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Why There Is No Peace in the Middle East by Philip Carl Salzman (Gatestone Inst.)

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Oct. 14, 2017

  • Peace is not possible in the Middle East because values and goals other than peace are more important to Middle Easterners. Most important to Middle Easterners are loyalty to kin, clan, and cult, and the honour that is won by such loyalty.
  • There was no group and no loyalty above the tribe or tribal confederation until the rise of Islam. With Islam, a new, higher, more encompassing level of loyalty was defined. All people were divided between Muslims and infidels, and the world was divided between the Dar al-Islam, the land of believers and peace, and Dar al-harb, the land of unbelievers and war. Following the tribal ideology of loyalty, Muslims should unite against infidels, and would receive not only honour, but heavenly rewards.
  • Honour is gained in victory. Losing is regarded as deeply humiliating. Only the prospects of a future victory and the regaining of honour drives people forward. An example is the Arab-Israel conflict, in the course of which the despised Jews repeatedly defeated the armies of Arab states. This was not so much a material disaster for the Arabs, as it was a cultural one in which honor was lost. The only way to regain honor is to defeat and destroy Israel, the explicit goal of the Palestinians: “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” This why no agreement over land or boundaries will bring peace: peace does not restore honor.
  • We in the West, unlike Middle Easterners, love “victims.” But what if Middle Easterners are victims of the limitations and shortcomings of their own culture?

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