Percentages And Quadrants
So, how can we arrive at a nice peaceful state, like B?
Well naturally one thing which would help, would be for people to want this… But no ethnicity/nationality is 100% monolithic- not the Israelis, and not the Palestinians. Within any large enough group of people, there’s bound to be some variation- some in the group will feel one way, and others in the group will feel another way.
So now I’d like to define what I mean, if I were to make the statement “Israel wants peace”: “Israel”, as used in this context, should be considered to simply represent an overall aggregate. So therefore, for “Israel wants peace” to be a true statement, it may not necessarily be the case that every single last Israeli is on board the proverbial peace train, but rather, just a high enough percentage of the Israeli population is. And the precise threshold percentage, required for “Israel wants peace” to be true? This I don’t really know… and this is because the general public doesn’t have direct control over the situation- it’s the leaders who make the major policy decisions. The people can influence leaders though, and the extent to which the leaders follow the will of the people depends on to what extent their government is a functioning democracy. For example in the most ideal case, the leaders would be beholden to a majority that was only just the slightest sliver above 50% of the people. And for repressive governments, the pivotal percentage at which the leaders cave in to the people’s wishes, will be higher (and this percentage will get increasingly higher the more repressive the government is). So the phrase “Palestine wants peace” has a definition analogous to the definition of “Israel wants peace”, although the particular value of the tipping-point percentage associated with the definition of “Palestine wants peace”, may be different than Israel’s tipping-point percentage value, because they’re ruled by different governing bodies.
And so, with these definitions established, I present another chart:
For some questions, there are definite answers, and we know what these answers are. For instance, if you have a triangle, and one of the angles of the triangle is 90 degrees, and you know the lengths of two of the sides of the triangle, then there cannot be any controversy over the length of the third side, as this value is unequivocally determined by the Pythagorean theorem.
For other questions, there are no definite answers. We could argue back and forth until the heat death of the universe over who our favorite Beatle is, and never come to an agreement.
But for some questions, there is a definite answer, but there’s no way of knowing for sure what the correct answer is. And I claim that this is the case, regarding the above chart.
What is certain, is that we are in one of those 4 quadrants. We must be, since those 4 encompass all possibilities. And there is one other thing that we can say for certain, and that is which quadrant we are not in, and that would be Q4 (because if we were in Q4, then we would be at peace, but since we are not currently at peace, then we can’t be in Q4).
So we must be in either Q1, Q2, or Q3. However, I don’t know for sure which of these 3 we’re in (and I’ll explain shortly why I also don’t believe that anyone else can know for certain which quadrant we’re in either, although plenty of people do seem to act as though they’re thoroughly certain about this…) I do have my own opinion, a hunch basically, as to which of the 3 we’re in, but I will not put this across as an absolute fact- I instead freely accept that we actually may be in one of the other 2 quadrants.
There is really only one truth in any given story, and that truth is the totality of the relevant facts comprising that story. But different “spins” can be put on the same story. And so, each side has their own narrative that makes their side out to be more in the “right”, and paints the other side as more in the “wrong”.
Those who believe we’re in Q2 (generally on the left end of the political spectrum), are more sympathetic towards the Palestinian side. They subscribe to the view that the primary obstacle to peace is the occupation- that if Israel just “ended the occupation”, then there would be peace.
And those who believe we’re in Q3 (tending to be more right-leaning), are more sympathetic towards the Israeli side. They see the Palestinians as the perpetuators of the conflict, with their steadfast refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and their ongoing vicious terrorist violence against random Israelis.
But as I said, I believe that any declaration of which quadrant we’re in is at best, a guess. And the reason I feel these are all just guesses, is that they can’t be proven. And the reason they can’t be proven, is that each, fundamentally, is based on a prediction of the future- and the future cannot be predicted with absolute certainty (because of free will, of course).
Let’s start with the Q2ers: yes, perhaps they are right, that if Israel “ended the occupation” (quotation marks are used here because there can be different interpretations of that phrase), then the Palestinians would instantly recognize Israel’s right to exist, and never entertain any thoughts of committing any terrorist attacks against any Israelis ever again, and everyone will live happily ever after. There is no way that I can prove that this would not be what would ensue from such Israeli acquiescence, which is hence why I cannot definitively say that the Q2ers are wrong about us being in Q2.
