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The Arab mind by Raphael Patai; 7 editions; First published in ; DAISY for print-disabled Download ebook for print-disabled (DAISY). The second frequently made objection to The Arab Mind is that the book . Raphael Patai's The Arab Mind is a “field tested” book—and I mean. Editorial Reviews. Review. "A classicone of the best expositions on the Arab world and Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features Kindle Store; ›; Kindle eBooks; ›; Politics & Social Sciences.
Shelves: middle-east , religion For a detailed anthropological study of the Arab race, Raphael has indeed done a pretty thorough job. He has demonstrated the Arab conscience, both internal and external in great detail with countless examples from the current history. Questions like why Western colonists are hated so much more than the Ottomons who colonized all of the Arab countries far longer, the Arab relationship with modernity, its treatment of women, episodes of sudden and inexplicable emotional outbursts are adequately c For a detailed anthropological study of the Arab race, Raphael has indeed done a pretty thorough job. Questions like why Western colonists are hated so much more than the Ottomons who colonized all of the Arab countries far longer, the Arab relationship with modernity, its treatment of women, episodes of sudden and inexplicable emotional outbursts are adequately covered by numerous examples from arabic literature. I would highly recommend this valuable book to any one interested in the Arabic race. The first group, for whom ideology matters more than reality, hate this book. The second group, largely military, for whom their lives depend on an accurate perception of reality, love this book.
It is, the book says, the Arabs who are lazy, sex-obsessed, and apt to turn violent over the slightest little thing. Writing about Arabs, rather than black people, in these terms apparently makes all the difference between a racist smear and an admirable work of scholarship.
The book in question is called The Arab Mind, and is by Raphael Patai, a cultural anthropologist who taught at several US universities, including Columbia and Princeton. I must admit that, despite having spent some years studying Arabic language and culture, I had not heard of this alleged masterpiece until last week, when the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh mentioned it in an article for New Yorker magazine.
Hersh was discussing the chain of command that led US troops to torture Iraqi prisoners. Referring specifically to the sexual nature of some of this abuse, he wrote: "The notion that Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation became a talking point among pro-war Washington conservatives in the months before the March invasion of Iraq.
In their discussions, he said, two themes emerged - 'one, that Arabs only understand force, and two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation'.
Not only is it the bible of neocon headbangers, but it is also the bible on Arab behaviour for the US military. According to one professor at a US military college, The Arab Mind is "probably the single most popular and widely read book on the Arabs in the US military".
In some ways, the book's appeal to the military is easy to understand, because it gives a superficially coherent view of the Arab enemy and their supposed personality defects. It is also readily digestible, uncomplicated by nuances and caveats, and has lots of juicy quotes, a generous helping of sex, and no academic jargon.
The State Department, too, used to take an interest in the book, although it seemingly no longer does. At one stage, the training department gave free copies to officials when they were posted to US embassies in the Middle East. Army Intelligence in Abu Ghraib prison. Only Lee Smith, writing in Slate. Edward Said had denounced Patai twenty-five years earlier, in Orientalism;  in academe, The Arab Mind long ago entered the list of disapproved texts.
It was easy to point an accusing finger at the book again. Patai himself was also a convenient target. A Hungarian-born Jew and lifelong Zionist, he lived in British-mandated Palestine from to , and in , earned the first doctorate ever awarded by the Hebrew University. For many antiwar conspiracy theorists, the idea of someone like Patai as intellectual father of the Abu Ghraib scandal proved irresistible. The only concrete evidence for the book's use in any branch of government appeared in the foreword to the most recent reprint of The Arab Mind, by Col.
Norvell B. Kennedy Special Warfare School. De Atkine wrote that he assigned the book to military personnel in his own courses because students found its cultural insights useful in explaining behavior they encountered on assignment.
While critics skimmed Patai's book for generalizing quotes, they skirted the book's premise, as restated by De Atkine: culture matters and cultures differ.
The realization by Americans that culture counts explains the commercial success of several cultural handbooks, addressing the very issues that concerned Patai. Incurable Romanticism It is a particular pleasure to write a foreword to this much-needed reprint of Raphael Patai's classic analysis of Arab culture and society.
In view of the events of —including another bloody year of heightened conflict between Palestinians and Israelis and the horrendous terrorist assault on the United States on September 11—there is a critical need to bring this seminal study of the modal Arab personality to the attention of policymakers, scholars, and the general public. In the wake of the September 11 attack, there was a torrent of commentary on "why" such an assault took place, and on the motivation and mindset of the terrorists.
