Photo: AFP
'Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sustained because of strong national and religious sentiments'
Photo: AFP
Sever Plocker

Why do wars break out?

Op-ed: Complexity of bloody conflict between two national-religious-ideological movements cannot be simplified down to economic considerations.

Why do states and people fight each other? The Marxists had a ready answer to the biggest question of the human race: Wars break out because they serve the capitalists, the wealthy people, the industrialists, the oppressors of the working class.



The conclusion is that cancelling capitalism will cancel wars. With the absence of financial interests for waging wars, they will not break out. The international working class will easily overcome nationalism, racism, territorial ambitions and the other hereditary illnesses of capitalism.


But the working class did not receive the Marxist communism with open arms; tens of millions of people were killed in order to forcibly impose it, until it collapsed. The patriotism, on the other hand, did not disappear – it grew stronger. The wars, between and within states, between and within religions, continued to characterize humanity.


The economic or class-related explanation for wars has been proven wrong and is no longer accepted by researchers, apart from a handful of believers who stick to "superficial Marxism."


The wars, all the others believe, start and continue because of a mixture of reasons and motives, including hatred and faith, incitement and distraction, revoking the rights of one's fellowman and a brutal desire to destroy him. They serve – sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly – the different tyrant regimes.


It is actually the liberal democracy, political scientists discovered, that provides the most efficient vaccination against the predatory bacteria of wars: It's almost hard to find two democratic countries engaged in a long war against each other. The likelihood of a bloody military conflict between two liberal democracies is extremely low. That comes as no surprise, as the basic principle of the liberal government method is a compromise reached through negotiations.


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not stem from economic or class-related reasons either and it is not driven by them. It is not a conflict over natural resources or production means or defense budgets, and not even over a standard of living. It is not led by corporations and it is not inflamed by financial interest groups. It is sustained because of strong national and religious sentiments like no other.


Denying the rival's sincere and national feelings is not a new weapon; it is an old phenomenon. And yet quite a few Israelis, including government ministers, still think in terms of that cheap and superficial Marxism. They say, "Let's arrange the Palestinians a reasonable economic life, and they will already accept the current reality."


As far as they are concerned, we Jews are the only ones with supreme national and religious ambitions which cannot be canceled with money. We cannot be bought. The Palestinians can be bought.


No, they can't. the second intifada actually broke out when the Palestinians' economic situation was in the best state it had ever been. The number of Jewish residents in the territories actually doubled when apartments in Kfar Saba were relatively cheap.


It's ridiculous and wrong to simplify the complexity of the bloody conflict between two national-religious-ideological movements down to Mahmoud Abbas' bank account and IDF commander's pensions. It's true that there are those who benefit financially from the freeze and ongoing violence conflict, but many more people – a huge majority – will benefit from its end and from the end of the occupation.


The benefits of peace are much higher than the benefits of war. So if the economic consideration were the decisive one, peace would have prevailed in our region a long time ago.


It isn't prevailing because the fear of the radicals paralyses those seeking a compromise, penetrating their considerations. They tremble: What will "the street" say? What will we read in Facebook statuses? Thousands of talkbackers will surely accuse us of selling the national and religious ideal for economic interests, selling the homeland.


Violent talkbackers should have been handled a long time ago; if the poison isn't stopped, it spreads. Extremism will not be defeated by ignoring it, being afraid of it or cursing it, but only by openly confronting it. Only by fighting it in a way which will unite the moderate majority. This isn't a matter for the police, it's a matter for the regime we want to live in.


פרסום ראשון: 07.13.14, 10:57
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