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Updated 4 July 2007

Along with Alienation, an important element of the radicalization process for terrorists is simply humiliation where one person or society lords it over others individually and as groups.

Principal reference for what follows: Jessica Stern, "Terror in the Name of God." Listen to Sound Bite for her own words.

Unlike most pundits, Stern actually braves the travel, visits the world's troubled sites, talks with both terrorist and victim sympathetically to learn about their roots, their involvement and condition. She is a true authority who is not an Authoritarian, a rare breed.

A common theme among her terrorist contacts was the feeling of humiliation. Unless we can effectively address such feelings, terrorism is here to stay. No amount of "State of the Union" messages, bluster by army brass, marching to the plutocratic tune, and posing in a flight suit will make any difference. And people remember.

Let's take a recent concrete example of two neighbors: Confinement: Area = 147 sq. miles, 388 sq. kilometers.

Ethnicity: Group A about 1.2 million; group B about 6,000; shared the area as neighbors; population ratio about 2,000 to 1.

Farming: Population B operated green houses; population A did not.

Governance: Population A was at the mercy of population B, enforced by check points backed by powerful and modern police, army, and air force.

History: Population A dispossessed by population B.

Industry: Virtually none beyond greenhouses in B zone.

Job security: Population A none.

Land allocation: A had 85.25 sq. mi.; B had 61.74 sq. mi.

Odors in central district of A sector: "Mingled smells of sewage, sweat, spices, and rotting meat...", none in the other sector.

Population density: A = 14,080 per sq. mi.; B = 97.2 per sq. mi.

Political dominance: Population B.

Sanitation facilities: There were little or none in the A sector, relatively modern in area B.

Unemployment: A = 40%; B effectively zero. Two-thirds of A lived below the local poverty line.

Water distribution: B consumed 70% of what was available at subsidized prices. Total water supply: Limited and inadequate..

Per capita water consumption: A = 0.25 relative units; B= 170 relative units; population B, per person, consumed about 680 times as much water as population A did.

Population A lived with population density 145 times that of population B; population B had 145 times more space per person

Population A found its citizens frequently incarcerated.

Population A had no hope of recovering its traditional prominence.

Of course we are talking about Gaza Palestinians and Israeli "settlers." Tawfiq Abu-Ghazaleh is a renowned Palestinian lawyer. His wife said to Ms. Stern:

"Until you have been forced out of your own home, until you have watched the police beat your own child, you can never understand the Palestinian pain."

Speaking of the the Palestinians, Golda Meier, among other Zionists, bluntly stated: "They are nothing." The Abu-Ghazaleh and Meier statements encapsulate the problem that was and still is Palestine.

Given the squalid and desperate Palestinian condition, how could anyone expect them not to become terroristic?

Equally important: How could anyone impose such inhuman conditions? The bad taste and hatred developed over generations left the bad taste of humiliation in the Palestinian mind. Split by rival movements, Palestinians nevertheless hate Israel and its benefactor with a passion. Until the Palestinian's pain is relieved, terror will continue to be the only card they have to play.

Of course the Neocons will tell us that supporting Israel was and still is in our strategic interest. But since when is fanning the flames of terrorism in our strategic interest? Answer to that seems to be simply: so the Neocons can hold onto power by scaring the American public. In the background of course is Hitler's holocaust and world sympathy for the slaughtered Jews. But the Zionist's plan for Palestine was in the works well before Hitler. See Zionism.

Chris Hedges, "Gaza Diary," Harper's, Oct 2001 wrote in this connection:

"Hamas leaders recognize that poverty and hopelessness increase support for them. 'Hardship always brings people back to God. It is like a sickness.' Sheik Younis al-Astal, another Hamas leader, explains [to Ms Stern.] 'A believer should never be afraid of being poor, but of being rich. When you become rich, you think only of things. This kills your soul. Islam distinguishes us in that it prepares people to die for the sake of Allah. They are always ready to die for Allah.'"

An elderly resident of Jenin stated the obvious:

"Look around and see how we live here, then maybe you can understand why there are always volunteers for martyrdom. Every good Muslim understands that it's better to die fighting than live without hope." Ref: Philip Jacobsen, UN Relief and Works Agency.

Most God-fearing people would [should, could?] agree that every person on earth is a child of God. What kind of God allows such humiliation to be? One created by humankind, of course. See God, Monotheism and Violence, and Natural History. See also Authoritarian Personality and Sociopath Next Door for more on the root psychology.

God exists in the sense that, he, she, it, they, or something unimaginable created the universe and everything in it. Religion arises spontaneously in most societies. The problem is that much of humankind [fundamental monotheism in particular] is stuck in the Seventh Century. Authoritarianism, for the reasons described by the Palestinians and Golda Meier above, focuses on domination, a leftover from our jungle/savanna heritage.

