By Judith Bergman
According to the most popular and largely dominant theory of why Muslims become radicalized, the more they feel discriminated against, the more likely they are to engage in terrorism and join terrorist groups such as Islamic State.
This theory claims to be research based. It is only fitting, therefore, to examine why it is not equally applicable to Jews, including Jews who live in Israel. After all, Muslims are not a small minority in the world, with around 1.5 billion adherents of Islam, compared to the roughly 14 million Jews in the world. Outside their home countries, especially in Europe, Muslims often constitute very large minorities, whereas Jews constitute far smaller and much more vulnerable minorities that are often subject to alienation and racism from all sides, Muslim and non-Muslim.
Israel is itself in a minority: the only Jewish state in the world, located in a region of largely Muslim states, most of them hostile. The Muslim states often work as a pack -- the Organization of Islamic Cooperation consists of 57 members, 56 of which are also members of the U.N. -- to bully the small Jewish nation.
If we go by the theory, after the Holocaust the Jews should have terrorized their respective European countries endlessly, yet there are no Jewish terrorists. After having been singled out and discriminated against, demonized, dehumanized, humiliated, tortured in unimaginable ways, forced into ghettos, and transported to their gruesome deaths, the surviving Jews did not respond with hatred and killing sprees. They responded with untold resilience, a willingness to pick themselves up and rise from the ashes, and forged ahead despite the crimes that had been committed against them.
Jews today in Europe, and increasingly in the United States, especially on university campuses, experience anti-Semitism on a scale unseen since World War II. They face increasingly violent anti-Semitism, especially in France, and very real terror threats that have already cost several Jewish lives. However, it has not occurred to a single researcher to as much as mention the risks of "Judeophobia" leading to an increase of radicalization among European Jews or among young American Jews on campuses.
Israel is a chapter of its own. Since the 1967 Six-Day war, Israel has been at the receiving end of an unimaginable amount of international abuse, especially at the hands of the U.N., where it has been repeatedly singled out for opprobrium simply because the Arab nations and their many allies in the U.N. possess the majority necessary to bully the Jewish state.
Most recently, this international bullying surfaced at the Rio Olympics, where the head of the Lebanese Olympic delegation blocked Israeli athletes from boarding a bus that the teams were supposed to share, and where Joud Fahmy of Saudi Arabia forfeited a first-round judo match to avoid facing Israel.
Not that this kind of Arab behavior is anything new: In June, Syrian boxer Ala Ghasoun refused to participate in an Olympic qualifying match against an Israeli contender, saying that to do so "would mean that I, as an athlete, and Syria, as a state, recognize the State of Israel." Israel cannot compete in world football tournaments in Asia, but has to instead compete in Europe, since so many Arab states refuse to play against Israel. Yet no one speaks of "Judeophobia" at the Olympics. Imagine the outrage if the situation had been reversed and an Israeli athlete had refused to compete against a Muslim. What then?
So much discrimination, unique among the nations, and yet Israel somehow does not turn into a terrorist state. On the contrary, Israel is almost always a first responder when natural disasters strike, often offering help to those very states who bully it at every given opportunity. In addition, Israel spends most of its energy on innovations that benefit not only Israel but the world.
Similarly, the theory of radicalization does not apply to those Christians and others who are oppressed and under constant attack -- frequently from Muslims -- around the world. Tibetans have not turned into ax-wielding murderers because China has occupied their country for over half a century, nor have the Biafrans and other non-Muslim Nigerians who are ruthlessly murdered in Nigeria by government troops and Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen terrorists begun to bomb or hack to death their opponents in response.
That is because the theory is utterly false. If it had an iota of merit, we would see others reacting in the same way, given the same -- and at times much worse -- circumstances. They do not. Nevertheless, the theory persists.
Islamophobia and discrimination are not the source of Muslim radicalization and never were. If the West wants to battle Islamic terrorism successfully, it should internalize this, and fast.