Synonyms of our main theme, "HARASS" may include all those outbursts of vengeance or other evil dispositions that are practiced in times, or under circumstances, when liberties are absent and where the oppressed and the weak are systematically subjected to abuse. 

The following references to harassment below, give a detailed picture of the subject matter:

A) Our first example is from an excerpt on "The Jerusalem Center for Women" web site describing the horrendous harassment of the original Arab natives of Jerusalem by Israeli settlers. 

“The settlers waste no opportunity to harass us,” Maha explains. “Often, they intercept our children and beat them, shout at them, and treat them in a savage way. The children, being helpless as they are, just could not do any thing to confront their attacks.” Maha tells us that as a result of numerous experiences with settler harassment, many families have forbidden their children from playing in the housh (compound) courtyards.  Maha continues, “Once, when my two-year old little girl was playing in the courtyard, I heard her screaming. I rushed out and found her crying and extremely scared, and my neighbor was also crying. Trying to protect my child, she was hit with an iron door that the settlers had thrown into the courtyard, as they had done several times before, insisting that it stay in our courtyard, but we removed it away every time.” 

In the December 22, 2006 issue of the British newspaper, "The Independent" it is reported that Fadiyah Gamal a 27-year-old Palestinian mother, with a weary watery smile,  is quoted as saying on the eve of Christmas "What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today? She would endure the same harassment which I have endured," she says.

 B) The second example is sadly from Egypt. It is a graphic video clip posted by Egyptian Blogger Wael Abbas. The clip exposes the brutality of an Egyptian plainclothes policeman  savagely hitting a helpless detainee in his prison cell.  Adding insult to injury,  is the sadistic atttitude exhibited by this torturer. His callous enjoyment of inflicting hurt and humiliation on none other but an Egyptian fellow compatriot is utterly disgraceful. 

Click on the photo if you wish to watch this shameful video, but be 
warned: it is too graphic and upsetting for some.  I personally failed
to watch it all through.

Both examples sufficiently explain to the reader, the many shades of meanings of the word "Harass". The humiliations, beatings, the slaps in the face, derision, are all forms of harassment, because they injure the integrity and dignity of everybody, children as well as adults. 


Alice Miller,  a world renown authority in psychology, has written numerous groundbreaking  studies of the origins of violence in our modern society.  As she takes the harassment argument still further, she points out how harmful and cruel are the principles ruling traditional upbringing in many modern societies. She further declares that tyranny and totalitarianism are born in the nursery. Having studied some of the worst dictators known to the modern world - Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Ceaucescu - she says all four were systematically beaten throughout their childhood, and all were deprived of the essential mother-child bonding so necessary for good mental health and well being of the child. 

According to UNICEF, in Egypt, 17 percent of the population live in poverty and millions have trouble meeting basic food needs. This means children are often seen as economic tools rather than right holders who deserve care and proper schooling. To survive in this urban jungle, kids better be tough. They are routinely victims of physical abuse and constant harassment; they are made to drop out of school and beg or work long hours on streets and under bridges at an age when children should be learning and playing. 

With a staggering estimate of 3 million homeless children in Egypt, a third of them literally are roaming the streets of Cairo alone.  Their impact most certainly will be acutely felt on our society in the years to come. If you are bewildered now by the recent harassment events taking place in our beloved country,  just you wait until these deprived children come to age in future decades. One needs not to be a rocket scientist to foresee how our society will be called upon, in the near future, to pay a hefty price for its present and gross neglect of its children.

Meanwhile, back to the subject of harassment, the central etymological topic of this series.  The Israeli settlers who are willifully hurting Palestinians and the sadistic Egyptian plainclothes policeman hitting a helpless detainee, introduce us to two new facets of the harassment theme in this episode. These involve the notions of hit and hurt which are all synonymous to harass, and therefore are logically the subject of this etymological investigation. 


According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), hit is from the Old English: hyttan "come upon, meet with," which in turn is derived from Old Norse; hitta "to light upon, meet with," from a hypothetical Proto-Germanic source *khitjanan. It is believed that the meaning shifted in the late Old English period to "strike," via "to reach with a blow or missile," and replaced Old English "slean" in this sense.  The first occurence in English literature was recorded in c. 1305.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), hurt  c.1200, is from Old French hurter "to ram, strike, collide," perhaps from Frankish *hurt (cf. Middle High German hurten "run at, collide," Old Norse; hrut-r "ram"). Sense of "injury", according to Western etymolgists, is purely an English development, while the sense of "knock" died out 17c.


The result of this investigation indicates that the correspondences, between the English and Arabic terms exhibited in the above JPEGs, are amazingly very similar (compare English _hit_and Arabic _ht'_). In addition, English _hurt_and Arabic _hrt_). The Arabic examples are from the Gahiliyah period (before 7th century AD) i.e. half a millennium earlier than any of  the English terms.  These correspondences, therefore, cannot be fortuitous nor attributed to independent development, that is unless one subscribes to the existence of a parallel universe.


To be continued

P.S.  In response to some private e-mails I have received, speculating about Arabic language being the mother tongue language,  I would like to emphasize the following important remark, both posted below, in Arabic and in English, concerning this subject. 


In conclusion, I am am not suggesting that the Classical Arabic language is the so-called “mother tongue” language.  A theory I do not subscribe to, nor believe in its existence, period.  Rather, the Classical Arabic language is unquestionably one of the major linguistic traditions in the world, and it is shown that it was an important catalyst or link in effecting profound changes in the development of the other languages documented within the realm of written history. 

Contrary to the general belief that civilizations and their languages developed in a unilateral fashion, history teaches us by these examples above, that past civilizations emerged separately.  At times, through interaction, these civilizations converged, effectively leading to an amalgamation forming a new hybrid civilization, and then eventually diverged again.  This process, which is continued in a perpetual sequence of convergence and divergence, is reflected in languages. Ishinan







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