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Truth in the Arab World

Reader comment on item: What Jewish Ties to Jerusalem?

Submitted by Peter Irwin (United States), Jun 29, 2006 at 16:05

Objective truth does not have the same importance in a large part of the under-developed Arab world as it does in developed societies. In the Arab world, it is more important who said something than the validity of what they said. Fact and fantasy are often conflated, since the objective of most communications is to influence others. Validity is solely related to the standing of the speaker. While this may not be true among the educated elite, it is true for a great majority of the Arab masses with limited education and strong reliance on family and tribal connections for survival. This was a common view in all cultures before the advent of modern science and the spread of education about the process for distinguishing belief from fact. It remains largely the case in many developing countries, where people rely on knowledge of the educated or those with influence. Even in technologically developed countries, there are residua of this past, as can be seen in the common use of attestations by prominent people to promote the sale of products. When push comes to shove in eventual peace negotiations, Arab claims to Jerusalem will have the same strength of argument as Israeli claims to settlement land based on the Old Testament. Ultimately, peace will be far more attainable when negotiators focus on justice for all rather than on competing belief systems.
Peter Irwin
Kingston, NY

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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