When we do not understand a concept, we confuse the input with output, the cause and effect. As a result, either the diagnosis and/or the prescription are faulty.

Take, for example, the concept of love. In the spiritual arena love is an input: You love because of who you are. There is nothing to do to love. Just be. For some psychologists, on the other hand, it is an output. “Love is letting go of fear.”  It is the title of a book I saw in a bookstore.  So, if you let go of fear, you will love.

And at the Adizes Institute we have lots of discussions about another concept: Is trust an input or output?  Does trust impact organizational behavior or does organizational behavior impact trust?

I suggest to you that love, trust, respect, democracy, among many other concepts, are all both an input and output, depending where in the chain of the argument you stand. There is a chain of cause-effect.

Let us see how this applies to politics.

Those with a leftist political orientation, in Israel and abroad, consider Gaza’s “open air prison” as a cause and the missiles are the manifestation. As David Grossman, a famous Israeli author, said: “We cannot breathe deeply as long as people in Gaza are choking.”  The prescription, the solution, following this diagnosis, is to open the borders.

Those on the right side of the political spectrum in Israel reason in reverse: The “open air prison” of Gaza is an output. A manifestation. Gaza is closed hermetically (which creates an open air prison) because militant Palestinians are infiltrating Israel and terrorizing the country.  The political right’s prescription for solving the missile problem is to attack Gaza and beat Hamas into submission — that will stop the missiles and the terror attacks.

As we see from the above discourse, Gaza’s “open air prison” is an input and output, a cause and effect, and which of the two you choose, depends on your political view, left or right, and your choice will provide totally different prescriptions.

Who is right? In my opinion, neither. Or, stated differently, both, because “open air prison” is both a cause and manifestation, depending where in the means-end chain you stand.  As a result, both prescriptions for a solution will not work.

Let me build the chain to make the point clearer.

Why missiles?  Because Gaza’s citizens are in an “open air prison” so there is a need to remove the blockade.

But why are they in an “open air prison?”  Because terrorists reside there and penetrate Israel to create havoc and fear.  For its security, Israel needs to insulate them.

But why do terrorists reside there? Because Palestinians lost their land and their homes and have been unsettled refugees for over sixty years.

But why did they lose their land and homes? Because the Jewish people wanted their homeland after two thousand years of persecution and wandering the world.  And the trauma of the Holocaust made the need for a safe harbor for Jews even more acute.

Let us stop the chain here. For this analysis, there is no need to discuss why the Holocaust happened.  What is clear from this chain is that neither the missiles nor the “open air prison” is the root cause of the problem.  The root cause is this: two nations claiming the same piece of land for their legitimate reasons. The Palestinians because they lived there for hundreds of years; the Jews, traumatized by the Holocaust and always under threat of extinction, desiring a land of their own where they believe they could feel safe. Israel is that land. That is where their Jewish ancestors lived, and that particular body of land has been promised to them by God.

Cause    

 

Effect  

Jews in need of their homeland

caused

Palestinians to lose homes

Losing homes and land

caused

terrorists in Gaza

Terrorists in Gaza

caused

an “open air prison”

an “open air prison”

caused

missiles

By following the chain, we recognize the root problem: the Palestinians want their land and homes, thus the demand for the right of return and why they refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The Jews, on the other hand, traumatized by the Holocaust, want to have a country of their own, live a normal life, and stop wandering from country to country threatened by extinction wherever they are. Two thousand years of pogroms is enough.

So here we are.

The issue is not one of “open air prison” or missiles. They are manifestations of the problem. The root problem is that the Palestinians will not let go of their land, and the Israelis want the same land for their own reasons. And both nations developed their nationalistic consciousness recently.  There was no Palestinian nation until Israel was established, and the refugee problem developed. There was no overwhelming Zionist consciousness until the Holocaust galvanized the Jewish people to the realization they must rely on themselves for their security, no one else.

Now we have two nations with strong nationalistic fervor, wanting the same piece of land. That is the problem.  Missiles, terror attacks, open air prison, massive retaliation are all different manifestations of the problem. (I know I am simplifying the problem. I know. But on purpose.  To understand it well one has to simplify. )

If I am right that the conflict concerns two nations who today legitimately claim rights to the same land which neither is willing to let go, I see no solution until one of the two relinquishes its claim. Either the Palestinians honestly, truly, accept they lost their land and that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state, or the Jews in Israel should release the land back to the Palestinians and return where they came from, as the late Helen Thomas, a former White House correspondent, once recommended.

Now the reality test: Neither of these solutions can happen.  It is ridiculous to imagine four million Jews leaving Israel and scattering themselves around the world. And even if the PLO acknowledges Israel as a state, it does not recognize it as a Jewish state.  And Hamas will not even grant Israel the right to exist.  The conclusion is obvious:  no solution can be reached by the involved parties by themselves. Their starting positions are unbridgeable.  As Plato said, and I am paraphrasing, the parties cannot agree on something if they disagree on everything.

How about a third solution of compromise: they live together in one state or have two states and divide the land. To live together in one state means it is not a Jewish state anymore. Back to the root cause. Israel will not give up its Zionist dream. And look at the Arab states. They do not let ANY Jews there. Not even to visit.

Furthermore, the Palestinians did not live at peace in the states that hosted them. Lebanon. Jordan. And even Egypt closed the borders with Gaza so they cannot even travel to Egypt. So, why will they live at peace in this big new one state of Palestine/Israel? Too much risk for the Israelis. Won’t happen.

Two states? How? Israel has to up-root hundreds of thousands settlers to make it happen or let them live surrounded by Palestinians in the new Palestinian state. Again, a reality test says it will not happen. Cannot happen.  Dead end.

Because the parties in the conflict have totally incompatible starting positions, and no compromise is attractive,   there is no chance the warring parties can come to an agreement themselves. The strategy that has been the only way to arrive at a solution so far is for the involved parties to agree among themselves. This strategy is WRONG. It will not happen, and the proof is self-evident: all negotiations, sixty years of continuous negotiations, so far have failed.

The only chance for a solution is if it is imposed by a strong worldwide unified third party which has the power to impose its will: proclaim the borders of the two countries and enforce that Palestine, both in the West Bank and Gaza, be demilitarized.

Will it happen? I do not think so. The world is not unified or even in agreement about a solution. Different (powerful) nations have different interests, and those interests will ultimately up-end any agreement and undermine any solution. Furthermore, Israel will not agree to externally determined borders nor will the Palestinians accept demilitarization.

So, the suffering will continue. The manifestations of the problem will continue in one form or another. Tragic as it may be. In the face of this reality, Israel needs to be strong and survive as long as it can. It will periodically pay the price for its existence in human sacrifices.  And the Palestinians will continue their intolerable suffering economically and with incredible human losses.

How tragic.

Just thinking.

Ichak Kalderon Adizes