ISIS versus ISIL, There Is A Difference And It Is Critical

I noted over the last several weeks that various politicians and commentators have been using the terms ISIS and ISIL in what seemed to be an interchangeable way. An investigation of the origins and meaning of the two terms, however,  proved to be enlightening as there is a considerable difference as  ISIL involves anti-Israeli sentiments.

When the Islamic State first emerged, in say, 2012, it was in Iraq and when it expanded later into Syria, it added the letters to reflect that it was the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS, if you will. The organization’s military operations remain in Iraq and Syria today, but its aspirations are much broader.
The thought that this organization noted for its cruelty and genocidal tendencies that include murdering Christians and Shiite Muslims, beheading enemies and having children watch the beheadings, the mass murder of Syrian soldiers, and killing those suspected of being non-Sunni or resisting forced conversion to Islam, has a broader view that  is frightening.

This world view is the creation of the Caliphate, or region controlled by Sharia law, over Iraq, Syria, and the Levant. This leads to the term ISIL, or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Levant, a term Churchill used, refers to the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, and includes Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, and by implication the Saudi Peninsula. The Islamic view of the Levant, however, includes Palestine and not Israel.

We must be careful when we use ISIS or ISIL as the distinction is clear between ISIS, or the limited view of the Caliphate, or of ISIL, which refers to the  geographically and politically expansive Islamist view of the Levant. The definition of Levant I gave earlier is the modern, European, post-1948, version. The ISIL version omits Israel for Palestine and that indicates the speaker’s mind set as being anti-Israeli.  That is something to think about!!

Presbyterians At War

I am a Presbyterian and a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Needless to say, I am shocked by the recent actions by our General Assembly. I see these actions, described below, as seriously misguided. I will remain in the Church and argue against such behavior.
From Real Clear Politics:
How ironic that, as the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA voted to divest from Israel, it also voted to recognize same-sex marriage.
It’s ironic for two reasons. First, because Israel is the only gay-friendly country in the Middle East. For example, this month’s 16th annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv drew over 100,000 participants.
Try doing that in Saudia Arabia, Yemen or Iran.
Second, because Israel is also the only place in the Middle East where Christian minorities can practice their faith freely.
The hypocrisy of the vote, which declared that the Presbyterian church “cannot profit from the destruction of homes and lives,” is underscored by the group’s silence on the slaughter in Syria and Iraq, not to mention the persecution of its fellow Christians elsewhere in the region — including by the Palestinian Authority.
Sad to say, the narrow vote (it passed 310 to 303) reflects a growing animus within the Presbyterian Church toward Israel.
Its Middle East advocacy group has published a virulent anti-Israel “study guide” that perpetuates the Zionism-is-racism canard. Though the Assembly distanced itself from the pamphlet, it refused to repudiate it.
Presbyterian officials claim the vote is not an endorsement of wholesale divestment from Israel — only from three firms (Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola) that “abet the occupation” by selling products such as military and surveillance technology.
But it’s telling that the Assembly rejected a suggestion to reinvest its $21 million in Israeli companies involved in “peaceful solutions.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by urging the Presbyterians to come visit Israel — and then take a bus trip through Libya, Syria and Iraq to compare. And he offered them “two pieces of advice” for their travels into these other lands.
“One is, make sure it’s an armor-plated bus,” he said. “And second, don’t say that you’re Christian.”
Government’s attack on homeschooling

An Analysis of the Iran Agreement

Scott Johnson at has posted an excellent analysis of the recently concluded agreement among western nations and Iran dealing with that country’ nuclear arms initiative. Find it here. In essence, Johnson is saying that “the Obama administration accepts Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.” The question of why Iran wants such weapons is abundantly clear when references to its desire to eliminate Israel, a nation it describes as a “one bomb country,” are examined.

This raises the prospect of Israeli action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Apparently, Israel has sought and received permission from the Saudis to stage strikes against Iran from Saudi airbases. These position Israeli aircraft close enough to Iran to make the attack without the need to overfly other countries or refuel en-rout. The distance from Saudi Arabia to Iran is short. I served in the Persian Gulf and can attest to that. Remember that a US ship shot down an Iranian airliner that just happened to be taking off in the wrong direction. The only ships with that ability in the Gulf now include the carrier USS H.S. Truman (CVN-75). What would it do as Israeli jets flew over the Gulf to attack Iran? Clearly, its advance warning systems would have instant knowledge of the attack. What would it do with that information? Call the White House! Also, carriers maintain a number of planes in the air, its Carrier Air Patrol, or CAP, at all times to defend against attack. What could go wrong, as they say?

The world now, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu, said after the Iranian deal was signed, is a more dangerous place. He is dead on with that statement and Israel is facing an existential moment.

Netanyahu’s Speech at the UN Is Very Important.

Scott Johnson at posted an excerpt of Benjamin Natanyahu’s speech at the UN last week.  The excerpt is posted Here; and describes the long history of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland, Israel. He continues by describing the 2500 year history of Persian friendship toward the Jewish people:

Some 2500 years ago, the great Persian King Cyrus ended the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the right of the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. That’s a Persian decree, and thus began a historic friendship between the Jews and the Persians that lasted until modern times.

He goes on to describe the soured and dangerous relationship with the radical Islamists in Teheran starting in 1979: 

But in 1979, a radical regime in Tehran tried to stamp out that friendship. As it was busy crushing the Iranian people’s hopes for democracy, it also led wild chants of “Death to the Jews!” Now, since that time, Presidents of Iran have come and gone. Some presidents were considered moderates, others hardliners. But they’ve all served that same unforgiving creed, that same unforgetting regime – that creed that is espoused and enforced by the real power in Iran, the dictator known in Iran as the Supreme Leader, first Ayatollah Khomeini and now Ayatollah Khamenei. President Rouhani, like the presidents who came before him is a loyal servant of the regime. He was one of only six candidates the regime permitted to run for office. Nearly 700 other candidates were rejected.

This article, which contains links to Rouhani’s and Obama’s speeches as well, is an important read.