Elder of Zion blog has an important post on one Arab reaction to the Palestinian bulldozer attack in Jerusalem last week: Saudi newspaper fawns over bulldozer terrorist. He does not miss the opportunity to highlight the grotesque “calculations” of an honor-shame culture and its justification of terror. In doing so he raises the key issue that distinguishes an honor-shame culture and an integrity-guilt culture — not the basic human instinct to avoid shame and get honor, but the response to shame and the means to regain honor. I’ll present the original article below, with comments by both the Elder (italics) and me intertwined.
The Arab News goes even beyond calling terrorism “natural” for Arabs:
The act of a frustrated man
Abdul Aziz Al-Suwaigh | email@example.com
Israelis killed a Palestinian youth for driving a bulldozer onto the midst of a crowd in the heart of west Jerusalem and killing three Israelis last week. But the reaction of the Western political leaders to the action of the Palestinian worker, one of over a million and half living in humiliation of the Israeli occupation, amounted to killing him and other Palestinians a thousand times.
Yes, this brilliant writer from our “moderate” friends in Saudi Arabia considers a condemnation of the purposeful killing of Jews to be equivalent to killing a thousand innocent Palestinian Arabs. This is the sort of sick mentality that is mainstream in the Arab world.
The sarcasm aside, there a couple of key points here. The idea that condemning this murderer is the equivalent of killing him and other Palestinians a thousand times (!) suggests how far from an fair sense of reality this kind of honor-shame calculus. Mere criticism is the equivalent of murdering a thousand Palestinians. And if you are tempted to read this as “mere rhetoric,” you need to consult the kind of calculations that Osama bin Laden and other Muslim “scholars” consider justification for killing millions of American civilians.
The idea that an insult is the equivalent of murder and worthy of retaliation “in kind” is a hallmark of an honor-shame culture, one in which one is allowed, expected, even required to shed the blood of another for the sake of one’s own honor. This unhinged rhetoric lies at the core of the Arab world’s pathology.
While the Western leaders did not feel any compunction in condemning the poor building worker in the harshest words they could find in the dictionary, they did not have the guts to describe the incident as the natural and likely reaction of a human being put to indignities beyond his endurance powers.
Indeed, a fully employed Palestinian Arab, who gets paid by evil Jews hellbent on destroying his dignity, is quite justified in killing them en masse because of his abject humiliation.
It’s interesting here to note that in the PA territories of the West Bank and the Hamas-run territories of Gaza, people cannot get honest jobs. This fits a pattern in all of the the Arab world, especially where there is no oil. Now some of us believe that dignity comes from the ability to sustain your family with the honest product of your labor, something the Israelis offer Palestinians. Why is this man more humiliated by working for a living than living in poverty any where else in the Arab world? Is it merely that being employed by Israelis is a form of humiliation? Why don’t Arabs get enraged when they’re treated like sh*t by other Arabs — like the Palestinians by the Lebanese, or the Egyptians, or the Syrians, or the Iraqis, or the Kuweitis, etc. etc.?
In other words, Arabs are naturally (really, genetically) prone to murder because their honor is far more important than mere Jewish lives, and the West doesn’t have the guts to realize this simple fact and start praising the murderer instead of condemning him.
Alas, yes. I wouldn’t say genetically, but culturally, yes. It’s not murder if it’s to wash your honor clean. And it’s not just Jewish lives which are less valuable than their honor (although Jews come in for a special form of rage because they have inflicted a special humiliation by doing so much better under modern conditions)… it’s also their daughters. Nor is this restricted to Arabs. In Georgia, a Pakistani family killed their daughter for not agreeing to an arranged marriage.
It is true that no Israeli civilian ever drove a bulldozer onto the midst of Palestinians on a crowded street. Why should they when their bombers and missiles can and do kill Palestinians in thousands in their homes and streets?
Actually this point undermines two of his arguments. 1) that this is a personal act of rage triggered by the unbearable weight of humiliation and oppression: Israelis, who are constantly debased in Palestinian rhetoric (worse than the Western press’s debasing of the bulldozer driver), and constantly enfuriated by these vicious attacks, have a remarkably low level of personal vengeance. (Indeed there were two cases of Israeli drivers who plowed into Arab crowds.) In retrospect, one of the photos my daughter took that struck me as least interesting at first, may be the most.
