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View of a 20 year old arab on the matter

Reader comment on item: Palestinians Taste a Dose of Their Own Medicine

Submitted by Jeanmarc (Canada), Nov 16, 2005 at 17:55

I'm a Lebanese student whom whilst researching for sources on the net for my college paper on violence in the Middle East fell on this article. I as my name clearly implies, am not a Muslim and surely do not believe in the eye for an eye notion or the jihad or any resort to violence in order to solve problems.

On the other hand, I'm an Arab as geography and history imply and I should note that the Arab civilisation as you may all know is one of the oldest of the remaining civilisations of our present day. Our culture is built on certain norms and ethics that have been with our ancestors for thousands of years. It is interesting to note that a hundred years ago Arabs in their majority where still people of the desert who lived in tents and who followed a rather primitive tribal way of life. That was necessary to ensure survival in a hostile environment involving the elements of Mother Nature, and the notion of basic human greed. Even Islam is a religion derived from that primitive way of life, and the morals the religion implies are highly applicable to a bunch of people living in a tent where if one person is compelled to steal the life long earnings of another, hidden under his sheep skin mattress, his hand is to be cut off, or if the woman sleeps around with different men who have to share a limited piece of territory, she is to be severely punished because that would cause great problems between the members of that very tight community who depend one on the other for survival etc. The point here however is that Arabs where living in more or less of a steady and stable state of tranquillity and peace before the midst of the 20th century when the need for oil arose after the industrial revolution. The oil coincidentally happened to be in the region of the Middle East and the westerners had a major interest in that oil and thus were forced to interfere in a culture that had beliefs so different than the beliefs they had and life styles so different than the life styles present in the west. A cultural clash was inevitably going to happen and we are seeing the results today whether in Iraq Jordan Saudi Arabia... bottom line is, as people of a civilised society you should give us a break and give us time to adapt. In the past fifty years, Arabs have abandoned their tents and have moved to living in skyscrapers. They have abandoned their gowns and traditional clothes and have started wearing American jeans and Italian suits. It is not because we are submissive, but because we believe in the western ideals of life and of freedom.

Almost everyone in the Middle East has knowingly or un-knowingly accepted that change of culture, and we have started to accept concepts that where considered great taboos in the past such as homosexuality, divorce, and even the mere concept of dating between a girl and boy prior to marriage. Although those have become facts of our daily lives and we some how do embrace those new ethics, some chose to still deny reality and that in my opinion is understandable and it will take some time for them to settle and accept, and in the meantime, please bear with us because civilisations couldn't and shouldn't change overnight.
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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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