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

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela