Traditions of controversy and conflict resolution: Can past approaches help to solve present conflicts?

This chapter is about three distinguished representatives of three traditions of controversy – Jewish, Muslim, and Christian – and about one resilient conflict – the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. My purpose is to single out in the thought and practice of the selected three representatives approaches to controversy and conflict that might perhaps offer innovative ideas as to how to increase the chances of solving the conflict in question. In a conflict like this, where two different traditions and cultures confront each other, and the tendency of the contenders is to highlight their differences, it is important to try to single out those elements of similarity or at least of sufficient closeness in order to allow for the overcoming of the differences and, eventually for reconciliation. To be sure, both the thinkers considered and the circumstances in which they operated are extremely different. Yet, one of the purposes of this chapter is to show that it makes sense to compare their approaches and even to try to combine them into a set of complementary models capable to help us to overcome the deadlock in which the attempts to solve a current conflict by lack of new ideas – as analysts and politicians claim. Relevant new ideas, I contend, may come not only from our present creativity, but also from that of great thinkers of the past; not only from one’s own tradition of controversy, but also from that of other traditions. The methodological innovation I want to introduce here is thus simply the idea of “fishing for good ideas in the past”. Old ideas that remained unnoticed or unapplied may prove to be useful for reframing our current dilemmas. We will seek their help by examing three quite different models of conflict resolution, drawn from King Solomon, Ibn Rushd, and Leibniz.
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