However, by the very same token, there is also no way to disprove, that even if every Jewish settler in the Occupied Territories (henceforth, “the OTs”) were to pack up and permanently vacate the OTs, and if Amnesty International was so amazed by the gleaming, spotless human rights record achieved by Israel that the organization created a brand new award specifically to bestow upon the Jewish state- “Best Human Rights Record in the Whole Wide World, By Far”, that the Palestinians would still keep carrying out their senseless violence, and refuse to peacefully coexist with Israel. Again, just to be clear, I’m not saying that this necessarily would be what would happen in this eventuality, I’m only saying that it could be how things would be, because there is no way anyone can guarantee that it would not turn out like this.
But, dang… such a pessimistic scenario doesn’t amount to a very flattering portrayal of the Palestinians, does it? When put that way, it kind of makes them out to be total wackos, impossible to placate. So what makes me so cynical, that I would even suggest as a possibility, a characterization of the Palestinians that is so uncharitable?
Well, if the Palestinians have the virtue to be able to end their hostile behavior if Israel “ends the occupation”… then why don’t they exercise this virtue of theirs by doing the right thing now, rather than have doing right be predicated on what Israel does?
Whatever side is your side, is the “good” side. Of course- because if you didn’t think your side was the good one, then it wouldn’t be the side you chose to be yours. So when the other side does something wrong, you can wag your finger and accuse them of being bad-bad-bad, for doing something wrong-wrong-wrong. But what if your side does something bad? Well… that can’t make your side bad, because as we’ve already worked out, your side is the good side. Thus when your side does something wrong, they’re not bad (they can’t be), soooooo… hmm… AHA- GOT IT: you can say that they’re just reacting, to the bad from the other side! So the Palestinians, with their unabated terrorism, are really just… “uprising”… “resisting oppression”… their bad acts are for a good sake, a larger, noble goal…
Eeeeeeeeerrrrrrrr… nope. Sorry.
This is going to be one of the principles that I absolutely will not budge on: indiscriminate violence against civilians is never justified. Period. End of story.
And hey, guess what? A very similar line of reasoning can be taken with the Q3 side, too.
So, in reality, Amnesty International, has not conferred upon Israel any special new human rights award… Quite the contrary, you can go to AI’s website and take a look at their most recent annual report on Israel and the OTs, and, yeah… it’s actually quite a litany of abominable things, such as, the torturing of prisoners in detention, collective punishment through house demolitions, and allowing crimes to be carried out by Jews against Arabs in the OTs without any consequences to the perpetrators…
And, once again, the bad done by “our side” can be rationalized as being a reaction to the bad of the other side, i.e., “the threat the Palestinians pose from their terrorist activities forces the Israelis to take harsh measures to ensure the safety and security of their citizens…” I bet you’ve heard things along this line too, but… nope again- I ain’t buying this either. This is another point that I will be unremittingly unyielding on: human rights abuses are inexcusable under any circumstances. Period. End of story.
And also another analogous argument can be made: yes, I’ll grant the Q3ers that it’s possible that if the Palestinians ceased & desisted with all violence, and formally recognized Israel’s right to exist, then Israel would stop annexing land in the OTs for new settlements, and stop sending in new settlers to inhabit the OTs, and fully relinquish control of the OTs to the Palestinians, and everyone will live happily ever after. However, another potential outcome from the Palestinians meeting all those conditions, that can’t be eliminated as a possibility, is that Israel would still blithely go on annexing OT land, and allow Jewish settlers to migrate to the settlements, continually chipping away at Palestine, little by little, bit by bit…
I imagine you’ve probably guessed by now which quadrant I think we’re in… my own personal suspicion…
Me, Sandra… oh, unhappy Sandra…
Sandra, who gets no comfort from either side’s narrative, and thus writes melancholy treatises as an everlasting testament to her despair over our relegation to the saddest quadrant, the double frownie face quadrant… Q1.
Yes, Q1… so far, so, so very far from that sweet, blissful, double smiley face quadrant where we’d like to be, Q4.
I’ve mentioned that I have 2 children. These children enabled a realization for me… I was listening to my kids, and reading the news, and listening to my kids, and reading the news… and to a forlorn Q1er such as myself, how they sounded…
Kid 1: You’re bothering me.
Kid 2: No, you’re bothering me.
Kid 1: No, YOU’RE bothering ME.
Kid 2: No, YOU’RE bothering ME
Kid 1: She started it.
Kid 2: No, he started it.
Kid 1: No, SHE started it.
