Thursday, June 29, 2006

The chicken and the egg: Yet more Gaza blues…

Alex Stein, over at, has an excellent piece on the unravelling situation in Gaza. Although it's already been superseded by the most recent events, the arrests of Hamas leaders, it's well worth the read:

What came first? The chicken or the egg? Recently, scientists claimed to have resolved the issue. It was the egg. Apparently, genetic material doesn’t change during an animal’s life. Hence, in prehistoric times, the chicken must have first existed as an embryo inside an egg. This is, of course, the causality dilemma par excellence. One cannot have one without the other. And somehow, resolving the issue doesn’t prove satisfying in the slightest. Because we still know that we need a chicken to produce an egg, and vice versa. Knowing what came first doesn’t alter those basic parameters.

Cycles of violence are also determined by chicken and egg scenarios. Logically, some argue, if the source of the first act of violence can be traced, then responsibility can be attributed. In the case at hand, that of the escalating chaos in Gaza, the ‘pro-Israelis’ can point the finger at the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, while the ‘pro-Palestinians’ can point the finger at weeks of Israeli ‘restraint’, which left scores of innocent Palestinian civilians dead. In addition, with memories in the Middle East being longer than most, the blame game can be played out over the preceding years, decades and centuries. This is extremely satisfying if you’re in the business of trying to feel morally pure, but not if you are seeking to stop the violence.

The cycle of violence in Israel/Palestine plays itself out in a recognised paradigm: Palestinian attack/disproportionate Israeli response/Palestinian attack yada yada yada. Or Israeli attack/Palestinian response/Israeli attack yada yada yada. In terms of the chicken and the egg, it’s a causality palindrome. Being the weaker party, the Palestinians will always come off worse, at least physically. While they are aware of this, they are also trapped by the logic which suggests they need Israeli escalation in order to demonstrate their plight to the world. Such an approach costs lives.
Read on.


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