Some believe choosing Netanyahu advances the chances of peace in the Middle East; many believe it sets it back. I think it makes no difference.
For over 60 years, Israel has been fighting to exist. For the same length of time, the Arab/Muslim world has been fighting for Israel not to exist. If peace came today, it would, by definition, be a victory for Israel. I don't think the Arab/Muslim world is emotionally ready for that....
Taking a nuanced view of Islam today makes about as much sense as taking a nuanced view of Germany under Hitler or Russia under Stalin would have made. If Islam were a musical piece, no matter how richly orchestrated, right now we'd hear no harp or flute, only crashing cymbals. The fact that Islam is a religion of peace and compassion for many, a peaceful and compassionate pilgrim, is immaterial as long as the spirit in the Arab/Muslim world is hostage to militants who regard Christians as "crusaders," and Jews as pigs and monkeys. It isn't just the rockets aimed at Israel or the suicide bombers let loose against the inhabitants of London, Madrid, Mumbai, New York or Washington. The recent threats against barbers in Taliban-controlled lands for shaving the beards of believers serves as a reminder that the atrocities against Christians, Hindus and Jews are dwarfed by the atrocities the terrorists of Islam commit against their Muslim brethren.
So, what is the "zeitgeist" of the Middle East that Jonas refers to? What is it that makes them emotionally unable to accept a successful, democratic and non-Muslim state in the middle of all their Muslim dysfunction and failure? In psychological terms, the answer to that question is that they suffer from a malignant and destructive paranoid style.
Instead of coming to terms with the reason their societies and cultures are so dysfunctional and toxic; instead of facing a series of unpleasant truths about their backwardness and lack of achievement; or qustioning the religion that keeps them that way; or the leadership that manipulates them and needs them to remain backward and willing to descend in barbarism on cue; they have allowed their society to regress to a concomitant primitve emotional level where a paranoid world view is all that stands between them and total psychological disintegration .
Under these poisonous circumstances, paranoia does not wax and wane. It must continually expand and try to incorporate and explain more and more data that documents their multiple failures as individuals; as a culture, as a religion. Rhetoric and behavior must always escalate to ward off the encroaching reality.
Thus, without ever having to question their own evil, they can psychologically project it onto the Jews, whose success in the face of Islam's failure is a shame too great to bear.
One of the hallmarks of the paranoid, and paranoia in general, is the ability to fixate (or obsess) on one particular point to the exclusion of all other reality and to select that point as the "evidence" of their predetermined delusion.
The paranoid is actually quite perceptive--rigidly so; and they focus their attention only on those details that give support and credence to their beliefs.
David Shapiro, in his book Neurotic Styles comments on the Paranoid style:
In the paranoid person, even more sharply and severely than the obsessive compulsive, every aspect and component of normal autonomous functioning appears in rigid, distorted, and, in general hypertrophied form....[The]paranoid person's attention is so purposefully and narrowly directed as to amount, not merely to rigidity, but to a fixed bias.
Normal people are able to see things in context; processing information appropriately and connecting dots that should be connected. Thus their conclusions and their judgement are more reliable and unbiased. The paranoid's pre-existing bias distorts his judgement and makes him unable to place facts or events in any kind of appropriate context. Dots are connected, it is true, but the only connection that exists between them is the false premises that created them.
Paranoia and projection come in all sorts of neurotic and psychotic flavors.
There is a scene in the movie A Beautiful Mind, where the mathematical genius John Nash has wallpapered his office walls with literally thousands of pages from newspapers, magazines, and other sources purportedly to demonstrate linkages. The room is total chaos; a giant complex spider-web of insane conspiracy, that accurately reflects the disorder and confusion in his mind. But he has kept most of this locked away from the view of others. To others, he appears complex, persuasive, sure of himself and often brilliant. It is not until his collegues enter his office and find the disordered nest of all his insane connections do they understand the extent of his illness.
It is always stunning to me that logical processes are usually preserved even in the most extreme cases of paranoia. And when you understand the faulty premise on which the logic is based, it makes a certain kind of wierd, distorted sense. And, it almost always feeds the ravenous grandiosity of the paranoid person.
They are always the focal point of the conspiracy. They are special; a very important person, specially selected by the FBI, aliens--or whoever--to victimize. This knowledge is both frightening and exhilarating at the same time to the paranoid. He is victimized and becomes the innocent object of the devious and despicable actions of the "other" because he is special in some way.
And, indeed he is, since the origin of the negative or hostile emotions/behaviors seemingly directed at him are deeply buried within his own mind.
The paranoid has an explanation for even the most bizarre connection (e.g., "I am hearing voices in my head saying strange things. Why would that happen? Wait! The other day I noticed a man following me. The FBI follows special people with special knowledge and wants information from them. I am special. The man following me must be from the FBI. The FBI has all sorts of special technology. Thus, the FBI must have implant a microelectrode in my brain to try to control me and get the information they want from me. etc. etc.")
I actually had a patient with this particular delusion who brought in thousands of pages he had written documenting every single look that strangers gave him; convinced that all strange people were from the FBI, assigned to keep tabs on his every coming and going. The circle of people involved in this conspiracy kept growing; the plot kept widening and widening becoming more and more complicated; sucking in everyone he came in contact with.
This spreading circle of conspiracy was absolutely necessary to account for the obvious discrepancies and increasingly apparent distortions that people would notice in his explanations. Every question that threatened his complex conspiracy, eventually caused an expansion of the circle of paranoia. Eventually, all the connections and rationalizations become to complicated and bizarre to maintain.
It is next to impossible to break through the paranoid's near-impenetrable wall of complicated logic and connections that surround the basic psychological conflict driving him.
Let us consider the paranoid mindset--or "zeitgeist" prevalent in the Islamic world. The basic premise that the real problem lies outside their own culture and religion is faulty; but this psychological tactic prevents those who dwell in the Arab/Islamic world from ever having to take any responsibility for their despicable actions or their abject failures as societies.
Some time back, Lisa Beyer wrote about the "big lie" of the Middle East:
...the pan-Arabism that once made the Palestinian cause the region's cause is long dead, and the Arab countries have their own worries aplenty. In a decade of reporting in the region, I found it rarely took more than the arching of an eyebrow to get the most candid of Arab thinkers to acknowledge that the tears shed for the Palestinians today outside the West Bank and Gaza are of the crocodile variety. Palestinians know this best of all.
To promote the canard that the troubles of the Arab world are rooted in the Palestinians' misfortune does great harm. It encourages the Arabs to continue to avoid addressing their colossal societal and political ills by hiding behind their Great Excuse: it's all Israel's fault. Certainly, Israel has at times been an obnoxious neighbor, but God help the Arab leaders, propagandists and apologists if a day ever comes when the Arab-Israeli mess is unraveled. One wonders how they would then explain why in Egypt 4 of every 10 people are illiterate; Saudi Arabian Shi'ites (not to mention women) are second-class citizens; 11% of Syrians live below subsistence level; and Jordan's King can unilaterally dissolve Parliament, as he did in 2001. Or why no Middle Eastern government but Israel's and to some extent Lebanon's tolerates freedom of assembly or speech, or democratic institutions like a robust press or civic organizations with independence and clout--let alone unfettered competitive elections.
Indeed, if Israel did not exist, the Arab world would have to invent it, because without Israel to blame all their problems on (and, by extension, America), the nations of the middle east would not be able to go on.
David Frum suggested in an article titled, "Why is it Always About Israel?" that:
Might it not be closer to the truth to say that Arab radicalism is the cause of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute--not the result of it? There is no peace because Israel's neighbours--and too many of the world's Muslims--cannot accept the right of a non-Arab, non-Muslim minority to live unsubjugated in the Middle East. That is the true "core" of the dispute, and it cannot be fixed by negotiation.Frum was correct in suggesting that the problem cannot be fixed by negotiation, but he is off the mark about the source of the problem. While it is true that Arab radicalism deliberately promotes the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and continually disrupts any possibility of resolving it, the cause of that dispute lies in the psychological dysfunction of the Arabs themselves, aided and abetted by the perversion and extension of all the worse elements within Islam.
Those who dwell in this paranoid culture have closed off their rational, thinking minds; and with the encouragement and justification of the most medieval aspects of their religion are operating on the basis of the most primitive and dysfunctional of unconscious needs and feelings.
They are indulging in group projection and paranoia--deliberately developed and encouraged by their dysfunctional leaders--in order to maintain their dysfunctional identity, as well as their dysfunctional political and pseudo-religous agenda.
And there does not seem to be any limit to the self-delusion that is rampant in the middle east.
But Siggy captures the reality that they are desperately trying to avoid:
Many in the Arab world defiantly declare their ‘Arab pride,’ but of course, that really isn’t true. That is a kind of projection. If there really was Arab pride, they would be digging holes for the foundation of schools and factories, and not digging holes to bury IED’s. If the Palestinians wanted to reflect Arab pride, they would build hospitals and not rockets and missiles.
The Arab world is not fighting for freedom and democracy. They are fighting to retain the values of oppression, tyranny and dysfunction. There is so much self hatred of what they have come to stand for, that they are willing to blow themselves up in the process. Subconsciously, they must know what they are fighting to preserve and how they are fighting, is repulsive to any decent, civilized and religious adherent of any faith.
In truth, the Arab world cannot be proud of itself. The Islamic and Arab cultures that contributed mightily to the progress of mankind, have willingly become the poster children for religious intolerance, hate, violence and even genocide. There is very little the Arab world has to be proud of- and pointing to past glory only serves to highlight how far they have fallen. All the phony ‘Arab pride’ in the world has not motivated them to build. All they have done is destroy- and that destruction is a symptom of self hatred. People who hate themselves, destroy everything around them. People that believe in their higher selves, build. The same is true for nations. Nations, societies and cultures are not remembered for what they destroy. They are remembered for what they have built.
The behavior of the Arab world is not really about pride...indeed, what do they have to be proud of? They have perverted beyond all recognition a religion that once upon a time could compete head-to-head with Christianity and Judaism in what it contributed to the whole of humanity. They long ago abandoned the ability to create, and now only possess the capacity to destroy. Their people live in poverty and oppression, controlled only by the belief that their situation is the fault of "the Jews" or America.
This is the legacy of a paranoid, malevolent zeitgeist:The evil that oppresses them lies wholly within themselves but because it must be actively externalized, their culture can bring only death and destruction to everything and everyone they come in contact with.
It's not their assets that define nations or religions in given historic moments but their liabilities. Goethe and Beethoven were part of Germany's heritage even between 1933 and 1945, but the mass murder that defined Germany in the Nazi era was beyond redemption by poets and composers. Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky always belonged to Russia, but the definition of what being Russian meant during Stalin's epoch came from the frozen corpses of the Gulag. Similarly, Islam's definition in our times won't come from the poetry of al-Maari or the medical canon of Avicenna, but from the fatwas of Ayatollah Khomeini and the press releases of Osama bin Laden.
That's why it isn't Peres' choice that determines the chances of peace in the Middle East. Who couldn't negotiate peace withal-Maari's progeny? And with bin Laden's , who can?
UPDATE: Maybe you can't negotiate with them, but you can send them American taxpayer money. Just more rewarding bad behavior--which seems to be the unifying theme of the Obama Administration so far. Financial crisis? What financial crisis?