The Link between Terror and Humiliation: Bulldozer driver was engaged in an Honor-Killing

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 | nafezah@yahoo.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.

bulldozer attack 3 blog

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.

23 Responses to The Link between Terror and Humiliation: Bulldozer driver was engaged in an Honor-Killing

  1. E.G. says:

    RL: It’s not mind-reading, it’s projection.

    I’d say it’s neither. To me it looks like rationalization.
    Simply guiding the reader to make the “proper” sense of the act.

  2. Eliyahu says:

    one of the reasons for the deep sense of Arab humiliation because of Israel is that under the authentic Arab/Muslim dispensation Jews were at the very bottom of the social ladder and the target of regular contempt [by Christian dhimmis too]. Jews were the most despised of the dhimmis. This is attested by a number of Western and Greek travelers, churchmen, and authorities. For instance, Francesco Gabrieli, the Italian historian of Islam and the Arabs. To be defeated by the lowest of the low, the most despised and abject of the dhimmis is intolerable –intolerably humiliating– to some Arabs/Muslims. Hence, the sense of humiliation is really felt. It is sincere.

    The problem is how the West, with its own age-old prejudices against Jews, shared by “leftists” who almost always are incapable of acknowledging their own prejudices, indulges this Arab bigotry and tolerates it very magnanimously. The Arabs have been writing and talking like this about Israel for many years. State Dept experts, some of whom are very aware of how the Arabs traditionally have thought about Jews [i.e., William R Polk] wittingly refrain from an honest explanation of these expressions in public forums.

    So, the misrepresentation and indulgence of such Arab expressions toward Jews and Israel is a feature of both “leftists” and State Dept and other Establishment experts. It is another case of “leftist” Judeophobic bigotry.

    Nevertheless, I believe that if Israeli leaders were more self-respecting, the Arabs too would be more respectful towards us. There are traits in Arab culture that may not conform strictly to Islamic law. Hence, peace is possible with Arabs under certain conditions.

  3. oao says:

    To be defeated by the lowest of the low, the most despised and abject of the dhimmis is intolerable –intolerably humiliating– to some Arabs/Muslims.

    not exactly sincere in the normal sense of the term. it is cognitive dissonance instilled in the arabs from kindergarten on by basing the entire educational system on the discrepancy between the koran and reality. there is little else taught and indoctrinated.
    it is also a very clever method to distract from the real source of the arab problems: their regimes. and, of course, their culture and religion, which is used to protect their regimes.

    The problem is how the West, with its own age-old prejudices against Jews, shared by “leftists” who almost always are incapable of acknowledging their own prejudices, indulges this Arab bigotry and tolerates it very magnanimously.

    how is not easy to figure out. you mention one root: anti-semitism. there are two others: the lefties’ frustration with their own failure, inducing hatred of the west; and, for the average westerners, fear of the jihad constantly amplified by the media as “grievance” and facilitated by ignorance and inability to reason of both the media and its audience.

    It is another case of “leftist” Judeophobic bigotry.

    i keep reminding that anti-semitism is rooted in the instinct to scapegoat during crises — it’s a need to avoid self-analysis and admit failures of oneself and one’s own society. that’s exactly what the left is undergoing, seeing as they do western society as failing the left dogma.

    Nevertheless, I believe that if Israeli leaders were more self-respecting, the Arabs too would be more respectful towards us.

    the collapse of the israeli leadership is like a red rag in front of the arabs, whose culture is one of respecting only power and force. the incompetent israeli elite, just like the western elite, wants to be loved. this is interpreted in the arab world as weakness and invites pounding. it is not a coincidence that islamism and its pounding have risen just when the western civilization has collapsed.

    oao
    http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/

  4. diane says:

    Two thoughts in a devil’s advocate vein:

    1. Do people reading this editorial (English speakers, presumably educated) just roll their eyes at a piece like this? (“More de-rigueur anti-Zionist vitriol from the state-sponsored rag. Yawn.”)

    2. Does this rant accurately reflect the views of readers? American editorialists can (and do) go over the top in their impassioned responses to … fill-in-the-blank. Isn’t this what Rush Limbaugh, Maureen Dowd and Ann Coulter do? To generalize from their frequently cock-eyed views to the core beliefs of average Americans would be a stretch, I think.

  5. Aviv says:

    RL,

    In his casualty figures, Al-Suwaigh is lying even when compared to B’tselem statistics.

    Admittedly, B’tselem sets a higher number of 2008 Palestinian civilian casualties. B’tselem cites 416, greater than Al-Suwaigh’s 365. [1]

    But B’tselem counts 82 Palestinian minors killed in 2008, which are about 20% of 416 — a far cry from Al-Suwaigh’s 50%.

    By his own data, Al-Suwaigh would have had about 182 dead Palestinian kids, giving him a lie factor of 2.21.

