Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can Naftali Bennet lead Religious Zionists?


This morning’s (September 17, 2014) line-up of blog essays on the Arutz Sheva Zion's Corner Blogs represents a concrete demonstration of the importance bloggers can play in Israel’s political discourse. Listed at the same time on the Blog’s front page were two essays about Naftali Bennet and Religious Zionism: David Rubin’s “Can Religious Zionists Lead Israel?”, and my own essay, “Does Naftali Bennet have a fatal flaw?”

Each essay presented a different view of Bennet and the Religious Zionist imprimatur he carries. If my reading of his essay is correct, Mr Rubin feels that Bennet can be a successful Religious Zionist leader, representing the complete Religious Zionist ‘package’. I am not so certain.

Naftali Bennet is a proper focus for a serious discussion because he is not a marginal player. He doesn’t stand alone somewhere in the shadows of the political sideline. By virtue of his 12 Knesset seats (out of 120 total seats), his Party is the third largest in the Knesset. Those twelve seats mean he is the leader of the Religious Zionist movement in Israel. True, in Israel’s political system, being third largest in the Knesset doesn’t get you very far; but it’s better than most of his peers—and it gives him a ‘bully pulpit’ from which to spread his message.

He can legitimately claim to be the voice for what some term Israel’s ‘Modern Orthodox’ Jews who combine the secular world with the religious, and who strongly support Israel as a 'Biblical entity’ (for lack of a better term).

I think that David Rubin believes that Bennet can be an effective and ideologically-consistent leader for the Religious Zionist—if he (Bennnet) follows a certain course. First, Rubin states that “In all of the recent debate, there has been little convincing evidence presented to buttress the charge that enabling greater inclusion will lead to the abandonment of Religious Zionist values.” He might be right.  

But there is still an ‘Israel experience’ to deal with. That experience suggests that, once a politician starts down the road of ‘greater inclusion’, his original core values disappear. Netanyahu is the best example of this. Like Bennet, Netanyahu started his career as pro-Israel (Right-leaning). He joined a Likud whose Party platform called Judea-Samaria ancestral Jewish homeland—and not subject to surrender. Today, however, he appears to put Judea-Samaria on the chopping block. He doesn’t support Jewish building in Jerusalem. He doesn’t help Jews populate Judea-Samaria.

Netanyahu has a broad base. One might be able to argue that, the wider his base got, the more his putative core values eroded.

Naftali Bennet served as Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff when Netanyahu had lost his seat as PM, was in the Knesset---and eager to win the PM’s seat again. Bennet has learned well from a master. Will his movement for ‘greater inclusion’ mean he will take a path similar to Netanyahu’s?

I think the odds are that Bennet will take that path. If he does, he will no longer represent Religious Zionists. He will have betrayed them.

On one level, David Rubin is correct. Bennet has the potential to lead Religious Zionists. But look closely at Mr Rubin’s essay: he believes Bennet can lead Religious Zionists only under certain conditions, conditions which Bennet may not be interested in. For Rubin,  Bennet can remain true to his core Religious Zionist values if the larger voter base Bennet attracts will be made up of “those who want to see a more traditional and more Zionistic Israel, even if their personal observance is less traditional”; and if (2) Bennet can lead his Party the way Shas did—Shas  expanded its base without eroding core values; and if (3) as a strongly Zionistic party, Bennet can actually do a better job than Shas at inclusion-without-erosion.  

That’s a lot of if’s.

These may be ‘if’s’ that Bennet won’t be able to follow.

Mr Rubin states, correctly, I think, that being third in size in the Knesset—or even second—doesn’t wash in Israel because, like it or not, it is the Prime Minister who determines the direction of national policy on issues such as building policies in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem (ibid). Israel’s current policies aren’t likely to change as long as the Netanyahu-led Likud and the left-of-center Yesh Atid are overwhelmingly the two largest parties (ibid). Therefore, Rubin argues, Religious Zionists can see improvements in strengthening national-religious education, protecting the complete Land of Israel enterprise, and asserting Jewish sovereignty over Israel only when a Religious Zionist sits in the PM’s seat (ibid).

Rubin feels that Bennet is that Religious Zionist if the current Party platform remains the same and if Bennet continues to seek Rabbinic guidance.  

I don’t disagree with David Rubin’s theory. I don’t disagree with his conditional ‘ifs’.

