From The Author of SC&A: The Onerous Burden, The Just Man And The Divine Comedy
August 15, 2012
This is the first of three part series. Because of the importance of the subject there will be no other posts until Monday, other than the ones in this series.
What is it which distinguishes a truly moral person from someone who is no more than a blind advocate of a particular cause, using the language of morality as camouflage from his or her real agenda?
A truly moral person who advocates for real justice is aware of all the stumbling blocks and impediments in the way. A truly moral person doesn’t just fill the pothole- he or she reinforces and repaves the entire highway so that there is a lesser chance of damage down the road. A truly moral person understands the search for justice is an ongoing endeavor. Reaching a desired goal or milestone does not end the process.
An integral part of dealing with impediments is facing those uncomfortable truths as need be and no matter how uncomfortable that may be. For example, many nations and societies which had institutionalized bigotry and racism, went on to deinstititionalize those things knowing full well their actions would be wildly unpopular but also knowing institutionalized racism and bigotry were inherently immoral and that immorality trumped political considerations. Change doesn’t happen overnight of course and human nature wants to preserve whatever advantages it may acquire, no matter how the advantage was gained.
Even more nations said they would change things but of course, did nothing. The leaders of these regimes wanted they and their nations to be considered ‘equals’ to more democratic and moral nations so they said all the right things and assumed a moral posture on the outside but in fact, did nothing to change a very broken and dysfunctional inside. The Arab Spring is testimony to that.
A blind advocate refuses to see or deal with the very stumbling blocks or impediments which might be the cause of his or her agenda. To the blind advocate only the target of their rage is what matters. They assume no responsibility for any of their own actions which might contribute to the failure of their agenda. In fact, the blind advocate goes out of his or her way to blame the object of their rage and/or hatred for their own misbehavior.
In psychological terms, this is called projection. A person or group, subconsciously assigns their own dysfunctional behaviors, thoughts and emotions to another individual or group. This is a defense mechanism used to protect the individual or group from dealing with their own dysfunction.
(To be clear, not all defense mechanisms are bad or even undesirable. ‘Denial can be and is necessary so that we might have the time we need to process information. For example-, the response “NO!!” to the information ‘So and so is dead!’ is a perfectly normal and rational response)
The Middle East is where justice, agendas and dysfunctional behaviors converge. This is not news. It has been going on for a very, very long time. Many believe the arguments are really about politics and geography. Others say it is about religion. Still others claim the mayhem in the region is about a combination of those things and still others proudly declare their racial ‘superiority’.
None of that matters, really. Of course, when cooler heads prevail, it is understood all these arguments are extreme. What does matter is justice and morality.
Simply claiming a just or moral cause does not automatically bestow a moral cause.
It has been properly noted that
Simply put, totalitarian systems–whether from the left or the right… whether religious or secular… actively promote the most negative, primitive, and immature aspects of human nature. In fact, they give a societal/institutional blessing to such behavior; and thrive on the resulting projection, paranoia, distortion, and denial of reality. [emp-SC&A]
Notwithstanding where one might be on the political landscape totalitarian systems are easily identified:
When nations or groups that are that are led by or are under the influence of dysfunctional leaders, tyrants or dictators, attempt to justify their actions, we can rightly assume that justification is false. Tyrants and dictators do not make moral choices, because moral choices can only lead to the demise of the dysfunction or tyranny.
Anyone that comes to the defense of dysfunctional, immoral leaders or groups or tyrannical regimes and their leaders, have themselves made a conscious choice to defend and stand by what is immoral. They themselves consciously adopt an immoral posture.
Let’s put this to practical application.
Do the Palestinians deserve the right to self determination? Of course they do. To deny that is an unjust and immoral position.
Nevertheless, to rightly agree the Palestinians have the right to self determination is by no means an endorsement of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority or any of the other myriad of groups which embrace that ideal. Why? Because those groups,by their own admission are racist, bigoted and dysfunctional. Can anyone describe the substantive differences between Hamas and the KKK? Each use the language of hate and ‘Holy Wars’. Is there a substantive difference between the PA and Christian Identity Movement? Each talk about ridding their respective territories of undesirables.
