The Third Rail Of Palestinian Failure
April 27, 2007
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For American lawmakers of either party, tinkering with Social Security has long been considered the ‘third rail’ of American politics, a kind of kiss of death for any politician with higher aspirations.
Talk of renouncing violence is the ‘third rail’ of Palestinian lawmakers. For them, such talk is political suicide. Such talk is also considered traitorous and contrary to religious dogma.
Yesterday, we noted that to challenge the significance and importance of Palestinian violence and terror has the kind of ramifications that can come back and bite. Questioning the status quo can upend a very dysfunctional culture.
Suicide bombers and terrorists are glorified. Parents are regaled as almost equal to the shahid, for having raised and encouraged a child to go off to his death, murdering as many non members of the group as possible. Those parents become elevated in status and morality, precisely because their child embraced the immorality of indiscriminate murder. The prestige bestowed (and thus the dysfunction) is so great that many other parents harbor wishes for the same recognition. They are willing to sacrifice their own children. It is not uncommon to hear the refrain that ‘we love death,’ not because of the finality of death but rather, because of the desperate belief that in death will come a kind of relief. The restrictive bonds of life under tyranny (Palestinians and the Arab world are well aware of who their leaders are) will be broken- a new, more pure ‘life’ awaits them on the other side. Even talk of sexual pleasures unavailable in conservative Arab societies, can be talked about within a religious context. A teenager, consumed with own sexuality- and feeling guilty about that obsession- often sees his own shahada as a kind of redemption in addition to the skewed religious and moral expressions he or she was taught to believe.
The shahid and his or her family have to believe that. They cannot question those who define the afterlife, because to question that would be too painful. They understand that the ideologues that encourage young men and women to their deaths are corrupt. They understand that those ideologues define religion in any way that best suits their needs at any given time…
To question the basis of Palestinian shahada (martyrdom) is to question the predicates and foundation of the group.
Nevertheless, one Palestinian notable addressed the culture of violence directly.
In October 2006 Ghazi Hamad, publisher of an influential newspaper and Hamas spokesman and senior advisor to the Hamas government, plainly asked if violence and a culture of death have become a disease or bacteria that has infected the Palestinians.
Hamad’s argument was simple. What kind of future could a society have if violence is a legitimate form of expression and exchange? He broke a taboo by speaking of violence in Palestinian homes, streets, neighborhoods and between clans. He went on to make very clear that the pervasive culture of violence could not sustain a future Palestinian society and the rejection of violence was the obligation of every Palestinian.
We have surrendered to it until it has become the master and is obeyed everywhere – in the house, the neighborhood, the family, the clan, the faction, and the university.
…violence has taken away the language of brotherhood and replaced it with arms.. It has stolen our unity and divided us into two camps, or three, or ten.”
“Shouldn’t we be ashamed of this ugly behavior which scandalizes us before our people and before the world?” he asked.
Hamad addressed issue which both the Palestinian and western media furiously avoid. The Haaretz article noted that Hamad wrote that 175 Palestinians had been killed by “Palestinian gunfire” since the beginning of the year. Understand that the figure of 175 Palestinians killed in a few months by other Palestinians reflects only the number of deaths reported. The majority of killings go unreported, for fear of reprisal. It is also true the ongoing killing fields as the ‘Intrafadah,’ assigns the body count of the number of Palestinians killed by other Palestinians, to victims killed by the Israelis.
Factor in Palestinian body count inflation and the number of victims of the ‘Intrafadah,‘ a whole new perspective of the conflict emerges.
We want to disown this disease, this cancer, which has damaged our brains, and paralyzed our hearts.
The Palestinian addiction to violence and the resistance to change may very well be a deliberate attempt by Palestinian leaders to repress the reality they know is true- and one they are afraid Palestinians will demand.
The Palestinians, as a group and as a society, have failed. Unlike other Arabs in the region, they live in close proximity to a vibrant and free society. They know and see the benefits of what living in a free society means. They also know to acknowledge Israel’s successes, they have to acknowledge their own failures. Culturally, that is too high a price to pay.
The cycle of violence is not simply destined to perpetuate itself- the cycle of violence is reinforced and ever escalating. Dysfunctional behaviors that were unknown or unheard before have become commonplace.The self destructive behavior of the Palestinians comes about as the result of the integration of exaggerated love and exaggerated hate into a fused single exaggerated emotion. What distinguishes the two becomes no more than a blurred idea. Thus, violence directed at each other is a appropriate as violence directed at the Israelis.
This kind diseased thinking is not just about violence. Even the wildest conspiracy theories, widely welcomed and accepted, become a reflection of a dysfunctional defense mechanism and absurdity. As Arab religious and political leaders whip crowds into a wild frenzy, warning of ‘Jewish plots’ to control the world, these same religious and political leaders have no trouble promising that ‘Muslims all over the world will work together to control the world’ and that the ‘flag of Islam will fly over the White House’ and the British Parliament. Those who resist will be destroyed.
These kinds of projections are used by religious and political leaders to control and feed the fantasy with the intoxication of absolute power. In their world, the non Muslim must not only submit, but he must be in a subjugated and terrorized. He must be in a constant state of fear of the believers power. The idea is intoxicating- it is directed at some of the most failed and broken cultures and societies in history.
There is a difference between backward societies and failed ones. Backward societies are unaware of the possibilities in front of them. Failed societies have squandered the opportunities that have been afforded them. Failed societies can recover, but only if they reject the ideologies that led them to fail in the first place. That kind of redemption will not come easily in a culture where
To admit one’s flaws and mistakes, to correct and repent is inconceivable…
To acknowledge one’s shortcomings before first blaming others would bring deep shame and dishonor not only to the individual but to his or her entire family…If the mistake is a cultural taboo, one’s reputation may be scarred for life and the perpetrator might end up brutally punished.
The society that births terrorists or supporters of terror, is one that encourages the narcissism of the self as paramount- more important even, than adding the self to the fabric of the well being and elevation of the entire community. It is the beliefs and feelings of the individual, or a group of individual with similar ideologies, that counts. The ‘collective’ of a community with diverse thoughts and ideas are rejected, for fear of being unable to control the community.
The narcissistic self is never progressive. It fears the future (what it cannot control) and regressive, wanting and encouraging only it’s own ideologies, beliefs and value systems. This is not unlike the Catholic Church when it struggled and wrestled with science. The narcissist, like the Church at the time, fights bitterly to maintain control over ideas and beliefs, stifling opposition at will.
Narcissistic and ‘progressive’ ideologies are predicated on the belief that others cannot think for themselves. The indoctrination by progressives and narcissists does not allow for the natural urge of humans to reach accommodation and allow for self expression. Even before the progressive/narcissist forces his ideology, he must force his control if he is to maintain power.
The Palestinians- and other narcissist/progressives, have a long road before them.