Why is the conflict not being solved?

Many years have passed since 1948, but it still seems the most crucial date in the eyes of many Palestinian leaders and especially Hamas.

January 12, 2013 22:58
2 minute read.
Khaled Mashaal, Ismail Haniyeh at Dec 8 Gaza rally

Mashaal and Haniyeh at Gaza rally 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)


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The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is an old one, and its apparent insolvability seems odd to most people, and especially to Westerners.

This is because the way the Western world approaches this conflict is based on two beliefs. The first is that human differences can be solved via reason and dialogue, and the second, related belief is that most human beings can overcome irrationality.

However, to better understand the intractable nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict one needs to keep in mind that at least with regard to the Middle East, this Western assumption of rationality is subject to certain limitations. Rationality means to mainly focus on the near future and consider how the greatest prosperity and good for all can be attained. But can we say that this describes leaders in the Middle East? Unfortunately, I have to say no.

Hamas’ rise to power was fueled by Palestinian insistence on the need to “repair” the past, to undo the consequences of the 1948 war between the Arabs and the new-born Israel. After World War II, the United Nation recognized the right of the Jews to a country of their own, and David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, announced its establishment.

Since the Arab defeat in 1948, they have been forced to accept the fact that the Jews have their own country in the Middle East.

Many years have passed since 1948, but it still seems the most crucial date in the eyes of many Palestinian leaders and especially Hamas. While rationalism means acknowledging the consequences of past events and using them to your own advantage, the leaders of Hamas are still mainly focusing on the events of 1948.

Furthermore, in the speeches of the Arab leaders, including the new Egypt prime minister, the word “Israel” is never mentioned.

For the Arab leaders the near future is unimportant.

What’s important is to change the past, the outcome of the war of 1948 – or in the exact words of the Iranian leaders, to “wipe Israel off the map.”

Since the Israel Defense Forces left Gaza in 2004, the Palestinians had another opportunity to build their nation. Gaza was left without any settlements and without any Israeli soldiers.

Many important Arab and Western leaders came to Gaza and contributed money for the future of new country. Hopes were high and it was in the hands of the Palestinians leaders to decide what their future country would look like.

Eight years on, however, most Gazans live without hope for a better future. If you remember only the 1948 war and live to “repair” its consequences, then of course it will be tempting to blame Israel.

However, If your focus is on how to build a better future for both nations, how to bring hope to miserable children in Gaza or to Israelis forced to live in shelters, you must let go of the past.

Rationalism means acknowledging reality and assessing with reason what you can and cannot achieve.

Acknowledging reality does not mean forgetting the past, it only signifies that in our private relation with the past we are not free to do as we will.

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