Confirmation bias fuels conflict

Amid growing Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Westerners should remain as objective as possible.

Jasper Johnson

The situation between Israel and Palestine is once again quickly decaying. My Facebook feed is littered with biased tirades and posts. Over the past few weeks, videos have captured various horrors that took place at the hands of both sides of the conflict. Many of these have gone viral. Before sharing them, realize that it’s dangerous to seek out and disseminate only one-sided information.
 
Confirmation bias is when people only latch onto parts of information that confirm their previously held views. The Internet allows confirmation bias to influence us more than ever before. People aren’t just receiving diverse information and clinging to one perspective of it — now we don’t even have to expose ourselves to conflicting information in the first place. I could find articles of why I should support Israel over Palestine (or vice versa) without even having to weigh any real information.
 
It’s also important not to buy into appeals to identity politics or victim-playing, something on which many conflicts in the Middle East are predicated. Especially as Westerners, we must not jump headfirst into one side of a conflict purely because we share an identity with someone. Simply joining a side and frenziedly supporting it because of clan
mentality shows a serious lack of judgment and fosters bigotry. 
 
Reject any persuasions that rely solely on ethnic and cultural appeals. You have no obligation to rally for your camp unless its claims have real, legitimate meaning. 
 
We as Westerners need to approach this issue from a rational standpoint. That means doing our best to represent the complexity of issues. It also means not blindly following mistaken obligations to ethno-cultural ties.