Posted from the US
I'm trying to flesh out some thoughts on how blogging may be used to deal with the crisis in the Middle East, specifically the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The recent election by the Palestinians of Hamas to power is extremely troubling. A significant escalation of violence is clearly possible, so it is worth trying to think through any last ideas that could have an impact.
My thought is to create a massive peer to peer blogging network between each Israeli citizen and their Palestinian counterparts - maybe this could be a great use of concepts like the Media Lab's $100 computer project. The idea is to create a space for every single citizen on both sides (independant of their leaders) to debate in the open, and for the rest of the world to observe and participate in this debate. The influx of ideas and debate between the two sides should be between the everyday people - blogging stations can be posted in every city and town. The outside world - through their comments and independant blogs can flow new and different ideas into a very old debate between these parties.
Perhaps in such a wide and open environment the Palestinians will not be immune to influx of rational ideas. The ideals of Hamas reminds me very much of how the Japanese thought about the world during WW2. It took massive firebombing and the dropping of nuclear bombs to open the minds of the Japanese people to give up their visions of their place in the world - and to join the world on different terms - they gave up a militant view and became an economic powerhouse.
The Palestinians face the very same challenge. By electing Hamas they are voting with their hearts - but hearts can be wrong. Their neighbor, Israel, has significant nuclear weapon capabilities. Israel, with its Masada & Samson complexes, would destroy the entire region and possibly wipe out all of the Palestinians before they could ever live out their Hamas dreams. Many populations have ignored the rational, practical situation they face and indeed faced significant destruction.
The Palestinians could also accept this fact - and turn towards becoming an economic player - and a member of the rest of the world. Their neighbor is a global economic and technology player - instead of fighting they could become collaborators, as the Palestinians are among the most educated in the Arab world.
One hope I have is that by studying what happened in Japan during WW2 that the Palestinians can wake up to a new reality - and perhaps the Japanese can dip into their dark past and terrible wounds and find a lesson to teach both parties - before we have another Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or worse. The Japanese kamikaze and the Palestinian suicide bomber are symptoms of a similar disease - a national delusion that only results in more and more death and destruction.
Perhaps the everday Israeli and the everyday Palestinian, connected on a mass scale, can come to the realization that there is no need for a vision to destroy the other (the Palestinians through Hamas have the vision and desire, but Israel has the means to practically destroy much of the Middle East).
This conflict needs something different to happen - something akin to a blogstorm coming up from the people on both sides. The leaders on all sides have failed for years to achieve peace - and the people complain. Well people - stop complaining and sieze the day yourselves.
The Palestinian vote for Hamas may also indicate the endstage of brewing hatred - it's all now in the open for all to see. It may be that they will come to the viewpoint of the Japanese - that peace and economic prosperity are far better choices than the delusions of a fanatic movement. It may also be that only a massive increase of violence, death, and destruction will cure what seems to be a mass psychosis. Better for the world to help achieve the former - and fast.
My hope is that there is another way - a way to open minds quickly and on a massive scale. We already know how the other script will end.