I just don’t think Bennet can meet those conditions. I think he’ll  ‘do a Netanyahu’.

What do you think?

 

 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Zion, wake up!


Wake up, Zion!  You have forgotten your enemy.

Look, Zion! Your enemy does not linger or sleep. He rises before dawn while you sleep. He calls to those who would destroy you. He worships your death. He wants your death.  He prays for your death.

You sleep.

Zion, oh, Zion, your enemy refuses to sleep. He cannot sleep. His lust for your death keeps him awake.

Zion, wake up! Your G-d has blessed you. Your G-d fulfils His Promises to you. Your G-d is ready to protect you.

Zion, why do you so ignore your G-d? Why do you tell the world that it is your hand—not His Power—that has wrought miracles in this desert land?  Why do you tell the world you do not need your G-d?

Zion, wake up! The world wants to believe in something. The world yearns to believe.

The world sees your Bible. It knows what your Bible says about you—and your G-d.

The world sees what your G-d has done for you. The world also sees how you reject your G-d.  

Zion, you provoke the nations of the world. You reject the  G-d who has done so much for you; how can the nations not reject you?

Zion, what do you celebrate? You celebrate your science, not your G-d. You sing of your technology, not your G-d.

You honour hundred-million- dollar high-tech buy-out deals.  You praise your intellectual, medical and business triumphs.

Zion, you forget your roots. You forget your land. You forget your G-d.

You forget your enemy.

Instead, you celebrate the beauty of your women. You promote your beaches. You build Cinemaplexes.

You forget your enemy.

Your enemy will not sleep. Your success enrages him. Your beauty makes him hate you.

Zion, you worship technology, not G-d.  You praise computer enhancements. You forget your G-d.

Your enemy does not forget his god. Your enemy praises his god. Your enemy worships his god. Your enemy says he god wants you dead. Your enemy believes his god.

You don’t believe your G-d.

Zion, you are asleep. You do not praise your G-d. You do not build for your G-d. Instead, you believe in sports teams. You praise sports heroes.

You believe that winning a basketball championship in Europe will open doors for you (“Maccabi Tel Aviv wins Euroleague championship”, Haaretz, May 18, 2014). It won’t.

A sports championship won’t make the nations love you. It won’t make you ‘one of them’.

It makes you hated. It awakens the world’s desire to destroy you. It provokes Jew-hate (“Maccabi Tel Aviv Victory Sparks Torrent of Anti-Semitic Abuse, Arutz Sheva, May 20, 2014).

Zion, wake up. You will never be one of them. You will never be loved by them.

You were not one of them when Assyria rose to power. You were not one of them when Babylonia rose to power. You were not one of them when Rome ruled. You were not one of them when Nazis ruled. You were not one of them when Barak Hussein Obama ruled.

G-d did not make you to be one of them. He did not make you to be loved by them. He made you to be great for Him. He made you to be the miraculous nation that works wonders in the desert and dedicates itself to Him.

Zion, G-d made you to serve Him. He made you to lead the nations, not bow to them.

Zion, you are not one of them. You have never been one of them. You will never be one of them.

You are Zion. You live alone in the desert. You do not serve ‘them’. You serve G-d.

Zion, Wake up! The world prepares to turn against you. Religions send their leaders to walk upon your holiest ground. Nations join with terrorists to cut your Jerusalem in half. They lust for your holiest places. They lust for what you ignore.

Zion, wake up! G-d calls to you. He holds out His hand to you. This is the Hebrew month of Elul. This is the month each year when He leaves His Palace to call to you, ‘return to Me, my beloved, return’.

Zion, wake up! G-d yearns for your love. He wants you as His treasure. He is ready for you. All you have to do is reach out to Him.

Will you?

 

Does Naftali Bennet have a fatal flaw?


If Naftali Bennet has a fatal flaw it’s that he’s becoming too much like every other Israeli politician. He may be too interested in winning at any cost. He may chase his dream using the wrong paradigm.

Winning at any cost is, on one level, what politics is all about: you do what it takes to win. In Israel, that means you try to attract the widest possible base. For any politician, this is Politics 101. What’s wrong with that?

It’s wrong because in Israel, most politicians seek a wider voter base by surrendering their core values. They think that’s how they will attract more votes.

