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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 586)...

    Everyday sees another action or reaction between Israelites and Palestinians in the Middle East. Sometimes it escalates; sometimes it de-escalates a little. Would their violent exchanges be considered Erratic Retaliation?

    ...and the response:

    Some might argue that it is, but I wouldn't. Although it involved conflict, Erratic Retaliation is fundamentally a peace-keeping strategy. It reinforces this message: "Look, don't mess with us. We're tough and we're mean." The result was that, for the most part, neighbors who practiced it did NOT mess with each other. They weren't in a state of constant murderous hostility but rather in a state of constant readiness and wariness. By contrast, the message being sent by both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is: "We'd exterminate you if we could." Israel can't because it knows it couldn't get away with it, and the Palestinians can't because they lack the military power to do it. The Erratic Retaliator strategy was about keeping your neighbors at a respectful distance, not about eradicating them.


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