Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby d0rkyd00d » Tue Mar 10, 2009 7:52 pm

Felix,

Don't be nice and make me regret my fiestiness. :P
"We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years." -Robert Ingersoll

"My "faith," if truly I have any, is in the idea that methodically applied science increases our knowledge of the Universe." -Phaedrus
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby d0rkyd00d » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:00 pm

Xunzian wrote:Should be out soon, sorry, life getting in the way. You all know how it is.


NO EXCUSES.
"We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years." -Robert Ingersoll

"My "faith," if truly I have any, is in the idea that methodically applied science increases our knowledge of the Universe." -Phaedrus
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby felix dakat » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:15 pm

d0rkyd00d wrote:Felix,

Don't be nice and make me regret my fiestiness. :P


OK. Here ya go: :angry-cussingblack:

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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Xunzian » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:54 pm

My conclusion is up. Good job, Dorky. It was a fun debate.
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby d0rkyd00d » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:18 am

I hope we can continue the discussion after the debate is over and the judging is finished. I am wondering if I should start a new thread in the religion forums for it, though, because I'd prefer the opportunity for higher traffic and more input.
"We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years." -Robert Ingersoll

"My "faith," if truly I have any, is in the idea that methodically applied science increases our knowledge of the Universe." -Phaedrus
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Xunzian » Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:14 pm

Yeah, I'd love to continue the discussion. I know Cyrene would like that too. He's already told me I'm wrong :) I imagine most people are on his (your) side too.
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby uglypeoplefucking » Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:49 pm

I think Xunzian is the clear winner of the debate, though he overextends himself the same way Dorky did, just in the opposite direction by removing religion entirely from the list of causal factors, attempting to argue that it's entirely immaterial . . . Even as Xun portrays it, there's still plenty of room for religion to serve a causal role - but on a point-by point basis, he takes the trophy.

i must say, i really prefer formal debates like this one where both sides are arguing what they actually believe as opposed to the ILO-ILP style debates with arbitrary topics.
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Xunzian » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:30 pm

I agree the materialist stance is not without difficulties and inconsistencies. But that is generally how models operate -- they work for a while but upon close enough scrutiny, they break down. However, I do think the materialist model is substantially better than the model proposed by the religion hypothesis. I think that the graph shown on page 13 of this powerpoint presentation offers a good model for the situation. Religious extremism is a factor, but you'll note it is a derived factor as opposed to a causative agent. An indicator, if you will. Naturally, I wasn't going to even cede that within the debate (though I came close in the closing argument) but I wanted to argue an extreme interpretation to show that religion doesn't need to even be factored in to have a coherent model of the situation in the ME.
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby felix dakat » Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:51 pm

Dorky--

Conflating religion and nationalism and religion and land issues didn't help your case as far as I am concerned. Once these elements are merged how can we evaluate the relative contribution of religion to the problem? The purpose of analysis is to isolate factors not mix them. How do we know that Islam is no more than a big loud toothless handless passenger on a Middle Eastern Bus driven by someone else?

Xunxian -- You almost had me believing that religion is neutral in the whole middle eastern deal. The powerpoint presentation is the coup de grace in your case against the role of religion in the Middle Eastern conflict.

All--As far as continuing the discussion, I could get on board if we focus on trying to define what religion is. Unless we can do that we will never agree about religion's part to the human condition.

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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Xunzian » Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:04 pm

Well, don't let the ppt or the quip I made above influence your voting. That was outside of the debate.

As for defining what religion is . . . ask twelve anthropologists, get twelve answers. Ask twelve theologians, get twelve different answers. Ask twelve philosophers, get twelve answer. That leaves us with just 36 different, oftentimes mutually exclusive, definitions ;)

Personally, I think that the 'duck-test' is the best method for determining what is-and-is-not a religion. It is crude, and there is bound to be some quibbling, but most people would group things like Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, Judaism, Wicca/New-Age, Scientology, and classical paganisms of various stripes as "religions" whereas things like capitalism, communism, republicanism, nihilism, existentialism, pauperism, heroism, botulism, epicureanism, nazism, conspiracy-theory-ism, mohism, legalism, aristoteleanism, and so on as "not religion" despite the fact that elements are shared between the groups and in some cases, it seems like one group might be a better fit but for a variety of classical reasons we put it in the other area. There are some grey areas, like Voodoo, but those are the exception and not the rule.

