Posts Tagged ‘conflict resolution’

I’ve always gone out of my way to see all sides of an argument, even if I might favor one side. After all, the best way to win over one’s enemies (or so I believe) is to try to understand why they think as they do and then persuade them to your way of thinking.

Then again, I might have a different idea of what it means to argue. I believe the purpose is to persuade, while others might think the purpose is to win.

War is the ultimate argument – over geography or politics, over belief or self-determination, over control or freedom. War can be calculating or passionate, based on an attempt to address ancient grievances or modern entitlements. The goal of warfare in all cases is to win, which is what makes attempting to find solutions to war’s argument so frustrating.

In the case of the ongoing Middle East crisis, as we always refer to Israel’s battles with its unhappy neighbors, what is left to say? War and threat of war seem to be permanent conditions in that part of the world. The arguments concerning this latest outburst of violence tragically echo the recriminations of fighting boys – “He started it!” “No, he did!” But this isn’t just about power or control; those may be desired outcomes but they mask the larger goal, which seems to be destruction of the other.

Every analysis I’ve ever seen posits that Israelis see themselves as always and evermore in danger of being targeted for extinction. Nearly everything they do seems to derive from their understanding of and belief in the constant threat of annihilation. This is not to excuse every action the government and its army takes, only to try and understand it.

Likewise, Palestinians see themselves as always and evermore in danger of remaining as refugees, without rights, without opportunities and without a homeland, pushed around by a small country with a large and powerful friend. Many have been raised to believe it is uniquely Israel that stands in the way of their liberation  and so Israel must be destroyed, which, of course, confirms Israel’s worst fears. Again, not justifiable nor even perfectly logical except perhaps as a means of trying to see it with another’s eyes. Each side  feels defensive, even when on the offensive.

It seems so absurd the cycle can’t be broken – agree to a two-state solution and agree Israel has a right to exist  – but how?  There’s a trust issue involved and who’s supposed to go first when so much is at stake? There are those with political reasons to support continued instability in the region and mostly there is, among the rest of the population on both sides, all that fear.

Fear doesn’t resolve an argument; it escalates it. There may be a military victory here and a political or public relations triumph there but there won’t be a winner until what becomes more important than the fear is the absence of it.

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