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The Culture of Humiliation

Reader comment on item: Anti-Israel Terror Backfires

Submitted by Mitzi Alvin (United States), Apr 21, 2004 at 14:08

One can't help but notice that among those who defend Arab/Islamic causes the word "humiliation" pops up again and again. It is the engine, the motive force of their argument, and the mantra of their grievances. It acts as both a crutch and a weapon and its constant reiteration reveals an attitude that is crippling and, finally, self-defeating.

As Iraqi belligerence intensifies, it has become strikingly clear to me that the people driving these Arab/Islamic causes have a penchant for fouling their own nest. So fixated are they on the adolescent fear of being humiliated ("dissed"), that they ignore, or are oblivious, to any pragmatic solutions to their problems. They would rather court chaos than forego making their enemies suffer. Better to see your country dissolve in ruins than to see the enemy prosper.

Nowhere is this tendency more in evidence than in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Irony of ironies! Had the Arabs accepted a Jewish State back in 1948 and bided their time, they could have easily overwhelmed the fragile, new nation and gained their objective: no more Israel. But, rather than look weak and conciliatory, they chose war and, unbelievably, the Jews won. From that point on, the balance of power shifted irrevocably. Israel emerged from the war with a confident, battle-tested army and the Arabs were shown-up as "losers." How humiliating! To be beaten by Jews, dhimmi. They are the ones who, according to the Koran, are "consigned to humiliation and wretchedness." How cruel, how evil of the Jews not to acknowledge their inferiority,
to fight back. Obviously, the battle must continue. Saving face and seeking revenge must take precedence over peace and prosperity.

Naturally, if one can't abide the appearance of concession then compromise is out altogether. Had the Palestinians negotiated with the Israelis directly after the '67 war, they would have retained most of their 1948 borders. Had they accepted the peace plans of 2000 and 2001, they would have regained most of their lost territory and received some reparations for Palestinian refugees as well. Had they restrained the Intifada, their economy would not be in tatters, their leaders would not have been assassinated, their citizens would not be endangered, and, significantly, their passage to and from areas in the West Bank, Gaza. and Israel, itself, would not be subjected to those long, uncomfortable, "humiliating" procedures undertaken to safeguard Israeli citizens. Procedures which, by the way, are also miserable for and unwanted by the Israelis.

But, of course, compromise means allowing a Jewish presence to remain at the sacred sites, putting up with Jewish sovereignty in Muslim lands, and, worst of all, living with the "humiliating" results of Jewish success. Rather death than those alternatives.



In a similar vein, had the Iraqi insurgents lain low and cooperated for a time
with the occupation forces, before violently pushing forward with their political and religious objectives, they could have waited out the occupation and avoided the heavy retaliation of American fire power. But, somehow, it is more important for these "patriots" to blacken the American's eye, to derail his goals (even if those goals prove ultimately beneficial) and, especially, to "humiliate" him. Unthinkable for the truly loyal Iraqi or the truly devout Muslim to review the situation and decide that looting, murder, and hostage-taking are counter-productive, no matter how one feels about foreign domination. After all, circumspection might lead Iraqi citizens towards a bright and productive future, and that would mean the Americans win. What could be more humiliating?

Somewhere in the Islamic universe there are, I am sure, sane and sensible heads, not obsessed with that frangible, Medieval concept fanatics like to call "honor." But for now, thoughtful Muslims, it would seem, have been systematically bullied, brutalized and "shamed" into quiescence. As for the others, they are intent on indulging themselves in the seductive self-deception of bigots who cannot accept the realities of anyone who
doesn't share their perspective. They attack, at will, those who appear to be thwarting them, and, if they don't get their way, they cry "Foul!" and press for damages. "We've been humiliated. Somebody-the Americans, the Spanish, the Italians, the Jews-must pay." Even when their concerns are legitimate and their disagreements reasonable, they reject the time-honored methods of discussion, bargaining and, as we have seen, compromise. And, of course, no one dare suggest that they might possibly be wrong. They are never wrong and whoever says otherwise is the Enemy. Moreover, these Enemies are everywhere. Such thinking betrays an immature, narcissistic mentality that is profoundly self-destructive. No wonder suicide bombing is the weapon of choice. It isn't America, the Jews, or the West that has humiliated the inhabitants of this paranoid world. They humiliate themselves.


Mitzi Alvin
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