(image: psychologytoday.com)

(image: psychologytoday.com)

I heard a good radio interview today: Radio NZ’s Kathryn Ryan interviewing Rabbi David Rosen — a conversation which opened with the question whether the long running Israel/Palestine conflict is in any way a religious issue.

In essence certainly not. It’s a territorial conflict … a conflict between two national liberation movements: The Jewish national liberation movement which is known as Zionism and the Palestinian liberation movement.

Rosen points to the 1967 war where the main protagonists were professed atheists, so “obviously weren’t going to war over theology but over territory”… Religion, he says, forms part of national identity but isn’t the driving issue.

The territorial conflict, he said, had been “religion-ized” — reaching dangerous proportions in the last decade. Now, he says, the perception in the Arab and Muslim world is that it is at base a religious conflict and that the holy sites are under siege by ‘malevolent and hostile Jewish intent’.
He’s said this stuff before elsewhere but it’s worth listening to IMO.  MP3 audio of the interview is here.

But part of the conversation put me in mind, once again, of my ‘Group A vs Group B’ theory of conflict — the idea of our in-group’s irrational sense of ‘superiority’ over the out-group… that we discussed earlier. Apologies for quoting myself:

It is strangely easy for us as human beings to see ourselves as separate from others … or in an ‘us’ while ‘the others’ consist of a ‘them’ — and, naturally, we regard ‘them’ as inferior to ‘us’ in every measure that matters.

Rosen, talking about the tensions in the Middle East, said:

The problem is not only do you have competition, you have a sense of disparagement of the other, and unwillingness to acknowledge the other and respect the other — and that’s what we’ve got to counteract.

Well said. Disparagement. Unwillingness to acknowledge. And lack of respect.
We do it as nations and we do it on a personal level.

I know I can be a judgemental SOB, and close myself off to other people if they demonstrate, say, dishonesty, malice or gutlessness.
But I certainly don’t hate them and wouldn’t do extreme things…

Or would I? What about if I were faced with sufficient of the ‘right’ provocation?

Is there a button?