Islamic State’s War on Civilization

The Islamic State (IS) has recently released videos of its members smashing ancient Mesopotamian artwork and artifacts. Charles Hill argues that this destruction is not merely an act of medieval religious fervor that outrages Western sensibilities, but a manifestation of a distinctly modern war:

If these depredations of Islamism are an atavistic reawakening of the 7th-century Islamic rise in order to command the future, it is necessary to review the devastations generated by the modern age itself all through the 19th and 20th centuries. With the Enlightenment, as Kant and Hegel made clear, history replaced theology and religion as the arena in which the greatest challenges of the human condition would have to be played out.

With religion relegated to the sidelines, ideology was invented as its substitute. Ideology became a totalistic, answer-all-questions, compulsory, atheistic faith. Like most religions, once inaugurated, the ideology begins the world anew: the French Revolution as the year zero or Mao’s Tiananmen architecturally declaring that nothing good happened before 1949. Thus history itself was destroyed or transformed with a scientific certainty, a railroad along which the ideology would inevitably ride. . . .

What we are witnessing today in Islamism’s war on the world’s cultures is not unconnected to this modern revolutionary upheaval. The “history” that replaced religion in the Enlightenment and which was in turn commandeered by ideology has, with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s revolutionary seizure of state power in 1979 and Islamic State’s taking extensive territorial power in 2014-15, amalgamated religion and ideology as a new stage in the war against history. No wonder, therefore, that the radical jihadists revel in their conviction that the ultimate apocalyptic moment has been placed in their hands.

Read more at Defining Ideas

More about: Communism, History & Ideas, ISIS, Radical Islam, Totalitarianism, Western civilization

 

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7