Ask The Fox: I feel like I should have an opinion on what's happening in Palestine, but it seems so complicated

Avoiding having a take on big world stuff is a good instinct. It's easy to rush in with an opinion informed by incomplete information, ignorance, and outright propaganda.

Big World Things have two major components.

  • The past
  • The present

Both components have aspects that are simple and complicated. Some ongoing world things have complicated histories and simple facts in the present. Here are the simple facts in the present.

  • There are belligerent assholes on both sides, civilian and non-civilian.
  • The vast majority of people are not that.
  • Hamas won a razor-thin victory in the last election, 2006, by a margin that makes governments who come in on near 50/50 elections where half the country doesn't vote either due to apathy at the situation or because their vote is actively and intentionally suppressed in the US look downright democratic.
  • Most Palestinians were not alive at the time of the 2006 election and cannot be reasonably blamed for a government they didn't choose and have never had an opportunity to oppose electorally.
  • The Israel Defense Force tends to over-react to Hamas belligerence with extreme violence.
  • The results of the last election, which most Palestinians had no voice in, and where most who did voted against Hamas, is often used as justification when this extreme violence inevitably falls on civilians.
  • Many Palestinians are Jewish (about 12%)
  • Many Israelis are Palestinians (about 20%)
  • Many Israelis and Palestinians are also Christian, for good confounding measure.
  • It's easier to sell a conflict if enough people think everyone on the other side is "the other side." Conflicts generally have more than two sides, and it's rare that any side is so ideologically pure that it lacks representation for the full range of opinions.

The past is complicated. The cultural and demographic shape of the region has changed with wars and conflicts over the centuries. Historians make careers on trying to sort out who did what, but most people in the present had no say in that past and no agency in it if they were even alive for it.

Saul Tigh: Yeah, you point finger back far enough and some germ gets blamed for splitting in two.
A great memorable quote from the Battlestar Galactica, Season 4 show on

The present is very simple: a government most people don't support occasionally takes potshots at Israel, and Israel's military uses the past as justification to go on a violent rampage. And history marches on.

My advice is to focus your opinions on the IDF and Hamas. Both have histories that weigh on the states they inhabit, but almost all of the people who suffer when they come to blows are blameless.