Who’s wiping Israel off the map now?: New York Times edition

In a recent post, I detailed how some people described the acquisition of Seamless in Kuwait (how clever) as the largest Middle Eastern exit since 2009. They forgot, of course, that Israeli startups routinely eclipse Talabat’s $170 million purchase price — or maybe excluding Israel from “the Middle East” was a conscious decision. Either way, they’re redrawing maps.

But those offenders are small potatoes (which you may presumably order on Talabat). This time, I’d like to call your attention to the pages of the New York Times. In yesterday’s column, Islam and the West at War, Roger Cohen described the current conflict between, well, Islam and the west:

Across a wide swath of territory, in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Yemen, the West has been or is at war, or near-war, with the Muslim world, in a failed bid to eradicate a metastasizing Islamist movement of murderous hatred toward Western civilization.

To call this movement, whose most potent recent manifestation is the Islamic State, a “dark ideology” is like calling Nazism a reaction to German humiliation in World War I: true but wholly inadequate.

Cohen’s piece reflects a growing recognition that ISIS is, first and foremost, a religious movement and must be addressed in those terms. That position was further articulated in a widely-shared piece in the Atlantic titled What ISIS Wants:

Focusing on [certain conditions] to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.

Cohen’s work is nearly of a piece. But I found it interesting that when it came to chronicling the manifestation of that Islamist ideology, Cohen was carefully selective. Here’s what he wrote:

Over the more than 13 years since Al Qaeda attacked America on 9/11, we have seen trains blown up in Madrid, the Tube and a bus bombed in London, Western journalists beheaded, the staff of Charlie Hebdo slaughtered, Jews killed in France and Belgium and now Denmark. This is not the work of a “dark ideology” but of jihadi terror.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, my objection is not to what Cohen wrote, but to what he didn’t: “Jews killed in France and Belgium and now Denmark.” Over the more than 13 years since Al Qaeda attacked America on 9/11, we have seen nearly 1,000 Jews killed, in Israel. Of course, there were other factors at play, as there always are, but at the end of the day these victims were largely massacred by jihadi terrorists for the simple crime of being Jewish. Sometimes when a suicide bomber says Allahu akhbar while pushing his detonator he’s doing so for religious reasons.

If you are willing to implicate Islam as a motivating factor in the atrocities that have been carried out in France and Belgium and Denmark, I don’t see how when it comes to Israel you can pretend it was not — especially when the terrorists in Europe invoke precisely that same conflict to justify their twisted actions. Rationalize terrorism against Israelis all you want, Roger, but don’t pretend like Islam has absolutely nothing to do with it.


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