Archive for the ‘Arab culture’ category

Time wars

June 12, 2015

Time wars, Israel Hayom, Judith Bergman, June 12, 2015

Perhaps one of the greatest, yet least spoken of, misconceptions of the West concerning the ‎Middle East is its failure to understand the radically different concept of time on which it ‎operates. While Israel predominantly ticks on a Western — if Mediterranean — linear clock, ‎which puts a premium on speed and efficiency, this is overwhelmingly not the case in Arab ‎culture. For Muslims in particular, time is the domain of Allah and from this belief follows a ‎fatalism and an immense patience, which could almost be mistaken for resignation, that in ‎time Allah will see to all things.

There could be no greater contrast to the West, which is impatient to the point of ‎hyperventilation, wishing to solve problems that are not always solvable as fast as possible ‎– and preferably yesterday

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In his speech at the 15th annual Herzliya Conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin ‎Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the ‎Jewish state. Much more important than this reaffirmation, however, was the prime minister’s ‎subsequent realistic estimation of the actual possibility of establishing such a demilitarized ‎state.

Netanyahu described how he had attempted in vain to talk to Palestinian ‎Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the course of six and a half years. When he finally met him, in Sharm el-Sheikh, they spoke ‎for six hours and the only thing that Abbas had to say during this session was a demand that ‎Israel extend the freeze on settlement construction.‎

‎”So I again call on Abbas to return to the negotiating table without preconditions,” said the ‎prime minister, “but I also know he has very little reason to talk. Why should he talk? He can ‎get by without talking. He can get by with an international community that blames Israel for failing to hold talks. In other words, the Palestinians run from the table. … But the Palestinians have a ‎nifty trick up their sleeve: They refuse to negotiate and then get international pressure, ‎sanctions, boycotts on Israel for there not being negotiations. It’s a perfect catch-22. And there ‎are those who attempt to impose terms on Israel in the U.N. Security Council, because there are ‎no talks, and some of them pretend that the dangers we face are not real dangers at all.”

In fact, the ability of the international community — particularly that of its European members — to ‎willfully close its eyes to the dangers and to the complicated geopolitical circumstances that ‎Israel continues to finds itself in, particularly now, is boundless. The catalogue of malicious ‎actions on the part of the international community, most particularly its European members, to ‎force Israel into acquiescing to concessions is expanding. At the same time, its inability to understand the geopolitical realities of the Middle East grows.‎

Perhaps one of the greatest, yet least spoken of, misconceptions of the West concerning the ‎Middle East is its failure to understand the radically different concept of time on which it ‎operates. While Israel predominantly ticks on a Western — if Mediterranean — linear clock, ‎which puts a premium on speed and efficiency, this is overwhelmingly not the case in Arab ‎culture. For Muslims in particular, time is the domain of Allah and from this belief follows a ‎fatalism and an immense patience, which could almost be mistaken for resignation, that in ‎time Allah will see to all things.

There could be no greater contrast to the West, which is impatient to the point of ‎hyperventilation, wishing to solve problems that are not always solvable as fast as possible ‎– and preferably yesterday. ‎

It is this impatience, bordering on panic, that characterizes the current efforts of the U.S. and ‎the EU to reach a deal with Iran, rushed even more, of course, by U.S. President Barack Obama’s ego-driven ‎desire to have a deal with Iran as part of his legacy.‎

The Western impulse to solve problems that may turn out to be unsolvable, especially ‎according to a Western time schedule, and the impatience that accompanies repeated failures ‎to solve said problems, is nowhere more prevalent than concerning the question of Israel and ‎the Palestinians. In fact, the very actions of the international community create a false sense of ‎urgency that would not necessarily exist among the parties if the West did not insist on ‎constantly meddling in the process.

Yet, the conflicts of the Middle East — and the Israeli-Arab conflict is no different in this respect ‎‎– will not be solved with Western quick fixes, express shuttle diplomacy and emergency ‎meetings in the Security Council, only because the West wishes it to be so. While Israel’s clock ‎may tick on a Western time continuum, its security does not, because its security is tightly ‎connected to its Arab and Persian neighbors, who operate on a ‎different time continuum. During a lecture about the Islamic State group, Dr. Eitan Azani, ‎deputy executive director of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the IDC Herzliya, mentioned ‎that this organization — which contrary to popular belief is highly organized, with former Iraqi ‎colonels and intelligence officers at the top — operates under a 100-year plan.

