American Jihadists and Israel’s Lone Soldiers: Come for the Perks, Stay for the War Crimes
In his 2011 book entitled Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, author J.M Berger (purportedly in his own words) “uncovers the secret history of American jihadists.” Berger, who refers to himself as a “specialist on homegrown extremism,” tells us that these traitorous terrorists are “Muslims [who] have traveled abroad to fight in wars because of their religious beliefs.”
Please read that definition again. Ok, just one more time.
Now read this from Tuesday’s New York Times:
On Tuesday, with talk rampant about the possibility of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran, Mr. [Josh] Warhit became a citizen of Israel to enlist in its army.
“Our parents were freaking out,” Mr. Warhit, now 22, recalled of that first trip [to Israel] during the war against Hezbollah. “It only made us more thirsty. I love the Jewish people. Love involves commitment. Right now we need people to commit.
“Of course it’s scary,” he added, regarding Iran, “but if you feel a commitment, that’s the thing to do.”
Warhit explains his decision to leave the country of his birth in order to join the massively American-subsidized military of a foreign state this way: “I love my family, I love my friends and I love the Jewish people. The Jewish people don’t need another Jew in suburban New York.”
Apparently, according to Warhit, what the “Jewish people” do need are more Israeli soldiers using American-bought weapons to maintain a brutal 45-year-old occupation and apartheid legal system, facilitate ethnic cleansing, impose collective punishment upon millions of civilians by way of walls, checkpoints, blockade and siege, bulldoze homes, orchards and olive groves, protect colonists in violation of international law, oppress and dominate an already devastated and dehumanized indigenous population, conduct night raids, abduct, detain, and abuse children, use sonic booms to deliberately terrorize people, wage more aggressive wars and commit more crimes against humanity with total impunity.
If that’s not terrorism then nothing is.
The article, headlined “Enlisting From Afar for the Love of Israel” and written by the Times‘ new Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren, states that “Warhit, who grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., and graduated from the University of Rochester after spending several summers in Israel, was one of 127 soldiers-to-be who landed Tuesday morning at Ben-Gurion International Airport.” The enlistees, referred to as “lone soldiers,” were given “a hero’s welcome that included a live band, balloon hats and a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” who praised them for deciding “to defend the Jewish future.“
In Jihad Joe, Berger writes, “Since 1979, American citizens have repeatedly packed their bags, left their wives and children behind, and traveled to distant lands in the name of military jihad, the armed struggle of Islam.”
Compare that to what Rudoren’s Times report tells us of the young IDF cadets who “left behind parents, girlfriends, cars and stuffed animals to become infantrymen, intelligence officers, paratroopers and pilots in a formerly foreign land.”
“Their motivation is often way higher than the average Israeli,” Colonel Shuli Ayal, who oversees the lone-soldier program, told Rudoren. “They want to make their service as meaningful as possible.”
With such zealous fervor and passionate commitment to his co-religionists and the ethnocentric, exclusivist nationalist ideology of Zionism, it is no wonder that Warhit desperately hopes to join the Givati Brigade, an IDF military unit which Rudoren innocuously writes “has been active around the Gaza Strip” over the past ten years. What she should have told her readership is that the commander of the Givati Brigade, Colonel Ilan Malka, was directly responsible for authorizing the airstrike that murdered 21 members of the Samouni family in Gaza on January 5, 2009 for which no one has been held accountable.
Soldiers in the Givati Brigade are also known to have custom t-shirts designed and printed for their units at end of training or field duty that bear such images as dead Palestinian babies, mothers weeping at their children’s graves, guns aimed at kids and destroyed mosques. These shirts glorify, celebrate, and mock the rape of Palestinian girls, the murder of Palestinian men, women (especially if they’re pregnant) and children.
An anonymous Givati soldier was recently sentenced to a mere 45 days in prison for “illegal use of a firearm,” a charge reduced from manslaughter through a plea bargain. He had willfully murdered 65 year old Ria Abu Hajaj and her 37 year old daughter Majda Hajaj, after they were ordered to evacuate their home in Juhr ad-Dik with their families during the Gaza massacre in early January 2009. They were waving white flags and moving slowly in an area in which there was no combat whatsoever when the Israeli soldier opened fire on the group of 28 Hajaj family members, which included at least 17 children. Apparently, the use of his firearm was illegal, not the execution of civilians.
Clearly, for Warhit, it’s all about the love.
The article continues, “[A]ccording to a military spokeswoman, Israel has enlisted 8,217 men and women from other countries since 2009, 1,661 of them from the United States, second only to Russia’s 1,685,” adding, “They receive a host of special benefits: three times the typical soldier’s salary, a personal day off each month, a free flight home and vouchers for holiday meals.”
How’s that for incentive? Come for the perks, stay for the war crimes.
A March 2012 article in the Jewish online journal Tablet chronicles “Aluf Stone, an organization for Diaspora-born soldiers who have served in the Israel Defense Forces” that was formed in 2008 and is affiliated with the American Veterans of Israel (which is something that apparently exists). The report quotes Aluf Stone co-founder Marc Leibowitz describing service in the Israeli military as “a specific and meaningful shared experience. Deeper than an alumni group or a fraternity, which people are fanatical about.”
Leibowitz explained that most Jewish groups are wary of associating with Aluf Stone since “[n]o organization wants to be seen as if they are encouraging Americans to fight in a foreign army.” Still, the article’s writer Adam Chandler reveals, in 2011 “the group was invited by the Friends of the IDF to speak at a synagogue in New York and share their stories with an audience composed of family members of IDF soldiers from the States.”
One member of Aluf Stone told Chandler that American-born former IDF soldiers “don’t belong in U.S. veterans’ groups and networks, as they didn’t [all] serve in the American military.” Consequently, “Aluf Stone occupies an interesting middle ground in the U.S.” More accurately, perhaps, the members of Aluf Stone were actually occupying Palestine.
While it’s clear that these Jewish foreigners who join the Israeli military do so out of some sort of fervent compulsion and perceived obligation to their own religious tribe, so much so that they leave their own nation to bear arms on behalf of another, it should be noted that numerous studies have found religious ideology not to be a prime motivating factor in terrorist attacks credited to Muslims.
An unclassified study published by the Pentagon-appointed U.S. Defense Science Board on Sept. 23, 2004 determined that:
Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States.
Professor Richard Jackson of The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in New Zealand concurs that “terrorism is most often caused by military intervention overseas, and not religion, radicalization, insanity, ideology, poverty or such like.”
Political Science professor at the University of Chicago and founder of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, Robert Pape, who has conducted some of the most comprehensive research and written the most respected analysis of terrorist motivation, concluded in a 2010 study that “suicide terrorism such as that of 9/11 is particularly sensitive to foreign military occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology independent of this crucial circumstance.” His data reveals that “[m]ore than 95 percent of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation.”
That U.S. and Israeli policies of invasion and occupation rather than religious extremism are the guiding forces behind acts of terrorist violence is evidenced in a letter allegedly written by those responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and published in The New York Times. It stated, “This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel, the state of terrorism, and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region.”
The letter adds, “The American people are responsible for the actions of their government” and “all of the crimes that their government is committing against other people.”
Tragically, those American lone soldiers, that zealous minority of homegrown ideologues who – in J.M. Berger’s words – “travel abroad to fight in wars because of their religious beliefs,” will now be personally responsible for the actions and crimes of the Israeli government and military as well.
(h/t Glenn Greenwald)
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