The plight of the Palestinians
I just read a well-written and eloquent rant from Breath of the Beast about the lingering sad plight of the Palestinians in the Middle East. I think it's pretty much spot-on. Here's just one sample excerpt:
Here is a people who, along with the Lebanese, once were thought of as the most modern, secular and sophisticated Arabs in the world. The Caliphists and the despotic Palestinian ruling class have them and much of the western media and left wing convinced that they are reduced to wallowing in their own excrement because of Israel. Israel is no more the cause of Palestinian misery than it is the Syrian-led destruction of Lebanese civil society. How much longer can their leaders divert their attention from this insanity by blaming Israel and America? How much longer will they allow the dark forces of Caliphist Islam and the ruling elite of the Arab world to use those excuses for their venality and incompetence? How could this people have allowed their leaders to stunt the growing financial prosperity, social progress and modernization?
Once upon a time, Beirut was known as the Paris of the Middle East. Then Syria moved in and for the past thirty years it has been a terrorist haven and a place of religious intolerance, sectarian violence and fear. It is a terrible irony that now that tired old metaphor has been turned inside out under the same Caliphist pressure. These days, Paris is fast becoming the Beirut of Europe....
Read the whole thing. Makes sense to me. It is hard to imagine a more psychologically dysfunctional situation than the way the Middle Eastern Arab countries (other than Jordan) have treated the Arab Palestinian refugees and the way those Palestinians have seen fit to put up with that and even worse, how they have seen and treated themselves. Taking a fantastical emotional refuge in the hatred of militant anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has become their self-destructive dead end.
How different a conclusion there can be for those individuals--or indeed those entire peoples--able to think realistically, rationally, and pragmatically enough to go forward from a bad situation and make the most of their opportunities and their assets. The key difference is a clear head and a realistic view of losses and assets, of opportunities and the price of looking back vs. going forward. I am thinking of the Scottish people generating a truly educated class under English emperialism in the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries; the "displaced" ethnic German refugees forced out of Poland following World War II; the multitudes of lowly immigrants starting a new life and finding freedom and success in America; the Jewish survivors of the Nazi death camps making the desert bloom in Israel.
Human capital, based on values held by individuals. Whether we are talking about the individual or about large populations--some people choose to hold positive values and invest in their own human capital and make it grow, while others wallow in the paralyzing sewage of unproductive blame and hate.
"By their fruits ye shall know them." Taking it one step further, I wonder if the difference of success and failure can be partly attributable to the values of a people being determined by the religion they embrace. Do you think it is too simplistic to compare the respective religions of Christians and Jews (as valuing the sanctity of human life, the law of the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule, the equal worth of every individual, and tolerance for freedom of conscience) to Muslims (as valuing Mohammed's rules for deceit, intolerance of the infidel, unequal worth of individuals, blood revenge, and the propagation of the faith by the sword) as being part of the equation?
UPDATE: I'm not the only one to notice: Victor Davis Hanson also writes this about
Captives of the Past
The success of a country is almost inextricably connected to the degree of its strangulation by the past: confident societies like Japan, Germany, Italy, Israel, China, etc. don’t dwell on the past in the context of victimhood.
But a stereotypical rule of thumb: when I talk to a Mexican national, he whines about the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; when speaking to a Greek, the 1967 coup or the 1973 invasion of Cyprus starts the discussion, for an Iranian of any persuasion, it is always 1953 and Mosaddeq. A Palestinian talks only about 1947, and shows some strange rusted key to a house in Jerusalem.
The point is not that there are not legitimate grievances that have had repercussions, but that they are in the past and one must get on with one’s life. Americans don’t talk about the burning of the White House in the War of 1812, and are not obsessed with hating the Vietnamese for that lost war.
The only exception might be Southerners’ obsession with Longstreet at Gettysburg or Albert Sidney Johnston dying at the high water mark at Shiloh. But rarely now are any in the South captives to the Lost Cause, which is always a symptom of an insecure and angry mind, that faults others for the past rather than looks confidently toward the future. And nowhere is this more common than the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.