What happened to Islam? When did it happen? Why did it happen?
Negotiation in an Arab Shuk is a culturally ingrained way of life. It extends into all facets of Arab thinking and living. A good negotiator knows the rules and plays the game deftly. It matters not the end prize; the negotiations still work in much the same manner. The major rule in this type of negotiation is the tenet that if you know your adversary wants something very badly, raise the price.
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The basic rules of Bazaar Diplomacy Are based upon the 3000 years old rules of negotiation in the Arab Shuk. (Sharon, Moshe 2007) Sharon is a professor of Islamic History at Hebrew University, and he has carefully studied the rules of bazaar negotiations. It is not, as he says, a gentlemanly meeting of the minds and a genuine seeking for accord. It is, rather, a brutally simple imposition of the will of the strongest.
Katz (2001) points out that there are no Palestinians, no language named Palestinian nor any territory that was ever really named Palestine. The word itself is from the ancient Philistines who were expelled long ago from the land of Israel. The object of their negotiations with Israel are just as ethereal. The Israelis and the Palestinians are not actually even talking about the same thing in their negotiations. Israel wants peace, and will pay any price for it. This leaves Israel behind before they start, because the Arabs, which is what the Palestinians are in reality, know all of this and will keep raising the price. By contrast, the Palestinians want to be rid of Israel.
Sadly, the agreements come to and signed are just as lacking in reality. In the Arab Shuk, if you can sell air for a good price, you do not have to deliver it, or even make it portable. What the Arabs are selling is even less. They are selling agreements, and getting a nice hefty price.
However, those agreements are only as good as the other side is strong enough to impose the agreement. There is no honor involved. Worse than not actually selling Israel the peace for which they are willing to pay any price, is that the Arabs are merely selling a signed agreement, not their guarantee to abide by it. Since Israel always puts it cards on the table in negotiations, the Arabs wind up using these to make further demands, in exchange for further signed agreements.
While many have called Lewis the polite equivalent of a war-monger, he is possibly right that no agreement will ever be kept. The two sides want two different things. Israel wants peace, which the Arabs do not actually have, but they will sell it. Israel has peace, and they don’t want to sell.
Let us take, for example, the War of Attrition started by Egypt in 1970. After 18 months, Egypt decided to lick its wounds and go home. Israel subsequently signed an agreement to return some territory to Egypt which was captured in the Six Day War in exchange for official recognition of Israel as a state. In other word, for officially stating the obvious, Israel gave back what it had conquered. In negotiations with Jordan, the same rule was applied. Jordan accepted Israel’s right to exist and Israel returned another prize to Jordan.
Fatah was created by Arafat in an effort to unify the Palestinians under him, regardless of their backgrounds or political leanings. More than anything else they were the nationalist party. Hamas, the opposition, stood ready to gather the spoils after the expected failure of the elections after Arafat’s death and the collapse of the Oslo Accord.
The biggest problem with negotiating with either of these groups is that neither is officially the voice of the Palestinian people and the official head of its government. Fatah has internal problems since the death of Arafat to resolve, while Hamas has never been recognized as legitimate and is looking for change. Hamas always favored democratic elections, but not under the Oslo Accord. So, the difficulty is knowing who speaks for the people who do not exist. Whichever the government of Israel chooses to deal with, the other can claim legitimacy and say that the deal does not stand.
Can Islam rectify the situation or have both Christianity and Judiaism just pass Islam by?
Islam has become the demonized face of Jihad in the west. It began in the 1960s with two major writers on the political science front: Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington.
“It was Bernard Lewis who launched the hoax of the “Clash of Civilizations”—in a September 1990 Atlantic Monthly article on “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” which appeared three years before Brzezinski clone Samuel Huntington’s publication of his Foreign Affairs diatribe, “The Clash Of Civilizations.” Huntington’s article, and his subsequent book-length treatment of the same subject, were caricatures of Lewis’ more sophisticated British Orientalist historical fraud, which painted Islam as engaged in a 14-century-long war against Christianity. Huntington acknowledged that Lewis’ 1990 piece coined the term “Clash of Civilizations.” (Thompson and Steinberg 2001)
It began with Lewis’s 1967 book, The Assassins, and continued until Lewis had created an entirely fictional account of Islam and the planned destruction of the infidels. Lewis created a 14-page history which read like the Arabian Nights, claiming that Bin Laden was simply following the Koran and cleansing the earth of the infidels. From his insulated cover at Princeton University, since 1949, Lewis has been feeding the ambitions of presidents to “clear up” the middle eastern problem.
He has been the most influential expert on the Islam and the middle east since then and has been the architect of such things as the madman Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “Arc of Crisis” policy of fomenting Muslim Brotherhood fundamentalist insurrections all along the southern tier of the Soviet Union. The Ayatollah Khomeni was overthrown with US assistance in an effort to root out the Jihadists.
Because of the political ambitions of western leaders, and the fear of the unknown “enemy” which already had a bloody history, westerners began to believe that all Muslims were warmongers intent on destroying all other religions. Of course, history is written by the winners, so the horrors of the Christian Crusades have been downplayed over time.
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It is doubtful that this can be repaired any time soon, because people seem to need someone to hate. While intelligent people know that you cannot group all Muslims under Bun Laden and his extremists any more than you can group all Christians under the same types of fringe groups, the masses are not intelligent. Masses by definition follow the leaders.
It cannot be said that Judaism or Christianity have passed Islam by, because they have their own troubles, but the societies which espouse Islam seem perpetually locked into traditional social forms which are outmoded and primitive, probably because the leaders do not want progress, either because they believe that the people should stay with the old ways, or they simply prefer to keep the people, especially women, subjugated. Progressive states like Jordan are few, and many leaders do not wish to risk loss of control.
It is not going to be an easy problem to resolve. The belief systems aside, the cultural differences are simply too far apart. There is as much difference between western social systems as there was between the original communist systems instituted in Russia and China after WWII. It will take as long or longer for these differences to resolve. Many things must change before there will be enough pressure on Arab countries to even want to negotiate in real terms with the west.
For now, most prefer the status quo. While the Arab countries are fairly united in commercial senses with the oil cartel, they are still far apart on political and social fronts. It will probably require a world crisis, such as the beginning of our really feeling the problems of global warming before anybody feels like even digging the hole for the hatchet, much less actually burying it. Eighteenth has never come easily to large political groups. They are too easily led by the likes of Lewis.
Sharon, Moshe – Jul 26, 2007 UCI Reprint: No peace, No peace plans, No price for Peace, Unity Coalition for Israel.
Thompson, Scott and Steinberg, Jeffrey, 2001, PROFILE: BERNARD LEWIS: British Svengali Behind Clash Of Civilizations, Executive Intelligence Review.