Robert Wright writes:
But then I remembered a conversation I had a few years ago with a psychologist at Boston College named Liane Young. She and some colleagues had done research on how Palestinians and Israelis view their conflict and found that the two groups have something in common: Both believe that people on their side of the fight are motivated more by love for one another than by hatred of people on the other side, but that on the other side it’s the other way around: there, people are motivated more by hatred of the enemy than by love of one another.
The Palestine/Israel Pulse, an annual survey of Israelis and Palestinians, also found some disturbing commonalities:
As in previous surveys, levels of trust in the other side are very low: 86% of Palestinians and 85% of Israeli Jews believe the other side is not trustworthy.
Each side perceives itself as an exclusive victim (84% of Palestinians and 84% of Israeli Jews), while an overwhelming majority of Palestinians (90%) but only a smaller majority of Israeli Jews (63%) think this suffering grants them with a moral right to do anything they deem as necessary for survival. A vast majority among both groups (93%) see themselves as rightful owners of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan river. While a third of Israeli Jews are willing to accept some ownership right of the Palestinians, only 7% of Palestinians are willing to accept such idea about the Jews.
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No issue depresses me more than the Israel-Palestine conflict. October seventh made me feel physically ill, and I couldn’t write new cartoons for a month after, because nothing else seemed as urgent but writing a cartoon about Israel and Gaza felt impossible.
Eventually, I forced myself to write a few cartoons about Israel and Gaza. The best of the scripts – this one – is actually a remake of a cartoon I did ages ago (15 years? 20?), Such An Easy Mistake To Make.
What Hamas did on October 7th was incomprehensibly awful. What Israel has done since is also incomprehensively awful. It’s a hideous situation.
I don’t think peace is impossible. But to even begin diplomatic steps towards real peace would require new governments on both sides of the conflict. That’s a big ask, and even if it happens, it would be lead not to peace but to yet more big asks which would be required before peace could happen. I like to bring some optimism into these notes accompanying the cartoons, but regarding Israel and Palestine, I find it very hard to feel hope.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same scene: Two women on a suburban or urban-but-not-the-core sidewalk. It looks like winter; the women are both wearing puffy jackets, and the trees are bare.
The woman on the left has black hair in a ponytail, is wearing a dark purple knit hat, a blue puffy coat, and dark pants. Let’s call her HAT.
The woman on the right has round glasses, reddish-brown hair, and is wearing a black puffy winter vest over a long-sleeve shirt, and a polka-dot skirt. Let’s call her SKIRT.
Hat is holding her phone away from her face, as if she just finished a phone call. She’s got her back to Skirt, but is looking in skirt’s direction, and is slightly surprised to be addressed. Skirt is speaking to Hat with a sincere expression.
SKIRT: Excuse me… I overheard what you said on the phone, and I completely agree! This whole war comes down to the right to self-defense.
Hat has turned towards Skirt. Both women have somewhat angry expressions, but the mood (I hope) isn’t yelling at each other, but a mutual griping session. Hat has lifted one hand in an “explaining my point” gesture, while Skirt has her arms akimbo.
HAT: Exactly! No other nation is expected to endure attack after attack without fighting back!
SKIRT: It’s unfortunate that some civilians die. But we’re not the ones who started it!
They get more into their griping; hat is holding her hands in fists and leaning forward, and Skirt is waving her arms and leaning forward.
HAT: Right! They could end this anytime, but they don’t want to!
SKIRT: We’ve got no choice! We’re defending our right to exist!
Hat turns a bit away as the conversation ends. Both of them look very pleased. The dialog this panel is all in thought balloons.
HAT (thought): So nice to meet another Israel supporter!
SKIRT (thought): So nice to meet another Hamas supporter!
CHICKEN FAT WATCH
In panel three, there’s a newspaper littering the ground. If you look super closely, the paper has the headline CARTOONIST LOSES PATRONS, and in smaller print, “Whoops! Says Drawing Man.” The newspaper’s photo shows a stickfigure man shrugging.