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March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 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.

The Canadian police saw this as an isolated act of a madman (as American police had once viewed Ted Bundy’s bloody trail of femicide). What the Canadian police failed to understand was the importance of certain biographical and childhood factors. For example, Lepine was born Gamile Rodrigue Gharbi to an Algerian Muslim father and a French-Canadian mother who had formerly been a nun. Lepine’s father, Liess Gharbi, physically and psychologically brutalized both his son and his wife. He probably taught his son that women are chattel – property – who deserve to be beaten even when they are obedient and perhaps murdered when they are not.

What is important to note is that Gharbi/Lepine blamed women for the considerable crimes of his father, whose culture was Islamic and Algerian.

As Dr. Chesler recounts in her book, The Death of Feminism, in 2001 an angry mob of 300 Algerian men conducted a three-day pogrom against Algerian women in which they tortured, stabbed, mutilated, gang-raped, buried alive and murdered women in Hassi Messaoud.

In Dr. Chesler’s 1978 book, “About Men,” she posited that the paternal abandonment of, and cruelty toward, sons may be a crucial component in mother- and woman-hating. Dr. Nancy Kobrin, in her forthcoming book The Sheik’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth About Islamic Suicide Terrorism, suggests that the absolute degradation of Arab and Muslim women by a shame- and honor-society means that sons must perpetually rid themselves of the “contamination” that contact with women represents; and that sons must psychologically abandon their mothers even as they experience abandonment by their mothers. Many such sons are trained to mistrust, police, routinely batter, and sometimes even murder their female relatives.

Dr. Kobrin believes that such psychological dynamics may play a crucial role in contemporary Islamic terrorism.

While girl- and woman-battering and honor murders are increasingly normalized in Islamic culture, the enemy-outsider, who must also be scapegoated, has been increasingly eroticized. Israel-hatred and Jew-hatred have achieved a level of political-erotic obsession among jihadists that may even surpass that of the Nazi era. Israel is no longer “feminine” and for some, this is its great, existential crime. Israel refuses to absorb the hatred and violence or to forever turn the other cheek.

Individual Jewish women, though, may present a particularly tempting target to mentally ill and violent Muslims in a jihadic era. The “Jewess” is the most denigrated female in Islamic ideology. Zaynab bint Al-Harith, the Khaybar “Jewess,” is the woman who was falsely accused of having poisoned the prophet Muhammed after having witnessed the beheading of her entire male community in the Battle of Khaybar. Not coincidentally, Hizbullah currently calls its missiles “Khaybar.” We have also been told that a new Iranian television station is known as “Khaybar.”

Israeli civilians are at the greatest risk as they endure a slow Holocaust-like bleed of civilians. American civilians, both here and abroad, including in Europe, are also at great risk. All those who currently work for Jewish organizations in America are perhaps especially vulnerable to this eroticized Jew-hatred that permeates the very air we breathe.

We hope that Americans, both male and female, especially those who believe their politically correct and pro-jihadic views will protect them from jihadic violence, will now begin to wrestle with the tragedy in Seattle. We hope they do not blame Israel for what Haq did. His crime is a complicated mix of mental illness, woman-hatred, and Jew- and Israel-hatred. Perhaps all the propaganda against Israel and the Jews propelled Haq, a lost soul, to cling to the illusion that his criminal action could redeem his lost honor.

A Jewish woman who knew the murdered Pam Waechter told us that Waechter, who was born a Lutheran and converted to Judaism, “was a better Jew than I or most of us could ever be.” Jewish tradition believes that messianic redemption will enter the world through the good deeds of women converts to Judaism, beginning with Ruth, the ancestor of King David. Let us learn the necessary lessons about redemption from Pam Waechter’s martyrdom.

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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