In terms of how religion relates to other concepts, it is a pre-modern concept and is heavily rooted in all sorts of cultural narratives in a manner that can't be extracted very easily. I think Dorky was entirely correct to point that out. I still don't think it is causative in those cases, but it does play a role.

Take land, the tribal gods are always closely interconnected with the land. It gets a little more complicated in monotheism, since there is only one god and it occupies the position of both supreme god as well as tribal god, but that doesn't mean that the land doesn't get imbued with sacred relevance in some way or another. This Church, that place where so-and-so-spoke, that mountain where the truth was revealed, that rock where a new, pure civilization was founded, that hill where a moral city was built, that castle where a book was translated, and so on. And that is without going into things like saints and wise-men who occupy roles similar to local gods (indeed, a lot of saints seem to be Christianized local gods).

Likewise with politics. The concept of having the political will embodied in the people has had relatively few expressions in history. And many of those have had other religious justifications as well. Things like "God bless the USA" have many parallels in many, many countries -- even supposedly secular ones. So rulers do tend to rely on religious principles to justify their actions.

In terms of defining religion's role, the best I can do is one by way of metaphor: it is the meter of a culture. The rhyming scheme varies and the words that are spoken . . . those are completely unique. But the meter provides an enduring similarity as well as a ritual space to operate in.
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Mad Man P » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:24 am

I'm having serious truble judging this one...

Xun was a pro.. and if I were to judge on form rather than content I would peg Xun as the winner... but I won't judge on form.. I'll be judgeing on content. And from what I can tell the debaters were putting down their beliefs and not just fancy rhetoric, so i don't believe i was expected to judge on form, in the first place, but rather the strength of the arguments, the reasons for why these beliefs are held (or ought to be held).

I think Dorky had good insight into the religion of islam, which I am personally very familar with, and that he would have done well to go into more detail about what a belief in islam entails. Many of the arguments he puts forward i found that I could easily have put forward myself... yet at the same time I found myself agreeing with nearly everything Xunzian was saying as well... How can this be?

I actually find myself capable of being in nearly perfect agreement with both debaters... so how to judge? it seems either I utterly missed the point, or that something was overlooked in this debate.

I think i would have liked to have the term "religion" defined more clearly.. it seems to me that the "religion" that xunzian was claiming has no role, was not the "religion" that Dorky was blaming. Dorky is absolutely right when he says that islam is "more than a religion. It is a geopolitical project, a system of government, and a political ideology."

Islam differs from nearly all other religions in that it contains not only lessons in morality, insight into the spiritual and perspective on the passing world we live in... it offers a lifestyle and a system of government through which we will obtain peace and well being... in detail. and because of this, what you will find, in most muslims, is that their religion merges with their culture, national, as well as personal indentity to such a degree that they themselves cannot distinguish them from eachother... So how could we hope to? Do we even need to?

For me this is an especially difficult debate to judge if I am to judge it on content... I would have liked to see it go on a bit longer and a tad less formal, so as to flush out more. But alas this is what I have... and I've got some thinking to do... I'll re-read the arguments a few more times... and try to make a call...

but let me tell ya.. there were times were I wanted to pitch in so bad.. I would love to have a thread where this debate was continued and where I were allowed to contribute my own thoughts.
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby d0rkyd00d » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:35 am

Hi Mad Man,

I agree completely with your analysis. I feel there were a lot of points I forgot to make (of course after the fact), and so the discussion will continue in a thread when the judging is done in the religion forums.

