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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Arab Denial (Yaron London)


I think most Israelis identified with the latest victims of the radical Islamic hurricane, and joined in the pain of the Hashemite Kingdom and worried about the future of that country.

In my heart I hoped this tragedy would spring forth at least a few drops of sweetness. I hoped the fact that blind murder had finally struck them would lead the Palestinians to question the justice of suicide bombers, but this hope proved false.

I watched the reactions in the Arab world and heard their denunciations of the bombing, but not even one person thought to compare the wanton slaughter of Jews and the wanton slaughter of Muslims.

Most protested the fact that Muslims had the audacity to murder other Muslims, not over the fact that innocents were killed. The message was frighteningly clear: there is nothing wrong with terrorism in-and-of-itself. The mistake in the current instance was the religious makeup of the targets.

For example, a debate was held on Jordanian television in which participants refused to recognize the fact that several Muslim groups have embedded themselves in a culture of murder.

They claimed there is only one Islam, and whoever deviates from its religious message is not Muslim.

By excluding the murderers from the boundaries of Islam, there is no possibility to study the weakness of a society that produces murderers wholesale. Self-criticism is possible only when a society dares recognize the fact that the dregs of that society are, in fact, part of that society.

To our incredible sorrow, there are few signs to suggest that this process has gripped Muslim society.

Denial is the heritage of the masses and the heritage of the intellectuals.

The claim that it is impossible for Muslims to carry out such a loathsome act, and therefore the culprits cannot possibly be Muslim, is simply understood by many Jordanians: If the attack wasn't carried out by Muslims, then it must have been carried out by someone else.

And if it was carried out by someone else, it must have been someone or group trying to weaken the Arabs – in other words, the Jews.

This warped logic has led Arab journalists and statesmen to blame Israel for terror attacks in Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh, for the pogrom Muslims carried out on the Copts in Egypt, for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, and of course – the September 11 attacks in the United States.

One British reporter traveled to the village in the West Bank. On a small path near the mourning tent, he spoke to family members of the victims and asked them who they thought was responsible for the massacre. Every single one blamed Israel.

Why would Israel have killed them? The answers were angry and babbled, but they showed clearly that they, too, had internalized the message that Muslims wouldn't have murdered fellow Muslims, and so it must have been Israelis, born with a murderous nature.

In order to reject the possibility that Muslims would murder other Muslims, one would have to erase entire chapters of history. But the memory is an illusive tool. It is the nature of man to preserve those memories that reinforce his worldview, and to erase the ones that call that outlook into question.

These villagers can't stomach the thought that the same emotions that drive the shaheeds (martyrs) they produce also drove Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi to murder their loved ones.

One needn't be an expert in psychology to understand that such an admission would drag them to the edge of the abyss of the naked, terrible truth: those responsible for the murder in Amman are not "others" – Israelis, Zionists, Americans or the CIA, but rather by the victims themselves; that is to say, those wrapped up in self denial.

It is too bad that the author doesn't take the next step - that it is impossible to negotiate in good faith with people who cannot even admit truth when it hits them in the face.