An Arab fable (as distinct from a potentially biased Western narrative) focuses on Effendi Mustafa’s relaxing afternoon in his idyllic orchard. Suddenly Mustafa’s pastoral peace is disrupted by a bunch of mischievous boys exuberantly chasing each other among his trees. Mustafa’s yells and threats go unheeded. He realizes he must conjure up a clever ruse to get rid of the noisy intruders.
He cloyingly summons them and whispers that apples of solid gold hang heavy off the boughs in their neighbor Ahmed’s garden. If the youngsters rush over quickly enough, Mustafa counseled, they may avail themselves of the alluring bounty. No sooner had he finished spinning his tale, than the kids disappeared in search of fabulous riches.
How sweet the lie!
Mustafa reclined with a big satisfied smile. But while he effusively congratulated himself for having fooled the pesky uninvited visitors, he suddenly grabbed his head in dreadful dismay and remonstrated bitterly with himself: “If Ahmed grows golden apples, why did I not first hurry to pick them myself? Why in Allah’s name did I spill the secret?” Agitated, Mustafa forgot about his pleasurable nap, sprang to his feet and sprinted over to Ahmed’s….
Though deliberately deceitful, Mustafa was in no time trapped by his own fabrication. Thereafter, his actions were triggered by the false premise that was now accepted as fact. Once the fraudulent origin of said premise was banished from Mustafa’s mind, his reactions can only be judged as eminently logical.
It’s in the context of Mustafa’s misadventures in the realm of reason that we must weigh the recent straight-faced contention by the US’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, who informed the world that “Iran is a rational actor” in the international arena.
All we need establish now is whether we measure Iran’s rationality by Mustafa’s yardstick or by our own. Tehran’s ayatollahs may make exceptional sense on their wavelength but that wavelength isn’t the one on which our own thoughts travel.
In the closed-circuit of their own brand of circular reasoning Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cohorts may function with unassailable sagacity of the Mustafa model. They go round and round because they prop up the validity of their assertions with pseudo-evidence which assumes the validity of those very same assertions.
Thus they start off with the premise that “Israel is evil.” From there they proceed to deduce that “Jews are evil because Israel is evil,” and to prove the latter assertion they submit that “Israel is evil because Jews are evil.”
The mantra that “Israel should be wiped off the map” becomes the pivot for the entire argumentative twist. This vicious cycle can gyrate interminably, all the while sucking in the masses who find it irresistibly convincing.
This circular reasoning breeds warped notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, grievance and vengeance. Such correlations are self-evident to the Iranians precisely because, as Dempsey maintained, they operate on a rational basis. It’s just that this basis spawns rational processes that lead disastrously far from where he assumes they ought to.
Little change can be expected as long as Arab/Muslim mindsets are controlled by rotational rationality. Dempsey may be giving voice to the Obama administration’s wishful thinking, but nothing vaguely resembling our definition of rationality is likely wherever virtual reality – be it Mustafa’s or Ahmadinejad’s – can trigger continual complex chains of real consequences.
Under such conditions truth can become immaterial, if not downright undesirable. The Palestinian Authority’s news media, for example, didn’t reveal that Israeli paramedics risked their lives by venturing into a still-burning overturned school bus to rescue Arab children outside Jerusalem last February 16.
For reasons that elude our refined rationale, PA journalists chose to invent alternative scenarios. The Palestine Timesprinted the following banner headline: “Zionist truck hits a bus and kills 10 children.”
In fact, the truck which slammed into the bus was driven by an Arab, but why lose a chance to inflame passions? Even a road accident can be conscripted to serve the Israel-bashing cause (by, inter alia, inflating the numbers of juvenile casualties).
More forgiving souls among us may ascribe the above to excessive newsroom fervor. Nonetheless, the PA’s own health minister, Fathi Abu-Mughli, gave the mendacity official impetus. At a formal press conference he upgraded the sham by blaming Israel altogether. “The IDF didn’t intervene the minute the accident took place. If it did, it could have saved some lives,” he insisted. “I personally complained to the Israeli side; the accident took place in Area C [Israeli-controlled], and we have limited movement there.”
Exploiting the misfortune to the hilt, Abu-Mughli exhorted the international community to “end the occupation so we can serve our people better.”
Therefrom the story mushroomed outrageously. IDF servicemen were now accused of outright malice and of intentionally foiling Palestinian rescuers. There was no note of the cutting edge resuscitation and subsequent treatment accorded the wounded at Israeli trauma wards. Not only weren’t there even grudging hints of gratitude, but there were heaps of gratuitous abuse.
