Archive for May, 2008

Why argue?




Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click:  type: how to avoid Armageddon

Arguing, all too often, accomplishes nothing apart from anger, frustration, bitterness and unbridgeable disagreement. Many relationships have been permanently ruined because of arguments. Businesses have crashed when partners disagreed stubbornly and national calamities have resulted from entrenched polemic in high places.

But there is a new way of arguing in which there are no losers. Contrary to the usual aim which is to win the argument, or at least never to concede defeat, the aim of this new way is to try and establish the truth about something, or understand it better, or to figure out the best possible way to do something, or to diffuse an unpleasant situation.

At the outset we should ask ourselves if the argument is worth the time, effort and hypertension. Is the subject trivial? Is the person we’re arguing with a rigidly stubborn, obtuse person with whom it is futile to conduct any exchange? Is there any point to this argument or should we just drop it?

If we do decide to continue the argument we should remember the following basic rules which hold true for almost every discussion – rules that every decent person knows but often ignores: never shout, or get personal (even if the other side shouts or gets personal). Many arguments get started because someone raised their voice. Avoid using terms like “You always think only of yourself” or “You think you know everything.” Perhaps the statements are valid, but invariably they won’t help solve anything. They will only stiffen the resistance and prevent resolution of your differences.


Here are some additional points in this new way of arguing. Listen to what the other person has to say. Interrupt only if something has been said that you don’t understand. Let the person complete making his or her point of view even if it is ridiculous or outrageous. Get a good idea of their side of the argument. Ask questions if something is not clear. During the whole course of the argument refrain from being aggressive, competitive, challenging, patronizing, belittling, overbearing or interrogative. On the other hand, don’t let them keep repeating themselves. If they do, tell them politely that repeating themselves is not necessary because you understand what they are saying. Also try to get them to stick to the point. Don’t let them digress. The issue must remain as clear and simple as possible.

Then, when you get to tell your side to the argument, if you are interrupted, remind them that you didn’t interrupt them. (That’s one reason you let the other person talk without interruption. You also let them speak freely beforehand in order to use what they say to strengthen your point of view.) Try to subdue the impulse to win the argument at all costs. The purpose of the argument should be to find a solution to an issue about which there is a disagreement. Present your point of view calmly and clearly. But do it without being long-winded. Don’t ramble or embellish it with all kinds of personal experiences or parables.

Try to get the other person to be affirmative to your questions. For instance you can start by saying something like: “We both want the same thing and that is to solve the problem, isn’t that so?” The aim of this type of leading question is to be answered “Yes!” That already gives us something in common and from the outset it might just put the other person in a positive “yes” frame of mind.

Observe the other person’s expression and body language. Are they listening? Do they understand your point of view? From time to time ask: “Did you get that?” Often people pretend to be listening to you or to understand what you’re saying. Occasionally ask a question to verify whether you have a real audience. If the person wasn’t listening you were just wasting your time and “talking to the wall.”

If you’re talking to a sensible, decent person, there is every chance that you will be able to resolve your differences – assuming that your point of view represents logic and the arguments are valid. Most people, however, don’t like to concede arguments and you’ll usually find that the other person will try and counter your argument – and that’s fine. When he does this he is giving you an opportunity to further clarify something.


Also, he might be absolutely right. Suddenly you might realize that you had been wrong. Don’t see the argument as a chess game which you are trying to win, but an opportunity to learn something or improve something and the other person has enabled this to happen. So, if you suddenly realize that you had been wrong, then admit it. “Yes, I think you may be right.” But just to make sure, it’s worth going over his argument again. Then, if it is acceptable, nod and acknowledge that you have just learned something from him. Even shake his hand and thank him.

