Dear Yossi,

I am writing these words not out of hostility to the culture of origin but out of desperation to find new ways to overcome its social barriers that hamper social progress that would have made me feel proud of where I originally come from..

The intended social progress is in the context of raising young generations on tolerance, emotions-regulation, gratitude, the ability to negotiate rather than to dominate, humility of religious and political belief, and the ability to disagree in a creative and peaceful way.

– Yossi’s argument is based on persuading the Palestinians, Arabs and now Muslims that the Jews have as much right as the Palestinians on the land of Israel.
This kind of argument would be rejected by the majority of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims not because it lacks validity or is about denying Yossi’s stated historical facts but because of their inability to handle their resentment and rage for losing wars to the Jews whom they consider inferior. This feeling is a result of deep brainwashing psychological process and no rational argument would change all the associated emotions and feelings.

I am not exaggerating here but rather stating facts regarding how the Jews were/still are perceived as inferior; for example: people of the Middle East and Muslims were/are taught that they should wash their hands if they come in physical contact with Jews and Christians; it is forbidden to eat their food but they were content to conduct business with them (Jews and Christians). Also there were/are many demeaning and degrading descriptions of the Jews as cowards, conniving and stingy. Prejudice runs deep in the social fabric of these societies and a tremendous effort is required from within to break free from its influence.

– Since these societies have deeply rooted views that give high priority to reputation (and the loss of it), shame and stigma whether they are related to losing to an inferior being or women behaving in a socially unacceptable way or one is spoken to in a disrespectful manner etc. The loss of three wars to the Jews, whom Arabs had considered inferior, was a chronically traumatic experience of shame which led to developing extreme, rigid attitudes in intolerance, handling problems and the lack of soft skills. The sense of shame manifested itself in what happened after the 1973 war when Israel was caught off guard, and we recall how the Arabs kept drumming the drums of victory for years about their partial victory.

– The resentment isn’t only about losing to the Jews but is also related to the Arabs’ discontent with the way they are governed and treated by their own social and political leaders. The lack of emotional development led to their unique dysfunctional  way of expressing this resentment via projecting it onto someone who isn’t really the prime source of their grievances. This projection stems from raising generation after generation on a deeply rooted fear of effectively expressing feelings and emotions in general and negative feelings and emotions in particular.

– To resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it requires an extremely radical approach which may include risks. Palestinians, Arabs and now Muslims need to be taught how to abandon confrontation as their dominant behaviour of resolving conflicts with others and this may require from the West and Israel much courage in taking the risk of helping them to develop social skills that alleviate resentment, anger, rage and other strong negative emotions through softer social skills.

I know one would say that this is not the responsibility of others to fix but we must see the situation this way because otherwise I don’t see a way to stop their violent manners of resolving conflicts.

– Having said that I must say that Yossi’s effort is incredibly valuable in the way he explains and sheds new light on the rights of the Jews over their ancient homeland. However, that in itself is not enough without creating a change in the way these societies handle conflicts in general and with Israel and the Jews in particular.

Finally,

Thank you for inviting me to get involved in a topic that is close to my heart. I am honoured to contribute my small effort to this serious issue. I completely understand Yossi’s concerns regarding my blunt assessment of the negative and hampering aspects related to the community of my origin. I am acutely aware of the Arabs’ and Muslims’ rejection of my views, but they need to hear this from their own people such as myself and many others who share similar views. It would be great to share ideas through emails, and thank you, Michal, and Yossi for understanding where I come from (views-wise)

 

 

A. Atar from Iraq