People who blame others for their own shortcomings cannot build a democratic or developed society, concludes Evelyn Gordon on the Commentary blog Contentions after reading Andrew Engel's report for The Forward on Libyan antisemitism:
(..) the West’s ability to ignore the Arab world’s pervasive anti-Semitism means it consistently fails to understand the most basic problem facing Arab countries. As Engel perceptively noted, by deeming Qaddafi a Jew, his Libyan interlocutors “had accomplished an amazing feat of disassociation between themselves and the man who ruled them for most of their lives, as if they were saying: ‘You know, Qaddafi was not one of us. A Libyan could not have done what he did.’ It was a refusal to come to terms with Libya’s own past. Even a dictator, after all, requires popular support from some segments of society to rule for more than four decades … A country unable to come to terms with its history may find itself incapable of building the successful, inclusive democracy it has promised the world.”
Indeed, people who consistently blame an outside agency for their problems – whether it’s Jews, Western colonialism or anything else –are incapable of building any kind of decent society. You can’t fix a problem if you consider it beyond your control, and if it’s someone else’s fault, it is beyond your control. Only when people acknowledge that they have contributed to their own problems can they begin to seek solutions.
That’s why Arab anti-Semitism matters so desperately –not because of the threat it poses to Israel, though that is real, but because of the threat it poses to Arab countries’ own development. The same goes for the Arabs’ tendency to blame their troubles on Israel or the West. Evasion of responsibility for its own welfare has always been, and continues to be, the Arab world’s biggest problem.
And by pandering to it – for instance, by asserting that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is necessary for Arab development even though it patently hasn’t been necessary for Israel’s development – the West is entrenching this problem rather than helping the Arab world to confront it.