Feb 10th 2012

The Psychological Dimension of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

by Alon Ben-Meir

A noted journalist and author, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Ben-Meir holds a masters degree in philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. His exceptional knowledge and insight, the result of more than 20 years of direct involvement in foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East, has allowed Dr. Ben-Meir to offer a uniquely invaluable perspective on the nature of world terrorism, conflict resolution and international negotiations. Fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, Ben-Meir's frequent travels to the Middle East and meetings with highly placed officials and academics in many Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Turkey provide him with an exceptionally nuanced level of awareness and insight into the developments surrounding breaking news. Ben-Meir often articulates

This is the first of 10 articles that will address how the psychological dimension of Israeli-Palestinian conflict has and continues to impact every conflicting issue between the two sides and what can be done to mitigate these psychological impediments to reach an agreement based on a two state solution.

On the surface, the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process seems illogical and unsettling. After all, each side accepts the inevitability of coexistence and presumably understands the general parameters of a negotiated peace agreement: a two-state solution based on the 1967 border with land swaps that keep the major settlement blocks under Israel’s sovereignty, Jerusalem would remain a united capital of two-states, and the vast majority of Palestinian refugees would be compensated and remain in their countries of residence or resettle in the newly-created Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These fundamental Imperatives, coupled with appropriate security guarantees for Israel, represent what has been on the table at the conclusion of numerous rounds of negotiations in the past decades, with each round coming closer to finalizing an agreement, yet ultimately failing to do so. The question is: why?

The answer lies far beyond the physical concessions on the ground and is deeply embedded in the psychological dimensions of the conflict, which impact every conflicting issue between the two parties. It is the mindset, nurtured over more than nine decades, that allows the individuals and the groups, Israelis and Palestinians alike, to perceive and interpret the nature of the discord between them in a biased and selective way. In turn, this stifles and inhibits any new information that could shed new light on the situation and help advance the peace process. In principle, such a mindset prevents either side from entertaining new ideas that might lead to compromises for a peaceful solution. Thus, to mitigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must first carefully look into the various elements that inform the psychological dimensions of the conflict and discuss how they may impact the relationship between the two sides and what it would take to alleviate these psychological impediments as prerequisites to finding a solution to the conflict.

Historical Experiences

Underlying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the scars that each side carries from traumatic pasts. The Jewish experience throughout the Diaspora was one filled with discrimination, persecution, anti-Semitism and expulsion, culminating in the Holocaust, during which one nation sought to extinguish a defenseless Jewish people. The trauma of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis is unmatched in size and scope. Moreover, many Jews were prevented from avoiding death camps by immigrating to Palestine, which added yet another layer to the horrific experiences of the Jewish people. Without question, the Jews have carried the scars of this past with them to Palestine and still hold to the view that it can happen again unless they remain relentless in protecting themselves at any cost. With this past in mind, once the State of Israel was established, it was seen not only as the last refuge to provide protection for the Jewish people but also the realization of the secular Zionist mission and the biblical fulfillment of the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland that had to be guarded with absolute and unwavering zeal.

It is this sense of victimization and injustice that has served to nurture the allegiance that each Israeli feels towards the state and to each other with a naturally-engendered, negative emotional sentiment towards the enemy. From the Israeli perspective, the establishment of Israel on the heels of the Holocaust was seen (and continues to be viewed) as a last chance to create a refuge and remain on guard to protect the Jews’ welfare and wellbeing, wherever they may live and at whatever cost. Moreover, this sense of being victimized, which results from an intentional infliction of harm which is viewed as unjust and utterly immoral, has led to a lack of empathy towards the enemy and further manifested itself through a shirking of Israeli responsibility, for example, regarding the Palestinian refugee problem while promoting self-righteousness. Together these phenomena tend to endure for a very long period of time, particularly when it is accompanied by extensive violence and growing concerns over security.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, have never really appreciated the psychological implications of the Jews’ historical experience. Instead of understanding the Israeli mindset that was formed by this horrific experience and the Jews’ connection to the land, the Palestinians have either denied the Holocaust altogether, or bemoaned that if it did happen, they should not be forced to pay the price.