I'll make it with an opening post as my fourth argument in the series.
"We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years." -Robert Ingersoll

"My "faith," if truly I have any, is in the idea that methodically applied science increases our knowledge of the Universe." -Phaedrus
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby felix dakat » Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:56 pm

I think i would have liked to have the term "religion" defined more clearly.. it seems to me that the "religion" that xunzian was claiming has no role, was not the "religion" that Dorky was blaming.


I agree completely, and have already said as much above. What I think would be helpful is if we could lay bare out definitions of religion and the assumptions those defintions are based on. That we will agree is probably not a realistic goal as Xunxian pointed out. But if we each were to clearly define what we mean by religion I think it would be clear how our conlcusions about issues like religions role in the Middle East flow from our assumptions.

Personally I think religion is based on something like an instinct that is manifest in consciousness as an intuition of unity in diversity that evokes a sense of basic trust. So according to my view, the social manifestations of religion are based on shared intuition. Once you get to the group level you have all the ordinary dynamics of group behavior in play including need for approval, hierarchy, socal exchange, reciprocal altruism, conflict etc. So at the social level it may be impossible to conclusively sort out the relative contribution of the original "spiritual" impulse from the rest of the mix.

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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby thezeus18 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 9:01 am

You want me to post a judgment now?
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Xunzian » Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:19 pm

Sure. The formal part of the debate is over. Though I don't think the actually topic will ever fully exhaust itself ;)
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Mad Man P » Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:56 am

Finally I have come to a decision.

Although I thought Dorky did a great job, his efforts fell short in comparison to Xunzian's utter thoroughness. and even though I thought Xunzian stretched some of his arguments rather thin, I must admit that he made a much more solid case for his views at the end of the day.

I thought it was a very interresting topic and a joy to read this debate thanks to the thoughtfulness of the debaters.. and by no means easy to judge.. however I must declare Xunzian the winner with my vote.

Again.. I would like to thank Xun and Dorky for their efforts.

Thank you guys for a wonderful debate. =D>

P.S. can't wait to see it continued :D
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby d0rkyd00d » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:24 am

Felix wrote:For dialectical materialism, religion is always strategy for controlling the masses not a cause. Dorky will have to prove that it has some causitive role. This he has done before by saying that religion is the avowed reason the suicide bomber gives for carrying out her mission.


Wrong. I don’t have to prove it has a causative role. The causative role could be economic or social circumstance. What’s more dangerous, a spark, or the resulting explosion once the gasoline has been ignited? I don’t care what the initial catalyst is. Maybe being poor pushes one towards fundamentalist beliefs, but it’s what those beliefs cause people to do that I’m concerned with, and I still haven’t seen an argument that links anything but belief to such specific actions.

Felix wrote:Dorky might be more persuasive if he did not pursue the Harris' line of reasoning. The problem is he really seems to believe it. But hey, I get it. If the Jehovah Witnesses were my paradigm for religion, I would likely despise religion too.


What a dumb fucking thing to say. This might shock you, but some people have never had a religion, and still agree it’s the problem. Some peoples’ paradigm is moderate Christianity, and still agree it’s the problem. I don’t have a vendetta against religion because of my upbringing. I’m not trying to convert moderate Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or even Muslims to atheism. Believe what you want, as long as you don’t shove it down my, or anybody else’s, throat.

Felix wrote:Religion ultimately boils down to what is believed by individuals. What is written in the Koran is always subject to the interpretation of a someone. If anyone in the Middle East believes that the Koran teaches them to kill innocent people and acts on that belief, then religion has played a role in the troubles of the Middle East. It's that simple.


Profound...thank you for a short and vague summation of my argument. That’s exactly the problem. If the Koran and Hadith were filled with nothing but peace and loving versus, and yet followers of Islam still committed atrocities, I would have no problem attributing it to social or economic factors, and absolutely nothing to do with religious belief. The fact that it has verses open to be interpreted in violent, sick, and twisted ways, IS the problem. And it’s not people misinterpreting them, they are clearly and explicitly violent.


