Barak Raz
Business consultant, former IDF spokesperson, Jewish, Zionist, human, in no particular order

What on EARTH is happening?

Earlier today, I was looking somewhat down and out, and a friend asked me ‘what’s wrong.’ ‘What’s wrong,’ you ask? What isn’t? Or at least that’s how it feels, right about now. I don’t even know where to begin… but I’ll try.

When President Putin is the one bombing away at the bad guys and is the only one who seems to do anything pro-active, you know we are in trouble. Not only because his carpet bombing runs do some serious damage, killing an unknown number of civilians, but also because of who he is really protecting (President Assad) and whose interests he is really serving (his own). This is the same Putin who is still in Crimea. Which Crimea, you ask? The same Crimea that’s in the same Ukraine that the same US guaranteed its safety from this same sort of hostile aggression in exchange for giving up its nuclear program. At this point, it’s pretty safe to say, ‘there went that promise…’ Meanwhile, Russia and Putin are growing stronger, bolstering the genocidal Assad, fighting alongside the genocidal Hezbollah, aligning with the genocidal Iran… And all is in good in the world?

With that, just yesterday we had Turkey downing a Russian fighter jet in Syrian airspace. Hmmm… Russia, Turkey, Syrian airspace — interesting. Just to help put some things into perspective, Turkey is a member of NATO. Meaning, if Turkey goes to war, according to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, some 28 nations go to war. Nice one, President Erdogan — are you trying to drag us all into your madness, or just proving NATO is obsolete? Which Erdogan, you ask? The same one who is systematically taking apart what was once an exemplary democratic system in what was once a truly pragmatic country — but all that is no more. Erdogan’s Turkey is basically a dictatorship under the guise of a democracy, heading steadily towards Islamic fundamentalism. Oh — and did I mention he helps ISIS?

ISIS. There’s a nice one to look at. An organization that even Al Qaeda distanced itself from because they are ‘too crazy.’ Beheading anyone who disagrees, turning young girls to sex slaves, and spreading a reign of terror throughout the Middle East and now the world — leaving pools of blood, decapitated heads, and severed limbs behind it. Pardon my graphic description, but maybe if we actually take a look at what these psychos are doing, we will pay a little more attention, rather than just share posts through our Facebook feeds under the illusion of self-empowerment.

How will we deal with ISIS? I don’t know. In the meanwhile, we can let President Hollande and the French shake their fists angrily while they probably won’t do much more beyond that. They will issue threats and write messages on bombs, but I will be truly surprised if this really amounts to anything. Oh yeah, did anyone bother noticing the irony that Syria (and Lebanon) was a French mandate from post-World War I until it was granted its independence post-World War II? Actually, the whole region that is now Lebanon, Syria, Israel, West Bank, Gaza, most of Jordan, and part of Iraq were all a part of the Syrian Vilayet (or Syrian Administrative District), or simply “Al Sham,” during the Ottoman Empire, the last in a series of Islamic Caliphates since the days of Mohammed, which came to an end less than 100 years ago. For anyone wondering where the Islamic State/Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant gets its name from, this is it, where reestablishing the Caliphate is their ultimate goal — but that’s a whole other story.

Today I read a post by a former university professor of mine who blamed the rise of ISIS on President Bush (II). Really, Doc? Bush? He’s the only one to blame? The one whose presidency ended about seven years ago, and very little or perhaps even nothing has been done since to correct any wrong that one may attribute to his administration? Interesting. It’s not that I’m waving W’s flag or anything, but just because President Bush wasn’t great doesn’t mean President Obama is. I know, it’s easy to blame the current state of the world on good ol’ George W., but seven years have passed and how does the current chaos in Libya feed into that theory? When will we start to take responsibility on everything that’s been done (or hasn’t) since then?

On to President Obama. Indeed, did some good inside America, but don’t know what that good is worth, considering the current state of the world and its imminent impact on Americans. Sure, there are very nice progressions within the United States, but these will hardly be the type of legacies that will really make a difference considering all that’s unfolding as I write this. I know the administration is really proud of the Iran deal as part of its legacy. They beat the big bad Bibi. They can all pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Just some food for thought, though — if the Syrian civil war has been going on for nearly five (!) years, why only now is there such an outpouring of refugees? Is it perhaps because Iran’s stronghold on Syria has been all but guaranteed, as a result? I mean, between ISIS on the one hand, and Iran-Assad-Hezabolla-Russia on the other, I wouldn’t feel like I have much of a home left, either.

As an Israeli, there is certainly more than enough for me to be down and out about. Aside from all of the above, which certainly has ramifications for Israel, there is so much more — and no, I don’t mean Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, rockets, bombs, and so on. We have a prime minister who is more concerned with his political survival than with what is right. A most recent example is how his last government proposed and passed a law to (finally) level the playing field with regard to compulsory national military service among Israel’s population, while his current government toppled it, per his agreement with the ultra-Orthodox parties who helped him build a coalition that allowed him to resume his prime ministership following the latest elections. Nice one.

Also, in the latest threat to our security, Palestinians are killing Israelis with knives, scissors, and vehicles, while the nations of the world are putting the blame on Israel, and the international media coverage has been absurd, at best; where our one true ally, instead of speaking about an American killed by Palestinians in this three-month long rage, found it more important to condemn Israel over the fact that the Israeli police officer who used excessive force and beat a Palestinian American a year ago was sentence to only 45 days in jail. Which, by the way, is more time than what most American police officers are getting when they were involved in the murder of American citizens.

What else, you ask? Way too much for me to list right now. This is already growing too long… and depressing. It feels like the whole world is going mad. Or maybe, as another former university professor told me, “they have a long time ago… It’s just now more public with social media.” Indeed our lives have become uber-media-centric.

A more important question is, what can we do? All of the above can, by and large, be attributed to a lack of real leadership. Where empty threats and promises of hope have replaced thought out, decisive action. A good start can be to stop wasting our time by instagramming dinner, reading shallow articles on various internet sites, and feeling accomplished for doing… well, not much to solve the situation. Maybe it’s time we get off our seats and actually do something. Now, there’s a nice thought to end this negative rant.

About the Author
Barak's observations, opinions, and ideas are drawn from a wide range of professional, academic, and personal experiences, which together fostered in his passions and areas of concern. A former IDF officer and spokesperson of eight years into 2014, Barak has since ventured into the business world of investments and international trade from Israel through East Africa and back to the United States. Barak has an EMBA from Kellogg-Recanati, a joint program of Tel Aviv and Northwestern Universities (2018). Barak also earned a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Tel Aviv University (2011) and a BA in Political Science, Judaic Studies, and International Studies from SUNY-Binghamton University (2005).
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