March 14, 2016
‘In dealing with Arabs, where an honor/shame cultures suffuses all negotiations, rationality is not the moderating factor’
…in fact, the assumption of a win-win negotiation, typical of the boardrooms where Mr. Trump has done business, is completely foreign to the style and substance that diplomats encounter when negotiating borders, refugee status, and Palestinian statehood. Again, neutrality, a holding back of one’s actual expectations and demands, will result in completely the opposite intended result.
Boston University’s Richard Landes, a specialist on honor/shame cultures, has observed that a “rational” model of negotiation, one that the State Department keeps hoping will prevail in Middle East negotiations in which concessions will lead to “an acceptable win-win for both sides,” does not pertain to discussions between Israel and the Palestinians. Why? According to Professor Landes, because the Arabs “feel it’s a hard zero-sum game, that any win for Israel is an unacceptable loss of honor for them, that their ‘honor group’ no longer considers negotiation a sign of weakness, compromise, shameful, and any peace with Israel, any Israeli ‘win’ no matter how small an insult to Islam.”