Trying to understand global conflicts

Posted on Mar 14, 2022

Jun 4, 2021 - An attempt to understand the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

I live in Jerusalem. As such, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict surrounds me. Even though it plays such a great role in the shaping of my society, most people don’t make any effort to truly understand what’s going on.

We are fed by rumors and prejudice. We crown demons and martyrs as easily as we open up our phones. I too didn’t know enough to justify the confidence I was talking about the subject.

Last September I took matters into my own hands and started to get educated. My way of tackling this was through learning the history of the conflict. The Martyrmade Podcast has a six-part series covering the roots of the conflict up until 1948. Great effort was put into this and I recommend you to give it a try.

To get more details and wider scope I turned to Professor Benny Morris’s book - Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict. Morris did a good job at painting a clear narrative without dropping details. To remember as much as possible I decided to summarize the book [Hebrew].

During this process my views shifted several times. Some of the underlying truths have shown themselves as narratives. It was a good example of the close connection between knowledge and worldview. A different subset of knowledge (e.g one-sided narrative) paints a completely different picture.

Even though the bond between the two is strong, interpretation plays a crucial role. Scholars in every field hold different and even conflicting opinions. Moreover, the same knowledge subset can lead to different conclusions in different people.

It does not mean that there is no reason to strive for knowledge. Opinions that can be backed up are mostly superior over ones that can not. I encourage you (and should repeatedly remind myself) to aim for depth at anything we claim to understand.

Mar 9, 2022 - I read a post and now I’m confused

I read a post named “Everything the media hides from you about the crisis in Ukraine”. In the post, the writer rips apart the American perspective and explains the logic of Russia’s actions [not a moral justification but a presentation of the considerations and motives that are completely absent from the Israeli media]. I did not delve into the conflict before this reading but from the information I absorbed it seemed impossible to explain the logic behind Putin’s actions. Now I feel a lot of other things:

  • Frustration at the amount of effort one has to invest to understand such issues in depth.
  • Troubled by the thought of how little I know to back up my opinions. Which of my worldviews will change completely if I knew just a little more?
  • Contempt for the media. How shallow it is and how common the deception is.
  • Anger at those in power [political and economic] who let hundreds of millions pay the price for their greed and megalomania throughout history.
  • Inadequate by the thought of what happens when opinion meets reality. What will happen if you take a pro-Palestine activist from Switzerland and put him in an Israeli settlement for a year? What if you put him in a refugee camp in Nablus? Even better, what will happen if you do a Freaky Friday between a guy from Beit El and a guy from Ramallah? I would definitely watch that movie.
  • Tired of thinking about our local conflict and the “research” I did about it at the time. The summary took me so long and yet it is far from enough.
  • Desire to return to my day-to-day affairs and not engage in International Relations / History / Politics or to voice an opinion on any matter that concerns the public.
  • Wishing to write all of these feelings, a wish that fades with every character I type.
  • Longing for Rex Orange County’s album Pony.