My Mideast Punchlines: it’s oh so polite to be contrite….

Some of you, no doubt, will have seen the riveting Israeli documentary, The Gatekeepers, on BBC2 the other night. The long and short of it was that some of the previous leaders of Israel’s security service, the Shin Bet, expressed contrition for the “collateral damage” caused by the assassination of terrorists . A few of them wondered whether it had all been worthwhile. (For those who missed it, you can watch it again on BBC iPlayer under the Storyville heading). The documentary was followed by  a talking heads discussion organised by Newsnight. Say no more.

Small FistI’m sure that we’ve all had occasion to wish that we could join in a studio discussion. I would have loved to have turned the whole thing on its head. I would simply have asked the question whether, if the roles had been reversed and the Palestinians were the Jews, and vice versa, they would have been discussing a similar documentary. I fear not, mainly because there would not have been any Israeli Jews left alive to bring into the equation.
I would  have made the point that there is no such thing as introspection in Arab culture. In a society that blames everyone and everything else for its malaise, there is also no room for contrition. Anyone who has studied Arab culture will know that responsibility for actions always lies with ‘the other’. It’s no wonder, then, that all Arab societies are failed societies. This is what should be the subject for a documentary and studio discussion. However, as we all know, if it ain’t Jews, it ain’t news.

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