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May 16, 2002

The Arab and the Jew

At the end of the Gulf War Bush (the elder) publicly encouraged the various peoples of Iraq to rise up and overthrow Sadam Hussein. He might as well have asked the rocks to do it. It's also been repeatedly observed, that in every single Arab Moslem nation, the people suffer under an uncaring dictatorial regimes. Yet these are the same people that apparently are willing to kill themselves and as many Jews or Americans as they can, in their fight against . . . well, whatever it is they think they're fighting. The impression one gets is that the Arabs either hate America and Israel so much, they willingly put themselves under sadistic tyrants, or they wait, puppy like, for the American Army to come sweeping in and rescue them from their current oppressor. But they haven't figured out that while Americans may strive to help the underdog, they also have little respect for those who expect others to do what they can do themselves. And so Arab Moslem nations continue to be filth-ridden, hellholes full of violence, poverty and hatred.

Meanwhile we have Israel. The Israelis have taken a parcel of land rejected by everyone else as barren and fruitless and turned it into a lush, productive agricultural miracle. Since the re-creation of the nation of Israel, they have been attacked numerous times, always out  numbered, but they have defended themselves and managed to take added land that obviously was strategic to their defense. Many of these that came to Israel, initially, in 1947 were the survivors of Concentration camps.

According to the CIA World Fact book, in 2000, the per capita Gross Domestic Product (the total production of the nation divided by the number of people living there) for Jordan was $3,500, for Egypt it was $3,600, for Lebanon it was $5,000,for oil rich Saudi Arabia it was $10,500,  for oil rich Kuwait it was $15,000, for Syria it was $3,100, for Pakistan it was $2,000, for Afghanistan it was $800. But for Israel it was $18,900. (in case you're wonder, for the U.S. it was $36,200). 

Why? Why do Arab Moslems put up with oppressive governments, starvation, corruption, while Israelis build a good impression of the Garden of Eden?

Well, first of all let's rule out racial differences. Yes, there are differences between the various races on this planet, but those differences are trivial, and disappear when other factors come into play. Besides, Arabs and Jews are from the same general stock. Both are descendants of Abraham, and while that was a while back, it wasn't that far.

What about religion? That would certainly seem to be a very important factor, but I happen to have had several friends who were extremely devout Moslems, as well as some who are very devout Jews, and honestly, I don't see the beliefs and teaching of the two faiths making that much of a difference on that large of a scale. Sincere, true Moslems are hardworking, honest, peace-loving people.

There is one crucial factor that has played a part, and ironically, Arabs Moslems in the Middle East have played a strong role in this. The Holocaust was such a tremendous atrocity, on a scale previously so unimaginable, that after WWII Jews found themselves acutely aware of how deep and fervent the hatred for them burned in the twisted souls of so many people. America had proven to be a haven for many Jews, but even there anti-Semitism  was obvious. They concluded that the only hope for the survival of the Jewish people was their old homeland. International politics were such that by 1947 Jews were allowed to return to Israel and reestablish the nation. Still reeling from the shock of what had happened in the holocaust, the Jews worked with a seriousness and fervor that drove them to build a stable, productive nation. The shock was never allowed to wear off. War after war after terrorist attack after terrorist attack forced them to re-acknowledge the need for hard work, diligence and self-sacrifice in order for their nation to survive. The Arabs have kept Israel in a permanent state of war. Not poverty, not squalor, not famine, just war. War has always spurred the productiveness of people, as well as their devotion to their nation. Israel is strong, because her enemies force her to be strong.

Well, what about the Arabs? 

Here's the kicker. We in America (Ok, those of us who are honest about how reality works) can see first hand what happens when you remove the consequences of sloth from people --  they become lazy. Native Americans fought hard and continuously, until someone figured out that with enough blankets and booze they'd loose their reason for fighting. And it worked. After the Civil War Blacks were making great advances in society, until the combination of Jim Crow laws (allowed via the Great Compromise) and welfare made it too hard for most to try to succeed, and removed the reasons for wanting to fight the system. Our nations still suffers from both mistakes.

How does that apply to Arab Moslems in the middle East. Simple, what have they got to lose? Why they're starved, their poor, they live in squalor, you say. Ok, but what's the alternative? Dying trying to fight their governments. Hmm, eat less -- die, eat less -- die, well if it's all the same to you, I'd just as soon not die. Or at least that's what your average Arab Moslem would think. We in America are well aware of the results of a collective commitment to freedom. So are Israelis. Middle East Moslems aren't. Their existence is not in danger, and having a bit less food, and putting up with the occasional shooting or looting is considered the price for personal survival.

Can we change that? Honestly, I don't know. I really hope we can, but it seems that even Moslems raised and educated here in the US, still fall prey to that way of thinking. But at the same time there are many here that don't. The trouble is, they stay here. (Not that we aren't glad to have them) They know when they've got a good thing. In the past our efforts at introducing the concepts of collective commitment to freedom have failed because the oppressive leaders recognized the danger to themselves, and called in "sinful Western thinking". Islam in the Middle East has been co-opted so much by politics, the real meaning of it has been distorted. It would take an effort on the behalf of Moslems in free countries to educate religious leaders in the Middle East on the need for such ideas to flourish there. It would have to be a large project, and would take several years if not decades, but if it worked . . . just imagine it.


Posted by Jack Lewis at May 16, 2002 07:12 AM