The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israel's Policies

The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israel's Policies

The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israel's Policies

The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israel's Policies

Excerpt

In slightly more than one year, a generation of Israelis and Palestinians who were born after 1967 will come of age. Those young people have known the reality only of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; yet they see this reality solely through the prism of their parents' conceptual framework. For the older generation of Israelis and Palestinians, the last 16 years have been but a short phase in the long and bitter strife that began 101 years ago.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, like all intense conflicts involving the most cherished values and rights perceived as inalienable, causes the parties to adopt a selective attitude to real facts. Both Israelis and Palestinians receive only messages that reinforce their partisan perceptions, because only these messages seem to them significant. They see all events in terms of national gain or loss and the world as a disharmonious, conflict-laden environment. Each side views its own values as just, true, and absolute and formulates its ideologies and policies to protect these values against the "other side." This adversarial approach is based on the mechanism of coping with reality by avoiding all those elements that contradict their partisan perceptions. When Israelis and Palestinians write about the occupied territories, the reader has the impression that two different places and two distinct physical and human environments are being described.

Under such circumstances the need for an objective, impartial view seems essential, but third-party intervention in the dichotomous environment is problematic. Outsiders tend to assume two basic roles. The first is that of the objective "professional." Such people are rational actors who ignore perceived reality and concentrate on conflicts of objective interests. For them the politics of the conflict are the root of the problem, not its outcome. Because they are oriented to value-maximizing choice, they employ rational criteria . . .

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