Islamic Terror: Conscious and Unconscious Motives

By Avner Falk | Go to book overview

The Roots of Muslim Rage

It is a common observation in the “West” that many Muslims, not only Islamic fanatics or terrorists, are enraged at us. The eminent Anglo-Jewish Arabist Bernard Lewis studied what he called “The Roots of Muslim Rage” from a historical viewpoint (Lewis 1990). Lewis focused on the public and conscious sphere. In my psychoanalytic study of the Arab-Israeli conflict, I discussed some of the personal and unconscious roots of Muslim rage and terrorism in the emotional structure of the Arab family (Falk 2004). The psychology and culture of the “Oriental” Arabs are still a matter of intense controversy between Muslim, Arab, Jewish, Christian, and other scholars (W.I. Cohen 1983; Lewis 1990, 1998, 2002, 2003; A. Ahmad 1991; Heggy 2005; Landes 2007).

The subject naturally stirs deep and powerful emotions among scholars. The American feminist scholars Phyllis Chesler and Nancy Kobrin have suggested that the roots of Islamic rage lie in the fundamentalist Muslim abuse of women, and that Islamic terror was the product of “an Islamic culture that denigrates women in general and a jihadist culture that denigrates all life [sic], 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” (Chesler and Kobrin 2006).

It should be pointed out that Islam itself does not “denigrate all life” nor does it “celebrate death.” It is true that extremist jihadists like Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah (his name means Allah’s victory), the Hezbollah leader, has said, “We have discovered how to hit the Jews where they are the most vulnerable. The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win because

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