For the past week or so I have been participating in a consultation regarding an upcoming medical procedure someone needs to undergo. The participants include a number of physicians, and some family members. Some of the positions being staked flatly contradict some of the others. Many of the basic facts are agreed on by all. The implications are weighed differently by different people. Everyone understands the logic of all the positions. Ah - and the discussion is literally about life and death.
Meanwhile, in the broader world, the inability to have a rational discussion goes on. Take these descriptions of what is happening in Gaza these days, the one posted by Daniel Levy, who would probably accept the definition "Peace Activist" of the Israeli Left, the other a report (two, actually, here and here) by Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, at Haaretz. Harel and Issacharoff both are somewhere to the left of center in their politics, but they tend to put their job of reporting above their party affiliations or preferences.
Read the pieces, if you're interested, and then try to find any agreement on three basic points: 1. Who controls Gaza? 2. Is Hamas interested in participating in negotiations toward peace with Israel? 3. What does the Israeli leadership intend to do about the ongoing mortar and rocket shootings from Gaza? There are additional points that can be compared, of course.
My point is that these three writers are all rather of the same political camp in Israel, and yet they can't agree on the simplest basics. Think what if we tried to compare a reporter of the Guardian with a colleague at the Jerusalem Post.
Was universal rational discussion ever a historical reality, which has somehow been lost to us, or was the very idea never more than a figment of someones wistfully naive imagination?