Negotiating in the Bazaar

Negotiating in the Bazaar

© David Burton 2015

The Persian Bazaar

     Israel began “peace” negotiations with the Arabs and the “Palestinians” in the vain belief that the Arabs would negotiate according to western rules and traditions. They have since painfully learned otherwise. In 2001, former Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharon wrote the following:

     “On December 24, 1977, at the very beginning of the negotiations between Israel and Egypt in Ismailia, I had the opportunity of a short discussion with Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president. ‘Tell your prime minister,’ he said to me, ‘that this is a bazaar; the merchandise is expensive.’ I duly told my prime minister, but he failed to abide by the bazaar's rules. The failure was not unique to him. It has been the failure of all Israeli governments, and the media. On March 4, 1994, The Jerusalem Post ran an article of mine called ‘Novices in negotiations.’ The occasion was the conclusion of the Cairo Agreement. A short time later, Yasser Arafat proved yet again that his signature wasn't worth the ink in his pen, let alone the paper to which it was attached. In the Mideastern bazaar, diplomacy agreements are kept not because they are signed but because they are imposed. [Emphasis mine] In addition, in the bazaar of the Arab-Israeli conflict the two sides are not talking about the same merchandise. The Israelis wish for peace based on Arab-Muslim acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. The Arabs' objective is to annihilate the Jewish state, replace it by an Arab one, and get rid of the Jews. To achieve their goal, the Arabs have both taken to the battlefield and adopted bazaar diplomacy. In the bazaar, the most important rule is that if the vendor knows about your desire to purchase a certain merchandise, he will put its price up. The merchandise in question is "peace," and the Arabs give the impression that they possess this merchandise - and inflate its price - when the truth is they have never had it. THIS IS THE wisdom of the bazaar: If you are clever enough you can sell nothing, at a price. The Arabs sell words, they sign agreements, they trade with vague promises and are sure to receive generous down payments from eager buyers. Yet in the bazaar only the stupid buyer pays for something he has yet to see. The bazaar has another rule, which holds for the negotiating table too: The side that presents its terms first is bound to lose, since the other side builds its next move using the open cards of its opponent as a starting point. In all its negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs Israel has always rushed to offer its plans - and was then surprised to discover that after an agreement had been ‘concluded’ it became the basis for further demands. Most amazing has been the reaction in such cases. Israeli politicians, ‘experts’ and media eagerly provide ‘explanations’ of the Arabs' behavior. A popular one is that these or other Arab announcements are ‘for internal consumption,’ as if that doesn't count. Others invoke ‘he Arab sensitivity to symbols,’ ‘honor,’ and "emotional issues. Does Israel possess no ‘sensibilities’ or honor? And what does all this have to do with political encounters? If anybody in Israel is listening, here is what needs to be done: Israel should stop talking about ‘peace.’ We have been using the word for 100 years, begging the Arabs to sell it to us and ready to pay any price. We have received nothing, because the Arabs have no peace to sell, but we have paid dearly. FROM NOW ON, Israel should make a decision to create a new state of affairs, one that will compel the Arab side to ask for peace - and pay for it in real terms. For, unlike the Arabs, Israel has this merchandise for sale. [Emphasis mine] What will lead them to pay? If they conclude that Israel is so strong they cannot destroy it. From now on, if anyone asks Israel for ‘plans,’ the answer should be: No plans, no suggestions, no ‘constructive ideas’ - in fact no negotiations at all. If the Arab side wants to negotiate, let it present its plans and ideas. And if and when it does, the first Israeli reaction should always be: ‘Unacceptable - come up with better ones.’ Here are the Ten Rules for Negotiations in the Middle Eastern bazaar:

