By Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post—
It is a tale as old as terrorism itself, a mantra repeated down through the years in an attempt to make sense of the Palestinian violence directed against Israel.
Poverty breeds terrorism, we are told in authoritative tones, and hence there is no choice but to ease up on restrictions to avoid fostering further Palestinian anger and resentment.
As simple and concise as this neat little theory may sound, there is one pesky problem with it: it is categorically and demonstrably false.
And by persisting with the belief that it is true, Israeli officials are operating under an entirely misguided assumption, one with potentially dangerous consequences for us all.
The latest purveyor of this postulate was none other than Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai. In an interview on Army Radio on March 30, he asserted that “hungry people turn to terrorism. Without food and water, they will disrupt our lives.”
At first glance, Shai’s statement sounds reasonable enough. After all, a person with an empty stomach has little to lose, the thinking goes, which then leads them down the perilous path of targeting other human beings.
But like many sound bites, this contention simply does not stand up under further scrutiny.
To begin with, consider the fact that according to the World Bank, there are approximately 700 million people on the planet living in what is described as “extreme poverty,” which is defined as earning less than $1.90 a day. That is nearly 10% of the world’s population. Continue Reading…