The Folly of Generosity: David Pryce-Jones comments on Taba Donors Meeting

David Pryce-Jones, author of The Closed Circle, one of the better books on Arab Honor-Shame culture, has a piece at NRO on the 4.5 billion promised to the Palestinians of Gaza, rewarded for electing an vicious government that has brought disaster on them. Nothing like making sure history will repeat itself. Dan Pipes has asked if the donor nations — especially the Western ones, but even the Arab ones, can be so stupid, and concludes they have to be dishonest. Pryce-Jones elucidates on this madness.


The Rentier Population

David Pryce Jones
NRO
Wednesday, March 04, 2009

$4.5 billion: That’s what a conference of donors has just decided to give to Gaza, and that’s in addition to the hundreds of millions already paid out by United Nations agencies. True, about half the new money is due to come from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates, and they rarely deliver what they promise. According to Mrs. Clinton, the United States is in for almost a billion, and she seems to think this is fine. A rentier is someone who lives off the labour of others by simply cashing dividends, and this cascade of dollars makes the Gazans a unique example of an entire rentier population. No other people in the history of the world have ever lived at the expense of others on this scale.

Of course, rentiers are generally well-off aristocrats. Here we have an impoverished, dramatically unproductive society as rentiers. Another way of putting this is that the Gazans have become the first rentier welfare nation in history. What’s worth asking is, why, if anyone can claim the title of rentire welfare state, why the Gazans, whose addiction to self-destructive violence will, in any future, honest historiography, become legendary in the annals of nationhood?

And what did they do to deserve their rentier dividends? Easy. They elected Hamas to govern them, in the certain knowledge that Hamas as good Islamists are bound to declare jihad with the purpose of wiping out Israel. Sure enough. Hamas duly fired daily barrages of rockets and mortars into Israel. Polls show that large percentages of the Gazans approved. A day came earlier this year when Israel had had enough, and went to war.

The number of pundits who have explained to their Western audiences that the Gazans chose Hamas because Fatah was corrupt is legion. But if that were the case, they could have voted for more liberal parties, dedicated to “transparency.” Instead, they chose the people who promised them, as Muslim Arabs, the return of their honor, the destruction of Israel.

By and large, the Gazans are not in a position to weigh whether or not Hamas’s policies are realistic and beneficial. Of course it is right and proper to feel pity that they are poorly equipped to make sound judgements about the balance of forces in the region, the certain consequences of resorting to force, and the morality of doing so. Nevertheless they freely elected Hamas and it has been acting in their name, attacking Israel on their behalf.

This “minor” detail — that the Palestinians don’t really have reliable information (on the contrary, virtually all their information is from vicious propagandists) — escapes most Westerners who project their own cultural norms on the “other” and assume that when they “vote,” they operate from an informed position. Of course, they do have all those “NGO” volunteers in their midst who might inform them of the bigger world and encourage their adopting genuinely progressive positions. But for that to happen, you’d have to have real — and courageous — progressives at work there.

To reward Gazans now with $4.5 billion shows that Hamas needs make no amends for the disaster its jihad brought down on everyone. On the contrary, the decision to attack Israel has proved a wonderfully paying proposition. Stick to Hamas, the Gazans can tell each other, and your status as a rentier is assured. Hamas has already resumed firing rockets in the certainty that it is cost-free and richly rewarding to do so. The donors have laid the foundation for the next round of warfare. This is hallucinating; this is madness.

It also does the same thing the MSM tried to do during Operation Cast Lead, namely cheer on the extremists so they could claim that Israel’s action was self-defeating. Given how the people of Gaza felt in the aftermath towards their cowardly and vicious leadership, this is worse than madness, its betrayal.

31 Responses to The Folly of Generosity: David Pryce-Jones comments on Taba Donors Meeting

  1. stevenkarmi says:

    Why is Gaza the first rentier welfare society in human history? The facile answer, and the one accepted by counterfeit humanists (progressives)is: because of the Jews and the policies of Israel. This is their tautological ‘reasoning’ for understanding the problems of the palestinians, and increasingly the problems of the middle east…and the entire world (see rise of antisemitism in latin america). The obvious challenge is how to counter this desipicible calumny (pardon the pleonasm). And what we’re doing to this point is not nearly adequate!