For the Palestinians, the experience of the Nakba, precipitated by the 1948 war, was indeed no less catastrophic.  From their view, they were living in their own land, albeit under Ottoman rule for centuries and then under British rule. During the 1948 war, many were either forced out of their homes by Israelis or encouraged to leave by their Arab brethren in the context of the war and found themselves as refugees – an experience that has lasted for decades and which they continue to endure to this day. This traumatic experience has served to bind Palestinians together in the same way that the Jews coalesced following the Holocaust, the two tragic events, however, unparalleled in scope by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that the Arab states manipulated the Palestinian refugee problem to their advantage did not change the reality on the ground nor did it alter the Palestinians’ sentiment and feelings about their plight.

What has further aggravated the Palestinian refugees are the subsequent and frequent violent encounters between the two sides, especially after the 1967 war. This was a war which not only created another wave of refugees but set the stage for bloody confrontation during which many thousands lost their lives on both sides. Moreover, the Israeli settlement project provided a daily reminder of the Palestinian inaptitude while demonstrating the futility of their efforts to stem the Israeli encroachment on their territory, especially in the West Bank. The repeated humiliation of the Palestinians further deepened their resolve to oppose the Israelis at whatever cost, but all to no avail, which served to further deepen their resentment, hatred and animosity.

Israelis have never fully understood the significance of what the Palestinians have been experiencing, how this has impacted their psychological dispositions, and why they have shown no desire to reconcile their differences with Israel. Israelis often argue that since nearly 800,000 Jews left their homes across the Arab Middle East and North Africa and largely settled in Israel, the Palestinian refugees must be considered a de-facto swap with the Jewish refugees. This view not only dismisses the historic trauma experienced by the Palestinians but also disregards their national aspirations to establish a homeland of their own. It is that psychological fixation reinforced by public narratives and education in schools, among other factors, that has prevented either side from coming to grips with the inevitability of peaceful coexistence.

Political Ideology

For most Israelis, the meanings and the implications of the occupation took a dramatic turn only a few months following the 1967 war. Whereas initially Israel offered to relinquish the territories with the exception of East Jerusalem in exchange for peace, the Arab states’ refusal changed the Israelis view dramatically from viewing the land as occupied to one that was liberated. As a result, the Palestinians living on the land have been seen as an impediment to the fulfillment of those who embraced this nationalistic, ideological orientation. From their perspective, the Jews’ cultural heritage is intertwined with the land and Jews have a historical right to the land that is not subject to mitigation. As a result, these factions opposed any compromise for ideological reasons while intensifying the sense of vulnerability from a security perspective in order to undermine any efforts to reach a cooperative agreement. Such ideologues often assume an arrogant approach while disregarding legitimate norms of conduct and the rules of law as they have come to see the occupation as a legitimate repossession of the Jews’ historic land.  

In addition to three religious parties, there is plethora of political parties in Israel, which cover the whole spectrum from extreme left to the extreme right, who hold different ideological positions in connection with the territories. Some, such as Likud, seek to hold onto the entirety of what they call, “the land of Israel.” Others, like Labor and Kadima, are willing to compromise territorially because of their concerns over the loss of Jewish dominance resulting from annexation or the loss of the democratic nature of the state due to shifting demographics. Other left-of-center parties such as Meretz insist that the occupation is a violation of universal moral values and seek an end to it, provided Israel can ensure its national security. And there are the religious parties who, like their secular counterparts, differ in their approach regarding the disposition of the territories. However, regardless of their ideological or religious orientations, they have all supported (in various degrees) the settlement enterprise and insist on retaining part of the West Bank, ranging between five to forty percent, to accommodate their ideological, national security or religious needs.

The Palestinians have never understood the depth and the meaning of the historical connection between the Jews and what they consider their ancient homeland. This is a connection that has lived in the mind and soul of most Jews throughout the millennium. The Palestinians have rejected Israel as a matter of principle regardless of the eventual disposition of the West Bank and Gaza, something that has become deeply ingrained in the Israeli mindset particularly because the Palestinians have openly and repeatedly stated that position.

From the Palestinian perspective, Palestine is the only land they have known. It is their ancestral land, which they have occupied for centuries. Although they recognize that a small Jewish community has always lived in Palestine and even though the land was ruled by the Ottoman and then fell under British mandate, they have never psychologically or emotionally conceded their right to Palestine as they view it as Arab matrimony. The War of 1948, which followed the creation of the state of Israel and precipitated the first wave of Palestinian refugees, further deepened their resolve which led to the creation of more than a dozen militant- resistance groups forsworn to bring an end to the Jewish enterprise in Palestine through one form or another.
 
