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Politics Among the Arabs:
Illusions of Progress, Delusions of Grandeur

- Abstract

No apology is needed for dealing once again with the subject of Arab nationalism. Whether one thinks of the Middle East in general, or of the special issues raised by Israel’s relations with her neighbors, the topic is unavoidable. The difficulty lies in making Arab nationalism palatable to people who like such things flavored with a seasoning of humanist ideology, liberal or socialist. This is not an easy matter, for the Arabs (as their spokesmen have gradually discovered) are not in themselves an attractive people by Western liberal standards. They seem to lack the moral dignity of the Indians, and unlike the Greeks they make no appeal to the Western sense of history. A little unfairly, the average European or American tends to associate them with what he vaguely remembers about the Orient, and the adjective “Oriental” is commonly prefixed to nouns like “duplicity,” “cruelty,” and “servility.” Whether justified or not, such associations undoubtedly tend to establish a certain prejudice in the minds of the best-intentioned Westerners.

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