The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a tragic story

Oct 24, 2023 | History

There is a master narrative I don’t ever remember hearing that we need to tell in a concise, emotionally evocative way, using the story structure people recognize and that draws them in, and repeat it so many times that its truth becomes self-evident in most people’s minds:

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a tragic story, which began thousands of years ago: two peoples, with historical claims to the same land. No one can question that this was the land of the ancient Israelites. But they were pushed off thousands of years ago and began to reclaim it in the early 20th century. That put them at odds with  people who were then living on that land.

So 75 years ago, the United Nations, led by Great Britain, which was at that time in control of Palestine believed even before the Holocaust that the Jewish people needed a homeland, and they settled on the best of the imperfect solutions they could devise: divide Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews didn’t like it, but they accepted it and began building the state of Israel in 1948. The Arabs didn’t like it, so they began waging 75 years of war. Hamas, whose charter explicitly States that its goal is the genocide of the Jewish people and to push the Jews of Israel into the Mediterranean sea, is just the latest version of that refusal. It is just another variant of the violent, radical perversion of Islam proclaimed by al-Qaeda, Isis, and Hezbollah, who even moderate Arab states recognize as terrorist organizations in their own countries.

Israel has made enormous mistakes, like putting settlements on land outside the original partition. But at least they accepted a partition, which, to this day, the Palestinians have not. When they had their first Democratic elections in 2006, they chose Hamas as their leaders, fully aware that Hamas vowed jihad until there was no Jewish state and called for the genocide of the Jewish people everywhere. Since that time, The Palestinians in Gaza have learned how brutal Hamas can be to its own people, just as it has been to Israeli citizens.

We are faced with a dilemma much like that faced by king Solomon. Both sides say they want peace. But as Hamas could not have made more clear, it prefers to cut the baby in half rather than to partition the land and make peace with Israel.

The last thing Israel wants from this war is to occupy Gaza. The only solution now, after Hamas has been eradicated, is for an International organization, most likely moderate Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who the Palestinian people could trust, to step up to the plate and send peacekeepers To Gaza to rebuild the Palestinian economy, to protect against the resurgence of the same kind of jihadist terrorist groups from reemerging after Israel has eradicated Hamas and turned its tunnels of death into dust, and to convince the Palestinian people, after 75 years, that the time has come to turn their swords into ploughshares and to give their children life and hope.


Drew Westen, PhD
Professor, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry
Emory University
Founder, Westen Strategies LLC
Follow me on Twitter @ThePoliticalBrain