Special Dispatch| 2307 | April 6, 2008
In an article posted March 26, 2009, in the Arab liberal e-journal Elaph, Jordanian-American author Dr. Shaker Al-Nabulsi criticized the Arab countries for rejecting normalization with Israel, in which, he argued they were motivated by negativism that is inculcated by self-serving political leaders into Arab mentality. Al-Nabulsi stated that it was Egypt and Jordan rather than Israel that benefited from their peace treaties with Israel, that Israel was disillusioned and disheartened by the Arabs' attitude towards it, and that it had no incentive to sign any more peace treaties with the Arabs.
I found this article to be a very interesting perspective from an Arab writer and would be interested in my reader's comments and thoughts on it.
Following are excerpts from Al-Nabulsi's article:(1)
If Not for the Arabs' "Brazen Negativism," a Solution to the Palestinian Problem Would Not Be So Long in Coming
"On March 26, 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty. Thus Egypt – the biggest and most important state involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict – became the first country to have peaceful relations with Israel. This took the entire world by surprise, caused an upheaval in the Arab street, and shook the foundations of the Arab and Muslim world. This upheaval, however, was nothing but a commotion raised by a flock of cocks who fell into a puddle of water, scrambled out, and were now shaking their feathers dry. The Arabs, who are not used to abrupt rational turns of civilization, went berserk. They resisted the impending peace, embodied in the person of their courageous and rational leader, President [Anwar] Al-Sadat, who had restored to Egypt everything it had lost on account of Abd Al-Nasser's political and military adventures, which had [brought it] destruction and devastation.
"Although Sadat installed Egypt in a place it well deserved in both the Middle East and worldwide, the Arabs were engulfed by a mad rage that knew no bounds. Today, 30 years after Sadat's historic move, they have begun to come to their senses and regret everything they did to Egypt and rejecting peace [with Israel]. They are gnawing their knuckles in remorse over their past acts of lunacy: expelling Egypt from the Arab League (aka the Fools' Café) and transferring the Arab League headquarters from Cairo to Tunis; boycotting books by Naguib Mahfouz and films based on them; employing all sorts of ugly measures against Egypt and placing it on the same cup of the scales with their worst enemy, Israel.
"The Arabs rejected normalization [with Israel] because [accepting it would have been] a positive [move], while resisting it was a negative [move]. It is much easier to say 'No' in Arabic, [inasmuch as] the Arabs are a negative people. [Indeed,] if not for this brazen negativism, a solution to the Palestinian problem and the establishment of the Palestinian state would not have tarried these past 60 years. The Palestinians will never achieve anything as long as the Arabs persist in their fanaticism and negativism, [fail to gain] self-confidence, continue nurturing in their minds the culture of war, and are unable to form a correct and realistic view of the future."
"The Culture of Peace in the Arab Countries Is Nonexistent"
"Why did the Arabs act in this way in 1979 and thereafter – [as if] they were controlled by demons [destroying] peace and angels [instigating] war? The most obvious answer is that, in the Arab world, the culture of peace is virtually nonexistent, while the culture of war predominates, due to declarations by mendacious political leaders concerning [everyone's] obligation to support armed struggle. In their own countries, these politicians are plagued by social and political problems, as well as [the lack of] economic development – which [prompts them] to opt for supporting armed struggle, in order to divert their subjects' attention from the problems that keep piling up in their countries…
"Moreover, sponsoring resistance movements does these regimes a great service, in that it enhances their power and influence, and at the same time enables them to hang their various problems onto one hanger, which is Israel and America. This, [in turn,] desensitizes the masses and inculcates their minds with the notions that the West and Israel are weak, that Israel will disappear in the near future, and that a miraculous political figure is about to come and restore to the Palestinians their [occupied] lands. Thus, the culture of peace in these countries does not exist, nor can it be cultivated, due to a lack of education and free media that would instill into the citizens' minds humanistic values, which – as Lafif Lakhdar has shown – are the backbone of the culture of peace. Neither do these states teach the young generation to think independently, to reason realistically and rationally, or to free themselves from obsession with [political] affiliations and religious fighting.
"The policy of rejecting normalization with Israel pursued by the two Arab countries that signed peace treaties with it (Egypt and especially Jordan) is a hideous political crime against the Palestinians, which is being committed, [albeit] unwittingly, by the Arabs. This policy, which is promoted by Islamist and pan-Arabist streams and by the proponents of rejectionism and deception, is a political decision of unmatched stupidity and foolishness. This idiotic policy of rejecting normalization has proved of great benefit to Israel, which is manifested in a number of ways:
1. Israel has been able to convey to world public opinion the following message: We want peace, but the Arabs refuse it, even though the [Arab] rulers have accepted it.
2. Israel presents itself as a country which is harassed and in need of protection by the West and the U.S., since all the Arabs are against it. Therefore, [it claims,] the political, financial, and military support to it must grow rather than diminish or stop altogether.