  • ”Never suggest anything to the other side. Let the other side present its suggestions first.
  • ”Always reject; disagree. Use the phrase ‘doesn't meet our minimum demands,’ and walk away, even 100 times. The tough customers get the good prices.
  • ”Don't be hasty to come up with counter-offers. There will always be time for that. Let the other side make amendments under pressure of your total ‘disappointment.’ Patience is the name of the game: ‘Haste is from Satan!’
  • ”Have your own plan ready in full, as detailed as possible, with the ‘red lines’ completely defined. Weigh the other side's suggestions against this.
  • ”Never change your detailed plan to meet the other side ‘half-way.’ Remember, there is no ‘half-way.’ The other side also has a master plan. Be ready to quit negotiations when you encounter stubbornness on the other side.
  • ”Never leave things unclear. Always avoid ‘creative phrasing’ and ‘creative ideas’ - which are exactly what your Arab opponent wants. Remember that the Arabs are masters of language, and playing with words is the Arab national sport. As in the bazaar, always talk dollars and cents.
  • ”Always bear in mind that the other side will try to outsmart you by portraying major issues as unimportant details. Treat every detail as vitally important.
  • ”Emotion belongs neither in the market nor at the negotiating table. Friendly words, outbursts of anger, holding hands, kissing, touching cheeks and embracing should not be taken to represent policy.
  • ”Beware of popular beliefs about the Arabs and the Middle East - e.g., ‘Arab honor.’ Never do or say anything because somebody told you it is ‘the custom.’ If the Arab side finds out you are playing the anthropologist, it will take advantage.
  • ”Always remember that the goal of all negotiations is to make a profit, and aim at making the biggest profit in real terms. Remember that every gain is an asset for the future, because there is always likely to be ‘another round.’ The Arabs have been practicing negotiating tactics for more than 2,000 years. By contrast, the Israelis, and Westerners in general, want ‘quick results.’ In this part of the world, there are no quick results. He who is hasty always loses.” (Ref. 1)
     “The next time you hear about ‘the need to jump start the negotiations between Israel and the Arabs’, just remember … {that the} one thing about the Arabs that is worth admiring is their enduring patience, especially in the market place, and it’s exactly that, what the West lacks in their ignorant demands for the Israelis to ‘end this thing’. In Middle East bargaining, the first side that blinks loses in the deal.
      - - -
    ”No Peace, No Peace Plans, No Price for Peace
     “(A Short Guide for Those Obsessed with Peace)
     “... In Middle Eastern bazaar diplomacy, agreements are kept not because they are signed but because they are imposed. Besides, in the bazaar of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the two sides are not discussing the same merchandize. The Israelis wish to acquire peace based on the Arab-Muslim acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. The objective of the Arabs is to annihilate the Jewish state, replace it with an Arab state, and get rid of the Jews.
     “To achieve their goal, the Arabs took to the battlefield and to the bazaar diplomacy. The most important rule in the bazaar is that if the vendor knows that you desire to purchase a certain piece of merchandize, he will raise its price. The merchandize in question is ‘peace’ and the Arabs give the impression that they actually have this merchandize and inflate its price, when in truth they do not have it at all.
     “This is the wisdom of the bazaar, if you are clever enough you can sell nothing at a price. The Arabs sell words, they sign agreements, and they trade with vague promises, but are sure to receive generous down payments from eager buyers. In the bazaar only a foolish buyer pays for something he has never seen.
     “There is another rule in the market as well as across the negotiating table: the side that first presents his terms is bound to loose; the other side builds his next move using the open cards of his opponent as the starting point.” (Ref. 2)

     While the Israelis may have started dealing with the Arabs and the “Palestinians” under the belief that negotiations with them could be conducted according to western standards and rules of negotiation, they have since come to the realization that such is not the case – Arabs negotiate according to their rules, not those of the West. Unfortunately, the rest of the non-Arab world - the United States in particular – hold to their naïve and unrealistic belief (which may be read as hope or wish) that the Arabs and “Palestinians” will negotiate according the Marquis of Queensbury niceties of the Western world. There are none so blind as those who will not see!

     “In negotiating with Arabs, coming to an agreement is the worst thing you can do as it only tells the other party that they will be able to get more. That’s exactly how Arafat behaved in negotiations. Israel and the westerners would think they had finally arrived at a deal but really they just telegraphed to Arafat that he could get more from them. So he would abandon what everyone thought had been agreed upon and start another round of violence.
     “So, as in haggling you don’t negotiate until you agree, you negotiate until you disagree. When you are prepared to abandon the whole negotiation is when the merchant acquiesces to the price you are willing to pay.
     “The only way to come to a conclusion is to put your foot down and refuse to give another inch. And then prove it.
     “But the nature of negotiation itself prevents Arabs from agreeing to recognize Israel. It is also why Jerusalem is so gosh darned ‘important’ to them. It is ONLY important to them because Israel wants it. Because of that they will proclaim it to be the most important thing to them in order to get an unending stream of smaller concessions.
     “That’s standard negotiation strategy for everyone. You make the other party think the important things are unimportant and that the unimportant things are important. So they will not realize they are conceding too easily to the thing you really want.
     “The upshot is as long as they think they can get another square inch, the Arabs will never ever formally recognize Israel or give up their 100% disingenuous claim that they want Jerusalem. As long as Israel wants those things they can be used to garner a constant trickle of whatever the Fakestinians want.
     “If all Jews were removed from Jerusalem and Israel {and} the west bank, the PA would find something else that was oh so gosh darned important to them. (Ref. 2)

