ISISophobia or “The Mooslims Are Coming”
ISIS has become the scare du jour of world politics. While ISIS is a profoundly disturbing phenomenon for which the world should develop some sort of response, the problem is that the Islamist movement has become a useful foil for many varied political interests from Israel to the U.S. Islamophobes among the Euro-nationalist far-right and the U.S. Tea Party have latched onto ISIS as their political gravy train. Bibi Netanyahu, ever alert to memes he can exploit to promote Israel’s interests, made the memorable, and profoundly mendacious statement: “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.” Senator Bill Nelson, who has a huge elderly Jewish constituency and is allied closely with the Israel Lobby, said this today:
“Any group that sets them [sic] up as a religious caliphate and says that they will not stop until the black flag of ISIS is flying over the White House — I take that pretty seriously,” he said.
No ISIS leader has ever made such a statement. But Nelson appears to be watching FoxNews, because it claimed ISIS said so. The fact that a major national political leader would air such nonsense is disturbing. There is enough to hate about ISIS without making things up out of whole cloth.
Then we have the tried and true Wall Street Journal, always good for a bit of Islamophobic hysteria. This is the headline for Ryan Crocker’s op-ed: Islamic State Is Getting Stronger, and It’s Targeting America. The neo-cons are on the warpath demanding that we “eviscerate” ISIS, that we engage in some sort of a counter-jihad. Which is just what both the world and America need, yet another war against Islam in the Mideast.
Similarly, Israeli media have reported that a freed French journalist held hostage by ISIS identified the Belgian museum attacker as an adherent of ISIS. While the journalist, who worked for the right-wing French daily Le Point, did say Mehdi Nemmouche tortured and abused him and others while he was held in custody, he never made any statement about the alleged terrorist’s affiliations. So when Nemmouche left Syria was he affiliated with ISIS? Why did he leave? Had he broken with ISIS? Had ISIS broken with him? And if so, why?
The implication of this Israeli reporting was that the attack which killed two Israeli intelligence agents may’ve been the work of ISIS. In fact, no one knows whether Nemmouche was acting on his own or on behalf of another Islamist group. Any speculation to the contrary is just that.
Open Democracy has published an incisive piece raising uncomfortable similarities between ISIS and Israel’s religion-derived claims of authority and sovereignty. And thank God for this still small sane voice in Congress:
“It’s fear-mongering. It’s what happened after 9/11. ‘Oh my god, they’ve got these planes crashing. Now they’re going to take over America.’ That’s nonsense,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the only lawmaker who unequivocally dismissed the idea that Islamic State militants pose a direct threat to the United States. An indirect threat, yes, he said, but not more.
“We overreacted to 9/11. Most of the people that did 9/11 were Saudis. Why the hell didn’t we invade Saudi Arabia? There wasn’t one Iraqi involved in 9/11,” Harkin said. “We just keep jumping from one mistake to another. I have a feeling we’re going to do the same thing with [the Islamic State].”
All this leads to the next logical question: what threat does ISIS really pose to U.S. national interests? If it doesn’t pose such a threat, then what should our response to it be? Does it threaten other interests or values that are important to us? And what will be the outcome of any form of intervention we choose to take?
Last September, Pres. Obama was on the verge of assaulting Pres. Assad of Syria for alleged use of chemical weapons. In the meantime, a new and more dangerous foe has arisen to take his place as the Arab bogeyman: ISIS. The group was hardly a gleam in Assad’s eye a year ago and now it’s the foremost enemy of western civilization.
It seems to me that stopping America’s reckless pursuit of war against Assad was beneficial to our stance in the world. The question is whether taking on ISIS will lead to good or ill for U.S. foreign policy objectives. To what extent will turning ISIS into the “mother of all evils” help or hinder our objectives? The first Pres. Bush turned Saddam into precisely such a demonic figure. But at least his objectives were somewhat limited thanks to the GOP realists who directed his foreign policy apparatus.
