Israel’s Role in the Ideological War against Islamist Totalitarianism

To defeat the forces of jihadism, writes Eran Lerman, a three-pronged approach is necessary: using military and economic might to destroy the armies of Islamic State and al-Qaeda and to prevent Iran and other countries from acquiring nuclear weapons; helping to improve the socioeconomic and political conditions in countries that are recruiting grounds for terrorist groups; and working to delegitimize the religious and political ideas that motivate Islamist terrorism. Concerning the last prong, Lerman writes:

Clearly [much of this ideological warfare] must take place within the world of Islam. . . . Nevertheless, the call for internal reform . . . within Islam must be backed by a very firm message from Western leaders across the board: “Islam is not the enemy, Islamism is our common enemy.” Rejecting [the late scholar Samuel] Huntington’s thesis of a “clash of civilizations”—as both George W. Bush and Barack Obama did, each in his own way—is an important component of the ideological war. It can be used to isolate the radicals, while reassuring truly moderate forces—as distinct from [pseudo-moderates] such as the Muslim Brotherhood, who have never abandoned their basic totalitarian creed—that they have a role to play once the Islamists are defeated.

Israel can make its own discreet contributions to the global effort, and it is in its strategic interest to do so. . . . It is, [however], important that Israel, as a state, and prominent figures in its public domain, resist the temptation to pose as a frontier outpost of Western civilization against Islam as such. Such imagery might invite some Western, and specifically American, sympathy, but at the cost of playing into the Islamists’ hands.

With Israel now closely and strategically associated with several like-minded Muslim nations, most of whom are Sunni (though not all: the Azeris are Shiite), it is in Israel’s interest to draw a clear distinction between Islam as a religious civilization and the modern totalitarian perversion that presumes to speak in Islam’s name. In recent years Israel has taken symbolic measures that constitute a step in the right direction. One such example is the holding of iftar dinners by Israeli ambassadors, President Rivlin, and more recently Prime Minister Netanyahu.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Radical Islam, Reuven Rivlin, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

The Logic of Iran’s Global Terror Strategy

During the past few weeks, the Islamic Republic has brutally tried to crush mass demonstrations throughout its borders. In an in-depth study of Tehran’s strategies and tactics, Yossi Kuperwasser argues that such domestic repression is part of the same comprehensive strategy that includes its support for militias, guerrillas, and terrorist groups in the Middle East and further afield, as well as its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Each of these endeavors, writes Kuperwasser, serves the ayatollahs’ “aims of spreading Islam and reducing the influence of Western states.” The tactics vary:

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Latin America, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy