I posted this on MyT yesterday.
History has bequeathed us some complex and relatively intractable situations that entail conflict and distrust along ethnic, tribal or religious lines … one thinks of Northern Ireland and Israel, for example. Several examples have emerged into world attention in Europe and Asia recently.
The automatic reaction of certain people to such situations, it seems, is to choose a side, invest in it emotionally, and then espouse it though thick and thin. Notwithstanding the fact that ordinary human beings on both ‘sides’ of the conflict have innate rights and a legitimate case, the evident complexity of the situation is denied and a reading of history is proffered that places all blame on one side and all virtue on the other.
As well as China/Tibet, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict seems particularly prone to such overwrought side-taking. Many people ‘buy into’ one reading or the other, hook, line and sinker. On this site, and among right-wingers in general (with some exceptions), the Israeli side tends to be taken, often very stridently and belligerently. Anyone who states the obvious fact that the situation is not black and white – that both sides have a case – is likely to be hounded and denounced as an anti-Semite, a bedwetter, a liberal fascist, a Pally-hugger, and so forth.
One of the usual zealots declared yesterday that ‘Ninety percent of Pally history is lies, and the other ten percent isn’t true’. A poster this morning responded to the contention of another blogger that ‘in my opinion ethnic cleansing was committed against Palestinian Arabs’ with the following:
‘… such an opinion is as ill-informed as the rest of the prolix perpetrator’s nonsense. The big lie. History reversed – black is white. How to parrot the white guilt line and airbrush the truth out of history. Ethnic cleansing of the innocent Palestinians by the guilty Zionists and Imperialists etcetera …’
The trouble with this, apart from the fact that is emotional waffle as opposed to facts, is that it does not address the actual fact of whether or not ethnic cleansing can be said to have been perpetrated. What follows in the blog in question is a slanted interpretation of history, some of it ancient, and cherry-picked quotes designed to show … I don’t know what, really, as no actual point is ever made.
Common sense ought to tell one that both ‘sides’ in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as in Ireland and other places, have done things that were wrong and unjustifiable. Those acts should be acknowledged, and both sides should move on in a constructive spirit to try to build an agreed future that will be better for both, and that will respect everyone’s rights. This was the thinking behind the Northern Ireland ‘Peace Process’ and the Good Friday Agreement. It is the only approach that is likely to have a good outcome, and avert tragedy for future generations.
The black-and-white ‘100% right/100% wrong’ model of intercommunal conflict, so eagerly espoused by zealots here (for reasons that often reflect their own psychology, in my opinion), is a recipe for violence and suffering in perpetuity, as far as I can see.
And, of course, the zealot will always tend to choose and mould ‘facts’ that suit his/her existing mindset, rather than changing the mindset to fit multifaceted reality. That is hardly conducive to mental health or personal development.