The same organizers of the Holocaust Conference in Tehran who at once wish to deny the Holocaust, are at the fore of instigating and promoting a new holocaust, as part of a religious ‘crusade’- they are doing Allah’s will (and speaking for him, as if He needed the mullahs, imams and sheikhs paid by corrupt regimes, to speak for him). It is also ironic that those who for the most part had nothing to do with the Holocaust, could rightly point an accusatory finger at the Christian world and say, ‘See what you have done!’ Instead they continue to choose to identify with the perpetrators. ‘We’ll finish what Hitler started!’ is a long spoken Arab world refrain. For decades, ‘Allah in Heaven, Hitler on earth!’ was taught to students as if it were gospel truth.
Your mother was right. You are known by the company you keep.
Just because a cause is just does not mean the entire cause is is desirable, especially when adopting that cause requires the embrace of racism, bigotry and hate. The Palestinians deserve self determination. They do not deserve the right to establish a state predicated on racism, bigotry and hate.
Some people claim Benjamin Netanyahu and right wing government of Israel are to blame for the most escalation of rhetoric and hostilities. What about previous governments? In over 60 years there have been all kind of governments in Israel, including Liberal and Labour led regimes. Why were those regimes also rejected by the Palestinians as peace partners? Could it be because of the conditions for peace?
Middle East peace isn’t that complicated. The UN, NATO, the Quartet and the EU have all agreed on three basic and minimal conditions.
*Cessation of terror by the Palestinians
*Diplomatic recognition of Israel
Which of those things are too onerous a burden for the Palestinians?
For decades, the Palestinians have received more foreign aid than any other group. Their Arab brethren are gatekeepers of the largest amount of wealth in the history of the world. Their Arab brethren are gatekeepers of the largest amount of wealth in the history of the world. Yet their Palestinian brethren still live stateless, often restricted to squalid refugee towns, deprived of civil rights and citizenship. Led by racists, bigots and corrupt leaders who happily enrich themselves even as they openly call for the genocide of others, the average Palestinian whose hopes dreams and desires are no different than our own, is no more than fodder, receiving a small pittance for a show of phony loyalty or receiving a bigger pittance for enforcing- sometimes violently- the party line.
Irrespective of the cause, even a cause seemingly just, wanton and indiscriminate killing is never the goal. The cost of a military victory is understood. Eisenhower and other Allied generals visited the death camps and wept, and then went into the coldest, silent rage a human can muster- unlike their German counterparts, who posed for pictures and laughed at the plight of the 30 million dead souls. The heirs to the Nazis, the radical Islamists have posed for pictures with the heads of those they have decapitated. Palestinians bare bloodied hands, some holding human entrails of Israelis they have butchered. They have filmed themselves kicking a decapitated head about on a field, as if it were just another soccer field.
(It is important to note at this point these remarks are not an excoriation of all members of the Muslim faith nor of all Arabs. Only about 20% percent of the world’s Muslims are Arabs. Broad brush strokes lessen the quality and merits of an argument, as a friend recently noted).
Neither Israeli or American ideologies praise death of civilians with joy. We do not place civilians, or school children or the sick an infirm in harms way. It is not our policy to engage an enemy, hiding behind children. We develop weapons that are ever more accurate. Others develop weapons with laboratory developed poisons that can be ever more widely dispersed- and they have used them, recently.
Religion is integral to this discussion because the parties in the region have made it so.
To kill with joy and to celebrate death, is to disregard the God to which we might claim allegiance. To commit terror and celebrate the deaths of innocents in the name of God is to dishonor God and to refute his Dominion. Those adherents who disregard His message corrupt and debase His message. Those who find justification or apology for such acts, or blame the victim disgrace themselves and their faith or morality. In the assembly of believers or non believers, they accomplish nothing but to shame themselves and their communities and beliefs.
Terrorists eat KFC. Terrorists use cell phones and eat popcorn. Terrorists have families and mothers and celebrate birthdays. While that is an absolute truth, that in no way means terrorists are just like us.
Not even the defenders of their agendas and can make that claim.
Arab societies, led by dysfunctional political and religious leaders, have redefined what it means to an Arab. Islam in the Arab world, once a religion that was a model for religious tolerance and a culture under which other cultures/religions were allowed to flourish, is now barely capable of acknowledging its own past. Arab world Islam today is recognized by it’s religious and institutional hate and belligerence, not the philosophy, science, art and literature that contributed to the progress of humankind.
Arab expressions of faith once showcased Mosques and monuments of magnificent architecture and art, in a time that has long been deliberately pushed asunder. New Arab world houses of worship today are defined by cold, stark and drab buildings that offer no warmth. A re-branding of the faith, a cynical person might say. The stark coldness is a trademark of modern Arab expression. Where there was once great literature and art, there is now an aversion to prose and poetry that does not reflect hate and bigotry. The once vibrant colors of Islam have been replaced with black and white. There are no more love stories. Still, the human spirit and potential of what is possible cannot be extinguished. There are some beautiful new mosques that have been built in the Gulf. See Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai City.
None of these issues have nothing to do with America or Israel.
The biggest victims of Arab regime dysfunction are Arabs themselves. They have paid a terrible price for the brokenness and evil of their leaders (in yet another classic example of projection, Israel and America are routinely described as evil or ‘Little Satan’ and ‘Big Satan’. Their own repressive, oppressive and totalitarian dysfunctional leadership are regarded as benign) . While the unfinished business of the Arab Spring made it pretty clear that not all Arabs hardly consider their leadership benign, the Palestinians remain hostages to theirs.
Now, we need to continue the discussion of Arab world religion. Not because we want to but because it has been deliberately tied to politics.
Firstly, historical Islam is not really the problem.
Blaming Islam for the violence we see today is like blaming Christianity today for the Crusades (most of the damage and mayhem was committed in Europe, before the Crusaders even got to the Levant), or blaming the Holy See today for the centuries of repression and machinations that enriched corrupt clergy and kept the European feudal system in business. (While the Catholic Church has a whole other set of problems today they do not shoulder the blame for the crusades. To make that claim, one has to be able to saddle the Muslim world with the invasions and brutal conquest of southern Europe. That idea that is just as absurd.)
The truth is that Arab world religious dysfunction and expression comes about as the result of dysfunctional religious leadership. When religion and religious ideologies are allowed to be the manifestations of dysfunctional political ideologues, the result is a dysfunctional expression of both faith and politics. When those perverted expressions of religious faith are continually allowed a voice in a controlled and contrived political process, by design or by accident, the result can be seen on the spiraling decline of virtually every dysfunctional Middle Eastern regime into even more dysfunction. When clerics are paid by a dysfunctional state, they will tow the party line. Their families need to eat and they afforded status and privileges- all for preaching hate. A cleric who might say ‘Maybe indiscriminate killing isn’t such a good idea’, is soon out of job. Or worse.
Arab world political and religious leaders say over and over that their ‘humiliation’ is predicated on the fact that Israel continues to exist and flourish. It is not due to Israeli actions or inactions, but rather, to her very existence.
Besides being a mirror the Arab world has to look at daily, Israeli reality is almost intolerable to many Arabs. To be sure there are many progressive, intellectual Arabs that understand that Israel is a reality and in fact can offer the Arab world much – but for most, Israel remains a cruel reflection of their captivity. Tragically, they believe they are forgotten and deliberately abandoned by a world in collusion with their dysfunctional leaders that moves forward every day. That they remain under the heavy boot of dysfunctional Arab leadership is not allowed to be of concern- it is the non Arabs that remain the obsession. It is the non Arabs that have upset the ‘natural’ Islamic order. The Islam of an earlier age, fueled by an Arab culture which evolved and embraced progress was not so dysfunctional- as noted many times, Arab fueled Islam concerned itself with arts and sciences, philosophy and mathematics. Mothers wanted their children to grow up to be doctors and scientists and poets and builders, not mass murderers or religious icons of hate.
