By Vic Rosenthal
They’re at it again:
Hundreds of Fatah supporters clamored for revenge against Hamas on Saturday, during the funeral of a Fatah loyalist killed in a new round of infighting that left four people dead since the Hamas-Fatah coalition government was formed a week ago.
The formation of the coalition government was to have put an end to a bloody Hamas-Fatah power struggle that killed more than 140 people in the past year. However, four people have been killed in Gaza since the new coalition was sworn in.
Among the dead was a 4-year-old boy caught in crossfire Thursday.
On Thursday, a Gaza man was killed during a showdown between his Fatah-affiliated family and members of a Hamas militia, while on Wednesday a 24-year-old Fatah man was killed in an armed clash between Fatah and Hamas supporters.– Jerusalem Post
This points to an answer to the question of why it hasn’t been possible to get a peace agreement (or one that will stick, anyway) between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinian Arab mind-set is stuck in a pre-industrial, indeed even pre-agricultural, nomadic era. In this world, a man (women are property) and an extended family have to maintain their honor as a deterrent to prevent others from taking what they have. ‘Honor’ in this context means that no theft or injury can remain unavenged. If a man loses his honor, then he’s fair game, and he may shortly lose all of his property, his wives, and even his life. The way to retain honor is by ensuring that anything that damages it is avenged, as violently as possible. Respect and fear are important, and they are obtained by violence and cleverness. Concepts of morality based on altruism, which are important in Jewish and Christian thought, do not exist.
In my opinion this explains why the tactic of suicide bombing has often been criticized by Palestinians for being counterproductive but never for being immoral. And it explains why compromise and negotiated settlements are so difficult. Compromise involves both sides giving something up, so a deal that a Westerner views as each side getting part of what they want — an overall positive outcome — is viewed by an Arab as one which reduces his honor, which is highly negative.
One of the most important kinds of property are women, who belong to their fathers until they are sold to their husbands. A woman, however, is different from a camel in that she herself can embody a defect in a family’s honor, which leads to the phenomenon of honor killings.
In this context, we see why the Palestinian story of the conflict with Israel makes it so intractable. According to their view, the land of ‘Israel’ belonged entirely to them and was simply stolen by the Jews (Islam also plays a part in this, since it holds that territory once ruled by Muslims is part of dar al Islam and can’t be allowed to be ruled by non-Muslims). So peace proposals that start out, as Oslo did, with the idea of some kind of give-and-take are not acceptable. Only a plan in which the Jews will (now or in the future) take complete responsibility for the conflict, return all property, compensate the Arabs (Palestinians, refugees, Arab nations) for the damages that they have suffered as a result of the conflict, and put the Jews in a properly subservient position to Arabs will be approved. This describes the Saudi/Arab League plan.
It’s the world’s misfortune that a culture whose values belong to a earlier age is in a position of tremendous leverage with respect to the more developed world. And it’s Israel’s misfortune that she must find a way to live with them.