behavior with the قرد in California that same week.  *!*!*!

Inexplicably, the new idea had spread from one monkey to many monkeys on the island, and then jumped across the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean where more monkeys adopted the same new habit, sight unseen.

When that magic number — lets say the Hundredth Monkey — had learned the new idea, suddenly every monkey, everywhere, picked up the new habit of cleaning his fruit before eating it.

Ken Keyes, Jr.

Ken Keyes, Jr.

I love that story, but must confess it’s not mine. I’ve only provided my mangled version of the story that Ken Keyes, Jr. wrote in 1982.

Hundredth Monkey bookhundredth monkey coverHundredth-Monkey01

The message of the story, true or not, can be summed up this way:

Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people.

But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!

I think about The Hundredth Monkey often in the context of the crisis in Gaza.  Hundreds of people have visited Gaza in delegations to show support and solidarity with the Palestinians. They have witnessed first-hand the deplorable conditions. Many people are aware of the United Nations’ report issued in August 2012 that predicts Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.  Yet, nothing changes despite the warnings. In fact, the situation is more dire today than it was in 2012.

Gaza is affected by one the most serious energy crises in recent years, with potentially serious humanitarian ramifications. Since November, following the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant as a result of a lack of fuel, households are experiencing power outages of up to 16 hours per day. The operation of all 291 water and wastewater facilities has been affected, leading to sewage spills of tens of thousands of cubic meters in various locations, including in a residential area of Gaza City. Shortages of affordable fuel used to operate backup generators have severely disrupted the normal functioning of critical hospital functions, such as emergency rooms, operating theatres, and neo-natal care. While immediate mitigating measures are being sought to support the most critical functions, medium and longer-term solutions are urgently needed to avoid even greater humanitarian risks and improve the living conditions of average households.

This is a man-made crisis with a man-made solution. Many people know it. ISRAEL MUST END THE ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF PALESTINIAN LANDS, INCLUDING GAZA.

Friends tell me “the conflict seems intractable” . . . “its been going on for so long” . . . “it is too complicated for outsiders to understand”.

I want to find that Hundredth Monkey (aka the critical mass in the United States) to push Congress to do the right thing. Americans can end this occupation. Congress can end this occupation, I’m convinced of it.

American taxpayers subsidize the Israeli occupation to the tune of more than $3 billion each year. The U.S. Administration coddles Israel at the United Nations, shielding it from the world’s condemnation. Look at all the US vetoes since 1972. If we ended (or curtailed) our financial support, and joined the community of nations to demand an end to the occupation . . . Netanyahu would bend.

We only need the critical mass, the tipping point in the United States and so I’m looking for the Hundredth Monkey.


1 Comment

Filed under Israel, US Policy, Video

One response to “The Hundredth Monkey

  1. Harry

    A wonderful piece that reminds me of one of my favourite documentaries, ‘Collapse’ (

    This theory and concept, is absolutely central to all advocacy work, including ours for Gaza, and its wonderful to be reminded of it.

    Thanks, Lora.

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