Political commentator Ehud Yaari believes ISIS, who took responsibility Tuesday night for the murderous attacks in Brussels where 34 civilians had been killed, are out to do war with the West as well as with most Arab and Muslim countries — but unlike other Islamic terrorist groups they do not single out Israel or the Jews as enemies.
It should be noted in this context that when Al Qaeda’s two top leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, introduced themselves to the world via CNN after the 9/11 attacks, they spoke of the evils of the West and the drive to spread Islam around the globe, but the conflict over territory in Israel between Arabs and Jews did not rate a mention. It was only later that the new organization discovered it could gain fans faster by berating Jews and the Jewish State.
According to Yaari, the ISIS ideology does not include the Protocols of the Elders of Zion — which is mass-published by the Saudis, and sold freely in every Arab country. ISIS does not believe the Jews rule the world, and, in fact, state that those who believe it are foolish.
ISIS also does not believe that the Jews are any worse infidels than others — including, most emphatically Shiite Muslims. In that context, the Islamic State prefers fighting the Arab regimes which serve as a line of defense for Israel, and avoid harassing the Jewish State for now.
Israel does constitute a religious problem, in ISIS’ view, like all the other parts of the world that used to be governed by Islam and now aren’t. But focusing on Israel now is wrong, ISIS believes, and Hamas and Hezbollah are mistaken when they divert jihadist energy to Israel. Also, ISIS does not believe the Palestinian issue is a major problem for world Muslims.
Yaari suggests that it is this ideology which explains why the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, an arm of ISIS in Syria, who are posted in the Syrian Golan heights, direct their fire at rival Muslim and other Arab militias in the area, but not at Israel.
The fact that the IDF would likely punish severely such an attack does not mean that ISIS pragmatic strategy is not also ideological. It is precisely because Israel is both a hard nut to crack and a trivial ideological challenge that the Islamic State does not plan to go to war against it any time soon, Yaari suggests.