Humanism is a sociopolitical philosophy concerned with promoting, among other things, a behavior of peoples via ethical and moral interactions. These ethics and morals include compassion, truth, honesty, interconnectedness, and fairness, and a resort to reason and the understanding of cause and effect in society. Humanists, therefore, tend to look at the philosophical and scientific underpinnings of human behavior – studying both the biological and anthropological nature of our species – toward the attempt of creating a truly egalitarian, planetary culture – a culture, while not diminishing local cultures, strives for a universal humanity where violence, war, racism, and other social injustices become obsolete.
So what is a humanist take on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Is there a way to look at this conflict not from an Arab or Jewish point of view, or even a political or historical point of view? And if so, what would we learn from such an exploration?
Michael Neumann, of German-Jewish ancestry, is a professor of moral and political philosophy. He has written on various Middle East subjects, and has taken an in depth philosophical look at anti-Semitism in his essay, “What is Anti-Semitism?” His new book, The Case against Israel argues that Zionism was responsible for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and that Israel is responsible for its perpetuation. Neumann’s analyses strikes at the heart of the violence in Israel and Palestine by offering a truly humanistic viewpoint on what happened, and how peace can be sought.