Conflict in The Middle East

Jerusalem

An end to “Conflict in The Middle East” is unlikely to be achieved by conventional and time worn solutions which have achieved nothing over the decades.

At least 41 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded in protests at the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel on the same day the US fulfils its controversial promise to move its embassy to the contested city of Jerusalem.

This is not about politics. Or land. Or religion. It is about something much more basic and much more invidious. It is about human nature and how to change it.

Some would say that the Arab Israeli situation is complex.  Some would claim that you must be an Arabist or a specialist in Middle Eastern politics and history to understand and resolve the sad mess.

Wailing Wall
Wailing Wall

Not so. The facts are simple enough as are the causes of conflict.

Humanity has certain basic needs and certain basic emotions which will result in violence if left unsatisfied.

The physical needs can and should be satisfied: shelter, food, medicine, safety, a meaningful job to name but a few.  That such needs are not met in the middle east is hardly unique in a world full of conflict and poverty, so we should not be surprised.

The emotional needs are far harder to satisfy. We are all part of the animal kingdom and when put in a cage we will behave like the animals we are: we will fight tooth and nail for survival. We will operate on automatic response; our stress will rise, and our reason will fade. It is usually called “fight or flight” and all too often there is nowhere to flee so fight is what we do.

This is not to belittle the conflict. Or indeed any conflict. But a solution is going to require wiser heads than are currently engaged in the puzzle and solutions which have as much to do with psychology and physiology as “mere” politics.

Unfortunately, all parties in this and every other conflict in human history have hidden motives, secret agendas. They, we, all of us are fighting our own narrow corner, protecting our own narrow interests.

Jerusalem By Trey Hoagland Donatus - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,
Jerusalem By Trey Hoagland Donatus – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Despite the laudable aims of the so called “United” Nations we are a deeply divided world. The divisions are tribal; the squabble is a vast version of a dog urinating to mark its own territory.

All of nature marks its territory. All of nature will tear throats to win, to survive, to ensure it gets food and water, shelter and territory.

So, looked at with this broad overview the problem becomes straightforward to understand, if less so to overcome. We need to change our very nature. To take more notice of Confucius, Lao Tze and the Buddha and less notice of Trump, or May. Or Israelis or Palestinians.

Tehran By ninara - flickr.com, CC BY 2.5,
Tehran By ninara – flickr.com, CC BY 2.5,

Reach the children and educate them in peace and humanity. Wean them from narrow prejudice and divisive tribal religion. Treat the ills, provide food, shelter, medicine and peace.

Persuade all those you can to drop hostility and to embrace reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.

Brave words easily spoken from the peace and safety of an English spring garden. No doubt many will deride my words and my sentiments. But somewhere they will realise that deep down the only end to eternal conflict is an abandonment of Darwinian evolutionary struggle and the adoption of enlightenment.

Tabriz Iran
Tabriz Iran

 

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