Photo: AP
Is political correctness distorting Kerry's sources of information about Mideast conflict?
Photo: AP
Ben-Dror Yemini

The false link between terror and poverty

Op-ed: Political correctness is preventing enlightened people like John Kerry from seeing the real cause of radicalization in the Muslim world.

In light of the turmoil of the public debate over "who is to blame" for the failed negotiations with the Palestinians, we should pay attention to another statement made by John Kerry, which points to the American secretary of state's problematic way of thinking.



Kerry spoke about the spreading terror, about Boko Haram, the Islamist organization which has been slaughtering Nigeria incessantly and about the 276 girls it kidnapped. Why is that happening? It's the poverty, Kerry explained. Is it really? Let's try to put this theory to the test of facts.


First of all, none of the perpetrators of the terror attacks in the United States came from a background of poverty. On the contrary, they were all successful young men, members of the Muslim world's elite club. Osama bin Laden, the pope of terror, came from a family of millionaires. The hundreds of young people who arrive from Europe to the jihad organizations in Syria are not members of the disadvantaged class. They are usually academics and students.


Secondly, Kerry says he based his theory on the link between poverty and terror on a series of conversations with African leaders. That's interesting, because Africa has millions of poor Christians alongside millions of poor Muslims. According to Kerry's theory, they should have produced an equal amount of terrorism.


But reality is slightly different. And as Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, the former editor-in-chief of London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, wrote: "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorists are Muslims."


Thirdly, two things happened in the past few decades. According to World Bank figures, from 1990 to 2013 the world's poor population decreased by 50% - an impressive accomplishment for the war on poverty. At the same time, recent decades have seen ups and downs in the level of terrorism, but there is no serious research pointing to a direct link between terror and poverty.


The problem is that Kerry holds a deep faith which characterizes parts of the global left and the Western academia, according to which if all depressed people on earth are treated a bit more pleasantly and generously, it will lead to a regression in hostility – and young people will anyway not be drawn to terror.


I wish that were true. Instead of commando units for fighting terror, the US should have sent regiments of social workers with deep pockets to every center of poverty in the world. It would have cost billions, but much less that the war on terror.


What leads people to terror? The 250 million Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa turned to the school of the moderate Sufi Islam. The change occurred with the Saudi capital, which was used for education according to the Wahhabi school. Afghanistan was once, in the 1960s, a sane country. Women would walk around without a head cover and no one would harass then. At some stage Saudi capital began flowing in, and it was used to establish a network of educational institutions which produced a new generation of jihadists.


In the past decade Saudi capital has been flowing into universities in Britain too, for the establishment of "Islamic learning centers." The result was similar: Radicalization. In other words, the problem is not lack of capital, the problem is excess capital, which is used for brainwashing and incitement.


For the avoidance of any doubt, most Muslims are not terrorists. They are the victims. But there is no need for a majority. There is a need for a terrorizing violent minority.


Most of those who write about radicalization processes influenced by Saudi capital are Muslims. What brave Muslims are capable of seeing, many enlightened people are having difficulties seeing. The political correctness disrupts their common sense.


The saddest thing is that Kerry has a countless researchers and experts who should have presented him with truthful data. Facts rather than illusions.


There is a concern, just a concern, that that same political correctness is distorting Kerry's sources of information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well. This is bad news in regards to the performance of the American administration, and even worse news for the chances of peace.


פרסום ראשון: 05.16.14, 00:47
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