Is ISIL in Cahoots with Israel?
ISIL seems to be at war with everyone they come into contact with. They are fighting against the Kurds, Hezbollah, Assad’s regime, other jihadi groups, Sunni tribes, Shiite militias, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Assyrian Christians, Yazidis, the Taliban, Russia, France, the US, Egypt, Jordan, the remnants of the Libyan government and many other groups and nations. Yet the one country that you would expect ISIL to be unleashing their terror upon seems to be conspicuously unaffected by ISIL. The country I am talking about is Israel.
We all know that Islamists are not fond of Jews to the say the least, and with ISIL representing possibly the most virulent form of Islamism, why is it that ISIL has not devoted more of its efforts to striking Israel? To some the reason is because Israel and ISIL are in cahoots. According to them ISIL was created by the Mossad to sow chaos in the Middle East. They claim that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Caliph of ISIL, is actually a Jew named Simon Elliot and that the acronym ISIS actually stands for “Israeli Secret Intelligence Service.”
In the Arab world such conspiracy theories are appealing because they absolve Islam and Arabic culture of any responsibility for the rise of ISIL, as it all was the fault of the Jews. Yet, are conspiracy theories the only viable explanation for why ISIL does not attack Israel?
First of all we should realize that ISIL has in fact threatened Israel. In a video by ISIL in Sinai a militant said they would “soon” attack Israel. ISIL members, through social media and videos, have also supported the ongoing knife intifada and have encouraged Palestinians to conduct further attacks against Jews. A few days ago, possibly indicating an increased focus on Israel and Palestine, al-Baghdadi threatened, “Jews, soon you shall hear from us in Palestine which will become your grave… The Jews thought we had forgotten Palestinian… Not at all, Jews…The pioneers of the jihadist fighters are getting closer every day.” So ISIL has in fact been utilizing its propaganda apparatus against Israel, but notwithstanding al-Baghdadi’s recent comments, it appears that such efforts seem to be incidental to their other goals.
The reason for ISIL’s indifference towards Israel and the Palestinian issue has been explained in a MEMRI daily brief by R. Green (The Islamic State ISIS and Palestine – Rhetoric vs. Reality). According to Green tackling Israel is a long term goal of ISIL. In the short term they are instead focused on the “internal enemies” of Islam, which include the Shiites and secular Arab regimes. When these enemies are out of the way then ISIL can go after Israel.
On the issue of the Palestinians, ISIL is not overly concerned as they see it as being partially motivated by nationalistic sentiments, whereas ISIL is more concerned with the formation of an international caliphate based on the shared Muslim belief in tawhid (strict monotheism). Furthermore, ISIL does not have a significant foothold in the West Bank (although they do have some presence there) or the Gaza Strip and they are enemies of Hamas due to the latter’s involvement with the “Zoroastrians,” aka the Iranians. This situation makes it difficult for ISIL to use Palestinian territory as a staging point for attacks on Israel.
For the reasons Green puts forth it is understandable why ISIL is not focused on Israel, making conspiracy theories unneeded. But now we come to the obverse side of the coin, Israel. Why is it that Israel seems to be doing very little against ISIL? The reason is simple. Israel may not control ISIL but it does derive benefit from their actions.
For whatever reason the Israelis are not particularly worried by the Sunni Arabs, possibly because they have already defeated them numerous times. However, they appear to be greatly concerned by the threat of Shiite Iran. Now ISIL is an implacable enemy of the Iranians. According to DEBKAfile ISIL has killed at least 550 Iranians officers in Iraq and Syria, including Hossein Hamadani a commander of the elite al Quds unit.
Since ISIL is an effective enemy of Iran, it is in Israel’s interest to leave them alone. As long as ISIL does not gain control of territory bordering Israel, then the Israeli leadership could care less if ISIL is rampaging and killing others far away in Syria and Iraq. Furthermore, in the short term the chaos sown by ISIL is probably beneficial to Israel, as potentially hostile Arab states are preoccupied by matters more pressing than Israel. It also appears that Israel may be obtaining a considerable amount of oil that is produced by ISIL.
In the long term I suspect Israel’s current attitude towards ISIL may backfire. Assad may be an enemy of Israel, but he is no lunatic. To put it simply his enmity towards Israel is restrained by his prudence and sensibility. On the other hand if groups such as ISIL or Jabat al-Nusra replace Assad, there is no telling what they may do. They are fanatical enough to attack Israel regardless of the consequences.
It is difficult to absolutely dispel the conspiracy theories involving Israel and ISIL, as no one really knows what is occurring behind the scenes. It would not be shocking to learn that the Mossad helped to train and equip ISIL during the latter’s infancy. But providing such assistance amounts to facilitation and not creation, and it does not mean that Israel has any actual control over ISIL (it seems highly doubtful that psychotic fanatic Islamists would knowingly take orders from and promote the interests of Jews).
Israel does not do much against ISIL because it is the enemy of their enemy Iran and because at the moment they do not feel overly threatened by ISIL. On the other hand ISIL is not going after Israel, because it first has to deal with internal enemies and because they are not overly concerned by the Palestinian issue. Currently there is a calm between Israel and ISIL, like that before a storm. But if ISIL is able further its strength, for example by somehow taking over most of Syria, then the calm will end and the storm will commence. Such a situation for Israel will be interesting to say the least.