Photo Credit: www.state.gov
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Summit for Countering Violent Extremism. Feb. 19, 2015.

As children it was reassuring to hear Mister Rogers, clad in his cardigan sweater and slippers, remind us that people sometimes do bad things, but that does not mean they are bad people.

It is much less reassuring when the leaders of the Free World act as if they are impersonating Mister Rogers and as if those who depend on their leadership are  elementary school kids whose lunch money was stolen.

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It is undoubtedly true that not all Muslims are violent extremists, but there is, currently, an assault on western civilization and it is being waged by Muslim extremists in the name of Islam.

This week the U.S. has been hosting a summit on Countering Violent Extremism. Some may have hoped real answers would be forthcoming.

So when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry writes in a Feb. 18 op-ed that the U.S. vision for countering violent extremism is to create a safer and more prosperous future, jaws dropped. Those jaws didn’t drop because Kerry’s words were insightful or inspiring. The dropped either in disbelief or as the first physical manifestation of a yawn. We’ve heard all this before; it was wrong then and it’s wrong now.

It was the same response some had to the atrocities committed against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. “If only” those misguided men had access to education and employment, and chickens in pots, they would not turn to such unspeakable violence. But those men did have access to education and all the opportunities open to those who do. Deprivation of opportunity is not what drove their violent extremism, and it isn’t what is driving Boko Haram or ISIS or al Qaeda.

The “education and opportunity” prescription is the same one offered to explain Palestinian Arab terrorists. But those who write the prescription ignore the reality: many of those who engage in terrorism are not without opportunities, it is a choice they make regardless of standing in life and access to education, and it is one offered to them by a leadership with vise-like control over its followers.

It is the same prescription that inspired mass-ridicule when recently uttered by Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department. The twitter hashtag that rocketed to the top of the charts, “#Jobs4ISIS” was a laughingstock.

Despite what Deputy Spokesperson Harf, and her boss Secretary of State Kerry, and his boss, U.S. President Obama insist is not the case, the violent extremists threatening world order are Islamist extremists, and what they need is not more jobs.  They need to be defeated militarily.

And yet, when claiming that military defeat is the wrong goal, Kerry proceeds to give examples of the violence committed by the random violent extremists. And each example is an act committed by Islamists in the name of Islam: “Military force is a rational and often necessary response to the wanton slaughters of children, mass kidnappings of schoolgirls, and beheading of innocents. But military force alone won’t achieve victory.”

The word Islam never appears in Kerry’s 14 paragraph, 938 word op-ed on Countering Violent Extremism.

The word Muslim appears once. It crops up in the category of the biggest victims of this unnamed, orphan, random violent extremism. It comes up in a paragraph in which Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are lined up as equal victims. It is employed to demonstrate that not only is the source of violent extremism random, so are the victims:

A safer and more prosperous future also requires us not to be distracted by divisions grounded in hatred or bias. There is no room in this fight for sectarian division. There is no room for Islamophobia or anti-Semitism. Violent extremism has claimed lives in every corner of the globe, and Muslim lives most of all. Each of us is threatened, regardless of ethnicity, faith or homeland.

The rest of Kerry’s op-ed reads like something an earnest high school disciplinarian might say to teenagers who have been unruly. Kerry uses phrases like “peaceful communities” and “a vision that is positive and proactive,” a world with “concrete alternatives” and “a chance at a better life.”

For one brief, almost shining moment, Kerry stumbles on to a good idea. “The most basic issue is good governance.” But then, he drops the thought and instead goes on to discuss what the rest of the world needs to do in order to make the potential random violent extremists feel better about themselves and so less likely to blow us all to kingdom come.

Once again, as he concludes his statement, Kerry kicks into #jobs4ISIS mode. He channels Mister Rogers and suggests we all need to be ‘tailoring our efforts and targeting our resources’ and training youth so they can become employed and embrace “dignity and self-reliance,” as well as “security and justice.”

Jaw-dropping. Pardon the yawn.

 

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the JewishPress.com. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com

40 COMMENTS

  1. in the midst of WW2, Prez Franklin D Roosevelt called the Bermuda conference, supposedly to think up ways to help the Jews being murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. But the real purpose of that conference, like the one in Washington, is just to pretend to be doing something to solve the problem. Neither obama nor kerry is interested in real solutions.

  2. Hey, found this website by mistake (Google News, haha!) and on reading the article, my jaw dropped. Because it's so biased, and so utterly wrong, and completely misses the point.
    "Deprivation of opportunity is not what drove their violent extremism, and it isn’t what is driving Boko Haram or ISIS or al Qaeda."
    Why are almost all terrorists from bad backgrounds in cult-like cultures then? People who are terrorists turn to terrorism because they have nowhere else to turn, and this is a fact.
    Also, just because Kerry said something doesn't mean President Obama said it or agrees with it too.
    And are you trying to deny that Muslims are ones most persecuted by ISIS? Because, ya know, they ARE. The Shiite Muslims are being killed left, right, and center – but hey, all Muslims are evil, right? So it's a plus… right?
    I have to say, I'm Jewish and I've never seen this level of deep seated lies in my life. I will always love Israel but what we are doing in Palestine is WRONG. And what you are trying to attack President Obama with is WRONG. Sorry.

  3. Rubbish.

    Bin Laden was a multi-millionaire. Several of the 9/11 hijackers were engineers or had other academic degrees. The terrorist who tried to attack Glasgow airport (and ended up getting burned to death himself) was a doctor in a hospital. etc. etc. etc.

