If we want to destroy ISIS, it won’t be enough to bomb their territories in Iraq and Syria. It won’t even be enough to put ‘boots on the ground.’
In the past several weeks Palestinians have been attacking Israelis in the streets with knives. While John Kerry flies around the world trying ineffectually to calm the situation, and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas calls for the blood of the Israelis, a provocation of continued violence is coming from a new corner of the Middle East.
Last week, the self-proclaimed caliphate ISIS released a video threatening Israelis. The Hebrew-speaking man in the video stated, “Soon there won’t be even one Jew left in Jerusalem.” He warns them, “We are advancing toward you from every place. From the north, from the south…we will come to annihilate you.” In addition to spurring on the violent uprising occurring the past few weeks, ISIS joins with Iran and al-Qaeda in calling for the destruction of Israel.
Beyond broadcasting their unsurprising violent intentions toward Israel, this video reveals something interesting about the nature of ISIS. It contradicts certain ideas about the goals of the so-called Islamic State.
Some, like Graeme Wood, have argued we don’t need to worry about ISIS in the same way we have had to worry about al-Qaeda because ISIS, unlike al-Qaeda, is concerned with setting up a physical caliphate in Mesopotamia and expanding contiguously from there. They have no intention of attacking America or Europe, even if global domination is the ultimate objective. Of primary concern is maintaining the physical caliphate.
This is indeed their stated goal. However, this view fails to understand that ISIS is not just interested in establishing the traditional, territorial caliphate, although this is a necessary requirement. They are creating a digital caliphate as well.
The Phenomenon of Online Nationalism
ISIS deftly distributes their ideology through social media and slick production value. They know how to message to disaffected young men and women: what kind of content, where and when. They can reach beyond the physical borders of the caliphate and create a digital community of national and religious adherents.
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Source: The Digital Caliphate