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Syndicated Cynic: ISIS? ISIL? Does it matter?

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

It would seem as if we are at war again, at least on the “air strike” level.

Our enemy is as mysterious in title as it is in tactics, and there is quite a controversy concerning what we, as good American folk, should call the terror group that we are currently attacking.

Now, there are a few names that are frequently used to refer to the group.

ISIS is probably the most popular, followed by ISIL and the Islamic State. Quite frankly, I think everyone who has read/watched/listened to even the least credible news sources in the past two months knows exactly which terror organization is being referenced by many of these three titles, but, yet again, political polarization has to make things just a bit more difficult.

When President Obama addressed the threat caused by the Islamic State, he referred to the group as ISIL, and that put a lot of Republican panties in a bunch.

The letter “L” here seems to be the subject of a great deal of controversy. The Arabic name of the group in question is “Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham,” which translates to “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham.”

Al-Sham is the region oinquestion here, so what exactly does this word mean?

In short, it depends on who you ask. Some would say that “al-Sham” is referring to Syria, which, of course, yields the name “ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).” On the other hand, there are individuals that prefer to translate the term to “the Levant,” leaving us with “ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).” The Levant could include as much as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, parts of Cyprus, Turkey and Israel, which does not sit well with those criticizing President Obama’s acronym of choice.

Some claim that the President’s use of the word “ISIL” shows a “true allegiance” to those opposing Israel, as the term, according to these individuals, denies the existence of Israel because of its implied Islamic exclusivity. So there are real-life people out there that say our President is denying the existence of the Jewish state by saying it is included in the Levant.

A large number of level-headed Americans (even pro-Israel Christians), though, that see no harm in the inclusion of Israel in the Levant region.
The fact of the matter is, however, that the final “S” or “L” that is used to end your preferred Islamic State acronym is not cut and dry, as both represent the same Arabic word that, quite frankly, does not translate very well.

If we really want to start knock-down, drag-out battles with each other and further criticize our leadership over such an issue while this terror organization is doing all it can to bring Western ideology to its knees, then we may as well give up now.

This is a time to stand together against the Islamic State, regardless of political affiliation and preferred letter choices.

Whatever you want to call these extremists, they’re bad news, and it’s important to get back to whole words like Iraq and Syria without the caliphate attached.

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