Brilliant non-political commentary on the Israel-Hamas conflict
August 8, 2014 9:14 AM   Subscribe

We've all seen and read written and spoken rhetoric that supports one side of the conflict. Are there any brilliant articles or speeches that expresss an original viewpoint that take a higher-level view - maybe from the psychological, sociological, or even evolutionary science point of view? Articles that don't take sides, that try to explain rather than to shout?
posted by storybored to Law & Government (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There seem to be multiple questions here: The first one, if I interpret you correctly, is trying to find an systemic explanation for what is happening. And by systemic, I mean something not like 'M'shal or Bibi are buttheads and hate XYZ and that's why they do it', but rather, "X chose to wage war because that enhances their electoral position and they face serious audience costs if they choose to back down." If that's somewhat close then you should try and find some of the IR/comparative political science literature on the subject--I'm thinking a comparative study of the IRA/UK conflict and the South African/ANC conflict or something similar.

The latter question is quite different, but this is one place to start.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks MisanthropicPainforest, you're right, i'm looking for both types of articles! And that channel 4 piece is a fine example.
posted by storybored at 10:31 AM on August 8, 2014

If you haven't seen it already, some of the answers and links in this recent AskMe might be of interest to you.
posted by zeri at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2014

I thought this was an interesting look at how both sides are simultaneously building self-deluding narratives out of an odd combination of weakness and power.

Also, not Israel/Hamas in particular, but my favorite recommendation on the subject is Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad - he traveled to the region in the 1860's before there was a Conflict, and got there just before the first waves of Jewish immigration from Europe kicked in - he has no agenda at all. And what he saw was a small, dusty Jerusalem with a bunch of Jews, a bunch of Arabs, a bunch of Orthodox (Greek and Armenian), Coptic Christians, and I think Druse. Outside the city he saw lots and lots of Bedouins, a few small villages, and the occasional camel or goat. I seem to remember a farm in the Jordan River valley. But mostly what he saw was uninhabited rocks and desert. It's worth remembering that the roots of this conflict don't actually stretch back centuries, even though the battle over Jerusalem certainly has. It's a fun read, though more fun if you know your (Christian) Bible since that's his frame of reference.
posted by Mchelly at 6:46 PM on August 9, 2014

I'm obligated to note that The Innocents Abroad is literally the textbook example of American Orientalist writings. If you read it, be sure to educate yourself on more modern criticisms of the enduring strain of Western racist writings about the Middle East, of which Twain's work is one par excellence.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:24 AM on August 10, 2014

Yeah, that's an excellent point. His racial attitudes are so totally on his sleeve that I figured that went without saying, but definitely not your best bet as a sociological study of the region's inhabitants in any way.
posted by Mchelly at 10:05 AM on August 10, 2014

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