Prof. Paul EidelbergProf. Paul Eidelberg (Ph.D. University of Chicago), former officer U.S. Air Force, is the founder and president of the Israel-America Renaissance Institute (I-ARI), www.i-ari.org, with offices in Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He has written several books on American and on Jewish Statesmanship. His magnum opus The Judeo-Scientific Foundations of American Exceptionalism: Today’s Choice for the “Almost Chosen People" is in process of publication. Prof. Eidelberg lives in Jerusalem.
Thus, in Israel’s current war breaks with Hamas entrenched in Gaza—abandoned seven years ago for the sake of “peace”—Israeli prime ministers readily yield to ceasefires.
These peace-loving prime ministers ignore or fail to appreciate a basic principle of international politics, namely, that no dictatorship can dwell in genuine peace with a democracy on its borders. All the more so, when the dictatorship is rooted in Arab-Islamic culture, on the one hand, and when the democracy is or appears to be Jewish, on the other.
To clarify this issue, I will enumerate ten contradictions between democracy and Arab-Islamic culture, and I invite opinion makers and decisions makers to open their minds to some demonstrable and empirically verifiable truths about Israel’s enemies.
1. Whereas, freedom, including freedom of speech, is one of the two cardinal principles of democracy, Arab-Islamic culture is strictly authoritarian, which is why its media is state-controlled.
2. Unlike democracy, whose other cardinal principle is equality, Arab-Islamic culture is strictly hierarchical. Top-down leadership is a fundamental principle of Islamic theology. Authority runs down from Allah to Muhammad and from Muhammad to the imam, the ruler of the regime.
3. Democracy is based on the primacy of consent or persuasion. This adorns democratic societies with a certain easy-goingness and civility. Not only are past grievances readily swept aside, but political opponents can be friends despite their differences. Differences are resolved by mutual concessions, and agreements are usually lasting. In contrast, Arab-Islamic culture is based on the primacy of coercion. Agreements between rival factions do not really terminate animosities, which is why such agreements are so short-lived.
4. Because democracy is based on the primacy of consent, the pursuit of peace is the norm of democratic states. In contrast, because Arab-Islamic culture is based on the primacy of coercion, the foreign policy norm of Arab-Islamic states is intimidation and conquest. The primary reason Muslim violence will be found throughout the world is simply this: Jihad(holy war) is a basic principle of Islamic theology palpably evident in Islamic scriptures on which Muslims are weaned. It’s the theology, stupid—which Israeli and American peace merchants like to ignore.
5. Whereas democracy is based on the primacy of the individual, Arab-Islamic culture is based on the primacy of the group—be it the village or the extended family. The individual Muslim has no identity outside the group; it is to the group that he owes all his loyalty. This is one reason why internecine conflict has been endemic among Muslims since the time of Muhammad—the role model of Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
6. Whereas democracy is regarded as a process by which various individuals and groups pursue their private interests and diverse “lifestyles,” Arab-Islamic culture binds everyone to the set of substantive values prescribed in the Quran and in Islamic law (the Sharia).
7. Whereas contemporary or normless—as opposed to Jeffersonian or normative democracy—is inclined toward moral relativism, Islam is based on absolutism.
8. Whereas democratic societies are preoccupied with the present (the Now), Arab-Islamic culture exists under the aspect of Eternity. Islamic mentality is dominated by the past, which is why revenge for past injuries is a dominant motif of the Islamic world. And given their group loyalty, Muslims are religiously bound to wreak vengeance against those who have slighted the honor of any Muslim, especially Muhammad.
9. The publicity and openness found in democracy stands in striking contrast to the state censorship and veiled or secretive character of Arab-Islam regimes.
10. Whereas contemporary democracy is predominantly secular, Arab-Islamic culture is predominantly religious. Even Arab leaders who are not devout Muslims identify with the basic goals of Islam. The radical separation of religion and politics found in democracy is foreign to Islamic regimes.
For these reasons alone, genuine and abiding peace between Israel and its Arab-Islamic neighbors is not possible. Those who think otherwise live in denial, or in Alice-in-Wonderland. Israel’s ruling elites need a crash course on statecraft, with emphasis on Machiavelli,The Prince.
Unfortunately, this is much more than an intellectual problem. Unlike Muslim leaders, Israeli prime ministers are not warriors; they abhor bloodshed. Moreover, they seem more concerned about a favorable press—especially in the United States—than about victory. Fear of an “incident” exploited by Arabs or some Israel-bashing newspaper like the New York Times, is their constant companion. And Jewish soldiers are sacrificed on the altar of PR.