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


  1. Dear Noa, I remember myself thinking of similiar things and having really...well, political projects for the region. It all depends on the leader and his courage. There are good leaders having good courage to lead their people into a fruitful direction, and bad leaders having courage to lead their people into a destructive direction. Bad leaders and good leaders without courage are both equally negative. Currently we have a very difficult state in Israel, let's say...I don't know how much the everyday life is affected by it and the spirit of this period, I'm out of Israel at the moment....Yet it seems to me, as long as no real cooperation is taking place, nothing will move. We can forget our plans or delay them for later. Cooperation, does not mean any "peace process" since there isn't one, and no sole governmental offerings like Gaza 05 and the 67 border proposal. That's only political jokes....Ifpolitical interests could be laid aside...too many countries concentrate on the region....
    Well..dreams. Meanwhile.
    BTW, it seems your change proposal for "right of return" is not precise enough, since to live in peace one eaqually can/can't with and without refugees. ...

    Kol tuv,

  2. Muchas gracias Noa por este Blog, tan urgente y necesario en estos momentos
    en un mes mas estare en aquella tierra....
    mi abrazo sincero y de corazon
    miguel angel

  3. Good article. How do you deal with all the hate that exists between some Israelis and Arabs? And how do you deal with all the hate from the world towards the current situation as described above? And how do you deal with all the religious aspects that seem to be the source of this hate?

  4. hello friends, Noa here, this is what gil dor wrote in response to tommarrow's comment:
    hate is a psychological mechanism which enables humans to "switch off" empathy so that they can kill other humans. it is typically triggered by fear! but can be taught too! in the most primitive way hate can save your life or your children's. so it makes sense, from an evolutionary point of view, that humans developed the capacity to hate alongside and as an antidote to human empathy and compassion.
    the problem is that "fear" is being triggered by "threats" now, the assessment of threats is based on a combination of instincts and rational thinking. fortunately and often unfortunately instincts are much faster then rational thinking. the only way to outrun instincts is education and general upbringing in a free, open minded, loving, intellectual family and society. when we deal better with "threats" we are less likely to be afraid and where there is no fear there is no hate!!! that is the full answer to the question presented by tommarroww.

  5. I think this is one of the better articles i've read about this problem, but ¿What's your idea for all of these words become a reality??

  6. Do your really believe that God is only a Metaphor? There is no real God who actually exists then?

  7. I needed a post like this to understand the problems between Israel and Palestine. In Spain we can only see what's in the news, and that is not always the truth.
    Lots of kisses