They do that because Israel is small. Its voting public is not homogeneous. No one voting sector dominates the political landscape.

They do it also because it’s easy. Because they crave power, they crave votes. To attract votes, most Israeli politicians don’t build from the ground up. They don’t tell their ‘story’ consistently over time until their following grows.

That takes too much time. Most politicians aren’t patient. They want instant gratification.

There’s only one way to gain that instant gratification: you follow the polls. You change according to what the polls tell you (“'Bennett Ready to Abandon Values to be Prime Minister'”, Arutz Sheva, September 12, 2014).  

Naftali Bennet got elected to the Knesset on a ‘modernized’ Religious Zionist platform. He created his Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Party by taking over what some have called a waning National Religious Party (NRP) (“Can Bennett shake Israel's national-religious old guard into a modern new party?”, Haaretz, September 10, 2014). The NRP was close to 100 per cent ‘Religious’ in its outlook (ibid). But it didn’t attract many votes. Bennet got those votes--and got elected.

He was an attractive candidate. He said the ‘right things’. He appeared to make Religious Zionism powerful.

Nine months before the January, 2013 elections, few had heard of him. The day after the election, he headed a Party that stood third in power in the Knesset.

That’s how politics works in Israel: in an instant, he was a star.

Now, like many Israeli politicians who experience such a splash onto Israel’s political stage, he wants to be Prime Minister. He appears to believe that he cannot do that with a Religious Zionist platform. That platform looks too narrow (“Bennet Ready…”, above)

He’s not alone. Many believe that Bennet can’t be a Religious Zionist and also become Prime Minister: a purely Religious Zionist won’t get that many votes. Therefore, conventional wisdom suggests, Bennet must choose what’s more important to him, his core values or becoming PM.

He appears ready to change his core beliefs in order to become Prime Minister. He sees a new poll showing him gaining strength. The poll suggests he could be the second largest Party in the Knesset (“Poll: Jewish Home Second After Likud “, Arutz Sheva, September 15, 2014). Does he smell success?  

His core values stand in his way. As a Religious Zionist, he should believe that Israel—including Judea-Samaria—is a Divine gift to the Jewish people. He should believe that Jerusalem—all of Jerusalem—is Jewish.

A Religious Zionist stands up for G-d. A Religious Zionist doesn’t willingly surrender G-d’s gift (our land) to our enemies.

That’s the message he should be bringing to the Israeli public. His problem is, when Religious Zionists represent a minority of voters, how can he become Prime Minister with that message?

He has an answer to that question: he will pursue his dream by down-playing his Religious Zionism to chase after seculars, Russian-speakers and Druze (“Jewish Home Passes New Constitution - With a Twist”, Arutz Sheva, September 10, 2014).

That’s wrong. He’s trying to address the challenge of getting elected Prime Minister using the wrong paradigm. His problem isn’t a ‘voter sector’ problem. It’s a communication problem.

If he’s going to attract voters, he must not change his voice. He has to make that voice more attractive. He’s got to define his message and then sell it. He has to convince voters to say ‘yes’ to the message.

If he changes his core values now he’ll be just like everyone else. Sharon did it. Netanyahu has done it. Even Menachem Begin did it.

The problem is, voters don’t seem to trust politicians who do that. They’re tired of politicians who ‘win at any cost’.

If Bennet chases his dream by compromising his values, he’ll become just another opportunity-chaser. Compromising core values for politics pleases no one. It’ll make him the kind of politician his many potential supporters will reject. He will ingratiate himself to no one. He will offend many.

That’s the price you pay when you start out as a Religious Zionist: voters will reject you when you reject your own core values.

Will that be Bennet’s fatal flaw?

 

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The folly of taking Islam out of ISIS


The Islamic State (IS) is a Jihadi Islamic movement. It is a movement that has declared a holy war against those it considers ‘impure’. Its goals center on Islam. Its mission is to establish a caliphate, “a state ruled by a single political and religious leader according to Islamic law, or Sharia” (“What is Islamic State?”, BBC, September 12, 2014). It seeks to spread Islam through the sword.

It follows an extreme version of Sunni Islam (BBC, ibid). Its major—and only--political tool is barbaric violence. It is rabidly anti-West. Its message is clear—and brutally simple: convert to our form of Islam or die.

There is nothing un-Islamic about ISIS. Everything it does is in the name of allah.