One example of a centuries old conflict in the Middle East, which continues unresolved without ‎enjoying a fraction of the sense of urgency that the West bestows on the Israeli-Palestinian ‎conflict, is the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world, including the PA-controlled ‎territories, where their numbers have dwindled dramatically since the Oslo Accords. Most ‎urgent in this respect is the ethnic cleansing of Christians going on in Iraq, which until now has ‎barely caused Western powers to bat an eye.

Similarly, the Yazidis, an ancient people who live in northern Iraq, have suffered persecution ‎throughout their history, but the current ethnic cleansing of the group by Islamic State has not created any sense of ‎urgency in the West, to put it mildly.

Another example is the persecution of the Kurds, an ancient nation comprising roughly 30 million people, and the blatant denial of national self-‎determination for them. Western ‎powers brutally let them down in their quest for national self-determination after World War I ‎and subsequently conveniently ignored them, as if they had disappeared from history ‎altogether. Instead, Arab, Turkish and Persian rulers have persecuted them, most infamously ‎perhaps Saddam Hussein, who used chemical weapons against them. In the Kurds’ ‎current battle against Islamic State, the West has not exactly been rushing to aid them. ‎

Finally, the internal Muslim conflict between Shiites and Sunnis is also one that has existed for ‎centuries and will probably continue for centuries to come. The West has never felt any urge to ‎resolve this bitter conflict, not when the Sunni Saddam was murdering Shias in the south of Iraq ‎and not now, when Sunni Islamic State murders Shias — and also any Sunnis who do not adhere to its ‎particular teachings of Islam.‎

Only one conflict out of the many currently burning in the Middle East has been specifically selected for ‎intense scrutiny and resolution by the West — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Further, as the ‎prime minister said, it is Israel, not the Palestinians, that is blamed for not resolving this ‎conflict, despite the fact that the Palestinians have run away from every negotiation table that ‎they have ever seen. This should have caused great concern and outrage among ‎decent people a long time ago and a public debate about the rationale for such skewed and ‎slanted Western policies, but the world remains silent and unquestioning on this and instead ‎rages with fury at Israel.

Israel does not have the luxury of dealing with the rose-tinted, imaginary Middle East of the ‎West, where everybody would get along just fine, swaying to the tune of John Lennon’s ‎‎”Imagine,” if only Israel would give in to every single demand. Israel must stick to the harsh ‎realities on the ground and deal with the region, as tough, difficult and dangerous as it actually ‎is. This is the important message that the prime minister communicated in his speech, and it ‎would be most helpful if the West would listen — for once.

Al Jazeera Poll: 81% of Arabs Support ISIS

May 27, 2015

Al Jazeera Poll: 81% of Arabs Support ISIS, Truth RevoltBradford Thomas, May 26, 2015

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An online survey conducted by the Al Jazeera Arabic television channel has found that a huge majority—over 80 percent—of respondents support the Islamic State’s military campaigns. 

Breitbart News provides a summary of the findings of AlJazeera’s “shock poll“:

In a recent survey conducted by AlJazeera.net, the website for the Al Jazeera Arabic television channel, respondents overwhelmingly support the Islamic State terrorist group, with 81% voting “YES” on whether they approved of ISIS’s conquests in the region.

The poll, which asked in Arabic, “Do you support the organizing victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?” has generated over 38,000 responses thus far, with only 19% of respondents voting “NO” to supporting ISIS.

Last week the Islamic State achieved one of its more significant victories in recent months, seizing control of the city of Ramadi from the ineffectual Iraqi forces. The fall of the strategically important city has heightened pressure on the Obama administration over what is being increasingly perceived as its failing strategy to combat the radical militant group. Meanwhile, the popularity of ISIS—not just in the region, but among sympathetic radical circles worldwide—appears to be only expanding, in part due to the group’s aggressive social media campaign.

Arab Culture & the Arab-Israeli Conflict

December 10, 2014

Arab Culture & the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Front Page Magazine, December 10, 2014

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For the Arabs, the Israelis are the ‘others’, suspected of manipulation and treachery, and a permanent adversary and enemy, as taught in the Arabic Koran.

