One of the biggest misconceptions that I see on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is that of a question of scale. The Palestinian supporters often claim that the Palestinians are fighting the Israelis in a vacuum, the Arab nations are only mentioned when they are "backstabbing" the Palestinians. Israeli supporters often see the Arabs as one unified entity that are utterly and uniformly dedicated to Israel's destruction. That is why both this picture:
And this picture:
Are equally misleading. Why? Read on:
The first picture implies that the Palestinians only use rocks, and so of course they will never have a chance against Israeli tanks. The problem of course is that the Palestinians also use rocks against Israeli infantry and unarmed civilians, who are not as sturdy as tanks. So even though this picture shows a rock thrower, it neglects to mention the fact that the Palestinians also use rocket launchers, RPGs, mortars, assault rifles, Qassam rockets as well as other short-range artillery, suicide bomb belts, and of course improvised explosive devices. All of which can and have killed Israeli soldiers.
Furthermore, when you consider that the Palestinians prefer to fight Israeli soldiers, but do go after Israeli civilians, the scale of one-sided fights changes. Although a solitary rock thrower won't kill a tank, I have never seen a case of a tank killing a solitary rock thrower. On the other hand, a mom and her four daughters have no hope of survival against four men with AK47s, though those same four men don't have a prayer against a battalion of IDF soldiers either. The point that seems obvious to me and yet still needs to be repeated: This is a two-sided conflict, in which people kill and are killed on both sides.
The second picture is very misleading as well, though it relates to geopolitics than to military tactics. The picture is ironic because it claims that the Arabs have plenty of land and are completely unjustified in complaining that Israel is occupying "their land." The trouble with this viewpoint, as I said, is that it sees "the Arabs" are one big nation who have plenty of land and resources just for them. Although the Arabs do sometimes function in tandem with each other, the truth is that the Palestinians need to have a state. There are no other realistic options for the Palestinians beyond the current "two-state solution." And denying that the Palestinians are a separate nation of their own is counterproductive and extremely unhelpful.
For that second picture the problem is still with the scale of the observer, but reversed: The observer is seeing the Arab-Israeli conflict is too big of a picture and ignoring smaller (but real) problems on the ground.
In my second post I will talk more about how these problems of scale translate to the conversations we have on the issues.