Needless to say, Ramallah’s demonization drive gained resonance overseas in accordance with hallowed even-handedness, the truth be damned. In the Arab/Muslim domain the accident became another blame-Israel fest.
Given the rational progression from counterfeit culpability to real retribution, it’d be no surprise if in time terrorist atrocities are carried out to avenge the crash casualties.
Can a credible peace momentum materialize from such callous manipulations of information? When no opportunity is missed to deepen the deception, it gains a raison d’être of its own. For all the shouting and shooting, the riots and ruckus, no balanced courses of action can emerge from a milieu so deficient in democracy, goodwill and certainly in tolerance.
Those in the PA who smeared Israel for saving injured Arab children voiced no criticism over the impending trial of 23-year-old Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari on the capital offense of blasphemy. Similarly, not a murmur of outrage emanated from any instigators of the monumentally misnamed Arab Spring.
A former columnist for Al Bilad newspaper, Kashgari had conducted pretend conversations with Islam’s progenitor Muhammad on Twitter. His most offensive Tweet was: “I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don’t understand about you. I will not pray for you.”
Thereby, Kashgari committed the most grievous indiscretion possible in his homeland. Forced to run for his life, he headed to New Zealand. En route, however, he was arrested in Muslim Malaysia and extradited back to Saudi Arabia.
By no stretch of our imagination can Kashgari be considered the contemptible arch-criminal that he is throughout Islam. This isn’t a Saudi idiosyncrasy. It’s underpinned even in such Arab Spring bastions as Tunisia and Egypt, where Iranian-type theocracies are in the making after what the West gullibly lauded as popular democratic uprisings.
The West doesn‘t get it. Muslim masses will never be free so long as they love the lie. Deposing one despot or another won’t lift the Mideast into the 21st century. That won’t happen until a groundswell of opinion openly admits that it’s as OK to dissent from Islamic dogma as to speak one’s mind in the Judeo-Christian setting; that Islam isn’t inherently entitled to world domination; that millennia of Jewish history in this land cannot be willfully erased; that the Israeli-Arab conflict isn’t the heart of all that ails the Arab world; that the conflict is constructed on Arab lies.
The Arab masses will never be free until they sincerely comprehend that they have been cheated.
There’ll be no Arab enlightenment until Arabs acknowledge that they’re harmed by their own self-produced disasters. There can be no healing until they stop blaming us for attacks they launched to annihilate us (foremost, the onslaught by seven Arab states on day-old Israel), and until they assume full responsibility for the consequences (foremost, the refugees they caused to flee but wouldn’t absorb).
Not only aren’t we closer to that epiphany, but we’ve regressed. The Arab aggression against the Jews keeps being buttressed by lies. As Mustafa showed, the lie – if believed – becomes reality.
Fraudulent reality then takes on a life of its own.
But our existence, alas, isn’t as comic as Mustafa’s circumstances. Here, if nurtured, the lie grows, multiplies and becomes axiomatic for a searing sense of injustice and inflamed passions.
The lie binds. Spurious grievances confine and scourge those they ensnare. The Jewish state is blamed for surviving and it fills its thwarted would-be destroyers with yet more frustration and festering rage. Instead of abating, genocidal hate intensifies and magnifies.
Throughout the region the supposed Palestinian plight diverts attentions, mobilizes energies and generates political clout. Ordinary Arabs/Muslims are unremittingly indoctrinated to revile Jews/Israelis. We embody all that’s evil. A worthy leader, therefore, must be maximally anti-Israeli, maximally zealous in waging sacred war against evil-incarnate.
For their part, the Palestinians are repeatedly reminded that they’re the injured party, that Israelis are liable for their suffering and owe them redress. It’s enticing for Palestinians to portray themselves as innocents struck by a colossal calamity and continuously oppressed for no fault of their own. They clamor for another chance, for a return to Square-One, presumably to recoup the losses of their failed aggression and to carry on from where they had left off.
There’ll be no peace till an Arab leader dares tell his people that they were brainwashed for more than a century and victimized by lies rather than Jewish injustice. So long as the Arabs feel wronged, they won’t rest till they kill the last Jew in this land.
They won’t rest just as Mustafa couldn’t. After his brilliant subterfuge succeeded, he fell for his own consciously concocted hoax. The Arabs, their Muslim confederates and bamboozled Western backers have fatefully fallen for their unsuccessful consciously concocted perfidy. Unable to get off their madly swirling mental merry-go-round, they keep concocting ever more scams, which in Dempsey’s eyes makes them consistent and predictable, i.e. rational.