military airplane bombers flying over desert

Just What is ISIS, and Why Should We Care?

Like many self-styled foreign policy wonks, I’ve found myself incredibly disturbed by the extremist group known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. There’s no shortage of news these days on ISIS, from what we should call them to what life is like under ISIS control to why the U.S. should attack them to why the U.S. shouldn’t attack them to wondering whether all of this is legal.

Yet, when we cut past these opinions, how many of us understand much about ISIS and the context in which the United States is leading an international coalition to launch airstrikes? What does it mean for the United States, for Israel, and for the Iraqis, Syrians, and Kurds living in the region? Here are a few good resources around that provide good perspective:

This fight against ISIS is multi-faceted and the questions of what we should do about it are not easy to answer. As Reform Movement leaders stated last month,

“The growing threat from ISIS is of grave concern to all who value freedom – religious and otherwise.  We call on all people of goodwill and governments worldwide to condemn and actively oppose, including through the limited but necessary use of force, the spread of ISIS and its allies. ISIS’s reign of terror serves only to threaten the ability of people in the Middle East and Israel in particular – as well as the international community – to live in peace with the security that rights and freedoms ensure.”

These are complex issues. However we may feel about ISIS and the use of force to stop them, it is important to stay informed on the issues and deepen our understanding.

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Jonathan Edelman

About Jonathan Edelman

Jonathan Edelman is a 2014-2015 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. A 2014 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jonathan is originally from Jacksonville, FL and is a member of Congregation Ahavath Chesed.


  1. Religious Freedom Isn’t Just About the Freedom of Belief | Fresh Updates from RAC - October 13, 2014

    […] protected in a given state, religious minorities are often the most vulnerable. For example, the extremist group ISIS is persecuting Christians and other religious minorities like the Yazidis, forcing them to flee. ISIS has also called Yazidi […]

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