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Four Ways of Seeing: Israel and Hamas

The “Four Ways of Seeing” tool is a valuable method for examining the perceptions, motivations, and potential misunderstandings between two entities. Its purpose is to provide a structured framework for analyzing complex scenarios involving multiple stakeholders.  The value of the ACT tool lies in its ability to facilitate critical thinking and promote a deeper understanding of the factors influencing the perceptions and actions of the stakeholders. 

This tool follows a systematic approach, involving the creation of a 2-by-2 matrix that represents the viewpoints of the two stakeholders. Each cell in the matrix is filled with input gathered through brainstorming or other group input methods. Participants consider various aspects, such as how each stakeholder views the operational environment and how culture, ideology, and situation influence their perspectives.

To use this method to analyze Israel and Hamas we must first analyze how each stakeholder sees itself and the other party:

How Hamas Sees Itself

  1. Hamas sees itself as a legitimate resistance movement fighting for the rights and liberation of the Palestinian people.

  2. Hamas perceives itself as a defender of Palestinian national identity, culture, and aspirations for self-determination.

  3. Hamas views itself as a representative of the Palestinian population, particularly in the Gaza Strip, and as a political and social organization providing essential services to its constituents.


How Israel Sees Itself

  1. Israel sees itself as a democratic and sovereign nation, founded on the principles of self-determination and the right to exist in peace and security.

  2. Israel perceives itself as a regional power with advanced military capabilities, aiming to protect its citizens and deter potential threats.

  3. Israel views itself as a vibrant and diverse society, embracing cultural, technological, and economic advancements.


How Hamas Sees Israel

  1. Hamas views Israel as an occupying power that has denied the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

  2. Hamas perceives Israel as an aggressor that has engaged in military operations and imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, causing immense suffering to the Palestinian population.

  3. Hamas perceives Israel as an entity that seeks to undermine Palestinian unity and divide the Palestinian territories.


How Israel sees Hamas

  1. Israel sees Hamas as a terrorist organization that poses a threat to its security and the safety of its citizens.

  2. Israel perceives Hamas as an entity that rejects peaceful coexistence and seeks to undermine the Israeli state through acts of violence and terrorism.

  3. Israel views Hamas as an obstacle to peace and a hindrance to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


From this analysis we can then identify points of commonality, opposition, and areas of potential misunderstanding.

Points of Commonality:

  • Both Hamas and Israel share a strong sense of identity and purpose. They see themselves as defenders of their respective communities and have a deep commitment to their causes. This shared commitment drives their actions and strategies.

  • Both Hamas and Israel have experienced conflict and violence, which has shaped their perceptions and strategies. They understand the realities of living in a volatile region and the need to protect their interests. This shared experience influences their approach to security and defense.

  • Both Hamas and Israel have a strong attachment to their cultural and national heritage. They view themselves as representatives of their people and strive to preserve their identity. This shared value contributes to their sense of unity and determination.

Points of Opposition:

  • Hamas and Israel have opposing views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas sees Israel as an occupying power, while Israel views Hamas as a terrorist organization. This fundamental disagreement forms the basis of their conflict and hinders the possibility of finding common ground.

  • Hamas and Israel have different perspectives on the use of violence. Hamas sees armed resistance as a legitimate means to achieve its goals, while Israel views Hamas' actions as acts of terrorism that threaten its security. This difference in approach to conflict resolution creates a significant divide between the two parties.

  • Hamas and Israel have differing visions for the future. Hamas seeks the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, while Israel aims to ensure its own security and maintain its sovereignty. These divergent goals contribute to the ongoing challenges in finding a mutually acceptable solution.

Potential Misunderstandings:

  • There is a potential for misunderstanding between Hamas and Israel regarding their intentions and motivations. Each party may misinterpret the actions of the other, leading to a cycle of mistrust and escalation. Clear communication and dialogue are essential to overcome these misunderstandings.

  • Cultural and ideological differences can contribute to misunderstandings. Hamas' religious and nationalist ideology may be misunderstood or misinterpreted by Israel, and vice versa. Recognizing and respecting these differences can help foster better understanding.

  • The historical context of the conflict can also lead to misunderstandings. Each party may have different interpretations of past events, which can impact their perceptions of the present and future. Acknowledging and addressing these historical perspectives can help bridge the gap between Hamas and Israel.

Based on the points of commonality, points of opposition, and potential misunderstandings between Hamas and Israel, several potential policy and strategy options can be developed. These strategies aim to address the underlying issues and promote a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here are some recommendations:

  • Encourage Dialogue: Encourage both Hamas and Israel to engage in direct dialogue and negotiations. This strategy focuses on creating a platform for open communication, allowing both parties to express their concerns, interests, and aspirations. Mediation by neutral third parties can facilitate these discussions and help bridge the gap between the two sides.

  • Confidence-Building Measures: Implement confidence-building measures to foster trust and reduce tensions. This can include reciprocal gestures such as prisoner exchanges, humanitarian initiatives, and joint projects that benefit both Palestinians and Israelis. Confidence-building measures can help create an atmosphere of goodwill and pave the way for further negotiations.

  • Promote Cultural Understanding: Recognizing and respecting the cultural and ideological differences between Hamas and Israel is essential for fostering better understanding. Promoting cultural exchange programs, educational initiatives, and interfaith dialogues can help bridge the gap and reduce misconceptions.

  • Economic Development and Cooperation: Promote economic development and cooperation as a means to improve living conditions and create opportunities for Palestinians and Israelis. This strategy focuses on joint economic projects, trade agreements, and investment in infrastructure. By addressing socio-economic grievances and promoting prosperity, the potential for conflict can be reduced.

  • International Diplomacy and Support: Engage the international community to support the peace process. This strategy involves seeking diplomatic assistance from regional and international actors, such as the United Nations, the European Union, and neighboring countries. International support can provide additional resources, expertise, and political leverage to facilitate negotiations and ensure the implementation of any agreements reached.

  • Track II Diplomacy and People-to-People Initiatives: Encourage unofficial diplomacy and people-to-people initiatives to build trust and understanding between Palestinians and Israelis. This strategy involves promoting cultural exchanges, educational programs, and grassroots initiatives that bring individuals from both sides together. By fostering personal connections and empathy, this approach can contribute to long-term reconciliation.

It is important to note that these strategies are complex and require the commitment and cooperation of both Hamas and Israel. They should be implemented in a comprehensive and coordinated manner, taking into account the unique dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Additionally, ongoing evaluation and adjustment of these strategies may be necessary to adapt to changing circumstances and challenges.

In conclusion, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex and multifaceted, with various historical, political, and social factors influencing the perceptions of both sides. The “Four Ways of Seeing” tool is a helpful way to build a more informed understanding, fostering dialogue, promoting empathy, and working towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Only by acknowledging and respecting each other's viewpoints can parties in conflict can identify common ground and build a path towards a more stable and peaceful future.

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2 commentaires

Excellent analysis! Thanks for the quad chart to add focus and perspective.

En réponse à

Thanks!, So we followed the process from the red team handbook stepwise using StratBot, and fed forward the analysis from one step into the next. It was a pretty solid and then we edited and added some nuance.

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