My son, an Israeli with young kids of his own, asked: “Dad, how do you respond to questions relating to the suffering of civilians in Gaza?” Indeed, a gut-wrenching question from the heart responding to the visual and verbal testimony on news networks. It required a true and impartial response.
Today – at times – it has become increasingly more challenging defending Israel as we recently saw with the government’s clumsy handling of the Nation State bill. Embodying in law after 70 years since independence “the national home of the Jewish people” is hardly a ‘game’ changer’ with “equality for all its citizens” assured. Other countries do the same without a blink of interest from the global community.
The motivation behind much of the hysteria is not the quest for democracy, which is assured, but virulent rejection that Jews have a national right to their ancestral homeland. The contrary Arab claim of “a state of all its citizens” is a euphemism for an end to the Jewish state. In truth, it does not matter what Israel says or does – it will be “BLAMED”!
The question my son posed made me think of the psychological behavioral game of blaming others for their own misfortunes.
‘Blame’ has proved an effective weapon in the arsenal of Israel’s enemies, only because a gullible world has allowed it.
What is the nature of the landscape giving rise to this?
Culture of Hatred
While much of the West today displays a culture of fear, the Arab and Muslim worlds are trapped in a culture of humiliation fueling a ‘Culture of Hatred”.
And in the crosshairs of this hate and anger are the USA and Israel – the targets of accumulated grievances. The greater the success and power of the USA and Israel, the greater the humiliation and revulsion. Designated as the ‘Two Satans’ they are deemed responsible for sustaining this ‘humiliation’.
Blaming and Burning. Fired up, Pakistanis blame Britain.
Irrespective of the root causes of their grievances, its much easier and convenient to find scapegoats and blame parties that bear no significant relationship or responsibility to the actual cause.
Let me highlight a few past and present examples.
Presently, Mahmoud Abbas aims to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip wanting the international community to continue to believe that Israel is responsible for the ongoing intense suffering of the Palestinians. The intention is to blame and use the crisis to pursue their campaign to delegitimize and blame Israel. Were it not for his sanctions, the Palestinian factions would not have waged ‘the march of return’ – a front for protesting the deteriorating conditions inside the Gaza Strip, for which they blame Israel rather than their own leaders.
Abbas’ self-esteem and concern for his legacy is fueling this barbarism -preferring to keep ‘his people’ living in refugee camps and poverty so that they can continue extorting money from the world and putting the blame on Israel.
It’s a strategy that seemed to be working until the Trump administration decided to cut funding to the UN refugee agency, UNRWA, which stands exposed for focusing less on the humanitarian plight of Palestinians and more on inciting against Israel BLAMING it for the situation.
Blaming and venting anger at the U.S. and Israel is the name of the game.
Note how the Palestinians who are presently boycotting the U.S. administration, nevertheless are demanding that the Americans continue to supply them with hundreds of millions of dollars each year!
Arab Muslims believe the West has intentionally humiliated and shamed them throughout history and Jews are the latest ‘European” colonists – Jewish crusaders who need to be expunged from the land to remove this humiliation.
We see this thinking embedded in local Middle East culture. Well illustrating the point, Osama bin Laden, in defending 9/11, ‘explained” said that “for more than 80 years the Muslim world has been suffering humiliation.”
Googling his rantings at the time reveal that he was referring to the suppression of the last caliphate by the Turkish Republic in 1924 which ended catastrophically after WW I where the last of the great Muslim empires was defeated and its colonial acquisitions partitioned between the victorious Western allies. This is what Bin Laden meant by “humiliation”.
The list continues…
Bin Laden was outraged by the continued ‘humiliating’ presence of U.S. troops after the Gulf war in Saudi Arabia which was another of the motivations for 9/11.
Contorting the Truth
The ‘Blame Game’ has some revealing twists and turns as it contorts the truth. This is again illustrated back in November 1979 and the burning of the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan by a frenzied mob out for blood.
It begged the question: “Why?”.
The stated cause of the crowd’s anger was the seizure of the Great Mosque in Mecca by a group of Muslim dissidents. Note there was absolutely no US involvement, yet Khomeini broadcasted over the radio spreading the rumor to the Muslim masses that American troops had been involved in the clashes in Mecca.
In other words, ‘blame America’ why Muslims killed Muslims in Mecca!
Manic Manipulation. Inspired by Khomeini, Iranians assault US embassy in Teheran in 1979.
Dig deeper and one finds that these events took place within the context of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. On November 4, the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was seized, and sixty-two Americans were taken hostage. The motives for this, baffling to many at the time, have become clearer since, thanks to subsequent statements and revelations from the hostage takers and others. It is now apparent that the hostage crisis occurred not because relations between Iran and the U.S. we’re deteriorating but because they were improving!
In 1979, the relative moderate Iranian prime minister, Mehdi Bazargan, met with the American National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski and were reported to have been photographed shaking hands. There seemed to be a real possibility in the eyes of the radicals, a ‘real danger’ that there might be some accommodation between the two countries. Protesters seized the embassy and took the American diplomats’ hostage to destroy any hope of further dialogue.
Truth is not what it appears!
Almost 10 years later, in February of 1989, again in Islamabad, the USIS center was attacked by angry crowds, this time to protest the publication of Salmon Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. The novel by Rushdie, a British citizen of Indian birth, had been published five months earlier in the UK. Why the delay in anger? Did anyone angered even read the book? Who was instigating the anger and why?
Again, the same interesting pattern, that provoked the mob’s anger in Islamabad, replayed with even more lethal intent with Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini’s subsequent pronouncement of a Fatwa (death sentence) on the author.
What brought this on was not the books contents which few of the murderous protestors had read and even less understood but its subsequent publication in the USA.
This was the real crime – American publication. It was an affirmation of Western complicity in the perceived deliberate unending humiliation of Muslims.
Israel regrettably is caught up in this ‘Clash of Cultures’ of victimhood verses false projected guilt.
How long will it persist to blame the West and Israel for failures in the Middle East, more specifically, the failure for Arab leaders to deliver the real not imagined needs of their citizens?
Burning Issue. Muslim world aflame over Rushdie’s novel..
Without a change of mindset away from the Blame Game, anger and grievance will remain a powerful recruiting tool for endless and mindless violence.
The esteemed historian Bernard Lewis summed it up:
“If the Arabs can abandon grievance and victimhood, settle their differences, and join their talents, energies, and resources in a common creative endeavor, they can once again make the Middle East, in modern times as it was in antiquity and in the Middle Ages, a major center of civilization. For the time being, the choice is theirs.”