It is essential to unlock the Arab culture code, and cease viewing the Middle East through a Western prism that leads only to delusion, disdain, and a host of ill-consequences and dashed hopes.

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The multi-faceted essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israeli-Palestinian war is territorialpolitical, ideological, and religious – a convulsive confrontation between the mutually exclusive claims of Judaism and Islam.

But a fifth dimension of the conflict is culture – popular culture – embodied in a code of identity that differentiates one human community from another.

Culture is not negotiable or alterable: it is the texture of the life people live, and the local rhythm of things they know from their earliest memories. It is an inbred code of behavior and, as for all peoples, precedes and precludes morality, thought, and judgment.

The reason why the cultural component of the conflict is ignored stems from the fact that in order to appreciate a culture, you basically have to know it from the inside; and outsiders, non-Arabs, are ignorant of Arab culture, and haughtily assume that it has no value.

Add to this obstacle the fact that a native always behaves differently when he is with a foreigner than with a fellow-native. Surface-like conversations between people from different cultures can reveal very little. To call the Arabs rhetorically flexible is a kind way to infer their masterful command of deception.

It is Arab culture in particular, atavistic and organic, encased in the old binding from its historical origin, which must be addressed in order to better explore the intractability of the long Arab-Israeli rivalry

1

Arab culture is a family-clan-national social reality. An Arab owes absolute and blind loyalty to the group of his birth. He belongs to family and village, as a Bedouin belongs to his tribe. You can’t change your tribe, and you don’t change your family; and no other social framework demands more adhesion than blood relations. It follows from this premise that the Arab mistrusts outsiders. For the Arabs, the Israelis are the ‘others’, suspected of manipulation and treachery, and a permanent adversary and enemy, as taught in the Arabic Koran.

2

For the Arabs, language reflects culture in a way that prevents it being a vehicle for direct and clear communication. Words are used to impress, deflect intentions, disarm interlocutors, confuse listeners, and offer promises never to be fulfilled. The cultural subtext in discussions and negotiations with Arabs is often garnished in polite commitments and even written agreements. But there is little conviction to adhere to the summary accord because the culture code calls for gingerly saying what the other wants to hear; then agreeing to an appointment never to be kept, or promising a phone call that will never come. The Israelis were enthused that the Palestinians moved toward peace in the Oslo Accord, but it was followed by blood and murder, not reconciliation and brotherhood.

3

For the Arabs, the past defines the present because history is the anchor for all aspects of identity and aspirations. There is a mythological fascination with ancestors – as for the contemporary Salifiyyamovement – combined with an axiomatic belief that sees the future as necessarily emerging from and even repeating the glorious Arab past. This contributes to an iron-will and patience until victory is assured. For the Arabs – Israel beware forget any perceived ill act against them. The early Islamic days of conquest and caliphate will be renewed, even if the shift in power takes forever.

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Arab self-consciousness, spared any identity crisis, provides a psychological foundation for imposing the collective will upon others. To be a Muslim and an Arab, as Allah’s chosen people, launches the Arab on a path of self-justification, whose flip-side is to blame the non-Arabs for all Arab misfortunes and failures. Israel is always excoriated for crimes of aggression and violence. The composed Arab never doubts that justice is on his side: he can do no wrong. Thus, all the Arab-Israeli wars since 1948 are blamed on Israel. Considering that self-criticism is an ancient Jewish practice, Arab self-justification creates an imbalanced ethical equation that demoralizes the Jews while radicalizing the Arabs. In short, the Arabs seek victory, not peace.

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Islamic truth claims, as in Koranic deviations from Biblical narratives, do not require proof or evidence, or even common sense validity. The Arabs are not perturbed by the lack of facts; their discourse is internal and self-enclosed, as reality is in their mind and not in the external objective world. The Arab mind-set inhabits a world of entrenched fantasy or diabolical conspiracy theories. Note the revelatory comment by Anwar Sadat that ‘all life is play-acting’. He was one to know. In 1993 Arafat demonstrated his theatrical adeptness at the Oslo signing ceremony at the White House.

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It is essential to unlock the Arab culture code, and cease viewing the Middle East through a Western prism that leads only to delusion, disdain, and a host of ill-consequences and dashed hopes.