When Arab Means Never Saying Sorry
In Muslim culture, during the Daheyah (sacrifice) feast, Muslims bring a lamb into the home for a ritual slaughter accompanied by the invocation, “Allahu Akbar,” in the presence of the family and the children.
Now we see the Daheyah of radical Islam to be Jews such as Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl who were beheaded with no mercy, accompanied by the same pious invocation. This is a perversion of Islam, but don’t expect an apology.
To expect Arab and Muslim leadership to apologize for the barbaric murder of Berg is a reflection of the West’s naievity and wrong expectations of Arab culture. In the Arab world to take responsibility and say sorry is taken as an unmanly sign of weakness that may get a person into more trouble.
Those who admit guilt, even if it is accidental, are given no mercy and may end up taking all the blame and being brutally punished. It is the norm for Arabs to deny a fact — however blatant — and blame others, rather than admit to the wrongdoing and apologize. Honesty is not rewarded.
President Bush apologized for the humiliation and abuse of Iraqi prisoners. His apology was taken by the Arab media and the Arab street as an admission of guilt and a sign of weakness. It was not appreciated as taking responsibility to find out the truth behind the events that happened due to the actions of a few Americans.
If 19 Americans had committed a terrorist act comparable to Sept. 11 and belonged to a terrorist American network against any nation on earth, the reactions on all sides would have been very different than what we have seen, due to our cultural differences. Any sitting U.S. president would apologize and take immediate action to stop the terror coming from America. Americans would be outraged.
In our politically correct, liberal culture, the media and academia would urge all of our citizens to a collective self-psychoanalysis to uncover the root causes of how we could have caused such evil behavior. They might find the American terrorists to be victims of the American culture that drove them to become monsters, and would blame themselves and everything American for their behavior.
A cultural war would break out, with each camp blaming the other for the creation of American terrorists. Money to fund studies would start pouring into college campuses and think tanks to get to the bottom of the issue.
This is not the case in the Arab world.
Terrorism is the direct result of the radical Islamist culture that is flourishing all over the Arab world and promoted by Arab media, governments, educational systems and religious leaders. Terrorists are given training camps, money, power and respect for doing God’s work for jihad.
Arabs understand that they cannot win a war against the West, and all they can succeed in doing is to indoctrinate one generation after another for martyrdom. Their secret weapon is the anger and rage of the Arab street. It is a powerful weapon that they treasure, and they will not allow the West to unmask the lies of the daily dose of fear and anger fed to the beast on the Arab street waiting for the next explosion.
How can anyone expect them to apologize for a deep-rooted cultural and religious mission to defeat or kill infidels, especially Jews? Most Arabs still blame Israel for Sept. 11 and even March 11 in Spain. How can we expect these countries to sincerely cooperate with the international community to end terror and its barbaric brutality?
Americans should stop judging other cultures with the American value system and especially stop expecting Arab Muslim culture to respond rationally according to Western standards. Arab power is derived from oil, terror and manipulative public relations campaigns. They know it, and we know it, so let us stop kidding each other with false expectations.
Most Arabs do understand America’s current dilemma in Iraq, and they do not want to sincerely help. They know we want to leave honorably after stabilizing the situation and a new Iraqi democratic government is in business.
We set a date in June to hand over power. You would think that if they sincerely want America to leave, they would be at their best behavior in order for the United States to have no excuse and leave, but the opposite is happening. They have increased their violence and attacks and brutality.
Many say, “We want a Vietnam with America” and can’t wait for an excuse to exhibit rage and violence. Arab media and the power behind it are promoting a bloody scenario. They want to see America leave humiliated, even if Iraqis benefited by the removal of Saddam Hussein, and even if it is at the expense of the Iraqi people and the region.
Above all, they do not want to see America, a non-Muslim superpower, as the cause for Iraq’s well-being, especially when all the Arab countries stood by doing nothing to stop Saddam’s brutal regime. Only Arab leaders should be heroes in the Arab world — not Bush. It is a matter of pride.
Arab media understand that America has no desire to occupy Iraq, but they never miss an opportunity to give the raging masses their daily dose of fear of America. “America Wants to Hand Over the Keys of Iraq to Sharon” was a recent headline in Egyptian newspapers. Arab games are exposed, and our leftist media should not cover up the game.
There are many reasons for Arab and Muslim silence. However, fear of speaking out is no longer a credible excuse. Day in and day out, all we see out of the Arab world is anger, revenge and a culture out of control.
The Arab street is afraid of Arab leaders, and Arab leaders afraid of the Arab street. And both can only get out their frustration on America, Europe, Israel and innocent victims such as Berg and Pearl.
Nitty-Gritty Starts After You Say ‘I Do’
Anyone who has been married knows the real truth that marriage is hard work and, while it might get easier over time, marriage always takes effort. This is the No. 1 thing I tell newly engaged couples in “I Do,” a marriage preparation class.
