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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When being rational makes negotiating impossible

Olmert's picture is at the top of this post for a reason - he's the last 'rational' negotiator we had. For the next week, at least, Netanyahu in this go-round is unproven.

Evelyn Gordon recalls an article from Haaretz by Robert Aumann, who won a Nobel Prize for game theory a couple of years ago. (The link from 2006 that I just inserted is HIGHLY recommended - especially to those who have not seen it before). Aumann explains why only Israel is expected to make concessions in 'negotiations' with the 'Palestinians' and Syria.
“Someone offers Reuven and Shimon NIS 1,000 together, if they can manage to agree on the question of how to split the money between them. Reuven says to Shimon: ‘Great, let’s split it half and half.’ Shimon says: ‘No. I am not leaving here with less than NIS 900. You will get 100. Take it or leave it.’ Reuven says to him: ‘Be rational. What is the difference between us? Why should you get more?’ Shimon says: ‘Rational or not, do what you want. Either I leave here with 900 or with nothing. You decide.’

“Reuven thinks and says: ‘Okay, NIS 100 is money nevertheless. What am I going to do with this irrational mule? I myself am rational and I will take the 100. I need to advance my goal of getting as much money as possible, and my choice is between zero and 100. One hundred is still something.’

“What is the paradox? That the irrational person gets more than the rational person.”
The problem with Israel’s negotiations with both the Palestinians and Syria, Aumann said, is that the Arabs have successfully played the role of the blackmailer: they have convinced both themselves and Israel that their demands are sacred and must be met fully, whereas “we don’t manage to convince ourselves that anything is sacred.” And because Israel can’t convince itself, “there isn’t anything that we can convince the other side is sacred to us, that we’re willing to ‘be killed for it, rather than transgress.’”
What's the solution? Read the whole thing.


At 8:24 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - the solution is for Israel to be as intransigent, extreme and irrational as the Palestinians. When the Palestinians begin to believe Israel really does have red lines it won't cross under any circumstances, will they be rational.

As long as they believe the Jews will sell their own mother for the right price, they will stand their ground. And experience and time have convinced them the Jews in the end will concede on what allegedly is precious and dear to them.

When have they proven to be wrong?


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