His son tried to complete the unfinished business of the Gulf War to disastrous results. So the question arises: which role will Obama embrace? Will he pursue limited objectives and then have the discipline to withdraw when they are achieved (even if his political opponents deride him for withdrawing)? Or will he gradually get sucked into a expanded presence in Syria and Iraq, as he has in embracing much of Bush’s counter-terror policy (drones, targeted killings, etc.)?
The jury is very much out on this. My hunch is that there is a very real chance Obama could allow himself to get sucked into yet another Mideast quagmire.
Note that a year ago we almost took down Assad. Now he doesn’t look so bad in comparison to ISIS. During that past year many right-wing Americans saw Iran as our number one foreign enemy. Now that ISIS is massacring Shiites, the enemy of my enemy looks a whole lot more like my friend. In other words, Iran is almost looking good by comparison with ISIS. My point is that in the Mideast those you view as your worst enemy become, sometimes in only a matter of months, your ally.
Imagine had we gone to war against Iran when Bibi Netanyahu wanted us to. Would we be able to call upon Iran to act as a stabilizer in the region against the depredations of ISIS? If you overreact in one situation it drastically reduces your flexibility when the next crisis emerges. The ideologues and Arab-haters always forget that.
Let’s take a cold, hard look at ISIS. Though it has coldly and brutally executed western citizens, in broad terms it doesn’t endanger any direct U.S. interest. Indirectly, you may say that we’ve made such a huge investment in Iraq, that threatening that investment as ISIS does, harms our interests. But throwing good money after bad in trying to salvage a dysfunctional, sectarian Iraqi state, may not be the best use of our resources. If Iraq’s leaders can’t manage to form a government and mount a response to the ISIS threat, then why should be come like the cavalry to the rescue? What business is this of ours?
My problem with the U.S. as Mideast policeman is that we refused to play a constructive role when the Arab Spring promised to topple authoritarian regimes and replace them with populists who bore the promise of democracy. Why have circumstances changed now that ISIS threatens to topple other authoritarian Arab leaders and replace them with Islamist authoritarians? In other words, we had a chance to encourage precisely the sorts of governments that would’ve more close reflected our values than their strongmen predecessors. Yet we refused to act. Now, all of a sudden we think those same authoritarian leaders are fine because Islamists might take their place.
This, as I’ve said many times here, is a totally dysfunctional approach to the region. We don’t base our policy on creating societies reflecting democracy and tolerance–positive values we claim to embody. Instead we base it on stopping the worst guy out there from taking power. Instead of sharing a dream, our policy is “anything but them.” How will that inspire anyone to embrace our views or emulate our values?
As a sidebar, I wanted to raise some questions about the tragic case of Steven Sotloff. I’ve asked a number of journalists covering the region what they knew of his case. Two veteran reporters told me they find it almost impossible to believe that ISIS didn’t know Sotloff was Jewish. After all, these are savvy, modern insurgents who know how to use the internet. Sotloff’s reporting included subjects on Jewish themes. He was a citizen of Israel (first traveled there on a Birthright trip).
If ISIS did know that Sotloff was Jewish, then when it killed him it didn’t kill him as a Jew. But rather it killed him as an American. The Islamist group may hate Jews, but it hates the west and Arab leaders more. This means that ISIS has made a deliberate choice of who its enemies are and right now that isn’t Israel. Which means Netanyahu’s attempt to conflate Hamas and ISIS is a total fraud. Both groups have particular interests that are specific to their particular situations. Hamas wants Palestinian freedom. ISIS wants something else entirely. Distorting reality as Bibi does harms Israel’s interests and harms the prospects for creating any equilibrium or stability in the region.
29 thoughts on “ISISophobia or “The Mooslims Are Coming” – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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” No one in ISIS has ever made such a statement”
Actually, an ISIS spokesman did say that ISIS will raise the flag over the White House. Here’s the video.
@Black Canary: First, you use FoxNews as a credible media source on this subject which it is not. Second, you claim that the statement was made by an “ISIS spokesman.” I’ve never heard of such a thing. Can you or Fox News prove that he represents anyone other than himself? Can you also confirm that he said whatever Fox claims he did?