Solutions to questions and problems are found by trying to see the whole picture from both sides. Let’s take an example: A husband and wife have a serious problem. The wife wants her mother to move in with them and her husband objects strongly. The mother is old, grouchy, fussy and will have many demands on their time. Also she has often made it clear that she dislikes the husband. But now her health has deteriorated seriously and she can’t stay alone anymore. Also there isn’t enough money to put her in an old age home. If the wife tries to force the issue it might lead to a flaming row with a lot of mutual bitterness, and possibly no agreed-upon solution. But if at the outset she says that she can understand why her husband doesn’t like the idea, she is setting a suitable mood for a serious discussion. “I’m not crazy about the idea myself,” she says. “But what alternative do we have?”

Her husband might suggest an alternative solution. If it makes sense, she should continue discussing it with him in order to find the best solution. If the suggestions that the husband makes are unacceptable to her, she should explain quietly why. In the course of the discussion they can explore other solutions. They can discuss making adjustments in the family budget or, if there is no alternative and the mother does come to stay with them, they can establish groundrules for all of them – so as to create as quiet and harmonious an ambience as possible. The point is to prevent any initial disagreement from becoming a bitter argument and to transform it into a serious quest for the best practical answers to a sticky situation.


Sometimes an incident can develop into a violent argument with very unfortunate results. On a hot summer’s day a friend of mine, Morris was riding his bicycle along a busy road. He was worried about his daughter who was hospitalized with a serious illness. A taxi came whizzing past, honked loudly and almost edged him off the road. “You bloody stupid maniac,” he yelled. The taxi continued driving for about two hundred meters and then stopped abruptly. The driver got out of the taxi and waited pugnaciously for Morris to reach him. Morris was ready to pounce on him and knock his teeth down his throat. The taxi driver probably had similar sentiments. Morris reached the taxi and got off his bike, confronting the driver. Morris is in his sixties, but he’s in pretty good physical shape. As a young guy he had done boxing, judo and karate. He sized up the driver, a middle-aged guy with a big, soft-looking paunch. “He was a bit taller than me, but I reckoned I could easily take him,” Morris related afterwards.

The driver challenged him: “What did you call me?”

Morris suddenly realized that they were heading for an unnecessarily dangerous situation – possible hospitalization for one of them, involving police, maybe jail.

He calmed down and replied. “It’s a helluva hot day, and you nearly knocked me off the road.”

“You’re a liar!” the driver shouted.

Morris countered unexpectedly: “I shouldn’t have called you what I did. It’s not right to swear at another man on the road. But really, you came very close to me and almost edged me right off the road.”

“You’re lying!” said the driver.

Morris: “Maybe you didn’t notice. You nearly knocked me off the road. Honestly! But like I said, calling you names was not right. I shouldn’t have done that. It’s just such a hot day and everyone’s nerves are frazzled.”

The driver looked at Morris with a puzzled expression for a moment. Then he said, “Yeah, it’s a hot day.” Then he leaned forward and shook Morris’ hand. “So long,” he said as he got into his car. “Have a nice day.” “You too and drive carefully,” Morris responded. The driver tipped his head and with a slight smile he drove off.

What a lesson! Firstly, never to express what you feel when you are very angry. Wait a moment before opening your mouth. Secondly, even if the other guy is abusive and calls you a liar, you might be able to diffuse the situation by calmly stating your version of the events, including your own mistakes or mishaps. “I shouldn’t have called you what I did,” followed by an explanation why he yelled the way he did. This way, they didn’t waste time arguing and screaming about who was in the wrong. And most importantly, they avoided what could have developed into a very unpleasant situation.


There are a few more cardinal rules in this new way of arguing. Avoid saying anything that you’re not sure of. Never lie. In this new way of arguing we are trying to come to an agreement about something through a partnership of honest, logical deduction. By being untruthful we would be distancing ourselves from the ultimate goal of the argument which is to find the best possible answer.

Generally, arguments are won by the side that is shrewder, more adept with words, or the one who puts on a angrier face, raises his or her voice louder, uses personal threats, or who simply lies. In such cases the outcome is seldom based on what is the best overall decision. Frequently, if the argument is about how to improve a situation or procedure, the outcome ends in the worst possible results.

