Today a Jewish friend at a religious meeting described having a friendly conversation with a Pakistani cab driver. Before leaving the cab, the Pakistani said he was surprised to meet such a friendly Jew, because he was taught from the time he was little that Jews are the enemy, that they steal and kill and lie and can't be trusted. This is not the first time I have heard non-Jewish persons from the Middle East describe an indoctrination in hatred towards Jews and Israel. Israel actually discourages teaching hatred, particularly in their schools. This is not the case throughout the Arab Middle East. Hatred and jingoism is a common tactic of non-democratic governments. But Arab hatred is also a symptom of a deep sense of shame, of having been bettered by Jews, whom they despise as their inferiors. This, to me, is a conundrum. It is fine and well to find the few Pakistanis here and there who want to shed this paradigm of hatred, but what about the majority of the society steeped in it? A serious cultural shift is needed in Pakistan, in Palestinians territories, indeed throughout the Muslim Middle East before the Arabs can ramp down their level of violence and hatred. What is needed is an Arab version of Martin Luther King, and I don't see any hope of this at present.
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