The Islamic State is so barbaric that the United States has decided to fight it. But as the US tries to form a coalition to do that, it undercuts its own anti-ISIS argument. Britain does the same thing.

When US President Obama announced on September 10, 2014 his intention to fight ISIS, he made the startling declaration that ISIS “is not Islamic” (“The prepared text of President Obama’s speech, as released by the White House”, npr, September 10, 2014).

When British Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to the September 13, 2014 beheading of British citizen David Haines, he did exactly what US President Obama had done three days earlier: he committed to fighting the barbaric ISIS; then he declared that ISIS doesn’t represent Islam (“Cameron on ISIS: They are Not Muslims. They are Monsters”, pjmedia, September 14, 2014).

They are both wrong. Calling ISIS un-Islamic (or, ‘not Islam’) is the same thing as calling Protestants un-Christian (or not Christian). It’s a semantic absurdity.

Furthermore, calling ISIS ‘not Islam’ weakens the West’s fight with ISIS. When you take ‘Islam’ out of the ‘Islamic State’ you remove from your gun sights the belief-structure that propels ISIS.

Put another way, if the West doesn’t address the Islamic ideology of ISIS, then all we will destroy will be ISIS members. We will attack a house but leave its walls, roof and foundation intact.

Applying the words, ‘un-Islamic’ to ISIS falls into the same category of folly as telling then-US President Franklin Roosevelt to announce (in 1941) that America would fight Germany, but that Germany wasn’t Nazi.

Roosevelt knew better. When, in January, 1943, he spoke about requiring unconditional surrender from Germany, Italy and Japan in order to end World War Two, he said that such a complete surrender “does not mean the destruction of the population of Germany, Italy or Japan, but it does mean the destruction of the philosophies in those countries which are based on conquest and the subjugation of other peoples” [emphasis mine] (“Peace & Unconditional Surrender”, Lincoln and Churchill.org, December 27, 2013).  Roosevelt was right. Without unconditional surrender, the Nazi foundation would have not been destroyed. The lust for conquest and subjugation would never have been extinguished.

It’s the same with ISIS. We don’t fight ISIS because it’s a gang of killers. There are many such gangs in the world. We must fight ISIS because it is propelled by an Islamic ideology that seeks to conquer, kill and convert everyone it can find. It’s an Islamic plague that spreads death through conquest and subjugation.

If we de-link ISIS (which carries ‘Islam’ in its name) from the Islamic-driven lust to conquer, we will not extinguish the underlying fire that drives ISIS. The battle against ISIS will not end until we extinguish that fire.

Unfortunately, we live in a world which believes that we can cure a disease by treating only the symptoms. But that’s not always true.

It’s certainly not true here. Look at Iraq and Afghanistan. The West has been ‘treating’ the symptoms of those conflicts for more than a decade. The only result we’ve gotten is the rise of a more virulent disease, ISIS.

That’s what happens when you don’t treat the causes of a disease. You can end up worse off than when that disease first began.

The lesson is, don’t think you can save a sick patient by treating only the symptoms. You must also treat the underlying cause of that disease.

For ISIS, the underlying cause is not ‘being a Monster’ (pjmedia, above). The underlying cause is Islam.

Ignore that underlying cause and your patient will die. Deny that underlying cause and you will yourself be attacked by that disease.

That’s the folly of the West. It won’t address the underlying cause of ISIS. It denies the cause’s existence.

In war, you don’t win by positioning yourself with your head in the ground. If you stick your head in the ground, you’ll simply invite an attack.

That’s what Obama and Cameron are doing.

The G-d of Israel watches. He has a Story He wants you to see. This is part of that Story.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

ISIS and the nonsense called the ‘Palestinian cause’


Apparently, the Palestinian Authority (PA) doesn’t give a damn about the danger posed by the barbaric Islamic State (ISIS). The PA doesn’t want the world to attack ISIS. It wants the world to attack Israel.

The PA is upset because the world’s news this morning wasn’t about the ‘Palestinian cause’. It was about yet another ISIS beheading (“British hostage beheaded”, The Times of London, September 14, 2104).

The West is outraged (“David Haines's 'evil murder' condemned by PM”, BBC, September 134, 2014). The West recoils from the steady stream of Europeans who head southeast to join Jihad (“France says 930 citizens or residents involved in jihad”, France24, September 14, 2014). The West worries about a new World War (“Pope warns of a Third World War”, The Telegraph, September 13, 2014).

