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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
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Psychological Roots Of Islamic Rage


Islamic terrorists routinely kidnap the most vulnerable civilians and hold them hostage. Hamas and Hizbullah, like Arafat’s PLO, hold their own people hostage as well, and hide both themselves and their weapons among Muslim civilians.

For years, Hizbullah held the village of Kana hostage. When Israel finally fought back against Hizbullah’s shelling of Israeli civilians, the Jewish state reaped a whirlwind of condemnation. Israel mourned these civilian deaths even as many Islamists celebrated these deaths as a great propaganda victory.

Just as Hizbullah hid behind women and children in Kana, using them as human shields, so too does Muslim culture “honor-murder” its own women and girls.

Since we are now one world connected by cell phones, the Internet, and satellite television programs – as well as by Muslim immigration to the West, similar behavior can and has erupted against American civilians, both at home and abroad. In the recent past, Muslim Islamists have shot and killed Jewish-American males – e.g. Leon Klinghoffer (1985), Rabbi Meir Kahane (1990), Ari Halberstam (1994), Daniel Pearl (2002) and Nicholas Berg (2004).

In 1968, Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian, murdered Senator Robert Kennedy because Kennedy’s pro-Israel stand enraged him.

We may now have reached a turning point of sorts. On July 28, 30-year-old Naveed Afsal Haq, a supposedly lone and mentally ill Muslim-American of Pakistani origin (he had been diagnosed as bipolar and was on lithium and depacote), took a 13 year-old American girl hostage in order to gain entry to the Jewish Federation Building in Seattle.

(We must note that many mentally ill people are functioning, non-violent members of society and that many criminals, including dictators, have never been psychiatrically diagnosed or denigrated.)

Haq declared that he was “angry with Israel” and announced that it was a “hostage” situation. He began shooting women, including one who was pregnant. Five Jewish- and Christian-American women were wounded and one, 58-year-old Pam Waechter, was murdered. Haq shot several of the women in the abdomen.

Perhaps Haq’s crime is not only the product of his bipolar mental illness. It may also reflect an Islamic culture that denigrates women in general and a jihadist culture that denigrates all life, including Muslim life, and which seeks to oppress and destroy all living beings. For example, many Islamic suicide killers will purposely target pregnant women or women with small children before they blow themselves up.

Further, both in the past and in general, Jews have been seen as “female” or “feminine” because they were not allowed to bear arms and preferred a non-violent resolution of conflict for both ethical and practical reasons.

Islamic culture is a shame-and-honor-culture. What this means is that child socialization involves shaming and humiliation. Many adults reared this way are especially sensitive to slights that tend to be experienced as extremely humiliating.

Haq has been described as short (he is 5 ‘4 and wore elevator soles). He has also been described as bald, socially inept, a loner, and, despite a degree in engineering, unemployed. The ideologies of extreme hatred often attract highly dysfunctional followers, some of whom are capable of violence.

Haq’s crime took place on a Friday – a day when devout Muslims often hear sermons excoriating Israel, Jews, and America. In Israel, many Jews have been stabbed by Muslims on a Friday. In our opinion, however, this may not have been the case here. Haq had been charged with “lewd conduct” for having exposed himself in a public place. His humiliation was about to escalate. He snapped – but in a particular kind of way.

Like the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, who wanted no pregnant women to approach his imagined corpse, Haq apparently had no interest (or ability) to relate to women. People refuse to understand that the “occupation” that jihadists rant about is really how they themselves have been “occupied” by childhood shaming and punishing techniques. When such cruelty turns them crazy or when they are psychologically vulnerable, they may act out in the only socially approved ways allowed, namely, they first scapegoat the intimate enemy which is female and then the outsider enemy: Jews, Israelis, Zionists, and Americans.

Haq’s act is chillingly reminiscent of the Montreal Massacre that took place on December 6, 1989. Marc Lepine entered the engineering school at the University of Montreal and killed fourteen women while wounding fifteen others. Lepine, who had been rejected by both the Canadian Army and the engineering school at the University of Montreal, said in his suicide note that he was after the “feminist viragos” who had ruined his life.

About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of fifteen books including “Women and Madness” (1972), “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003), and her latest, “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013). Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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