According to Jürgen Todenhöfer who spent 10 days in the “Islamic State” last year, Israel is the only country in the world that ISIS fears. Apparently, ISIS is not intimidated by the U.S. nor the U.K., because ISIS believes they can defeat their ground troops.

ISIS has not been open about this weakness, and has even made threats against Israel and Jewish people in its propaganda videos.

So, if Israel is the only country feared by ISIS, why aren't they fighting ISIS?

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    They are probably advised to stay out of it since if they join in it may cause other participants fighting against IS to back down. The entire situation is messy enough as it is. It's not just IS against everybody else. There are Kurds who fight against IS and Turkey. There is Turkey who fights against Kurds and IS (while backing them in other ways). There is the Bashar al-Assad regime who fights IS and various other groups. There is IS who fights everyone else. There is Russia who fights against everyone opposed to al-Assad.
    – liftarn
    Mar 30, 2016 at 7:05
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    A paralel that illustrates @SVilcans comments could be the first Gulf War, in which Irak launched Scuds against Israel in an attempt to convert the conflic in a Muslim-Western war, and Israel was asked by the USA not to retaliate to avoid some Arab allies trouble at home because of joining forces with Israel. That said, it is just one of the possibilities.
    – SJuan76
    Mar 30, 2016 at 7:18
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  • I would assume it is because the Israelis are busy enough fighting the Hamas and don't have the resources to fight yet another terrorist threat.
    – Philipp
    Mar 30, 2016 at 11:02
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    @user1 The British government did not create Wahabism, that is absurdly ignorant. This sect is a consequence of Saudi history and internal politics.
    – user8398
    Jun 23, 2017 at 12:15

2 Answers 2

  1. Because they don't pose an immediate threat that needs to be countered ASAP

    • ISIS isn't a tangible current threat to Israel's existence.

      They are definitely a threat to Syria or Iraq strategically. They pose varied levels of threat to other Middle East countries. But they don't have the military capability to attack Israel as a fighting force, not anytime soon.

      Additionally, they aren't an ideological threat. DAESH's main ideology is about confronting "Rome" - Christian Western states are its main opponent.

    • They aren't the highest tactical threat either

      Yes they would probably love to launch a terrorist attack against Israel; but they are far less likely to do so than Palestinian Authority or Hamas or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad.

      Israel has finite resources (actionable assets, political capital, budget, time); and those resources are far better invested in countering the above threats.

    • They don't have a broad base of support among Palestinians, because Palestinians are already committed to existing movements. Commingled loyalties (a new counter-terrorism term for people who are influenced by both ISIS and another extremist group) are possible, but ISIS doesn't offer all that much to a radicalized Palestinian that Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah would.

  2. Because Israel has nothing tangible to gain by fighting ISIS

    • As noted above, ISIS is low on Israel's threat level, so there's no threat reduction to achieve

    • Israel won't get any positive side effects from doing so.

      Western liberals who already sympathize with non-ISIS terrorists won't change their opinion. Arab countries populace won't change their opinion either.

  3. There are tangible downsides to fighting ISIS for Israel

    • It will piss off Saudis, Turkey and other anti-Shia block Sunni countries who are either indirectly allied with ISIS, or at the very least benefit from ISIS fight with Iran, Heznollah and Al-Assad who are their enemies.

    • It will immediately be spinned off by western MSM and definitely Arab media as "Evil joos attacking Muslims" (as evidence, witness Western media coverage of the current situation: when a Palestinia terrorist attacks Israelis, and is killed, it's immediately spun off as "Palestinian killed", not "Palestinian tried to kill Israelis and gets killed in self-defense")

    • It will potentially harm the current anti-ISIS coalition which includes Arab/Muslim countries.

      Same thing happened with Gulf War I, when USA was concerned that Israel attacking Iraq will shatter their coalition with Arab states and thus prohibited Israel from even responding to SCUD missile attacks, never mind joining the coalition.

    • It will take finite resources away from countering more tangible threats to Israel (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, PA)

    • At this point, ISIS' main tactical enemy (or one of them) is Hezbollah, so attacking ISIS will backfire on Israel in that it will "help" Hezbollah indirectly. They more they fight ISIS in Syria, the less they pay attention to attacking Israel.

