Friday, November 18, 2011

Why Don’t Western Elites Get the Middle East? Because They Think It’s Just Like Them (Sort of)


note: I do propose a solution to this problem at the end of the article!

By Barry Rubin

I’ve come to realize a hitherto hidden dimension of why it is so hard for Western establishment figures (policymakers, journalists, and academics) to understand the Middle East.  It is the conflict between the thirst for good news and the reality of bad news.

Being optimists (based on the relatively good course of their own societies?) and believing that positive change is really easy if people only put their minds to making it happen (ditto and also liberal thinking), they exaggerate any sign that things are getting better.

Moreover, contemporary thinking trembles in horror about saying anything critical about Third World peoples (racism, Islamophobia)  while it is considered noble to criticize “ourselves.”  On top of that is the assumption that no one can really be radical. They are just responding to past mistreatment and will revert to being moderate the minute the oppression is corrected.

So constantly we are led to an artificial optimism that ignores threats or even converts them into benefits.
How many examples I see every day!

A group of young Palestinians in Fatah, who explicitly say they want to wipe out Israel, form a new group and--hocus-pocus--we are informed that this is the long-awaited Palestinian equivalent of the dovish Israeli Peace Now movement!

Read it all


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