Much of this commentary was either ill-informed or agenda-driven. A number of U. Middle East scholars attributed the attack to a simple matter of imbalance in the American approach to the perennial Arab-Israeli conflict.
This facile explanation did nothing to improve the credibility of the community of Middle East scholars in the United States, already much diminished by their misreading of the Arab world and their reaction to the U. To begin a process of understanding the seemingly irrational hatred that motivated the World Trade Center attackers, one must understand the social and cultural environment in which they lived and the modal personality traits that make them susceptible to engaging in terrorist actions.
This book does a great deal to further that understanding. In fact, it is essential reading. At the institution where I teach military officers, The Arab Mind forms the basis of my cultural instruction, complemented by my own experiences of some twenty-five years living in, studying, or teaching about the Middle East.
Raphael Patai prefaces his edition of The Arab Mind with the sentence, "When it comes to the Arabs, I must admit to an incurable romanticism. I first became interested in the Arab world in an elective course at the United States Military Academy many years ago, and my military career thereafter was divided between assignments with regular army artillery units and tours in the Middle East. It was during my preparatory study at the American University of Beirut that I was introduced to the writings of Raphael Patai.
Over the past twelve years, I have also briefed hundreds of military teams being deployed to the Middle East. When returning from the Middle East, my students, as well as the members of these teams, invariably comment on the paramount usefulness of the cultural instruction in their assignments.
In doing so they validate the analysis and descriptions offered by Raphael Patai. The officers returning from the Arab world describe the cultural barriers they encounter as by far the most difficult to navigate, far beyond those of political perceptions. Thinking back on it, I recall many occasions on which I was perplexed by actions or behavior on the part of my Arab hosts—actions and behavior that would have been perfectly understandable had I read The Arab Mind.
I have hence emphasized to my students that there must be a combination of observation and study to begin a process of understanding another culture. Simply observing a culture through the prism of our own beliefs and cultural worldview leads to many misconceptions. More often than not, this results in a form of cultural shock that can be totally debilitating to a foreigner working with Arabs. Less common, but equally non-productive, is the soldier who becomes caught up in a culture he views as idyllic and "goes native.
Mines and Warts In writing about a culture, one must tread a sensibility minefield, and none is more treacherous than that of the Middle East. In pursuit of intellectual honesty and a true-to-life depiction of a people, some less-than-appealing traits will surface.
All cultures and peoples have their warts. One trait I have observed in Arab society—which has become more pronounced over the years—is an extreme sensitivity to any critical depiction of Arab culture, no matter how gently the adverse factors are presented.
In his postscript to the edition of The Arab Mind, Patai mentions a spate of self-critical assessments of Arab society by Arab intellectuals in the wake of the "new Arab" said to have emerged after the war; but this tendency to self-criticize proved to be illusory.
While we in the United States constantly criticize our society and leadership, similar introspection is rarely seen in the Arab world today. When criticism is voiced, it is usually in terms of a condemnation of Arab acceptance of some aspect of Western culture. Criticism also often emanates from outside the Arab region and, despite the so-called globalization of communication, only the elite have access to it.
This is particularly true when political systems or ideology are discussed. In no small way, this tendency has led to the current state of affairs in the Arab world.
For this reason, as well as the fact that Patai was not an Arab, some scholars are dismissive of The Arab Mind, terming it stereotyped in its portrayal of Arab personality traits.
In part, this stems from the postmodernist philosophy of a recent generation of scholars who have been inculcated with the currently fashionable idea of cultural and moral relativism. Much of the American political science writing on the Middle East today is jargon- and agenda-laden, bordering on the indecipherable. A fixation on race, class, and gender has had a destructive effect on Middle East scholarship. This dispassionate analysis does not serve the ends of the social justice warrior crowd, so they cry racism.
The irony of all this is that Patai actually is very sympathetic to Arabs.
He likes Arabs and Arab culture. He lived for decades in Jerusalem pre-Israel. And, in fact, his conclusions about Arab culture he last updated the book in , shortly before he died, though it was first published in are generally quite optimistic about the future of Arabs and Arab culture. If you actually read his book, you see that Patai is far from anti-Arab.
But you have to read the book. The critics never have any specifics—they object to the very idea that Arab culture could be perceived as anything but wonderful in all regards. No need to read any books or address any arguments! More time to join the latest howling low-information Twitter mob! He emphasize that this involves generalizations of qualities that contain many variations among individuals.
So the criticisms are misplaced. Patai writing in was merely interested in objectivity; Nydell in propaganda.