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Middle-East Scholar Joins Students, Faculty in Discussion on Islamic State Threat

LAS students and faculty engage in dialogue about ISIS, Iran, and Israel with Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar Ilan University.

October 19, 2015
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, left, with Professor Alan Mond, right, at the former’s October 11 dialogue on “The Three I’s” at the Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, left, with Professor Alan Mond, right, at the former’s October 11 dialogue on “The Three I’s” at the Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush.

Dr. Kedar, a renowned expert on Islam and the Middle East, is director of Bar Ilan’s new Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam. For twenty-five years, he served in the IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena. The L.A. Times’ Edmund Sanders has called him “one of the few Arabic-speaking Israeli pundits seen on Arabic satellite channels defending Israel.”

During his speech at LAS, he presented evidence of the growing strength and power of the entity known variously as ISIS, ISIL, or Islamic State (IS).

Despite the reluctance of some in the west to acknowledge this reality,” he stated, “it is indisputable that IS has indeed acquired the essential attributes of a modern state and should accurately be identified as a ‘State’ rather than simply an organization or movement.”

Among the critical elements cited by Dr. Kedar are the significant territories—larger than the state of New Jersey—that are currently under full control of IS, together with its complex, multi-level governmental system and bureaucracy, fully-functioning legal and judicial system, and the unique currency that is exclusively used in these areas.

Dr. Kedar continued on to describe the failure of the West to deal with the ISIS threat in a timely manner, questioned America’s air-strike policy, and addressed the possible impact of Russia’s re-engagement in the Middle East—as well as the role Iran might play in the overall strategic balance of the region.

The event was sponsored by the Political Science Society of LAS, whose president is Shimmy Friedlander, LAS ’17.

“The dialogue was really intriguing,” he said. “Dr. Kedar provided thoughtful insight to the inner working of ISIS as well as the religious politics that has controlled the region for decades.”

Professor Alan Mond, the society’s faculty advisor and deputy chair of the political science department, said this lecture was “the first in a year-long series of lectures, events and field trips designed to enhance our students’ knowledge and understanding of how politics intersects with the world.”