What Do Arabs Mean By “Peace”?

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is an Israeli journalist and an expert on the Middle East. He recently gave a talk in the Knesset in which he described the difference between what Westerners — including Israelis — mean by “peace”, and what Arabs mean. The difference between the way the two cultures understand the concept of peace has serious consequences for the West in the current clash of civilizations.

Below are excerpts from the article in Arutz Sheva about Dr. Kedar’s talk:

‘Those who seek peace are seen as losers’

Middle East expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar explains how Arabs see Israel’s requests for peace, explains how true peace can be achieved.

Middle East expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar spoke at a Knesset meeting about how Israel’s neighbors see peace, and what Israel should do to achieve a true and lasting peace.

Slamming the Knesset,, he said, “You really want to stop the incitement? Have you ever closed a TV or radio station run by the Palestinian Authority (PA)? You always blame the Supreme Court, it’s time that you, the members of the Knesset, start functioning.”

“We are the ones responsible for the fact that Jibril Rajoub (a PA leader and terrorist — ed.) still walks free. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas gives money for terror — how come he is still the PA chairman?

“We are the ones guilty, not them. They do whatever we allow them to do.”

Dr. Kedar then explained what “peace” means to Israel’s neighbors…

Many thanks to RL for translating this video, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

01:26   I want to talk about an issue that was discussed here as well… about the topic of “peace”.
01:32   We talk about “peace” because we desire peace,
01:37   and spend a lot of energy around this topic,
01:40   But we must understand how the OTHER SIDE views this peace narrative.
01:44   This is why I sit here as a scholar of the Middle East.
01:47   In the Middle East, whoever begs for peace,
01:53   is perceived as a person who lost the battle… As a consequence,
01:57   that person is begging to keep his head connected to his shoulders.
02:00   This is how yearning for “PEACE” is viewed in the Arab world.
02:03   The person who yearns for peace is willing to do anything…
02:08   and after he loses the battle, he asks for mercy, and calls it “PEACE”.
02:13   This is how the Arabs perceive anyone from our political Right or Left
02:16   who declares that he wants peace with them.
02:19   And if peace NOW is discussed, then we need to pay a higher price…
02:22   Just as special delivery mail costs extra fee for stamps and other expenses…
02:33   This is the gist of the story. The moment we talk about PEACE,
02:38   the peace vanishes, since the other side understands that we want it desperately.
02:42   And then they raise the fee for “PEACE” to such levels that we are unable to pay.
02:47   As I do, when talking to the Arab media, we need to declare
02:51   that we do NOT need peace.
02:54   For 70 years we in Israel have existed as a functioning, democratic, successful country,
03:01   with advanced medicine etc… and just look at how you — in the Arab world are regarded! …
03:04   Countries such Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, are ALL miserably failures of countries.
03:09   Who needs peace with you? Who wants peace with you? First make peace among yourselves,
03:13   and then we will join… You do NOT know the real meaning of peace.
03:17   There is an Arabic proverb: “Whoever does not have a thing, can NOT give it to others.”
03:23   They do not have peace among themselves, how are they going to have peace with us?
03:26   In the Arabs’ lexicon, and perspective, the concept of PEACE doesn’t exist.
03:33   An Arab cannot exist without a clash. He needs perpetual conflict…
03:37   with his father in law, his wife, his brother, his son-in-law, or with another country.
03:41   What can we do? This is a culture I did not create.
03:44   I only document this phenomenon and share it.
03:47   This is how it is — a desert landscape creates a different society.
03:52   In the desert one needs to abide by different rules to protect his water from others…
03:55   It is the result of tens of thousands of years of life in the desert, which created
03:59   difficult people, who view conflict as the only way to negotiate their way with others.
04:06   If we declare that we want peace, we are regarded as if we recognize our loss
04:11   and our defeat… and now we are left to beg,
04:17   for keeping a portion of the PEACE which would be thrown at us,
04:20   and keeping our head connected to our shoulders…
04:23   This is a mistake by both of our political parties; from Right and the Left.
04:26   This “peace” mantra is exactly what the Arabs want to hear
04:29   so they can kick our behind and throw us into hell.
04:33   What we need to do is to change our position…
04:36   We need to tell them that our products are too expensive for them,
04:40   that we have a country that is too functional for them,
04:43   that you (Arabs) should deal with your own problems and leave us alone; we have no interest in you.
04:48   We live our life, and if at some point you desire PEACE, let us know!
04:51   What will YOU give us for PEACE?
04:54   When we start talking in this way, they will start taking us seriously.
04:59   Because up until the present time, in the Middle East we have been treated with disrespect.
05:03   They tell us one thing, and stick a knife at us from the other side.
05:06   When they take us seriously, then we would achieve a true peace.
05:11   Not the type of “peace” handed only to losers who lost the battle.
05:15   Thank you.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a weekly columnist for Arutz Sheva and senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena.

