In the Middle East a country’s national purpose often amounts to little more than a list of its enemies. A feeling of being ill-done by dominates the consciousness of groups and individuals. Since it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s not necessarily baseless: The easiest way to have an enemy is to be one.

The centrality of hatred to the culture is remarkable. The Cartesian idea is “I hate, therefore I am.” Self-righteousness is overwhelming: each desire thwarted becomes an example of justice denied. It’s not a pretty place, but millions call it home.

In many ways, Israel is a godsend to the one-trick ponies who rule the region. Their culture defines “ruling” as inoculating your own sect or tribe against all others, including the ones that form your own country. Many Middle East nations — Iraq, Syria, Libya, to name three — are just temporarily halted civil wars. They’re truces rather than countries. Canada may be “two solitudes,” but it isn’t an uneasy truce between French and English Canadians. Iraq is, between Shia and Sunni Muslims.