Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Arab honor/shame mentality and the Abraham Accords can help save lives

Pro-Hamas rally in Iraq, October 14

In 2008, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri bizarrely castigated Hamas, saying that their "blessed Qassam rockets" do not differentiate between Israeli soldiers who are legitimate targets, and children and Arabs who are not.

Hamas was embarrassed at being given a morality lesson from Al Qaeda, and it went on to deny that they targeted civilians, saying all of their rockets were only aimed at military sites.

After that incident, Hamas press releases on their rocket fire changed the names of the targets from "settlements" to "military bases" that has the same names - like "military base Sderot" which didn't exist.

What this shows is that Hamas can be shamed when the criticism comes from fellow Arabs. And this is key.

We've written and spoken before about how powerful shame can be as a weapon against the terror groups, since they subscribe to an honor/shame culture. They avoid shame at all costs, plus they want to consider Islam to be more moral than Western society, so they are very sensitive to be told they are immoral.

In all my time watching Palestinian reaction to terror attacks, I can only think of one attack that was considered immoral: the horrific attack against the Fogel family in Itamar killing two parents and three children, one of them three months old. There was no pride in that attack, although it was not done by any organized group. Every other attack has been cheered.

But even this time, as Western media have been aghast at the massacre, Hamas has shown signs of shame, denying against all evidence that they killed any children or raped any women. 

Their allies are latching onto their denials and, after the first day, the attack is being reported in Arab media as a military victory and the murders of children and women are simply not mentioned.

Israel, and to an extent the Western world, needs to take advantage of the fact that most Muslims would not defend this attack if they knew the details.

Israel needs to speak to its friends in the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco. The message is: "We value your friendship, but your "both sides" statements are not acceptable. If you cannot clearly condemn Hamas for this reprehensible crime as s standalone statement, the Israeli companies you are partnering with might have second thoughts about working with you in the future. Condemning baby beheadings and kidnappings is a pretty low moral bar, and if you cannot condemn that, perhaps our friendship is not as deep as you have been saying publicly. We need you to condemn Hamas, unequivocally, now."

If they ask for more proof, Israel can respond that this is an insult but it can provide all the proof they need.

Similarly, Israel should tell Jordan, you know that water and natural gas you purchase from us? We can sell them elsewhere if you cannot make a statement clearly condemning Hamas.. 

Israel's Western allies who are pledging their support for Israel can put their money where their mouths are. They can tell Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Egypt and Tunisia that they have to choose to publicly side with the baby-killers or condemn them. Let the world know exactly where they stand.

The Arab countries can say they are pro-Palestinian. They can say they support a Palestinian state. But they must say they condemn the Hamas baby-killers.

If Hamas sees a string of Arab countries saying that they are reprehensible, they are far more likely to release at least the children hostages to the ICRC. And the masses of Arabs now supporting them could dwindle as op-eds and commentators start to back up their government positions.

This is a chance to use the honor/.shame dynamic for good. The West has a weapon to improve the Arab world - now is the time to use it.

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