Felix wrote:But by trying to prove that Islam is ultimately evil or that religion is ultimately evil or is the root cause of terrorism, etc. Dorky took on too much. He is saying that all the Muslims who don't believe that the Koran teaches suicide bombing are wrong about Islam. He is saying they are not true Islamists. He, Dorky must know what Islam really means and stands for in contradistinction to their millions of professing Muslims who believe it teaches otherwise.


First of all, I’m not trying to prove that religion is ultimately evil. Secondly, I’m not proving that religion is the root cause of terrorism. Stop the linear thinking and straw men. There are many possible causes of terrorism.

It is possible for morality to progress despite religious belief, which has clearly been demonstrated even with Christianity in the United States. People realized equal treatment of women was right, even if that’s not what it says in the Bible. People realized slavery is wrong, despite what it says in the Bible. But unfortunately, morality’s progress is STILL hindered by religious belief, i.e. discrimination against homosexuals. I do have faith, however, that mankind’s morality will once again overcome the “morality” religion provides.

Fundamentalist Christians would claim moderate Christians aren’t true Christians, and in some ways, they’re right. People can feel free to distort the message of the Koran to fit into a modern society. I think more distortion has to happen in Islam than in Christianity.

Felix wrote: Dorky's side of the issue was easily winnable. There is no doubt in my mind that religion plays a role in the Middle East’s trouble. But Dorky tried to prove that it is the central or primary role. By trying to prove too much he lost the argument.


Easily winnable? Excuse me? Not according to the impossible standards you set. You’re basically saying that I lost the argument because you have a fundamental disagreement with my opening premise, which obviously means no argument I laid out had any relevance to your decision. It was decided before it started. Unless you'd like to clarify or change your statement.

Felix wrote:You could have won me over with an argument like I presented above. Instead, you stuck to your true beliefs even though it meant losing my vote. I applaud you sir.


I must have missed that argument. Maybe it’s because you never made one. I’m disappointed in you Felix. You started by putting on a cheerleading outfit with Xunzian’s name plastered across the back. You followed up by blaming my religious past for my beliefs, as well as pigeon-holing me as a clone of Sam Harris because I agree with some of his arguments. You make the asinine assumption that all of my arguments were cut and pasted from a Sam Harris book, which you either haven’t read, or didn’t understand. You haven’t laid out one counter-argument. Not one. I’ve combed over your posts in the vain hope that I was wrong, and that you might’ve exerted the slightest effort to lay out a counter-argument to anything I’d said, but alas I came up short.

Felix wrote:Conflating religion and nationalism and religion and land issues didn't help your case as far as I am concerned. Once these elements are merged how can we evaluate the relative contribution of religion to the problem? The purpose of analysis is to isolate factors not mix them. How do we know that Islam is no more than a big loud toothless handless passenger on a Middle Eastern Bus driven by someone else?


Let me get this straight: You’re saying we need to isolate religion and land issues into two separate categories, without any justification for doing so, after I clearly stated they are so inextricably linked, it’s impossible. What justification do I have to say they are inextricably linked, you may ask? Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s the hundreds of verses in the Islamic religion’s holy texts that explicitly talk about and couple land issues and religious belief. Pray, do tell how YOU would isolate religious belief from land issues, and why. As an afterthought, this isn’t a science experiment where you can isolate variables. Maybe that's why we've made more progress in science than in society and politics IMO.

And for the record, this has absolutely nothing to do with which side you're taking or your decision about who won the argument. I personally agree that Xunzian won the debate (although that has nothing to do with the truth value of his position). What I don't appreciate is that you didn't bother to put up any counter-argument, and you didn't address any of my points. Instead, you decided to restate bits and pieces of my argument, mixed in with backhanded comments about Sam Harris and my religious upbringing, and said I was wrong without even an inkling as to reasons why.

Suffice it to say I'm extremely disappointed.

