'Arabs. You can rent one, but you can't buy one.'

Neil Snyder
In the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, there was an interesting exchange between Percy Alleline (played by Toby Jones) and Peter Guillam (played by Benedict Cumberbatch).  Percy had risen to the top of British intelligence (i.e., the Circus), and he suspected that Peter was in cahoots with "Tricky" Ricky Tarr (played by Tom Hardy), a British agent who Percy thinks has defected to the Soviets.

Percy calls a meeting of the Circus to confront Peter, and before the fireworks begin, he makes small talk.  During the bantering back-and-forth, Percy said to Peter, "Arabs.  You can rent one, but you can't buy one."

Some people today probably regard that statement as racist, and generalizing too far is always dangerous, but people with significant dealings in the Arab world regard it as a truism.  Arabs have a long and sordid history of cutting deals when they think it's in their best interest, only to renege later when they believe they have the upper hand.

It should surprise no one that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is trying to allay Western fears at this juncture, because he needs our money and our military support.  But what are Morsi's true beliefs?  Can we know?  The answer is "yes,"b ecause he has explained them so clearly that you need help to be confused.

In an interview on September 23, 2010, Morsi said,

This [Palestinian] Authority was created by the Zionist and American enemies for the sole purpose of opposing the will of the Palestinian people and its interests. [...]

No reasonable person can expect any progress on this track. Either [you accept] the Zionists and everything they want, or else it is war. This is what these occupiers of the land of Palestine know - these blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs. [...]

We should employ all forms of resistance against them. There should be military resistance within the land of Palestine against those criminal Zionists, who attack Palestine and the Palestinians. There should also be political resistance and economic resistance through a boycott, as well as by supporting the resistance fighters. This should be the practice of the Muslims and the Arabs outside Palestine. They should support the resistance fighters and besiege the Zionist wherever they are. None of the Arab or Muslim peoples and regimes should have dealings with them. Pressure should be exerted upon them. They must not be given any opportunity, and must not stand on any Arab or Islamic land. They must be driven out of our countries.

Some people may wonder if Morsi actually made those remarks.  This YouTube video should remove their doubts.

For the moment, Morsi needs our support, but as he consolidates his grip on power and Islamists gain strength throughout the Middle East, we can expect him to revert back to his old ways.

Percy Alleline was right: "Arabs.  You can rent one, but you can't buy one."  That's something we should not ignore, because the cost of our ignorance is very high for us and for Israel.

Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

In the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, there was an interesting exchange between Percy Alleline (played by Toby Jones) and Peter Guillam (played by Benedict Cumberbatch).  Percy had risen to the top of British intelligence (i.e., the Circus), and he suspected that Peter was in cahoots with "Tricky" Ricky Tarr (played by Tom Hardy), a British agent who Percy thinks has defected to the Soviets.

Percy calls a meeting of the Circus to confront Peter, and before the fireworks begin, he makes small talk.  During the bantering back-and-forth, Percy said to Peter, "Arabs.  You can rent one, but you can't buy one."

Some people today probably regard that statement as racist, and generalizing too far is always dangerous, but people with significant dealings in the Arab world regard it as a truism.  Arabs have a long and sordid history of cutting deals when they think it's in their best interest, only to renege later when they believe they have the upper hand.

It should surprise no one that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is trying to allay Western fears at this juncture, because he needs our money and our military support.  But what are Morsi's true beliefs?  Can we know?  The answer is "yes,"b ecause he has explained them so clearly that you need help to be confused.

In an interview on September 23, 2010, Morsi said,

This [Palestinian] Authority was created by the Zionist and American enemies for the sole purpose of opposing the will of the Palestinian people and its interests. [...]

No reasonable person can expect any progress on this track. Either [you accept] the Zionists and everything they want, or else it is war. This is what these occupiers of the land of Palestine know - these blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs. [...]

We should employ all forms of resistance against them. There should be military resistance within the land of Palestine against those criminal Zionists, who attack Palestine and the Palestinians. There should also be political resistance and economic resistance through a boycott, as well as by supporting the resistance fighters. This should be the practice of the Muslims and the Arabs outside Palestine. They should support the resistance fighters and besiege the Zionist wherever they are. None of the Arab or Muslim peoples and regimes should have dealings with them. Pressure should be exerted upon them. They must not be given any opportunity, and must not stand on any Arab or Islamic land. They must be driven out of our countries.

Some people may wonder if Morsi actually made those remarks.  This YouTube video should remove their doubts.

For the moment, Morsi needs our support, but as he consolidates his grip on power and Islamists gain strength throughout the Middle East, we can expect him to revert back to his old ways.

Percy Alleline was right: "Arabs.  You can rent one, but you can't buy one."  That's something we should not ignore, because the cost of our ignorance is very high for us and for Israel.

Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.