From time to time this, apparently, timeless, bazaar concept, appears from somewhere, forces us to read it again and wonder. Yet, it appears, that no one in Israel, has taken a heed, has obeyed by its rules.
This is a timely REMINDER, a reminder to all the people in Israel and Israel’s defenders. This also applies to nations that have their military deployed in Moslem countries, as the bazaar negotiations’ concept applies to all Moslems.
The Middle East bazaar metaphor, in which Israel is negotiating with the Arab, was used by Israeli diplomat and politician Moshe Arens, Moshe Sharon, a Professor of Islamic History and the Israeli-Arab Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. This bazaar metaphor is decontextualized from reality for it portrays Israel as an independent political actor, which she is not, not yet. As of the Jewish State remained very vulnerable to world’s opinion and much Arab, American and EU pressure.
In hindsight, Israel has made one bad deal after another with the Arabs and the Arab-“Palestinians”, paying far too much for far too little or for nothing at all in return. Until now, I felt that I must not be as harsh as Arens, Sharon or Toameh are on Israel, for many such deals were made by Israel under tremendous pressure and arm twisting by the Americans and Europeans, friends and foes alike. But no more. As for how many times one can put one’s hand on the hot stove, burn one’s hand over and over again before, finally, learning it is hot, it burns and I must not do it again?
In his Moshe Sharon’s article, ‘No peace, No peace plans, No price for Peace A short guide to those obsessed with peace’ http://jdlcanada.wordpress.com/2010/12/25/no-peace-no-peace-plans-no-price-for-peace-by-moshe-sharon/, the author quotes two profound Arab proverbs:
Everybody says that his donkey is a horse
There is no tax on words
The Arabs are great believers in their proverbs.
The Arab world, the Middle East is a bazaar and in that Bazaar merchandise is expensive. No matter how many times it was told, explained, the Government of Israel, one after another, failed to understand this concept and abide by the rules of the bazaar; the Israeli media too.
After signing the Oslo Accords, Yasser Arafat, proved that his signature was not worth the ink of his pen, let alone the paper to which it was affixed, and his word was worth even less. The Israeli ignored this. Thereafter, as in every subsequent agreement, for unbeknown reason, even though the writing was right in their face, Israel was taken aback when her concessions had become the basis for fresh Arab demands, for more terror and for more US, European and UN pressure, all at the costs of Israelis’ lives.
In Middle Eastern bazaar diplomacy, agreements are kept, not because they are signed but because they are imposed. In the bazaar of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the two sides are discussing totally different merchandise. The Israelis wish to acquire peace, based on the Arab-Muslim acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. The Arabs’ objective is to annihilate the Jewish state, replace it with an Arab state, and get rid of all the Jews.
To achieve their goal, the Arabs took to the battlefield, to diplomatic terrorism, vile rhetoric and virulent incitement against Israel and Jews and to the bazaar diplomacy.
The most important rule in the bazaar is that, if the vendor knows that you show desire to purchase a certain piece from his merchandize, he will raise its price.
In this case, the merchandise in question is “peace” and the Arabs give the impression that they actually have this merchandise and constantly inflate its price, when in truth, they do not have it at all. Yet, the Israelis have not go to understand this.
Along the Middle East bazaar’s wisdom, if you are clever enough, you can sell anything at a price. The Arabs sell words, they sign agreements, and they trade with vague promises, but are sure to receive generous down payments from eager buyers, either Israel or those pushing her to “buy” the “peace”, whether it is the United States, the European Union states or the Quartet. In the bazaar only a foolish buyer pays for something he has never seen. And Israel has put huge down payments for something she has never seen these past 63 years, which is real peace.
Another rule that exists in the bazaar as well as across the negotiating table: the side that first presents his terms is bound to lose; the other side builds his next move, using the opponent’s open cards to his advantage as the starting point.
In all its negotiations with the Arab-“Palestinians”, Israel has always rushed to show its cards, to offer its plans, and then was surprised to discover that, after an agreement had been “concluded,” it had become the basis for further demands.
The most amazing part is the reaction in such cases. Israeli politicians, pundits, “experts” and the media will eagerly provide “explanations” for the Arabs’ behavior.
