“Antisemitism among residents of the West Bank and Gaza clocks in at an atomic 93% – nearly unanimous and absolutely unrivaled across all of human history.”
My triumphant declaration was met with faceless expressions. What I had assumed to be a clinching fact destined to pilot my presentation to victory, instead deeply perplexed, maybe even upset the young men and women in the crowd.
Why? Why didn’t they heed me? Why, even after conveying scientifically, (with facts, figures and statistics) that the settlements accounted for a mere fraction of Palestinian rigidity, did their hearts stay firmly rooted on the left side of the divide?
It is my belief, after meditating on this question for the last two years, that we as the pro-Israel community know nothing about the conflict and even less about how it’s misconceived in anti-Israel circles abroad. A bit of an arrogant statement, I concede – but hear me out.
Steal a glance at the opinion section of your favorite Jewish newspaper. What do you see? “UN Resolution 2334” “How Trumps Elections Hurts Israel-Arab Relations” “A New Israeli-American Dialogue for the Trump Era” etc etc. Almost without exception, the coverage of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict (IPC) is slanted towards the now, towards the particular, and towards the trending. Contrast this, however, with the well-founded wisdom that the yardstick for fluency in any realm – be it mathematics or economics or politics is measured in generalities and not in specifics.
The Greeks, some twenty-six centuries ago, were the first society that sought to decode nature through organization and systemization. Their revolution in thinking faces few opponents even today. ‘Expertise’, preaches a German giant of modernity, ‘is simply the completest objectivity’. ‘Genius holds up us to the magic glass, in which all that is essential and significant appears to us collected and placed in the clearest light…’ This is what the great Grecian generalizers accomplished, and their impact cannot be overstated. They left to us an indispensable intellectual inheritance in the form of science, logic, algebra, biology, aesthetics, history and political theory – a verifiable who’s who cast list of nearly every department in Academia.
If truth lives in the zoomed out, then falsehood lives in the zoomed in – for “without these Ideas, these generalization, regularities and ideals the world would be to us as it must seem to the first-opened eyes of the child, a mass of unclassified and unmeaning particulars of sensation; for meaning can be given to things only by classifying and generalizing them by finding the laws of their being and the purposes and goals of their activity.” White noise buzzs and interferes with understanding. The incessant beat of “Trump” this and “Obama” that obscures the bigger picture and clouds our conscience. The only path to mapping out the anatomy of any political saga – including the IPC – is to pan out, tune out and listen closely.
This is my ambition. I aim to canvass not the conflict but the meta-conflict, not intimately but abstractly – mobilizing much-needed aid from pictures and diagrams and other goodies. Our study is, of necessity, audaciously broad. Fathoming the Israel-Palestinian conflict requires a sweeping approach. We will criss and cross both time and space – through the Western mind, now and then, through philosophy, through history, through psychology onwards and upwards even glimpsing into the very future. The adventure will be grand, a galaxy of questions and issues abound – I invite you to join me.
- ADL 100, 2014 http://global100.adl.org/
- Arthur Schopenhauer, Wisdom of Life III 159, I 321
- Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy pg 27