Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Chicken and the Egg

One of the classic unanswerable questions in philosophy is deceptively simple: "Which came first - the chicken or the egg?" Well, obviously, the chicken, you say. How else do the eggs get laid? But then, I answer, where did the egg for the first chicken come from? You can drive yourself crazy trying to follow this circular argument back to its source.

Another chicken-and-egg conundrum, this one with deadly consequences, is the situation in the Middle East. I was thinking about this yesterday in the context of the Israeli government's designation of Gaza as a "hostile entity." Israelis living near the border with Gaza suffer under a rain of crude rockets and mortar shells launched from Gaza, while the Palestinians on the other side suffer under the weight of Israel's military attempts to suppress the attacks. The Hamas partisans claim their rockets are revenge for Israeli oppression, and the Israelis claim their military and economic responses are in retaliation for the Hamas attacks. The Palestinians shout that their attacks avenge the illegal creation of the state of Israel; the Israelis claim their reactions are measures of self-defense against terrorists who deny the very right of Israel to exist.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The question of whether Palestine should have been partitioned in 1948 to create a Jewish state will be probably be debated for centuries. The Israelis and their supporters will always claim that the creation of Israel was a principled and moral response to the horrors of the Holocaust; the Arabs will always claim that if an Israeli homeland was warranted because of the Holocaust, it should have been established in Europe, where the Holocaust took place. The Israelis will always claim that the areas they call Israel, Judea, and Samaria are the ancestral, biblical homeland of the Jews and they have a right to live there and own the land; the Palestinians will always claim that the Jews left many centuries ago in the diaspora, and so gave up their right to the land.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Mahatma Gandhi once said that the problem with the concept of an eye for an eye is that it eventually leaves everyone blind. The proof is easy to see in the Middle East. One has to wonder how long it will take for everyone to run out of eyes. Or chickens. Or eggs.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Amanda said...

Well, when all are blind, nobody will be able to be envious of whatever is on the other side.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

The Middle East has been like this from the dawn of time...sadly there seems to be a limitless supply of eyes :(

Anonymous said...

Marvelous thought-provoking post!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

In the Middle East, they could all do with pelting with eggs!

Random Magus said...

Here in Dubai you see so many displaced Lebanese - this strife has affected so many's really sad