By Hannah Reich Berman

It seems that we are all at risk. Homeland Security has its hands full. And the Director of National Intelligence is not having a joy ride either. This is thanks to ISIS, the radical group that is doing a fair job of recruiting the nutcases out there to join them. And it is amazing just how many nutcases there are in this world.

The ISIS strategy for the recruitment of Westerners is done mostly via social media. It has to be done that way since it is unlikely that ISIS reps get invited to speak to students or to any other group. Although one never knows, since even college and university presidents can be nutcases.

Clearly, social networking has a lot of influence on people, but as of this writing, only Twitter has cracked down on the ISIS recruiters by suspending more than 2,000 accounts related to the group. Twitter does not allow its users to post violent threats. While social networking is not my thing, I do have to say, hooray for Twitter! Unfortunately, but predictably, ISIS has responded to the Twitter crackdown by threatening to wage a “real war” on this social media giant.

This poses several questions–the first being, so what else is new? And the second is, where are the other media giants? Is Facebook asleep at the switch? Why is that media giant, and all the others, not suspending all accounts related to ISIS?

People of all ages are being targeted for recruitment, although my age group might be the lone exception. We seniors do not matter to these killers and torturers, since many of us are not in prime condition. Speaking just for myself, I would probably not be able to lift a rifle, and even if I did find the strength to tote a heavy firearm, there are other things I could not keep up with. There is too much walking for me. The only time walking poses no problem for me is when I am in a mall. And the more high-end the stores are, the better I can keep up! But sandy deserts and rough terrain are a whole other story. For that reason, I would be an unacceptable addition to the jihadist group.

In general, terror groups, be they foreign or domestic, are not for me. Everyone has priorities, and I have mine. I refuse to skip my weekly manicures or my weekly mah-jongg and canasta games, and I don’t want to live without a good cup of hot coffee or having a Keurig to make that coffee with. On the other hand, it might be possible to get some contraband to the scene by hiding a coffeemaker under my schmatte. That is a distinct option, since schmattes are de rigueur for terrorist dresswear. ISIS seems to make an equal-opportunity fashion statement by having both males and females wear schmatte cover-ups. Oh, goody!

But, speaking practically, even if I were able to smuggle my Keurig to the front lines, are there any electric outlets available? The appliance does need to be plugged in. Another problem for me would be personal hygiene and grooming. The male fighters do not shave, but do they get to shower? A daily shower is another thing I refuse to do without. And is the food over there edible? Do these fighters have heat in the winter? How about air conditioning in the summer? Are there any washing machines? What about dryers? I haven’t used a clothesline or a clothespin in more than 50 years. Barring washers and dryers, are there any dry-cleaning stores over there? If not, how do they clean those schmattes that they wear? Especially the ones that are wrapped around what looks to be sweaty faces, not to mention equally sweaty bodies!

For me, all of the above are important considerations, but clearly not everyone feels the same. This is obvious since the number of recruits is constantly escalating. Not long ago, there was a report of three young girls from London who flew to Turkey or Syria (or somewhere). Shortly after that report surfaced, we learned about three men from Brooklyn who tried doing the same. And to those two threesomes, we need to add the dozens of others who rush off alone, without traveling companions.

Creativity is alive and well among ISIS bigwigs. They appear to have several strategies for recruiting the mindless among us to become jihadists. In an attempt to entice young females, the group makes a most charming offer: females who join will have the pleasure of becoming an ISIS bride. And who can argue with the multiple blessings of that? What could possibly beat the appeal of being wedded to a grungy man swathed in schmattes who spends his days and nights chopping off heads? It is hard to think of anything better.

Maybe there is an incentive here. Perhaps some girls of marriageable age want to save their parents the money for the cost of a wedding. The girls who join ISIS get to marry with no cost at all to Mom and Dad. There is no bridal gown to pay for, and no wedding dinner, photographer, or music. It gives new meaning to the phrase “It was a cheap affair.” There is no payment to a rabbi, priest, minister, or even a justice of the peace.

In the meantime, young crazies continue to join up! And everyone desperately needs to try to thwart the recruiters by putting a stumbling block in place wherever possible. Facebook, where are you? v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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