I have been hesitant to launch into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as I am in over my head. I am not knowledgeable enough to offer creative or practical solutions to the conflict, and my background knowledge of the entire situation is elementary and incomplete. But one Dem Bones' reader passed along a great NYT op-ed piece, by Scott Atran and Jeremy Ginges, that I thought was helpful. Atran and Ginges conducted a survey of 4,000 Israelis and Palestinians - including political heavyweights - and found one possible way in which to start peace negotiations.
Peaceful negotiations between Israel and Palestine are fraught with complexity, as both sides have legitimate grievances against the other. The anger on both sides is transcendent, real, and sacred. According to the writers, peaceful negotiations premised upon the rational calculations about quality of life miss the point; they are misguided Western understandings of what constitutes peaceful settlements. The two-state solution is a tough sell for both sides, as both have sacred beliefs that confound this solution. And to force a deal with huge economic incentives only fosters resentment, as neither side believes money can redress their greivances; you can't buy peace. Yet, according to the survey, when one side makes difficult symbolic gestures, the other side was more inclined to accept peace-making deals. For Israel it means to admit they were wrong in displacing civilians in the 1948 war, and for Palestine it means to recognize Israel's right to exist.