Canadian-Israeli anti-ISIS fighter: If we don't fight them there, they'll come here

"This isn't just their fight, it's the world's fight," says Gill Rosenberg who returned to Israel after nine months of fighting for the Kurds in Syria and Iraq.

July 28, 2015 18:17
2 minute read.

Canadian-Israeli anti-ISIS fighter: If we don't fight them there, they'll come here

Canadian-Israeli anti-ISIS fighter: If we don't fight them there, they'll come here


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

If the West doesn't fight Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it will find them on its own  borders, warns Israeli-Canadian fighter Gill Rosenberg who returned from the front-lines of the Kurdish fight in Syria and Iraq earlier this month.

"The Kurds need a lot more Western support than they have," she tells The Jerusalem Post. "This isn't just their fight, it's the world's fight and if we don't fight them there, then they're going to be at our borders, and they almost already are."

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

She opines that Israel could do more on a "quiet level" in terms of providing training and arming the Kurds, but she acknowledges that Israeli involvement is "tricky politically."

31-year-old Rosenberg --the first foreign woman to join the fight against Islamic State -- decided to head back to Israel after nine months of fighting due to "changes on the ground."

"Especially with the Iranians and now the Turks - the Turkish forces have been bombing Kurdish forces inside northern Iraq, as of a couple of days ago," she elaborates. 
"The Iranians are making most of the advances within southern Kurdistan, and I just felt like the dynamics were changing a lot and ISIS isn't the only threat. Iran is just as great a threat if not greater."

Rosenberg says that the "never again" mantra oft-repeated by Jews was behind her motivation to join the fight against ISIS, after seeing genocidal images from the region splashed across social media. Having been brought up with a strong Holocaust education, the refrain resonates with her. "We say never again and that's not just for Jews, that means for anyone. We don't stay silent and watch a genocide take place anywhere, to anyone."

"I saw there was something I can do and I wanted to help. I saw that there were women fighting on the front-lines, and I thought 'why not me?'" 

In Syria, Rosenberg saw many other women fighting for the Kurds on the front-lines and states that "women are the ones winning the war" there. In the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) region of Iraq where she fought, however, she was the only woman on the front-lines but notes that she wasn't treated any differently than the men. "Everyone treated me with the utmost respect and like I had the same capabilities and physical abilities as anyone else that was out there."

As for her Jewish and Israeli identity, the high and mid-level commanders in Syria were aware of it but advised her not to share the fact with the rest of the soldiers. She explains that this was not due to expected reactions from the Kurds, who she says "love Israelis and the Jewish people," but rather due to the presence of local Syrian Arabs "who might not be so fond of Jews and Israelis." In Iraq, however, she says everyone was aware of her origins and notes that they discovered more similarities than differences between them. 

Now back in Israel, Rosenberg intends to continue her fight for women and children in Syria and Iraq, from her home turf. She notes that she has been approached by several organizations and will explore which is the best fit for her.

Related Content

A Palestinian security guard walks at a university in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip August
July 16, 2018
Abbas, Dahlan loyalists clash at Gaza's Al-Azhar University