A few months ago I was speaking with a New Zealander in his more senior years who had started out his career in the Merchant Navy. As a young man he crossed the Suez Canal and during the trip many Arab traders would climb the rope-work to get on the deck of the ship and try to sell their wares so that their families might eat. The more experienced sailors, who regularly made this passage delighted in these moments, for they would turn the water hoses on the Arab traders and propel them off the deck of the ships and resulting in them hurtling from great height into the sea below, often breaking limbs. Bets would be taken and the person who managed to hurl an Arab from the deck onto his boat below rather than the water, invariably resulting in a broken back would win the 'jackpot'. Why this reaction? Well, given the post war Palestinian problem and the fact that the Arabs sided with Hitler against the Jews perhaps its is not surprising. Not surprising perhaps, but plainly indicative of ideologies at battle stations with one another and ideologies prepared to dehumanize by propaganda in exactly the same way that Hitler was able to.
The Arabs do not trust Westerners, the West have turned selling out the Arabs to the highest bidder into an art form. For example, take a look at this political broadside, part of my own collection and printed during another period of Middle East turmoil and misery. I hope that the detail allows it to be read:
The religion of Islam found its roots and grew in a ruthless conquering zeal when it erupted on the world scene in the C7th. Within a hundred years the Middle East and North Africa, areas previously Christian were forced at the point of a saber to convert to Islam. The Crusades, perhaps the most misunderstood military missions in history were engaged to counter the massacre of Christians. Due to its checkered history Islam came to represent everything that Christianity was not, theologically, socially and politically and Islam took up its role as ‘enemy’ number one of the Church and the West, a role which it has maintained almost without break ever since except for a brief respite during the Reformation. Islam today consists historically of people and tribes often forced into worship under threat of annihilation. We may not respect this in the West, but this is the Arab way of theological life. They know no other and we need to understand this in order to deal with crisis situations such as the one that is engulfing us all now.
Fourteen centuries later the status quo remains unaltered. East against West. With its overwhelming military and financial status the West must learn to understand the Arab ideology if they wish to bring some sort of long-term peace in the Middle east. I suspect that Germany and France, who have long term first hand-experience in dealing with the Islamic mentality are trying to build some sort of intellectual bridge between these ideologies, for without that bridge, we have centuries of ‘Iraq’s’ ahead of us. The Iraqis greatest enemy is the enemy within, the West has consistently failed to utilize this powerful force, which given the right help at the right time would have caused the regime in Iraq to meet its maker a decade ago.
The Iraqis break resolutions made to the West. In the Arab mind this is ‘theocratic warfare’ and an honorable recourse where ‘infidels’ are concerned. To an Arab presented with overwhelming military source, its proverbs demand that they view survival as triumph. Saddam for example and his family and tribal cronies, are convinced that they won the Gulf War because they survived. This sounds like nonsense to the Western mind, but it makes crystal clear logic to the Arabian mind, a mind that the White House is dangerously ignorant of.
I see continual and opposing points of view on these threads but I have come to see that each viewpoint, and I include my own ( which is admittedly far more idealistic than the point of a bayonet ) has what the other lacks. What I do know is that it is impossible to win the Arab heart by Western modes of behavior and thinking, and this is an absolute necessity for world peace. I sing the swan song of the great Garibaldi in my refrain; ‘compromise and education will eventually result in peace and prosperity’.