By Ben Cohen
Is there a difference between young American Jews who join the Israel Defense Forces and young Muslims who flock to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist organization?
Apparently, according to the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, the answer is “no.”
A piece published earlier today on the DW website, entitled “US recruits join foreign forces to find acceptance,” notes that 100 American Jews joined the IDF during the recent war in Gaza, and goes on to claim that these recruits may find themselves indicted on war crimes charges. Observing that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday “used the UN stage to launch a blistering attack on those alleging that his forces committed war crimes during the war against Hamas,” the article asserts that “those accusations – if proven – could also affect foreign soldiers.”
The article contains an interview with an anonymous Israeli soldier who is identified as “an American Israeli from a Muslim family.” The soldier is said to have told DW that “an investigation into potential Israeli war crimes is a fair assessment as long as Hamas is investigated too and other independent authorities conduct investigations.” Later on, the anonymous soldier says that “Jihadis… remind me of Zionists going to Israel to serve.”
DW then adds that Americans joining a foreign military “now accused of war crimes comes at a time when Americans are also in the spotlight for joining extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.” Making no mention of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State against Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities, as well as its gruesome practice of beheading its enemies, the article quotes an American writer, Michael Muhammed Knight, who toyed with the idea of joining a jihadi organization before opting not to do so. “Maybe the Islamic State is trying to deliver justice as they see it,” Knight is quoted as saying.
The closing paragraph of the article makes no distinction between the armed forces of Israel, a member state of the United Nations, and Islamic State. “When former Israeli Americans return to the US after their military service, they will be treated much differently than those who wish to return, tired of fighting with extremist groups,” the article says. “The former will be welcomed and commended and accepted by family and friends, while the latter will likely be arrested, imprisoned and interrogated with little chance of returning to an American way of life.”