Inside the Caliphate: Understanding ISIS | New Ideal

Elan Journo writes:

There’s a well-established pattern among political and intellectual leaders of underrating the aims, morale, and capability of the Islamist movement. And it costs us dearly. Take, for example, the following assessment of various Al Qaeda factions in Iraq. At the time, Al Qaeda was supposed to have been “decimated,” even as the group’s flag was flying in some Iraqi cities.

The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. . . . I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

These were Barack Obama’s words in a New Yorker interview published January 2014. Six months later, one Al Qaeda affiliate conquered large areas of Iraq and Syria. That group, which became widely known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, then declared itself a “caliphate.”

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Sacha Baron Cohen Reveals Need To Think More Deeply About Israel | The Federalist

In The Federalist, Elan Journo writes:

For his new Showtime series, Sacha Baron Cohen, the satirist who created and starred in the film “Borat,” carried out a prank laden with political significance. While the prank’s main focus is a commentary on gun control, it can also be taken as a critique of some Americans’ reflexive, unthinking attitude toward Israel.

So contends Alan Elsner in the Washington Post, who calls instead for a critical, balanced, thoughtful policy toward Israel. That seemingly reasonable path, however, rests on its own kind of reflexive, unthinking mindset.

 

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Tackling Top 5 Objections to “What Justice Demands” | New Ideal

There are hyper-controversial subjects, and there are emotionally charged ones. Then there’s the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is both. And that’s something of an understatement.

In my new book, What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, I offer an argument about the essential nature of the conflict, what has fueled it for so long, and America’s stake in it. It’s a vast, complex subject, and naturally there are many aspects, issues, and questions that I could deal with only partly, or that I had to put to one side. What’s more, in analyzing the issue, I adopt a secular, individualist moral framework, a framework informed by Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Consequently, the argument I present in the book pushes back against prevailing views of the conflict and America’s approach to it.

So, from the outset, I expected objections, questions, and disagreement. And I welcome such engagement.In this essay, I take up five challenges to What Justice Demands and my approach in it—but without assuming that you’ve read the book. Clearly, you’ll gain more if you’ve already engaged with the book, but if you have yet to pick up a copy, this article will give you a flavor of the book’s distinctive perspective and value.

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How Mideast hostility to Israel has gone jihadist—with Iran at the frontline | The Hill

Two huge developments have put a renewed focus on the war-torn Middle East: President Trump’s abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal, and Israel’s air strikes on Iranian military bases in Syria. These may seem like yet more turmoil in a region marked by perpetual strife but, in fact, the stakes here are wider than people imagine.

Israel’s conflict with its adversaries used to be seen as a narrow, regional issue and, beyond that, of significance only to Jews and some evangelical Christians. But that’s myopic. In fact, the conflict is between freedom and tyranny.

[Read on]