Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Why Palestinian Incitement Against Israel Works--And When It Doesn't

Evelyn Gordon makes the point that Palestinian incitement of hatred against Israel is successful because it is based on psychology--not psychopaths:
Some years ago, at the height of the second intifada, the Shin Bet security service interviewed dozens of failed suicide bombers (people caught before they could blow themselves up, or whose bombs failed to explode) in an effort to find out what made them tick. Its conclusion may at first seem surprising: The number-one motive driving these terrorists was a craving for their own society’s admiration. The knowledge that they would be lionized as heroes – that streets and squares would be named for them, that religious and political leaders would sing their praises, that the media would publish glowing obituaries, that schoolchildren would study them as role models – created a powerful incentive for young Palestinians to blow themselves up.
That being the case, that finding also indicates how to defeat Palestinian society's reward of terrorism:

This finding was reinforced some years later by media interviews with wanted Fatah terrorists who, under a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, agreed to lay down their arms in exchange for an Israeli amnesty. Asked why they agreed, all offered roughly the same answer: Whereas once, they were heroes, welcomed everywhere, Israel’s increasingly successful counterterrorism efforts had turned them into pariahs.

When some of them strolled into a Tulkarm coffeehouse, all the customers fled, fearing an Israeli strike, and the owner ordered them out. Taxi drivers refused to pick them up; barbers refused to cut their hair. And, worst of all, they couldn’t get married. As one Palestinian explained, he didn’t want his daughter marrying a terrorist, because “I want her to have a good life, without having the army coming into her house all the time to arrest her while her husband escapes into the streets.” Amnestied terrorist Mahdi Abu Ghazale said his fiancee’s family explicitly conditioned the engagement on him obtaining the amnesty.
Gordon indicates there is a lesson to be learned, once the nature of the Palestinian terrorists is understood:
The vast majority of human beings care greatly about the good opinion of their reference group, and this is perhaps especially true of “ideological” criminals: The good opinion of their reference group is essential to maintaining their illusion that they are doing something brave and noble to advance the group’s shared cause.

Palestinian terrorism is a classic example of ideological crime. The terrorists were convinced their murderous acts would advance their society’s shared goal of defeating the hated Zionist enemy, and this conviction was reinforced by their society’s admiration. But it shattered once society started treating them as pariahs instead. And at that point, many opted to quit.
Read the whole thing.

Unfortunately, while the West may not see the Palestinian terrorists as psychopaths, the West does buy into the idea that these are "freedom fighters" waging a war of "resistance". By reinforcing that self-image, the West does great damage not only to Israel but to the West in general as well.

Going a step further, Israel may itself have reinforced the image of terrorist as freedom-fighter by releasing the terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit--to a heroes welcome.

It remains to be seen the full impact of the exchange.
In the meantime, the message that Evelyn Gordon relates about the true nature of Palestinian terrorism and the way to defeat it needs to be absorbed.

One lesson of course is that the Palestinian leadership--headed by Abbas--are not moderates at all.
They are terrorist leaders.

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