Dishonesty and deceit have become part and parcel of current-day politics worldwide. Yet even within this reality, the culture of lies prevalent throughout the Arab world goes far beyond the “norm.” The utterance of lies by Arab leaders and politicians has become so deeply rooted, blatant, and irrational that it cannot be compared to the usual manipulation of information we see elsewhere.
While the sight of club-wielding “activists” claiming to be “peace lovers” or Knesset Member Zoabi insisting that IDF troops were not met with violence on board the Marmara – in the face of unequivocal video footage – may be infuriating at first, these and similar examples are in fact good news for Israel.
Indeed, the culture of lies and web of deceit that has taken root in Arab political life is a source of great weakness; Arabs are paying the price for it every day and will continue to do so as long as this mentality persists.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “You can't fool all of the people all the time." While global public opinion has been largely receptive to Arab lies, their sheer scope and ludicrousness have left many shaking their heads. When one lies so much and so blatantly, one is bound to get caught. In this respect, it would be worthwhile to pay less attention to online talkbacks and more to actual political developments.
The Palestinians already paid a price for their dishonesty years ago. Constant PA lies, including the Karin-A arms ship fiasco (contradicting specific pledges to the US) caused much of the international community to turn its back on Arafat. We may not remember this today, but the longtime Palestinian leader, who at one time was a welcomed guest in all world capitals, was largely shunned by the time of his demise.
He was banned from the White House, lost his credibility with most Western leaders, and in fact managed to achieve nothing in his more than 10 years as the Palestinian Authority’s president. By the time he died the PA was devastated, weakened, and largely inconsequential. Not much has changed since.
Living in make-belief worldYet on a deeper level, the Arab culture of lies guarantees that they will remain mired in a cesspool of misery, inadequacy, and failure. After all, this web of deceit does not stop at the PR front and is in fact woven right into the very fabric of Arab states and institutions, which become no more than empty, meaningless vessels.
This Arab mentality prevents any genuine process of self-reflection, honest assessment, or real effort to address and resolve problems. Why go to the trouble this entails when one can simply lie, creating a make-belief world where all is fabulous? So they lie to the world, lie to their own people, and lie to themselves, becoming rotten to the core in the process. When a real test comes along, they collapse like a house of cards.
A famous example is Saddam Hussein, the outspoken dictator who threatened the US with a hellish outcome should it dare invade Iraq. His regime of lies was premised on empty words and little substance. How can we forget Iraqi Information Minister Al-Sahaf declaring that US troops are being butchered and pushed back as he spoke, while American tanks were already roaming freely around Baghdad? Indeed, Saddam the lion turned out to be a pitiable paper tiger, ousted from power in an incredibly easy fashion.
To a lesser extent, the Palestinian Authority had also encountered a similar reality. Its lies to the world ultimately backfired; its boastful claims of resistance crashed against Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, when the IDF retook the West Bank with great ease; meanwhile, its corruption against its own people played a key role in Hamas’ rise and ability to kick the PA from Gaza with its tail between its legs.
While this may not be readily apparent, the PA can boast of no achievements whatsoever. Lost in a swamp of lies, the Palestinians accomplished virtually nothing in the past 17 years. If anything, today they are weaker, more divided, and less influential than during the halcyon days of Oslo. The PA only survives because of three factors: A pragmatic leader (Fayyad), Israel’s military umbrella vis-à-vis Hamas, and the support of an unusually friendly US president. Without this, the PA would cease to exist; many believe this will happen sooner or later.
And back to the current news: Despite the initial backlash, world reaction to the Marmara battle is relatively tempered. Most Western countries have called for restraint and an inquiry, but not much beyond (the Islamist Erdogan and Iran’s Ahmadinejad may scream all they want; their actual influence is close to nil.)
And so, the Gaza-bound thugs got nowhere close to the Strip. Soon they will be swept aside and forgotten in the Mideastern maelstrom, as bigger news take over. As to the Arab and Muslim world, just like the Gaza flotilla, it will continue to sail nowhere, caught between the waves of its own miserable lies.