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Would any Prime Minister in the world declare: ‘I won’t be a sucker!’

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Here is an important emotional/psychic idea about Israelis. Back in June, Bruce Wolman, who has done business in Israel, wrote to me:

"The Number 1 ethic ruling Israeli culture (business and politics) is DON’T BE A SUCKER. If there is one thing you need to know about Israel, this is it. You will even see this stated often from Israelis when they write about Barak’s negotiating while he was PM. (Not only did he not get a deal, he looked like a sucker for what he offered.) No politician and certainly no businessmen gains any respect if he gets taken.  And if you are generous, you are considered fair game."

I don’t know much about Israeli culture. But Wolman is a smart guy. I filed it away.

A month later, MJ Rosenberg wrote on Huffpo: that the 11th commandment of Israeli politics was not to be played a sucker, in Yiddish, a freier. And this made peace impossible. If you can’t trust anyone, you won’t have trust. He wrote, "In my experience, most Americans would rather be accused of being a sucker than of being an a-hole. For Israelis, it is just the opposite." I agree.

Yesterday, Wolman sent me another email. Haaretz: Netanyahu: "We’re ready for peace but won’t be suckers"

"We have proven time and again that we are willing to make compromises for peace, but we won’t lead ourselves astray – we are not willing to be suckers," Netanyahu told members of his center-right Likud party.

Wolman: "I told ya, the worst you can be called in Israel is a "sucker". It’s an entire nation paranoid about making a poor deal or giving up something for nothing. I’m not even sure security matters anymore. Would any other head of government in the world say this?"

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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