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GS-IV : Ethics

Israel and Palestine conflict- Ethical Dimension

  • 08 June, 2021

  • 8 Min Read

Israel and Palestine conflict- Ethical Dimension


  • The recent clashes between young Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank are a reminder of why it is so important to understand that the challenge of peace in that region of the world is actually the challenge for all of us who have been witnessing for the past 70 years a murderous and horrific conflict between Arabs and Jews.

A common humanity

  • The refusal to kill or to legitimate murder is the starting point where Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation can begin.
  • The moral courage to accept one’s wrongdoings can help stop the perpetuation and deepening of a war between the two nations.
  • Fearful men and women who cannot visualise a goal or goods beyond a mere instinct to survive cannot help the process of peace.
  • A fearful person cannot love, have the desire, or have hope.
  • It is perhaps too much to hope that a community, a state or for that matter, even an isolated individual, can admit to being wrong.
  • But to hope is already a step forward and to do one’s best for such hope is a giant leap forward.
  • There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the clash between Israelis and Palestinians is a clash between two versions of the same lived experience.

Sharing the same fate

  • There are no good guys and bad guys in this conflict, as most people living outside this region tend to perceive it.
  • We are talking about two nations that have been living with their shattered dreams and broken hopes.
  • In a way, dying together, more than living together, has brought Israelis and Palestinians to share the same fate.
  • They are burning in the same fire.
  • So either each nation can run for its own life and let the other fade or both nations can try to fight the flames together.
  • This is because neither Israeli Jews nor Palestinian Arabs can find a national homeland anywhere else.
  • This is why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is neither a clash of cultures nor a clash of religious traditions, but a clash of intolerances and prejudices among two nations who share the same boat.

An iron wall of hatred

  • For too many years an iron wall of hatred, violence and fanaticism has separated the world of Israelis from that of Palestinians.
  • As a result, we have traumatised and untrusting people on both sides.
  • For much too long, the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world have treated Israel as an infection that will simply go away.
  • For their part, many Israelis have treated the entire Palestinian issue as no more than a vicious invention of a pan-Arab propaganda machine, aimed at undermining Israel’s legitimacy in order to destroy it.
  • In terms of violence committed in the region, the major human rights violations are generally perpetuated by the Israeli military and various Palestinian militant groups that claim responsibility for killing civilians.
  • However, the peoples of both countries are in broad agreement that it is never justified for an individual person or military to target and kill civilians.

Need for Idealism

  • Many young Israelis and Palestinians reject violence in the long run and favour non-violent forms of negotiation as the best approach to achieving self-determination and security.
  • Is this an idealistic dream? Maybe. But perhaps idealism is the most realistic approach at this time because non-violence is the solution most grounded in reality.

Non-violence is the only alternative

  • As we have seen in the past 70 years, violence has not worked and submission to domination has been intolerable.
  • Non-violence, it would seem, is the only alternative.
  • This is the only strategy that can assure Israelis their security and Palestinians their state.
  • The key requirement for any peace settlement is that violence must end.
  • This does not mean that we have to be silent in an undignified way in face of the deaths of innocent civilians on both sides.
  • It means that we need to launch a global movement of non-violent resistance to the violent policies of those who are against a coherent and proactive negotiating position.

Wheel of victimisation

  • If each side has refused to understand the other, it is because each side has seen itself only as a victim.
  • A sense of victimisation has accompanied both sides, with a justification and legitimisation of violence.
  • There is doubt on whether there can be a partner to deliver peace.

Israeli Dilemma

  • Roughly speaking, Israel is caught in a dilemma.
  • If it does not end the occupation and retreat, it will lose both its integrity as a Jewish democratic state and its international legitimacy.
  • But if Israel does end the occupation and withdraw without a peace accord, it will be perceived by its neighbours as an act of weakness.

Steps to be taken by Israel to solve this dilemma

  • To solve this dilemma, Israel must get its act together.
  • It must reform its political system; it must come up with a government of wisdom and common sense.
  • But it must do more than that. It must create a new, relevant narrative, which is a narrative of tolerance and dialogue.

Way forward

  • It is time for Israel and Palestine to underline the renunciation of violence and murder as a moral imperative and an alternative course of action.
  • But for that, they both need to understand that they are victims of the same fear, prejudice and intolerance.
  • Undoubtedly, light and hope can only come from a non-violent dialogue between young Palestinians and Israeli youth.



Source: TH


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