Friday, August 21, 2020

  • Friday, August 21, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon


As with everything else in the Arab world, in order to understand the events of the past week one needs to view them through the prism of the Arab honor/shame mindset.

Since at least the 1940s, there has been a strong myth of Arab unity. It is nonsense but its falsehood has had no impact on its importance, with virtually every Arab constitution emphasizing how each country is part of the greater Arab nation. While there have been no shortage of intra-Arab disagreements and even wars, only rarely has the Arab world publicly split.

It has become a point of honor to present to the non-Arab world the myth of Arab unity.

No one has benefitted more from this myth that the Palestinian leadership, because the only issue that the entire Arab world could agree on was its hate for Israel. The zenith of the success of the myth was during the 1970s, when Palestinian airplane hijackings combined with the Arab oil embargo prompted Europe and much of the world to give in to terror and to elevate the Palestinian cause, especially at the UN.

The Egyptian peace treaty with Israel was a major blow to this unity, but eventually the Arab world learned to live with it, knowing that Egypt – a hugely antisemitic country – was not going to normalize relations, and it will keep a cold peace for its own reasons. After some turmoil the Egyptians were welcomed back as full members of a seemingly unified Arab collective.

The cracks in Arab unity about Israel began with the Oslo process and the PLO refusal to accept a state. It accelerated during the Arab Spring. Individual Arab nations had major internal issues to deal with, and the Gulf nations became upset at Palestinian demands for more and more money. The PLO was refusing to even speak to Israel,  the Arab leaders had to guard against revolutions and all the while oil prices were plummeting. 

Then the Obama administration decision to get closer to Iran and throw the Gulf states under the bus made them realize not only that Palestinians were a liability, but that Israel could be a friend.

Honor is important, but it is not more important than self-preservation.

The Palestinian leadership didn’t get the memo. They were the poster children of Arab unity and they believed that this will never change. Their media even today emphasizes the tiniest pro-Palestinian demonstrations or statements from mediocre columnists, and reacts angrily at any criticism, always emphasizing the Arab world’s unity in support for their cause and how shameful it is for anyone to disagree.

In fact, Palestinians are referring to the UAE/Israel deal as the “shame deal” in a naked attempt to appeal to the Arab sense of shame – mainly to discourage other Arab nations to follow the UAE.

Notably, the Palestinians cut off coordination with Israel in order to pressure Israel to stop the “annexation” plan. That plan is off the table for the foreseeable future – but the Palestinians are making no move to resume coordination with Israel, even at the expense of the well being of their own people. The only reason is because it would be shameful to even appear to do something that would benefit Israel, even though it hurts them much more.

Shame works two ways, though. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the UAE timed this announcement only a month after the Palestinians very publicly rejected planeloads of COVID-19 aid from the Emirates, ostensibly because the plane landed in Tel Aviv.  This was a huge insult to the UAE.

The flip side to Arab shame is evident in other ways. Now that the UAE has publicly come out in favor of normalizing relations with Israel, other Arab nations are reluctant to criticize the Emiratis – because of the same interest in maintaining the illusion of unity!  And given a choice of publicly supporting a non-state entity of “Palestine” and a very real United Arab Emirates, nearly all of them would rather stay on the UAE’s good side.

This is why the Arab League is not meeting to denounce the UAE, as the Palestinian leadership has been demanding. In the past, they could get the League to hold “emergency sessions” at the drop of a hat, but that organization also needs the myth of Arab unity and it will not embrace the division that the PLO is now insisting on.

That would be a source of shame.

Israel and the US need to always keep the honor/shame mentality in mind when dealing with the Arab world. Israel in particular needs to remain strong both militarily and economically, because just like the Arab world has long ago realized the benefits of aligning with the powerful Christian world, they can swallow their antisemitism to ally with the Jewish state when it is in their own interests.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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