I Trust 'em as Far as I Can Throw 'em (NaBloPoMo Day #5)

I just read an article on Haaretz about the three militants murderers of Rabbi Meir Chai who were killed during their 'capture.' I am satisfied that the IDF did the right thing. And I am at pains here to explain why. The Haaretz report states that
An evaluation of the testimonies of family members and the IDF officers suggests that this was not an operation to assassinate. However, the three, Adnan Subuh, Raad Sarkaji and Ghassan Abu Shreikh, were killed by the soldiers, even though two of them were not armed, and it does not even appear that they were trying to escape - a fact that the IDF does not dispute.
Family members of the dead are alleging that the three were executed, and say that the Israeli claims that the three were involved in the killing of Rabbi Hai, 32 hours prior to the incident, are lies. The weapon that the security establishment in Israel says were used to kill the rabbi was found in the home of the third wanted man, Subuh. A ballistic examination proved it was the weapon.
The Israeli soldiers who went in to capture the suspects were intending to bring them in alive, but they shot two of them dead instead (for which I thank them). How did that come to be?

Now, here is where the story differs, depending on whom you ask: the Arabs, or the IDF. I believe the IDF, and here is why.
There is a long history of Arab leaders and the Arab Press fabricating stories, embellishing them and even denying history in order to suit their purposes. This is not a recent phenomenon but rather part and parcel of the Arab psyche.

According to MEMRI, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the Arab editor-in-chief of the London-based Saudi Daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat even admitted to this in his series of articles after the Six-Day War in 1967. In an article entitled 'Slow Down, Media of 1967,' he wrote (all emphases mine):

"…The war in Iraq may last several years… and may be a lightning war… and end in 45 days. Fighting is the duty of military people, while the duty of the media is not to be dragged into the trenches of the war itself… This is true with regard to respectable journalism."

"But when we examine the Arab media, [we find] that little has changed since the previous century. It seems as if today's wars are no different than those of forty years ago. At that time, the Arab media jumped ahead of the Arab armies by making false predictions. They assumed that publishing a headline about downing 100 Israeli warplanes in the war of 1967 would build self-confidence and may even come true in the future. However, those who doze off and wake up in front of Arab TV will not forgive the [Arab] media [for] its lies when the smoke clears up and the truth is seen in full."

Lying is endemic to the Arab psyche. The freedom fighter, statesman and author, Samuel Katz, in his excellent book Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine illustrated this phenomenon beautifully with a story (paraphrased):
Once there was an Arab who was trying to take a nap in the hot afternoon, but there were children playing noisily in the courtyard below his window and he couldn't sleep. So he got an idea, went out on the balcony and called to them, saying: "children, why are you playing in the courtyard? Don't you know they are giving away free figs in the marketplace?" The children stopped playing, and all began running to the marketplace. The Arab chuckled to himself and went back to his nap. He was just dozing off when he sat up suddenly and said out loud to himself: "You idiot! They are giving away free figs in the marketplace, and you are taking a nap?!"
The Arab in the story above lied to achieve his purposes, but the clincher is that he began to believe his own lie. Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel and current Minister of Defense in the Netanyahu government said this in an interview (as reported by The Guardian in 2002):

"Palestinians have no compunction about telling lies and see truth as irrelevant, the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak has claimed in an interview..

"They are products of a culture in which to tell a lie... creates no dissonance," Mr Barak says. "They don't suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judaeo-Christian culture."

"Truth is seen as an irrelevant category," he says."There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn't. They see themselves as emissaries of a national movement for whom everything is permissible. There is no such thing as 'the truth'."

And in a comment on Daniel Pipes from someone who claims to know Arabs personally:

". . .My old Arabic teacher, a Syrian-born professor at one America's largest state universities, told us repeatedly that lying is endemic to Arab culture. He said it is seen as a necessary evil, not only to save people's feelings but in order to save face, and that it is done habitually--so much, in fact, that there is little, if any, conscience about it.

I have found this to be true in my experience, with both Christian and Muslim Arabs with whom I still have close bonds of friendship. I have one Palestinian Christian friend in the West Bank who has told me the same thing, in different words, and who often lies himself without apparently even realizing it! It pains me to see this and pains me more to say it, but I think what my professor told us is true.

And of course, winning debates/arguments largely involves saving face. They just don't seem to realize it's a Phyrric victory, if it's a victory at all."

We see from these many diverse reports, that Arab culture embodies a certain view of the world and of life, one which is very different from our Western view.

It is also thus with the telling of The Big Lie, a phrase coined by Hitler and used against the Jews, but which the United States Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the CIA, used to describe his own psychological profile:
"His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."
This can be applied to the Arabs as well, in their telling of their Big Lie: that the Palestinians Arabs have a legitimate claim to the Land which is Israel. Which they don't*:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism.

"For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa. While as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan." (PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, March 31, 1977, interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw.)

(*as seen on Lewis Loflin's site)

So back to our story of the dead murderers of Rabbi Meir Chai. In the Abu Shreikh home where the first terrorist was killed, the murderer's mother claimed that the Israeli soldiers 'beat her [other] son and his wife and children' and asked them where Ghassan [the murderer] was.'

The IDF version is this:
"the brother came down first. He came slowly, as he had been told to do, and turned before the soldier in order to show that he had nothing under his shirt. The rest of the family did the same except for the wanted man. After a few minutes delay, two stun grenades were thrown in, and the wanted man came out running down the stairs. The soldiers called out in Arabic for him to stop but he continued running. When he came within 2.5 meters away from one of the soldiers, there was no choice but to shoot him."
In the second house, the terrorist's wife claimed that the Israelis began shooting before saying a thing; that seven soldiers came in, one walked up to him [the terrorist] and "shot him a few times." The Israeli version is this:
"The wanted man came out of the room and realized that it was the army, and rushed back inside," an officer who was on the scene says. "The force commander called to his soldiers to make sure he did not have a weapon. Several minutes later he came out again, behind his wife. His hands were hidden. The soldiers called out to him repeatedly, in Arabic, to lift his hands, and he did not do so. There was little choice. The threat to the soldiers was just too great."
Knowing the high level of humanitarianism and ethics in the Israeli army--it is one of the most ethical armies in the world--and knowing the Arab mentality--I know whom I believe.

Do you?


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