Kid 2: No, HE started it.
Kid 1: I’m right, and she’s wrong.
Kid 2: No, I’m right, and he’s wrong.
Kid 1: No, I’M right, and SHE’S wrong.
Kid 2: No, I’M right, and HE’S wrong.
Kid 1: I’m the good one, and she’s the bad one.
Kid 2: No, I’m the good one, and he’s the bad one.
Kid 1: No, I’M the good one, and SHE’S the bad one.
Kid 2: No, I’M the good one, and HE’S the bad one.
Me: Hey kids- I have an idea.
Kid 1 & Kid 2: Really? What’s your idea, Mommy?
Me: Here’s my idea- how about the two of you SHUT THE $%!#&!@ UP!!!!!
So what makes Q1 so depressing, is that it seems that our work has doubled- being in Q1 means we need to convince both sides to show that they want peace, by no longer engaging in the actions of theirs which are not conducive to peace. Thus the Israelis should be pressured to put an end to their problematic ways, and the Palestinians should be pressured to put an end to theirs. The problem I see with the Q2ers is that they’re more focused on the former, and likewise the Q3ers are more focused on the latter, but even if you might happen to be partial to Q2 or Q3, it’s nevertheless best to assume we’re in Q1, since as I’ve previously explained we can’t be completely sure which quadrant we’re in, and so the problem should be confronted from both angles, just to cover our bases so to speak.
But I think there’s yet another component to this, to tackle. I began in the first few chapters with the hypothesis that bigotry (stemming from ignoring key data), is impeding our attainment of the happy peaceful world of B.
Perhaps this might not be abundantly clear at this point, because I’ve also said that both sides fancy themselves as being “the good guys”. So since they feel they’re good, then they would attribute their actions to lofty, righteous principles (“yadda-yadda-yadda resisting oppression yadda-yadda-yadda”, and “yadda-yadda-yadda security and stability yadda-yadda-yadda”), rather than something so lowly as crude prejudice. So, why I’m feeling this may be a significant factor, even if neither side will explicitly admit it: I need only pose the question- what would their actions be like, if they were motivated by plain ol’ intolerance? Well it seems to me that they’d be quite the same, namely, ruthless ones that result in heartbreaking injustices. And so if different motives can yield the same outcome, then all such motives must be suspect as possible causes of the outcome.
Although, once again, who really knows for sure about any of this? So the main “take away” here is that we ought to work on all 3 fronts: demand that the Israelis do what’s right and just (in case, à la Q2, the bad stuff done by the Israelis is a driving force behind why the Palestinians continue with their bad stuff, and the Israelis shouldn’t be doing any of their bad stuff anyway, regardless of whether stopping their bad stuff will get the Palestinians to do the same), and demand that the Palestinians do what’s right and just (in case, à la Q3, the bad stuff done by the Palestinians is a driving force behind the why the Israelis continue with their bad stuff, and the Palestinians shouldn’t be doing any of their bad stuff anyway, regardless of whether stopping their bad stuff will get the Israelis to do the same), and address the bigotry element (in case the bad stuff being done by each side isn’t really so much instigated by the bad stuff done by the other side, but rather, each side would still do the bad stuff even if the other side were perfect angels, because the bad stuff is to a large degree being done out of irrational narrow-mindedness).
To summarize: if we don’t really know how influential each factor actually is in the grand scheme, but it is possible for any of the factors to be the true obstacle, then if we ignore any one of the factors, and the one we ignore is actually the cause that is the most responsible for the problem, then the problem won’t get solved. In other words, let’s “hedge our bets” by not neglecting any of the possible causes, just to be safe.
So, the task now at hand- convincing both sides to embrace a peaceful solution… As I said, it seems like more work than if we just fixated on one side. Or, perhaps, a similar argument can be used, for both…?
I’ve already pointed out one type of flawed thinking, i.e. not factoring in all relevant data. And I had also said earlier that other types of flawed thinking may be hindering peace as well. OK- so let’s proceed with our discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian quagmire:
Trenton is the capital of New Jersey. A water molecule consists of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. The ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is the number π. All of these statements are undeniably true. However, they have absolutely nothing to do with what we’re talking about- they’re not relevant.
The next two chapters, Nature and Re-Gifting, explore how we can get led astray by factoring in data which although may be true, is not pertinent to the matter at hand.
Published in 2016 by Sandra Goldstein.