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."
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.