In the US, Secretary of State John Kerry understands that worry. That’s one reason he wants to fight ISIS—to stop a world-wide Jihad against civilization before it picks up too much steam. That’s also why Kerry wants the Arab world to join President Obama’s coalition against ISIS (“Kerry Scours Mideast for Aid in ISIS Fight”, The New York Times, September 14, 2014). He wants the Muslim Arab to help put out this Muslim fire, perhaps to prove that Islam really is a religion of peace.

But Kerry swims against the stream on his quest. Few in the Arab world sign up. He’s received ‘broad assurances but no public commitments (ibid) from the Arab world. He certainly doesn’t count the PA as one of the coalition’s supporters.

The PA has no interest in fighting ISIS. The PA’s only response to ISIS is to complain nonsensically about Israel. The world, PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said this morning on Arab TV, abandons the Palestinian cause (“PA fears Islamic State threat taking world's attention away from Palestinian issue”, Jerusalem Post, September 14, 2104).

ISIS murders at will. It kills thousands. Why do they do it? Saeb Erekat knows why: ISIS is a reaction to the “continuation of the ‘Israeli occupation’ “(The Jerusalem Post, above). 

Unfortunately, he doesn’t explain how the Islamic ISIS murders thousands of Muslims because of ‘Israeli occupation’.  Can you explain that?

Erekat also doesn’t explain how the Islamic ISIS mass execution of Islamic Syrian soldiers was provoked by ‘Israeli occupation’. Can you explain it?

Erekat doesn’t explain any of it because he can’t. There’s no connection that links the so-called ‘Israeli occupation’ to the barbaric murder-spree of the Muslim ISIS against other Muslims.   

There is also no link between what Erekat calls the ‘suffering of the Palestinian people’ and the rampaging ISIS.

But there is a link between the Islamic ISIS and its Muslim victims: for ISIS, killing Muslims first is more important than killing Jews (“ISIS: Killing Shiites More Important Than Killing Jews”, Frontpage Mag, July 8, 2014).

While the West struggles to find a moral justification for confronting ISIS (“Those Fighting Islamic State Are the Lesser Evil”, Der Spiegel, September 11, 2014), the PA rolls along like a loose moral cannonball: it ignores the ISIS threat and blames Israel for the ISIS madness.

Muslims kill Muslims because of the ‘Israeli occupation’? That’s nonsense.

If that part of the ‘Palestinian cause’ is nonsense, what else in the Palestinian narrative is nonsense?

The PA is completely irrational.  It’s a moral black hole. ISIS is on a killing spree, and the PA is telling the world that ‘the Israeli occupation’ did it?

No one is listening. The PA is so isolated, it doesn’t even understand that ISIS has refused to fight for the ‘Palestinian cause’ (“Allah has not ordered us to fight against Israel: ISIS”, The Shia Post, July 12, 2014). The PA doesn’t realize that ISIS kills Muslims for lslamic reasons, not because of Israel: Muslim victims of ISIS die because they’re not ‘pure’ enough. ISIS kills Muslims to rid the world of Islamic “renegades and hypocrites” (The Shia Post, ibid), not because of Israel.

The PA doesn’t care. It doesn’t care about a world coalition to fight ISIS. It wants the world to form a coalition to fight Israel (Arutz Sheva, ibid).

Really?

The PA wants to destroy Israel. But it can’t. Therefore, it won’t cooperate with anyone to protect the civilized world against ISIS. It won’t even lift a finger to protect itself against ISIS.

All it can think of is its mad hatred towards Israel. The world struggles to figure how to fight ISIS--and the PA’s nonsensical message falls on deaf ears.

Perhaps ISIS serves a purpose. Perhaps that purpose is to shine a light of truth on the moral nonsense called ‘the Palestinian cause’.

After all, there’s really no difference between the Palestinian cause and the ISIS ideology. Both aim to kill; and, more dangerous than that, both want to replace what is Western with an Islamic Caliphate.

Stay tuned. The G-d of Israel has a story he wants you to see. This is part of that story.

 

Friday, September 12, 2014

What coalition?