  2. davod says:

    “The number of pundits who have explained to their Western audiences that the Gazans chose Hamas because Fatah was corrupt is legion.”

    As I recall, the alternate parties just about dissapeared after Oslo, when Arafat returned. He destroyed what was, for he area, a robust political debate. It was either my way, die, or the highway.

    The only political parties left in The West Bank or Palestine were those with more muscle than politicians.

  3. E.G. says:

    Of course it is right and proper to feel pity that they are poorly equipped to make sound judgements about the balance of forces in the region, the certain consequences of resorting to force, and the morality of doing so.

    Right and proper for whom to feel pity?
    After 60 years of UNRWA? This agency happens to have schools and up-to-date educational programmes (recall the rage about paper for book printing shipment being delayed by Israel a few weeks ago?). If Gazans are so poorly equipped to make sound judgements despite all those taxpayer’s Dollars and Euros funding their education, generation after generation, perhaps it’s something else, rather than pity, that we should feel? Perhaps our pity should be directed towards someone else?

    assume that when they “vote,” they operate from an informed position.

    I have no doubt the Gazans were and are informed. But voting, anywhere, is not directly related to being more or less or better informed.

    Stick to Hamas, the Gazans can tell each other, and your status as a rentier is assured.

    So, all of a sudden the Gazans do seem capable of reasoning and drawing conclusions?

  4. oao says:

    the real reason to not feel pity for them is their inability and unwillingness to develop a nation/state, while claiming falsely they deserve one. practically all their money has gone to waste, weapons and sustaining a terror army (the size of which doubled in recent years; the 1st thing abbas did after the taba conference was to increase the stipend of the fatah prisoners in israel).

    this was facilitated by the jizziyah stupidly poured on them by the west; some of it by islam. to understand the latter here’s one of the best pieces on the difference between the west and islam:

    http://www.azure.org.il/article.php?id=485

    now tell me that the west will defend these things and succeed.

  5. oao says:

    So, all of a sudden the Gazans do seem capable of reasoning and drawing conclusions?

    they always did by opting for the strong men who delivers the bounty.

  6. E.G. says:

    I whole-heartedly recommend reading Scruton’s article in oao’s link above. It’s a vivifying common sense reminder.

  7. JD says:

    The strategy is to buy Hamas back from Iran, assuming Iran is not paying as much these days.

    Naturally this is what Saudi should do, but the “aid” has a motive otherwise–to pay off Western business interests to whom most of the “aid” is going to.

    Gaza and West Bank should be turned into UN protectorate entities.

  8. E.G. says:

    JD,

    Gaza and West Bank should be turned into UN protectorate entities.

    Why? What for?

  9. JD says:

    “Why? What for?”

    Your rhetorical puncutuation has convinced me to accept the attitude of no change, that the settlements were a great idea.

  10. EG: So, all of a sudden the Gazans do seem capable of reasoning and drawing conclusions?

    oao: they always did by opting for the strong men who delivers the bounty.

    I agree with the consistency of the choice that oao notes. I would disagree that it is the result of “reasoning and drawing conclusions” as much as it is the result of a reflexive, culturally directed, emotional response. In fact, it is difficult to see any reason, logic or judgment in this decision.

    Palestinian reasoning is enlisted in the execution of their behavior – much like someone might use a large dose of reason to get them through music school – but only after they have already decided to become a musician.

    While we (humans) might use reason in a minor way for major life decisions, such as who we will marry, what career to pursue and whether or not to vote for a party that we know will continue attacking a hated enemy that seems to be faltering – these high-level decisions are usually pursued in human minds by emotional forces pursuing goals passed to us in our dna using methods specified by our culture.

    We are far more likely to use our intellect after the fact to justify those emotion-based decisions to ourselves and others.

