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First Principles Thinking – Palestine & Israel

Many of us have been following the news of war between Hamas in Palestine and Israel. The conflict has a long history lasting thousands of years. Within the past eighty years, due to persecution of Jewish people especially in Europe, many Jewish people have migrated to what is now Israel, putting even more focus or pressure on land rights as those people need a place to live and work.

In the United States, we are all forced in a way to co-exist and a person or group can’t act out violently against a group, whether they be of different color or religious beliefs. So, for the U.S. to partner or stand behind Israel confuses me to a degree because I don’t see a lot of effort going into solving the core issues and figuring out a way to ensure both parties can co-exist without such dramatic shifts in land ownership and other elements that surely tear apart their respective societies.

Shaking hands

I asked AI to go over some ideas for how to apply first principles thinking to the conflict.

First principles thinking is a problem-solving approach that involves breaking down complex problems into their most basic elements and then reassembling them from the ground up. It’s about getting to the root causes and understanding the fundamental principles at play, rather than relying on analogies or existing beliefs.
Let’s apply first principles thinking to the conflict between Palestinians (including Hamas) and Israelis.

  • Define the Fundamental Elements:
    • Palestinians and Israelis both have deep historical and emotional ties to the same land.
    • Both sides have legitimate security concerns.
    • Both sides have suffered loss and trauma as a result of the conflict.
    • There are political, religious, and social dimensions at play.
  • Break Down Existing Beliefs:
    • Many believe the conflict is unsolvable due to its deep-rooted nature.
    • There are strong narratives on each side about victimhood and righteousness.
    • Many stakeholders benefit from the continuation of the conflict in various ways (politically, financially, etc.).
  • Reassemble from the Ground Up:
    • What if both sides were given assurance of security?
    • What if both sides recognized each other’s historical and emotional ties to the land, finding a way to coexist or share?
    • What if there were economic incentives for peace, creating a win-win scenario for both populations?
    • Can religious leaders from both sides come together to promote unity and understanding?
  • Identify Potential Solutions:
    • Two-State Solution: A Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel, each with its own sovereignty. This solution would require defining borders, capital cities, and the status of refugees.
    • One-State Solution: A single, binational state where Israelis and Palestinians live together with equal rights. This would require a unified government structure and protections for minority rights.
    • Confederation: Both Israeli and Palestinian states could exist with joint institutions or shared areas, such as Jerusalem. This would involve complex governance arrangements.
    • Economic Collaboration: By fostering economic ties, mutual benefits can act as incentives for peace.
  • Address the Emotional and Psychological Aspect:
    • Create joint educational programs where the younger generation learns about each other’s history and culture, aiming to build understanding.
    • Encourage and promote cultural exchanges and dialogues.
    • Address traumas and work towards healing on both sides.
  • Engage External Stakeholders:
    • Involve international mediators and facilitators to bridge the gaps.
    • Encourage neighboring countries to play a positive role in bringing the two sides together.
  • Iterate and Test:
    • Engage in confidence-building measures to show genuine intentions.
    • Test out pilot projects or smaller peace initiatives to build trust.

By breaking down the problem and rebuilding it from the basic elements, one can visualize new possibilities and solutions. However, it’s crucial to understand that while first principles thinking provides a framework, the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be underestimated, and solutions will require vast efforts, compromises, and time from all parties involved.


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