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We know why you hate us.
Do you know why we hate you?
When there is political or violent conflict between two groups, this stems from competition over some scarce resource (money, land, votes, relative status).1
Over time, the groups may tend toward understanding and mutual cooperation. Western Europe after World War II is a good example, though obviously this was aided by the wisdom and largesse of the US after the War with the Marshall Plan, as well as the risk of the new “Big Bad”, the Soviet Union. Yet even today, deep down, my sense is the British don’t trust the Continent very much.
They may tend toward the opposite. The Israel/Palestine situation being an obvious example. The animosity between the groups has seemingly increased in an unsteady march over time. I have no direct personal stake in the matter as I am neither Palestinian nor Israeli, nor are my family members.2 Nevertheless, I have my opinions about this,3 but will spare you those other than to say what ought not need to be said, but apparently does: killing people is bad, killing “innocent” people (non-combatants, children, etc.) is especially bad, and supporting and harbouring terrorists is also bad.45
Instead, I want to talk about the more general process here.
In any deep conflict, each group (shorthand for a majority of each group) hates the other. Now diplomats may try to soft-pedal this, as is their job, but a deep conflict is not going to be fully resolved by a simple meeting in Camp David following some months of shuttle diplomacy. It will take until everyone who is alive today to be dead (and maybe then some) for the hate to disappear. Yet, a negotiated settlement can occur even under an umbrella of hate so long as people’s behaviours don’t reflect their feelings. Northern Ireland might be an example here.
I am writing this from Poland. The Poles have not forgotten what the Germans and Russians have done to them in the past, and the Russians are doing to the Ukrainians in the present. I have visited China. The Chinese have not forgotten the acts of the British or the Japanese. Surviving First Nations communities have not forgotten what the Europeans and their descendants did in Canada, the US, Australia, (or elsewhere). “Never Forget” is a mantra among the Jewish people. Grievance is cultivated for centuries, and in some cases millennia.6
While people have grievances against other groups, they insist on their own innocence. I am not claiming both sides in any conflict are equal, just that each side has grievance, justified or not. Inability to answer why the other group hates you comes from:
Insularity and Lack of Self-Reflection: Groups can become so focused on their own perspectives and grievances that they fail to consider how they are perceived by others.
Self-Righteousness: The notion of self-righteousness implies that each group is convinced of the moral superiority of its own position.
Opposition as Identity: Opposition itself has become a part of each group's identity.
Punishing Self-Reflection: Self-reflection or the willingness to understand the other side's perspective is seen as weakness.
Breaking that down piece by piece is important to establishing the group Theory of Mind required to get out of the current stuckness.
But as a first step, even without apologising or admitting guilt, as most groups remain convinced of the righteousness of their actions, each side should say “Members of our side did X, we suspect this made your side angry or hurt or sad or upset.”7 This sounds like couple’s therapy for organisations, but no lasting solution will be attained until the leadership of each faction on each side publicly acknowledges the consequences of the previous actions of its group on the other side, even if it still believes its side was right or justified.8 These are statements of facts, not values. They are an acknowledgement of action and that the action is believed to have had a consequence. In deep conflicts each side not only has no empathy for the other side, denies the humanity of the other side and their right to exist, and denies that what it did was wrong,9 but also denies that their own actions even had consequences.
In short, the extremists on each side think they can act with impunity, and are somehow shocked when punity follows, as if effect does not follow cause. A plurality, if not majority, of both sides deny that what its side did might have provoked the other side.10 Actors making decisions need not play 12-dimensional chess, but playing chess, or even checkers, would be a start. Start by asking “If we do this, what do we think will happen?”11
Again acknowledgment (even the cynical non-apology “We are sorry you feel that way”) precedes any kind of real apology (“We are sorry we did this and won’t do it again”). I don’t think apology helps much, as I don’t think the sides actually regret their actions in any kind of non-consequentialist12 way, or trust the sincerity of the other side, though it may be better than the alternative.1314
“Animosity between groups or individuals often arises from a combination of factors, each complex and deeply rooted in human psychology and sociology. Here are some general principles that contribute to such feelings:
Misunderstandings and Lack of Communication: When groups or individuals don't communicate effectively, misunderstandings can occur. These misunderstandings can lead to the formation of negative stereotypes and false narratives about the other group.