Sixty-four years into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and following half a dozen wars and hundreds of terrorist attacks and Israeli retaliations, very little has changed psychologically. There are still numerous resistance movements such as Hamas that oppose Israel’s existence and continue to adhere to the ideological ethos of Palestinian control over all of mandated Palestine. Following the 1993 Oslo accords, however, a growing majority of Palestinians began to realize that they must find a way to co-exist with Israel, which subsequently became the official policy of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. The PA’s rival, Hamas, which controls Gaza, continues to struggle to find a way to reconcile with the reality of Israel. Yet, despite the growing pragmatic view, the psychological disposition of the Palestinians remains locked in place and a significant constituency on both sides continues to oppose any effort to reconcile their historical perspectives.  

Religious Belief and Conviction

The Arab-Israeli conflict is typically viewed as a political and territorial conflict, yet the religious component has created a certain mindset that further complicates the conflict and makes it extremely difficult to resolve.  The Israeli narrative is one that is based on the biblical connection of the Jewish people to the land of their forefathers. As Prime Minister Netanyahu implored of Congress in his May 24th address, “This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace.  No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year-old bond, between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.” For many Israelis, it is extremely painful to relinquish control of the West Bank, known as the ancient biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, and it is inconceivable to surrender the Wailing Wall and have Jerusalem under the jurisdiction of anyone else. This has, in fact, created intergroup factions such as the settlement movement that strongly supports militant actions, rejects compromises and often exerts disproportionate pressure on the government to not make any compromises. As a result, with the expansion of the settlements, this particular and most powerful psychological disposition became even further embedded in the Israeli psyche and the growing, if not decisive, power of the problematic settlement movement has made it ever so more difficult to contemplate a return to the 1967 borders even with some land swap.  As recent internal Israeli conflicts between Israeli soldiers and settlers attest to, nothing will stop the zealot settlers as long as they believe that they are pursuing God’s mission and that the Almighty is testing their resolve, tenacity and willingness to sacrifice themselves before He grants them once again the Promised Land.

Similarly, no Arab leader will compromise on Jerusalem because of the religious convictions tied to the third holiest shrines of Islam in Jerusalem, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the Haram al-Sharif. Moreover, many Muslim scholars believe that Muhammad made his Journey from Mecca to the Al Aqsa Mosque (literally, ‘furthest mosque’) in Jerusalem before he ascended to heaven. Although the Al Aqsa Mosque was built long after the death of the prophet, Surah 17:1 says that Mohammad visited the site where Masjid Al Aqsa was to be built. This belief is certainly not limited to the Palestinians but shared by all Muslims, further complicating any solution to the future of Jerusalem. Like their Israeli counterparts, the Palestinians too have shown absolutely no flexibility in this regard. It is this mindset, cultivated over many centuries but further reinforced since the creation of Israel that has and will continue to hinder finding a solution that can satisfy both the psychological and emotional needs of both sides.

National Security

The trauma experienced by both sides prior to, and as a result of, the founding of Israel has been reinforced by wars and misdeeds by each side that has fostered a deeply-embedded culture of mistrust between the two peoples. The Arab states’ refusal to accept the 1947 United Nations’ partition plan was the first such message to Israelis that the Arabs were not interested in peace. The wars, identified by the years they took place—1948, 1956, 1967, 1973—have only strengthened the Israeli conviction that Arabs seek only the destruction of, rather than peace with, the State of Israel which has led many Israelis to believe that the entire world is against them and adopt a powerful and intractable siege mentality.
 
The Arab League meeting in Khartoum in 1967 codified this view and further reinforced that perception through declaring the infamous three no’s: “no to negotiations, no to recognition, no to peace”. Finally with the launch of the Oslo peace process in 1993, Israelis and Palestinians began to speak with one another in an attempt to find a lasting end to their conflict. But, with the trauma of conflict underlying their discussions, and the utter lack of trust, neither side believed the words of the other. From the Israeli point of view, they negotiated as Hamas and other extremist Palestinian groups gained strength and committed a savage campaign of suicide bombings across Israel, only to be further intensified by the Second Intifada upon the collapse of the Oslo talks. The Israeli view that the Palestinians do not really want peace gained further currency following Israel’s withdrawals from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Instead of using the evacuated territories as an opening for improved relations, they became a staging ground for the launching of rockets on Israeli cities.

