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ISIL’s Return to Gold: Don’t Sell Them Short!

By Shlomo Maital

ISIS coin

From the start, the world has consistently underestimated ISIL. (the “L” stands for “Levant”, or, Mideast).   The American-led bombing campaign, for instance. America and its allies have conducted 6,000 sorties in total. (A sortie is a bombing mission by one plane). This is a drop in the bucket. The New York Times points out that Syria, the collapsing non-country does this number of bombing raids on its own civilians every few days.

   Now comes the 55-minute video, Return of the Khalifah, a video denouncing the fractional reserve banking system, and advocating (notes The Economist)  “the return of the ultimate measure of wealth for the world”: gold. The video shows the new ISIL gold coin.

   There is no risk that the gold coin will replace the paper dollar, as the video promises. But the economics in the video are very strong. America HAS over-expanded its dollar money supply, to the detriment of other countries. The gold standard, which lasted for 150 years, was indeed successful in keeping countries from excessive debt and excessive money creation.  If the dollar is the world currency, it must be stable — yet the U.S., to spur its own economy, has created massive excessive amounts of them.  

   The video strays into blind hatred, as usual, noting that “America has been able to avoid hyperinflation and maintain its military hegemony largely thanks to the petrodollar system. Islamic State hopes that with the introduction of what it is calling the dinar, all oil will be paid for with gold instead of being priced in dollars, which would “mark the death of this oppressive banknote” and bring America “to her knees” “. This will not happen. But the fact that oil prices are denominated in dollars, and largely paid for in dollars, has doubtless been a benefit for the U.S., though it is now becoming an energy exporter.

     The world today is awash in money, owing to QE (quantitative easing) practiced by the U.S. and European Central Banks. This mountain of money has created the seeds for the next global crisis. Neither the U.S. Fed nor the ECB know how to end QE and begin raising interest rates, without panicking capital markets and crashing in particular the huge bond market. Under a gold standard system, this could not happen.

   Let us stop underestimating, scorning, discounting ISIL. Their use of media is highly sophisticated. Their videos are professional. Their military tactics borrow from the tactics used by special forces of the U.S., Australia and Britain. They are not going away. And they do pose a threat. They are the prime cause of the massive wave of humanity now washing up on Europe’s shores. The longer ISIL survives, the harder it will be to eliminate it. It is time to wake up. Their gold coin campaign is just one more reason.

“Choose Life!” – Kayla Mueller

By Shlomo Maital  


   One of the most powerful and terse passages in the Bible is Deuteronomy 30:19:   “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life”.   The message is clear.  We DO have a choice.  We can see the dark side of everything,  or we can see the bright side, the ‘life’ side. 

    Kayla Jean Mueller was a 26-year-old Jewish aid worker from Arizona, held in ISIS captivity.  As a teenager in Prescott Arizona, she was voted “best smile” in her graduating year in high school.  She was always drawn toward helping the weak, the downtrodden, according to her parents.  She led marches to help Darfur, and was college president of a student-led movement to end mass atrocities.  Her story is beautifully told by Dana Harman in today’s English edition of the daily Haaretz.

     Mueller had been in Syria, as an aid worker, for one year and a day, when she was kidnapped on Aug. 4, 2013.  Earlier, she had travelled the world, volunteered in India and in Israel, and then in the West Bank. 

    President Obama recently announced that Kayla was dead. ISIS says she was killed in the Jordanian bombing raids.  In any event, ISIS is responsible.  Her family managed to keep her identity secret, hoping this would help gain her release. 

     During her 18-month captivity with ISIS, Kayla wrote a note to her parents.  Here is part of it:

     “I have been shown in darkness, light – and have learned that even in prison, one can be free.  I am grateful.  I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it.”

       Kayla may be physically dead.  But her message will live forever.  Choose life, even when the forces of darkness choose death.   Choose light.  Choose to see the bright side.  Long after the murderous thugs of ISIS are dead and buried, Kayla’s message to the world will live on.    


