To:    Guardian CiF
Re:    The
Arab-Israeli conflict, group identity and man's animal nature
Date: Thursday 24 May 07

In response to Jonathan Freedland's Guardian article, "The six-day war is not over" on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Link to article and thread at The Guardian.

Jonathan Freedland's analysis seems pretty reasonable to me (see article).

It is the extremists on both sides (Israelis who want a Greater Israel and Palestinians who don't accept any Israel) who refuse to compromise and make the problem so utterly intractable, and on both sides they have succeeded in taking their more moderate compatriots with them (for which, rooted in our animal nature and behaviour, there is a terrible, but natural, logic).

In order for there to be any prospect of peace, the Israelis have give up their dream of a Greater Israel, while Palestinians have to accept that they lost the war(s) and recognise the existence of Israel. It is up to moderate Israelis and Palestinians to get together and overrule their respective extremist elements.

It is all about individual and group identity. At the moment, both populations are locked into their respective identities as "Jews" and "Palestinian Arabs" and are thus at loggerheads. Those who are mature enough need to reflect on their other, even more fundamental identities: as human beings and, if they are religious perhaps, as children of God - the same God even.

This does not mean that an individual has to give up his identity as a Jew or Palestinian (Arab, Muslim), but for the purpose of escaping the grip of their uncompromising extremes, they have to be able transcend it. This is "the" fundamental human/social problem facing humankind (not just Jews and Arabs), the understanding and resolution of which the survival of our species now depends.

But first, one has to recognise, from a zoological and anthropological perspective, the evolutionary roots of human nature and behaviour.