Some professions are geared for arguing. Insurance executives find themselves frequently arguing with policy-bearers who have found their claims inappropriately honored. Lawyers are paid a lot of money to argue with other lawyers about rights and wrongs of their clients claims and counter-claims. Politicians spend a great part of their time arguing about government procedures, budgets, personalities and party platforms. Most argument conducted in these professions is all about winning. There has to be a loser. This new way of dealing with controversy that we propose might not be relevant in many situations. The lawyer, adopting this method would likely lose his livelihood. The politician in today’s world of cut-throat politics would have to be monumentally brilliant in order to get anywhere. But possibly in the future when the paramount value in life becomes truthfulness, then all professions will also abide by the groundrules suggested here.

However, humanity faces many critical challenges which demand clear thinking and the most efficacious reasoning possible. The old way of arguing will eventually have to give way to a far more honest, objective approach – an approach based on: “There is an important issue about which we disagree. We must find the best solution … together.”

It is hard to imagine Osama Ben-Laden and George W. Bush debating a solution to their disagreements, using this approach. After all, Ben-Laden represents the ultimate evil, and there is no point arguing with evil. But by using this new way of dealing with disagreement, there is every chance that  George W. and the most anti-war members of congress would have found the best possible solutions to the problems of global terror. 

With all the seemingly insurmountable problems now facing humanity, leaders and people everywhere will have to learn this new approach to controversy in order to see us through the Twenty-First Century.

Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click:  type: how to avoid Armageddon

See also






May 29, 2008 at 6:36 pm 3 comments

Trying to set the record straight




 A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called “Arabs and Israel’s Independence Day,” which dealt with the Arab pain associated with Israel’s establishment as a state. I mentioned that all that pain was quite unnecessary, given that the Arabs were able to set up a parallel state next to Israel – in addition to the other 22 states that they had set up, and the fact that 77% of Palestine had already become an Arab state beforehand in the form of the Kingdom of Jordan.

Many people responded to the blog. Some wrote to me directly, some folks posted comments below the blog. Most of the comments were positive. But one in particular pointed out some interesting notions. It was sent by Brett Mackey who wrote:

The original war for Israeli independence happened because as the Zionists were slaughtering innocent Palestinian Muslim and Christian civilians, the other Arab nations attempted to save the helpless.  The Arabs were defeated, and the result was a mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians; it was nothing less than ethnic cleansing.  Israel’s plan for the native inhabitants of its new land in the 1940s was no better than Hamas and Hezbollah’s plans for Israel today.”

I am always happy to receive such comments because it gives me a chance to make contact with someone who might not have all the facts straight. Here is how I answered Brett.

Dear Brett,

Thank you for your comment to my blog. Obviously, as an Israeli Jew I have a biased view of what happened. But I honesty am concerned about the veracity of my statements and I frequently question the validity of my notions. That’s why your comment to my blog is so stimulating – it prodded a question: “Hey, is this guy right, maybe?”

For starters, I’m pretty sure that our War of Independence in 1948 was a war of desperate survival, which we really didn’t want at that time. Many of our leaders even doubted our ability to stand up against the Arabs militarily. The Jewish population of Palestine at that time was in dire straits, economically, socially and certainly strategically. Even our military commander of that time Yigal Yadin said that there was an even chance that we would lose if war broke out. (Defeat would have meant yet another Holocaust a mere three years after the end of the Nazi one). But we didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Failing to declare our independence at that unique point in history (when the British left Palestine) could have meant not having another opportunity for statehood at any foreseeable time in the future (after losing our national independence thousands of years earlier and being crudely discriminated against in most of the places where we had tried to live). It was a nightmarish decision to make.

Actually the war had already been started by the local Arabs, together with militias from surrounding Arab countries, in November 1947, following the United Nations decision to partition Palestine into two separate states – one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. The Arabs here and everywhere else were determined to prevent an independent Jewish state and they launched attacks wherever they could – as they had been doing for the previous thirty years. In Palestine itself the Arabs could mount as many combatants as the Jews. But with the departure of the British on May 14, 1948, five regular Arab armies promptly invaded Palestine. Had they been victorious, it would probably have meant the slaughter of the whole Jewish population in Palestine. In the past this is exactly what had happened every time an Arab mob or force attacked and overwhelmed a Jewish town, suburb or village.

Talking about slaughter, or as you put it: “the Zionists were slaughtering innocent Palestinian Muslim and Christian civilians,” and yes, according to neutral estimates a few hundred Arab civilians were killed during the twenty months of warfare. Sorry if I sound crude, but that’s not slaughter? People get harmed in the midst of a war. Thousands get killed. Especially in battles in built-up areas. Hundreds of Jewish non-combatants were also killed – often not in the heat of battle but afterwards. But the reason that the other Arab nations invaded Palestine was not so as to prevent their fellow Arabs from being killed, as you state. Some Arab sources subsequently claimed this to cover up their initial war aims. But you only have to go into some of the Arab sources of the time. For instance, on the day after Israel declared its independence, Azzam Pasha, the Arab League Secretary, talking on Cairo radio about the Arab invasion said: “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” He meant the Jews. Also, given the circumstance, there seemed to be no way that the Arabs could lose that war.

But, as you mentioned: “the Arabs were defeated.” I don’t know if it was a miracle or if it was mainly a case of spirit and good tactics and strategy against ballyhoo and bedlam. Yet the result was certainly no mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians. And when you talk about ethnic cleansing, wasn’t that exactly what the Arabs aimed to do regarding the Jews. But we did not commit wholesale ethnic cleansing. While there were quite a few instances of Arabs fleeing their homes and lands as a result of Israeli army encouragement, it was mainly the Arab leaders who set off the mass exodus. They had urged the local Arabs to take to the hills for a short period while the local Arab forces and the armies from neighboring countries would have free reign to destroy the Jews, and then the local Arabs would be able to return to their homes and also take over the homes, properties and farms of the Jews who would not longer be there. I could quote a dozen reliable Arab sources on the subject, but for verification you can look up on foremost Arab personalities such as Edward Atiyah (Secretary General of the Arab League London Office) in his book “The Arabs,” published in 1955; Monsignor George Hakim, Bishop of Galilee; Emil Ghoury, Secretary of the Arab High Commission and countless other Arab sources. You’ll probably find them on the web or in any good library.

I wonder when you talk about ethnic cleansing, are you also taking into consideration the 800,000 Jews who fled their homes in Arab countries where they had lived for hundreds and even thousands of years. Now that was ethnic cleaning. They too, became refugees, but all were quickly absorbed in Israel, France, Canada and a few other countries. No one made a fuss over them. And no one purposefully kept them in wretched conditions for generations just to make a propaganda stand (ironically caused by the murderous intentions of the inhospitable host countries themselves).

Like I said earlier, I am biased because I happen to live here. I am biased because I keep hearing statements from Arab and Muslim leaders about their interminable quest to annihilate us, simply because we are Jews and as such are not entitled to lead normal lives in our ancient homeland. Do you know of any other nation whose actual physical existence is constantly being threatened? Actually, Jews are like the canary in the mine shaft. Wherever such rabidly anti-Jewish sentiments exist, it is in a milieu of utter wickedness. Throughout history it’s been like that.

Anyway, yes I am biased – in favor of finding a way to make peace with the Arab peoples of the region, but you’ll just have to accept that I am not willing to commit national suicide. I believe that peace will eventually come one day, but only after the Arabs and their sympathizers and supporters are able to discern truthfulness from falsehood and acknowledge that their hatred for us has been sustained by half-truths and selective omission and crude falsehood.

I don’t know if you are biased, Brett. And if so, why? But if you are sincerely concerned about the welfare of the Arabs, you can help them more by trying to persuade them simply to leave Israel alone. Tell them that can have peace whenever they choose – simply stop shooting at us; stop planning to annihilate us, and for goodness sake, try to relate to facts as they really are and stop the crude fabrications about the past and the present. They could have had their own independent state at least three times in the last 60 years, but each time they screwed things up by attacking Israel.

Let’s stay in touch.


Ralph Dobrin

See: for more material on the subject 

May 24, 2008 at 1:14 pm 3 comments


Some honor life,

some honor death


Fourth and fifth graders learning basic infantry skills while cursing Israel at summer camps; toddlers toting model assault rifles and pledging to regain their stolen lands; smiling babies dressed as suicide bombers with dummy explosives strapped to their cute little bellies. These are some of the scenes one often sees on television news broadcasts coming from Gaza and other areas surrounding Israel. One gets the impression of a people obsessed with war and death. Mothers gleefully declaring pride in a son’s suicide bombing mission and adding that she has four more sons at home whom she is eager to sacrifice. Unbridled hatred based mainly on lies.

Contrast this insanity with another scene in which I recently participated. A few hundred people gathering at a war memorial near Jerusalem’s Peace Forest near Abu Tor. It’s Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers. The 68th Batallion lost 64 men while defending the outposts along the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Every year they gather there – the widows, children and grandchildren of the reservist soldiers who died trying to stop the Egyptian invasion. Their old army buddies now in our sixties and seventies, are also there. We greet each other warmly, embrace.

The ceremony begins. There are a few short speeches; a few prayers and a poem are recited; wreathes are laid. It’s all very solemn and sobering. In the background the leaves of the trees rustle. Jerusalem is spread out below us in all its splendor.

And then a dozen fifth graders gather around a microphone and each one in turn recites a few words – words that relate to the sanctity of life, the need to struggle, as well as death, grief, joy and love.

They are simply beautiful – these eleven-year-old boys and girls, enunciating their words confidently and clearly. Then they sing a song about peace. Their voices sound calm and trusting. I feel my throat constricting and my eyes dampen. I notice a few of the other guys trying to hold back the tears. We are gripped by the enormity of the occasion. Our buddies died so that there could be beautiful kids like these in Israel. I have the impression that even today with our national disappointments, most of us would still willingly give up our lives for this simple beauty, this sensitivity, this subdued yet prodigious statement of hope. The children finish their performance. Then there is final prayer to the dead recited by one of the sons of our fallen comrades and the ceremony is over.

It’s been an emotional hour. Every year more people come. There are more grandchildren. Every year the feeling of wonder that we were not among the dead is heightened. Every year as I look at my old army buddies I am struck more sharply that we are all getting on in years. During these three decades most of us have pursued careers, raised families, built homes, seen many wonders in the world. We have had countless moments of joy and rapture. We have lived! All the men whom we commemorate, our buddies when we were all young, died in a battle that could easily have claimed our lives too.

Throughout the whole ceremony and afterwards there was not a single word or hint of anger or hatred while we remember our dead. During all these 34 years I have never heard a harsh word against our enemies. Not from the men in our batallion or the bereaved families. That’s how it usually is in Israel. We bury and remember our dead without war cries, without a call for revenge and death to others.

Meanwhile Gaza and the rest of the places surrounding Israel are stewing in a hatred that seems to know no bounds. It is a mindset that does not accord Israel even the most basic requirement for co-existence in this world – the agreement that we have any right to even exist. It’s a mindset that impels them to keep attacking, and that’s why every day people in Gaza are killed by Israeli soldiers and airmen. That’s terrible but it’s a direct consequence of that mindset.

My prayer, while watching those lovely Jewish children reciting and singing about the sanctity of life, grief, joy and love, was that the day will come when children of Gaza will be doing the same to commemorate their dead, rather than dress up as suicide bombers. When that day comes it will be a better day for everyone.

