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February 23, 2015 2:47 pm

Memo to Obama: Unemployment Doesn’t Cause Terrorism

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

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ISIS soldiers in convoy in confiscated trucks in Iraq. Photo: Twitter / nayelshafei.

ISIS soldiers in convoy in confiscated trucks in Iraq. Photo: Twitter / nayelshafei.

So it turns out the Obama Administration does have a strategy for combating terrorists: give them jobs.

In a remarkable exchange with MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews on February 16, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s a lack of opportunity for jobs, whether we can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.”

Yet study after study of the motives of Arab and Muslim terrorists during the past two decades has found exactly the opposite.

Between 1996 and 1999, relief worker Nasra Hassan interviewed nearly 250 Palestinians who either attempted to carry out suicide bombings, or trained others for such attacks, or were related to deceased bombers. She reported (in The New Yorker): “None of [the bombers] were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded, or depressed. Many were middle class and, unless they were fugitives, held paying jobs…Two were the sons of millionaires.”

The attacks on September 11, 2001, focused new attention on the causes of terrorism. The New York Times reported that the personal details concerning the hijackers had “confounded the experts.”

“They were adults with education and skill, not hopeless young zealots,” the Times said of the attackers. “At least one left behind a wife and young children…They were not reckless young men facing dire economic conditions and dim prospects, but men as old as 41 enjoying middle class lives.”

In 2002, Prof. Alan Krueger of Princeton and Prof. Jitka Maleckova of Prague’s Charles University studied the lives of 129 Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists who were killed in attacks on Israel. They found that as compared to other Lebanese, the Hezbollah members “were less likely to come from poor families and were significantly more likely to have completed secondary education.”

That same year, the Muslim writer Hala Jaber spent four days with Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which organized a number of suicide bombings. She found that their members were “educated [and] middle class.”

In 2004, Prof. Alberto Abadie of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government undertook a study of terrorists’ motives. When he started, he thought that “it was a reasonable assumption that terrorism has its roots in poverty.” By the time he was done, he had concluded that there is “no significant relationship” between the economic conditions in a given country and the rise of terrorists there.

So why is the State Department spokeswoman presenting job creation in the Arab world as the centerpiece of the Administration’s strategy for combating ISIS?

And why do President Obama and his aides still stubbornly cling to the utterly unscientific idea that poverty causes terrorism?

Because in their hearts, they want to believe that we hold the key to ending terrorism in our own hands, so that ISIS can somehow be defeated non violently. That if we just give them enough financial aid (over $10 billion to the Palestinian Authority alone since 1994), they’ll stop stoning and bombing and burning and beheading us.

That is what they think. But the evidence says otherwise.

Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and both are candidates on the Religious Zionist slate ( in the World Zionist Congress elections.

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  • Jeff V

    As it was with Hitler, ISIS & others like it are not open to rational discourse, reason or negotiation. Unfortunately, this leaves but one realistic option for dealing with them. Giving them jobs is naïve at best; all they’ll do is send some of their $$ to the terrorist groups they support. So we end up helping to fund our enemies. Brilliant!

  • Cynthia

    Her statement, and that it is supported by the Obama Administration shows the people of the world what idiots are in control of the most prosperous and generous nation in the world. It is also showing how bankrupt their thought pool must be because that was the most stupid statement i have ever heard come from the mouth of an adult in my entire lifetime, and what comes of this? She ends up with a promotion, God help us all….

  • Fred

    I am sure that Obama would find these ISIS loving misfits jobs in the White House. As the Obama professional liars Harf & Psaki suggest. He should or could invite these with Al Sharpton for lunches or golf. Sing them lullaby while they chop heads or burn Americans alive. What a disaster for a President, who leads US down the gurgler. No wonder Irans Mullahs love him & Kerry.

  • steven L

    He doesn’t care!

  • art

    “Dear Officer Krupke we’re down on our knees, what we got is really a social disease” (West Side Story”) It is the dangerous myth that it is”society” that is guilty rather than the actors. By excusing we empower many many times islamic terrorism could have been stopped by a determined response rather than excusing or “understanding”.

  • ramkumar patiram

    the Islamic terrorists are not foolish. the 3 English girls who left for Syria are they foolish its their ego.these people are living up to the doctrine they believe in. kill all infidels and kaffirs. cut off the necks of all jews and Christians are they doing that? do they lack any finances . the arabs live out of the fat of the lands as God promised them.there is a term called huda it means you can lie for the benefits of allah allah was a moon god. no real god.huda also means that a muslim is not bound to any agreement between a muslim and non muslim. are they acting differently.americans are duncy or stupid or acting so . from the top to the bottom are afraid of the terrorists. the potus negotiates with them and gives them poor americans money which they don’t have and unborn children will have the debt to pay.