I loudly, unequivocally condemn ISIS. I condemn them because they twist my faith, they harm more of my brothers and sisters in Islam in the global south than they do the Western World, and I condemn them because I am a decent human being.
I hate that I need to start this blog like that but I will anyway because too many times Muslims talking about the issues I am about to are told they need to do more to stop terrorism. And whilst too many non-Muslims let islamophobia go on, and too many white people let white supremacy and state violence go on, it is of course Muslims who are continuously reminded to fix our own. Now I can dedicate a whole post on how problematic this is and why statement such as the one given by our own PM a few days ago is so reckless but I’ll save that for another day.
Today I want to ask as very simple question. Why does the government have policies and strategies and spend so much time and money on stopping Muslims from fighting in Syria but allow Jewish people to fight in the IDF?
(I will also like to note here that around 200 Britons have gone to fight, not the 2000 the media is gushing out. I will also like to point out that although I searched for it, I could not find figures of how many Britons have gone to fight in Israel over time but one site quotes 100 per year).
Why is it that when mothers and families reach out to their loved ones fighting abroad and get them to come back, they are not let back in? Britain rejects them. Yet those coming back from fighting with the IDF are allowed back in. Students who have fought in the IDF are enrolled in our universities, are openly able to post proud picture of themselves in uniform, holding a riffle with the Israeli flag in the background on Facebook.
The Israeli military runs a programme called “mahal” which allows non-Israeli nationals of Jewish descent to join the ranks of the armed forces for an 18-month tour of duty. According to the rules, British men under 24 or women under 21 who have one parent or grandparent who is or was Jewish are eligible. That’s Jewish (you need to prove it by getting a rabbi to sign a confirmation) not Israeli. Overseas recruits get the same pay and conditions as Israelis and “serve always shoulder to shoulder with regular Israeli soldiers”.
Meanwhile, Muslim students are being told they cannot even think anything against foreign policies, let alone speak or do anything about them (Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015).
The reason is because those fighting in Syria are fighting against the government – and they are therefore considered terrorists. Those fighting in the IDF are not considered terrorists because they are fighting for the government, even if they are inflicting terror. The law makes no distinctions between whether that government is oppressive and conducting war crimes. So that’s the law.
The way the law separates each situation does not sit very well with me. I wish there was more open discussions about this – the possibility of people being made stateless and the effects of this and why people decide to go in the first place. But alas the mainstream narrative is prohibits this because as soon as you start asking these questions you are branded as terrorist.
So I’m going to go back to sipping my tea.
Disclaimer: I’ve had triple thoughts on whether posting this will get me on some watch list (if you are watching, I’m peaceful and love democracy and tea I promise! Ok that was a lie – I don’t love tea but I do have some almost every morning).