One of the most popular explanations, rather excuses, are that the Arabs’ pronouncements are “for internal use,” as if “internal use” does not count. Other explanations, rather excuses, invoke “the Arab sensitivity to symbols, “honour,” “matters of emotion” and other, more patronizing sayings of this nature. Does Israel possess no “sensitivities” or does it have no honour?
But what does all this have to do with political encounters?
It is therefore essential for Israel to finally follow the rules of the oriental bazaar, rules she has learned long ago, and this before venturing, again, into the arena of bazaar diplomacy.
The most important of all the rules is the old Roman saying: “If you want peace – prepare for war.” Never come to the negotiating table from a position of weakness and appeasement, as Israel has done so many times, way too often. Israel’s adversary Arabs should always know that Israel is strong and ready for war even more than it is ready for peace.
In the present situation in the Middle East and, sadly, in the foreseeable future, “peace” is nothing but empty word. Israel should stop speaking about “peace” and delete the word “peace” from its vocabulary, together with such phrases as “the price of peace,” “territory for peace,” “concessions” and totally eliminate her sickening and constant call for the Arabs to come to the “negotiations” table.
For a hundred years the Jews in the Land of Israel have been begging the Arabs to sell them peace while ready to pay for it any price. The Jews have received nothing, because the Arabs have no such merchandise; the Arabs have no peace to sell, but the Jews-Israelis have still paid dearly for non-existing merchandise. in all fairness though, it must be said that the Arabs have not made a secret of the fact that what they meant by the word “peace” was nothing more than a limited ceasefire, or Hudna as they call it in Arabic, for a limited period.
Since this is the situation for the last 63 years, Israel should finally, openly declare that peace does not exist as an option in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that she has decided to create a new state of affairs in the Middle East, compelling the Arab side to ask for peace; and pay for it. Unlike the Arabs, Israel has this merchandize for sale.
Finally, and from now on, Israel should be the side demanding payment for peace. If the Arabs want peace, Israel should fix its price in real terms. The Arabs will pay if they reach the conclusion that Israel is so strong that they cannot destroy it, that peace is the only solution for THEM. And because of this, Israel’s deterrent power is most essential.
Therefore, if anyone asks Israel for “peace” plans, the answer should be: no plans, no suggestions, no constructive ideas, in fact no negotiations at all. If the Arab side wants to negotiate, really negotiate, let it present its plans and its “ideas.”
If and when it does, the first Israeli reaction should always be “unacceptable! Come with better ones.”
Once the Arabs have lost all hope of annihilating the Jewish state and the time has come for serious negotiations, here are ten rules for Israel along which is needs to conduct its bargaining in the Middle Eastern bazaar:
Emotion belongs neither in the marketplace nor at the negotiating table. Friendly words, as well as outbursts of anger, holding hands, kissing, touching cheeks, and embracing should not be interpreted as representing a policy.
Beware of popular beliefs about the Arabs and the Middle East – for example, “Arab honor”. Remember, you too have as much honor, but this has nothing to do with the issues under negotiations. Never do or say anything because somebody has told you that it is “the custom.” If the Arab side finds out that you are playing the anthropologist they will take advantage of your behavior.
Always remember that the goal of all negotiations is to make a profit, genuine profit. You should aim at making the highest profit, in real terms. Remember that every gain is an asset for the future, because there is always going to be “another round.”
The Arabs have been practicing negotiation tactics for more than 2000 years. They are the masters of words, and a mine of endless patience. In contrast, Israelis, and Westerners in general, want quick “results,” quick “gratitude.”
In the Middle East, as well as in most Moslem countries, there is no such a thing as quick fixing; there are no quick results and the hasty one always loses, ALWAYS!
Israel, time to graduate the course in Middle East bazaar of diplomatic negotiations.
Hudna, Arabic term that means a temporary “truce” or “armistice” as well as “calm” or “quiet,” coming from a verbal root meaning “calm”. It is sometimes translated as “cease fire.” In the Lisan al-Arab, Ibn al-Manzur’s definitive dictionary of classical Arabic, dating to the 14th century, it is defined as follows: “hadana: he grew quiet. hadina: he quieted (transitive or intransitive). haadana: he made peace with. The noun from each of these is hudna.”