Historical Conflicts: Past conflicts, whether recent or historical, can leave a lasting impact on group relations. The residual bitterness and grievances can fuel ongoing animosity.
Cultural and Ideological Differences: Differences in beliefs, values, traditions, and practices can create a sense of 'otherness'. People often fear or distrust what they do not understand or what is different from their own experience.
Competition for Resources: Competition for limited resources, whether they are tangible (like land or water) or intangible (like jobs or social status), can lead to rivalry and animosity.
Scapegoating: In times of social or economic stress, groups or individuals might blame others for their problems. This scapegoating can foster deep-seated animosity.
Influence of Leaders and Media: Leaders and media can play a significant role in shaping perceptions. They can either encourage understanding and reconciliation or sow division and animosity.
Psychological Projection: Sometimes, individuals or groups project their own negative traits or insecurities onto others. This projection can manifest as dislike or hatred towards those they perceive as embodying these traits.
Social Identity Theory: This theory suggests that people derive part of their identity from the groups they belong to. Opposition or hostility towards other groups can strengthen this sense of belonging and identity.
Fear of Change or Loss: Resistance to change or fear of losing cultural, social, or economic status can result in animosity towards those perceived as responsible for these changes.
Understanding and addressing the root causes of animosity is crucial for conflict resolution and fostering a more empathetic and cooperative relationship between groups. It often requires open dialogue, education, and a willingness to understand the perspective of the other.
Aside from the anti-semitic conflation of all people with Jewish descent with Israel perpetrated by groups like Hamas, Nazis, whatever remains of Twitter, and the left.
Since you are reading the footnote, I think the only stable solution to the Israel/Palestine problem is a one-state solution for the whole territory, with a mostly federal (i.e. decentralised) structure. The military would be national, multi-ethnic, and a member of NATO to keep everything in check. The country would join the EU and adopt the Euro as currency so that the central government has the least possible economic power. People would have freedom of movement, though there would inevitably be checkpoints to reduce the movement of weapons and selected individuals. This is, of course, like all solutions, unimplementable with the current set of actors. Given the factionalism on each side, and the relative balance of populations, successful political coalitions will have to be multi-cultural, though individual parties may not be.
If one side is killing the other, the other side is within its moral, legal, and evolutionary rights to respond. This leads to an escalating cycle of violence, (a positive feedback system) particularly if the “eye for an eye” rule is replaced with “10 eyes for an eye”. Fight or flight are the two classic strategies, and the oppressed side could also leave, which is what most rational people would do when they are consistent harassed by a more powerful force, see e.g. the history of the Jewish people.
There are other bad things. I don’t think I need to enumerate every bad thing.
I suspect cultivating hate of the out-group is the primary function of organised religion (but not only religion).
This really shouldn’t be too difficult, because the intent of many of these actions (especially terrorism) was to hurt the other side.
Or they are eliminated, as the Israeli government has sworn to do to Hamas.
Regardless of whether its historic actions were wrong, but then again, wrong is often in the eye of the beholder.
Of course if you are an accelerationist, and you think this will bring about a greater war and bring outsiders in to support you, and you think there is an afterlife, your calculations may differ from a rational person. See footnotes above. You are also wrong.
They might regret that their actions led to the situation they are in, but not that it hurt the other side.
We also have the problem that their own side’s provocateurs are not fully disowned or denounced by the rest of their side. In everyone’s favourite conflict: faction H (S) of side P (I) does something bad, but many other members of, or sympathisers with, P (I) don't even condemn it, and cannot rein in their nominally allied faction. This is not universal though, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose party governs the West Bank and are rivals to Hamas, eventually condemned Hamas’s actions. Israeli PM Netanyahu has even condemned Settler violence, though not in a particularly convincing way. Many grievances are well-documented in Wikipedia. Starting points are these lists: (Israel) (Palestine) There are others beyond casualties of war listed above.