Meanwhile, from the Palestinians’ perspective, they negotiated as Israeli settlement construction grew exponentially in the West Bank, in a rapid land grab that the Palestinians had imagined for a state of their own. The Palestinians insist that Israel could not possibly negotiate in good faith as long as it continued to deepen the roots of occupation while undermining any real prospects for establishing their own state. The Palestinian’s perception of a continued Israeli threat and the lingering fear of Israel’s ill intentions further deepened their sense of insecurity which justified their use of force against the source of the threat. Moreover, whereas the Israelis linked the continuation of the occupation to national security, the Palestinians’ heightened intergroup solidarity against the occupation wanted to demonstrate that the occupation must become the source of insecurity for Israel. To be sure, Israel’s deep sense of insecurity was similarly experienced by the Palestinians to no lesser a degree, which made them resort to violence to ensure their own safety.

Here too, events and circumstances have led both sides to develop a mindset based on fear and uncertainty, forcing them to dig in their heels. This sense of heightened insecurity was further aggravated by ideological Israeli and Palestinian leaders that made little or no effort to correct these perceptions, deciding instead to stoke nationalist fervor and angst against the “Other”.

Delegitimization of Each Other

Although many people on both sides realize that coexistence is inevitable, there are still very strong voices among the Israelis and the Palestinians who simply don’t accept it. There are Israelis who deny that the Palestinians are a nation with national aspirations, believing that they can be given independence in municipalities but remain perpetually under the jurisdiction and control of the Israeli authorities. And there are Palestinians who deny that Israelis constitute a people worthy of a nation, let alone one that should settle in the land they seek for their own. As a result, this further enhances the will to sustain the occupation by the Israelis and emboldens resistance to the occupation by the Palestinians.

Too often, the leadership on both sides has sought to exploit these nationalistic denials for their own political and ideological gains, at the expense of understanding the narrative of the other side. For example, for the Israelis this has meant a denial of the dilemma of Palestinian refugees and on the Palestinian side, a denial of Israel’s genuine security concerns. As a result, the public discourse has advanced the notion that the other side has no genuine claims and that one day they will be defeated with hardened, resolute positions. Therefore there is no compelling rationale to compromise in order to find a formula for co-existence. This blind refusal of reality by influential voices on both sides strengthens those on the fringes seeking to delay a solution. The quintessential example of the denial of the need to coexist is the development of unilateralism as a policy of choice. The Israelis’ continued settlement expansion and the Palestinians’ drive to seek UN recognition of their own state suggests a bold attempt to shape their respective national futures as if it were possible to do so, independent of the other side.

To be sure, the conscious effort to delegitimize each other not only causes self-harm and harm to the other side but it also permits and justifies moral infractions against each other. It helps sustain the conflict, minimize the importance of any concession made by either side and inadvertently leads to renewed violence.

Conclusion

By insisting on far-fetched formulas, both sides are creating states of self-entrapment by imprisoning themselves in positions that are not sustainable and are locking themselves into  postures without admirable ways out.  To illustrate this self-entrapment consider the following: Israelis insist that the Palestinians should have no jurisdiction over any part of Jerusalem and that they must recognize Israel, “as a Jewish state.” Palestinians continue to perpetuate the fantasy that refugees will one day return to Israel en masse, thereby destroying Israel’s Jewish character. As long as these positions, however untenable, continue to dominate public discourse, they not only impede any serious dialogue or discussion but also paint the Israeli and Palestinian leadership into a corner with increasingly diminishing prospects of finding a dignified way out.

Overcoming these fundamental obstacles to a two-state agreement requires more than negotiations between political leaders.  What is needed is to bring together noted and most-respected religious leaders, historians and NGO’s that engage in separate talks about each of the conflicting issues between Israelis and Palestinians without outside political pressure as long as all participants believe in the inevitability of coexistence. Airing these issues and reaching a better understanding could have a tremendous impact on public opinion on both sides and provide the political leadership with the necessary public support and the political cover they need to accommodate each other. Understanding and appreciating each other’s position and mindset, and reaching a consensus governed by the reality on the ground, will be a game-changer. 

Only with such a broader, deeper dialogue, and the shared pursuit of understanding the issues on the psychological, historical, religious and emotional levels, can the roots of the conflict be addressed and substantive negotiations begin to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the following seven articles I will discuss how the psychological dimension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to impact the conflicting issues between the two sides and what can be done to address the imperatives of the conflict and make the right choices. Next: Borders and Israel’s national security. 