26 thoughts on “What Do Arabs Mean By “Peace”?

  1. Great insight & wisdom!

    Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (1969-1974) came to a similar conclusion:

    “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

  2. This man puts the finger on our collective blind spot in straight-forward way.
    The fact that he can finish his speech without being interrupted by left-winged listeners shows that Israel is a more functioning democracy than many other Western states.
    The only other Western countries where one is allowed to finish a speech with a non-PC content are the former communist countries in Central- and Eastern Europe.
    It’s high time other Western leaders in all fields (politics, business, the media, education the military etc) start listening a bit more to their Israeli colleagues.

  3. Absolutely right. The arabs have what we would see as a twisted viewpoint and Dr. Kedar has highlighted it perfectly.

    • What he has pointed to is the old dictum that “communication is the act of the recipient”. IOW, it doesn’t matter what you say, the whole point is what your interlocutor hears.

      Israel would be wise to stop spouting pieties for the sake of their “western” partners and just let their enemies spout until no one listens anymore.

  4. A few more links to interviews with Prof. Kedar:

    First Aljazeera interview from 9 years ago:

    Recent interview:

    There’s also an interview with the host of the first interview, in which you can see just how much it upset him:

    It’s particularly interesting because Kedar talks to the Arabs like an Arab, not like a westerner who is translating his words into Arabic. He understands that the interview is a zero-sum honor-shame arena, and comes prepared to act the role. If you watch several videos in succession, you see him hammer the same points home.

    The host’s reaction at 4:32-4:35 in the second interview is particularly telling, when Kedar tells him that Judaism is just as valid a religion as Islam. You can see him thinking “Oh God, I had to get an uppity one…”

    • Wonderful! Thanks for listing these connections. Kedar has perfected not only his Arabic but even has perfected classic Arab rhetoric, even to the gestures, the rhythms of speech and proverbs.

  5. Kedar is not a journalist. He is an academic at the Bar Ilan University of Ramat Gan. just east of Tel Aviv. with a full PhD and academic rank. He is also a veteran high-ranking officer of 8200, the main intelligence gathering unit of the IDF, before he went full tilt academia. He is no talking head but the original producer of academic work and publications. Since his Arabic is impeccable and his knowledge of Islam profound he routinely spars with various journalists and academics of the Arab Muslim world and usually makes mincemeat of them.

  6. Molly, I’m sorry, but Meir’s catchphrase is appalling in its faux piety and abandonment of Jewish values. In fact, it abandons Christian values as well.

    I cannot forgive “Jews” who are so indifferent to Jewish life and who will see Jews murdered to protect a rodef.

  7. Thank you for providng this video clip of Dr. Kedar. He reminds me of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin. He sees the world for what it is and speaks without cant (I mean the actual word, “cant,” and not the contraction of cannot).

  8. I see islam, historically, as the type of strictly imposed and enforced code that may have been required in an extremely harsh environment. However, the rigid, lethal discipline that enabled islam to survive in the desert (and the compensating fecundity that followed its high mortality rate) became a crippling flaw in more hospitable climes. Rather than maximizing huge increases in human potential, islam has instead expanded its reliance on murder, violence, rape, deceit, and fear. It has thereby become, in my historically-shaped opinion, a malignant tumor on the body of mankind, growing and metastasizing by the day.

    If I seem to have overlooked any major historical considerations, please advise.

    I don’t expect that the leftist-befogged mainstream media in the US will give Dr. Kedar’s conclusions even a nominal measure of publicity.

    • and malignant tumors are removed by lancets, or radio- therapy, if you get the picture. Cancer needs final solutions or it kills you.

      • Also, Islam and and the too many bad vibes from Muslims need to be removed to enable us rational and freedom lovers in the West to regain back some of our freedom and have a more peaceful life.

