Thursday, August 2, 2018

 Achieving peace at an affordable price

 Jerusalem Post Readers Respond.

 [This  lesson/tutorial applies also to the United States]

Achieving peace at an affordable price  

One need not merit a Nobel prize to understand the simple logic that Nobel prize winner Prof. Yisrael Auman recommends applying for achieving peace at an affordable price (Nobel Advice: Israeli strength and peace, according to Prof. Auman). And while the opinions of most award winning scientists or other high profile individuals are completely irrelevant, being outside their area of expertise, and shouldn't even be reported, Auman's prize was awarded in precisely the field of game theory and negotiations, so his opinion deserves our attention.

Auman explains that the more desperately we seek out peace the more elusive that peace becomes. He brings the example of how one wishing to purchase an apartment, who incessantly speaks of the great value of the desired apartment and how extremely much he desires it, causes its price to rise to the level, he can no longer afford.

This mechanism operated in the Gilad Shalit deal, in which the Israeli population stupidly exhibited their fervent desire to have Shalit freed at any price, resulting in Hamas's demand of ten-fold the price of previous similar deals – over 1,000 prisoners, many with blood on their hands. Back when Shalit was being held by Hamas, I also inquired about the Torah approach concerning exorbitant ransoms. The sensible approach to this painful and delicate situation is as valid today as it was when the ancient rabbis dealt with it.

What Auman does not say, but probably knows, is that there are many more players and variables in this game. Netanyahu was justifiably opposed to the deal but capitulated to populist demands, resulting in more civilian deaths by freed terrorists. So the Israeli public is an independent game player which all politicians are forced to take into account. Too often a party or politician's own survival becomes the most dominant consideration.

Another player to be considered is "world opinion." Our leadership incessantly busies itself with assuring the world that we want peace. But not surprisingly, the various media outlets choose their facts according to their worldview and the truth has little connection to how we are depicted.  In time of war, we can circulate flyers warning citizens to flee, send our own soldiers house to house, significantly exposing them to danger in order to minimize civilian deaths, and the Israel haters will still portray Israel as executioners of massacres aiming to annihilate the Palestinians. Therefore for the sake of peace, it would be beneficial to remove world opinion from the equation and even local populist considerations, and instead focus on the two sides – the Palestinians and the Israelis. The government has been elected on a platform which places security concerns above achievement of peace at all costs.  Given those guidelines, it should devise an unwavering policy and adhere to it even when outside pressures tempt capitulation.

SHARON LINDENBAUM
Rehovot