Sunday, April 11, 2010

on symmetry, empathy and Noa and Gil Dor

a group of people sharing a common cultural identity, i.e. a combination of tradition, language, historical origins and a sense of common destiny, are commonly referred to as "a people".

in order to "belong" to a people an individual must pass three tests:
1) one must identify himself as a member of the people in question.
2) one must be recognized as such by fellow individuals from that people.
3) one must be recognized as such by members of other peoples.

Both Jews and Palestinians fall under these definitions of people. This is the basic assumption behind the call for mutual recognition.

who needs a state?

The individual right for the pursuit of happiness is best manifested in the principle of equal opportunity. But in order for the individual to asses, to understand, to seize and to exploit a given opportunity, he/she must be well prepared!
The responsibility for this preparation starts at home with our parents. it includes language, traditions etc... in short, culture! or more accurately - our parents’ culture. that culture is typically most effective among individuals of the same "people". moreover the "rules of the game" within each society are best expressed by its traditional practices. these in turn are solidified then transformed into laws and constitutions of nations. however, whereas traditional practices can withhold regardless of a people's independence, formal laws and constitutions are meaningless without a territorial jurisdiction. It is no wonder that societies evolve from "wandering peoples" to "national states". It is a manifestation of the individual's wish to secure the best future for his children...

Both Jews and Palestinians have lived as peoples without their own independent country. At this time in history, both need a sovereign government running an independent national homeland of their own.

But as much as peoples need a land, lands throughout history have always been inhabited by more than one people! That is why "nations" are not synonymous with "people". Nations are born from the societies that live on a land. Israel and Palestine are no exclusion. They are inhabited by dynamic and diverse groups of people. In fact they are mixed with each other! The Israeli nation cannot and will not be comprised of the Jewish people exclusively. In fact the Israeli society has been grappling with this challenge since its inception and despite the ongoing violent conflict, it is has made substantial steps in the right direction. Unfortunately without peace based on mutual recognition, the formation of the Israeli Nation cannot be accomplished. The same is true for the Palestinian Nation with regards to its society's ethnical and religious diversity.

The failure to recognize each other's rights, compounded by exclusive claims of both people to the land, seem to be at the root of our inability to resolve the conflict.

The Palestinians need to recognize both Israel's right to exist in peace and security, and the Jewish people's right for a National home land in Israel. These are two separate and critical points.

Similarly, Israel needs to recognize both the Palestinian’s right for a national home land in Palestine, and the sovereignty of the future independent Palestinian state.

The ensuing territorial compromise has already been spelled out and should be implemented as a part of a comprehensive settlement based on the aforementioned mutual recognitions.

The right of return

The issue of the "right of return" of refugees of war to their homes should be resolved from the point of view of symmetry. both people feel they have a "right of return". We suggest replacing the term “right of return” with “the right to live in peace within secured and recognized borders of each people’s national homeland”.


The issue of Jerusalem touches upon the sensitive subject of religion. On the eve of the holocaust Memorial day 2010, it may be appropriate to speculate that since the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Romans, God seems to have given us the following message:
"My existence is relative, not absolute! There are two forces that drive conscious interactions in the universe: empathy and apathy. When human interactions are governed by empathy I come to be and whenever they are governed by apathy i cease to exist."

That means that God, in the deepest sense, is a metaphor for empathy without which no human society could have ever evolved. This notion connects perfectly with the idea of "love thy neighbour" and the concept of God as love on a universal scale, a concept common to many philosophies and religions in the world.

This piece of philosophy is entirely relevant to the political issue at hand since God, as an expression of human empathy, could not have promised anything to anyone based on apathy to the needs of other people! Human Empathy is all we need to enable us to recognize apologize and share, and that includes Jerusalem. When we do, we will finally arrive at the two state solution:

Israel - a "Hebrew" state:
1) The "national homeland" for the Jewish diaspora
2) A pluralistic democracy for all of its citizens

Palestine - an "Arabic" state:
1) The "national homeland" for the Palestinian diaspora
2) A pluralistic democracy for all of its citizens