Why ISIS has humiliated the West – and why it matters

By Shlomo  Maital


  ISIS (Islamic State, known as Da’esh in Arabic) is a radical Islamic organization whose goal is to establish a Caliphate in Syria, Iraq and the rest of the Mideast, based on Islamic law.  ISIS seeks to do this through a  tiny well-organized and well-funded military force that at its peak comprised some 25,000 fighters.   After ISIS gained control of a huge swatch of land in Syria and Iraq,  some 56,000 sq. kms.  (about 16,000 sq. miles),  three times the size of Israel (’67 borders),  a coalition of some 60 (!) mainly Western nations organized to attack ISIS, mostly from the air.

     Here are 21 countries of this 60-nation coalition, whose representatives met on Thursday Jan. 22 in London to take stock of the results of their joint action against ISIS:

       Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.    And of course, the United States, represented by Secretary of State John Kerry.     

      Here is the total result to date.    The U.S. claims that 6,000 ISIS fighters were killed, a casualty rate of about 25 per cent.     Mainly Iraqi Army forces have taken back one percent (that’s 1 %) of the land captured by ISIS.

     And that’s it.   That’s the whole result of the whole operation.  President Obama, in his State of the Union address, said the 60-nation operation has “halted Islamic State’s advance”.   

     If I were a taxpayer in any of these 60 nations,  I would demand my money back.  If this is the best the West can do against a small murderous band of terrorists who claim to act in the name of their religion, who slaughter hostages and civilians brutally and challenge Western culture —  to “halt the advance”,  with aircraft carriers, F-16’s, drones, smart bombs, and all the rest of the West’s technology — 

     I’m reminded of the first Rocky film, starring and written by Sylvester Stallone.  The main achievement of underdog Rocky was simply to last 12 rounds against the world champion Apollo Creed.  Simply by staying in the fight, and holding the vast armoury of the West to a stalemate, ISIS will find an almost infinite number of recruits worldwide among impressionist young people, who see it as “Rocky”.  By letting ISIS fight it to a stalemate, the West is handing victory to ISIS, and the price in future will be extremely heavy.  Recruits worldwide will flock to ISIS to be part of the modern “Rocky” story, and already have. 

    It leads one to wonder whether the soft fat West is able to defend itself against the barbarians at its gates,  or whether it will fall as Rome did in rather similar circumstances. 

      A report just issued report  claims (unverified) that one of the two Japanese hostages held by ISIS has been executed.


Understanding the Mideast: A Guide for the Perplexed

By Shlomo  Maital     

free for all 

  Are you having trouble understanding what is going on in the Mideast?  What leads one human being to behead another human being – twice?   I LIVE in the Mideast, and have lived here for nearly 50 years.  And I’m having real trouble getting the picture.

    When in doubt, ask Tom Friedman,  New York Times columnist, who does his research through the soles of his feet.  Here is the best summary I know, (from his NYT column today),  in just a few words, and it explains why President Obama is not a wimp, but is justifiably cautious, listening to his experts. There are not one, not two, but  THREE civil wars ongoing. [ By the way, ISIS, Islamic State in Syria, is called ISIL by Obama, because the literal translation from the Arabic is Islamic State in the Levant, where Levant means the whole Near East…a one-letter different that is highly significant]:

   “…. There are three civil wars raging in the Arab world today:  1) the civil war within Sunni Islam between radical jihadists and moderate mainstream Sunni Muslims and regimes; 2)  the civil war across the region between Sunnis funded by Saudi Arabia and Shiites funded by Iran; and 3)  the civil war between Sunni jihadists and all other minorities in the region — Yazidis, Turkmen, Kurds, Christians, Jews and Alawites.

  Friedman might also have mentioned the festering conflict between Israelis and Palestinians,   a century old, predating the establishment of Israel. 

     So, what does Friedman recommend for battling ISIL?   “I support using U.S. air power and special forces to root it out, but only as part of a coalition, where everybody who has a stake in stability there pays their share and where mainstream Sunnis and Shiites take the lead by demonstrating that they hate ISIS more than they hate each other. Otherwise, we’ll end up in the middle of a God-awful mess of duplicitous allies and sectarian passions, and nothing good we do will last.”

    Makes sense?   In Israel, I live next door to a “God-awful mess of duplicitous allies and sectarian passions”.  There goes my neighborhood…. if yours is much better, be thankful.


Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital