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Don't stereotype the multi-sided parties to the conflict

Reader comment on item: Why Oslo's Hopes Turned to Dust

Submitted by Gary Newman (Israel), Sep 21, 2003 at 07:03

Dear Daniel,

I usually agree with what you write, but …Here I am afraid your are "guilty" of the same error so many of us commit. By making generalizations such as "Palestinians/Israelis do/say/want/are …", one ignores the elements in each population that do not fit into these stereotypes.

Yes, there are many Palestinians who would never accept the existence of a Jewish state in their midst, just as there are many Israelis who believe in equal rights and respect for their Arab neighbors. However, focusing on the spokespersons of either of these groups is an over-simplification of the conflict. Unfortunately any consensus — on either side — is inherently unstable due to the many uncompromising forces present in this part of the world.

When you cite the barbarian Palestinian policy of human sacrifice for political gain, you fail to mention the intolerable procrastination by the Israelis — due to pressures exerted by nationalistic/messianic elements within its population — in significantly evacuating settlements in the occupied territories. Clearly, each side's fear of a civil war within its own population has prevented it from convincingly fulfilling its agreements to the other side.

The pessimists say that this conflict is intractable, since — within each side — there is a constituency that has obtained a critical mass which enables it to neutralize any stabilizing consensus within its side of the conflict. The optimists reply that no conflict has ever continued indefinitely, and they point to the historical periods where diverse populations have coexisted in a symbiotic relationship.

I wish we had the time to wait and see the optimists proven right.

Gary Newman

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