On the surface, the Arab world appears not to be humiliated by the lack of decent schools. The Arab world appears not to be humiliated by their scientific backwardness and destruction of religious sites.
In a smaller, interconnected world, they cannot be unaware of their own medievalism. The Arab world appears not to be not humiliated by collapsed economies. There are car manufacturers in China and Africa, yet there are none in the Arab world. Societies that only consume products are very different than societies that create and produce products. Do not believe for one moment the Arab world is unaware of what distinguishes them from more advanced nations. They are acutely aware.
In reality, there is a silent, bitter awareness of Arab world shortcomings. To put it all in context- they know centuries of Arab failures have been foisted upon them. They are victims and they know it. With cruel regimes stifling the natural instincts, they look outward- and upward- for relief. Of all the thousands of children born in the Arab world today, few if any, will ever experience real freedom and democracy. How sad it is parents dare not even dream of a better life for their children. How tragic is it that within view of a vibrant, democratic and free Israel, Arabs are not even allowed to compete? Of course, it isn’t about Israel. The Arab world has been under dysfunctional leadership long before Israel existed- and every Arab knows it.
How is it possible that the only endeavor in which the Arab world of the last century has managed to excel is religious hate and bigotry?
And how is it possible there are people in the west who defend that?
Many in the Arab world defiantly declare their ‘Arab pride,’ but of course, that really is not true. That is another kind of projection. If there really was Arab pride, they would be digging holes for the foundation of schools and factories, and not tunnels to smuggle weapons or explosives for suicide bombers. If the Palestinians wanted to reflect Arab pride, they would build hospitals and not rockets and missiles. The Arabs have beat down for so long they believe they have nowhere else to go. What we see on the six o’clock news are not manifestations of Arab pride but rather, expressions of Arab desperation. Until recently it was understood though never spoken that Israel went away tomorrow, nothing in the Arab world would change. Then came the Arab Spring and Israel was not a factor- until more leaders, looking to consolidate their power, made Israel a priority. Some of these new leaders picked up where the old leaders left off.
The Palestinian leadership are not overseeing a fight for freedom and democracy. They are fighting to retain the values of corruption, oppression, tyranny and dysfunction and to keep that ugliness institutionalized . There is so much self hatred of what they have come to stand for, that they are willing to have others blow themselves up in the process and extol that kind of behavior as virtuous before admitting they are broken. Subconsciously, they know what they are fighting to preserve and how they are fighting, is repulsive to any decent, civilized and religious adherent of any faith. They simply don’t care. For them, this is all about power and control and nothing else.
In truth, the Arab world cannot be proud of itself. The Islamic and Arab cultures that contributed mightily to the progress of mankind, have willingly become the poster children for religious intolerance, hate, violence and even genocide. There is very little the Arab world has to be proud of and pointing to past glory only serves to highlight how far they have fallen. All the phony ‘Arab pride’ in the world has not motivated them to build. All they have done is destroy- and that destruction is a symptom of self hatred. People who hate themselves, destroy everything around them. People who believe in their higher selves, build. The same is true for nations. Nations, societies and cultures are not remembered for what they destroy. They are remembered for what they have built.
Imagine negotiating with the Nazi Party for 60 years, during which time it engaged in a limited but relentless terror and war- as well as their stated genocidal aims.
There comes a point after which negotiations are pointless.
It is ironic how two peoples so closely related and who have suffered so terribly, are destined to live side by side.
A Divine comedy, indeed.
Tomorrow, the discussion will continue. We will address how all this came to be and the opposite side of the coin: How Israel has deliberately helped to perpetuate the impasse.
Some of this material has been previously published.
Regular posting will resume next week.