It is surprising how a number of European ministers and leaders are speaking about the Paris attack as the beginning of WWIII. Nation states are starting to express the need for all the Western countries to get together and form a game plan on how to defeat ISIS and thwart the attempt of radical Muslims to convert Europeans to Islam. Radical Islam knows how to take advantage of our weaknesses as a society. They know that in the Western world, their speech is “protected” by the law. They also know that when they deluge us with millions of refugees, our countries will do everything to be accommodating. More seriously, they perceive a weakness and lack of resolve in our countries when it comes to fighting them.
Watching the French and Russians jets bomb the ISIS capital of Raqqa ought to be celebrated. Yet, we must ask ourselves, “Why has it taken so long?” The French attack of Raqqa would not have been possible without the information that the United States gave to the French regarding Raqqa. This raises an obvious question: Why didn’t we bomb ISIS like the French—especially since we know where they live?
The answer has a lot to do with the rules of engagement. The current Administration is of the view that no American may bomb ISIS if there is so much as a noncombatant in the area. To anyone who is familiar with the history of warfare, this strategy is not how we win wars. If the United States took that kind of attitude in WWII, the Nazis and the Japanese would have won the war.
Until this year, many people thought that ISIS was only a Middle East problem. Yet the recent barrage of Radical Islamic attacks may have finally awakened Europe to the problem that it is facing, namely, as it faces the possibility of its own existential demise.
The great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides writes about how people often walk around as if they are in a trance—totally oblivious to their environment. He writes, “Awaken from your slumber and examine your behavior and change your behavior for the better.” One would have thought that the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11 would have served as such a wake-up call. As a side note, I would add that the symbolism of 9/11 (same as the emergency phone number) could hardly be more portentous. In our desire and wish to live in a peaceful world, we allowed ourselves to be blinded by our own delusion. Maimonides’ dictum applies no less to modern nation states.
Still, defiant and determined, President Obama and his supporters refuse to acknowledge that Radical Islam are virulent and dangerous. It seems to me that his reluctance to seriously engage ISIS is predicated upon the belief that he does not wish for the United States to appear as though it is at war with Islam. This would explain the non-impact our military has had on ISIS. Our lack of willingness to engage this enemy has directly contributed to their emboldened spirit, which looks to expand its influence and presence throughout the world.
Of course, everyone ought to know that the United States is not at war with Islam, but Radical Islam is at war with Western Civilization and it has demonstrated that it has a mighty resolve to achieve its goal unless we make a conscious and earnest effort to prevent it.
When a person has a disease threatening his or her health, knowing the name of a disease is essential in prescribing the proper kind of treatment. When the disease has no name, everything becomes a matter of guesswork and a person can die in the meantime since the disease has no known identity.
Yet, certain politicians remain too fearful when it comes to even pronouncing the Radical Islam word, as if the name were as unmentionable as the secret pronunciation of God’s Name, or that, in the fairy tale, of Rumpelstiltskin. How is our country or world ever going to defeat a determined and fanatical foe if we cannot even define who and what this enemy is?
So how can we win the war with Radical Islam? We must call it what it is. Facebook is perhaps one of the most remarkable vehicles for people from all around the world to exchange ideas in a thoughtful and creative manner. Yet, politically incorrect speech is often censored—despite the fact that ISIS, Al Qaeda use Facebook and Twitter to help attract more fanatics to their particular vision of Radical Islam. I shudder to think how successful Hitler or Stalin might have been had Facebook and Twitter existed in their time.
Prior to the Paris attack, the Europeans did not have a problem demanding labels on tomatoes, olive oil, honey, eggs, and wine coming from the West Bank of Israel. Yet, when it comes to naming the threat of Radical Islam, Europeans and many American politicians and leaders (e.g., we will not mention their names for now), are fearful of being accused of Islamophobia—the mortal sin of today’s multicultural ideologues. All of a sudden, the French and other nations are rethinking their former positions. Yes, when Radical Islamic forces explode a Russian passenger plain or shoot people in Paris just because they happen to be having a fun time at a sports event or a theater—suddenly that ahah moment occurs.
Let us hope that this moment of clarity leads to taking the steps that are necessary in eradicating today’s spiritual successor to the scourge of Nazism—Radical Islam. In this battle, it behooves all peaceful peoples of the Middle East together with the West to work together in creating a spirit of peacefulness and tolerance for all people.
Rabbi Samuel is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chula Vista. He may be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org