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The Insanity of the Middle East: A Handy Guide


This was written by Barry Rubin

Every day in the Middle East, terrible things take place.

The worst are the material acts of violence and oppression. The second-worst are the lies and distortions of truth that help ensure things don’t get better.

Every day in the West, the lies are echoed, amplified, and invented. This also helps ensure things don’t get better in the Middle East and that they do get worse in the West.

Now I’ve found, from the most unexpected place, a single sentence, an ancient proverb, that explains it all. It comes from the Navahos and it goes like this:

You cannot awaken someone who pretends to be sleeping.

In other words, you cannot convince someone who is not merely mistaken but is deliberately lying. They have abandoned professional ethics, democratic and intellectual norms. They have embraced being propagandists and supporters of authoritarian and bloody regimes.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone, and in those others are the hope for something better. It is those people, who honestly don’t realize that their leaders follow foolish policy, their newspapers all too often lie, and their universities (or at least significant sections of them) have abandoned the pursuit of truth in favor of the manufacture of lies.

If that seems extreme, perhaps that means you fall into that last category of the decent but deceived. Let’s look at some specific cases.

The newspaper.

If there would ever be a last straw for me regarding what was once the English-speaking world’s greatest newspaper, it is this one, the New York Times editorial of October 19, 2011:

“One has to ask: If Mr. Netanyahu can negotiate with Hamas—which shoots rockets at Israel, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence and, on Tuesday, vowed to take even more hostages— why won’t he negotiate seriously with the Palestinian Authority, which Israel relies on to help keep the peace in the West Bank.”

What has one thing have to do with the other? Israel isn’t negotiating with Hamas on a political level but to save the life of a young Israeli who has been in horrible captivity for five years. And this is one with no illusion that Hamas will continue to wage terrorism.

But what’s really disturbing here is the idea that it is Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who have been refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority rather than the other way around. It is frequently repeated in the mass media and it is so obviously absurd that it must now be considered a deliberate lie by propagandists rather than an honest or ignorant or ideologically driven error.

Funnily enough, within hours of this editorial claim we have…

The “Moderates”

The ultimate Palestinian “moderate,” Prime Minister Salam Fayyad,explained:

“We want to see an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. We want the Palestinian people to live with dignity. Fayyad said the Palestinians are committed to resolving the conflict, but that “the conditions are not right to resume talks.”

In other words, even when the Palestinian prime minister openly rejects talks and even after dozens of previous rejections by him and Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas, and dozens of documented acceptances of negotiations by Netanyahu and Israel, the lie that Israel doesn’t want to negotiate and the PA does is repeated.

Obviously, this is not a misunderstanding but a lie. One reason for this lie is that if the truth were to be told it would have to be explained why the “poor,” “desperate,” “victimized” Palestinians don’t want to negotiate. And the answer would have to be an uncomfortable truth:

Their leaders don’t’ want peace, compromise, or a two-state solution but total victory.

And that truth would require a change in the Western policy and understanding of the issue.

Finally, note the reaction of the leaders of the two Palestinian regimes:

Abbas told the released prisoners:

“You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland.”

And Hamas deputy leader Abu Marzouk insisted:

“The rest of the prisoners must be released because if they are not released in a normal way they will be released in other ways.”

By murdering Israeli civilians, both the “moderate” and the “radical” explain, these people have done nothing wrong and are free—even encouraged—to do so again in future. You cannot build a democratic state on the basis of calling terrorists “freedom fighters” (and note the “secular” Abbas’s reference to jihad).

And you cannot compromise with another side when you continue to urge and justify the deliberate murder of its civilians.

7 replies »

  1. Wow the greatest Hasabara mouthpiece, with all its Hasbaranik reporters ‘The New York Times’ has finally woken up and spoken the truth. Maybe they have been bought out by the ‘A’ rabs

  2. the lies and distortions of truth … the lies are echoed, amplified, and invented … their newspapers all too often lie … the manufacture of lies … a deliberate lie by propagandists … the lie that Israel doesn’t want to negotiate and the PA does … this is not a misunderstanding but a lie. One reason for this lie …

    OK, we get the message Bazza. You’re right and the New York times are a bunch of lying propagandists.

    Not very subtle – which means it’ll go down a storm here.

  3. Strange, aren’t they, the two posts above?

    Written by masochists who don’t fit anywhere else and who believe it’s their right to lecture us!