I am writing this post while the war in the Gaza area is going on but I plan to only post it after the violence has stopped. I understand how violence and war brings out the emotions in both sides and that is the issue I want to discuss.
In the interest of understanding and venting, I will be brutally honest, blunt and offensive: I have a problem with the way Arabs react. I am directing this to Arabs not to offend you but to understand. I don’t know how else to explain it but I find the way Arabs react difficult to creating dialogue. So let me vent and show you how I view the situation and then feel free to respond.
My issue with Arabs is the way of dealing with conflict. I find three parts to Arabs dealing with conflict:
1. Arabs are right and Jews are wrong. There is no room for compromise or negotiations. There is only the Arab view and Jews must do as they say.,
2. Emotional exaggeration. For example- 1200 deaths in Gaza is a “Holocaust” (forgetting that in Darfur , 400,000 people have died and 2 million refugees at the hands of an Arab government).
3. No distinction between the minor and the major. A death is the same as not having freedom of movement. An insult to Arab pride is the same as killing of children.
These three parts create a situation where Israelis (who are mostly Western in thought) and Europeans/North Americans, don’t know how to deal with you. I believe that is why most Americans and Europeans don’t speak out more for the Palestinians. I think they generally know what is going on but they don’t know how to deal with how you describe it.
I know as a student of conflict that people who feel powerless have a hard time admitting how they have contributed to the conflict. People who are traumatized have a hard time differentiating between minor and major threats. But the only way in the Western mind to solve conflict without force is through problem solving. Problem solving requires not doing a ‘pile-on’ as I call it- where every issue to blame someone is thrown at the person regardless of importance. Problem solving can only be accomplished by separating each issue and dealing with it one by one until both sides are satisfied.
I know that Arabs feel like the world is not listening to their needs, that no one sees or hears their cries for help. I see it in the emotional language and black and white thinking in forums like this. The problem is that I feel like it is pointless to dialogue. If I don't agree 100%, I am wrong. If I don't speak out for how bad Israel is at all times, I am wrong.
Debating is even worse. You see it all the time here, where Israelis/Jews will say "yes, but..." but the other side is never heard. For example, I spent a long time explaining what Zionism is and isn't to a few Palestinians. I thought I had cleared up some myths about Zionism when I am met with silence from the Palestinians I am explaining to. I then see other posts by these people saying the same things about Zionism that I corrected. What is the point of dialogue if no one ever listens? I personally am left with the feeling that this is pointless. I know for the majority of Israelis who believe in peace, they also see dialogue as pointless because they feel like “there is no one to talk to”.
I say all these things not to offend but out of years of desperation of trying to understand the reactions from Arabs I see and hear. In order for there to be conflict, there needs to be two parties contributing otherwise it is not a conflict. To create peace, there needs to be two parties dialoguing and listening otherwise it is not true dialogue.
I know that Israelis and Jews react in certain predictable and unhelpful ways (claiming anti-Semitism to everything, etc.) I know this is a product of our history so I know the Arab reaction is a product of your history. I need someone to rise above emotions and help me understand and know what to do that creates positive results.