One of the unchallenged axioms of American civic religion is that each and every group of people on earth must consist of an "overwhelmingly vast majority of decent hard-working honest people who want peace and are tolerant and freedom-loving and anti-violence."
It is an unchallengeable presumption of this theology that "vast majorities" of not only each and every racial/religious/ethnic group may be so described, but even vast majorities of each and any subgroup within society. Hence we even sometimes hear assertions that the vast majority of prisoners, prostitutes, drug users, gang members, etc. are also decent, honest, peace-loving, honorable people.
The one imponderable in American civic theology is the idea that somewhere out there someplace there just might be is a group of people, the majority of whom are NOT peace-loving or honest or tolerant. This belief in universal peacefulness in the minds of Americans is the main obstacle to Americans ever understanding the Middle East. The simple fact of the matter is that the overwhelmingly vast majority of Arabs, and the overwhelmingly vast majority of Moslems, are not peace-loving and are not opposed to violence.
Noting this could not be more timely. Commentator after commentator among the Western media discuss the reactions in the Moslem world to the US bombings of terror facilities in Sudan and in Afghanistan with the self-righteous fawning observation that Islam is a religion of peace, that the terrorists are about as representative of true Islam as the IRA bombers are of Christianity, or as white supremicists are of Christianity. Each commentator goes out of his way to emphasize how we all understand that the vast majority of Moslems oppose terrorism and violence.
The only problem with this is that it is simply false and empirically disprovable. It is wishful thinking. The vast majority of Germans supported Hitler, supported wars of aggression, and supported genocide. The vast majorities of Hutus and Tutsis support massacres of the other. Similarly, the vast majority of Arabs support terror and violence and war. They do not see anything wrong with the blowing up of hundreds of civilians in an Embassy of the United States or in an office building of Argentinian Jews. They see any act of force taken against the perpetrators of such things to be itself a crime. (This is not to say that the vast majority of each and every subgroup of Moslems support such barbarism; the Turks and Indonesian-Malays come to mind as possible exceptions.)
True, Islam is a religion of peace and its very name derives from salaam - peace. But it is a religion of peace with other Moslems and for non-Moslems living under the clear domination of Moslems. True also, the vast majority of Moslems do not personally engage in violence and terror in their daily lives. The vast majority of Germans did not take personal part in the Holocaust. Indeed, as a blanket statement regarding Arabs in Israel, I would say that most Arabs behave in a far more polite daily manner than Jews, exhibiting on average far better manners and more consideration than do Jewish Israelis. But of course that is hardly the point.
The vast majority of Moslems support the random and indicriminate use of terror and violence against Jews and against Americans. This is now obvious in the aftermath of the bombings of Sudan and Afghanistan. The reactions of Moslems everywhere are there on the TV screens for all to see. The vast majority of Arabs openly or secretly approve of Bin Laden's campaign of terror against Americans, approve of the bombings of the World Trade Center and the African Embassies. Arab political thought is fundamentally Orwellian: murder is peace, prevention of murder or retaliation for murder is terror. Moslems are outraged by events in the Balkans because Moslems are being massacred; if Bosnians and Albanians were instead massacring Serbs they would have trouble hiding their approval.
We have known for decades that the vast majority of Moslems also approve of Palestinian atrocities and bombings directly against Jews. There is no act of savagery directed against Israelis or Jews of which they will not approve by enormous majorities, and no act of defense by Israel that they will legitimize.
Public opinion polls are not conducted in most Moslem countries, but if they were they would no doubt reflect this popular approval. Polls ARE conducted among Palestinians and they show without exception that Palestinians approve of bombings and suicide bombs and atrocities committed against Jews, by enormous majorities. Their approval rates have generally increased with each Israeli concession to them under Oslo. The vast majority of Palestinians support Saddam Hussein. The vast majority support Bin Laden and the bombings of the Americans. The vast majority would approve if Iran dumped chemical weapons or nerve gas on Tel Aviv. The majority think Hitler was a hero. These are the people with whom Oslo is supposed to produce peace.
Oh, you might object, but Arafat DENOUNCED Bin laden and endorsed the US bombings in Sudan and Afghanistan. Well, yes he did, no doubt hoping thus to get the US to force Israel to make a few more concessions as quid pro quo, and he was no doubt as sincere as were the IRA folks who denounced the bombing of Omagh. But the Palestinian fascist hordes, taking their signals from the PLO, know he is posturing and winking and these folks support Bin Laden by overwhelming majorities.
All this week there have been massive anti-American marches by the Palestinian brownshirts. US flags have been burned throughout the Palestinian zones. Palestinian newspapers support Bin Laden by overwhelming majorities. Even a large contingent of the Islamic movement of Israeli Arabs was out in front of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv demonstrating solidarity with Bin Laden.
Haaretz "Commentator on Palestinian Affairs" Danny Rubinstein is so pro-Palestinian that on more than one occasion I have urged readers to buy him a kafiya. He is the last person to try to give the Palestinians bad press. In his column in Haaretz August 24 he documents how virtually universal is the support for Bin Laden's terror and the condemnation of the US actions against him among the denizens of the Palestinian "autonomy zones".
Now the entire Oslo "peace process" is based on the naive American civic dogma, adopted by Israeli politicians, holding that the vast majority of Palestinians want peace with Israel. They do not. Unless of course one means the sort of peace that prevailed and prevails in traditional Islamic societies, where the non-Moslems live as low-profile minorities with no political sovereignty. (The vast majority of Germans, one supposes, would have favored peace in 1940 if they could get it at Hitler's terms.)
The vast majority of Palestinians want to see Israel destroyed, and support all violence against Jews. Once Israel is destroyed and large portions of its population are killed or dispersed, no doubt the remainder will be permitted to live under conditions resembling those of the Copts in Egypt or the Armenians and Bahais in Iran. That is the only peace Arabs want by majorities.
Sweeney was the name of an Irish king who believed he was a bird and spent his life in treetops. (Really.) The Oslo "peace process" is the direct function of the Sweeneyization of the political establishment of Israel. Peres Sweeney and Beilin Sweeney adopted the wishful thinking of American civic religion, presumed that the vast majority of Palestinians prefer peace and prosperity to continuing war and violence. They took it as axiomatic that Palestinians would compromise over land and sovereignty because after all THEY were willing to do so. Their evidence that Palestinians would place peace above land is that Jews do so. Their belief that economic prosperity would interest Palestinians more so than irredentist aggression and terror is that decent honorable people anywhere should feel this way. In short, Oslo is the godchild of King Sweeney taking over the Israeli Labor Party, Meretz, and even swaths of the Likud.
These Sweeney weenies are the same people who refuse to even ponder the possibility that the vast majorities of Palestinians, other Arabs, and Moslems are not at all peace-seeking (at least not when it comes to Israel and the US), are not anti-violence, are not anti-terror. In other words, Oslo is based upon a fundamental denial of empirical reality. Like the old Peter and Gordon song from the 60's, it is based upon the Sweeneyish assertion that "I don't care what they say I won't stay in a world without love." And what happens to Sweeneys who live in unlit corners of the earth without love? They pretend to be birds and rise above such mundane things as reality to live in treetops of utopian dreams. Leaving the rest of us to face terror, murder, violence, Arab fascism, and threats of genocidal extermination.
Steven E. Plaut, PhD teaches at the Graduate
School of Business, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905 Israel
Email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org