In the first part of this comprehensive analysis, we have analysed the Israel-Palestine conflict within the framework for building understanding around political events. If you have not read the first part of this analysis, it is strongly recommended to do so. The second part builds on the findings of part I, which provides the necessary context for the analysis to unfold its full explanatory capacity. You can find the link to the first part of the analysis here.
Step 4: Background Information
In the first part, we found out that the current developments within the ongoing conflict are rather secondary, because they are a continuation of a conflict that is rooted in developments reaching back over more than a century. Therefore, it is all the more important to understand the historic context. Basically, two different dynamics led to a clash between Israelis and Palestinians. On the one hand, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War left the Arab world wholly unprotected against foreign (non-Ottoman) intervention. While the Ottoman Empire was in large part able to shield the Arab world from foreign intruders and also effectively fought them, once they tried to gain control over the territories, after its collapse, the Arab population needed to reorganise itself. The British and French entered the region and sought to gain control over the Arab world, which they were also able to do. Under the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, the French controlled the territories of modern Syria, Lebanon and parts of Iraq, which was later fully put under British mandate by the League of Nations. Jordan and Palestine were under British control, starting from the ratification of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. In short, the Palestinian people, who were formerly granted domestic autonomy under the Ottoman rule, now faced the challenge of building a nation state and identity basically from scratch. With the British entering their lands, this building process was based on the terms of the intruders and, hence, did not represent an organic development.
The second development that led to the conflict was the century-old integration problem of the Jews in Europe. Arguably since the emergence of Judaism, Jews were persecuted by various societies, religions, empires, kingdoms and states, ultimately resulting in the Jewish genocide in Germany, which is widely referred to as the holocaust. Interestingly, Jews are not to be viewed as a solely religious community, but rather as an ethnicity, which is quite unique. Most religions in the world are rather social constructs or spiritual guidelines that virtually anyone can adopt. Judaism can be adhered to, but that does not make a non-Jew a Jew. So with this unique connection between ethnicity and religion, but with a lack of a central state, Jews were always an ethnic and religious minority, regardless were they lived. This increased the potential points of socio-cultural tensions, which often escalated into the persecution of Jews. Because of that, Jews developed a doctrine of returning to Israel, as this is the designated home land within their belief system. This doctrine of return is commonly referred to as Zionism and gained prominence in the 19th century, as it became an organised movement with a political agenda. That being so, Jews in Europe had a decade-long history of lobbying political elites on the matters of Zionism. As it is with every organisation, over time the developed organisational interests are strengthened and enhanced. After the holocaust, the Jews were finally able to convince the European powers that a Jewish state needed to be established in Palestine and their call was met with approval, support and recognition of Israel as a state in 1948.
When these two developments came together, conflict became inevitable. On the one side, there is a Palestinian society that has no experience in statesmanship, institution-building, public administration and did not even have a distinguished national identity. The British imposed all of the above on the Palestinians after the Ottoman Empire’s collapse. It is clear that a people cannot adapt quickly to the new circumstances and even less so if they are imposed on a people by an external force. These aspects of a nation state need to develop organically. On the other side, there is a battered Jewish society. Jews, in contrast to Arabs, have had a long history of organisational struggle. Jews were required to adapt to the countries they lived in and, thus, gained significant experience in different regions and different eras. Although never having an own state until 1948, Jews were significantly advantaged over the Palestinians in administrative and organisational matters, as they were represented throughout all social classes within the European countries they lived in. More importantly, Jews have a common ethnic identity that does not only date back thousands of years, but was also defended throughout that time. With their own national/ethnic interest in mind, they had little left for the voices of the Palestinian people, who became increasingly alienated within their lands by the increasing Jewish immigration to Palestine. Due to its structural strength towards the slowly developing nation states of the various Arab people, Israel was able to fend off several wars with a number of Arab countries, while muting countless protests, uprisings, movements and guerilla offensives by the Palestinians. Over the decades, Israel gradually expanded into the last Palestinian-inhabited regions and also pursued an aggressive re-settling strategy of Israelis to expand their territorial control.
It becomes clear from the above, that the current clashes cannot be viewed as a unique event, but just as a continuation of a structural problem of conflicting stances. In essence, the problem is not even solely grounded in the different interests of the two parties. Rather, the problem arises from the stark power imbalance between the two parties. In various works of Essydo Magazine, it is pointed to the observation that conflicts can only arise in situations where there is a drastic power imbalance. Either the more powerful party uses the power vis-a-vis the other side to crush them and end the conflict or the less powerful side starts the aggression, as there is little for them to lose. Relatively balanced parties only fight each other in the rarest cases. We can observe this drastic power imbalance between the two sides from the very beginning of the conflict. In short, the conflicting territorial claims alone do not lead to open confrontations, but are dependent on a drastic power imbalance between the sides.
Step 5: Who Gains, Who Loses?
In this case, it is clear that both sides fight over the right to live in the same territory. Due to the overwhelmingly dominant strategic position of Israel against Palestine, the Israeli goal can only be the absolute control of the disputed territory. The Palestinians can only aim at retaining the currently inhabited territories. Next, they might aim for gradual expansion. But who wins what in this particular situation? Beginning with the Israeli side, they have good prospects to further diminish Palestinian-inhabited territories, as the military offensives force the inhabitants to flee from their homes. Also, with the air strikes on the Gaza strip, Israel substantially weakens future capabilities of the already ill-organised Palestinians to strike back in a meaningful way. Israel will likely use the chance to weaken Palestine as much as possible, as the international community will try to negotiate cease-fire agreements relatively soon. With a highly imbalanced ratio of casualties (over 150 so far on the Palestinian side; under 20 so far on the Israeli side), continued aggression will certainly be in the interest of Israel. Technically, Israel is winning. However, there is often a bias of humans to side with the weaker party. In this case, much of the global community (to a lesser extent in the West) is supporting the Palestinian struggle, as it acknowledges Palestine’s right to exist. Because there is such a glaring power imbalance, Israel might take temporary reputation damage. The damage is only temporary, because in the rarest cases will a state’s empathy for a non-state actor outweigh the potential diplomatic gain forgone or harm suffered from such an empathy.
The Palestinians are the clear losers in this conflict. First and foremost, the casualties on their side are significantly higher than on the Israeli side. Moreover, many have to flee their homes – mostly abroad, which creates the desired result for Israel. This leads to the gradual loss of Palestinian land. As this development continues, there is a real threat that Palestinians will one day not have any land left that they can call theirs, virtually becoming an ethnic minority in other countries – ironically, the starting point of the Jews before they moved to Palestine. In the short run, Palestine, however, enjoys much of the global community’s support – at least verbally. As mentioned before, this is due to their weak position, but is also solely temporary, as no state has an interest in risking confrontation with Israel over the Palestinian people. It is only thinkable that the Arab nations, due to their ethnic connection to the Palestinian Arabs, would risk such a confrontation – as they already did several times in the 20th century. However, the Israeli state is strongly backed by the Western countries. Accordingly, no country has a rational interest in a conflict with Israel. That being so, supportive countries provide arms and expertise to the Palestine Libration Organisation or Hamas, at most.
Another big winner is on the sidelines of this conflict: the West. Its support for Israel comes, in form of conscious agenda-setting without using strong rhetoric. Western media guides the attention mainly to Palestinian aggression without making the portrayal overly blunt. Generally, it can be said that Western media is comparatively passive. As a measure, we can think about the media coverage of a fire in a French church (Lesbos and Notre Dame). However, this passiveness is enough to direct the anger of the Muslim world also against the West. With a large Muslim minority in Western countries, this leads to societal rifts within those countries. What does not sound much like a win at first is actually part of a successful governing strategy: divide and rule. Under this concept, the governing tries to fragment the governed into many different parts and tries to reinforce those rifts. The prerequisite for this strategy to work is that the society needs to be socio-culturally heterogeneous. As the anger of the Muslims against the West grows, they can be portrayed as dangerous by the media. This enables Western countries to not only monitor and restrict the Muslim minority with a ‘proper’ justification, but also helps to control the indigenous population, as fears of Muslim grows. This fear of Muslims and the resulting antagonism against them is already very prominent in Western countries. Since the global Muslim community blindly runs into this trap by continuing to push blunt media campaigns based on evoking strongly negative emotions, it is the clear loser on the sidelines of the conflict.
Step 6: How Does That Relate To Me?
