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The wages of sin

I've often heard the Palestinians as having a "culture of victimhood," and pretty much agreed with it. It seems that no matter what happens or what they do, it's not their fault, it's all to be excused because they're victims. It allows them to do whatever they like, with absolutely no fear of consequences, and a lot of people are willing to give them a free ride because of that.

But there's a whole other aspect of the "culture of victimhood" I had overlooked. As long as the Palestinians are the perpetual victims, then no one else is allowed to be a victim. No matter what the cause, their victimhood must take a back seat to that of the Palestinians.

That realization came to me when I read this article (courtesy of this article of Bookworm's). In it, we have the sob story of a Palestinian businessman whose business was crippled by the Intifadah (well, according to him, the totally-unreasonable Israeli crackdown in response).

Abdel Rahman was doing wonderfully. He made scads of money as an automobile importer, delivering goods to his customers, who'd pay top dollar because Rahman would get them exactly the car they wanted.

And how'd he get them the car they wanted? He'd have it stolen in Israel.

According to Rahman, it was the perfect business. Low overhead (hiring thieves and bribing border guards was cheap), lots of customers, and best of all, it was only illegal on the acquisition end. The Palestinian Authority didn't just turn a blind eye to the flow of stolen vehicles across the borders, they sanctioned it, issuing special license plates that marked the car as stolen and therefore lacking the proper paperwork.

Rahman had no guilt about what he did. After all, who really lost out? His customers (including the Palestinian Authority itself) got the cars they wanted cheaply, the original owners would get new cars from their insurance company, and he was employing plenty of people.

And when the insurance industry got fed up with subsidizing Rahman's business, they sued and won a hunk of money from the Palestinian Authority -- which made it up by raising the registration fees on stolen cars. The idea of simply stopping the thieving and returning stolen property just never occurred to them.

The Palestinian Authority has often been described as a "kleptocracy," but I think that's too mild. It looks like the entire Palestinian culture is based on that precept.


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Comments (13)

Palestinians aren't sufferr... (Below threshold)

Palestinians aren't sufferring from a "culture of victimhood". More like the Arab male culture cannot accept blame for anything due to the perceived "dishonor" or "shame".

Spent a number of my military years working with the Saudi's, Kuwaities and others and had to sit through hours of briefings on how to properly take the blame for everything that would go wrong because the male Arab mindset would simply refuse to accept responsibility for anything.

A good example is the covering of the women--because it's the woman's fault if the man feels attracted to the woman.

I don't mean that derogatorily either. It's just the way they are culturally. Another odd example is how they hold meetings. If I make an appointment to meet with someone at noon, when I arrive I can expect there to be about 4 other people there as well.

If I want to be heard I better not wait my turn, but jump right in and out-shout the others to get my host's attention. To do less is seen as a sign of weakness. They are big on looking for signs of weakness in everything from a social gathering to doing business.

It's one reason those advocating an immediate withdrawal of troops haven't got a clue what a disaster that would be. Whether you agree with going to war or not is irrelevent--if you pull out now the Arab mindset will find you weak and the extremist will see it as a sign to attack more and more. Imagine having a 9/11 scale of incident on a monthly basis...

Ok, so totally wrong in eve... (Below threshold)

Ok, so totally wrong in every way - but quite funny too!

You could as well have said... (Below threshold)

You could as well have said the Palestinian concept itself (not just the culture) is properly described as kleptocratic in nature. Rahman simply makes a living doing on a relatively small scale what the Palestinian movement is all about on a rather larger scale.

Well, Ms Aginoth, do tell h... (Below threshold)

Well, Ms Aginoth, do tell how it's wrong. Always willing to hear someone tell me how 8 years of my life were all a dream. Spend anytime in the Middle east have you?

I'm half Palestinian myself... (Below threshold)

I'm half Palestinian myself, and one thing I really don't understand is the wacky Arab sense of honor and dishonor. It seems to be measured by what is done to or for you, rather than by your character. My efforts to instill in my children the preschool values of sharing and taking turns run counter to the Arab highest goal of never being the sucker. It makes for less than pleasant trips with Grandma to Chuck E Cheese and overpriced county fairs. But, then again, she's great to have around when car buying.

I agree with Faith+1. The Arab male pride is a big problem. If the pride of an American man keeps him from stopping to ask directions, the Arab man would curse the conspirators who rearranged the roads. But I would add one thing to Faith's summary: the Arab female culture isn't any better.