When US President Barack Obama spoke to America about the threat of the Islamic state (ISIS) on September 10, 2014, he spoke of forming a broad coalition. But the only states he mentioned fighting with were not exactly presented as eager participants. He mentioned Iraq. But he did that by way of announcing  that Iraq was going to have to step up to fight (ISIS is heavily involved in Iraq). He also mentioned Syria. But he wasn’t talking about the nation-state. He was talking about Syrian rebels who, in many ways, are as brutal as ISIS.

That was it: his coalition.

Now, two days later, we know more about that coalition. For example, the US has announced that Middle Eastern countries are ‘on board’ (“10 Arab Countries Back U.S. Campaign Against IS”, Arutz Sheva, September 12, 2014). The US has also said that nine additional countries have joined the coalition:  U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Poland, Canada, Turkey and Australia (“Every Support Against ISIS short of Armed Engagement”, The Daily Sabah, September 12, 2014).

But the coalition isn’t what it seems. It’s isn’t the kind of coalition we saw in the First Gulf War, for example, where the US pulled together close to 500,000 soldiers from all across the globe. This is a different kind of coalition.

It’s a coalition of, ‘count me in but don’t ask me for anything’.

Britain won’t participate in air strikes (“Britain Rules Out Taking Part in Airstrikes in Syria”, Arutz Sheva, September 12, 2014). Germany won’t do air strikes, either (ibid).

France will do air strikes in Iraq, but maybe not in Syria (ibid). Turkey won’t take part in any military action at all against ISIS (The Sabah, above). Jordan, while ‘on board’, faces Members of its own Parliament who don’t want to fight ISIS (“Jordanian MPs Demand: Let's Stay Out of Fight with IS”, Arutz Sheva, September 4, 2014).

It’s certainly nice that ten Arab countries have signed on with President Obama. After all, ISIS threatens the Arab world more than anyone else in the world right now. But the Arab League—which represents the Arab world—has 22 Member (not including Syria, which was ‘suspended’ in 2011). Where are the other 12?

Why aren’t they ‘on board’? More important still, where is Qatar? Qatar is, arguably, the world’s biggest funding engine for terrorism. Qatar maintains the US’s largest military base in the Middle East (“Qatar’s Support of Islamists Alienates Allies Near and Far,” The New York Times, September 7, 2014). But it openly supports Jihadists by “providing safe haven, diplomatic mediation, financial aid and, in certain instances, weapons” (ibid). In one of the world’s most unusual alignment of nations, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel have all sought to label Qatar as “the godfather to terrorists everywhere” (ibid).

The issue of Qatar and terrorism is so delicate that anyone who accuses Qatar of supporting ISIS is immediately condemned by Arab diplomats and others for bringing political rhetoric and blind opinion-making to a difficult situation (ibid).

Qatar hasn’t joined Obama’s coalition.

Others also haven’t joined yet. Iran won’t join because, it said, it doubts the “seriousness and sincerity” of the members of the coalition (“Iran criticizes Obama’s anti-ISIS coalition plans”, Iraqi News, September 11, 2014). Iran claims (perhaps correctly) that some members of the coalition openly support the terrorists in Iraq and Syria (ibid).

Saudi Arabia’s commitment may not be as strong as the US makes it appear (“Obama’s Coalition to Fight ISIS Is No Sure Thing”, The Fiscal Times, September 9, 2014). The Saudis may not entirely trust Obama’s willingness to fight ISIS (ibid). They may not be entirely happy that the one message that the US keeps repeating is that President Obama was willing to go “wherever is necessary to strike those who are threatening Americans" (“Broad coalition of nations will help fight ISIS, John Kerry says in Iraq”, CNBC, September 10, 2014). The Saudis might want some assurances that Obama has a concern for them, too.

In fact, few members of the Arab League gave the US open support for military action against ISIS (“Can Obama build a real anti-ISIS coalition?” cbsnews, September 9, 2014). Don’t they trust Obama?

The early betting is, US President Obama is going to hear a lot of strongly-worded anti-ISIS talk. Everyone will support him. Everyone will agree with him: ISIS is a scourge that must be blotted out.

But it’s altogether possible that that’s all Obama is going to get--lip-service. Few may actually join his fight. He could end up with few allies (“The Anti-ISIS Coalition And Obama’s Strategy”, The Dish, September 5, 2014). He could end up in Iraq with allies who are more enemy than friend.

