"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals.
We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues"

( JM Keynes, "Economic Possibilities for our Granchildren" 1930 )

Monday, September 20, 2010

European Lessons ( Part II )

In a previous post http://enriquefleischmann.blogspot.com/2010/09/european-lessons-for-middle-east-part-i.html) I´ve tried to present an historical perspective for Mid East Peace Process, a lesson that the peoples and their leaders could learn from the European history while dealing with the “Peace Process” . Very briefly, the main message was that Mid East peoples should learn how try to avoid the European bloody path to Peace: Europe and its people managed to achieve a relatively calm and prosper era (since 1945) after waisting millions of human lives during hundred of years of wars and conflicts which devoured an infinite amount of economic resources. For us, the younger generations a peaceful Europe sounds a banality but remember that the last 60 years are an exceptional long period with no serious violent confrontations in the Continent . For the record, the last 300 years yielded wars in 1939-45,1914-18, 1919, 1870, 1866, 1805-1815, 1763, 1711, .. just to name a few).Middle East people should understand that the way to prosperity is 180 grades opposed to war , while the alternative is paying the expensive REBBE GUELT ( “Teacher´s Salary” in Yiddish) with their own blood.

Being conscious that the former analysis might sound discouraging ( which is not the case !!) I decided to make use of the same “Raw Material” in order to develop a somewhat more encouraging and hopeful conclusions.

The first step would be to arrange history in a more accurate perspective in three aspects : Casualties, Time and Space.

Casualties : The Mid East conflict has yielded app. 101-115 thousands casualties ( Wikipedia) , WWII 60 Millions, WWI 20 millions ….the death toll table (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War) is a sad reminder of our dubious humanity . Before proceeding , I would like to stress that each and every casualty is a terrible loss, and any statistical “comparison” is misleading from a human point of view. But if the depth of hatred is highly influenced from the level of collective suffering, than a rough comparison can give a ray of hope. As I said before, the comparison is aimed to show that even after terrible bloodsheds human beings are able to understand that an ongoing and endless cycle of vengeance is useless. History teaches us that victims do not necessarily turn into the eternal combustible that feed the flame of hatred .

Time : Our high speed era can hardly cope with an historical perspective, since events are not viewed in a wider context abd so they loose their meaning within a very short period of time. Instead of eternity we became used to think in “short time eternities” . However, if we just maintain a bit longer run perspective, time becomes another dimension that should be considered in our "European" lesson : France and England maintained a 100 years war, the border line between Germany and France was a main focus of hostilities for centuries, the 30 years war was a devastating experience of Europe, let alone the long run Reconquista in Spain.... so the Mid East few dozens years struggle is undoubtedly too long but not extraordinarily long in historical terms. Our generations were condemned to spend their entire lives surrounded by the “Conflict” , an experience which brings some of us to sad conclusions of NO HOPE. History tells us that a different coexistence is possible, and history provides strong evidences that even the longest conflicts eventually end .

Space or Clash of Civilizations : The last last point is less related to Europe and more to “enmity” between Jews and Arabs/ Muslims. The Conflict is sometimes described as part of an unavoidable “Clash of Civilizations” ( Why that “clash” occurs now? Why it did not take place before? ), so as a “byproduct” of that “clash” the conflict can be solved, if at all, only as part of a wider global arrangement ( or after an Armageddon style battle) . That perspective leaves very little place for any solution : the more complicated and confused an issue becomes, its solution becomes further ( in economic parlor : additional imposed constraints just remove further an optimal solution) . However, from historical perspective Jews and Arabs got along much better than European and Jews, so the Conflict can hardly be considered as a mere product of a phenomenon that hardly existed before the foundation of Israel (Note : Zionism never saw itself as a colonization movement in a European sense). Therefore if the KISS principle ( Keep It Simple , Stupid) is applied and the conflict is confined to a strict political , national and territorial arena, expelling external “noises” both sides might be able to find a practical solution , a “second best” solution much faster .

As I said in the beginning, there is still hope that both people are able to advance with the process before it gets too late. History shows that it is possible, but we should not forget that “Time is money” especially in its special local meaning ( in Hebrew the word DAM or DAMIM means “Blood” but also “Money”).

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