Middle east/ Northern Ireland: is there any hope?

I regularly hear interviews with one or both sides in the Palestinian/ Israeli and Northern Irish conflicts, as, I suspect, do most of us. There is one thing that they all have in common: both sides are utterly intransigent, and always, without fail, blame the other side. ‘It’s never, ever, our fault in any way shape or form.’ ‘We want peace, but they keep spoiling progress.’ (Not direct quotes, obviously, but paraphrasing). This goes equally for both sides in both conflicts.
We’re talking about hate in its most fundamental and deepest sense, people who loathe others simply for what they represent. Parents spitting and screaming at four- and five-year olds on their way to school. On the radio this morning, police being stoned by youths while trying to help a couple of Australian tourists. Suicide bombings and helicopter gunship attacks are just further down the same road.
Even in the enlightened world of the SDMB people seem equally entrenched in their views: thread
In the long term, what chance do the children of these people (participants, not Dopers) have a of growing up with a balanced sense of respect for the rights and beliefs of others? I started this thread with the intention of suggesting we leave them to it, and that people, of any race or creed who can hate that much for that long, irrespective of the whys and the wherefores don’t deserve the help of those willing to try. Having written this much, I find that though too depressing, so instead I’m going to ask: is there any hope? Neither side can seriously think that the other is going to capitulate to guns and bombs, and they surely can’t think that this situation can carry on indefinitely (or is that too rational), but what do they think?
Looking for sanity in an insane world…

Sorry, how can I get this deleted?!
(Too impatient on the 'submit thread button!)

mail a mod. E-mail addy is linked to from their name at the top of the forum.

I think that the OP is well phrased and raises an important question - if the thread doesn’t get deleted, I’ll share some thoughts…


Grim – it’s a duplicate.

I don’t know. I sometimes think that Northern Ireland at least has a chance, albeit a small one. The Middle East seems less likely, mainly because it involves much larger populations. People on both sides want peace and I believe that means the majority. The problem is there are always some people who aren’t willing to compromise at all, they insist on their conditions or war. As long as people think that way, there probably isn’t a lot of hope.

Sort of like some of the pit discussions.

Well since this seems to be getting more attention than the original, I’ll comment here:

I grew up as a white South African under Apartheid. At the age of 18, in 1989, my family moved to England for six months while my father studied at Cambridge University. I had just finished school, and was treating this trip as part of my “gap year” before going to Uni myself (in Cape Town), so was working odd jobs. I can remember being asked (when one of my co-volunteers found out that I was South African) whether I thought that there was any hope for peaceful change in my country. I answered that I didn’t see how it could happen, as both sides were totally inflexible and diametrically opposed. During the six months we were in the UK, the first peaceful marches took place in Cape Town, PW Botha met secretly with Nelson Mandela, Botha was replaced by FW De Klerk, and the ball began to roll toward freedom and democracy…

What I am saying is that change is always possible - if South Africa can undergo a peaceful transition to democracy from one of the most oppressive regimes, then anywhere can. Having said that, it helped a great deal to have a man of the stature and character of Nelson Mandela around - without him, things could have been very different…


I think there is hope. I just think people expect things to happen overnight, and get frustrated when they don’t. It takes years, and years, and sacrifices, forgiveness, and delicate negotiations. The situation may never be ideal, but it’s possible for both sides to pull back from the brink.

But the only way to peace is through peaceful negotiation, not more violence.

BTW Nerrie, in the thread you quoted, not all of us are “entrenched”:

Just blowing my own trumpet there.

Point taken jjimm, but looking at the thread as whole it did occur to me that most of the debate centred around interpretation (what’s terrorism and what’s warfare etc).

Grim, I like the idea of the comparison with apartheid, but as far as I can see there’s a fundamental difference: one could balance the evidence and come to the conclusion that the suppression of the black majority was wrong.

Where, I think, the two problems here differ is that there is no right and wrong on the causes. (I’m taking it as a given the suicide bombs are wrong, that helicopter gunship-attacks are wrong, and that bombing shopping centres and knee-capping people is wrong, all of which can be ‘justified’ by someone.) Or, if there was once a right and wrong, it has now been buried under so many attacks and counter-attacks that it’s become irrelevant. I don’t know half as much as I should about the origins of either problem (but if anyone knows of any good and impartial histories I’m willing to learn), which may give me a clarity lacking in those who are better-informed and consequently closer to the issue on an emotional or intellectual level. For example, why can’t Israel just withdraw from the occupied territories? As I understand it they’re there illegally, they were given Israel and should stay within it. On the other hand, Israel has (what should be) an unquestioned right to exist, and it’s not for the Palestinians (or anyone for that matter) to attempt to change that, or even to state that as a theoretical aim.

jjimm gave this link and it looks quite good. BBC: Northern Irish Troubles

Oh they are justified all the time. All I have to do is basically turn on the news when something is happening up north and I get to see someone from either side say something along the lines of Yea that was terrible but …. It gets very frustrating.

There in lies the problem. Yes the Catholics had a very big point at one stage. Anger and frustration fueled terrorism. The people who were meant to be looking after them were plainly not. Into that vacum entered the Paramilitaries. Atrocities such as Bloody Sunday followed which led to more people becoming terrorists and many many more viewing the IRA as the only people who could do anything for them.

The IRA then carried out their own brand of atrocities in NI and mainland UK (mostly London). Events like Eniskillen, Birmingham and Guilford Pub bombings, Warrington and Manchester and executions every other day in the North escalated the situation into the mess that NI is in today.

There is simply no trust between both camps. Both politically and among the general population. Both sides have a lot of pain to hold on to.

I honestly don’t know how this situation can change. Investment would help a lot. There is a lot of poverty in the North. Poor areas remain the strongest supporters of extremists on both sides. Maybe if people started feeling like they really had something to look forward to they might look beyond their prejudices.

I do think that NI has a better chance that the ME. At least the people can vaguely live together up North.