Articles, Book Reviews and Social Problems, Traditions

Atavism and Absolute Authority in Relation to the Increasing Crimes in Palestine

Article by Hussam Ramadan – Palestine

Atavism, heraerdity, throw back, or indifference is a human behaviour which calls times of brutalism and zoological characteristics back. It brings us as readers back to the cudgel era and face- to- face confrontation with ravenous animals; either kill or to be killed. Each human on earth has a flair to live in secure societies and have complete peace of mind. As long as humans control their conducts and deters wisely the aggressive inclinations inside, they will consequently enjoy life full of joy and tranquillity. Conversely, if humans unleash the tendencies of enmity, it then ends up with dire consequences.
Atavism is either a product of deprivation or an absence of law. That is to say, if children did not receive any form of parental attention, care or compassion in their early life, this would reflect their conducts later. Additionally, when human feels that law enforcement is no deterrent to crimes and acts of vandalism, societies will be like forests; no legal controls.
Absolute authority which is mainly and plainly elucidated via an experiment and efforts paid off by Philip G. Zimbardo is an American psychologist and a professor emeritus at Stanford University. Zimbardo performed The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) on the days of august 14–20, 1971. This social psychological experiment attempted to investigate the psychological effects on some randomly assigned college students some of whom acted as jailors; having perceived power, while the rest acted as prisoners. One results of many discusses that “participants’ behaviour may have been shaped by knowing that they were watched (Hawthorne effect). Instead of being restrained by fear of an observer, guards may have behaved more aggressively when supervisors observing them did not step in to restrain them.” What I would like to add here is that if the milieu in which people live is with no holds barred, it would hence affect some individuals unprivileged or of no leverage.
If you apply the two main concepts mentioned above; atavism and absolute authority, on the social situation in Palestine, you can perceive that absolute authority leads to atavism which in the end leads to the criminal cases rocket up. That is to say, the misapplication of domestic law in Palestine led the society think that no higher-up exist to call whoever hurts whomever to account. Moreover, in other cases without Palestine, some hush money is paid to conceal details relevant to criminal cases because they the world revolves around them and that they own the rules. In other words, some cities, like Hebron, villages and towns around there in particular, are tribalism dominated. This in fact affects negatively the application of provisions of law in Palestine. Though in Arabic we say conciliation is the master of law, but this in fact forgoes the right of the victim. When individuals in a certain society grasp that law is oriented by clan, distorted by bribes and lack of supervision, this makes them have the absolute authority; without accountability and potential punishment when breach occurs.
If absolute authority becomes banal, atavism will take absolutely control over the whole society, i.e. people reverting to the thinking and acting of a former time. You usually synchronize the misbehave with breach of law. In other words, In case someone does something impolite on roads or in public places, you normally consider it break the law. The most prominent saying in our society related to this is “who is free from fear of punishment, he will certainly misbehave.” This proverb brings me back to Kalila and Dimna; a book containing a collection of fables, written originally in Sanskrit in the 4th century by the Indian philosopher Bidpai and translated into Arabic by Abdallah Ibn Al- Muqafaa in the 8th century; during the Abbasid era. One of the fables included in this book tells the story of a snake who decided not to hurt people. In return, people deemed it weak and began to hurt it. Correspondingly, the snake consulted a friar who asked it to hiss once a week to panic them. How much you need a viper nowadays that would deter whoever breaks the law and takes the lives of people a way. Nobody has the right to end someone’s life as accentuated in The Bet; a 1889 Russian short story by Anton Chekhov.
Recently, Palestine witnessed an increase in crime rate. It really needs an urgent solution and a novel system of rules that reorient the conducts of people toward the right destination. According to many reports on crimes in Palestine, crimes vary between killing; murder and manslaughter, attempted murder, femicide, defilement or indecent assault, cybercrime, hold-up, to mention but a few.
In details, there was a clear increase in the crime rate of murder and manslaughter in different cities of Palestine. In 2016, public prosecutor’s office published a report, titled Crime Indicators in Palestine, 2013-2015 stating that “the homicide crimes registered in 2013 amounted to 23 crimes. One year later, they rocketed to record 31 crimes. In 2015 the number of crimes rose to 42.” This higher rate of crimes in Palestine is attributable to the absence of strict rules that deter these crimes.
With regard to attempted crimes, the data published in the same report in 2016 showed that such crimes increased from 76 in 2013 to 108 in 2015.
Feticide, on the other hand, declined discernibly “from 11 in 2013 to 6 in 2015.” (1) In 2018, feticide or murder of women increased to include 8 cases relating to honour, let alone those who attribute this crime to religion. The last murder of woman was in august 2019. The 21 year old woman Israa Ghareeb was killed by her relatives in Bait Sahur east of Bethlehem. In general, there are motives for murder of woman, including heritage, honour or attempts to rape. On that topic, Jawabreh (2019, para.5) affirms, “according to the United Nation Human Development report 2009, 5000 women were killed in that year in the name of honour.” (author’s translation from Arabic).
In the same course, the 2016 report demonstrates that the crime of the category of defilement or indecent assault in Palestine decreased from 80 in 2013 to 70 in 2014. In the year 2015, defilement increased to 84 cases. For kidnapping issues, around 48 cases were registered by the police between 2013 and 2015.
Due to the technological progress worldwide, cybercrime rose to include those countries where technology is an exported product rather than an inventions in that countries. For instance, in Palestine, where you could find technology and other social media, cybercrime rocketed to arrive at “44662 in the period between 2014 and 2015.” This cybercrime leads to other crimes like extortion, especially if the victim was a female.
The partial absence of national sovereignty, the lack of territorial integration impede the full control over the crimes of all forms. At the same time, you can never exclude the areas behind the Green Line; the lands that were taken by the Israeli state after 1948. In other words, in the recent years you have seen a large number of crimes occurring in the aforementioned lands. This is attributed mainly to the carelessness of the Israeli police in issues relevant to the Palestinian-Israeli citizens.
You see above that there were variations and fluctuations concerning the numbers and percentages of crimes in Palestine. Some of which occurred owning to the economic circumstances. I mean that some people, the young ones in particular, have nothing to do in their life. Thus, the humdrum daily life leads them to think about things that would make them feel real men, according to their mindset. Some other crimes occur as a result of gossip and incitement. In other words, some people in the Palestinian society, who think that survival is for the fittest, deem other people weak and start agitating the stronger against them. This leads in the end to a crime which could be killing or injury. Being far away from religious, cultural, and the extremely important humane rules turns someone to be just like an animal; with neither rules nor morals. Islam, as well as other religions make the souls of human being inviolable and forbid to take someone’s life away. On that topic, the Qur’an says, “Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause” (Al-Isra, verse:33).
Lack of awareness about the status of woman in Islam leads some people, who are not aware of the dire consequences of crimes, to kill his daughter, sister or any female relative based on their mindset that is inundated with ideas considering women associated to stigma. Those who are not aware of the status of women think that women are slaves for a man. They rely always on the Qura’nic verse which says, “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means” (An-Nisa’, verse:4). This verse does not mean that men have the right to assert dominance over women, on the contrary, it means to take care of them and provide them with all comforts. In this respect, al-‘Awdah (2014) explains, “men are held liable for handling the affairs of women and are responsible for the women under their care. A husband, therefore, has the responsibility of taking care of his wife, protecting her, defending her honour, and fulfilling her needs regarding her religion and her worldly life.” Recently, Palestinians have witnessed the Palestinian authority’s trial to apply Cedaw agreements, which stands for Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Some institutions and individuals promoted for this step, while others rejected it and consider it anti-religion convention.
Some others with shallow knowledge of religion hinge upon the verse which says, “but men have a degree (of advantage) over them [women]” (Al-Baqara, verse:228) to excuse their shameful deeds against sisters and wives. But this degree is of course for the benefit of woman whom Islam makes her dignified and honourable. In the same regard, women are protected by Islam from any form of indecent assault. It also stands against any hearsay circulated to hurt any females. In this area, Allah says, “Those who slander chaste women, indiscreet but believing, are cursed in this life and in the hereafter: for them is a grievous penalty” (An-Nur, verse:23).
To avoid what you witness in Palestine, Palestine has to have law that limits the phenomenon of atavism and constrains the absolute authority practised by some individuals. It is also needed to raise the awareness of the society about the consequences of crimes and the damages they bring. Thus, I see that reform should begin from schools, wherefrom one can teach students to love, respect and help each other. The Palestinian society should as well initiate outreach campaigns aimed at warning the individuals of the crimes. In the same course, other activities should be adopted to let people know about the value of human souls. Laws should be updated to be in the interest of victims and to deter who might be tempted to hurt anybody. In Palestine, people do not ask for more freedom, but the licit rights to live preserved by all religions and the world conventions.