Judging this conflict using the philosophical article of Rousseau ‘discourse on origin of inequality’
Rousseau’s philosophical article discourse on the origin of inequality was an attempt to analyze the source of evil and inequality that have been boggling man since his existence in this world. Rousseau in his article wrote that the very evil that faces humanity has originated from selfish behavior of the natural man. To him the man who first installed boundaries on his perceived property became the source of all evil in the world today. In this article Rousseau, wrote that life was initially good when people just had enough to make them survive and enough personal space. The writer’s man had anything he wanted since he did not demand anything beyond what he was capable of. Rousseau portrayed as a man who was contented within his own means. He ate what got and fought when his personal space was intruded. According Rousseau, the man in his article was not greedy and just aimed at achieving his basic need with nothing less and nothing more (Rousseau & Bair, 1974, p. 3)
When men started drawing up boundaries in line with personal property, according to Rousseau, that marked the beginning of evil. The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil societ (Rousseau, 1972, p. 2). Rousseau argued that the natural man had had natural non-destructive love for self and also for others initially. When these two were combined, they shaped the character of this man to becoming a non-aggressive being who did not interfere with issues of fellow men and respected others. He argued that the success in man’s life resulted in a population explosion and the spread of man all over the surface of earth. This is how the modern society was born and people started to live in groups of families, clans and communities. Life increased in complexity and languages started to vary. Cultural practices too changed and different beliefs emerged in different groups. Some survival tactics were conceived and finally brought forth the concept of property ownership. Rousseau went on to say that the harmless love soon developed into love that was driven by pride, arrogance, and jealousy rather than the elementary behavior of self-preservation and hence the society went on to sink deep and deeper into inequality. It was at this time that divisions quickly set in.
According to Rousseau, the above feelings brought hatred, greed for power and urge for self-revaluation and comparison with other. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows? (Rousseau, 2) The society now becomes drawn along various social lines. Several relationships like that of a slave master came into existence. Obviously, Rousseau pointed out at the unguided selfishness as the sole source of woes that face man today. Rousseau warned of people that have been the architects of injustices in the society. In the same page of the article, Rousseau wrote that Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody (Rousseau, 2).
The Israel Palestinian conflict is based on the very foundation and the source woes that face man in this world. Partitioning of land and development of status quo coupled with cultural incongruence has worsened this conflict (Riordon & Riordon, 2011, p.24). In the heart of conflict is Israel which advocates for creation of a separate state of Jews and on other hand is the Palestinians who are predominantly Muslim backed by other Muslim brothers in opposing the move to partition the Palestinian country into two. (Orr, 1994, p.34) The conflict was simply brought by differences in culture, religion and demarcation of what is considered as personal property. Palestinians argue that the land on which the state of Israel is situated belongs to their country while Israelis believes that they are in the land to where they belong- the land of their ancestors. The conflict as encompasses more than just hatred between Palestinian and Israel. After a series of subjugation, persecution and killings of Jews in Diaspora, Jews at home saw that there was a need to return home those who were in other parts of the world especially in Europe. This conflict has created a stalemate with no side wanting to back down on their claims. Israel with its ego cannot accept being in the same country with majority Muslims. Muslim too felt that Palestine is their land and could not stomach the situation where Israelites from the Diaspora could come and shelter in. (Smith & Kelly, 1993, p.6). As the writer indicates, our own beliefs and culture are the one that sometimes brings woes to human life. He goes further to state that all human institutions seem at first glance to be founded merely on banks of shifting sand. It is only by taking a closer look, and removing the dust and sand that surround the edifice, that we perceive the immovable basis on which it is raised (Rousseau 1754, p.10)
In accordance to the philosophical beliefs of Rousseau, this conflict can first be solved if the involved parties in the conflict summons an effort of going deep into the matter with no bias of inclination to any of the side of their beliefs culture or religion. It is where they need to trace back to the very basic need of humanity. They should try as much as possible to prevent their beliefs and culture from hindering them to see the importance of peace.
In line with Rousseau’s argument, inequality originated from the very beginning of human evolution and has been growing ever since the progression of evolution. Rousseau proved that human beings driven by the natural instinct of self-love and empathy to others could contribute to the well-being of the entire human fraternity. In this case, therefore, Israel and Palestine should consider this and try to be kind to each other instead of solving the situation through fatal wars and clashes. They should analyze and consider a nation where they are all living in harmony, in one political or economic union with clear laws that stipulate the rights of every group.
Introduction of governments and political ruling class as Rousseau argued is because man saw that the population was increasing and, therefore, there was a need to bring things in harmony. This, however, in Rousseau case did not go on well since powerful people infiltrated the power corridors to make law that favor them. In this case, of Middle East conflict, they need to create a clear line of governance that does not discriminate on either side.
Another step in solving this conflict is for both governing bodies on either side to realize that Palestinians and Jews shares a common history and common border and have much in common as neighbors. Though governments may be put in place for both warring parties, freedom must be granted for citizens from both sides to settle anywhere across the border. This could stop a situation such as the one where Israeli forces displaced Palestinians and were denied comeback just because they were within the land that have been marked to belong to Israel.
The non-destructive principle of self and that of compassion to fellow men can be used in the advancement of peace in Middle East crisis. The Middle East crisis is based on pride and non-basic need for power control and jealousy.
Rousseau is against ego and self-elevation since these are acquired attributes that bring inequalities and injustices in the society. Israeli and Palestine should come on negotiating table and free themselves from the bigotry of their ego and compromise on some issues that would bring peace in the situation.
As Rousseau argued, therefore, if all human beings try to trace back to what went wrong or try to nurture the natural instinct of the love for self and compassion for others the society could be the best we can think of. It could be a world with Middle East peaceful coexistence rather than Middle East crisis. It could be a world of equality and without social classes rather than the world of strongest. Justice as well as peace could be found.
Riordon, M., & Riordon, M. Our way to fight: Israeli and Palestinian activists for peace. Chicago, Ill: Lawrence Hill Books. 2011.
Orr, A. Israel: Politics, myths, and identity crises. London: Pluto Press.1994.
Smith, C. A., & Kelly, K. Palestinian crises and Christians. Edinburgh: Jointly published by] The Centre for the study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, and Lothian Regional Council Dept. of Education. 1993
Rousseau, J.-J., & Bair, L. The essential Rousseau: The social contract, Discourse on the origin of inequality, Discourse on the arts and sciences, The creed of a Savoyard priest. New York: New American Library. 1974.
Rousseau, J.-J. A discourse on inequality. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.1754