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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The denial of PalArab shoe-throwing at US diplomat

From Ma'an:
Palestinians rallied Tuesday against US diplomats who were visiting the occupied West Bank, shouting slogans outside a restaurant, onlookers said.

Police kept the protesters away from the Ramallah restaurant where diplomats were hosting an event for graduates and other beneficiaries of US programs, a Ma'an correspondent said.

About 20 activists watched by the police had chanted defiant slogans in English, shouting "No to American funding" and "Yes we can -- boycott America", Reuters reported.

Demonstrators also chanted "USAID go home", and "Shame on you". One man hurled his shoe.

Palestinian Authority police denied intervening in the demonstration, which they said was peaceful. In a statement, the police also denied that protesters had thrown shoes at the diplomats.
Palestinians yell at a U.S. diplomatic vehicle during protest against U.S. in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011. Angry Palestinians accosted a top American official Tuesday during a celebratory West Bank visit in honor of Palestinians who graduated from American-funded education programs. About 30 protesters blocked the convoy of Daniel Rubinstein, the U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, chanting "shame on you" and hurling shoes at his vehicle. Throwing shoes is deeply insulting in Arab culture. (AP)
That last paragraph is a great encapsulation of the Arab honor/shame mindset.

Of course the police intervened. And certainly the protesters threw at least one shoe - reporters from Ma'an and AP witnessed it.

So why are the Palestinian police denying it?

The PA doesn't want to be embarrassed by the anti-American hatred of its people, so it looks like they instructed the police to issue a statement supporting the purity and peacefulness of the protesters that the police pushed back!

In an honor/shame culture, truth is far less important than appearance. Lying to avoid embarrassment and shame is expected. Since the Arabs are obsessed with using shoes as symbolic objects of hate it is particularly important to distance the real hate from appearances.

What is particularly interesting in the context of this incident is that when the denial was reported in one Arabic media outlet associated with Fatah, virtually every single talkback supported the concept of throwing shoes at the Jewish American diplomat.

Internally, the people look at throwing shoes as a way to defend their own honor, but the official line must be the opposite - with the motivation being avoiding shame to the world.