A system’s view of the Arab-Israeli conflict

General system theory is the science of “wholeness,” whereby the system is viewed as a complex of interacting elements. Each part of a system is interdependent on other parts of the system, in which there are circular rather than linear transactions and in which action in one part has consequences for other parts within the system.

The background to the Arab-Israeli conflict is theologically based, which, over centuries, has transformed into a complex religious/socio-economic-political system that maintains and reinforces itself.

The founder of the church, Augustine, condemned Jews to eternal pariah status while Islam four hundred years later, invoked dhimmitude which cast infidels as second class citizens. These injunctions have lasted in various forms and depict Jews as a loathsome homeless people. This pariah status did not cease after the Enlightenment but if anything, expanded. The Holocaust occurred 150 years after the Enlightenment, despite its promise of a world based on humanism and reason.

Massacres of Jews occurred long before the establishment of modern Israel, in Kishinev, Ukraine, Safed, Hebron or the Shoah. The status of the Jew and the Jewish state has not much changed. It did not change before or after the Six day War of 1967. Hence the “occupation” as the point of departure of the problem is absurd.

Contrary to expectations, Israel not only survived the 1948 Arab army invasions despite the West’s arms embargoes on the nascent state, but actually began to thrive. On the other hand, elements that maintained the conflict, entrenched themselves as part of the system through circular self- reinforcing motions with Palestinian victimhood as the bottom line.

One such element, UNRWA, is a unique refugee agency employing 30,000 that exclusively works with Palestinian refugees, and thus boasts its own unique definition of a refugee. This bizarre set up is only applicable to Palestinians. The rest of the world’s refugees fall under the UNHCR employing 8,000 with a smaller budget, different definitions, different rules and arguably, now with Syria, greater challenges. UNRWA exists to perpetuate the Arab-Israeli conflict, not resolve it, thereby being a major element and playing a dominant role in the system.

Another player in the system is the EU, which funds radical anti-Israel NGOs such as Be’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Zochrot, and others which NGO Monitor has outlined in detail. Simultaneously, the EU is also part of the Quartet that seeks a solution to the Arab-Israeli crisis. In other situations, this would be called a “conflict of interest.” Many of these organizations are further supported by mainstream churches and their organizations such as Brot fuer die Welt, Misereor and Pax Christi.

The Kairos Palestine Document signed by these churches and the WCC further underpins anti-Israel incitement and supports the BDS movement designed to damage Israel’s economy. There is no BDS for countries like Iran, Qatar or China. On the contrary, there are frenzied attempts to win lucrative contacts from them, some of which are openly committed to Israel’s destruction. NGOs and BDS are therefore significant elements in the system.

The media underpin the system through advocacy journalism. Language is carefully chosen to obfuscate facts. In Sydney, a 15-year-old Islamist killer is called a terrorist, but an 18-year-old Islamist killer in Israel is referred to as “just a kid,” who “allegedly attacked “someone before being shot — just like the Sydney terrorist. European media also embellish their newspapers with cartoons that demonise Israel. The NY Times questions the historical accuracy of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Some years ago during Passover, Die Presse in Vienna questioned whether Moses had actually existed, the implication being the delegitimization of the Jewish people and Israel. Media propaganda has long passed the overkill stage.

Universities are an important part of the self-maintaining system. These institutions clamp down on discourse, promote a particular view that vilifies Israel. Israel anti-Apartheid Week has assumed the status of an international hate fest. Students who diverge, bear the consequences. Pro-Israel guest speakers are either barred or even assaulted. Political correctness has replaced true democracy. Arab countries fund some Western universities, exacerbating an already tarnished intellectual culture.

The arts have played their fair share too in maintaining the system’s homeostasis. New theatre and opera productions, such as Nabucco, depict the slaves not as the Hebrews, but Palestinians, with Israeli gun-toting guards becoming bon ton. Paintings such as on Cologne’s Cathedral Square of an Israeli Jew cutting up a Palestinian kid on his plate beside a glass of blood remind people of who the villain is.

Israel too maintains its role within the system. It repeatedly complains of double standards, historical revisionism, and moral relativism. The EU turns a deaf ear to these appeals and a blind eye to its suffering. Israel then looks to the USA to rescue it from this maelstrom, thereby entrenching itself in a deep quagmire. When the USA “bails” Israel out often after making it sweat first, it reinforces the role of a helpless nation that lives on angst as part of its daily diet. Israel tries hard to get approval which also reinforces a patronising stance towards it.

Systems maintain themselves. They resist change. Anyone working in an organization, be it a hospital, university, law firm or factory, knows this.

For the system to change, Israel has to adopt new creative ways of breaking the system’s homeostasis. The old platitudes have maintained the system and need to be the starting point to effect change.

This means taking a deep breath, expecting a rough ride, but persisting. It means opening up the debate to include non-politically correct ideas such as alternatives to the 2-state solution. This includes abolishing the dysfunctional UNRWA which reinforces the bloated self-perpetuating system, and finding solutions that go beyond ineffectual and stale platitudes regurgitated by the international community, the State Department and others.

With cultural changes sweeping across an already economically compromised Europe due to a flow of asylum seekers embracing incompatible values, stretching resources and political in-fighting, there is a possible opportunity for change.

The Big Debate needs to start now, with a view to changing the system. This can only succeed by discarding the unworkable, politically correct “truths” that have persisted to this day.

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