When To Stop Asking Why

There is a way for a six-year-old child to outsmart a Nobel Prize winner in an argument—simply by repeatedly asking one question: why? Let's begin with the Nobel Prize winner explaining a phenomenon. After their explanation, the child asks: why? The awardee then elaborates on why the phenomenon occurs. The cycle continues until the Nobel laureate eventually admits, "I don't know." This highlights that beneath all knowledge, there is an element of ignorance, regardless of how deep our understanding goes. If we want to solve a problem, investigating the cause of a problem by understanding why it happens is desired, however, it's essential to stop when the cause is beyond our control.

While exploring the causes of a phenomena are legitimate for academic investigations because academics are not expected to solve a problem only understand it, for those that need to solve the problem, continuing to explore the "why" can be a way to avoid solving the problem. The ongoing exploration may lead to causes beyond our control, providing a justification or excuse for not acting.

This dilemma is reflected in a debate about the Middle East crisis, where exploring the root causes becomes a hindrance to finding practical solutions.

In a debate with Israelis about the crisis, the suggestion to shift from the use of power to changing the mindset of Palestinians faces resistance. The Israelis argue that they are compelled to use power because they are hated, citing religious reasons. And the same with the Hamas that believes the way to expel the Jews is by using power, terrorizing them.

Attributing the cause to religious reasons brings us to a dead end.  Religions do not change.  The killing of Hamas terrorists however exacerbates the issue. The more Hamas terrorists are killed, the more Palestinians join Hamas, their children, friends, and extended family. And vice versa.

To solve the problem we should not explore the cause beyond the point where it is still controllable. In this case, I suggest the conflict exists because both Hamas and the Israeli settlers who are in power, do not have a common interest to solve the problem. Each wants the other out of the Sacred Land. Thus, the first step to solve the problem is to remove both the Hamas and the settlers from the power position they have. (Notice that I stopped my exploration on the why at a cause that is supposed to be controllable, resolvable.)

In Israel it will happen, I believe, at the latest in the next elections. With Hamas, it is more complicated because they are supported by an increasing part of the Palestinian population, and they are known to execute those that oppose them. To remove them from power requires the worldwide community to stop supporting them. Sanctions against Iran could be one action to take. Furthermore, Israel should seek ways to support and cooperate in building the Gaza strip together with the Gaza Palestinians, manifesting its desire to have peace with the Palestinians, that Israel is not at war with the Palestinians but with those that are active with Hamas and threatening Israel’s security.

Why should the international community do that? Because this conflict can escalate to become the cause of a nuclear third world war. Israel in its despair, attacked from the South and East by Hamas, and from the north by Hizballah, with an army composed of reserves, cannot maintain an ongoing war, the economy will collapse. In despair it might use a nuclear device in its possession. That could create conditions where other powers with an arsenal of nuclear bombs might try to settle their own issues by nuclear means, like Russia on Ukraine, North Korea on South Korea, Pakistan on India, or Iran, etc.

It should be in the interest of the world community to replace Hamas as the power running the Palestinian people. With governments that might seek solutions without war, there might come peace to the Middle East and remove the probability of nuclear annihilation of the world.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes