Thursday, August 04, 2011

The politics of honor/shame: PalArabs unlikely to drop UN bid

From AFP:
THE PALESTINIANS are unlikely to agree to drop their UN membership bid in exchange for new peace talks based on the pre-1967 lines, Palestinian officials and analysts say.

On Tuesday, an Israeli official confirmed that Israel has been working with Washington to hammer out a framework for new peace talks that both countries hope could convince the Palestinians to drop their bid for United Nations membership.

But Palestinian officials and analysts said the Palestinian leadership had already invested heavily in the bid, and would face public disgrace if it agreed to drop the much-touted plan. They described the new framework for talks as little more than a public relations exercise for Israel, allowing it to show willingness to resume talks while attempting to torpedo the UN membership campaign.
This is only a minor example, but the shame culture dynamic among Arabs gives them an advantage in any negotiations with a "guilt culture" adversary.

They can always fall back on the importance of honor and fears of disgrace to avoid doing things that are necessary.

In this case, as is often the case, the threat is exaggerated. Yes, Abbas would lose face if he backs down, but it would not be fatal to his hold on power.

What people are not discussing is the downside of going through with the UN stunt. Already, the PLO is planning mass demonstrations on the eve of the vote (under the guise of being "popular demonstrations," of course:)
Palestinian officials said Monday they plan to begin mass marches against Israel's occupation of the West Bank on Sept. 20, the eve of a largely symbolic U.N. vote expected to recognize their independence.

Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo said leaders hope to attract millions, and the protest will be the first of a prolonged effort. He said the campaign would be called "Palestine 194," since the Palestinians hope to become the 194th member of the United Nations.

"The appeal to the U.N. is a battle for all Palestinians, and in order to succeed, it needs millions to pour into streets," he said.
It seems likely that these PLO-organized demonstrations will become PLO-organized "resistance" in short order. And while the PA is not likely to start an armed third intifada, it will have little incentive to stop Hamas and other terror groups in the territories from rebuilding their terror infrastructure and attempting to escalate attacks against Israelis. And even the PA considers rock throwing and Molotov cocktails to be "non-violent resistance."

This UN stunt, in other words, will cost many lives. Most of them will be Arab.

The stunt will also set back the chances for real peace by another decade. The relative security and prosperity that Arabs enjoy in their autonomous areas will disappear. It may be as disastrous for Palestinian Arabs as the second intifada was.

Yet no one is talking about the downside - and one reason is because no one wants to offend  the "honor" of Abbas.

(h/t Mike T)