Hmmm.I ag... (Below threshold)


I agree with Faith+1. The Arab male pride is a big problem. If the pride of an American man keeps him from stopping to ask directions, the Arab man would curse the conspirators who rearranged the roads. But I would add one thing to Faith's summary: the Arab female culture isn't any better.

Actually this brings up a fairly serious question:

Can Arab culture survive the next 20 years? Can Arabs survive the next 20 years?

The reason I ask is because I figure the current energy model, based on petroleum from the Middle East, is going to have to be supplanted in some way by a new model. Either one based on conversion of oil sands and oil shale to fuel or an implementation of true national biodisel.

In any event such a change would drop the price and value of oil like lead shot. And this could be a problem because many ME countries have their economies based almost entirely on oil. Without oil they don't have an economy. Without that economy then the entire country basically shuts down.

An example if Saudi Arabia. In 1980 the per capita income was $28,000. In 2005 the per capita income is $8,000. This is due to the rather static nature of oil prices, adjusted for inflation, coupled with a relatively constant amount of oil production plus an increasing population. I.e. the pie is the same size, but there are more people eating from it.

Currently Saudi Arabia depends almost entirely on expatriates to operate all the machinery, maintain it and to construct new facilities. But all of this is paid from oil revenues and not from any sort of domestic industries. I recall reading of one attempt by SA to create a high-tech development area to compete with India. The only problem was that SA had to import experienced programmers *from* India, and then had to compete with India, but with much higher costs. I think that experiment failed.

But what happens if the value, and price, of oil drops to perhaps $10 a barrel? That it'll be used for various processes and to make plastic is a given. But if alternative sources of energy are found or formulated, then that should significantly depress the value of oil. And anything that depresses the value of oil could destabilize many Arab nations.

So what happens if the multitude of Arab nations can no longer support themselves? I can't imagine anyone in the West being all that keen to pay welfare benefits to entire countries after having to deal with OPEC for so many years.

But what happens if a formerly prosperous nation can now barely support a small fraction of it's existing population?

yes, I spent a year living ... (Below threshold)

yes, I spent a year living & working in the middle east. Not ages I know, but enough time to learn the language, live the culture & date the men!

It's wrong because theft is wrong - even theft from what you consider an illegal state. And state assisted theft does not help the state to gain standing & recognition in the international community.

It's funny because of the entreprenurial spirit demonstrated & the fact that it was quite a clever economic attack on the residents of Israel.

I'm not sure I get how a th... (Below threshold)

I'm not sure I get how a thieving Palestinian leadership implies an entire corrupt Palestinian culture. Should we say we Americans have a lying culture, since members of the past two administrations have been caught committing perjury? The logic seems similar, and equally unfair, to me.

I'm not sure I get... (Below threshold)
I'm not sure I get how a thieving Palestinian leadership implies an entire corrupt Palestinian culture.

Maybe if you read the post again you'd get it. Jay Tea isn't saying that a thieving Palestinian leadership implies an entire corrupt Palestinian culture. This guy who arranges the theft of cars isn't a member of the leadership, and neither are the thugs he hires to do the stealing.

In point of fact, there is arguably not a Palestinian "culture" per se, as distinct from the culture of any other Arabs outside Israel's borders.

ed, The gener... (Below threshold)


The general population isn't exactly prosperous now. If the financial means of the royal family of Saudia Arabia drastically decreased, I don't see dire consequences. Less funding for wahibi madrasas, maybe, and less payments to families of Palestinian terrorists. Can the culture survive? It's older than our culture. It'll adapt and hopefully improve.


I disagree that the Arab culture is uniform everywhere, and find that notion particularly ironic in this comment thread. Theft in Saudi Arabia would result in hands being cut off. I don't think a thief in SA would be pardoned, let alone encouraged by the authorities, if the stolen car's owner were Jewish.

Diane, that'd be a hell of ... (Below threshold)

Diane, that'd be a hell of a trick, considering that Jews are forbidden by LAW from even entering Saudi Arabia, let alone owning property in the country.


Jay Tea, You go... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea,

You got me there. But I still the cultures are different.

"The Palestinian Authority ... (Below threshold)

"The Palestinian Authority has often been described as a "kleptocracy," but I think that's too mild. It looks like the entire Palestinian culture is based on that precept."

Always has been. It's one (of many) of the reasons no other Muslim country wanted any "Palestinian" refugees.






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