Israel & Palestine: The All-Or-Nothing Problem


(MENAFN- Asia Times) An old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon makes a point worth pondering. Calvin asks Hobbes what he would ask for if he could have anything he wanted right now. The tiger scratches his head, then responds,“A sandwich.”

That's stupid and unimaginative, Calvin says. He'd wish for a trillion billion dollars, his own space shuttle and a private continent.

In the final panel Hobbes munches a sandwich.“I got MY wish,” he says.

Calvin, who didn't get his, fumes.

We live in an age of political maximalism. It's fashionable these days to stand on principle and heroically insist on achieving the totality of one's political goals. In this maximalist age, compromise is not only out of style. It's scorned as“selling out.”

One problem with this – the problem Hobbes points out – is that maximalism often doesn't pay. The maximal goal proves unattainable. Half a loaf might have been possible, but to get it would have meant asking for something more realistic or – horrors! – compromising.

In addition to often yielding nothing, an all-or-nothing stance can generate painful and even perpetual conflict. Exhibit A: The 75-year struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which has once again broken out into war, the ninth since Israel was established in 1948.

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