Can an explanation for why the Middle East is in turmoil be found in an Egyptian commentator blaming Israel for the downing of EgyptAir Flight 804 and calling for death squads to kill Israelis

by omouggos

What was the cause of the EgyptAir Flight 804 crash? (image from

The Middle East is awash in sorrows and dysfunctions. Death, destruction and persecution frequent the region. Corruption, economic under-development in spite of substantial oil resources, religious intolerance, mistreatment of women, and vicious internecine struggles abound. It is a melee of Islamist versus Islamist, corrupt and repressive secular regimes versus both Islamists and the people, tribe versus tribe, Shiite versus Sunni, Arab versus Persian, Turk versus Kurd, and intolerant fanatics versus minorities such as Christians and Yazidi.

The Middle East’s problems are greatly magnified when the region is compared to other parts of the world, such as the West and Asia, which far from being perfect, are nonetheless significantly more free, peaceful, stable and economically developed. Such a juxtaposition prompts the mind that is both blunt and inquisitive to ask: why is the Middle East so backward and dysfunctional? In vulgar terms, what the hell is wrong with the region?

I think one potential explanation relates to a common personality trait of most Middle Easterners, be they Arab, Turk or Persian. It appears to me that they are both unable to accept criticism and to perform self-criticism. This aversion to criticism, whether from within or without, could result from the fact that Middle Eastern societies are honor based and patriarchal in nature, where if a man acknowledged any personal failing then he would be humiliated and dishonored, hence his resistance to accepting criticism, whether founded or unfounded. Furthermore Middle Easterners also possess a victimhood mentality in which the cause of misfortunes are nearly invariably blamed on the actions of others.

Such Middle Eastern personality traits are not limited to personal issues on an individual level but are also applicable to wider issues encompassing the society as a whole. So not only is a Middle Easterner hard pressed to entertain criticism of himself, but he is also resistant to and incapable of criticism of his own culture and religion. When a person from the Middle East surveys the chaos that surrounds him, he thinks it almost impossible that the source of that chaos and dysfunction could actually stem from his own culture and religion. Instead he is quick to blame others. Such a mentality hinders Middle Easterners from identifying the actual causes of their societal turmoil and as such if you don’t know what the problem is how can you have a chance of fixing it.

The external culprits blamed for the Middle East’s woes are always the same, either the Zionists (aka the Jews), the imperialistic crusading colonial powers, or the Sykes-Picot agreement, which was secretly signed 100 years ago on May 16. A good example of this blame someone else mentality at work pertains to the recent downing of EgyptAir Flight 804, which flying from Paris to Cairo mysteriously plunged into the Mediterranean killing all 66 on board. While the Egyptian investigators still maintain that they are unsure of what happened, the most likely and most logical explanation is that the plane was brought down as an act of Islamic terrorism, either by a fanatical pilot seeking martydom or by ISIL.[1] Yet as always in the Middle East when something bad happens the Jews are blamed. Right on cue is Egyptian political commentator Nabih Al-Wahsh who adamantly believes that an Israeli missile shot the plane down.[2]

On an Egyptian TV show Al-Wahsh said, “The filthy and despicable Zionist entity is behind this, and I have presented the evidence. … They used a missile.” I am not sure what evidence Al-Wahsh is adducing–as far as I can tell there is no such evidence. Furthermore, why would Israel down a passenger plane of a country that is generally speaking allies with it? Such an act would only serve to undermine Egypt by depressing its important tourism industry, and thereby weaken Egypt’s ability to fight Islamist extremists in the Sinai peninsula, who are out right enemies of Israel. As well, ISIL has already downed an Egyptian passenger plane, and there have been many other examples of Islamic terrorists targeting airplanes, so why does Al-Wahsh have to resort to a much more unlikely and seemingly unsubstantiated explanation to explain the crash of Flight 804?

The answer is simple, to blame ISIL or some other Islamic terrorist group, could possibly mean that there is some aspect of Islam that condones or promotes the killing of innocent civilians. Al-Wahsh incapable of self-criticism, must therefore blame someone else, someone not Arabic and not Islamic, and who better than Israel. To illustrate how clouded Al-Wahsh’s mind is he also claimed that Israel “exported AIDS into Egypt, as well as aphrodisiac bubble gum, and all kinds of catastrophes.

Al-Wahsh’s tirade was not only about blaming Egypt’s ills on Israel but he also called “upon any Egyptian or Arab man who comes across an Israeli person to kill him and mutilate his body.”  He also said, “I call to form death squads that will hunt down any Israeli, anywhere in the world. We are fed up! The parliament must establish a commission of inquiry. The people have had it. The people are fed up. Well, most of them are. The plane crash overshadowed all the catastrophes; 90% of the Egyptian people are sure that Israel is behind it. Let me just say this: Today, Netanyahu accepted the resignation of the Minister of Defense, because the latter protested the downing of the plane.” Even the TV host was rather taken aback by such talk.

Of course not everyone in the Middle East thinks like Al-Wahsh (however many do) and there are many examples of Middle Easterners who are putting forth criticism of their own culture and religion in hopes of fixing the problems endemic in the region.[3] But until such dissenting opinions become the norm and until the average Middle Eastern becomes capable of accepting and formulating criticism of himself, and of his culture and religion, then the bloodshed in the Middle East will continue and unfortunately I fear worsen.

O Mouggos


[1] For evidence supporting the theory that the pilot crashed the plane see the work of Walid Shoebat: , , While here is some evidence that ISIL was the culprit: , ,

[2] ,

[3] For instance there are some Arabs who are challenging the notion that the Sykes-Picot agreement is the predominant cause of the all the Middle East’s problems. ,