Christianity had its reformation that allowed a modicum of free thinking that eventually led to the advances toward modernism via science, technology, and the separation of Church and state.

Islam is still in the Inquisition stage of development. We can only hope that Islamic governance can someday give way to a secular variety that embraces pluralism and peaceful integration. But that has not been the history, and history dies hard, just like hang-ups hang on to individuals who own them. See Little Boy Saved.

Judaism remains unchanged from the days of the Zealots. Judaism and Zionism are essentially inseparable in our modern thinking about Israel. Yet the Zionists are the ones that imposed terror on Palestine. Ariel Sharon was Golda Meier's reincarnation in his treatment of the Palestinians.

None of these monotheisms has shown the way toward peace. Each is in conflict with each of the others. Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip changed nothing fundamentally.

And the Hindus, nominally peaceful, have allowed humiliation via their caste system to be visited on their untouchables, the Dalits, whom society views only as fit to clean sewage pits.

The way of the sword is the way of the deprived, the desperate, the alienated, the dispossessed, the humiliated, the terrorist.

Would Mr. Bush behave as he does if he could tour Palestine incognito? We think he would because he can rationalize that the Palestinians brought it on themselves, conveniently forgetting that the Zionist invasion-by-immigration began in 1917 and continues to this day. We are convinced he believes his own propaganda that war is the way to peace. In an interview on national TV, he frankly stated, "I am a war President." He evidently finds it easy to blame the victim. Significantly, the Neocon Movement does not hold world peace as a goal.

We are not heartened by the fact that Arabs will soon be in the majority in Israel itself. That event will strip the Zionists naked at last, for the Arabs will find no seats of influence in governance.

The annals of history speak poorly of overlords who persistently humiliate -- so does common sense, the psychology of terror inherent in the above, and Authoritarianism.

Arab humiliation in the news:

A Forum Comment -- "Problems with Arab Culture". Here is an extended excerpt:

      "When living in the Middle East there are all sorts of cultural things you are NOT to do because they might cause disrespect to an Arab. These cultural things seem to have developed over centuries of a male dominant world. The customs seem to help eliminate the male ego-bashing and de-masculinization of a person in a public situation.

      For instance:

      Arab men will stand much closer to one another in casual business and social meetings. As an American, you may draw back from this closeness. The move can be interpreted as a rebuff or rejection of what is being said. It can cause shame on the Arab.

      Arabs traditionally use the right hand for all public functions - including shaking hands, eating, drinking, and passing objects to another person. Using your left hand is an insult and if done around other men can bring much humiliation on your Arab friend.

      The sole of your feet are considered unclean and can easily cause social humiliation. It is impolite to point the sole of the foot at the person to whom you are speaking. You must always be aware of how the bottoms of your feet are pointed when crossing your legs or raising them in anyway. You should never touch another person with the sole of your foot or shoe.

      When it comes to the conflicts that western nations have with Arab countries, there is a religious and cultural form of humiliation that the West seems to always inflict on an Arab country. Unfortunately, this shame that occurs can only be retaliated by jihad, or a holy war against the intruder.

      Arab culture is all about avoiding this social shame.

      The social response to shame is: Shame must be avoided. If shame strikes then it must be hidden. If shame is exposed to the society, it must be avenged.

      To the Arab people, shame struck in many ways. The Americans, considered infidels, have freed Iraq from a dictator who they themselves could not remove. The world saw this and has brought great humiliation on the society.

      The Americans have begun to occupy cities and police Arabs. This again is seen as a great form of humiliation.

      The Koran teaches that the only way to erase this shame is through revenge.

      This might help to explain why Islamic Fundamentalists are motivated to wage their war against America. By being in Iraq, America has brought a great shame upon the Arabs. Their response will be to avenge and develop more terrorist activities against those who brought this humiliation upon them."

Arabs and Jews -- Humanist, Sept-Oct, 2002, by Rabbi Sherwin Wine

"The war between the Jews and the Arabs in former British Palestine has been going on for eighty-one years. In 1921, the first Arab explosion against the Zionist pioneers announced the beginning of the fray. Hatred and suspicion have undermined any successful resolution of the conflict."
Arabic Electronic mail journal -- "The US Neoconservatives vis-a-vis the world"

Press Review -- From: Al-Osboua weekly, March 29, 2000.

"Sharon only understands the language of force and he did not care for the 'peaceful' attack launched against him by the Arab summit. The established fact is that, whether after the summit or before it, there is no bottom for the Arab humiliation versus Israel and the United States of America..."

For an organizartion studiying humiliation in depth, go to: Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies

See also: for more.

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