Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person
Coming on the heels of events at Abu Ghraib, the difference between American society's reaction to American misdeeds and the reaction of the Arab world to the brutal acts in Iraq and Gaza tell the whole story. For those of us who believe that the Middle East can be improved this is a moment of crisis, of soul-searching. It is very difficult not to think that, after all, there may be a hopeless clash of civilizations taking place between the Middle East and the West. It is impossible not to ask whether there is inherent violence and lack of civility in Arab society.David Frum, on the other hand thinks it is more an issue of religion than political culture.
It now has become clear that we are confronted with a deep malady. So many years of corruption, despotism, and tyranny — not just a century of Arab ideologies, but also centuries of Ottoman imperial rule and centuries of Arab tyrannies before that — have distorted, even sickened, Arab societies.
There has always been a divide among those who study history. Some argue that cultures and civilizations are organic entities with lives of their own, creating the states they deserve; proponents of this view write off the Arab world as incapable of liberalism. Others continue to hope that the crafty state is, over time, the main forger of society. But merely removing a despotic state after a millennium of tyranny is no longer a sufficient corrective to the illness afflicting Arab society. The problem now is not only political. Arab economies have been reduced to Mafioso-like monopolies and fights to control the state. Arab culture and art have been reduced to statist self-glorification. Most of all, Arab politics have been reduced violence and personal destruction rather than debate and mutual respect. In Arab politics, opponents are not answered or rebutted, they are discredited or destroyed.
We should not give up on all Muslims or all Arabs. But the burden of proof now is on them. It is no longer up to us to show that we treat them as equals and are not motivated by Western (or Jewish) anti-Arab conspiracies. It is no longer up to us to solicit their approval and acceptance. We should no longer blame ourselves.
This is now more than a struggle for Arab and Muslim freedom; it is a struggle for Arabs and Muslims to reclaim their souls, and it can only be decided within their own societies. It is up to the Arabs and the Muslims of the Middle East to decide not whether they want to be a part of modern, Western society, but whether they want to be a part of the civilized world. Now is their moment of truth.