*Arlene Kushner, Research Analyst and Consultant, Center for Near East Policy Research, http://www.arlenefromisrael.info
Sharon was the only Arabic speaker at the negotiations between Israel and Egypt. At that time, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, said to him in Arabic, “This is a market. Tell your prime minister.” He was telling us, explained Sharon, to learn the language of the Arab bazaar, but we never have.
Professor Sharon then outlined the key principles of that bazaar. The Arabs, he declared, use language with more sophistication than almost any other people, and have been doing so for 2,000 years. But they use this skill in order to lie, and it works for them. “Lying is the salt of a man,” goes an Arabic saying: as if man’s merit is in his ability to lie successfully. And here they are attempting to sell something they don’t truly possess, for there is no peace in the Arab.
And yet Israel is ready to pay a great deal for that peace that doesn’t really exist. Some rules:
1) Buy information and never give information. Don’t present your program. Let the other side show their program.
2) If they do show a program, say it is not enough. Be prepared to pick up and leave.
A story. When Israel was negotiating with Egypt, President Carter pushed Begin to include Jerusalem in the negotiations. Begin said, “Give me five minutes.” “Take as much time as you need!” enthused Carter. “No,” explained Begin, “five minutes is all we need to pack our suitcases.” The subject of Jerusalem was dropped by Carter.
3) Never provide a counter-program immediately. Never present “creative ideas.” Never cross your own red lines or depart from the full program you had proposed. Never leave everything open to negotiations — some things should not be subject to negotiations.
4) Never change you program thinking this will lead the other side to change. Never let the other side present major problems as “minor.”
7) NEVER show your plan to a third party. Begin learned this the hard way. Thinking Carter a friend of Israel, he shared plans with him, and those plans quickly went to the Egyptians.
5) Do not become an anthropologist, concerned with Arab “honor.” You also have honor. Do not imagine that kissing on the cheeks and all the rest means something.
6) The final idea is to win!
Sadat also said, “I gave Menachem Begin a piece of paper and he gave me the whole Sinai. If the Arabs really want peace, they must give something in return. Demand even more than they can give.
What Prof. Sharon warned is that we show too much eagerness for peace, and that the other side, perceiving this, keeps raising the price. No different from, say, walking into a carpet store and gushing about how magnificent a particular carpet it — this immediately sends up the price. If the time should come when the Arabs sincerely seek peace, then they will see it as having value and be prepared to give something to secure it.