There has been a great deal of discussion lately about the relationship of ISIS– the borderless radical Islamist entity in Syria and Iraq– to the Jewish state a few doors over.
Zionists have welcomed the rise of ISIS because it offers the hope that the United States will double down on Israeli’s side in Israel’s religiously-tinged war against its neighbors. Thus Benjamin Netanyahu has said again and again that Hamas, an Islamic Palestinian political party and resistance force, and ISIS are identical. We face the same enemy you do, Netanyahu lectures the west.
The Islamophobe David Horowitz also embraces ISIS in the National Review— for demonstrating to Americans that Islam is an intolerant, violent religion:
And then came ISIS. The horrific images of the beheadings, the reports of mass slaughters, and the threats to the American homeland have accomplished what our small contingent of beleaguered conservatives could never have achieved by ourselves. They brought images of these Islamic fanatics and savages into the living rooms of the American public, and suddenly the acceptable language for describing the enemy began to change. “Savages” and “barbarians” began to roll off the tongues of evening-news anchors and commentators who never would have dreamed of crossing that line before, for fear of offending the politically correct.
This is obviously a dangerous game. Several network anchors have acted as demagogues. Barack Obama says we don’t a war with Islam, and Chris Matthews, who began by demagoguing about the beheadings, now says we have already killed plenty of Muslims; and that’s destroying the U.S.’s image.
But what is ISIS doing to Israel’s image? I believe it’s hurting Israel. Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek have gotten considerable traction on twitter with a campaign comparing #ISIL to #JSIL– the Islamic State in the Levant to the Jewish state in the Levant. Here’s Khalek’s list of similarities: chiefly borderlessness, ethnic cleansing, and the use of religion to validate the movement. They have gotten a lot of media coverage for the campaign. Favorable at Al Jazeera, “awful,” says New York magazine.
Whatever the merits of the parallels, I think Blumenthal and Khalek are right to believe that the hatefulness of ISIS is going to damage the Jewish state in the end. Letting the religious genie out of the bottle was a bad idea, Harry Truman said when he held his nose and backed the creation of a Jewish state; and Uri Avnery makes the same point in saying that ISIS’s ideas are potent: the movement successfully casts Israel as the modern crusaders. And to escape that paradigm Israel must cease to be a fortress-state.
I believe that this coupling of the two terms [Zionist and Crusader] is extremely dangerous for us. I am not afraid of ISIS’ military capabilities, which are negligible, but of the power of their ideas. No American bomber is going to eradicate these.
It is getting late. We must de-couple ourselves from the Crusaders, ancient and modern. 132 years after the arrival of the first modern Zionists in Palestine, it is high time for us to define ourselves as we really are: a new nation born in this country, belonging to this region, natural allies of its struggle for freedom.
Israel participating in the struggle for freedom? That sounds like democracy to me, and the separation of religion and state. That is the happy outcome of ISIS’s rise, it problematizes “loose interpretation of religious text to justify existence,” as Khalek says. On National Public Radio the other day I heard an announcer describe ISIS as “the so-called Islamic state.” She was surely reflecting Juan Cole and the Arabist and many Muslims organizations’ rejection of ISIL’s claim that it represents Islam.
Well, many non- and anti-Zionists say that the so-called Jewish state has nothing to do with Jewish values, we don’t want any part of a state that slaughters Palestinian children with such regularity– and that uses religion to justify Jewish privilege. The rise of ISIS is helping that argument. Hard-core Zionists scored an own-goal last week when they waved ISIS-style black flags at an anti-immigrant demonstration in Tel Aviv.
On that note, Taxi just sent me Jamal Kanj’s piece on “Islamic State vs Jewish State,” in the Gulf Daily News, in Bahrain. He says that ISIS is drawing strength from the Jewish state’s atrocities. I don’t see how you counter this argument without calling for the complete separation of church and state.
The JS [Jewish state’s] slaughter of innocents, the continued starvation diet imposed on women and children in Gaza, the appropriation of Muslim and Christian properties in the holy city of Jerusalem and land confiscation in the West Bank to benefit “Jewish only” colonies are lifelines for IS.
IS exploits peoples’ anger to recruit frustrated young men and women, aiming to establish a utopian religious state, just as the Zionists have done.
How could the West accept JS’s claim of a special covenant with a god to displace non-Jews from their homes, but deny IS the right to claim the same with their god? IS and JS are two states proclaiming monopoly over the absolute truth to justify the most abhorrent acts in the name of God.
Western support for JS while it condemns IS must stem from hypocrisy, racism or both.
While almost everyone knows about IS’s crimes and self-righteous interpretation of religion, JS’s crimes are sanitised and very few are exposed to its pretentious monopoly on God…
War might force IS to retreat, but the jihadists’ idea will grow for as long as the US continues supplying oxygen to regenerate bacteria in a cesspool replenished by Western double standards. IS and JS share the same philosophy, the only difference is their point of reference.