    [1] Then again we’re in mid-June, maybe Al-Suwaigh is leaving out the beginning of January in his six-month count.

    [2] Children, minors, not exactly the same thing. I say “minors” includes children and other age groups.

  6. R
    Thanks for the link to my recent work on the “domestic abuse” analog. the more I work on it the more I see that the Israeli/Arab dyad, the American/fascist,Islamist,totalitarian,leftist interaction and the abuser/abused dyad are all tips of the the same human behavior iceberg. They may all be separated by a little open water from our point of view but that is only because we do not yet fully understand the underlying connection well enough yet.

    In the meantime, it is becoming clear that the resemblance (http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/) is of a close, family nature. and that the analogy between “spousal abuse” syndrome and the inability of western nations to defend themselves against serial Islamist violence and demopathy holds vast potential as a illustrative model.

    The reader comments to the post I linked above and the two before it show that It is a vehicle which will enable us to divert the power of one of the few pragmatic social discrimination themes that are still acceptable under the “political correctness” imperative so that it can be used to rationalize a narrative that better explains the position of Israel, the USA and Western Civilization.

    While the “mainstream” thinking of pop-psychology and, even, influential movements within the formal bodies of theoretical psychiatry and psychology has followed the disciplines of anthropology, sociology and history into intense (even fascistic) compliance with the ideals of multiculturalism, political correctness and moral relativism, clinical social work and psycho-therapeutic work over the last thirty years have become advocates (if sometimes reluctant ones) of a more pragmatic, judgmental, decisive, and honest observation of and reaction to actual behavior. Its not that many of them don’t want to adopt the same blind, passive ethnocentric fiction of muticultural “don’t worry be happy”. They have been forced into this because they know that their actions and counsel are often the only buffer between their clients, for whom they care deeply, and the bitter reality that abusers are not of the same cultural/sociological matrix and cannot be rationalized into harmlessness. They have learned by hard experience that when honor/shame is the ruling motivation, the law of the jungle is the only law.

    So, while sociologists, psychologists, political scientists and educators put their intellectually creative and soothing but completely worthless and often dangerous theories into practice knowing that the injuries they cause are usually not personal and close. A bulldozer incident in Jerusalem, a rocket landing in Sderot or even a deadly blast that destroys an U.S. Embassy in Kenya and seem vary far removed from the seat of power. In any case the worst effects take a long time, with any luck any bad results will occur as they are nearing retirement age anyway. The clinical and forensic workers, on the other hand, know that a restraining order vacated once can result in a woman and three small children, whom they know and are often very close to, with cut throats.

    As you know, getting people in Israel and the the USA to give up their delusion that the way to coexistence and peace is to understand, accept and placate those who are different is nearly impossible, If abuse and addiction counseling is an area where some westerners have loosened the hold of PC and multiculturalism, we need to study the process and begin to generalize it to strengthen our cultural defenses.

  7. Aviv says:

    Correction: We are, of course, in mid-July.

  8. oao says:

    If abuse and addiction counseling is an area where some westerners have loosened the hold of PC and multiculturalism, we need to study the process and begin to generalize it to strengthen our cultural defenses.

    you are stretching the comparison too far. even if there were some truth in it, mass counseling is as questionable a proposition as the academic theories.

    the root cause is ignorance and inability to reason plus the failure to appreciate their necessity and lack of awareness of their absence. as long as that exists (and increases) there is little you can do with words. see:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/07092008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/intellectuals_lie__the_powerless_die_119080.htm

  9. Eliyahu says:

    oao, I agree about the ignorance and incapacity to reason of so many, especially among the university-”educated.” But I wouldn’t necessarily agree with fear. After all, Britain was pro-Muslim in India, pro-Arab, pro-Turkish [in re the Armenians], way back in the early 1920s. At that time, Islamdom was considered to be weak, at a low point, especially after Ataturk abolished the caliphate. Did the British foreign policy establishment fear the Muslims at that time??
    Furthermore, some dumbies may really believe what Prez Geo Bush II said about Islam as “a religion of peace.” If they really believe it, are they afraid of Islam??
    Of course, they would have to be pretty dumb to believe it. As to “leftists,” most of those among them who support Arabs and Arab and Islamist terrorism really admire it, almost drool over it. That’s revolution, isn’t it?? Doesn’t really matter, does it, where Islamist violence really intends to go?? Aren’t the violence and brutality themselves their own justification?? As to fear as a “leftist” motive in re Islam, Stalin’s Commisariat of Nationalities issued a pro-Muslim manifesto as early as the end of 1917, shortly after the bolshevik putsch in Russia. Did the Bolshies fear Muslims then other than as a possible obstacle to their control of old Russian territories in Central Asia??