  11. oao said, this was facilitated by the jizziyah stupidly poured on them by the west; some of it by islam. to understand the latter here’s one of the best pieces on the difference between the west and islam:

    http://www.azure.org.il/article.php?id=485

    ********************************

    Remarkably lucid essay. Exceptional writing. I need to think about his concluding premise, though, that Christian forgiveness is how we should deal with the Islamic resentment that desires to destroy what we value and stand for – while we physically prevent them from carrying it out. The whole essay made complete sense – but then that last paragraph had me scratching my head.

    Anyone who can communicate so clearly must have thought that through very well, especially to make it their concluding premise. So, I’ll assume it will become clear after another reading or two and a little time. Or, maybe it’s a Jewish thing.

  12. Rich Rostrom says:

    Davod: You have an excellent point. And Arafat came to power in Gaza/West Bank with the blessing of the Israeli government. I don’t believe that anyone in the Israeli government of the time thought that Arafat wanted peace with Israel, or was unaware of his personal corruption.

    The tacit subtext of the Oslo deal was that Arafat would get a real country to loot in return for suppressing Palestinian radicalism.

    Arafat did loot, of course, but he suppressed the moderate and honest elements in Palestinian politics. Such elements would be preferable to him (for both Israel and Palestinians), and thus a threat to his power. Also, by looting and corrupting Palestine, he left Palestinians dependent on handouts through his regime, while destroying any private wealth that could support opposition.

    Meanwhile, he funded myriad “security forces” which committed sporadic anti-Israel violence. He filled the controlled Pal media and schools with indirect incitement to violent radicalism, poisoning Palestinian minds. He allowed extreme radicals such as Hamas to organize, forming this sentiment into a concrete threat – which he then obstructed and restrained.

    All this maximized the potential terrorist threat to Israel without explicitly rejecting the Oslo deal that put him in power, or going to open war. Thus Arafat secured the position of the least evil for Israel – which dared not destroy him, for fear of worse alternatives.

    When he died he left the present situation – Fatah, “moderate” and wholly corrupt, Hamas, extreme and somewhat honest, and a small, hopelessly marginalized group of genuine moderates and reformers.

  13. Browsing some other selections from this gem of a site (Azure) I came on this:

    “The Dissident” by Marshall Poe

    http://www.azure.org.il/article.php?id=5&page=1

    In it, he says . .

    Taken together, these laws constituted internally consistent social systems which were comprehensible and predictable. The aim of Sovietology, therefore, was to discover the specific laws governing the Soviet social system. Needless to say, Pipes did not share this worldview. In his mind, nations were not systems, but weather-beaten, time-worn, sui generis historical communities. Nations were governed not by logical rules but by profoundly idiosyncratic, often unconscious, and immensely powerful traditions of thought and behavior This being so, he argued, the only way to understand a nation’s present condition—especially a centuries-old nation like Russia—was to study its organic historical development.

    . . which I offer to amplify my premise in #10 above. It seems to me the bolded words could be condensed to unconscious emotional forces.

    The evidence for this is all around. But we prefer not to notice it because it does not fit the current paradigm of man as the creature that thinks its way through life – a status we award at least to those enlightened men who agree with us.

  14. E.G. says:

    JD,

    My questions were not rhetorical.

  15. oao says:

    rich,

    very accurate description.

    i always thought that aside from stopping the terror and building a country, the most critical indicator of pal intention is the pal media and textbook slant. as long as they continue to demonize israel and the jews in their schoolbooks and on tv they demonstrate that they are not serious about peace, because as long as they raise generations of hatred, no leader will be able to achieve peace. that was part of the strategy.

    Hamas, extreme and somewhat honest

    it’s hard for me to imagine that with all the zillions pouring unaccountably onto them there is no corruption in hamas and there are constantly indicators that there is. they may be pious and committed, but they are also arabs.

  16. oao says:

    I need to think about his concluding premise, though, that Christian forgiveness is how we should deal with the Islamic resentment that desires to destroy what we value and stand for

    yup. there are some weak points and that’s one of them.
    lucid thinkers tend to look for peaceful solutions under OUR control and within our values, and such may not exist that are effective.

