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16 Yr Old Girl Caught Going to Fight in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 1, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday the French Minister of the Interior announced the arrest of a 16 year old girl who was running away to fight in Syria.

The girl's parents had no idea, they were shocked. Her recruiter, a 20 year old man, was arrested with the 16 year old as they boarded a plane in Nice en route to Turkey on Saturday night.

Europe has been worried that significant numbers of their youth might join the ISIS or al Qaeda fighters in Syria and Iraq, worried that after being trained these fighters might return to fight from their native soil.

In this case we have a young girl who has been dubbed Jihad Jane.

The fact that she is a young girl is very disturbing. For those who have been following the ISIS butchering of the Kazidis, you know that about 600 girls were spared a brutal death - and were instead relocated and either given or sold for $1000 to become the slaves of ISIS fighters in Syria. If the girls convert to Islam, these young victims can potentially become wives of ISIS fighters.

ISIS is paying every fighter $400 a month. They then add another $100 per months for every child the soldier has.

ISIS is extremely sexist. I have difficulty understanding what a 16 year French girl would be doing in this conflict.

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The Abbas Dilemma
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 31, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, is facing a huge dilemma.

On the one hand, Abbas signed a unity agreement with Hamas. On the other hand, the agreement between the PA and Israel says that talks will resume within the next 30 days. And the problem is that Israel will not talk with Abbas as long as he is connected with Hamas.

Abbas has to choose between Hama and Israel. Now remember, Abbas really wants to destroy Hamas and the feeling is mutual - Hamas really wants to destroy Abbas and the PA.

All the funds for rebuilding Gaza are going through Abbas and his people. He will be building a real infrastructure in terms of actual buildings on the ground and the people who will be doing the work will be employed by the PA, not by Hamas. That will promote loyalty to Abbas and the PA on the streets of Gaza.

And now another problem arises. Abbas just promised to pay Hamas from his own coffers and transfer the money to Gaza banks. That means that he is now empowering Hamas.

Netanyahu said it on Saturday night. Abbas cannot have it both ways. Abbas must make a choice. Either Israel or Hamas. Not both.

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Head of Hamas Shouts V
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 30, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas in Gaza, took a tour of certain parts of Gaza.

Haniyeh flashed the V sign everywhere he went.

From our Western POV it is hard to look at all the destruction in Gaza and interpret it as, in any manner whatsoever, success. And yet, Hamas does just that.

Hamas sees and evaluates success very differently than we in the West do. From Hamas' POV they emerged victorious because there are still Hamas leaders that were not assassinated and Hamas fighters that were not killed. Hamas sees a victory in the fact that they are still able to fire rockets into Israel.

Hamas sees a victory when there is still one man standing, still able to speak and shout and fight.

The West does not see loss and victory in total terms. The West assesses greater and lesser, better or worse. For the West, assessment is a series of evaluations in shades of gray.

For Hamas it is total, all or nothing, black and white. As long as
Hamas can still rebuild and continue to fight, they have emerged successful. And they are triumphant.

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Abbas Laces Into Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 29, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas laced into Hamas in a publicly broadcast interview.

Abbas said that the current ceasefire is identical to the very first ceasefire agreement proposed by Egypt - which Hamas refused to accept. He then suggested that all the civilian deaths that took place were as a result of that refusal. So Hamas is responsible for all those deaths.

Abbas further said that he was personally assured by the Khalad Mashal, the leader of Hamas, that Hamas had nothing to do with the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaar. And then, just a few days later, another Hamas leader publicly claimed responsibility and involvement for the kidnappings and murders.

One of the points Abbas was making ws how important it is that the rebuilding of Gaza be done under the supervision of the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas. He, Mahmoud Abbas, will supervise the project.

Judging from his tone during the broadcast, it seems that what most irked Abbas is that Hamas stated that they can and will determine whether there is quiet with Israel or whether they will attack again and go to war.

Abbas said this is not the unity agreement that he signed with Hamas. The Palestinian president asserted that only the PA can make that declaration.

We have to watch this tension closely. It looks like Abbas is making a move. It looks like he is preparing to assert his influence and flex his power and maybe - maybe even take back Gaza from Hamas.

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Boycotting Israel Will Not Work
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 28, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

There has been an uptick in anti-Israel sentiment in the Western world - in Europe and in the United States. The reality is that it is old fashioned anti-Semitism with a thin veneer, a coating, of anti-Israel rhetoric.

The most organized group promoting this ugliness is the BDS movement. BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. They movement spouts lies and speaks half-truths and promotes the boycotting Israeli products. Their invective is filled with hate under the guise of promoting justice for Palestinians.

Regardless of what the BDS movement or any other movement has to say, boycotts have virtually no impact on Israel.

Here is why:

Israel's economy is insulated against these kinds of boycotts because of the nature of what Israel produces and what it exports. The only real exception is agricultural exports and they compose only 2% of total Israeli exports. And even that can be protected.

95% of Israel's exports are B2B, business to business, which means that they are not actually sold to consumers. Many of those businesses are subsidiaries of multinationals firms. They produce small components of larger pieces and the multi-national companies are only interested in the price of the product and no one knows what is inside those products. The same is true for the pharmaceutical industry. Some are products wholly developed and produced in Israel and some are products in which Israel contributes elements to the finished product.

And the companies that are doing business with Israel have felt no impact from the BDS movement at all.

It is industries in the West Bank, along with the agricultural sector, that have felt the pinch. But that is due to the EU boycott and their enforcement. But Israeli products, even from West Bank industries, are finding different markets willing and even excited about buying their products.

I know about the BDS movement in terms of the economic effect. The real impact though is on young people on campus - especially those students who may actually fall victim to the bile and ugly rhetoric.
That is where my worry lies.

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What Hamas Wants From Ceasefire
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 27, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

A long term cease fire has been reached between Gaza and Israel.

The exact details have not been made public. But from leaks it seems that Rafa, the crossing between Gaza and Egypt, will be opened. And Israel will let humanitarian and reconstruction materials into Gaza. And finally, in 30 days, peace talks between Israel and the PA will resume.

There were huge celebrations in Gaza after the cease fire was announced. Gazans flashed the V sign as a symbol of victory.

I ask you - how could this be a victory for Hamas and Gaza? From what we know thus far from the agreement, Hamas achieved almost none of their demands.

The answer is that Hamas needed to show Gazans that there was a victory so they went out to set the example and led the celebrations - despite having won nothing.

And that leads to the next question. How long will the ceasefire last?

That depends on Hamas' perception. If Hamas still feels strong enough, they will break the ceasefire because they see that they have more to gain. However, if Hamas has been bruised and beaten and their weapons are depleted, if Hamas does not have anything left to fight with, then the ceasefire will hold - until they rebuild their caches and restock their arsenal.

It sounds complicated but it is not. Hamas cannot stop. Hamas is sworn to Israel's destruction. The ceasefire is simply a time-out, a time to replenish and a time to reload.

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ISIS is in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 26, 2014

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has been insisting that there is no connection between ISIS and them. They say that there is no ISIS at all in Gaza.

Hamas is lying. It looks like there is a definite ISIS presence in Gaza.

I watched a video with ISIS members shooting rockets into Israel.

YNET reported that there has been a real uptick in internet activity from Gaza on websites that are ISIS affiliates.

Egypt, which has been sensitive to the growth of extremist Islamic groups, has asserted that ISIS has successfully recruited young men of Gaza to join their movement.

And there was an ISIS rally that took place in Gaza in June.

All this lead us to conclude that ISIS, the real thing, is getting off the ground in Gaza.

This is beyond dangerous.

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