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The Israel-Palestine Conflict and Tribalism
By Brian Meinders July 31, 2014

The Israel-Palestine conflict, as many other facets of our public conversation, has divided people into tribes which view any criticism of their "side" as uninformed at best and hateful at worst. Those who favor Israel ask quite sensibly what we would do if people launched rockets into our cities and towns. Those who favor Palestine ask quite sensibly how we might react if we were subjected to an occupying military force which killed a multitude of innocents and deprived people of basic human rights. Both sides are probably going to accuse me of drawing a false equivalency, and I don't much care.

The truth of the matter is that any honest observer would conclude that both the Israelis and the Palestinians have some legitimate grievances. Both sides have committed horrible atrocities and endured inhumane treatment at the hands of the other. I don't know what the answer to the conflict is, but I think it begins with a recognition of that simple fact: there are no cartoon good-guys or villains in this conflict.

While people over there might be forgiven a certain amount of tribalism on account of being in the middle of what's basically a war, people over here have far less excuse. To the extent that people in the midst of a conflict dehumanize each other and idealize themselves, we on the outside should remind them of their common humanity, and call them to the treatment of each other which it implies.

Copyright © 2014 by Brian Meinders

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