WHAT WAS THE BIG MISTAKE OF THE NEGOTIATORS AT CAMP DAVID?
They forgot that is not just a matter of negotiations between leaders, but between two differing civilizations. It is easy to slip and interpret your adversary according to your worldview. I will give you an example. I think that Israel was right to enter Lebanon, and I well remember how its army was received as an army of liberation, with flowers and music, but from the moment the job was completed, it was necessary to withdraw from there. The late withdrawal, as it was undertaken without agreement, with abandonment of friends and weaponry, was interpreted by the Palestinians and the other Arabs as a sign of weakness. From the experience of Hizbullah they derived that the Israelis are soft, pampered, and if they are hit — they will surrender. These things have been said explicitly by the Palestinians.
DO THE TWO CULTURES INTERPRET DIFFERENTLY THE CONCEPTS OF “FAIR COMPROMISE” AND “VIEWING REALITY OUT OF A CONSIDERATION FOR THE ENEMY’S POINT OF VIEW?
Let me be precise: Muslim culture stands out in the generosity of its victors. The victor does not push the face of the vanquished in the dust, but the result of the struggle has to be clear to both sides. A struggle that ends indecisively is an invitation for trouble. The Ottomans provided us with many examples of this conduct: they crushed rebels with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, but did not humiliate the defeated, they showed generosity toward them and even helped them rehabilitate themselves. If the one with the power does not exhaust his ability to bring about such a victory, his conduct is interpreted as cowardice.
Another example of differing interpretations of conduct is the is significance of manners and customs: I visited Jordan some time after the signing of the peace agreement on which the Jordanians bed much hope, and I found the Jordanians agitated over the conduct of the Israeli tourists which they saw as provocative and humiliating. It was difficult for me to explain to them that Israelis behave that way even to each other. The Israelis, who seem to be the least polite people in the world, are not understood by the Arabs, who have the most well-mannered culture in the world. It is not a matter of insignificant etiquette, but of conduct that has a bearing on relations between the peoples. The lack of courtesy of the Israeli solders at the checkpoints has terrible repercussions and something needs to be done about this matter.”