3. Israel's extreme right, led by Likud and Israel Beiteinu, have proved to the world that they are right while the Labor party and those who signed the two peace treaties with the Arabs were deluded and made a grave mistake. This resulted in a greater number of declarations by Netanyahu to the effect that the idea of 'land for peace' no longer exists, and that if Israel agrees to peace today, it must do so in return for peace rather than land. What prompted Netanyahu to make this claim is Israel's experience over the past 30 years, i.e., since the 1979 Camp David treaty – namely, the rejection and reticence of the Arabs, which has not encouraged Israel to sign any more such treaties."
"Israel Has Realized that a Peace Treaty with the Arabs Is Not Worth a Fig"
"4. Israel – its government, its public opinion, its Knesset, and its media – has realized and become convinced that a peace [treaty] with the Arabs is not worth a fig, or the paper it is written on. Consider Egypt. It got back the entire Sinai desert and also Taba, without losing one penny or one soldier. Moreover, not only did it allocate the funds which it would otherwise have spent on the army and weapons to various development projects, but in the past 30 years it has also received [U.S.] aid amounting to hundreds of billions [of Egyptian liras] (approximately 50 billion U.S. dollars). Yet the only thing Israel got in return is an apartment in Cairo, which they turned into an embassy, and in which the [Israeli] ambassador and the staff are [effectively] imprisoned. [Indeed,] they can move around only under the protection of the [Egyptian] intelligence and security guards. Israel is forbidden to participate in Egyptian public life, even in book fairs. In fact, Israel has no part whatsoever in Egyptian public life, and the same holds for Jordan.
"So how can we expect Israel to sign more peace agreements with the rest of the Arab countries, and especially Syria, after its [disheartening and] bitter experience with Egypt and Jordan. And nevertheless, without a comprehensive peace and despite all the above, over the past 30 years, Israel has progressed politically, militarily, culturally, and economically – while the Arabs lagged behind. The Arab [policy of] isolating Israel has given it strength and triggered its advancement. Except for some Arab countries, Israel is recognized by the entire world. Israel's army has become the strongest army in the Middle East. Its annual per capita income has reached $18,000, which amounts to the total per capita income for all Arab countries put together, excepting the Gulf states. Culturally and scientifically, Israel is one of the top countries in the world… Three of its universities (the Hebrew University [of |Jerusalem], Tel Aviv University, and Haifa University) are ranked among the 20 best universities in the world, while no Arab university is listed among [even] 400 best universities in the world (Cairo university is ranked 401)."
"Israel's Success and Most of Its Achievements Can Be Attributed to Failures and Defeats of the Arabs and Palestinians"
"All this Israel has accomplished in the shadow of [Arab] hostility and the media war waged against it by the Arabs. So what interest does Israel have in peace with the Arabs, which is illusory and fragile, which it [must buy] with precious Arab lands, and which – I repeat – is not worth a fig, or the paper on which [peace treaties] are written. We can conclude, therefore, that Israel's success and most of its achievements can be attributed to failures and defeats of the Arabs and Palestinians. If Israel's opponent were not the Palestinians with their stupid cowardly leadership, but some other nation, it would have established an independent state a long time ago.
"[Who were these Palestinian leaders?] There was Haj Amin Al-Husseini (an Al-Azhar student, who was kicked out of the university during his first year), Ahmad Al-Shuqeiri (an mediocre lawyer), Yasser Arafat (a civil engineer working for the Kuwait Minucipality), and Isma'il Haniyya (an imam at a mosque) – while, on Israel's side, there was [Theodor] Herzl (doctor of law) and the Rothschild family (the world's gold coffer). It is noteworthy, [by the way,] that the Rothschilds gave Harry Truman two million dollars for his election campaign on condition that he recognize Israel immediately upon his election – and this is precisely what happened. Then there was Ben Gurion, the outstanding leader who ended the right-wing Zionist terrorism.
"Whoever reads my book Settlement Train - A study in the Palestinian compromise, published in 1986, will realize what a great number of golden opportunities to establish the Palestinian state have been missed by the Palestinian and Arab leadership. The Palestinian leadership put their stakes on the Cold War between two superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and did not anticipate the sudden fall of the Eastern Bloc. [As a consequence,] in the 90s, they became dependent on the U.S. By that time, however, the U.S. had already been allied to Israel with a number of strategic treaties (beginning in 1967), on account of which it came to regarded as America's 51st state.
"In sum, as we have shown, it was the Arabs who benefited from the partial peace between Israel and Jordan, while Israel was the loser. Therefore, Israel will not sign any more peace agreements with the Arabs in the near future – and if it does, it will be with extreme caution and on demanding conditions. And peace be upon you all."
(1) www.elaph.com, March 26, 2009.