Before I understood many details about the conflict, Israel had my support because they fought to defend themselves. The reasonableness of their position seemed so obvious to me that it was difficult to understand how so many people could find fault with them. This editorial helped me to understand both what makes people oppose Israel, and why that opposition is based on a misunderstanding. When Friedman pointed out that Israel sees itself surrounded by enemies, I realized that some people consider Israel the aggressor simply because its army is stronger, larger, and better equipped than the Palestinians. From this point of view, Israel is ungenerous at best for not making more concessions. Friedman dispels this misperception by explaining how Israel must look beyond Palestine, to the Arab neighbors waiting in the wings. While many perceive Israel as holding the upper hand in the immediate conflict with Palestine, we must remember that Israel is heavily outnumbered in the regional conflict encompassing the Middle East.
You’re right! Israel is heavily outnumbered in the regional conflict, but also in the broad spectrum of voices online and on college campuses. Anything that Israel does, including Operation Breaking Dawn, which is taking place now, is always seen as a bad thing or something that they should apologize for. Both Israel and Palestinians (in this context, Hamas) are at fault for a number of things, but nobody acknowledges the wrongdoings on the side of Palestine. Granted, there most definitely are things that Israel does wrong, usually the things people point out are just a way of Israel defending itself. Thanks for your opinions!
I agree with you that Friedman’s article helped me understand the perspective of those who put all of the onus to make peace onto Israel because they see Israel as the stronger party in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, a conflict in which they see only two parties. However, Friedman offered a very helpful way to inform those who have this critique by pointing out all the other parties–and threats to Israel–that are actually involved.
After reading Friedman’s article in The New York Times, I was able to better understand how multifaceted the conflict actually is. Sometimes when we are so focused on what is in front of us, we forget to take a step back and remove our bias to see an issue for what it really is or from a different viewpoint. For example, I have two older twin sisters and when they argue, they both come to me with conflicting stories in hopes of getting me to be on their side. From both sides of the stories, I usually gather more emotion than fact and from there I am able to see why each sister is upset. This allows me to zoom out and see other factors that may have contributed to the issue similarly to how Friedman describes the way Israelis view the conflict. This article encouraged me to step back and look through a different lens and helped me to realize my bias is present, but also to still be open-minded to the bigger picture. Essentially, it is important to understand that different groups involved will have different attitudes and opinions on the issue that impact them personally.
Hi Analeeza, thanks for this beautiful write-up. As stated clearly this conflict is much bigger than it seems to be, and one who is not actually an Israeli or has never been to Israel will find it a bit confusing in understanding the bigger picture, because each party of this conflict will have a different tale to tell. However, Friedman has provided a brighter image of the entire Israeli-Palestinian through his article.
I’m gleaning two main learnings from Matt Friedman’s article. Firstly, that this conflict involves multiple interconnected players, geographies and conflicts that are important to take into account. By narrowing our focus to Israel and Palestine as the only two players involved, our understanding of the problem and ideas for solutions will be skewed. In the article’s comment sections, many readers thought this thesis was a convenient way to avoid the oppression of Palestinian people.
Secondly, peace in this region didn’t preceded Israel’s existence and won’t begin again with Israel’s absence. Friedman is saying that the idea that peace is all in the hands of Israel and relies solely on their actions doesn’t take into account the tensions in the region. People in the comments section seemed to miss this point and say “I think the Palestinians would be happy simply to have their land back and to live peacefully on it.”
I appreciate your point about peace in the Near East not preceding the existence of the modern state of Israel. I think that’s critical to recognize. Without that knowledge, it could be easy to believe the root of the problems in the Near East lies with Israel, but digging into even a little bit of the history easily disproves this.
Yes I think it’s important to realize that every part of the world has it’s own endemic conflicts and while we need to take both a bird’s eye perspective of the interconnections to the global picture, keeping our ears to the ground allows us to understand and grasp more intimately the cultural factors that are at play as well. Change involves a process and without keeping this in mind we would be overlaying onto the situation a reality different from the one truly at play.
I appreciated you making the point about Israel’s absence and the assumption by many that its absence would bring peace, or if not peace, that the region would be better without it. Lamentably, I think many would prefer justice over peace, even if the future would be proven to be worse without Israel. Yet what does justice look like here? The land is steeped in decades long distrust and discord and, as you note, a simple “return to the land” solution (as if there is a simple option) would not solve the problem as some are truly seeking Israel’s destruction. Israel’s absence, for current residents or for Palestinians, would ultimately be neither just nor peaceful.
The article thoroughly explains how complex and multifaceted the conflict is. Something I learned this past month with Passages in the Faith and Foreign Policy fellowship, is that the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” is just as complex as the Syrian civil war, and sometimes even more so. When I wrote my thesis before graduation, I made sure to include language that says “all sides” when referring to the conflict, and it is so refreshing to hear the same thing from others. It is also interesting to learn that peace in the region, ultimately, has nothing to do with the state of Israel and its existence. Friedman explains the tensions in the region, which usually does not start or end with Israel, but instead, they are used as a scapegoat. I think that when I discuss the conflict, I often forget that peace in the Middle East does not depend on, nor will it come through, the state of Israel.
I think most people on planet regardless their faith and knowledge, if they zoom in it’s hard to understand the conflict between Israel and Palestinian the reality is they are in conflict. My self before, I thought that it was a conflict of 2 Nations only but after to learn this course now I know that is butter to zoom out because outside, the conflict involves so many Nations. The conflict is Jewish and Muslims which means all Arabic countries nevertheless Christianity “Europe“ is involve as well as western all are playing a role in the conflict. Is true that this conflict involves multiple interconnected players. It’s a big distraction when you look this conflict as Israelis and Palestinian conflict you will loose your focus and you will not know what is going on but let’s stand up and look in different ways zooming out this will help us to know the reality.
