Even If The West Scores A Tactical Victory, ISism Will Continue To Flourish
01 November 2014
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine
There is a shocking degree of superficiality
characterizing the media treatment of the subject of
"Islamic State." Some of the ignorance has a
definitive historical background, stemming from
enduring western cultural stereotypes, bequeathed
generation after generation, especially in academic,
political and media circles.
Other forms of ignorance are quite malicious and
emanate from adamant western refusal (or reluctance)
to face the truth. Influential Policy-makers and
opinion-shapers in North America and Europe simply
dread the prospect of ordinary westerners discovering
the truth about the Middle East and Islam as knowing
the truth would deal a serious blow to the prevailing
western discourse. Needless to say, this discourse is
based on Islamophobia, hegemony and aggression.
Indeed, in addition to existential western
apprehension about the possible resurgence of Islam's
political power, western circles also fear that
positive perceptions of Islam in the West would be
very bad for Israel.
In the final analysis, many in the West still cannot
comprehend the idea that politically and militarily
defeated Muslims have the audacity to present
themselves as a historical alternative to western
The superficiality characterizing western perceptions
of IS is encapsulated in efforts to ignore, overlook
and marginalize the causes that made the appearance of
violent Islamic groups inevitable.
But dealing honestly and objectively with this issue
at hand would expose western hypocrisy and
Real causes of IS and likeminded groups
These groups are by no means a thunder appearing on a
clear day. They are the inevitable outcome of long
decades of frustration, constantly fed up by ruthless
Arab tyranny, shamelessly sustained by western powers
at the expense of Arab-Muslim masses' rights to human
rights and civil liberties.
These Arab regimes succeeded in thoroughly tormenting
and dehumanizing average Arab Muslim individuals. And
when Arab masses, as in Egypt, sought to achieve a
semblance of democratic transformation, the West
hastened rather maliciously to abort popular uprisings
and reinstate criminal dictators. Moreover, western
indifference or implicit acceptance of wide-scale
massacres, as at Rabaa in Cairo, made numerous Muslims
not only lose faith in western-style democracy but
also get more determined to change the unbearable
status quo even if rivers of blood would flow.
A few weeks ago, this writer asked an ideological
supporter of the IS to justify some of the reportedly
ugly behavior of IS fighters in Iraq.
This is what he told me:
"The West and Israel are effectively offering us two
choices: either they kill us like they slaughter meek
lambs at the slaughter house, or enslave us. But Islam
commands us to defend ourselves against aggression and
oppression and to lead a dignified and honorable life.
We believe it is far better for Muslims to die an
honorable death rather than live a dishonorable and
submissive life. Even in America, they say ' give me
liberty or give me death."
"I know the site of blood is revolting. But the West
has been carrying out one genocide after the other
against Muslim nations. Do you know how many innocent
Muslims in Afghanistan were killed, or perhaps some
one might think that the Afghani lives don't count?
"Do you know how many innocent Muslims they killed in
Iraq? In Syria? In Gaza?"
The middle-aged man went on: "I am against the killing
of even a single innocent person. This is against the
teachings of our religion.
" But why is it that exterminating thousands of
Palestinian and Syrian children in Syria and Gaza is
overlooked and treated as a mere banality while the
alleged killing of a few individuals, including
hostages, is viewed as a legitimate cause to mobilize
crusades against Muslims?
The man, who spoke sparingly and was apparently eager
to end the conversation, said:
"The West can't push us to the corner and then expect
us to behave meekly. We will morph ourselves into
ferocious lions. And if it is death, be it."
It is important to point out that this is not an
isolated voice. There are millions, perhaps tens of
millions of Muslims who think this way. Their
frustration is real and legitimate. Their will to kill
or be killed for a sublime cause must never be
Which brings us back to the ongoing American-led
bombing campaign against the IS fighters in Syria and
America and its puppet Arab allies, who bask in their
own tyranny, corruption and backwardness, may succeed
in achieving a tactical military victory over the
Islamist fighters. But such a victory is likely to be
indecisive and short-living. The reason is simple:
America can't win "the war of ideas" with these
Yes, many Muslims do have serious reservations about
IS's behaviors and tactics. However, I am yet to find
a single Muslim who would doubt the legitimacy of Is's
grievances and even most of their goals. In the final
analysis, these grievances are the same grievances
facing Muslim masses everywhere.
Yes, the American machine of death may succeed in
killing many of these fighters. But eventually this
would only help swell the extremists' ranks.
Such will be the outcome of a misguided policy of
treating the symptoms while leaving the root causes
Khalid Amayreh is a veteran Palestinian journalist
and political commentator living in al-Khalil in