The Islamic State has chemical weapons. And its leaders are furious — and determined, in their fury, to use those murderous weapons to huge effect.
The reason they are furious is not that Israel continues to (allegedly) mistreat Palestinians. Instead, the Islamic State is angry because Israel and the Palestinians are finally about to announce a lasting peace. The Islamic State doesn’t want Arabs to make peace with Israel; it wants Israel, and all Jews, to cease to exist. And it wants to kill anybody and everybody who enables peace, and anybody and everybody who stands in the way of a widespread, eventually global, caliphate.
The conflagration is about to begin.
No, this isn’t some investigative news report. It’s the scenario in the latest book by bestselling novelist Joel Rosenberg, an American Evangelical Christian of Jewish heritage who is a former campaign consultant for Steve Forbes and Benjamin Netanyahu. Rosenberg was part of a delegation in Israel, headed by former U.S. senator Rick Santorum, that I joined last summer during the series of Palestinian rocket attacks. During the trip, Rosenberg impressed me with his broad and deep knowledge of Middle East affairs; to an uncanny degree, his novels seem to be ripped from current headlines even though he writes them well in advance of the events that warrant such headlines.
Rosenberg wrote his latest, The Third Target, significantly before the Islamic State became a household name in mid 2014. It’s hitting the bookstores right now, as jihadists lead the news once again in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks last week in France — attacks that took place despite France’s long record of kowtowing to radical Muslims and its increasingly evident anti-Semitism (and, in diplomacy, an every-more-obvious anti-Zionism). It may or may not be significant that one of Friday’s terrorists claimed to be a member of the Islamic State. But it should have been no surprise to anyone that his target was a Jewish supermarket — or that, sure as night follows day, the response of the French government was to order shops closed in the Marais, the Jewish district and famous tourist destination in the very heart of Paris. It’s far easier, it seems, to shut the Jews down than it is to protect them.
What happened in France is a reminder that appeasement of radical Islam is no protection from terrorism — because, as the all-too-accurate premise of Rosenberg’s novel posits, peace is not the jihadists’ aim. As Islamic State published last year in a tract called “This is the Promise of Allah”:
By Allah, if you disbelieve in democracy, secularism, nationalism, as well as all the other garbage and ideas from the west, and rush to your religion and creed, then by Allah, you will own the earth, and the east and west will submit to you. This is the promise of Allah to you. . . . So do not weaken and call for peace while you are superior.
On Friday, Rosenberg told me this:
One of the things that concern me most in the big picture is the growing sense of complacency among Western leaders in the last few years about the threat of radical Islam. It was a year ago to the day [of the Charlie Hedbo attack] that President Obama gave the interview to The New Yorker saying that ISIS is not a serious threat, that they are a jayvee squad. The French are also being blindsided. They are stunned. They feel they are doing everything they can to accommodate, to welcome, Muslims from all over the world. They have supported the Palestinian state. Their policies have done everything they can to be friendly to Muslims. As you can see, they are just stunned. [They are saying:] “Violence? Here? What did we do? . . . When you misunderstand the nature of the enemy you are up against, you are going to get hit in a way you do not expect.
One might ask why we should pay attention to some fulminations from a novelist. In Rosenberg’s case, though, we know that in the course of doing research, he has consulted with several former directors of the CIA and directors of Israel’s Mossad. We can also note his unnerving record of seeing life imitate his scary fiction. Nine months before 9/11, he wrote the opening of his first novel, The Last Jihad, in which radical Muslims hijack a jet and use it as a guided missile for an attack within U.S. borders. His second novel, The Last Days, featured an attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Gaza; its review copies were already out when terrorists in Gaza attacked, yes, an American diplomatic convoy. And now, with The Third Target, written before the Islamic State took broad swaths of Iraq, Rosenberg described . . . the Islamic State’s conquest of broad swaths of Iraq.
“I’m not trying to predict things that happen but write about things that really could happen,” he says. “That’s why I write novels: to educate and to warn. I’m reaching more people than I could if I were only writing nonfiction.”
Rosenberg’s message is the same one former State Department Middle East specialist Liz Cheney delivered on Greta van Susteren’s Fox News broadcast on January 8:
The problem we have got fundamentally is a president who has told the country repeatedly, “The tide of war is receding, al-Qaeda is on the ropes, I’m ending the wars.” And everybody except the president and those on his national-security team recognize you can’t end a war unilaterally. It’s not possible. You’ve got to win the war. So a president who has said all these things repeatedly for the last six years — unwilling to acknowledge that it’s a war, and he is at the same time . . . releasing guys from Gitmo that we know will return to the battlefield.
It is a war to deny the jihadists their caliphate — their sharia empire. In its “Promise of Allah” tract, the Islamic State promises its adherents that once the caliphate is established, they will be able to boast:
We took it forcibly at the point of a blade. We brought it back conquered and compelled. We established it in defiance of many. And the people’s necks were violently struck, with bombings, explosions, and destruction . . . while the hearts of the kufr [infidels] have been filled with terror.
Chief among the targeted infidels, of course, are Jews and the state of Israel. As Simone Rodan-Benazquen, head of the American Jewish Committee in Paris, told the Jerusalem Post in the wake of the kosher-supermarket attack:
Hatred of Jews never ends with Jews. Radical Islamists have struck violently, from the murders at a Jewish school in Toulouse two years ago, to repeated incidents of violence against Jews and synagogues in Paris, to the vicious rape of a Jewish woman in her own home, and today’s assault on a kosher supermarket in the middle of Paris.
Yet none of those attacks spurred the wall-to-wall coverage of the assault on a satirical magazine. Maybe, finally, Europe — and the wrongheaded Obama administration — will start to understand what Jews and Israel have been dealing with for so long. On Thursday, the head of Britain’s MI5 said that intelligence reports suggest we will see a series of massive attacks on the West. “My sharpest concern as Director General of MI5,” he said, “is the growing gap between the increasingly challenging threat and the decreasing availability of capabilities to address it.”
It is not an original thought to say that we are all Jews now. Our culture and civilization are under assault. We must fight to win.
— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter: @QuinHillyer.