Hope, Not Despair, Causes Terrorism

Aug. 31 2017

Alienation and despair, according to most Western experts, are what generally lead people to join or support jihadist organizations. In some cases that is true, writes Gershon Hacohen. But more often the motivations are quite different:

Many times, it is precisely those who had hoped to integrate into affluent Western society who chose the path of terrorism. Some of the world’s most notorious terrorists, such as those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, studied at leading universities. At a recent international symposium I attended, I learned from a Malaysian researcher that in his country it is mostly outstanding students with exceptional prospects who choose to join Islamic State.

Projecting despair and alienation onto everything may blind us to the existence of other significant motives. . . . Besides security and prosperity, people also seek meaning. . . .

That sense of meaning can be found in religion, and religious zealotry especially. But why turn to violence? Hacohen notes that many Islamists believe that now is the time to overthrow the West by waging war against it, a conclusion that stems as much from observation as from religious doctrine:

To a large extent, [terrorists’] sense of opportunity is rooted in the way Islam perceives Western society: as a decaying and declining society. This perception stems first and foremost from the significant decline in birthrates in the West, which Islam views as the weakness of an ailing society. No children means no future, no labor force, and no manpower pool to fill the ranks of the soldiers.

With their liberal aspirations and their emphasis on human rights as a basic principle that trumps a state’s authority, Western countries seem to have relinquished the need to exercise their sovereignty. . . . It is the perceived manifestation of the West’s weakness that gives hope in terror operatives.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Liberal West, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Terrorism


The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount