- - Monday, August 8, 2016

In case you didn’t get the memo, you heard it here first. We are at war. Islamist fundamentalism is at war with the West.

The president of France said it. Stunned by the terrible carnage of Bastille Day in the French Riviera city of Nice, President Francois Hollande said, “ISIS has declared war on us. We must fight this war with all our means.”

Pope Francis‘ declaration soon followed. Faced with the horrifying murder of Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed at morning mass in his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, northern France, the pontiff said, “We must not be afraid to say the truth. The world is at war because it has lost peace.”

The 85-year-old priest’s throat was slashed while he worshiped in church - a deadly tableau, horrifyingly similar to a bloody scene in a house of worship in back in 2014 when, in a Jerusalem synagogue, worshipers at prayer were stabbed and slashed to death by two terrorists wielding knives and axes.

These are the tactics of the war against the West.

The French know it. The pope knows it. Most recently (as of this writing), two police officers who were attacked by a machete-wielding man shouting “Allahu Akbar” in Charleroi, Belgium, know it, too.

What is this war? Like the war against Fascism and the Cold War against Communism, this is a war of ideas. Like those global movements, Islamist fundamentalists and their terrorism surely want territory, wealth, power and domination, but their primary aim is to destroy Western culture.

ISIS, also called ISIL, is the current flag-bearer for the Islamist war against the West, replacing al Qaeda for the Sunnis. They are losing the territory they gained in Iraq and are bringing the war to the West.

ISIS is prominent at the moment, but it is just one branch of the Islamist fundamentalist terrorism tree. While you read these words, the Shiite branches grow stronger. Hezbollah, funded by a richer-than-ever Iran, is entrenched in Lebanon and is fighting alongside Russia in Syria. And lets not forget Hamas in Gaza, reported to be cooperating with ISIS in the Sinai.

Hamas and ISIS, and the other groups at war with the West share these characteristics:
• They are on the State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations.
• They brutally suppresses their own people,
• They claim Islamic and Arab supremacy,
• Their ultimate aim is to build a global Islamic Caliphate.

In a war it is vital to recognize the enemy, and not confuse them with others with whom one can live in peace. The leader of the local mosque in the town where the priest was murdered refused to participate in burying the killer. They would not be buried in a Muslim service, he is reported to have said, so as “not to sully Islam with this person.”

Even while war is being waged, it is also resisted. In late July, Jordanian border guards arrested a man trying to enter Israel in a truck filled with firebombs. Jordan and Israel have been cooperating on security ever since they signed a peace treaty in 1994. There is reason to be optimistic about increasing economic ties between the two countries. Even Saudi Arabia, whose extreme version of Sunni Islam inspires and supports international terrorism, is rumored to be reaching out toward the West. A Saudi delegation visited Jerusalem and Ramallah last month, and met with an Israeli delegation.

Hamas and others at war with the West condemned the visit.
It’s generally best to call things by their proper name. The initial instincts of both Pope Francis and President Hollande were right to recognize that Islamist fundamentalism is at war with the West. But we must also be wary about declaring war in a way that plays into the Islamist narrative. Islamists are trying to fit the 21st century Western world into the role of 11th century Crusaders. It is a dangerous narrative. That’s why in a briefing last week, President Obama reported on the progress of “the campaign against ISIL.”
Nevertheless, there is a war being waged against us.
Now you know.

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