A curious silence in the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is coming from Israel, which has advocated the overthrow of Iran’s ally in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad, but has had little to say about the brutal Islamists seeking to oust Assad.
|Launched by journalists Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek, the #JSIL hashtag has become extremely popular |
on Twitter among critics of Israeli policies, reaching more than 5,200 retweets a day at its peak.
In the war on the Islamic State, the alleged scourge of humanity, little is heard about the position of America’s much-ballyhooed greatest ally in the Middle East, if not the world, Israel. Now the Islamic State has been conquering territory in very close proximity to the border of Israel. But Israel does not seem to be fearful and it is not taking any action.
And the Obama administration and American media pundits do not seem to be the least bit disturbed. This is quite in contrast to the complaints about other Middle East countries such as Turkey that are being harshly criticized for their failure to become actively involved in fighting the Islamic State.
In response to Internet queries as to why the militant group wasn’t fighting Israel instead of killing Muslims in Iraq and Syria, its representatives responded: “We haven’t given orders to kill the Israelis and the Jews. The war against the nearer enemy, those who rebel against the faith, is more important. Allah commands us in the Koran to fight the hypocrites, because they are much more dangerous than those who are fundamentally heretics.”
As justification for this stance, the group cited the position of the first caliph, Abu Bakr, who began his caliphate by fighting against those he deemed apostates who still professed to be followers of Islam. (Shiites hold a negative view of Abu Bakr and his policies). Also cited was Saladin, who fought the Shiites in Egypt before conquering Christian-controlled Jerusalem.
Considering the Islamic State is targeting Muslims, the Israeli government does not see it as a significant enemy at this time. And it is reasonable for Israeli leaders to believe that the Islamic State would never move on to attack their country because it will never be able to conquer its major Islamic foes, though American military involvement would further secure Israel from any possible threat from the Islamic State.
Moreover, the fact of the matter is that the Islamic State actually benefits Israel by causing problems for those very states that do actively oppose Israel and support the Palestinians, such as Syria. What the Islamic State is causing in the Middle East is perfectly attuned with the view of the Israeli Right — as best articulated by Oded Yinon in 1982 — which sought to have Israel’s Middle East enemies fragmented and fighting among themselves in order to weaken the external threat to Israel.
The Oded Yinon Plan: Zionist Plan for the Middle East
Currently, these divisions are not only plaguing Syria and Iraq, but also Turkey, where ethnic Kurds are rioting because of the government’s unwillingness to help their brethren in Syria, and Lebanon, where the Shiite group Hezbollah — allied with Iran, Israel’s foremost enemy — is being assailed by the radical jihadist Nusra Front, which has the support of many Lebanese Sunnis. [See Jonathan Spyer, “The Shia-Sunni War Reaches Lebanon,” Jerusalem Post, Middle East Forum, Oct. 17, 2014.]