But that day will never come as long as they are nurtured by a culture of fury, hatred, contempt for others, and as long as that culture is not opposed by every decent, thinking individual with any kind of concern or connection to them – whether they are people of the media, world leaders, the churches and academics. But this opposition will have to be joined by the people of Gaza themselves – the teachers, clerics and parents. It will need great courage on their part. But the alternative is evermore violence, suffering and wretchedness.

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May 11, 2008 at 6:42 am 2 comments

Arabs and Israel’s Independence Day

Burying the truth even deeper

By Ralph Dobrin

Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click:  type: how to avoid Armageddon

There was no need for them to become refugees. There is no need for them to continue being refugees.

Every year, it seems that the Arabs relate more and more to Israel’s Independence Day. Of course, for them it’s not called Independence Day. They call it Yom el Nakba which means the Day of Disaster. There are demonstrations all over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as well as within the officially recognized borders of Israel itself. The demonstrations stridently call for justice to be rendered – Palestine must be granted independence; the Arab refugees (originally between 450,000 to 650,000 – today claimed to be 4.5 million) must be allowed to return to their homes or at least to the regions from which they were driven in 1948 by the Jews. During the demonstrations there are also the usual calls for Israel’s total destruction.

Radio and TV stations in many Arab countries have also begun featuring the day – each year with ever more coverage and with ever more pathos. Historical footage is viewed of those ill-fated Arabs in 1948, carrying a few personal belongings as they abandon their ancestral homes to the invading Zionist gangs. There are many heart-wrenching scenes of old people shuffling towards an empty horizon or being carried by donkeys.

There’s a lot of truth in those scenes. After all, the camera doesn’t lie. When it shows children tagging tearfully behind their parents with their abandoned homes in the background, the pictures portray exactly what was witnessed through the lens.

It’s enough to make any decent person want to weep. How could the Jews of Israel – many of whom had themselves survived the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi death camps a mere few years beforehand –  have perpetrated such wickedness on the indigenous population of Palestine. It is easy to understand the determination of the Arabs to get their usurped lands back and also the world-wide condemnation of Israel.

But that’s only part of the Israel-Arab confrontation. It’s like saying that between 1939 and 1945 British and American forces killed millions of Germans. That’s true, but without relating to the Nazi war machine and its invasion of a large part of Europe and North Africa, and the other dreadful events surrounding the Hitler era, one would have to condemn the British and Americans as wanton mass-murderers. This is exactly what the Arabs have been claiming about Israel for generations.

In their references to the events surrounding the establishment of the State of Israel, they have almost always, studiously omitted to mention that their national disaster started because they themselves tried to destroy Israel. They seldom, if ever, refer to the Pan-Arab invasion of Israel in 1948. 

They never mention their total rejection of the idea of any Jewish self-rule on any part of the land, despite a 3500-year connection, despite that the Arabs rule over a landmass that is 500 times larger than tiny Israel – an area larger than any other country apart from Russia. Rarely is any reference made to the fact that in 1922, 77% of Palestine was cut off to create yet another Arab state in the region, which became the Kingdom of Jordan, and which subsequently simply annexed what should have been the Palestine that everyone is talking about today. (In 1967 Jordan attacked Israel and ceded what is also known as the West Bank to Israel.)

Apart from a few commentators, no one ever mentions that the mass flight of Arabs from their lands took place precisely because it was the Arabs themselves who started the war, expecting the quick defeat of the Jewish forces. But when they saw the Jewish soldiers approaching their villages they expected them to do to them what they themselves would have done to the Jews had the Arab armies won the battles – they would have slaughtered and destroyed with utmost frenzy – in the time-honored Arab and Islamic way which takes place even today, even when Arabs fight other Arabs (despite Koranic injunctions to treat conquered peoples humanely).

Also hundreds of thousands of Arabs became refugees because their leaders told them to leave their homes temporarily – so as to make the task of the invading Arab armies easier. In many cases like in Haifa, the Jews tried to persuade their Arab neighbors to remain, and indeed many did and were not harmed by the victorious Jews.

