Is the violence in Jerusalem triggered by poverty?

The violence in the Holy Land reached a new level of horror last night. Until now, much of the Palestinian terror has been focused in the capital, Jerusalem. On this occasion, a young man ran amuck in Beersheba, killing at least one person and severely injuring many others.

A murderous act, directed against Jews. But what prompted it? Is it economic distress and poverty, as many international commentators and academics like to advocate?

Three facts stand out in this discussion.

  • For all the problems with accuracy that the World Bank has in measuring Palestinian GDP, Gross Domestic Product, — the accepted international measurement of the size of an economy — the amount for the West Bank and Gaza is low. In current US$, the figure is US$12.8 billion. This reflects high unemployment, negligible collection of taxes, low wages, all of which combine in turn to have knock on effects re corruption etc.
  • According to the IMF, there are dozens of countries, whose GDP is on a par or less than that of the Palestinians. To name but a few — Bahamas, Malta, Malawi, several pacific islands, etc. Yet despite the relative low income levels, most of these countries do not have swathes of citizens looking to pick up knives and guns and then use them against specific ethnic groupings.
  • In a rare but fascinating social analysis of the families of some of those who have perpetrated these heinous crimes, it emerges that most of the attackers have come from ‘middle-class’ backgrounds. “They all lived in houses owned by their families, and had unlimited access to the internet. They all carried smartphones that allowed them to share their views on Facebook and Twitter and, among other things, to engage in wanton incitement against Israel and Jews.”
  • In parallel, it is also gradually emerging that the Palestinian Authority (PA) , which for decades has been crying about its empty coffers, has a veritable surplus of riches. For example, last week, I cited a Palestinian source that mentioned how the PA carries around US$1.3 billion in overseas investments.

    And yesterday, I read some original research by Doron Peskin in the Hebrew newspaper, “The Calcalist”, which means “The Economist”. The Palestinian National Fund was established way back in 1964. Today, it is directly controlled by President Abbas himself. Aside from donations from the Saddam Husseins of this world, every public employee in the PA ‘donates’ 5% of his salary to the Fund.

    The total current value of the fund is unknown, although assumed to be in the billions. Peskin’s coverage of the financial worth of Palestinian leaders has proved to be accurate over the years.

    So, if ain’t the money, what prompts a young Palestinian adult to pick up a knife and look for a Jew to murder? If you look at the backgrounds of Muhannad Halabi, Shuruq Dweyat, Fadi Alloun and others — male or female — for all their lives they have been exposed to incitement. It is available of Palestinian television. It is available in school textbooks, funded by UNESCO, which in turn is funded by Western taxpayers. And it is available on social media.

    This is hatred. It is time for the rest of the world to shout “No, Enough. Unacceptable”. Otherwise, as has already happened on the streets in London and Berlin, these crimes will become another successful export from the Middle East.

    About the Author
    Michael Horesh is a recognised business coach and mentor, and has helped clients collectively to create millions in added value over the past decade. He has substantial understanding of the workings of the Israeli economy and the financial situation of the Palestinians, as well as an incisive way of looking at Middle East issues.
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