Sure, engagement is exciting and happy and planning a wedding can be fun, even thrilling at times. But the real nitty-gritty that happens once you’ve said your “I dos” is what people rarely talk or think about beforehand.
What Are Newlyweds?
The word “newlywed” conjures up images of smiling, happy couples in love, holding hands, dancing and kissing. But like anything that is new, a new marriage requires some getting used to. A new car, for example, may look shiny on the outside and smells clean and fresh. Yet, the seat isn’t quite comfortable until you’ve sat in it for a while, and all of those fancy gadgets can be confusing until you learn exactly what every one does and how to use it. Same thing with a new pair of shoes. They look perfect and they go with everything in your closet, but for the first few weeks, they hurt your feet. It isn’t until you wear them and they stretch a little, mold to the shape of your foot and get broken in that you realize how much you adore them and you can’t believe you ever lived without them. Marriage isn’t any different.
Rabbi Harold Schulweis has this to say about marriage in the book “Fighting for Your Jewish Marriage”: “Love in marriage is a gift, a potentiality to be cultivated. Marital love is a subtle art that calls for sustained and sensitive appreciation…. The art of loving relies on a conscious sensibility, an awareness of the other who is not a mere extension of the self. The other is not an ear into which the ‘I’ can shout its wants and angers.”
So What’s Marriage Really About?
Marriage is about two people actively working together. It is complicated and it doesn’t always feel good. There is a great deal of pressure on newly engaged and recently married couples to be happy, even blissful. Yet, planning a wedding can be extremely stressful. Strong emotions surface, and family dynamics play out in often ugly and complicated ways. Religious feelings often become more pronounced, potentially creating difficulty for both interfaith and endogamous couples. And that’s just the beginning.
Everyday married life raises all kinds of challenges as well. Suddenly you are both truly accountable to another person and must share in decision making wholeheartedly. Rosie Einhorn and Sherry S. Zimmerman write in their book “In the Beginning: How to Survive Your Engagement and Build a Great Marriage”: “The responsibilities of giving each other emotional support, spending time together, coordinating finances and taking care of personal health all require each partner to curtail many of his or her formerly solitary activities.”
How Can New Couples Deal With
What does this mean for newly engaged and recently married couples? It means you should be aware that this is a critical time that is full of promise but is also emotionally loaded. Tread carefully through this time. Talk with your partner about your feelings, fears, expectations and needs. And don’t feel crazy or bad if you’re not always feeling happy. Nobody feels happy all the time, and pretending like you do or pressuring yourself to feel that way only compounds normal problems and tensions.
Einhorn and Zimmerman suggest that at some point during engagement or early marriage most people ask themselves, “What did I get myself into?”
They assure the reader that this is a normal projection of marital anxiety that should be explored to determine its true source. They offer couples several questions to help evaluate the strength and health of their marriage:
How to Figure Out if You’re on The Right
These are good questions to ask yourself and your partner to help you identify the strengths and potential pitfalls in your relationship.
Do we have similar values?
Do we respect each other?
Do each of us admire qualities in our partner?
Are we attracted to each other?
Do we feel affection for each other?
Do my trusted friends and relatives like the person I’ve
Remember, feelings change regularly and a marital foundation is built over time and maintained through diligent effort.
What Factors Make a Happy Marriage?
Renowned psychologist Judith Wallerstein studied divorce for 25 years before she decided to focus on what factors helped happy marriages stay happy. Her research resulted in “The Good Marriage,” written with Sandra Blakeslee, in which she profiles four types of happy marriages: Romantic, Rescue, Compassionate and Traditional.
She writes: “Of all human relationships, marriage is the most complex, the one you can tell the least about from the outside.” She suggests nine tasks that form the basis of a good, lasting relationship:
Separate emotionally from their childhood family and
redefine that relationship.
Create intimacy while each person also retains autonomy.
Take on the role of parents while still protecting the marriage’s intimacy.
Confront the crises of life and stay close no matter how difficult.
Feel safe expressing anger, conflict and differences of opinion.
Create a rich sexual relationship and maintain it despite hectic lifestyles.
Use humor to keep things in perspective and have fun.
Comfort, support and encourage each other.
Sustain early romantic images of falling in love with the other.
What is the Norm?
With all the media mythology about romance, soulmates, wedded bliss and the many other fallacies of marriage, how could we not get caught up in search for marital perfection? But just as the frightening movie “Fatal Attraction” isn’t the norm, neither is soap opera passion (at least in the long term).
Marriage is about finding someone you like, trust, respect and value enough to want to spend the rest of your life with, create a home and a family with and sacrifice for. That’s a lot to ask for and should not be taken lightly. And despite all the work, the stress and the pressure, the payoff is tremendous. Knowing that you have found someone to love and trust and that you have made a commitment to stay together through thick and thin; to share life’s challenges and triumphs together and that you are both willing to work to maintain a relationship for the rest of your lives — that’s pretty special.
That’s what dreams are made of.
Courtney Nathan, a licensed clinical social worker, is outreach coordinator at Jewish Family Service in Metairie, La.