Conflict between the State of Israel and Palestinians has been around for what now seems like forever. The official record would place the start date somewhere in 1948 or thereabouts. But, as far back as 1917, the Balfour Declaration is said to have set the whole thing in motion and kept it that way ever since.

What is it that drives such a long engagement, a confrontation so constant that it rivals wars of even greater timescale and those with a death tally far higher than that of its own?

Fear is the force that motivates and sustains such continued existence. Remove that fear from both sides of the equation and the result must then initiate a rapid winding down of hostilities, an acceptance by all concerned that things simply cannot remain as they have always been.

But how to still the fears of millions and quieten nightmares that have so often become realities?

The fastest and surest method is to bring into being a fear so all-pervasive and overriding that it dwarfs every other that has had the temerity to precede it.

What needs to be understood in this context is that only the very ultimate in fear can perform such a service.

The premise is this. Conduct that is considered unacceptable from a worldwide viewpoint is judged to have been carried out by this individual, that group or whichever community. Such actions have the very real potential to confer upon the aggrieved party an everlasting entitlement to that one most precious thing which has been at the heart of this dispute from the very start. Thus, for all those faced with this possibility, any sort of peace, whatever its pros and cons, must be deemed infinitely preferable to so public, so ignominious and so permanent a loss.

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The current round of peace negotiations may conclude with some formal statement of intent, various recommendations on this and that process, even agreement on certain rules and intentions. But the old fears will still be there and, while they are, prospects for any permanent settlement can shine but dimly in the presence of feelings and reactions so basic, so instinctive that there is little likelihood of ever suppressing them.

Time, therefore, to boost such prospects to a point where they dominate the entire picture, no longer overshadowed by a background filled only with fear, hatred, violence and despair. And, in a world already beset by an overabundance of these negatives, it would be better for us all if they could be reduced to levels far below those that have lasted for what today must seem like an eternity.

‘Yet all the suns that light the corridors of the universe shine dim before the blazing of a single thought, proclaiming, in incandescent glory, the myriad mind of Man’

Well, that mind has shone not so brightly of late. Indeed, one might wonder if its light has gone out entirely and only the darkness remains.

And it will be to our eternal regret if we allow such a state of affairs to continue indefinitely.