        • Prior to Islam, we’d have to get rid of the neo-Marxist religion that is ruining our culture – without it we’d have never succumbed to this Islamic virus. The former will leave us in poverty. On purpose. And happily let Islam gnaw the bones.

          • I couldn’t agree more. Islam progresses when there is weakness in the “target” culture. Otherwise it’s not really a problem. In that way, it’s more of a symptom than a cause.

            SJW neo-Marxists are actually a much more destructive force to Western civilisation.

          • Well, Dymphna, there are other, probably-fatal threats threatening our civilization. Probably the greatest is the systematic deterioration of our population genetics, due to the lessening or elimination altogether of natural selection. The end result of civilization is pretty well reflected in Mouse Utopia, where a colony of mice kept under ideal conditions, became extinct in a few generations.
            Of Mice and Men: ”Spiteful Mutations” Look Bad For The West

            There was a news article lately where a general noted that only 30% of the age-appropriate population would qualify for military service right now.

            The solution in my opinion, well within our financial and technological capabilities, is to institute a calculated selection whereby individuals genetically unfit would lead a comfortable life, subsidized if necessary, but would not reproduce.

            Is this related to the containment of Islam and Marxism? I think it is. A population denuded of intelligence and what we think of as character, is not going to resist anything.

    • Excellent summary, Joe Jew.

      Islam has “unhappy ending” written all over it. For the finest summary of why this is is the case, if you have not already done so, please read Richard Fernandez’s magnum opus, The Three Conjectures.

      He calmly and lucidly explains why Islam eventually will encounter a brick wall, be it with America, Israel, India, Russia or Communist China. At least one (or more) of the previous nations will not flinch at annihilating the entire Muslim Middle East or even the global Muslim population if it puts a permanent halt to the vicious random violence daily being carried out in the name Islamic jihad.

  9. The Arabs’ only concept of “peace” is the absence of everything which angers them. The state of the achieved Final Solution. If the Nazis ever needed a prototype, it would be Arabs. But one was a short flash of excess in history, while the other is an ingrained mindset perpetuated through countless generations. What do you do with such people? The only way of dealing with them in a way which could contain their advance turns one into the monsters they are. That’s what we’re most afraid of, even more so since our collective memory already has been to hell and back. Do we still want to survive or leave Earth to them?

    • PS: Maybe I should be more clear. I am well aware of the rhethoric on the international stage during the Nazis’ reign and WWII. It was perfectly normal to attribute the Germans a “war gene” and an inextricable desire to dominate the world with their ways. After learning about Islam, I can only shake my head and wonder, where have I seen all this before? And why is there not the same nauseous reaction to it?

      • The only way of dealing with them in a way which could contain their advance turns one into the monsters they are. That’s what we’re most afraid of, even more so since our collective memory already has been to hell and back. Do we still want to survive or leave Earth to them?

        Not true. Allied forces conquered both the Nazis and Imperial Japanese without building extermination camps or any rapes of Nanking.

        This can be done, it just requires political spine and the willingness to call Islam what it really is; a violent political ideology masquerading as a religion.

        Leaving the earth to Islam is not an option. All of modern civilization would quickly be turned into rubble while most of this planet’s finest books, sculpture, and art would be heaped on bonfires.

  10. Prof Kedar himself in the video has a passion and power much more than the transcript shows. It appeared in the video that those around him were less than enchanted with what he had to say, although they might have simply been technicians.

    Actually, Muslims have been telling us exactly what Kedar is saying. Muslims do not have peace treaties, but hudnas, which are self-expiring after a number of years, and which can be abrogated at will should the Muslims stand to benefit.

    And the United States abrogated several treaties, including the nuclear proliferation treaties with Russia and the promises to not bring former members of the USSR into NATO.

    So, it is generally necessary to depend on your own defenses and not on treaties for your security. Treaties simply make the situation between countries predictable as long as, broadly speaking, they find relations between themselves beneficial. An example is Turkey’s membership in NATO, which benefited both Europe and Turkey, as they had a common enemy. But now, with the interests of Turkey and Europe diverging, it is quite obviously wistful thinking to assume that Turkey will refrain from hostile actions simply because of membership in NATO.

  11. Submission.
    Islam means “Submission to Allah.”
    Submission to Islam is what Moslems mean by “peace.”

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