    Your rhetorical puncutuation has convinced me to accept the attitude of no change, that the settlements were a great idea.

    i did not understand your burst of reliance on the UN. i mean, the UN????????? c’mon.

    i dk if the settlements were a great idea, but given how the pals have behaved to this point, I am glad they’re there. had they not been there, the pals would have probably hooked on to some other obstacle to peace, but a greater risk would have been that israel would have made more dangerous concessions. if it is to make concessions, then the settlements are an excellent leverage.

  17. oao says:

    I would disagree that it is the result of “reasoning and drawing conclusions” as much as it is the result of a reflexive, culturally directed, emotional response. In fact, it is difficult to see any reason, logic or judgment in this decision.

    they have always lived in that kind of environment and this strategy has always been effective, while anything else usually has not. so it is logical and rational from the individual point of view, even it has become reflexive. if they continued to do it even after conditions changes and it was no longer effective then it would become nonrational.

    it’s hard to tell if even the logical, rational decisions are not sometimes not cultural and reflexive, particularly if the culture and environment does not undergo constant significant changes.

    We are far more likely to use our intellect after the fact to justify those emotion-based decisions to ourselves and others.

    probably. emotions are often a result of judgment and judgment often induced by emotions.

  18. oao says:

    here’s the predictable consequence of dumping 14 billions on the pals: fatah smells lots of money and wants their piece and hamas want it for rearming, so fayyad stood in their way. once again dumping money achieves the exact opposite of what the west thinks it wants.

    Analysis: Fayad’s control over PA’s finances put him on a collision course with Fatah
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1236269367254&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  19. Eliyahu says:

    oao, #15–
    two stipulations of the so-called Road Map of the “Quartet” are
    1- ending hostile propaganda and indoctrination in the palestinian authority media, schools, etc.
    2– disarming “militias” [= terrorist gangs]

    Neither provision has even begun to be implemented in the least degree by the palestinian authority. Hamas, now ruling in Gaza, is itself one of the terrorist militias referred to in the Road Map. Nevertheless, as experience has taught us to expect, the Quartet doesn’t care and pretends not to even know what’s going on. tony phoney blair, the Quartet’s special envoy to the “palestinian”-Israeli “peace process,” does not seem to be much bothered by the failure of the PA to implement those 2 stipulations. Indeed, his home govt –the UK–want to talk to Hamas and bring them into the “peace process.” That’s a real danger. It would legitimize Nazism, that is, the genocidal drives that animate –inter alia– Hamas. Bringing Hamas into the “process” means legitimizing genocide of Jews.

    So oao points to PA failure to alter the content of its media, schooling, etc. But what’s more significant is the failure of the West, Russia, UN, EU, US, UK, to give a damn about this violation of their Road Map –although alleged Israeli violations are thrown about as reasons for outrage all the time. So it seems to me that the Quarter and its constituent parts are more of a problem for Israel than the Arabs are. Again, the grievances and complaints of the Arabs, real or invented, have long since been a pretext for Western Judeophobia.

  20. Cynic says:

    Rich,

    I don’t believe that anyone in the Israeli government of the time thought that Arafat wanted peace with Israel, or was unaware of his personal corruption.

    Go back and see what was forced on Israel by Baker, Weinberger, Bush the elder and co ., in the 80s.
    They were the ones with the political clout to have kept Arafat in retirement but agreed with the Europeans and others to force the Prince of Palestine on the Israelis as the only legitimate, in their eyes, representative to parley with.
    The lead up to the Madrid conference and its consequences are also important in understanding the mess that Oslo became.

    Yes, Arafat had most of those who had been talking to Israel in the late 80s killed.

  21. [...] number of commenters have discussed Roger Scruton’s essay in Azure, “Islam and the West: Lines of Demarcation.” Some find it [...]

  22. Eliyahu says:

    Rich, I think you’re right about suspecting arafat all along. Rabin, I believe, was suspicious of arafat till the day that he died. But Peres and Beilin were the real fathers or midwives if you like, of the oslo accords. I don’t what weird thoughts may have been in their minds.

    You’re partly right on another point. Rabin and Peres promised the Israeli public that arafat would see to it that Hamas was suppressed without the Supreme Court and NGO interference that make it hard for Israel to deal with mass murderous terrorists.