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Dec 14th 2019
EXTRACT: "Conspiracy theories about sinister Jewish power have a long history. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian forgery published in 1903, popularized the notion that Jewish bankers and financiers were secretly pulling the strings to dominate the world. Henry Ford was one of the more prominent people who believed this nonsense."
Dec 13th 2019
EXTRACT: "In previous British elections, to say that trust was the main issue would have meant simply that trust is the trump card – whichever leader or party could secure most trust would win. Now, the emerging question about trust is whether it even matters anymore."
Dec 5th 2019
EXTRACT: "Europe must fend for itself for the first time since the end of World War II. Yet after so many years of strategic dependence the US, Europe is unprepared – not just materially but psychologically – for today’s harsh geopolitical realities. Nowhere is this truer than in Germany."
Nov 23rd 2019
Extdact: "The kind of gratitude expressed by Vindman and my grandfather is not something that would naturally occur to a person who can take his or her nationality for granted, or whose nationality is beyond questioning by others. Some who have never felt the sharp end of discrimination might even find it mildly offensive. Why should anyone be grateful for belonging to a particular nation? Pride, perhaps, but gratitude? In fact, patriotism based on gratitude might be the strongest form there is."
Nov 20th 2019
Extract: "Moody’s, one of the big three credit rating agencies, is not upbeat about the prospects for the world’s debt in 2020 – to put it mildly. If we were to try to capture the agency’s view of where we are heading on a palette of colours, we would be pointing at black – pitch black."
Nov 17th 2019
Extract: "Digital money is already a key battleground in finance, with technology firms, payment processing companies, and banks all vying to become the gateway into the burgeoning platform-based economy. The prizes that await the winners could be huge. In China, Alipay and WeChat Pay already control more than 90% of all mobile payments. And in the last three years, the four largest listed payment firms – Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and PayPal – have increased in value by more than the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google)."
Nov 14th 2019
Extract: "Trump, who understands almost nothing about governing, made a major mistake in attacking career public officials from the outset of his presidency. He underestimated – or just couldn’t fathom – the honor of people who could earn more in the private sector but believe in public service. And he made matters worse for himself as well as for the government by creating a shadow group – headed by the strangely out-of-control Rudy Giuliani, once a much-admired mayor of New York City, and now a freelance troublemaker serving as Trump’s personal attorney – to impose the president’s Ukraine policy over that of “the bureaucrats.” "
Nov 4th 2019
Extract: "Trump displays repeated and persistent behaviours consistent with narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. These behaviours include craving for adulation, lack of empathy, aggression and vindictiveness towards opponents, addiction to lying, and blatant disregard for rules and conventions, among others." The concern is that leaders with these two disorders may be incapable of putting the interests of the country ahead of their own personal interests. Their compulsive lying may make rational action impossible and their impulsiveness may make them incapable of the forethought and planning necessary to lead the country. They lack empathy and are often motivated by rage and revenge, and could make quick decisions that could have profoundly dangerous consequences for democracy.
Oct 31st 2019
EXTRACT: "......let’s see what happens when we have less money for all the things we want to do as a country and as individuals. Promises and predictions regarding Brexit will soon be tested against reality. When they are, I wouldn’t want to be one of Johnson’s Brexiteers."
Oct 21st 2019
EXTRACT: "Were Israel to be attacked with the same precision and sophistication as the strike on Saudi Arabia, the Middle East would be plunged into war on a scale beyond anything it has experienced so far. Sadly (but happily for Russian President Vladimir Putin), that is the reality of a world in which the US has abandoned any pretense of global leadership."
Oct 20th 2019
EXTRACT: "Europe also stands to lose from Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds. If, in the ongoing chaos, the thousands of ISIS prisoners held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces escape – as some already have – America’s estranged European allies will suffer. Yet Trump is unconcerned. “Well, they are going to be escaping to Europe, that’s where they want to go,” he remarked casually at a press conference. “They want to go back to their homes." "
Oct 15th 2019
EXTRACT: "Assuming the House ultimately votes to impeach Trump, the fact remains that there are far fewer votes in the Senate than will be needed to convict him and remove him from office. But the willingness of Congress – including the Senate – to continue tolerating his dangerous conduct in office, including threats to US national security, is now truly in question."
Oct 7th 2019