Hi Banza, indeed you are quite correct. The conflict when looked at from the media’s perspective will seem like a war between two separate states. However, Friedman was very much helpful in providing a detailed information on what the problem really is. Hel[ping us realize that this is far beyond what most of us see/hear through various media agencies, as this is a conflict backed by many interconnected factors.
Matti Friedman’s column is inspired and clarifying. Just by casually viewing or reading the news (which may have been my primary source of information about the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” until recent months), you would absolutely believe, as Friedman suggests, that the conflict is only between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people and that as the more powerful party, Israel has more responsibility to end the conflict. Yet, this is easily debunked. The fact that most of the wars Israel fought were actually against Arab states, not Palestinians, is very telling. The picture is bigger than the narrative we’re often sold. Because Israelis have a “zoomed-out” perspective they see security risks caused by a possible Palestinian state (and subsequent power vacuum) that could be caused by Russia, Iran, ISIS, and Hezbollah. This informs Israel’s actions, and we can’t effectively grapple with the situation if we don’t recognize that. My key takeaway from Friedman’s column is that regional context matters, and you can’t understand the full truth about the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (for lack of a better term) without it.
Matti Friedman’s article provided a clearer and bigger picture of what the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict really is. By hearing what Matti Friedman had to say about the conflict, I have gotten to understand that the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is not just a conflict between two nations, but rather this is a conflict between two religious groups (Jews and Muslim), and is being supported by other factors. As such, the conflict is one that’s so complex that it seems quite impossible to have it easily resolve by just the two nations. This has been one of the most important reasons of which all efforts by other superior European Countries and the US has been fruitless, and there has been little or no improvement of the conflict. I also understood that the conflict must have been in existence before Israel even became a nation in 1948. This article has indeed opened my mind to view the conflict in its entirety.
Just as I thought when I read the article, the conflict seemed to have existed only between two sovereign nations which is right. Later did I realize that there were external parties like the US and Europe either escalating or mitigating the crisis. In my view, the root cause of the conflict seems irrelevant, but it’s fair enough to pout out that it was wrong by every party involved to have ignored its seriousness initially. I also catched the point that denotes much of the intensity of the crisis to lie between Jews and Muslims. Just to digress a little, a small axe can cut down a cotton tree with skill. Nothing in life must be overlooked especially when it exists between two or more people.
Hi Abigail, I enjoyed this article because it was quite thought-provoking. I find the “zoom in” and “zoom out” elements of this module at large to be helpful, as they effectively express why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really not about Israelis nor Palestinians at its core. While I knew that Hamas and Hezbollah (among others) are aggressors, I find that the explanations in this section have equipped me to better articulate the nature of the conflict to others.
Thank you for sharing, I really like how you made the connection between your clinical work and the article; collecting case histories for patients is very important and should be done before we diagnose and start any treatment plan. The purpose of the case history is to provide possible reasons for the results received after an assessment- side note I am also going to school to be a clinician (SLP clinician). I agree with you, before we can move forward or offer a solution it is important that we step back and consider reading other sources regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, study history, and take courses like this that build on each other and offer us some insight into what we are seeing and experiencing today.
Thanks for your post, Abigail. Very well said. It’s so interesting that people bend over backwards to ensure thorough contextualization in academic research but do almost nothing for that objective when it comes to anything political. It certainly waters down the political debate, and it also leaves people’s real lives in the wake of huge misunderstandings of policy makers who have no idea what they’re talking about. I think reading and reading and reading + visiting and seeing and meeting are absolutely crucial for substantive opinions on things of world politics, which are infinitely complex, just like any person is who sees the doctor as you mentioned.
I also couldn’t get past the paywall. But, despite the click-bait editorial title, the concepts as you summarized are beneficial. I particularly appreciated understanding the ethnic vs religious challenge (Arab nationalism vs Islamism), the roots of Palestine and who are the Palestinians, the consequences of the fall of the Ottoman empire on Islam, the security dynamics of the conflict, the Jews vs Muslim dynamic, and so many other “zoomed out” dimensions of the conflict!
I love how you connected this piece to your studies in psychology, i.e. the importance of studying history before coming to a conclusion. Most people I come across have an opinion on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, but majority of the time, I find that they reached their conclusion on which side to support without taking the time to understand the history underlying the conflict. They quickly jump to conclusions based on what the media tells them or based on tidbits of information they read or hear about in society. This undermines the complexity of the conflict and creates a society with extreme views that are not founded on academic research and truth.
Hi Ana Paula. Even those who experienced Israel have to agree with Matti Friemann. Israel is such human biodiversity, even just the Jews, they came from all four corners of the earth. Then the diversity of the Arabic-speaking population. The only political view of the Israeli-Palestinian problem does not do justice to the complexity at all. The Jews say: If two Jews are together, then there are three opinions and four parties, how should foreigners who have no idea play along?
I totally agree with the fact that solutions cannot be clear-cut. I think that is a huge problem with people today. Any time I talk in-depth about the conflict with a lot of people who haven’t studied it like I have, they often say “well what is your solution?” as if that is a simple thing that I can just provide right here and now. The solution is going to be hard for whole groups of people; there is no way that I have an answer for the whole conflict by myself. If I did, why would it still be ongoing? Thank you for your post!