Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tradition trumps diplomacy

Op-ed: Don’t expect peace as long as Arabs cling to tradition of victimhood, hate and violence
Dan Calic
Israel Opinion

The press has presented disparate views of the Bibi-Obama diplomatic soap opera in recent days. Yet for all the importance placed on their meeting, this is mere window dressing. Any chance of bringing the Arabs and Israelis together hinges on drilling below the public posturing. It will require understanding the traditions of each side. Modern Israel was created by UN resolution 181 in November 1947 on a mere 12% of the land promised in the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine. In spite of receiving 88% of the land promised to the Jews, the Arabs refused to accept the existence of a Jewish state, no matter how small.

Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna said “if the Jewish state becomes a fact the Arabs will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the Sea.” Indeed, the day after Israel declared independence in May 1948 it was attacked by its Arab neighbors. Yet against all odds, the Jewish state miraculously survived.

Once the fighting stopped two different narratives emerged reflecting opposing traditions. The Jews went to work setting up communities, building roads, power plants, electrical grids, water and irrigation systems, cultivating land and so on. Over time Israel became a world leader in many fields, including medicine, agriculture, science, aerospace and high tech.

By now, Israel can boast of the following:

• The highest ratio of university degrees in the world

• More scientific papers per capita than any other country

• The largest number of bio-tech startups per capita in the world

• The third highest rate of entrepreneurship in the world

• Motorola’s Israel plant developed cell phones

• Intel’s Pentium processor was developed in Israel

• Instant Messaging was developed in Israel

Not bad for a country the size of New Jersey whose total population is less than New York City.

On the other hand, we see a starkly opposing reality when looking at the Arab world during the same period. After failing in their attempt to drive the Jews into the sea the Arabs came up with every way possible to portray themselves as victims. They have demanded the “right of return” of their so-called “refugees” to the very place they tried to destroy. Financial compensation is also demanded. For what? The failed attempt to ethnically cleanse the Jews.

Indeed, the victim mentality is woven into the very fabric of “Palestinian”' Arab society. Newspapers run hateful editorials and cartoons portraying Jews as blood-thirsty, money-hungry land grabbing thieves. Anti-Jewish/anti-Israel graffiti covers walls throughout Arab towns. Mosques are filled with vitriolic sermons blaming the Jews for all problems. Children are taught from birth to revile Jews. Textbooks contain anti-Jewish lies. Children’s TV shows vilify Jews. Indeed, Mickey Mouse has been used to spread hateful propaganda on one TV program.

Instead of accepting coexistence and developing their society into one of productivity they have given us such “contributions” as:

• Airplane hijacking

• Kidnappings

• Intifadas

• Suicide bombings

• Rocket attacks

• Honor killings

• Martyrdom

• Jihad

When a child is raised in a society where schools, religious leaders, holy books, TV shows, newspapers and political leaders teach that Jews are the cause of all problems; where martyrdom in the act of killing a Jew is considered holy; where public buildings, parks and streets are named after terrorists who murdered Jews; where mastering the Koran with its Jew-hating scripture is preferred over education; where people are fed distortions, hyperbole and outright lies instead of the truth, what kind of adult can one expect to emerge from such world?

Thus, the politicians can carry on with their diplomacy and the press can have a feeding frenzy on the public showmanship. However, until such time that the Arab focus shifts from destruction to production we should not be surprised that peace remains nowhere in sight.

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