  4. I can't believe you actually believe what you wrote. Read above what Libbee says. Many of these thrill-seekers are from good homes and have been educated at least through high school. You write: "they have nowhere else to turn, and this is a fact." How do you know this? How many of them have you interviewed?? Yes, there are Muslim groups being murdered by ISIS but because they are the wrong Muslims! But it doesn't take away from the fact that ISIS is motivated by Islam. It's all in the Quran. Nobody is saying that all Muslims are evil. But how many of them who are not 'participants' support these acts in their heart? You don't know the answer to that. And as for so-called 'Palestine,' as a Jew it is incumbent on you to get your facts straight. You don't even live here so you don't have to live with the day-to-day reality of having rocks thrown at you. A 4 year old girl died from complications from having been hit by a rock. No, we Israelis don't hate Arabs as a group. We work with them every day. But we are not so blind as to think that if we take the barrier down, they'll be coming over with flowers in their hands.

  5. An absolutely insane admin. It's frightening to see how much Islam is creeping into the US. I learned that there was a Muslim led prayer at this phony summit Obama put together but no other denomination was represented. And now you know why the despot does not want to attend Netanyahu's speech.

  6. Kayla-There are Jews & then there are real Jews. You obviously are the one who is ignorant or should I say duped when it comes to who is being persecuted. I can't take your comment seriously with your defense of Obama. He is so anti-Israel & anti-Christian it's dangerous. Do you realize he is a Muslim & is attempting to increase the Muslim population in the US by millions? Liberal college educated I presume?

  7. Kayla:I doubt that you are Jewish as you state. Living in San Francisco tells me everything about you and your thinking. I guess when the so called Palestinians shoot over 3000 rockets into Israel with the sole intent of killing as many Israelis (Jews, and Muslims alike) that is ok with you. The Israelis are defending themselves against these terrorists in much the same way as any other democracy would. Why single out Israel? My advice to you is to be a little less anti semitic, and learn to be a realist. For beginners, change your last name…Henderson just doesn't sound Jewish.

  8. When you mature, you will hopefully, not be so naive. The majority of TERRORISTS, on 9/11 were college educated. Bin Laden, was extremely wealthy. These Arabs are doing this for Allah, not an economically deprived life. We are in a religious war. It is Islam versus the rest of the planet. Just like the Muslim in the WH, you think providing a job will solve all the problems. It is a shame that the current students in America, have a sheepskin, but zero knowledge.

  9. Alan Kardon Well, obviously Hamas is a terrorist state and must be dealt with accordingly, but I won't stand for the murder of Palestinian children nor will I stand for the denial of rights of Palestinians. Either Palestinians must be accepted into Israel and treated as one of our own or we must give them land.

  10. Cody Flecker Since when do you decide who is Jewish? Do I have to support everything Israel does or am I not Jewish? Do I have to have a "Jewish name" to be Jewish? Wow, must have missed all these commandments back in Torah Study and temple. Will go and reread Torah right now, thanks.
    And no of course what Hamas is doing is not ok. But neither is what Israel is doing and I, as a human being, have the absolute right to speak out against that.

  11. hello I am Israeli, a jew in Israel born in Israel and you know nothing about nothing baby. nothing.so let me educate you Israel is the land of the Jews given to us by the heavens a long time ago, and it should be 3 times the size it is but we have too liberal left wing loonies running the funny farm ehere and trying to please the goyim, so our land keeps shrinking. and still we dont please the goyim. amazing

    The fakensteins will tell you if you would listen that they come from Egypt and Saudi, get some facts straight ok. They want to wipe us off the face of the earth and take all our land and they keep on saying so and despite that, all I want is that they get out of my land and leave us alone and stop whining and whinging for their cursed rights to kill us.

    Terrorists do not come from bad backgrounds whatever that is supposed to mean, most of them here are well educated middle class and eager to go out and kill for the thrills and chills. In Gaza the babies in nursery school learn the joys of jihad at age 2. what do you expect.

    then if you want to use the ridiculous poverty escues howcome all the poor people of the world are not running around chopping of heads and raping goats?? only the muslims do that

    the lies in the world are against Israel and by the way that means you too, yep. you too. all the jews in Galut are not safe did you know that? you want to cry for the murdered muslims, go ahead, but remember you are first on the list to be wiped out whatever country you are living in.yep. you are.

    so when you get to Israel, because anyone who wants to survive what is coming will have to flee here, the sooner the better, and they are coming and coming. The French Jews are flooding in every day and that is just the beginning

    come and say hello to us but dont bore me with idiots like kerry and obama who hate you as much as they hate me.

  12. The "good jobs" and "education" myths have been thoroughly debunked all the way back to 9-11. When you consider Obama in his infamous comparison of Crusaders to extreme Islam committed the major "Fallacy of Anachronism" failure the educated press went nuts over it makes one wonder what kind of bizarre thing this administration is trying to play. Something stinks to high heaven with this glaring misinformation garbage that would make Putin and Hitler cringe at it's clumsiness. Has Obama entered premature dementia? Is it time for Biden to take over?

  13. Kayla, what is it that Israel is doing in "Palestine" that is wrong? Is it the free medical care, the free electricity, help with flooding, giving them desalination centers? is it because Israel refuses to be blackmailed into giving a third of the country away to corrupt leaders and a terror organization? Is it because Israelis refuse to line up and die so the radicals can have the whole state of Israel? Find out the facts before you blame Israel.

  14. Cathy Sherman It is their killing of Palestinians and the near-imprisonment that Palestinians live in that I take offense to. Israel's government is full of liars, murderers, and thieves, and I will not stand by and watch my country be corrupted with their vitriol. I am Jewish first and therefore for justice for, not Israeli. You should be too.

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