Try and comprehend the indiscriminate killing of 3000 innocent civilians because you do not agree with their culture.
Fathom the mind set necessary in order to kill your own country men to cause fear in your enemy.
Could you place a bomb on your own child and send them out to kill themselves and possibly some of the enemy? I'm sure I could not.
Yet that is what is happening in the Middle East, each and everyday. We fight it, we stand against it, we postulate about it on here and other boards;
yet we do not truly understand it.
I recently attended several seminars that were supposed to instruct us in the differences in interrogating someone from a Middle Eastern culture as
opposed to the Western Culture. This was given to Police Interrogators all across the country and required that one be at least certified in the Reid
Techniques of Interrogation. It was certainly an eye opener for me.
Now I am not going to even suggest that it made me any kind of expert on the Middle Eastern Culture. Quite the opposite, it caused more questions in
my mind than anything else.
Our basic principles of truth are fundamental to our society. Taught to us at the earliest stages of development and reinforced throughout our
"upbringing." If we lie we get punished, if we lie something bad will happen to us. ETC.
Our religious foundations are based on these concepts as well.
Such is not exactly the case in the Middle Eastern culture.
An early Islamic theologian: “We must lie when truth leads to unpleasant results” (al-Ghazali, quoted in Laffin, The Arab Mind, p. 79).
“It is sometimes a duty to lie” (ibid.). “If a lie is the only way to reach a good result, it is allowable” (ibid.). And a medieval Syrian
poet also wrote: “I lift my voice to utter lies absurd, for when I speak the truth, my hushed tones scarce are heard” (Abu l’Ala 973-1057,
quoted in ibid., p. 50). Lying, therefore, has been a normal, integral, prevalent and perfectly acceptable facet of Arab culture since time
Now don't jump to the conclusion that they are a dishonest peoples, nothing could be farther from the truth. Remember, we are talking about cultural
differences here and not simplistic values.
Strength, power and "winning" are prized in their culture in ways that are more abstract then our culture. We are very competitive yes, but in a
"John Wayne" kind of way. Where it is only good and noble to win, if we win following the rules.
Their culture is far more complex in those terms. Winning is everything and losing is a sign of weakness.
Also of note, this applies more to their dealings with other cultures and not their inter-cultural conduct. However this is not exclusive either.
Weakness is abhorrent to them, they are grounded in the belief that the APPEARANCE of strength is equally as important as the strength itself.
More recently, the same pattern has been seen in the Arab adoption of Osama bin Laden as a new Saladin who, with insulting and derogatory
language in his description of American martial qualities, conveyed a sense of invincibility and power that has subsequently been shown to be largely
imaginary. Saddam Hussein used similar bluster prior to the 1990 Gulf war. Patai traces this custom, which continues to the present era, back to
pre-Islamic days. It is also an apt example of the Arab tendency to substitute words for action and a desired outcome for a less palatable reality, or
to indulge in wishful thinking—all of which are reflected in the numerous historical examples Patai provides. This tendency, combined with Arabs'
predilection to idealize their own history, always in reference to some mythic or heroic era, has present-day implications. Thus the American
incursion into the Gulf in 1990 became the seventh crusade and was frequently referred to as another Western and Christian attempt to occupy the Holy
Land of Islam—a belief galvanizing the current crop of Middle Eastern terrorists. Meanwhile, Israel is frequently referred to as a "crusader
"The Arab Mind." (Raphael Patai)
Their respect and reverence for life is also held on a different level then our own.
Take for instance the typical suicide bomber.
Last month Yediot Aharonot presented a profile of the typical suicide bomber:
47% of the suicide bombers have an academic education and an additional 29% have at least a high school education.
83% of the suicide bombers are single.
64% of the suicide bombers are between the ages 18-23; most of the rest are under 30.
68% of the suicide bombers have come from the Gaza Strip.
"The bombers believe they are sent on their missions by God, and by the time they're ready to be strapped with explosives, say the sources,
they have reached a hypnotic state. Their rationale: that by blowing themselves up in a crowd of Israelis, they are forging their own gateway to
Even though suicide is strictly forbidden as stated in the Quran,
# Suicide is forbidden. "O ye who believe!... [do not] kill yourselves, for truly Allah has been to you Most Merciful. If any do that in
rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast him into the Fire..." (Qur'an 4:29-30).
# The taking of life is allowed only by way of justice (i.e. the death penalty for murder), but even then, forgiveness is better. "Nor take life -
which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause..." (17:33).
The manipulators of these acts use that very same religious zeal to recruit, prepare and train suicide bombers that completely believe that by their
actions they are going to heaven.
The BBC reported that suicide bombers "are likely to be motivated by religious fervor." According to a BBC report, recruits are "picked out
from mosques, schools and religious institutions. They are likely to have shown particular dedication to the principles of Islam… and are taught the
rewards that will await them if they sacrifice their lives."
How can we ever begin to understand this?
The bottom line is not entirely clear among Islamic clerics. Sheik Yousef al Qaradawi, a moderate Egyptian cleric told the Qatari newspaper Al
Raya in April, "They are not suicide operations. These are heroic martyrdom operations, and the heroes who carry them out don't embark on this
action out of hopelessness and despair but are driven by an overwhelming desire to cast terror and fear into the hearts of the
Tsun Tzu says that to defeat your enemy, you must first know him.
How can we ever understand concepts so foreign to our core beliefs?