Kristine L Ming

Islamic State sours the sweetness of diplomats’ Rosh Hashana toast

Scores of foreign and Israeli diplomats gathered at the President’s Residence on Monday for the traditional Rosh Hashana toast. Although the event in itself was one of joy and celebration, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Ambassador of Cameroon Henri Etoundi Essomba injected a somber note when he said that the moment of celebration could not erase the reality that the Jewish year 5775 that was just ending, had been a challenging one for the entire world in matters of security, and economic, humanitarian and ecological crises.

The Islamic State continues to spread its ideology as its modus operandi all over the world, said Essomba. Originally considered an epiphenomenon, the Islamic State has proved to be a structured and well organized movement, Essomba noted, adding that its strategy is based on the elimination of all those who resist its totalitarian ideology.

Since its inception, the Islamic State has continued to challenge the international community on its own grounds, said Essomba, citing the recruitment of mainly young people including those from countries in the West, and deploying them in their theaters of operations. Some of these recruits have been turned against their countries of origin and have committed deadly and spectacular attacks, he said.

Referring to the situation in African countries which have now been penetrated by this scourge, Essomba underscored “the blatant disparity of means to fight against radical Islam” and said that such circumstances “do not guarantee a victory over the local branches of this growing phenomenon.” In the face of the unpreparedness of African states to stand a long war of attrition, Essomba called international solidarity.

Coming closer to home, Essomba commented that the freezing of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations had led to unilateralism. He forecast that the status quo would persist unless the parties came to the conclusion that something bold must be done to change the current stalemate.

As someone who has lived in Israel for the past seventeen years, Essomba is in a position to assess Israel’s spontaneous assistance to other countries affected by national disasters. “Israel can be proud to belong to the coalition of those countries who are always prepared to assist people in deep humanitarian crises around the world, as was the case in Nepal after the violent earthquake that shook the country,” he said. Essomba was also appreciative of Israel’s willingness to share its technological and scientific knowhow with the rest of the world.

President Reuven Rivlin likewise referred to the Islamic State, declaring that its thugs in no way represent Islam as they murder and rape their way across the Middle East. . He lamented that they are not alone in their ideology of oppression and destruction. Iran continues to threaten stability in the region and around the world, he said. “Their backing of terror in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq makes Iran’s nuclear ambitions truly terrifying – not just for Israel, but for all.”

Without specifically criticizing the countries that reached a deal with Iran, Rivlin declared “It cannot be that with one flick of a pen, Iran become a member of the club and instead the world turns to single out the victim of Iran’s aggression. It cannot be in one moment of diplomacy that reality has changed so completely.”

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