Causality is the establishment of an intellectual grounding. The effect it has on humans is similar to having a sense of emotional grounding. Knowing what causes things to happen gives a person a sense of comfort and security much like having a sense of comfort and security in solid relationships with individuals and groups and much like having a physical sense of connectedness to a living environment. And just as there are layers of grounding, so there are also layers of causality. Obviously, the further back one can go in time to understand a narrative or a process, the greater one’s sense of control in dealing with the causality and the greater the sense of security and comfort that is going to result from gaining that sense of control.
Nevertheless, there are some important exceptions to this rule. When an individual or a group of people are using causal explanations to justify actions particularly in the political or military realm, it becomes necessary for that individual or group to fix the significant point of causal beginnings at a place in the narrative that justifies their claim or claims, not necessarily, at the furthest point back in historical time.
Second, there is the notion that some cultures automatically tend to look for important causation in recent events and other cultures tend to look for causation in events that go far back in history. In general, people in modern technological society tend to look for causes in recent events, because they, the modern people, are numb and floating in a vacuum and lacking in grounding. Without a sense of grounding, one can’t absorb the feeling of a series of events going back in time, so that such a person is going to look for causes in recent events. In some cases, the very events playing out in the world at that moment are considered to be causes.
People in more natural traditional societies tend to look for causes that go way back in history. Middle Eastern Societies like the Arab countries, Iran and Turkey to a greater or lesser extent have a sense of historical grievance against Western countries, whose superior technological development was used to dominate the Middle Eastern Countries during the age of colonialism. Even though the shackles of colonialism have been lifted, the sense of psychological castration remains even in those countries that have significant oil revenues. Much of the grounding of these countries is based on the narrative of historical hurt. And the narrative of historical hurt that remains the most painful for them revolves around the state of Israel. Jews living under Muslim rule were categorized as Dhimmis – second-class but protected people. This is the way it was much of the time for the Jews, except when they were subject to periodic episodes of violence. Colonial rule of Middle Eastern Muslim countries by European powers did little to affect this status for Jews. However, at the time that the European powers gave up control of the Muslim countries, something happened that transformed the relationship between Muslims and Jews. The State of Israel was created and that was like a spear in the side of the Muslim nation.
This became a major causal beginning, not only for the Palestinians, but for all the countries in the Middle East. For the Palestinians, the Jews kicked them out of their lands. For the Jews, Palestinians were welcome to stay in Israel, but the Arab countries surrounding Israel started a war against their new Jewish neighbor. They told the Palestinians to leave until the war was over, and Jews were kicked out of Israel. Many Palestinians left and when the war was over, the Jews refused to let those Palestinians who had abandoned Israel back in.
Another causal beginning for the Jews is that they had been in Palestine for thousands of years and had a right to the land that became the territorial foundation of Israel. For the Palestinians, the Jews were interlopers who had no right to any of the land of Palestine. Particularly the Ashkenazi Jews who originally came from Europe.
A much more recent causal beginning came at the end of the Six Day War. The Israelis ended up with the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. After the war, when the Israelis tried to find partners for peace, they were repulsed.
The Yom Kippur War was fought between Israel on the one hand and Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and several other Arab nations on the other hand. After this war, Israel found one peace partner: Egypt. For making peace with Israel, Egypt got the Sinai Peninsula back. As for the other territories conquered in the Six Day War, Israel was forced to play the role of unwilling caretaker with no other peace partners in sight. The exception was East Jerusalem, which Israel was going to keep. This notion of unwilling caretaker is one that is seldom considered among the many causes of problems in the Arab-Israeli situation. What was it to do with the new territories that it had captured. Apart from East Jerusalem, Israel annexed the Golan Heights. It returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, after the two made peace. It kept the Gaza Strip because Egypt didn’t want it. And it kept the West Bank after Jordan renounced its rights to it. Eventually, it let go of Gaza without a Peace Treaty as a test to see if Israel could live side by side with an independent Palestinian entity. It has failed.
The West Bank is the place where living in limbo with the Arabs has been the greatest. It has been an experiential vacuum for the Israelis. It doesn’t yet belong to the Palestinians, but it doesn’t really belong to the Israelis either. This experiential vacuum of a conquered territory that the conquered refuse to take back in any conventional way has made life very frustrating for the Israelis. All the responsibilities of caretaking with none of the joys of recognized ownership. So, under the circumstances, the Israelis have gone ahead with settlements as if they had absolute rights of ownership.
The final causal beginning with which we are concerned is the causes of the Israel-Hamas war. Many people in modern technological society look at the situation that the Palestinians have created for themselves by refusing to make peace with Israel, and blame the war on Israel. The idea of old historical feuds just seems blurry and confusing to many Westerners. To people from modern technological society, comparing the living conditions of people in Israel and Gaza, it is obvious that Israel is totally at fault. This is the typical approach of Westerners today. A shallow approach that has gotten Israel into trouble in the past and that could continue to get Israel into trouble today. Always stopping Israel from finishing the job, from winning a war fair and square. It is like taking an antibiotic for an infection and not finishing the cycle. The infection comes back worse than ever.