Fox News might not a credible media source in your eyes, but ALALAM NEWS NETWORK from Iran is?
Because that is the source you are using for a previous post of yours:
Prove the report I linked to is false. I dare you to. And also let us know your particular expertise in the Iranian media. Perhaps your knowledge of Farsi, a grad degree in Iran studies?
I didn’t say that the report is false. You also didn’t say that the report in Fox News was false.
You just discarded the validity of it because it comes from Fox News. You automatically discard any report
that comes from a source that you define as a “propaganda site”.
Interesting that a site as Alalam does not fall into this category (one that reads their “about” might
conclude that they do have a defined agenda)
A lie. In fact, I do use FoxNews as a news source though very rarely and only in cases where I can independently verify the accuracy of a report. I sometimes use JPost, Arutz 7, etc. too as news sources just as once in a while I will use an Iranian publication as a news source. It all depends on context and whether I know a report to be true through my own sources or other credible ones. That’s nuance you don’t seem able to grasp, which isn’t at all surprising given your prejudices.
I also note you haven’t offered any evidence or even an argument to prove that the Iranian source is wrong. What’s the matter? Nothing to say?
I never claimed that the iranian report was false or true. That was not the point.
The point is that you have a very defined list of sites that you define as “propraganda sites”,
and the issue was why you do not include ALALAM as one?
Or as a matter of fact, some of the sites that appear in the column to the right
I don’t have a prejudice against the iranian site. I just read there own written “about” section to form an opinion.
VICE NEWS was imbedded with ISIS when they interviewed ISIS spokesman, Abu Mosa, now deceased.
So a guy who’s dead and who western media have designated an “ISIS press spokesperson” said it. I don’t know who this guy is or who he represented, let alone that he was a leader of ISIS.
This is the third time you’ve marshalled a piece of crap media publication to prove a point. Don’t use the Daily Fail again here.
Link to the VICE NEWS documentary where Palestinian star journalist Median Dairieh (former workng for Al-Jazeera) is embedded with ISIS. We hear Abu Mousa, who Dairieh presents as ISIS press officer and later in the documentary as ISIS spokesperson talking about raising the ISIS flag on the White House. From min 4:40. All parts are highly interesting so as the other 5 part documentary on Iraq.
“What business is this of ours?”
None, until our friends in the region, like the Kingdom of Jordan, are imperiled.
“Yet we refused to act.”
We acted in Libya, did we not?
And what resulted?
@ Black Canary: Jordan has faced many crises in its history and has never needed outside help to protect itself. Nor does it need it now. Nor is Jordan in any peril other than the fake peril suggested by hasbarists like you who’ve created it out of whole cloth.
“Jordan has faced many crises in its history and has never needed outside help to protect itself. ”
Jordan did indeed ask for help.
@ Black Canary: And it never got the help it asked for from Nixon and somehow survived, as I wrote, without outside support.
That was in the middle of Black September in 1970, I think. No serious Syrian invasion developed.
VICE News interviewed Abu Mosa, ISIS’s press officer who said “Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House .” Here’s the video by VICE where he made that statement: http://youtu.be/bsCZzpmbEcs?t=5m4s – the link takes you directly to 5:04 mark of the 9-minute video.
That having been said, ISIS hates pretty much everybody. Yes they hate America, but they also hate Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, Al Qaeda, all Shiites, all Sunnis who don’t adhere to their theology, Hezbollah (they set off a car bomb in the Haret Hreik, a Beirut suburb that is a Hezbollah stronghold) and even Hamas who they consider to be traitors to the faith who must be removed or killed before any Islamic victory against Israel can be achieved. I think US intervention right now might be premature and also exactly what ISIS wants – there’s nothing like US killed Muslims to rally support. It might be best to wait and see what happens as other regional players get more involved. With such a long list of enemies, ISIS’s days may already be numbered.
Re Sotloff. As far as I know, there would have been no problem because he was Jewish. When I was young, there were Jewish merchants in the old city of Damascus. And any non-Israeli Jews were welcome in Syria. However Israeli citizens have been explicitly forbidden since forever. And, as you say, it was his quality as an American citizen that probably did for him.
