Latest update: May 20th, 2012
Below is an article that Tariq Hagi wrote in 2005. If an Israeli or some other foreigner had written an article like this he would be condemned as a racist and slanderer out of hand by one and all. An Arab intellectual can write these things, even if it might arouse some anger among his readers.
Tariq Hagi: The Arab Mentality
Over the past ten years I have written many books and articles on the flaws of the Arab mentality – all of which are cultural flaws; which is to say, flaws that are acquired from three main sources: a general atmosphere of tyranny, a backward educational system, and media that were created in the general atmosphere of tyranny to serve the goals of the tyrant. Some of the obvious flaws of the modern Arab mentality are:
- Limited tolerance of differing ideologies.
- Low acceptance of ideological pluralism.
- Limited acceptance of the “other.”
- Inability to accept criticism, and it is rare that anyone engages in self-criticism.
- Opinions that stem from a tribal or religious basis instead of from various ideologies.
- A deep-seated feeling of inequality compared to others in achievements or in productivity, which is expressed in a feeling of strong and exaggerated honor. But this (exaggerated honor) is just respect based on words, rather than respect based on achievements.
- We are given to exaggerate in bragging about ourselves; we give to the heritage of the past greater weight than it actually had.
- We often exaggerate in speech in an effort to cover up for the outrageous lack of practical achievements. Sometimes this culture causes a situation where a person’s words are more important than his deeds.
- We are afflicted with a limited ability to relate objectively and a tendency to personalize.
- An unhealthy nostalgia stirs within us for the past and a desire to return to it.
- The culture of compromise is unknown among us, there is no respect for it because we feel that compromise is a kind of defeat and loss.
- We believe in not relating to women with respect.
- We are prisoners of mental patterns and stereotypes.
- It is extremely common among us to believe that behind everything there is a conspiracy and that the Arabs are always the victims of the plots of others.
- We do not understand the nature and essence of national identity – are we Arabs or Muslims, Asians, Africans or members of a Mediterranean culture?
- There is often a connection between the citizen and the ruler, based on exaggeration and imbuing the leader with a quality of holiness outwardly, with a general tendency to glorify people.
- There are many people who know very little of the world, its trends and the true balance of power.
- We have a limited ability to value the individual, and so the connections between us are, for the most part, connections of tribe, family, customs or nationality.
- Humanity is not held to be the most obvious and strongest common denominator.
- We often have a mentality of fanaticism that stems from a number of factors, chief among them are the Arab tribal mentality at various levels of severity.
- Because the Arab mentality is characterized by insufficient freedom and cooperation, there is reticence towards freedom and its mechanisms.
Any expert in Middle Eastern affairs can add additional flaws to this list. But all of these flaws are acquired flaws, and therefore they are given to change. They exist at different levels in other societies as well, and there too, they stem from a general atmosphere of tyranny, backwards education, and media that are not suitable for our era and whose purpose is to serve the goals of the dictator.
These flaws will remain and their effects will worsen if basic changes do not begin to take place in the political systems, in a way that will allow the individual more freedom, and will allow the public to participate in the shaping of the present and the future. Great changes must take place in the philosophy of education, curricula, and teaching methods. Finally, the media must be liberated from the burden of the governments so that it will be politically and economically free. That is how ideological, cultural and public freedom will be ensured.
Regarding one such as Tariq Hagi, it may be said: May he be multiplied in Ishmael…
Originally published at http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.com/2012/05/mordechai-kedar-frustrated-intellectual.html
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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