Friday, August 13, 2004

The World and Israel: Asymmetry

Shalom Freedman (you think he might be Jewish?) has a nice op-ed on the difference between the way the Arabs/Muslims conduct politics and the way Israel does. Especially (but not exclusively) their rhetoric is subject of his analysis.
In the last week of July 2004, the erstwhile leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards said that if Israel dared to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, then Israel would be wiped completely from the earth. As usually happens with genocidal threats when they come from the Islamic world toward Israel, there was no protest on the part of the nations of the world. This silence is in a sense expected, for the world has for years been encouraging and cheering at Arab, and most especially Palestinian Arab, rhetoric calling for the destruction of Israel. This kind of abusive language is not some rare exception, but a kind of accepted slogan when it comes to Israel.
This is very true. Muslims can say WHATEVER they want, no matter how outrageous, and not only will no other Muslim ever speak out against it (not even the mythical "moderate" Muslim), in fact NO ONE, no nation, no organization, NOBODY will tell such Muslims off.
One explanation of all this is that the threats are the language of the weak, while Israel with its superior military might needs no such hysterical assurance of its own power. Another explanation is that as part of the cultured world, the West, we understand it is simply not considered right to talk that way. And this while our supposedly more primitive opponents have a strange freedom from any moral restraint linguistically.
I have commented on this before. It seems that the West treats the Arabs as children. You can't really take everything they say serious. You know, it's a cultural thing, like the funny clothes they wear.

Israel is measured by Western standards, only held a little higher. Problem is, the Arabs act on what they say. If they could make good on their prosaic threats, THEY WOULD. And so their use of language is significant. The fact that they use flowery language does not mean they aren't serious, talk that sounds like it came right out of Shakespeare SHOULD be taken at face value.


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