He was extremely foolish even to set foot in Syria. If the insurgents didn’t get him, the government would have done. As I understand, he only just managed to get past the border before being picked up.
@ Laguerre: It’s hard to judge the actions of someone who died in such a tragic way, especially since his motives, such as they’re known, seem to have been honorable in reporting from this important conflict zone. But given his background as an Israeli citizen who attended the IDC, an educational institution known to have close ties to Israeli intelligence, and given how brutal, violent & intolerant ISIS is known to be, I would think what he did was extremely dodgy.
“You cannot kill an idea with a gun, you can
only stop them if you have a better idea.
And we have a better idea … You must teach
people that law is always better than war.”
– Benjamin Ferencz
○ How ISIS Got Oxygen In Syria and Matured in Iraq
” (…..) Netanyahu’s attempt to conflate Hamas and ISIS is a total fraud. Both groups have particular interests that are specific to their particular situations. Hamas wants Palestinian freedom. ISIS wants something else entirely.”
Exactly, and ISIS combatants have burned the Palestinian national flag on more than one occasion as here in Aleppo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDPBNereBW4
[comment deleted: you say you know Nazism is a restricted topic here & then proceed to violate precisely this comment rule. I don’t allow commenters to accuse Muslims or Jews of being Nazis. Deliberately violating a comment rule is grounds for banning. Do this again & you will be.]
Liars need good memories, as the saying goes:
“A week ago Netanyahu said Hamas was ISIS. This week he says he agreed to a ceasefire w/Hamas to focus on ISIS” (Max Blumenthal)
Obama can go on about the “barbarity” of Isis, as long as only weasel words are used for the Israeli slaughter in Gaza many of us can only feel contempt.
Last month, I wrote in my blog, noting the philosophical similarities between Muslims who volunteer fo ISIS and Jews who volunteer for IDF (“ISIS volunteers and IDF (Israel) Volunteers”), both being as dangerous, but to different groups. Today’s speech on ISIS by Obama, does not bode well for Muslims in America.
Jews voluntering for the IDF are called what ? ….. Jewhadis (seen on Twitter) At least three Jewhadis werre killed during the agression on Gaza, two Americans and a French.
Never heard this one before, but it does fit.
There is a German expression “gefundenes Fressen”. It literally means “found food” but describes the following. Someone has always wanted to do something but never had a good excuse for doing it. Luckily a good excuse came his/her way unexpectedly and for free. Well, ISIL is “gefundenes Fressen” for our government to justify a renewed try to overthrow the Assad regime of Syria. Pretty soon there will be daily “oops, an error” bombings of Assad troops, positions, and military equipment.
“Gefundenes Fressen”. Great expression, I should remember that. In South Asia, we have a similar expression that translates as, “The Blind man grabbed a Quail”.
This is truly Gefundenes Fressen for the anti-Muslim, Hysteria-charged West. I fear now they (US and Western agencies) will discard even the semblances of hesitation they showed in their current “War!” against “Terror” (Muslims). Defense budget will burst at the seams, dictators may drop al pretenses to Freedom or Democracy and charge in against their opposition in the name of fighting ISIS…with tons of money and materiel from the US. Netanyahu, with his Hamas=ISIS equation, will have a free hand to slaughter Palestinians into oblivion. Israeli Arabs are also screwed…remember, the Israelis “caught” an ISIS supporter?
This “Mooslim” does not have a good feeling….
We are actually dealing with “Gefundenes Ferssen 2.0”. The earlier one occurred about one year ago when President Obama thought that he had the GF to take out President Assad of Syria by bombing that country.
In my book there is a direct link between his current actions against Assad and Putin. I firmly believe that our President is still pissed off that he accepted the “Putin Solution” for Assad’s WMD. Sad as it may be, we seem to be dealing with a political Kindergartner who wails “Putin stole my toy train”!
One more comment about GF. When it is used it drips with sarcasm and contempt. The user knew already that the GF-er is a liar.