The Arab world: too habituated to fighting to give it up?

You realize this means war!

When I was growing up, we socialized with a lot of Arabs — from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, etc.  I don’t know why that was possible back then — if we were anomalies or if, back in the 1970s, the hatreds of the Middle East hadn’t yet made it to America.  It probably helped that most of these Arabs were Christians, although not all were.  I remember these people very fondly, and the lavish meals they prepared are forever enshrined in my memory.

It was at one of these meals that a young woman from Damascus told me something that is also forever enshrined in my memory.  Arabs, she said, are programmed to fight.  It’s in their nature.  Imagine yourself offering a group of Arabs a plate of cookies, she told me.  You say “Would you like a cookie?”  In the West, they would say “Yes, please” or “No, thank you.”  In the Arab world, one will say “Those aren’t cookies, they’re tea cakes.”  And another will jump up and say, “Tea cakes, you fool?  Those are biscuits.”  Then, a third will grab at the plate, spilling it on the floor, and say “You idolators!  Those are crackers.”  Then, she told me, before you know it, the food is being ground into dust on the floor as the Arabs in the room fight to death to force the others to yield to the label the wish to affix on those cookies (or tea cakes, or biscuits, or crackers).  Arabs, she said, won’t know peace until they learn how to stop fighting.

Have you got that little anecdote fixed firmly in your head?  Good.  Now read this news story Sadie sent me:

Fifteen people were killed or injured in tribal fighting in Yemen after a male donkey chased an ass and raped it just near the house of its owner.

Newspapers in Yemen said the owner of the ass got mad after he saw the donkey attacking his animal, prompting him to chase the donkey and hit it.

The attack infuriated the donkey owner, who called his armed tribe men and asked them to take revenge.

“The problem snowballed into an armed fight between Makabis tribe, which owns the donkey, and Bani Abbas which owns the ass…15 people were either killed or injured in the battle,” the Saudi Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah said, quoting newspapers in Yemen.

Read the rest here.

Let me repeat what that lovely Syrian lady told me all those years ago:  Arabs won’t know peace until they learn how to stop fighting.

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  • MacG

    The Bible is a middle eastern book written by a people influenced by their surrounding cultures.  Now it makes sense that the law eye for an eye is intended as a limit.  Humans tend to think higher of themselves than others so whatever you take from me has more value than if I would exact the same from you it would not be equitable and so tend to exact twice as much.  G-d limited that for vengeance/justice is His in reality.  The Jews even found ways of interpreting the verses about stoning rebellious kids in such a limited way that it is virtually impossible to do.  Whereas if the folks described in the post above obtain nuclear weapons it is the most poignant picture of mutually assured destruction.
     It reminds me of a friend’s bewilderment of the Iraq/Iran war.  “What are they fighting about? Spelling?? ‘It’s a Q!’ ‘It’s an N!’ It’s a  Q!’ ‘It’s an N!’ ‘I show you the bottom of my sandal!’ ‘I kill you!’ ‘I kill you too!'”  Was he so far off?

  • Danny Lemieux

    So, let me get this straight. A donkey rapes an ass. The ass objects and calls on other asses to come help it requite its honor. The donkey sees trouble, and calls upon other donkeys to protect it. Before you know it, a large group of donkeys and asses are mauling each other and a few get killed in the process.

    I observed a similar dynamic once, when I lived in a low-income housing project as a student.

  • Jose

    Ishmael, Father of the Arab race:
    Genesis 16:12  And he shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his brethren.

  • Ymarsakar

    They won’t know peace until somebody stronger than all the tribes combined makes them stop fighting. It’s one thing to lose a few expendable men for the sake of honor in a fight about property. It’s quite another to step out of line and have your entire tribe wiped from the face of existence. Tribalists fear the latter, but embrace the former. It’s how Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, both lacking American technology and logistics, was somehow able to unite tribes far in excess of the geographic area they could actually reach.