What’s the real takeaway from Bibi’s fearmongering on ISIS?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s extended campaign ad — filmed before the United States Congress — has been grabbing all the headlines, but on Last Week Tonight last night, John Oliver drew viewers’ attention to an earlier piece in support of his reelection:

Oliver lampooned the ad by pointing out that “if ISIL were going to take over Israel, they wouldn’t be politely waiting until after the election.” Or, more imaginatively, “DEATH TO ISRAEL! — pending all precincts reporting. Respect the process, guys. Stand back.”

But Oliver’s not the first to express skepticism that ISIS wants anything to do with Israel. +972 Magazine wrote in response to Bibi’s ad that “the Islamic State has not expressed any particular interest in Israel or in Palestine. It’s far too busy slaughtering Arabs in Iraq and Syria — decapitating, shooting, crucifying and immolating them in their hundreds.” During last summer’s war with Gaza, Haaretz published an extended explanation for “Why the Islamic State isn’t in any rush to attack Israel.”

And even before that article was published in Hebrew media, Palestinians were busy lampooning ISIS’s apparent lack of concern for their struggle against the hated Zionist entity all on their own:

That all sounded reassuring to me — until I read Graeme Wood’s explication of the Islamic State’s Islamic ideology, which contains a view of history that ends something like this:

Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.

So it would seem ISIS is less disinterested in Israel than everybody would like you to believe. Maybe Bibi is right to make you feel afraid, very afraid — but he also might be totally wrong about the solution.

There’s actually one obvious way to keep Islam’s final showdown out of Israel forever: if East Jerusalem were to become the capital of a prosperous and independent Palestinian state — totally separate from West Jerusalem — ISIS might be persuaded to keep its apocalypse on the other side of the formerly green line. In other words, if Bibi’s ad convinces you of anything, maybe it’s that you should be rooting for a robust peace process. And if so, Bibi might not be your guy.

In the words of a Jewish wise man: Vote wisely, my friends.

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