Yisrael Aumann won the Nobel Prize in Economics, yet still manages to make no sense on Israeli-Palestinian peace
Professor Yisrael Aumann, an Israeli laureate of the Nobel Prize in Economics, delivered on Wednesday a “master class” in the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, under the title “Peace in the Middle East: A Game Theorist’s Perspective”. The Jerusalem Post devoted an entire article just to Aumann’s presentation, crowning him as “an out-of-the-box thinker with a pronounced though slightly cockeyed sense of humor and a gift for delivering shockers.”
These shockers included praise for Helen Thomas, the Roman destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD, and Obama’s rather obvious argument that the “belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it.” Out of the box, indeed. Yet, despite the lack of creativity, Aumann’s rehashing of right-wing talking points, which his presentation apparently turned out to be, is illuminating in several ways.
Take, for example, the issue of educating Palestinians to support peace. This was one of Aumann’s top priorities:
Israelis have been blasting the Palestinian Authority for not doing enough to stop terrorism since it was founded. In recent years, however, under Abu Mazen’s leadership, it has become increasingly harder to make this argument. The PA has tightened security cooperation with Israel, and has massively clamped down on terrorist cells and organization. This is one of the factors contributing to a sharp decline in Palestinian attacks and Israeli fatalities in recent years.
So, after this excuse has been taken away from them, Israeli governments have had to resurrect the old hobbyhorse of incitement and education. Beyond the hypocrisy, the argument simply makes no sense. What Aumann neglected to mention is that Israel controlled the Palestinian education system, from the start of the occupation in 1967 to the establishment of the PA in 1994, for 27 years. All Palestinians between the ages of 24 and 59 have spent at least some time in Israeli-controlled classrooms, and those between the ages of 35 and 50 have spent their entire time in school under Israeli control.
According to Aumann’s logic, these people – who also happen to dominate the ranks of school teachers and principals, and education ministry officials – should have been strong advocates for peace. Perhaps hate for Israel has more to do with the occupation and Israeli policies than with education?
According to the Jerusalem...Read More