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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

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (36) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Israel must survive , for all of our sakes [275 words]Phil GreendMay 27, 2007 14:2194836
Re:Israel must survive etc. [144 words]Emmanuel Etchells-AyreSep 20, 2009 18:1494836
Not by terror [65 words]YuanMar 5, 2005 03:3720668
Sharon's pullout from Gaza is the 1st fruit the Palestinians see [96 words]alvin_dayOct 23, 2004 23:1717863
If Hamas is strengthened... [23 words]OscarApr 28, 2004 06:5514916
Intifada [59 words]Robert N. RobbinsApr 26, 2004 17:5214875
Your analysis is simplistic [66 words]J MApr 24, 2004 11:0914854
Getting on the right track [86 words]Rebecca WilkinApr 22, 2004 07:5614836
Anti-Israel Terror Backfires [41 words]S.C.PandaApr 22, 2004 06:1814835
The Palestine are using hopeless tactics [365 words]ManticoreApr 22, 2004 06:0014834
The Truth will out [284 words]David TraversApr 21, 2004 23:5514829
Jihad knows no logic. [112 words]Timothy B. RobertsApr 21, 2004 21:2114827
Palestinians not dealing with reality [98 words]BobocApr 21, 2004 20:0614826
Winning? Who's winning? [118 words]Alexander M. BerlinApr 21, 2004 18:2414824
Palestinian State [71 words]john craigApr 21, 2004 17:4314823
The Culture of Humiliation [776 words]Mitzi AlvinApr 21, 2004 14:0814818
A pleasure [25 words]Frank MagnaniApr 21, 2004 10:0914814
Kudos [14 words]Eric SaibilApr 21, 2004 10:0714813
I pray that you are correct [36 words]Christopher N. BrooksApr 21, 2004 08:3714812
Couldn't agree with you more! [32 words]Mariana Harari FromentApr 20, 2004 21:5514808
No surprise [35 words]Dan KatcherApr 20, 2004 21:4514807
The Palestinians are Waking Up [118 words]Arlinda DeAngelisApr 20, 2004 21:0014806
IF... [87 words]leeApr 20, 2004 20:1914805
Iraqi/Palestinian Lessons [153 words]Lorraine StoneApr 20, 2004 19:1114804
A time to kill for survival [79 words]pchuangApr 20, 2004 19:0614803
Arab world/s biggest success is in making miscalculations [56 words]Moses NathanApr 20, 2004 17:5314801
Question re Arafat [44 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Nogah BethlahmyApr 20, 2004 17:4214800
Thank You [43 words]Eleanor TaylorApr 20, 2004 17:3514799
Excellent analysis [57 words]AvrahamApr 20, 2004 16:3414797
Safety of Jews and Christians in America [235 words]Sir Daniel TobinApr 20, 2004 15:4914796
Right on Israel [99 words]Derek JohnApr 20, 2004 14:5514793
Credit to Sharon [215 words]John W. McginleyApr 20, 2004 14:4614792
If it were only so [131 words]Steven HessApr 20, 2004 14:2114789
Great! [52 words]Robert G. MogullApr 20, 2004 14:1414788
Economy [31 words]LarryApr 20, 2004 14:0114787
Difference between productivity and income [92 words]Boris ZeldovichApr 20, 2004 13:3814786

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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