Addressing the Rotary Club of McMinnville on Thursday, Israeli Consul-General Opher Aviran warned that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or ISIL), “is a threat not only to Israel but to the region and the world.”
Aviran told Rotarians the heavily armed terrorist organization is bent on destroying modern civilization and extending its brutal regime of religious extremism throughout the world. ISIS, said Aviran, advertises itself through beheadings, crucifixions and the slaughter of babies.
ISIS is only the latest and most notorious of the political and religious ideologies born in the Middle East. Decades before ISIS, the political and military movement Hamas declared its intention to be the annihilation of Israel. Taking control of Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal in 2005, Hamas is officially listed as a terrorist enterprise by the U.S. government and is regarded as an international enemy of peace.
“All the ceasefires brokered by Egypt and the international community were kept by Israel and broken by Hamas,” Aviran said. In this summer’s bloody standoff between Israel and Hamas militants, more than 1,000 were reported killed and material destruction moved into the billions, with the international donor community left to pay for the massive losses.
The U.S. and Israel share basic values such as personal freedom, security and opportunity. “We believe we can live side by side in peace — Jews, Christians, Muslims,” Aviran said. “We choose life, but there’s a culture that chooses death.”
Aviran concluded by praising veterans of World War II, including those from Warren County, whom he credited with the defeat of Nazi Germany and the rescue of thousands of Jews from the Third Reich’s Holocaust.
“Israel has no greater friend than America,” he told Rotarians.