MJT: The Arab world has its own political culture, and it’s not like the political culture I know, or even like other Middle Eastern political cultures.
If the Palestinians had a Western political culture, the problem here could be resolved in ten minutes. If you Israelis were dealing with Canadians instead of Palestinians, you would have had peace a long time ago. And if the Palestinians were dealing with Canadians instead of Israelis, there would still be a conflict.
Jonathan Spyer: That’s exactly right. And that’s why it’s so frustrating sometimes when people say, “If only the two sides could sit down and talk.”
…MJT: What is it that U.S. policy-makers don’t currently understand about this part of the world? If you could have their ears for five or ten minutes, what would you tell them?
Jonathan Spyer: I’d tell the current bunch in power that they need to ditch this sophomoric idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key to the region’s malaise.
They need to get that out of their heads. That’s not what I’d want to talk about. That’s not even an adult conversation. Once we can clear that up, we can talk about something serious.