     To successfully negotiate with Arabs, Palestinians, and mid-east Muslims, one must put aside one’s supposedly rational concepts and think like your negotiating opponent. In the case of Palestinians, such thinking must put aside rationality and what we here in the west would consider to be common sense. For example: among Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the majority support the random murdering of Israeli Jews.

     “1,270 Palestinian Arab adults were asked what they thought of the recent attacks in which Palestinians stabbed Israeli or ran them over with their cars. Eighty percent responded that they supports such attacks.” (Ref. 3)

     Similarly, 1,200 Palestinians in the territories were surveyed in late Septembe of 2014 and it was found that 80 percent support resuming the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel.[3]

     “Why is it that 80 percent of Palestinians embrace the brutal murder and terrorization of Israeli civilians?
     “Three reasons stand out.” (Ref. 3)

     1) There is the general brutality of Palestinian Arab society which is not normally present in the “civilized” western world; 2) There is a sense in Palestinian Arab society that terror and violence work. This is the opposite of western mores, where we abhor terror and violence; and, 3) There is the constant influence of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement by the Palestinian leadership and other Islamic groups.[3]

     “The normally alleged justification for Palestinian violence – a reaction to ‘the occupation’ – does not stand up. Since 1995, more than 95 percent of Judea and samarai-based Palestinians have lived under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, which controls all aspects of Palestinian life except for visas and external security. And since 2005, Palestinians in Gaza have controlled even those aspects. [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 3)

     The international outcry (including that of the willing dupes and closet anti-Semites in the United States) when Israel builds much needed new housing in Jerusalem, is simply another encouragement to hard-liner Palestinians and Israel-bashers to resist negotiating a meaningful peace with Israel. When the Palestinians realize that they will only lose more by continuing their attempts to delegitimize Israel and eventually destroy it, only then will an end to the bloodshed in the region become possible. When the international community chastises Israel they only encourage the Palestinian extremists in their vain hope that they will be allowed to attempt to drive all Jews form the State of Israel and thereby return it to the state of desolation and poverty that it was before the Jews returned and re-established Palestine as a flourishing land of “milk and honey”.

     In another example of knee-jerk reaction, the U.S. criticized Israel when in October of 2014, it announced plans to build new housing units in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Israel’s Prime Minister promptly and justifiably rejected this criticism, stating “We will continue to build in Jerusalem, our eternal capital. We have built in Jerusalem, we are building in Jerusalem and we will continue to build in Jerusalem. . . .
     “I have heard a claim that our construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem makes peace more distant. It is the criticism which is making peace more distant. [Emphasis mine]
     “. . . {T}he criticism of building housing in Jewish neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem ‘foster(s) false statements among the Palestinians. When Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] incites to murder Jews in Jerusalem, the international community is silent, and when we build in Jerusalem, they are up in arms. I do not accept this double standard.’” [Emphasis mine](Ref. 4)

     When negotiating in the Bazaar, it is essential that one understands the rules of the bazaar, the nature of the party with whom one is negotiating, and the real objectives of the negotiation. America’s recent negotiations with Iran on behalf of the P5+1 have been described as naïve American tourists wandering into a Middle East bazaar and arrogantly assuming that they know how to negotiate a good deal. The Persians – now called Iranians - have been using Middle East bazaar negotiation tactics for thousands of years, long before America even came to be.

  1. NEGOTIATING IN THE BAZAAR, Moshe Sharon, The Jerusalem Post, 01 January 2001.
  3. Why Do Eighty Percent of Palestinians Support Murder?, Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn, The Jewish Press, Pages 7 & 21, 18 December 2014.
  4. After Upsurge in Violence, Netanyahu Vows A Secure Jerusalem, Approves Construction of New Housing Units in City, Combined Sources, The Jewish Press, Page 3, 31 October 2014.


  27 July 2015 {Article 229; Islam_17}    
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