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


Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC