Sunday, May 8, 2016

The political algorithms of the Arab-Israeli conflict - by Martin Sherman

By its acceptance of the legitimacy of Palestinian national claims, Israel has, perversely, laid the foundations for the assault on its own legitimacy.

Martin Sherman..
05 May '16..

Algorithm: A detailed sequence of actions to perform to accomplish some task…; a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem – Webster’s online dictionary

Political realism believes that politics… is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature… The operation of these laws being impervious to our preferences, men will challenge them only at the risk of failure – Hans Morgenthau, “Six Principles of Political Realism”

Last week (in “A very simple conflict”) I pointed out that, arguably, the most widely propagated and misleading falsehoods regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, in general, and the Palestinian-Israeli one, in particular; is that it is an immensely complex and complicated problem requiring great sophistication and creativity to resolve.

The corollary of simplicity

I argued that, in fact, quite the opposite was true, but cautioned that recognition of the conflict’s stark simplicity does not in any way imply that it is easy to resolve. Rather, it is precisely its brutal simplicity that makes it so intractable and a solution so elusive.

This simplicity has implications for policy prescriptions for its resolution.

Indeed, as emphasized last week, any attempt to portray the conflict as “complicated” or attribute it any “complexity,” is not a mark of sophistication/profundity, but, at best, indicative of a desire to evade the cruel unvarnished truth.

For the fundamental parameters of the conflict and its defining outlines are so unambiguous and clear-cut that the myriad of details/nuances that enshroud it have little impact on the manner in which it should be addressed or the essential nature of the policy prescriptions required to contend with it. Just as a detailed knowledge of the countless bends and eddy currents in the flow of the Nile cannot obscure the basic fact that the river flows from south to north, so detailed familiarity with the nooks and crannies of the history of the conflict and/or the socio-cultural mores of the region cannot obscure the underlying bedrock of the antagonism between Arab and Jew over control of the land extending between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.

For if one’s point of departure is that Jews should have political sovereignty, administered through a Jewish nation-state, located in the ancient Jewish homeland, then the policy choices necessary to facilitate and sustain that objective are clearly manifest, incontrovertibly derived by a series of “political algorithms,” through a process of almost mathematical deduction.

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Dr. Martin Sherman ( is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.


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