EXTRACT: "The problem didn't start with the election of Donald Trump. Nor did it begin with the Democrats launching an impeachment inquiry against Trump. This is a developing crisis that has been growing like a cancer within our polity for at least the past 25 years. Its main symptoms are a lack of civility in our political discourse, a "take no prisoners" mindset, and a denial of the very legitimacy of "the other side." Trump didn't create this crisis; he was the result of it.   When Newt Gingrich took the helm of Congress in 1995, unlike previous Republican leaders, he embarked on a campaign not only to obstruct the efforts of then President Clinton, but to destroy him. Congress launched a series of investigations accusing Clinton of everything from corruption to obstruction of justice – with hints of even more nefarious plots to assassinate those who might pose a problem to his presidency.  "
Oct 4th 2019
EXTRACT: "As the story spreads, it grows darker. Meanwhile, Trump is trying to learn the identity of the whistleblower (who is protected by law), which could expose that person to great danger. And he is accusing some people – including Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee – of treason. My sense is that Trump fears the tough, focused Schiff. Trump has ominously noted that traitors used to be shot or hanged. And he hasn’t helped himself with members of either party by declaring, in one of his hundreds of febrile tweets, that forcing him from office could lead to a “civil war.” Trump has taken the United States somewhere it’s never been before. His presidency may not survive it."
Sep 24th 2019
EXTRACT: "But regardless of whether the Ukraine scandal remains front-page news, it will haunt the US intelligence community, which has been Trump’s bête noire since the day he took office. Trump has relentlessly attacked US intelligence agencies, cozied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and divulged secrets to foreign officials, potentially burning high-value sources. This behavior had already raised serious concerns about whether Trump can be trusted to receive sensitive intelligence at all. Now, intelligence leaders must ask themselves how far they are willing to go in toeing the White House line."
Sep 21st 2019
EXTRACT: "As Lobaczewski pointed out, pathological leaders tend to attract other people with psychological disorders. At the same time, empathetic and fair-minded people gradually fall away. They are either ostracised or step aside voluntarily, appalled by the growing pathology around them.......As a result, over time pathocracies become more entrenched and extreme. You can see this process in the Nazi takeover of the German government in the 1930s, when Germany moved from democracy to pathocracy in less than two years.......In the US, there has clearly been a movement towards pathocracy under Trump. As Lobaczewski’s theory predicts, the old guard of more moderate White House officials – the “adults in the room” – has fallen away. The president is now surrounded by individuals who share his authoritarian tendencies and lack of empathy and morality. Fortunately, to some extent, the democratic institutions of the US have managed to provide some push back."
Sep 16th 2019
EXTRACT: "If the Supreme Court does agree with the Divisional Court that the question is political rather than legal, it will take the UK constitution into quite peculiar territory. Prime ministers will be the new kings and queens. They will be free to suspend parliament at will, and for as long as they wish, without any judicial interference. Parliament will meet not out of constitutional necessity but in the service of the government’s interests – namely, to pass its legislation and to maintain appearances, rather than to hold it to account."
Sep 12th 2019
Extract: "The Republican Party has lashed its fate to an increasingly unhinged leader. Though three other presidential hopefuls for 2020 now stand in Trump’s way, none can defeat him. But they can damage his reelection effort, which is why the Republican Party has been scrapping some primaries and caucuses. How well Trump does in November next year may well depend on how his fragile ego withstands the coming months."
Sep 2nd 2019
EXTRACTS: "Most people think of revolutions as sudden earthquakes or volcanic eruptions that come without warning and sweep away an entire political system. But historians, political scientists, and even the odd politician know that the reality is very different: revolutions happen when systems hollow themselves out, or simply rot from within. Revolutionaries can then brush aside established norms of behavior, or even of truth, as trivialities that should not impede the popular will............ Only time will tell whether we are currently witnessing the hollowing out of British democracy. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson may well have crossed some invisible Rubicon by.......... Whatever happens now, British parliamentary democracy may never be the same again. It will certainly never again be the model that so many people around the world once admired."
Aug 29th 2019
EXTRACT: "Events such as prorogations and dissolutions happen when countries face difficult times. Therefore, because of the disastrous effects of Brexit: sterling in freefall; a recession looming on the horizon and Britain’s international standing at its lowest ebb since Suez, it is no surprise that the country is in this position now. The worrying thing is that using the monarchical power of prorogation does not solve problems – it has a history of turning them into frightening and often violent crises. There is a worrying relationship between the use of such powers and a complete breakdown in government."