A Global Epiphany on ISIS By Michael Curtis


It took only a moment for the whole world to become aware of the savagery and the delight in the slaughter of human beings by Islamist extreme groups.  That moment was the display of a skilled video of a masked jihadist in black clothes apparently preparing the brutal beheading of James Foley, the 40-year-old American photo-journalist, on August 19, 2014. The whole world has been horrified by the insane, uncivilized behavior of ISIS (or ISIL) and its rejoicing in its deranged conduct.  There could be no better illustration of the sadistic nature and the level of barbarity of the Islamic jihadists, ISIS, and others.  Yet curiously, previous public displays of that barbarity attracted little, if any, notice by the Western media and political leaders in the U.S. and Europe.........

In this necessary battle against the evil forces of ISIS and of Islamic jihadists, aspects of Israeli behavior against aggression may be useful, even if used as a metaphor.  One of the elements of that behavior, used first to deal with attacks on Jews in prewar Europe and now incorporated into the training of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is Krav Maga (Contact Combat).

This form of combat was devised by a Jewish man named Imrich Lichtenfeld, born in Budapest, who lived in Bratislava (Slovakia) as a champion boxer and wrestler.  Disturbed by the prevalent anti-Semitism in the 1930s, he worked out street-fighting tactics to deal with Fascist and Nazi assaults against Jews, and the anti-Semitic thugs.  He left for Palestine before the Second World War and taught his system to the IDF.  Krav Maga can best described as a combination of wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai, Kung fu, and Savate. It is a combination of kicks, strikes, and different forms of punches.

What is important are the principles of Krav, which, using it as a metaphor, are valuable for peace in the Middle East.  Individuals must first avoid confrontation and should remove themselves from danger.  They must then try to de-escalate any verbal interaction or dispute.  If these do not succeed, the individuals, or Israel, must start a process not only of self-defense against all variety of attacks, but also of a vigorous counter-offensive as soon as possible.  The tactics include hitting as hard as you can, neutralizing the enemy as soon as possible, using what you can to get the upper hand, and maintaining awareness of surroundings.  They also entail learning to understand the psychology of confrontation, and identification of potential threats before they occur.