As a rule of thumb, this last step’s importance to a person correlates to the degree of closeness to one of the actors outlined in step 3. Here, the fully detached person merely has an interest in the cessation of hostilities, but in the case of an individual who belongs to one of the 4 involved actors (Israelis, Westerners, Palestinians, Muslims) the ideal behaviour for furthering the group’s interests is discussed here. Starting with an Israeli, a sustainable end to this lengthy conflict would come in form of Israel’s total control of the territory or a full exclusion of all Palestinians to the Gaza strip. The best course of action would be to remain passive, both verbally and physically. The reason for that is that any individual action caught on camera would add to the reputation damage Israel is already taking, while adding nothing to the campaign. Also, Israelis should not voice their support and simply trust in their government’s ability to bring about one of the two ideal results.
Continuing with the Westerner, a possible course of action is to avoid a discussing the topic. Since the Western media goes for a strategy of subtle agenda-setting, Western individuals should persistently resort to empty phrases, such as “we should aim for peace”, “I don’t really understand it, but hope everything will be fine” or “it is all so sad what is happening there”. By doing so, they play down the extent of the conflict and the anger of the Muslim world is falling on deaf ears. This creates a power imbalance between the West and the Muslim world and reinforces Muslim minorities’ inferior position within Western societies. However, a better strategy is to verbally side with the Muslims, but leaving the support unfollowed by actions. This leads to unaltered results on the ground, but gives the Muslims the feeling of being heard, which, in turn, leads them to reduce their efforts to support Palestine.
For the individual Palestinian, the situation is much harder. Since an important part of the opposition’s strategy is to remain ignorant, rhetoric courses of action, such as social media campaigns or disclosure of video material to inform the world, are highly ineffective. Rather, Palestinians need to take physical action by collectively joining the military branches of the resistance. Ideally, the Palestine Libration Army is able to bring all the military sub-groups together and establish a functioning organisational structure within a short period of time (which is obviously highly unlikely). In the current situation, every individual Palestinian is an important addition to the resistance, but needs to become part of the comparatively organised military struggle. People with relevant expertise in administrative matters should offer their services for free, in order to support the struggle. In general, the military offensive should be organised around guerilla tactics. The reason, why this course of action is the most effective one, is that Palestine needs to quickly bridge the power gap to Israel. Only by doing so, less violent ways of compromise can be sought. The aim is to achieve power parity. If we think about it in this way, we quickly see that there is a lot of ground to be covered here.
Finally, we are turning to the global Muslim community. Since the West has established a rhetoric power position with its passive and ignoring approach, the main concern for the individual Muslim is to regain ground in terms of rhetoric power, in order to be able to effectively push for the Palestinian agenda. Accordingly, Muslims need to stop presenting videos of negative Israeli action, stop referring to international law and to concepts like fairness and equality. All those things fall on deaf ears in the West, because they are not in its interest. More importantly, however, such an approach implies that the Muslim world is dependent on the acceptance of the West that Israel is wrong here (from the Muslim perspective). It then looks like the West is the relevant (moral) authority that needs to be convinced and that has the power to stop the conflict. The individual Muslim must turn away from this approach. Muslims should rigorously boycott Western products and services, while also reducing engagement with Western societies and cultures to a necessary minimum. Especially regarding the ongoing coverage in the media should not be designed in a way that implies that the West is the recipient of the information. When Muslims start to rethink the way they communicate this issue and rather shape the content in such a way that addresses the own socio-cultural group, they will see that up to this point their rhetoric reinforced the West’s soft power towards the Muslims. They need to change this by acting like they are superior to the individual Westerner, in order to reach rhetorical power parity quicker. If they from now on act as if they were on eye-level, reaching this parity takes longer, but might lead to less friction between the civilisations. By doing all this, they force the West into changing their approach to the Muslim world overall. This leads to more productive negotiations at the diplomatic tables, not only on the Palestine issue, but other issues as well. As an acute response to the Israel-Palestine conflict, the individual Muslim must rethink her power relation to the West and act accordingly, since the current approach of the Muslim world does more harm than good.
We have now reached the end of this analysis. What seems to be a lengthy and complex work, in comparison to regular newspaper articles, is actually an analysis with medium depth. However, it should give you an idea of how much information we lack when turning to the wrong sources. Incomplete, or even flawed, information is extremely dangerous, as it unnecessarily prolongs conflicts or even worsens them. With all of the above, you are well-equipped to develop your thoughts and actions on this matter.