So, as a direct result of their quest to destroy a  neighboring state, between 450,000 to 650,000 local Arabs fled to neighboring Arab countries, where most have been purposefully kept in a miserable refugee status till the present day. This in itself must be a blot on the collective Arab consciousness – that one of the wealthiest nations on earth, with its enormous land reserves could not absorb a few hundred thousand of their brethren (speaking the same language, following the same customs, culture and religion), while tens of millions of refugees in Europe and Asia, following the Second World War, were rehabilitated in new countries (often with differences in language and culture).

Also seldom mentioned were the over 800,000 Jewish refugees forced to flee Arab countries – where they had lived for hundreds and even thousands of years – because their lives were in mortal danger – leaving behind their homes and most of their belongings. Most of these people were summarily absorbed and integrated into the fledgling State of Israel. For many it meant a complete change in culture and language.


A look at both societies reveals some fundamental differences. Israeli society as a whole is open to hearing about what really happened in the past. Being a society where freedom of speech is honored, historians and journalists have dug up many aspects of Israel’s past which don’t always cast the nation in a good light. Much of the material is controversial, but by and large Israelis have a fairly good idea of what happened in the past.

Many Israelis are concerned that that in many places, Arabs were indeed forcibly removed by the Israeli army during the War of Independence as well as subsequently. Many debate whether Israel’s responses to current Arab terror couldn’t be toned down somewhat. This is not to say the criticism is right or wrong, but to show that Israeli society is more willing and has far better access to knowing about the events of the past as well as the present. Also, while Jews are as prone to personal shrewdness as anyone else, a large percentage prefer the exposure of truths – even painful truths – than hiding them for the sake of national honor; most Israelis opt for fair treatment even for sworn adversaries, rather than retribution for their hatred and the mayhem they have caused Israel.

Arab society is very different. Firstly, there is hardly any freedom of expression in any of the Arab countries, and certainly not in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Therefore the vast majority of Arabs do not know what really happened in the past. Neither do they get honest reporting of the current affairs and developments. Indeed, most of Arab society, like elsewhere in the Muslim world, is fed with a deep contempt for western values and culture. Within that contempt lies a call for cleansing the world of what they perceive as the evil filth inherent in American influence, together with the obliteration of Israel. Also, it needs inordinate courage for any Arab to question or criticize popular conceptions.

The vast majority of people in Gaza believe that their misery is directly caused by Israel. They do not realize that their wretched situation is a direct result of their own attacks on Israel. They do not consider that they have missed at least three opportunities to have their independent state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The last time was in the year 2000 when instead of continuing the peace talks they once more opted for war. Even after every single Israeli had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip they increased their rocket barrage on Israel’s towns which has never stopped to this day.

They seem unable to understand that Israel’s military retaliations, the border closures, the road blocks in Judea and Samaria, are a direct result of Arab terror – usually conducted against ordinary Israeli civilians. A cessation in Arab hostility would mean a complete end to Israeli retaliation.

Their national disaster – their Nakba – is a catchword that is gaining more and more popularity among Arab circles. Arab propaganda, based on falsehood, half-truth and selective omission, is so effective that few people outside the Arab and Muslim world know how the Middle East crisis began, and thus reserve their full sympathy for the Arab side in its quest to destroy Israel.

Only when the Arabs begin to relate with honesty to the events of the past and the developments of the present, will their masses ever have a chance of leading normal, decent, happy, prosperous lives. Indeed, that’s the only way they might ever be granted an independent Palestine – as undeserved as it seems in the light of their ongoing aim to destroy Israel

But as long as the leaders of the world and the international media outlets keep castigating Israel for simply defending herself and cajoling her to acquiesce to ever-more Arab demands, there is no reason why they should change their self-defeating mindset.

Tragically for now, it seems that the Arabs, with the help of the rest of the world, are bent on precipitating yet another dreadful Nakba on themselves.

For more see:

Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click:  type: how to avoid Armageddon



May 4, 2008 at 10:58 am 7 comments