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    Although these arguments are valid, the answer seems to be incomplete without mentioning that ISIS fights against Hezbollah, which is highly profitable for Israel.
    – Matt
    Mar 30, 2016 at 15:05
  • @Matt - oups, was planning to add but got distracted. Done
    – user4012
    Mar 30, 2016 at 17:19
  • When Daesh's main ideology is about confronting "Rome", as you stated, why they are killing mainly Muslims and Shias in particular?
    – Noor
    Apr 3, 2016 at 18:43
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    @Noor - Technically, because they are heretics according to their religious rules. Conceptually, same reason Stalin killed far more mensheviks and then communists than capitalist spies (or because feminist/pro-gay liberals in the west hate Israel, with its shared pro-liberal values, far more than Iran where they stone adulterous women and gays; or because said western liberals hate Christian conservatives, who haven't stoned women or gays for centuries far more than Iran - literally). To whit, your main enemy is someone who is like you but "heretic", and not someone alien to you.
    – user4012
    Apr 3, 2016 at 19:20
  • Aside from weakening Hezbollah, a weaker (or worse) Syria would be beneficial to Israel, especially since Syria is close to Iran.
    – Shautieh
    Feb 19, 2017 at 14:29

Summary. Because Israel gains by the instability that ISIS brings to Syria. Israel will fight ISIS only if ISIS becomes close to form a stable government. In fact, Israel actually attacked anti-ISIS forces in the past, and still does so.

This is not specific to Israel, but extends to other nations too. E.g. weapons exporting nations (e.g. USA, Russia, France, etc) benefit from the instability in Middle East, as it means massive profits for them due to increased weaponry sales.

This is not specific to Syria either. E.g. same goes to Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and soon might be more nations.

Nor that it is specific to our time. Groups of weapons-producing humans used to ignite hatred between different tribes in order to increase wars between them, so that they can sell more swords, spears, etc.

Context. There is no good party in such wars. Even the anti-ISIS forces are also bad. This is a mess with selfishly short-sighted parties destroying nations as they fight to maximise their selfish share of resources, irrespective of the global impact of such wars. The result is a mess that is going to be at the loss of everyone in the long run, even those who gained some resources by it in the short run.

Reason. The reason we still have such crab mentality-like issues is, fundamentally, due to the fact that the world is still a type zero civilisation.

Future. The future might be bright if we, one day, manage to become a type one civilisation: a global civilisation with less short-sighted selfishness, as members of the globe share their resources more openly and thoughtfully for the greater good of all. Economically, this seemingly-selfless investment is actually the best long-term selfish investment for everyone. Only win-win relations are profitable, as all win-loses will eventually become lose-loses.

A pre-requisite of becoming a global civilisation, is to realise global challenges that threaten all of us, which is already happening (e.g. global warming, extraterrestrial threats to Earth, etc). So we're certainly on track. But, we have challenges that may take us back to the stone age, such as nationalism, tribalism, racism, sexism, etc.

History. To be fair, there was a time where tribalism, nationalism, etc, were actually good. That time was when we were not smart enough to see the bigger global challenges (e.g. global warming).

The reason those were good back then is because they were our main tool to push each other to evolve to become smarter. If we hadn't imposed such challenges on each other, we were going to be stuck at barely being smarter than other animals (e.g. lions, bears, etc), which is not smart enough to realise the real problem (global challenges).

In the grand scheme of things, such past wars functioned similar to how the little fights between siblings in a single family makes them stronger at handling bigger challenges outside their house.

As we pushed each other to become smarter (by imposing challenges on each other), we started to realise bigger and bigger challenges, until we met the worst of all challenges: laws of physics that define the count-down clock to the extinction of all life forms.

News. Now that we are here, knowing the bigger enemy, having wars between us is suicidal (similar to siblings that fight each other at a time when they're being invaded by a stranger enemy). We must unite our efforts to advance science at the fastest possible rate so that we survive the global challenges.

  • The good news: In the grand scheme of things, the grand child of a winged hussar, and the grand child of a janissary, are destined to realise that they are nothing but siblings that used to fight in their parents' house in order to sharpen each other to see the real enemy.

  • The bad news: The real enemy is much worse: Global and extraterrestrial threats against the existence of every life form that we know of. Today, we must optimise all our resource spendings towards maximum scientific output like no other time in our history. We must push ourselves hardest possible, because we have no idea how much seconds we have left before it is too late.

Responsibility. We are the smartest animals we know of, and we use our resources to consume other animals, plants, insects, etc. If we waste our resources in silly things (e.g. wars, luxury, etc), then we have essentially put those animals and plants down, and wasted their lives in vain.

So, our responsibility is even beyond humanity. We are also responsible for those animals, plants, insects, etc that helped us reach where we are today. If we waste our resources in vain, then we have wasted the lives of other animals, plants, insects, etc, that helped us too.

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