Thursday, October 15, 2015

What the Stabbings in Israel Reveal about Palestinian Society.

What the Stabbings in Israel Reveal about Palestinian Society. HT M.E.Forum. by Alexander H. Joffe.

Do cultures have personalities, meaningful collections of attitudes and behaviors? If so, what does the ongoing wave of stabbings of Israelis—elderly passersby, strangers on buses, boys on bikes, infants in carriages—say about Palestinian culture? Who are they, really?

One suggestion is that Palestinian culture has been overtaken by psychosis. But what is the underlying cause of this flight to unreality? Part of the answer is sadomasochism.

All cultures have a touch of sadism. Political success requires defeating and humiliating enemies in battle, if only occasionally. Individuals capable of or prone to committing terrible pain upon others are found everywhere. And all societies endorse a degree of institutional sadism—police, prisons, military—as part of their monopoly on violence. But for most, pain is only a means to an end, political success and cultural survival, which are the true pleasures.

But inflicting pain and rejoicing in suffering are so visible within Palestinian culture that they can be construed as defining traits. Israelis being murdered, kidnapped, or even just rocketed are causes to hand out sweets to strangers in the street, to publicly affirm—and to invite others to affirm—pleasure in the suffering of others. This is a cultural psychology of objectification and dehumanization. But to characterize it merely as the result of pervasive incitement is inadequate. Read the full story here.

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