Now, on to Xunzian. Look for a thread coming soon in the religion forums.
"We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years." -Robert Ingersoll

"My "faith," if truly I have any, is in the idea that methodically applied science increases our knowledge of the Universe." -Phaedrus
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Xunzian » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:43 am

I look forward to the thread :) This has been fun, no hard feelings I hope. I had to twist some pretty hard sophistry to keep my position afloat by the end. Speaking of which, I wouldn't be so hard on Felix. I was actually afraid that my position was going to alienate him. He is religious, after all, so presumably he thinks that religion plays a role in history. Me saying it doesn't was bound to go up against that grain.
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby felix dakat » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:50 pm

Dorky

My remarks have obviously become the object of your ire. I aplogize for the casual off-the-cuff character of my comments.

The contest was to decide the issue "Religion plays a causative role in the current troubles in the Middle East" My understanding of the dynamics of religion today is that persons and group take a variety of positions on a spectrum with in the major religions today. So for example within Christianity the spectrum runs from the radically fundamentalist right to the radically liberal left. On the right there have been persons who believe that murder of abortion performing physicians is justified. When they believed that some actually carried out such murders. In those cases, religion played a causative role.

The same could be said for those individuals and groups who interpret the Koran as justifying murder suicde and carry out such acts or incite others to do so. But to indict Chrisitanity or Islam because some interpret it that way and act on their interpretation is a mistake, and that is what I perceived you were attempting to do. I see the role of religion as secondary to other factors not primary. You seemed to me to be trying to make the case that it was the primary cause.

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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby thezeus18 » Mon May 11, 2009 6:22 am

Sorry for the extreme delay in posting this judgment. I was a little confused by the way the two debaters decided to argue things.

Xunzian argued expertly that for all pragmatic purposes religion is not a cause of trouble in the middle east, because believing that it is doesn't suggest any feasible solutions to those who would like to fix that trouble. The truth is what works, said Xunzian, and blaming foreign wars on religion isn't working. Other paradigms, such as the financial interpretation of Petraeus, have been much more successful. However, the problem is that this point only addresses the topic using a pragmatic definition of truth, which is definitely not the only possible definition nor the most common. This approach doesn't rule out religion as a cause, it just points out that religion is probably the least important one. Xunzian failed to disprove the topic, and in fact I think at one point he acknowledged that it was possible.

Dorkyd00d did a good job supporting his view that religion caused the middle eastern strife, but overextended. Like Xunzian, he also didn't seem interested in the given topic, and decided to prove not only that religion is a cause of problems in the middle east, but that it is the one and only most important overarching cause. In this realm, he did poorly, as weighing importance to humans is an area much more open to Xunzian's pragmatism than the safe realm of truth and falsehood in which Dorky should have stayed. Dorky proved his topic, but most folks would hardly notice, so much was he being pummeled on the issue of importance that he strayed into.

As far as arguing his position on the given topic, I'd give Dorkyd00d the victory. On the higher level of convincing me that he holds the correct position, topic be damned, Xunzian wins.

Sorry for being late. I really suck.
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Re: Religion's Role in the Troubles in the Middle East

Postby Orbie » Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:42 pm

Hello, Michael.

What this is about, as far as i can understand it, is as Carleas correctly points out, a debate over what role religion plays in the events taking place in the Middle east today.

The problem concerns with identifying aspects of groups, and how they think of other groups in that region. Are groups identified on basis of religion? Or are they, on other basis, such as where do they belong/versus where they think they belong; are other groups impeding a rightful occupation of lands, which belong to them?

Is the anger and aggression developed there a product of these disputations , the origin of which could be traced to confusion surrounding how to point to an actual cause of the troubles?

In addition, this blog has almost a seven year history, and much has changed since then. Identifying causes, referring to movements, individual outlooks on these topics may have changed, at the very least by what some wit has called the desert politics of the Middle East . There, affiliations, regional interpenetrations, make things a lot more ambiguous and difficult to pin point.

Here politics changes viewpoints of what really goes on, more profoundly, than the actual movements taking shape., at the very least, and politics will ultimately change the very movements themselves , at the most.

I hope i gave You at least a bird eyed look at what this debate is all about.
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