Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Israel: Maybe eternal conflict is a good thing?

Israel 60 Years

Image by FaceMePLS via Flickr

For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about the “peace process” recently.

Since today is Israeli Independence Day, it seems like a good time to share this.

I’m a long-time skeptic of it (as it currently stands), since I think true peace is predicated upon widespread and genuine Arab acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.

At the moment, I don’t believe we are at that point so any “peace” is built upon an unstable foundation.

It’s natural to get depressed or demoralized about this as a first reaction, but then I started to wonder “maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all?”


I suppose the seeds of this were in my post “Send Flowers to Damascus” and my reaction to the fact that with necessity being the mother of invention, all of the amazing technologies, innovation, and wealth (both present and future)  detailed in Start-up Nation are all a direct result of this ongoing, never-ending, seemingly intractable conflict.

And recently, I started to read Tom Peters’ book Re-Imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age and one particularly thought-provoking line was:

“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed—and produced Michelangelo, da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland
they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce— the cuckoo clock.”
Source: Orson Welles, as Harry Lime, in The Third Man

Then, I came across Peggy Noonan’s piece in the WSJ about the decline of America and its culture/values.

That led me to think that maybe “peace” (yes, I know we’re at war and trust me, I view the radical Islamist threat as severely as anyone, but let’s be honest about the relative scale) leads to lowest-common denominator behavior, obesity (physical and mental), laziness, and entitlement.

As Toynbee said, “civilizations die from suicide…not murder.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s great to have innocent civilians die just so more Israeli companies can get on the Nasdaq.

Far from it.

I am just going through a mental exercise to look at the cost-benefits of both sides and just asking if, maybe, instead of longing for peace so much that you make desperate and poor decisions, instead you just sort of accept the status-quo and say “ok, we’ve got conflict. Maybe it’s eternal. We’ll just continue to make the best of a bad decision.”

Kind of like the argument from the semi-controversial article in Time magazine saying “Why Israel doesn’t care about peace.”

Nietzsche: Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Go ahead, fire away!

Pun intended.

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