Monday, November 16, 2015

We're All Israelis Now

It's impossible not to write about the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. 
On a somewhat personal note, I have seen the band, Eagles of Death Metal (not a death metal band fyi) at least twice. From what I understand their merch manager was killed with scores of others simply enjoying a rock show. If they had been performing in Chicago, I might have been there.
We're all Israelis now.
What I mean by that is that we in the West are increasingly targeted by Islamic terrorists. This is something we all should have soberly realized after 9/11. This wasn't even the first terrorist attack in France this year. I'm sure everyone remembers the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. Less people seem to remember the terrorist attack and hostage situation on the kosher supermarket (which Obama stupidly called "random").
Some speculation: France is a primary target for ISIS and Islamic terrorists in general. France is the starting point of enlightened thought, egalitarianism, democracy. Terrorists thrive on symbolism in their attacks. What could be more enticing to them than striking at the heart of liberal, godless, western civilization?
I cannot stress enough that I do not mean to write about the French terror attacks to further my own agenda. It is my sincere opinion that if France had counter terrorism procedures in place similar to those in Israel, this may not have happened. Israel faces the threat of this sort of attack on a daily basis. I also must make it clear that ISIS is not Hamas, Hezbollah, or Al Quaeda. These terrorist factions are all different, and those differences are important, in fact, one of the best ways I think to fight them, is to somehow capitalize on the differences between them so that they fight a war of attrition against each other. Something to exacerbate the kinds of attacks like the one ISIS made against Hezbollah in Lebanon recently. I think exploiting the Sunni/Shia divide is the best avenue, however I admit I don't know how to do that specifically.
One thing that they all have in common is they all would prefer to see the destruction of the Jewish state.
The EU recently approved a law requiring the labeling of all goods imported from Israel. It is infinitely ironic that the country most adept at addressing how to handle ISIS is so demonized by so many in Europe. Just today, some moron in the Swedish government blamed the Paris attacks on the suffering of palestinians.I've been saying for a long time that Israel provides a micro example of how to deal with a macro problem. This is part of why I have no sympathy for so many whiners complaining about your metadata being collected by phone companies. If your metadata helps catch a potential suicide bomber, fuck you, I hope they read your emails and see your dick pics. The capability of saving one life is worth more than your desire to keep your call destinations, and call duration, that the phone company records anyway, private. (Also, I'm still hoping little Eddie Snowden gets some polonium 210 delivered to him somehow).
Israelis live with the threat of physical terrorist violence daily. Yet they have created a free and open society. If you're looking for proof that Israel isn't an apartheid state, just google MK Haneen Zoabi. She is a member of the Knesset who basically hates Israel. The irony of serving in the government of a country you despise is mind boggling, but it's also an excellent example against the idea of a monolithic, repressive regime governing Israel.
Israel has struck a delicate, and by no means perfect, balance of security with civil rights. We are all Israelis because this is the sort of reality we must come to accept. Yes, even here in the US. Oceans never did protect us from our enemies (remember when Bush said that they used to? I was screaming, "what about in the War of 1812 when the British BURNED THE WHITEHOUSE?!") and they won't now.
I have seen a movement of state governors in the US urging the closing of state borders to Syrian immigrants. I don't think this is the right way to go. According to 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the EU. It is presently thought that 8-10 people were involved in the 11/13 Paris terrorist attacks. I'm willing to bet that a lot of people fleeing the war in Syria do not like ISIS very much, and are excellent potential intelligence sources. Finding potential terrorists in the mass of Syrian refugees is like finding a needle in a haystack. In order to find that needle though, first you need a haystack.
I have two ideas as to how to respond to ISIS. One of which France has already started doing. First: destroy their defacto capital of Raqqa, Syria. Destroy it. Leave nothing left standing. This can be done with airstrikes and cruise missiles. Second: Kill self appointed caliph ruler Al-Baghdadi. This will of course be much harder and dependent entirely on good intelligence. Cut the head off the snake and destroy where it lives and it cannot thrive.
ISIS are fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are not necessarily stupid, but their strict adherence to ideology should make them somewhat predictable. We know what they want and how they intend to do it. I believe we (western governments) have the ability to stop it, but we must not lose the will.
I am not a war monger (as I've recently been accused of). I would prefer peace. But we see before us an enemy that is implacable. Similar to Hamas (who in their founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel), ISIS is not an organization that can be negotiated with. They think luring the US and other western countries into another Iraq/Afghanistan quagmire will help them. We have the presence of mind to learn from the horrifically managed wars of the recent past, and learn how to fight a smarter war. This is within our capabilities, especially against an enemy who aims to see the entire world return to the manner of rule of an 8th century Arab dictator.
PS: Wouldn't it be absolutely wonderful if a Jewish woman somehow killed Baghdadi? Just as a Jewish woman poisoned Mohammed? 

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