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Monday, October 31, 2011

Another UNESCO poster, and a discussion of culture


A blog-friend was offended by my last poster (which said "Palestinian culture.") It led to a spirited debate on Twitter over whether it is fair, or bigoted, to say that "Palestinian culture" can be symbolized by a bus bomber.

(Others wildly misinterpreted the poster as saying I was calling all Palestinian Arabs suicide bombers, which is ridiculous.)

My contention is that it was an accurate caption, although posters force me to be more brief (and therefore open to misinterpretation.) I regard posters a a form of political cartoon, where a point is often made by using exaggeration.

Nevertheless, there wasn't much exaggeration here.

One of Wikipedia's definitions of culture is:

The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization, or group

The word "culture" perfectly describes the Palestinian Arab attitude of support towards "resistance." And, yes, that means terrorism. From the political leaders on down, you will not find many significant Palestinian Arab voices who are actively against political violence for moral reasons - only for pragmatic reasons.

How many examples have I given over the years, of schools and camps and town squares named for terrorists? Not terrorists who turned into political leaders, but people who were nothing but terrorists. If Palestinian Arab culture found these people abhorrent, where are the op-eds and protests against them?

Samir Kuntar is a hero among Palestinian Arabs If there are any who find him to be a monster, they certainly aren't making themselves heard.

And poll after poll has shown that Palestinian Arabs support terrorism. The number has gone down in recent years when the questions were asked in the abstract, but when specific terror attacks were mentioned (like the massacre at Mercaz HaRav) the percentages were overwhelmingly pro-terror.

Just last week, Mahmoud Abbas said that Hamas' kidnapping of Gilad Shalit - not technically an act of terrorism, but a violation of multiple Geneva Conventions - was a "good thing," and he agreed that armed "resistance" was a necessity for negotiations. How many Palestinian Arabs would disagree with this?

It is a culture that glorifies terror attacks, where masked terrorists are cheered, where killers are feted, where no distinction is made between prisoners who have done no violent crime and those who have been instrumental in mass murder - they are all heroes.

No doubt there are other facets to Palestinian Arab culture. They have plays, art, crafts, clothing and books that have nothing to do with terrorism. But to deny that glorifying terror is part of today's Palestinian Arab culture is to deny reality.

Wishful thinking will not make this ugly truth go away. It is a serious problem in today's Palestinian Arab society, and pointing out that PalArabs are friendly when you visit Ramallah does not lessen the immensity of the problem.

And I think there is a solution. But that is for another post.