comment Expresses the writer’s opinions.
In the discussion on NRK on Tuesday, two sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were presented. They argued for each side unproductively.
This is not a conflict that lends itself to pure models of guilt and compassion.
It is actually important how we talk about the conflict here in Norway and in all other relevant countries. International sympathy and support are important to both parties, both in terms of resources and reputation.
Erik Stefansen – A sad failure at the “discussion” on Tuesday evening
Reply to discussion – Now NRK is changing
When they both act irrationally
However, in The Gentile Jew and other articles from 1968, one can find a decent link on which to attach the entire discussion. It contains an analogy written by the Polish-Jewish historian Isaac Deutscher. When the conflict has now reached an almost unprecedented temperature, it is worth translating in full the little story he sketches:
A man once jumped from the top floor of a burning building where several members of his family had already perished. In this way he saved his life. But in the fall he struck a man standing on the ground below, breaking his arms and legs.
The man who jumped had no choice but to be the cause of the injuries to the man lying on the ground. If both of them had acted rationally, they would not have become enemies. The man who jumped from the building after recovering from the shock will help and comfort the other injured person. The other sufferer will understand that he or she was the victim of circumstances that neither of them could control.
But watch what happens when they both act irrationally.
The injured man blames the other for his situation, and swears he will pay for it. The jumper, fearing retaliation from the injured man, insults, kicks, and hits him every time they meet.
The fired man vows further revenge and is beaten and punished again. The bitter enmity, which was so ordinary at first, became fiercer and fiercer, until it overshadowed the existence of both of them and poisoned their minds.
A defiant reader who is more concerned with defending his side will now immediately let the whole gist of the story fly before him and immediately begin looking for details and nuances in the story that do not fit his own picture.
There is no point in discussing anything in particular with this person.
Of course, the measurement is not perfect. There are no similes at all. But like all good analogies, it should have an enlightening effect.
(If anyone is wondering, the German Jew was very critical of Israel’s behavior toward the “Wounded Man,” but that shouldn’t spoil the value of the fictional story.)
Community debater, author, podcaster and trained lecturer. In the podcast “Goffeng på Leting”, which he created with Tankesmien Agenda, he discusses everything between heaven and earth that moves in society.
The Palestinians are the victims of this conflict
The victim role of both parties is also abused in public discussion. He chooses the victim, and justifies all his actions on this basis. This is a gross simplification.
Imagine a family with two children. In this family, the mother is abused by the father. The mother is a victim. But the mother also abuses her two children. No matter what her father does to her. The mother is the victim and the oppressor at the same time. Her status as a victim does not justify her mistreatment of her children.
What do we know about the father? Every parent should be able to imagine – even if it is painful – that it is possible to destroy a human being. Creating a violent psychopath. Is this what happened to the father?
You almost have to be a sociopath not to see that the Palestinians are the victims of this conflict.
Their situation is more or less linked to this period and this geography. We all know the history of violent suffering among Jews. It is larger and more widespread. The significance of their story is a mixture of the global and the local.
How to put the two in a family analogy? How can the issue of representation be solved?
Hamas does not represent the entire Palestinian people, just as the current right-wing government does not represent the tens of thousands who have been protesting against it for months.
For example, is Hamas the mother? Who are being abused by the State of Israel, and therefore mistreating their own children and the children of other children? Certainly many variations could be used, and I don’t know which one is less wrong. But again, to argue over details and nuances is clearly to miss the point.
If you see two people fighting in the street, is your thinking simple enough that you tend to assume that one of them must be an angel and the other a devil?
Latest news about the war in Israel
It indicates a lack of empathy
Individual events are also a bad window to look through. We just put together a brutal IS-level event. Who cannot defend themselves.
It has never been seen since the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982, and it is also indefensible. The incident is clearly visible, and will be presented in full.
At the same time, this is a death toll that Palestinians have witnessed many times before, and now they are likely to face much worse. It is not clearly presented, mostly because it occurs in an area that is largely difficult to cover. But if I think about my two children, I don’t know if there’s much difference in the way they were killed:
With firearms or bombs.
The point is that empathy swings back and forth depending on what happened in the last news cycle.
Maybe that’s a good thing. If one has a very rigid perception of who is right and who is wrong, empathy will not be stirred at all when new events and evidence emerge. No matter how terrible the things that happen to the “other side” are. It indicates a lack of empathy.
But this conflict now extends over many decades. Allowing the latest news cycle to dictate one’s view on it is also not appropriate.
For full transparency: This text was written by someone who splits his sympathies for both sides about 65/35 in favor of the Palestinians. It is often justified in the suffering experienced by both parties, whether in conflict situations or in daily life. In particular, the differences in everyday conditions are enormous. And also in the completely ridiculous difference in power.
I have little sympathy for this
It is said from many sides that one of Israel’s great statesmen, Abba Eban, believed that the Palestinians posed an existential threat to Israel in the same way that Luxembourg did with the Soviet Union. If the quote is true, there is a lot of truth in it.
At the same time, it is impossible for an outsider to fully understand the depth of the collective trauma and subsequent fear that the Jewish people experienced for more than several hundred years, before they landed on the man’s head right there on the sidewalk. .
I still – like Deutscher – blame Israel, which is superior in terms of power, more than the Palestinians for the fact that this conflict has ended up as it has. Not everything, but more than that.
However, I can see that reasonable people could weigh history and empathy differently, and end up with a different conclusion than me.
What I don’t have much sympathy for are people who insist on twisting all arguments and overturning all rhetorical arguments to avoid putting anything on the shoulders of “their side.”
In recent days I’ve been surprised by the number of balanced texts I’ve read. It is powerful, especially after two days of massacres, the results of which we are now witnessing. Then we will see what happens when the death toll in Gaza rises into the thousands in the coming days and weeks.
I must also say that I see a lot more apparent unilateralism on the pro-Israel side than on the pro-Palestinian side. The angriest and cruelest of them all said, “They deserve everything they get.” But I may be influenced by my own point of view.
I would also guess that the people who are most angry about this text are the people who see it as having a lot of truth, but would rather not have it for the sake of simplicity and convenience.
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