He could fail. His failure could bring ISIS to the US. His failure could change America forever.

The G-d of Israel waits.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Does US President Obama bring ISIS to America?


In early August, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatened America (“ISIS: 'We Will Raise The Flag Of Allah In The White House”, The daily Caller, August 8, 2014). In mid- August, ISIS threatened America again (“ISIS Now Openly Threatening Attacking US Targets”, Business Insider, August 20, 2014). In late August, ISIS published a horrific video showing a beheading in order to put an exclamation point on yet another threat against America (“ISIS Beheads Kursidh Soldier, Threatens US in  Video”, Newsmax, August 29, 2014).

Amid growing alarm—and calls for the US to bomb ISIS in Syria—US President Barack Obama was, apparently, speechless (“Obama: ‘No strategy yet’ on Islamic State”, Times of Israel, August 29, 2014). Even as ISIS executed scores of Syrian troops and spread fear and death across Iraq and Syria, the US appeared to freeze with indecision.

While the US sat silent, ISIS captured 43 UN peacekeepers along the Syrian-Israel border. A laptop computer found in Syria contained evidence of a search to deploy chemical weapons (“ISIS laptop reveals project to build biological”, YNET, September 1, 2014). Reports appeared describing ‘waves of ethnic cleansings’ in Northern Iraq (“Iraq crisis: Islamic State accused of ethnic cleansing”, BBC, September 2, 2014).

Still, there was no comment from the US.

The horror reports didn’t end. ISIS was committing "acts of inhumanity which are on an unimaginable scale" (ibid). Mass killings were occurring in Iraq. ISIS was carrying out “despicable crimes” which have “transformed rural areas of Sinjar [in Iraq] into blood-soaked killing fields” (ibid).

The US was silent.

Perhaps as a response to the ISIS campaign “to obliterate” in Iraq “all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims" (ibid), the US stepped up and said, it wouldn’t be afraid of ISIS (“Obama: US will not be intimidated by Isis 'barbarism' “, The Guardian, September 3, 2014). A few days later, President Obama made it known that he would definitely confront ISIS—once he had an international coalition (“ISIS: Obama looks for International Support”, The Guardian, September 8, 2014).

None of this sounded like the Citadel of Freedom rising to protect us against barbarians. It sounded more like someone lost looking for assistance.

Finally, on the eve of the  thirteenth anniversary of the 9/11 Islamic Jihad attacks against America (on Wednesday night, September 10, 2014), US President Obama, the leader of the most powerful free nation in the world, revealed what he would do about ISIS.

He would not only fight ISIS, he would aim to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ it. But he would do it on the cheap: he would commit no troops to the fight. He would do it with air power.

 He forgot to tell us that there is no historical evidence that air power could destroy an asymmetrical enemy.

He said he’d consulted with allies abroad. He said he’d lead a broad coalition. But he named no names, other than Iraq. Are his allies shy?

He’d been searching for international support for at least a week. Where was it?

To be sure, Obama told us that the US would not act alone. He would fight ISIS by supporting Syrian rebels (and their friends) who, we notice, are the kind of people who’d be more than happy to use all the American training and equipment they’ll receive to turn against America and American interests in the Middle East and elsewhere.

He also told us that Iraq was going to have to fight for itself, too. America wasn’t going to fight its fight for it. Nor would America take the place of Arab partners in the region who would have to play a role.

That’s the ‘coalition’ Obama said he will fight with. It’s not exactly ‘overwhelming’ force. It’s not exactly a coalition of committed Western and Regional leaders. It’s pretty anaemic.

In his speech, Obama also seemed to dare ISIS to attack the US. He did this in the way he announced his new strategy.

He didn’t just announce that he would fight ISIS because it was a barbarian force that needed to be stopped. He didn’t just say that ISIS was a threat to all of us.

He said, ‘If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven’. That made it personal. He seemed to be saying, ‘you think you can threaten me?

Really? ISIS doesn’t appear to be a sophisticated organization, one that would ignore such personal bravado. It’s a gang of barbarians. The only thing they know is how to kill, up-close-and-personal. If the leader of the free world threatens ISIS for threatening America, you can be sure that ISIS will rise to the challenge.

They may attack America just to show Obama that his threats are laughable.

The G-d of Israel is watching.