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"The Arab Mind"

Reader comment on item: If Not [Arab-Israeli] Peace Now, What?

Submitted by Alvin Samuels (United States), Jul 14, 2008 at 23:12

The following quotes from Rafael Patai's "The Arab Mind" Scribners 1973 reflect why it was described by the New Yorker as "A sympathetic wide-ranging study". Regarding conflict proneness Khaldun says "The Arab can obtain authority only by making use of some religious coloring…because of their savagery, the Arabs are least willing of nations to subordinate themselves to each other, as they are rude, proud, ambitious and eager to be the leader." (Pg20.)

Lest you think this only applies to Arabs, Khaldun's disciple Taqi al-Din Ahmad al-Maqrizi, the most eminent of Mamluk historians and himself an Egyptian, says about his countrymen "The Egyptians' character is dominated by inconstancy, indecision, indolence cowardice, despondency, avarice, impatience disdain of study, fearfulness, jealousy, slander, falsehood, readiness to denounce others to the king…the vilest faults produced by the meanness of the soul." (Pg 21)

Conflict proneness "is in the Arab bloodstream". (Pg 218) according to Wilfred Cantwell Smith Arab and Egyptian societies have deteriorated to a point where violence is almost inevitable. This is to be understood in terms of a people who have lost their way, whose heritage has proven unequal to modernity, whose leaders have been dishonest, whose ideals have failed. In this aspect, the new Islamic upsurge is a force not to solve problems but to intoxicate those who cannot longer abide the failure to solve them." (Pg 162)

This was true then and now we witness a people who teach hate, raise their children to become bombs and dance in the street when they murder innocent civilians. Flying planes into buildings killing thousands are the most telling measure of their place in humanity. "Unless totally and hopelessly defeated" (Pg 225) the worst is yet to come.

Alvin Samuels, TX

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