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Friday, December 07, 2012

The world really needs to understand the Arab mentality

Here is an unremarkable article in Assabeel, a Jordanian newspaper. Well, it is unremarkable for Arab media. Westerners who believe that Arabs think just like them might be a little surprised.

The author, Akram Alsoir, says that when he saw footage of Jews scrambling for shelter from Qassam rockets, he held his head high.

Granted, he says, that Jews are cowards. Not just cowards, but the most cowardly of all cowards. This assumption was proven when he saw the footage of Jews running to avoid being hit by rockets - the Jews aren't so powerful as Arabs thought!

Not only that, but in this author's (and most Arabs') mind, Israel's agreeing to a ceasefire is even more evidence of its cowardly nature. Israel, by agreeing to a truce with Hamas, increased Hamas' prestige to be equivalent to Israel, which is a huge defeat for Israel.

Alsoir wonders - if Hamas could force the cowardly Jews to accept a cease fire (i.e., surrender,) imagine what would happen if all the Arab countries shot rockets at Israel! The detested Jews would surrender even more quickly! Why didn't they join in?

The concept that Israel only wanted the rockets to stop is completely foreign to Arabs. Since they live in an honor/shame society, everything is seen through the lens of honor. To have an opportunity at vanquishing the enemy and to choose a truce instead is not considered praiseworthy - but contemptible, and evidence of cowardice. 

It always comes down to the difference between the Arab "honor/shame" culture and the Western "guilt" culture. The consequences of the honor/shame mentality are huge, for example, by treating women and minorities as inferior in order to boost the fragile ego of the Arab male.

Israel's existence is an affront to the Arab honor/shame mentality, because it is a constant reminder of Arab defeat. No amount of compromise will ever change that. Until Jews are reverted to their proper place as second-class dhimmis paying tribute to their Arab masters, the Arab world will not accept Israel.

Every single move Israel does that is remotely conciliatory, or peaceful, or that shows any attribute that is not naked macho aggression, is not greeted with praise but with derision.


As a result, every time Israel shows restraint, it feeds Arab hopes that the Jews can be defeated - and it encourages them to continue to provoke the Jews and prove their weakness anew.

The irony, of course, is that if Israel felt weaker, it would react with much less restraint. Israel's willingness to take chances for peace is a direct consequence of its security and strength, not of weakness. If Israel felt it was up against a wall, it would not be negotiating a truce with anyone!

The West insists that Israel must act according to Western standards of morality. But the West must realize that in the Middle East, those actions will not be reciprocated - they will be derided.

While real peace is impossible, the only chance for a long-term detente is by maintaining a posture of strength that the Arabs can understand. Unless Arab culture is changed from top to bottom, Israel will always be caught in the middle between the nebulous consequences of acting like Europe insists or the longer-term benefits of acting like the Arabs would if the positions were reversed.