Minnesota is home to a large Somali community. Most of my contact with this community occurred in the context of my university studies. Though I hardly encountered this demographic in my classes, they were highly represented in the University of Minnesota’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. This is not to say I have not enjoyed hookah and beer many a time with a Somali student apart from those experiences. Yet, when I first saw the large representation of Somalis in the anti-Israel events at the University of Minnesota, I couldn’t help but think of the reports issued by the FBI and stories by the Star Tribune of how there is a clear phenomenon of young Somalis traveling back to Somalia (and now Syria) to fight for terror organizations.
While many in the Somali community have made efforts to distance themselves from radicals that go and fight abroad, others have been content to resort to moral relativism. In an August 13th publication in a Somali publication Allgalgaduud, we see one such example titled “Somali Foreign Fighters Sparked Closed Scrutiny from the FBI.” Here the author asks why patriotic Somalis are persecuted to such a degree by federal authorities, while no attention is given to American nationals that go and serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. I am not a legal expert so I will attempt to tackle this issue from a moral and layman’s perspective. First we must examine some passages from the article:
“If I may, let me dub those fighting in Israel as “Jewish Jihadists,” who strongly believe in a Jewish State and have a strong passion for Israel. These are people like the ones in the current Gaza conflict whose loyalty is so strong to the Jewish state that they have left the comfort of American life to fight Arabs in the Middle East, just like the crusaders of old.”
First we see the author conflates jihadist tendencies with patriotism. In this vein of thinking, having a strong connection to one’s homeland, and being willing to fight for it, is what it takes to be a jihadist. Thus the author minimizes the depravity of what it means to be a jihadist. Yes, one may be a jihadist due to a sense of belonging and obligation to one’s people, but that is just the surface. Jihadists feel a religious obligation to not only fight for their own people, but once their country’s liberation is achieved, radical laws are enacted forcing minorities to accept a radical Muslim way of life or face death. This is not hyperbole, and one only needs to look at currents events in Syria and Iraq to see this. Further, Jihadists do not stop at the borders of their country, but have an eye on the world. All Jihadists agree on the end game being a world caliphate. The debate that has emerged rather is whether to first focus on the enemies near (one’s own secular government) or the far enemy (Western civilization).
In this above passage we also see the notion that those that go and fight for the IDF are there to fight Arabs generally like the crusaders that not only killed defenseless Muslims and Jews in the Holy land but also on their way there. This perception fails to differentiate between Jihadists who view all Jews and unbelievers as enemies of Islam, and IDF soldiers who have very specific targets: targets that pose a direct threat to Israeli civilians. Thus the IDF does their best to kill these targets with the least amount of damage to surrounding people and buildings that is possible without excessively endangering themselves or Israel’s civilians. Also, the mere fact that crusaders are brought up is also interesting since this a very common occurrence in Jihadist literature. The Muslim victory over the crusader conquests has a “glory days” nostalgia connected to it among terrorist theologians and followers, and insinuates that like the crusaders, Israelis are a foreign entity that does not belong in the Middle East and will eventually be expelled.
The author ends with a rhetorical question meant to alarm the reader:
“Questions loom large: Shouldn’t it be a concern for the State Department that fighters loyal to Israel waged a jihad against the Palestinians in the recent assault on Gaza, in which 80 percent of those killed were civilians?”
Here the author delivered his coupe de grace and his greatest perversion of reality and morality. First off, the author accepts Hamas’ statistics with regard to the civilian mortality rate, where time and again Hamas has included in those figures those dying of natural causes, Hamas’ own misfires, and Hamas led executions of alleged “collaborators.” He then takes these figures and uses them to insinuate that the IDF targets the citizens of Gaza indiscriminately. This in turn minimizes what makes Jihadists unique in their immorality; their disregard for rules of war ultimately exemplified in a complete lack of distinction between civilians and combatants.
Finally, though not explicitly stated in the article, it is implied that the greatest concern regarding Americans serving in the IDF is that they may come back and indiscriminately attack Arabs in the US much like jihadists returning to Europe from Syria have committed acts of terror. This is ultimately yet another attempt to blur the lines between professional and moral armies, and guerrilla groups that purposely target civilians. It is incumbent on the free world, and particularly on Jews to make this distinction clear. It was after all the Jewish people that exposed the depravity of the Amalekites. This in turn will reverse the trend whereby terrorism is normalized and profitable to its perpetrators.