Yehuda Blanga (Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel) “ISIS – A Passing Phenomenon or an Existing Entity”


For the past five years, Syria has been the scene of a bloody civil war, which has claimed more than 250,000 victims to date. The first stage of the “Syrian Spring” began with peaceful demonstrations that took place in the outlying areas (most of them in the rural areas of southern Syria). However, after the Syrian military had been sent in to put down the demonstrators with an iron fist, the protests changed form and eventually evolved into a civil war. One aspect of the Syrian civil war is best described as a religious war of Muslims against non-Muslims and Islam against secularism. This civil war is being fought against a backdrop of a sectarian struggle within Islam—Shiites versus Sunnis.

The purpose of this lecture is to review the aspect of the religious and sectarian Syrian civil war that relates to the “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham”. At the beginning, ISIS was an organization that evolved in Iraq and was affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, later it became much stronger than its creator and decided to establish a state in the territories that it conquered in Iraq and Syria.

During this lecture, I will explain how ISIS is, in fact, an actual State. It has a political leadership alongside a well organized military wing. I will talk about how the “Islamic State” runs an extensive education system and holds administrative systems, as well as an organized justice system. I will also explain how ISIS demonstrates this independence through a solid economic system – it even has its own official currencies ring.