Politics in the Middle East are often difficult for the Western mind to grasp. It seems that most of the time everyone is behaving irrationally, with riots breaking out over what seem to us the most straightforward of issues. The latest conflagration making headlines revolves around the Israeli Government’s desire to increase security measures on the Temple Mount following the killing of two police officers last week. With Palestinian tempers flaring high and the situation seemingly about to spiral out of control, many observers struggle to understand why the placing of metal detectors and cameras — security measures in place at most other holy sites — seem destined to ignite a Third Intifada. The key barrier to understanding the dynamics of Middle Eastern politics is understanding the honour/shame dynamic.
In the West, the concept of honour seems a distant relic, akin to dueling in the streets over a perceived insult between squabbling parties. By examining the issue of the Temple Mount through the lens of the honour/shame dynamic though, one can begin to understand the current situation.