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“Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Myths of the Cycle of Violence

Posted by Atilla89 on November 3, 2008

One of the most prevailing views of the Israeli-Arab conflict and specifically between Israel and the Palestinians has been that of a cycle of violence. Basically this view opinions that one side launches an attack on the other forcing the other to attack and so on. Thus both parities are guilty of the violence. This has led to the naive opinion that if only they could just sit down with each other and work out their differences everything would be alright. At first glance this may seem to fit but after further analysis in this CAMERA article, things become a little more clearer.

‘The authors found “there is little evidence to suggest that both sides of the conflict react in a regular and predictable way to violence against them. Rather we find that the direction of causality…runs only from violence committed by Palestinians to violence committed by Israelis, and not vice versa.” They conclude “Overall we find strong evidence that the Israelis react in a significant and predictable way to Palestinian violence against them, but no evidence that the Palestinians react to Israeli violence. This stands in contrast to the popular notion that Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in a ‘tit-for-tat’ cycle of violence.”‘

Basically what this excerpt is trying to say that when the Palestinians commits acts of violence, it is almost certain that Israel will react in some sort of way. Whether it fits some people’s definition of proportionate is up for debate. However, like it says above, it is almost certain that Palestinians will not directly react to violence committed by Israel. This is a very important point because usually violence committed by Palestinians will be random. Examples of this include the recent set of attacks in Jerusalem. Most the reasons given were generic for example being against the ‘occupation’, there was nothing specific.

The reason that this article gives for the randomness of these attacks, one that I happen to agree with, is that:

‘…the authors “suggest that the Palestinians may deliberately choose to randomize the timing of their response to Israeli violence…The effectiveness of terror attacks in disrupting day-to-day Israeli life is, almost by definition, greater if these attacks are unpredictable.”‘

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