The Role of Arab Culture in Middle East Violence

July 12 2016

Of the many causes of the current crisis in the Middle East, Arab culture itself might be the most important, argues the Jordanian-American intellectual Hiam Nawas:

Unless Arabs take a self-critical look at their own values, violence in the Middle East will continue. . . . The Arab moral code values revenge over compromise, men over women, and groups over individuals. Collective Arab identity is based on tribalism, submitting to paternalistic authority, a sense of honor linked to women’s virginity, and an ossified sanctification of custom and tradition. There is a glorification of the past along with a refusal to take responsibility for the present, [combined with a] hope that the future will miraculously be better.

This is not to say that individual Arabs are [wholly representative] of this culture. To the contrary, interaction with average members of Arab societies demonstrates a generally decent, generous, and tolerant demeanor. Nor is Arab culture without many [virtues]. . . .

The contemporary Arab world also often lacks self-reflection and self-criticism. Conversations with Moroccans, Egyptians, Tunisians, Jordanians, and Gulf Arabs repeatedly demonstrate an overall narrative of victimization and of blaming outsiders. This [tendency] most notably manifests itself in a plethora of conspiracy theories, such as the suspicion that Islamic State is an American-Israeli invention manufactured to destroy the region, or that the Arab Spring was a Western plot to hand the region over to Islamists.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Anti-Semitism, Arab World, History & Ideas, Middle East

Lessons for Israel from Iran’s Response to the Killing of Qassem Suleimani

Feb. 19 2020

On January 8, just five days after the U.S. killed the high-ranking Iranian general Qassem Suleimani in a retaliatory airstrike, Tehran responded by firing ballistic missiles at two American bases in Iraq. At first it seemed possible that the Islamic Republic deliberately aimed its rockets so as not harm U.S. soldiers, but, Uzi Rubin concludes, information made public since then strongly suggests that the lack of American deaths was “a matter of sheer luck.” Iran, which generally prefers to operate through proxies or in such a way as to maintain plausible deniability, not only took credit for the attack but boasted about its success.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy