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Thursday, December 23, 2010

A new type of "honor killing"

From Ha'aretz:
A Palestinian caught trying to infiltrate a settlement Wednesday night claims he was sent by his family members, who had hoped he would be killed by soldiers during the infiltration.

Israel Defense Forces soldiers patrolling the central West Bank near the settlement of Beit El on Wednesday spotted a Palestinian walking toward the settlement and subsequently arrested him.

According to the investigation into the incident, the boy was behaving in a strange manner and the soldiers originally thought that he was drunk. Later on in the investigation, it was clarified that he was actually suffering from a mental illness.

The boy told investigators that his family wanted him dead. He said they threatened him at gunpoint, forcing him to walk towards the settlement with the hope that soldiers would think he was trying to infiltrate and would shoot him.

IDF scouts who searched the area confirmed the boy's version of events and found four family members who had tried to flee the area.

Most so-called "honor killings" are really about avoiding shame. This was both about avoiding shame - and acquiring honor for the family at the same time.

The family obviously felt that having a mentally handicapped son was shameful, and therefore unacceptable. But it was not shameful enough to murder him; after all, he is not a girl who is rumored to have been dating someone inappropriate. No one can blame the son for his condition. In this case, the family decided to turn him from a symbol of longstanding family shame into one where they would be able to bask in the reflected glory of his becoming a shahid.

Not that this is entirely new. Women who have shamed their families by their actions have been convinced to become suicide bombers in the past as well for very similar reasons - to erase shame and convert it into honor.

(h/t Ruchie)