Monday, October 30, 2023

A LinkedIn call for human dialogue


[Two birds talking at the same pool*]

I wish to call on the LinkedIn community to contribute a better Middle East in the future. The current situation is a human tragedy, a Greek one even. Each of the parties knows what the consequences of its actions will be in advance and cannot avoid them. However, through both starving the hatred and feeding mutual tolerance, the ordinary, even extraordinary people on LinkedIn may be able to make a small but important contribution.

First of all, I will not discuss who is right or more right. Clearly, that dialogue is fruitless and irrelevant. Each tribe and tribe supporter, i.e., Israel and Palestinian, is absolutely convinced of the righteousness of their cause. More importantly, as in most family fights, it is ultimately no consolation that you feel that your cause is more just. The Middle East wars, including its present form, is a human tragedy with hundreds of thousands of grieving parents, siblings and friends. Any death is sad but one that is “before his/her time” as they say in Hebrew, is a special tragedy regardless of one’s religion or political views. Of course, people understandably grieve far more for deaths in their tribe but that does not reduce the pain of the deaths of the other side.  On a different level, just imagine if all the money that has been invested in weapons and defense had gone to enriching the country. Thus, I both respect everybody’s right to have a point of view and thus have no intention of arguing its validity as such a discussion serves no purpose.

Instead, I call for two kinds of actions, passive and active.  At minimum, when posting about the current situation on LinkedIn, this international bridge between business people, please do not dehumanize the other side. Referring to the “enemy” as lice, which the Arab Translation Association, a Palestinian organization shamelessly does, or as any other animal is not only unacceptable but creates a mindset that fosters cruelty. See Hannah Arendt’s With Eichman in Jerusalem the banality of evil on this matter. Such name-calling also eliminates any possibility of dialogue and feeds hate. If one side refers to the other as less than human, such an attitude defines the relationship between the parties. Thus, when expressing their opinion, I would hope that LinkedIn members would remember that even the opposite side in a war are human beings and, in one way or another, also victims.

On a more proactive note, LinkedIn member could have a role in building a better future. Some 80 years of wars in the Middle East have proven quite conclusively that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are going anywhere, i.e., they are staying in that small crowded bit of land. Thus, in practice, the only effective solution is some kind of co-existence. Finding a solution requires a degree of trust and respect. Unfortunately, a new batch of flowers of hate have just released their seeds, which will find a fertile base in the families of the thousands that have died or will die in this war.

To change this sad narrative, the world needs visionaries, communicators, planners and leaders to provide and demonstrate a positive alternative. LinkedIn is the perfect venue for that, containing thousands or such people, who share common interests and communicate with each other despite political differences. I would hope that when member discuss the Israel and Palestine, they will do so not through justification of ghosts of Christmas past or present but instead work for a better world in the future.

I am realistic enough to know that the seeds of hate and distrust are deep and may require generations to disappear. Yet, I believe it is possible to slowly create tolerance and acceptance. It is a bit like learning to accept someone from a different ethnic group as a neighbor if not as a son-in-law. If you are completely skeptical, consider what has changed in the US since Martin Luther’s King’s speech in 1968 or notice that the only reason Ireland gets into the news is for its budget surplus. By having a civilized dialogue when relevant, LinkedIn members can contribute to world peace, prosperity and, most importantly, humanity.


* Picture captions help the blind fully access the Internet.

Picture credit


  1. Thank you, Stephen, for this post. I cannot agree more that (as in any other conflict) one capital thing is not dehumanize the other side. Humans beings will always remain human beings, and in my humble opinion, the only solution is to find an acceptable solution for living together (or next to each other). I am also shocked about the money spent (in the whole world, including Europe) to buy arms and destroy, but for education or health, it is often "too expensive".

  2. Thank you. It is difficult, sometimes to the level of pain, to deal the current uncertainty. What makes the situation worse is the quantity of unfiltered hate (and calls for death) published by people that know nothing about the actual reality nor care to know more. I often feel that outsiders had stayed out of the matter, the Middle East conflict would have long disappeared. However, as Shakespeare wrote, if wishes were horses....

    1. As a convinced pacifist, I really hope the search for a (kind of) solution will begin soon (even if it takes years to achieve). Taking civilian hostages, killing innocent civilians, destroying infrastructures, etc. can only generate more hate, and more suffering... For me, any solution is better than violence and war.