Thursday :: Jan 8, 2009


by eriposte

In the comment thread to an unrelated post, reader Shirin had a back-and-forth with two other readers after wondering whether there is some kind of deliberate attempt here at TLC to avoid talking about the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. Shirin shared her concerns about close friends who are at risk in that region and urged - "Talk about it, read about it (but not in the U.S. MSM for sure!), march, protest, call your Congress members, write your congress members, donate money to help the U.N. help the victims, take up a collection - do SOMETHING. Doing something is always better than doing nothing. "

Speaking just for myself, there is obviously no attempt whatsoever to ignore Gaza here. Quite the contrary. I wrote some posts on the topic here, here and here (others have written about the issue as well). The reason I am not writing every day just about the latest news out of Gaza - something you can easily find on many other blogs - is because I am not in favor of simply repeating bad news every day and feeling helpless about it. I want to do something about it and in my view, that something, is to build more awareness of how one should approach complex conflicts like these in order to identify long-term working solutions. That is really how I'd like to add value to this topic, rather than merely repeat my belief that Israel should cease fire and Hamas should stop firing rockets into Israel. (Not to mention, there are other good sites covering Gaza day-by-day).

I'm taking a different approach to this issue precisely to avoid merely getting caught up by the he-said-she-said-she-said-he-said of what is happening currently and prod myself to think about how to address the problem more wholistically. Here is what I said in the introduction to the series I am currently posting here:

I am going to utilize this opportunity to use an example from the past [Mizoram] to try and develop a simplified, generic framework for us to think about and discuss conflicts - their root causes, the conditions under which conflicts continue and the conditions under which they might be resolved successfully in the long term.

In my view, doing this is important for a couple of reasons. First, we have a natural tendency as humans to respond to ongoing conflicts largely through the lenses of firmly-held past perspectives, to focus more on the (in)appropriateness of the current actions in the conflicts and, in some ways, feel helpless that we are unable to solve the problem in a manner that seems just and fair to us. This could result in more entrenched views and distance us even more from what it might take to seek truly transformative solutions. Second, a focus on the present could lead to significant tensions and misunderstandings, even between friends who might have strong disagreements over the conflict, and could result in a lost opportunity to continuously and unstintingly engage everyone at the level of workable ideas and long-term solutions to the conflict. History suggests that major conflicts are rarely resolved through piecemeal approaches and restricted avenues of thought. To think "big" requires that we consider the multi-dimensional nature of each problem that needs to be solved and about related and unrelated historical precedents, and then develop a simplified, generic framework to look at each conflict with a lens that is wide enough to ensure that we have a reasonable shot at developing a lasting solution.


In the next few parts of this series I will briefly discuss the source of the Mizoram conflict, the factors that prolonged the failures and prevented a final solution for two decades and how those factors were gradually (or fortuitously) addressed over many years, in part due to visionary and transformative leadership, leadership of the kind that the U.S. badly needs after the wreckage left behind by the Bush administration. Based on that discussion I will outline a simple framework which I plan to use to discuss proposed solutions to the Israel/Palestine conflict (and others).

I usually don't respond to every comment, but the Israel/Palestine issue is important, I understand the pain caused by this conflict and I want to do something better than merely repeat what you can find in numerous other sites. That doesn't mean I will never write about some specific aspect of the current conflict now and then, but I'm trying to approach this issue from a different angle.

eriposte :: 6:24 AM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!