  10. E.G. says:

    diane,

    You raise an interesting question: who reads this newspaper? Arabs? Expats in Saudi Arabia? Foreign Affairs officials?
    I have no idea whether this article reflects readers’ views. It sure reflects its author’s (and authorities) ones, and that’s its purpose: shape opinions.

    I’m perplexed by one characteristic: the terrorist, aged 30, is described as a “Palestinian youth”. It’s not the first time I see this weired attribution. I recall, for instance, the description of a Belgian Al Quaeda female in her 40′s as “a young woman”. When do Arabs become adults?

  11. oao says:

    After all, Britain was pro-Muslim in India, pro-Arab, pro-Turkish [in re the Armenians], way back in the early 1920s.

    we are not in the 1920′s and this does not negate the fear of the 2000′s.

    Furthermore, some dumbies may really believe what Prez Geo Bush II said about Islam as “a religion of peace.” If they really believe it, are they afraid of Islam??

    more say it because because of fear than because they believe it. they can persuade themselves they believe it, and are not conscious that it’s induced by fear.

    Doesn’t really matter, does it, where Islamist violence really intends to go??

    nothing would please me more than the jihadis imposing sharia on the lefties alone. it would be poetic justice and the only way to make those idiots realize what’s going on.

  12. oao,
    With all respect, I’m not stretching, you are not giving me enough credit. You are absolutely correct, that the idea of mass counseling is preposterous. No, I am saying that this is a model that strongly suggests that since counseling is not given more than one or two trials in the dangerous case of physical abuse, Its analog which in this case is diplomacy) should only be given a sincere but brief trial when enmeshed with a Jihadist foe.
    I am, in fact, arguing that we have used diplomacy far too long. It is time to find other remedies. We have tried sanctions which, if we want to wring every scintilla of meaning out of the metaphore would be the analog of restraining orders and arrest warrants. The obvious next choices would all be more direct- Embargo, asset seizure, raids, invasion, etc…
    Give it a chance – better yet visit my blog. the last three posts and (especially) the reader comments there might interest you…
    http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/

  13. diane says:

    I’m perplexed by one characteristic: the terrorist, aged 30, is described as a “Palestinian youth”. It’s not the first time I see this weired attribution. I recall, for instance, the description of a Belgian Al Quaeda female in her 40’s as “a young woman”. When do Arabs become adults?

    I would venture to guess that Richard would say this is further evidence of the infantilization of the “other” in the PCP paradigm. Arabs cannot achieve adulthood, because that would give them standing as moral agents, which in turn would shift blame for their immoral actions off the West’s oh-so-wide shoulders.

  14. oao says:

    Yaakov,

    That’s not what I understood from your comments. But if that’s what you meant, you’re preaching to the choir. However, don’t hold your breath. There is too much ignorance, cowardice and prostitution in the west for it to take your advice.

  15. CALLIE says:

    the bulldozer killer was NOT a youth he was over 30 years old. Idiots.

  16. E.G. says:

    diane,

    It’s not only infantilization. For some reason I associate it with Heinsohn’s “youth bulge” theory, suspecting that there might be some unconscious legitimation to youth violence by those who, some 40 years ago, were either violent youth themselves or justifying those youth.

    The Saudi journalist, qualifying an adult father of 2 as a youth is just taking a ride on Western Baby-boomers’ nostalgia.

  17. oao says:

    The Saudi journalist, qualifying an adult father of 2 as a youth is just taking a ride on Western Baby-boomers’ nostalgia.

    If he is, it’s called demopathy.

  18. Cynic says:

    As to “leftists,” most of those among them who support Arabs and Arab and Islamist terrorism really admire it, almost drool over it.

    Eliyahu,
    Don’t forget how the British romanticised Islam and the Arabs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries fooling many; and later Hollywood got into the act of misrepresenting reality as well.

  19. oao says:

    speaking of misrepresenting:

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/021737.php

    this is the same bbc which recently apologized for depicting the “gruesome” killing of the bulldozer terrorist.

  20. Eliyahu says:

    cynic, it wasn’t british alone. Romanticizing the Sons of the Desert was Anglo-American. Recall the role of Lowell Thomas, an American, in building up the romantic figure of Lawrence of Arabia.

  21. oao says:

    which defies said’s “theory”

  22. Eliyahu says:

    * * * * *
    Said was a liar from the beginning. Fifty + sixty years ago, there were few Middle East specialists in American academia. But these few included the very influential William R Polk and Philip Ireland –both pro-Arab, whitewashing Islam, etc.– not to mention Philip K Hitti who testified for the Arab side before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on palestine in 1946.

    Polk later became the top Middle East expert on the State Dept’s policy planning council. See link:

    http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=12598830&postID=1643172736216302249
    * * * * *

  23. Eliyahu says:

    while I’m at it, might as well mention the very romantic Sheik movies starring Rudolph Valentino.

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