    If you go by surface political statements, it was as if Rabin-Peres-Beilin were giving arafat a territory [he did loot it] in exchange for suppressing terrorism. In fact, although he looted as much as he could from the palestinian authority economy, from local Arab businessmen and from international donations, he never suppressed Hamas or the other Islamist fanatic jihadist terrorist gangs. So that promise by Rabin-Peres-Beilin [Rabin once called Beilin "Peres' poodle"] was never fulfilled.

    I don’t entirely agree with Cynic. It is true that the West was pressuring Israel to help the PLO get a territory to rule. But I don’t know that the Israel govt had no option but to give in.

  23. Cynic says:

    Eliyahu,

    But I don’t know that the Israel govt had no option but to give in.

    Can you see Israel telling them at the Madrid conference that they will never negotiate with arafat? Rejecting the G-d’s choice of sovereign?

    I can just see it: Intransigent etc., etc., and all the attendant political implications, especially with Baker Botts at the helm.

  24. oao says:

    But what’s more significant is the failure of the West, Russia, UN, EU, US, UK, to give a damn about this violation of their Road Map –although alleged Israeli violations are thrown about as reasons for outrage all the time.

    absolutely. their failure is what obviated the pals’ need to become serious about peace.

    but i was talking about indicators of the pals’ seriousness for peace, i did not specify the most significant problem.

  25. oao says:

    I don’t believe that anyone in the Israeli government of the time thought that Arafat wanted peace with Israel, or was unaware of his personal corruption.

    i do recall peres walking hand in hand with arafat on the beach. peres will believe anything.

  26. oao says:

    I don’t entirely agree with Cynic. It is true that the West was pressuring Israel to help the PLO get a territory to rule. But I don’t know that the Israel govt had no option but to give in.

    that’s my impression too.

    correct me if i am wrong, but weren’t the israelis dealing with arafat prior to madrid?

  27. Cynic says:

    correct me if i am wrong, but weren’t the israelis dealing with arafat prior to madrid?

    No. Why do you think Shamir was so hated by Baker and co., besides not being able to play golf?

  28. Eliyahu says:

    there were contacts especially with Labor party types, but even somebody in Likud was doing it.

    One of the miscalculations of Israelis who dealt with yasser a. and advocated concessions to him and his gang, was to think –apparently– that if yasser or the plo or fatah did something really mean and evil –like a really big massacre– then that would turn the hypocritical West against yasser et Cie., while bringing them back to supporting Israel. But this didn’t and won’t work, because there is no substitute for direct, specific arguments against all the vehement pro-Arab, pro-Islamic, pro-jihadist, pro-PLO, pro-palestinian authority, pro-Muslim Brotherhood propaganda in the West, including the USA.

    Stu Green’s Italy is one of the few Western European EU countries where there is a counter to the anti-Israel arguments in the local mainstream media, more so than in the USA. Consider the writings of Magdi Allam as well as Fuad Khalid Allam [no relation]. Magdi Allam is himself an Arab, an Egyptian, yet he has written specifically in favor of Israel in the Italian press. He is now with Corriere della Sera.

  29. Eliyahu says:

    I should add to my argument in #28 above, that there seems to be a concerted anti-Israel campaign in the media of several countries, especially the UK but also France and USA. Maybe Belgium and Germany too and elsewhere. Such a campaignl is immune to any massive crime that Arabs commit. They don’t care what crime Arabs commit. They are going to blame it all on Israel and alleged Western crimes against Arabs & Muslims in the past. Tony blair does this too in his rather subtle way.

    I trust an Arab like Magdi Allam more than the journalists on bbc or france24 or those in the NYTimes.

  30. oao says:

    Stu Green’s Italy is one of the few Western European EU countries where there is a counter to the anti-Israel arguments in the local mainstream media, more so than in the USA.

    and apparently the muslim community too. i just saw an interview with their religious leader and was pleasantly surprised at his criticism of anti-zionism and anti-semitism based on his interpretation of islam.

    of course, he does not seem to have much weight in general. dk how much he has in italy.

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