Here are ultra-Orthodox Jews, the type of “fundamentalists” that Christiane Amanpour likes to compare with the Muslim fundamentalists. They are from the same city and neighborhoods that experienced the attack on the boys of Mercaz ha-Rav Seminary (almost all under 17 years old). And yet you don’t see them raging and screaming for blood. Not only does al-Suwaigh misunderstand the Israelis, he does so because he doesn’t understand that his world of honor-shame is not shared by all of mankind.
Over the past six months 365 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, most of them civilians, with children accounting for 50 percent.
I don’t know about the 365, but the 50% number is wholly fictional, but it must be OK for an Arab to make up statistics making Israel look bad because, after all, he is being humiliated by the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. If killing is justifiable, certainly lying is.
I’m working right now an a fascinating interview between Tim Sebastien and Mahmoud al Zahar (of Hamas). He repeatedly offers any number he feels like: “8000 killed by Israel in the entirely peaceful first Intifada.” According to Bassam Eid of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitor, there were 1100 Palestinians killed by Israelis in the first Intifada (1987-1993) and 1000 killed by Palestinians as “collaborators” (when half of them had no known association with the Israelis). The statistics offered by Palestinian propagandists have little to nothing to do with empirical reality and the sooner Westerners learn that, the faster they’ll wake up.
The only civilian an Israeli bulldozer killed was an American woman, Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old peace activist from Olympia, Washington. Corrie was crushed to death by a 60-ton Israel Defense Forces bulldozer as she stood before a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip in 2003. She was killed while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home.
No, she was killed inadvertantly (at worst) while protecting a tunnel for smuggling weapons. Watch Lee Kaplan’s analysis. It is typical of the pro-Palestinian side to confuse error with intention, so that they easily equate Israeli caused collateral damage in targeted killings, with the targeting of civilians in terror attacks such as the one under discussion.
It is high time that we made a clear distinction between the acts of terror, particularly from a state that calls itself a democracy, and the acts springing from frustration, injustice and humiliation.
In one sentence the author has just justified every single Arab and Muslim terror act over the past century, because each one must have sprung on some level by someone’s “frustration” or perceived “humiliation.” This, of course, also includes terror attacks against Saudi Arabia itself, not to mention 9/11.
This is a key element in the Arab assault on Israel: “state-sponsored terrorism” means Israeli attacks that kill civilians; “resistance” by non-governmental groups is not terrorism. The most astonishing aspect of this thinking is not that Arabs use as a ploy to condemn Israel and exculpate themselves, but that such lame moral and empirical thinking finds such welcoming advocates among the “progressives” and the MSM.
This Palestinian youth was a human being with normal feelings of pride and honor. He could not be blamed for losing his equanimity for a moment when he thought about the plight of his brothers and sisters who are being treated like dirt in the Gaza Strip and West Bank and put under a blockade denying them the most basic requirements of life.
Our good editorialist has now descended from pure fantasy into mind-reading as he not only justifies a terror attack, he places it in a context where such an attack is positively praiseworthy.
It’s not mind-reading, it’s projection. The idea that this kind of action can be described as “normal feelings of pride and honor” illustrates perfectly the difference between an honor-shame culture, where the bar to violence is exceptionally low, and an integrity-guilt culture where the bar is high. Some journalists seem so driven by their need for moral equivalence that they cannot even imagine the difference.
But there’s more and worse. One of the key elements in this Palestinian’s worldview is the constant hate-speech that permeates the media he watches. Palestinian leadership interacts in particularly vicious and dysfunctional ways with the Israelis, producing things like the “apartheid wall,” and then allows a miserable and wretched people to have one outlet: honor-killings. The role of TV produced rage is one of the great, and largely untold elements of this now-global tragedy. And, alas, out of some kind of “beaten-wife syndrome,” the Israeli government doesn’t fight back by emphasizing this element of the problem, while the MSM act as enablers by not mentioning it.
And this is all done in English in a newspaper that cannot publish anything without the approval of the Saudi royal family.