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Lying is cultural trait of Arabs, says Barak - Guardian, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Lying is cultural trait of Arabs, says Barak Brian Whitaker in Jerusalem Thursday May 23, 2002 The Guardian
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23 2:58 AM
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      Lying is cultural trait of Arabs, says Barak

      Brian Whitaker in Jerusalem
      Thursday May 23, 2002
      The Guardian


      Palestinians have no compunction about telling lies
      and see truth as irrelevant, the former Israeli prime
      minister Ehud Barak has claimed in an interview.
      "They are products of a culture in which to tell a
      lie... creates no dissonance," Mr Barak says. "They
      don't suffer from the problem of telling lies that
      exists in Judaeo-Christian culture."

      "Truth is seen as an irrelevant category," he
      says."There is only that which serves your purpose and
      that which doesn't. They see themselves as emissaries
      of a national movement for whom everything is
      permissible. There is no such thing as 'the truth'."

      Interviewed by the Jewish historian Benny Morris for
      an article in the latest issue of the New York Review
      of Books, Mr Barak not only relates his comments about
      lying to Yasser Arafat in particular, but to Arab
      society in general.

      He says: "The deputy director of the US Federal Bureau
      of Investigation once told me that there are societies
      in which lie detectors don't work, societies in which
      lies do not create cognitive dissonance [on which the
      tests are based]."

      As an example of Mr Arafat's alleged mendacity, Mr
      Barak cites an incident in October 2000, shortly after
      the start of the intifada. The Israeli and Palestinian
      leaders, together with Madeleine Albright, the US
      secretary of state at the time, were meeting in Paris
      to discuss a ceasefire.

      Mr Arafat had agreed to call a number of his police
      commanders to implement a truce.

      Mr Barak recalls protesting: "'But these are not the
      people organising the violence. If you are serious,
      then call Marwan Bargouti and Hussein al-Sheikh [two
      West Bank Fatah leaders].'

      "Arafat looked at me, with an expression of blank
      innocence, as if I had mentioned the names of two
      polar bears, and said, 'Who? Who?'

      "So I repeated the names, this time with a pronounced,
      clear Arabic inflection... and Arafat again said,
      'Who? Who?'

      "At this, some of his aides couldn't stop themselves
      and burst out laughing. And Arafat, forced to drop the
      pretence, agreed to call them later."

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