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Troubling Politics in Jenin
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 31, 2004

I've Been Thinking:

This is very funny and very troubling at the same time.
The leading candidate for the PA presidency Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) met with arch terrorist Zakariyah Zubeidi, the head of the al Aksa Brigades, yesterday, in Jenin.

Zubeidi is responsible for the deaths of 100's of innocent Israelis and 5 US citizens. The US State Department has the al Aksa Brigades on their list of terror organizations. And yesterday, Zubeidi carried Abu Mazen on his shoulders through the streets of Jenin.

Why did Abu Mazen let this happen? As part of his campaign?
What did he say about it?
Abu Mazen said, "...they are neither criminals nor murderers. Rather, they are fighting for the honorable lives of their Palestinians brothers."

Zubeidi said, on Israel's Channel 10 News, "...we are not talking about the end of the Intifada, not about a cease-fire and not about an end to terror attacks."

In the proper context one can see how dangerous this is.
Zubeidi rides around Jenin in his 4x4 like he owns the town.
He has personalized pistols.
He has admitted to breaking into the PA and Fatah headquarters in Jenin and taking the municipal leaders captive at gunpoint until they agreed to pay his thugs for their terror attacks.

Abu Mazen's meeting with Zubeidi and his follow-up public comments are troubling, very troubling. The shoulder ride was funny.

By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 30, 2004

I've Been Thinking:

For the third time in a week Israel has launched an offensive in Gaza.

This time they may have hit their target, the leader of Hamas in Khan Yunis.
The mission was accomplished by using a drone that hit him and his associates while in their car.
Yes, a drone, an unmanned aerial vehicle (know in the biz as UAV's).

UAV's look like little model airplanes.
They are remote controlled and outfitted with one or two cameras that transmit real time photos.
Some, like the one that hit the Hamas leader, have missiles with their cameras.

Drones are hard to detect because they are the size of a bird.
They get in close and do the job.
Using UAV's is an essential and safe tool to fight terror.
The US has begun to realize this and to use them in their arsenal against terror.

$20 Mill to the Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 29,2004

I've been thinking:

Yesterday the US Embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed that they had transferred $20 million dollars in cash to the Palestinians Authority.

That's right. Not only 20 million dollars, but cash dollars.

The US said the money would be spent on the Palestinian presidential election, on electricity, on water and on sewage.

A transfer of cash? Are they crazy? Have they figured out an appropriate apparatus to supervise where that money really goes?

President Bush somehow has a blind spot when it comes to this idea. It seems he needs to throw money at the Palestinians.

Is he so self-deceived? Does he really think that the Palestinians will like America? Does he really think that the money will make it to the formally designated targets?

How naive.

India & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 28, 2004

I've Been Thinking:

In this day and age it is almost impossible to engage in any high level secret activity.
In this day of internet experts and news junkies almost any person in a high level position will be recognized.

Gone are the days when (Israeli Prime Minister) Golda dressed up and secretly went to visit King Hussein of Jordan.

But still, some operations/maneuvers/meetings still require high-level participation and they require secrecy.

For example: India's Minister of Defense just wrapped up a secret visit to Israel with 9 trusted advisers. Joint military maneuvers were arranged for 2005.

Why did this have to happen secretly?
Israel is India's second largest supplier of weapons, after Russia.
India will conclude a deal with Israel for more defense contracts and equipment upgrades especially on their helicopters, the Cheetah and the Russian Topolev.

And Israel gets much more than a juicy defense contract.
It gets first hand inside info on how today's Russian materials stack up against their revised, enhanced and original weapons.

That's worth a lot more than the $2 billion in arms trade India has commissioned.

GAZA: US versus THEM
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 27, 2004


Israelis want "the Gaza settlers" out. The only Israelis who don't seem to realize it are - "the Gaza settlers" themselves. Why? It's probably self-denial and self-deception, heaping portions in equal amounts.

For years, Israeli men and women were encouraged to uproot themselves from inner Israel and move to the Gaza Strip where they were thought of as heroes. They were the first line of defense for the mainland. They risked their lives and their careers to make the move and to stay in their new homes. They went there for ideological reasons and for political purposes.

But not now.

Leaving your home never sounds reasonable. But Israeli residents of Gaza are citizens of a country whose policy has changed. While Israel once strongly believed that their presence in Gaza was essential, now Israel believes that the situation has changed and it is wrong to continue there.

Yesterday's pioneers have turned into today's pariahs. Why? Because they just don't get it, they refuse to get it. They will not allow themselves to realize that Israel has turned 180 degrees on the issue of Gaza.

Those few who actually do get it, like the residents of Pa'at Sadeh, are thought of as turncoats and traitors by their once fellow Gazans, as practical and wise and even more heroic, by the rest of Israel.

This week Yonni Bassi, the head of Israel's Disengagement Authority, announced that the Gaza settlement of Pa'at Sadeh agreed, as a whole, to be relocated to an area near Ashkelon. Granted, Pa'at Sadeh is a settlement with only 20 families, but that is how the process begins. The government will soon be voting on the terms of the relocation and these settlers will be the recipients of "the early bird special."

What is motivating these settlers to leave? The residents of this settlement are 100% not religious. By leaving now they will receive a monetary settlement and their industry will be relocated with them on their new home site. Now that the first steps have been taken, even religious settlers will begin to break ranks, leave their homes voluntarily and take the deal offered them.

Here's where the problem begins: self-perception. Gaza settler education has always found its basis in the perpetuation of the identity of Gaza's residents as pioneers and heroes, the people who put their own lives at risk by living in harm’s way in order to better protect greater Israel. An entire belief system was predicated on this self-perception. But now, for most of Israel, all that has changed and "the Gaza settlers" cannot believe that the rest of Israel wants them out. They just cannot believe it.

As a result, "the Gaza settlers" have become totally out of touch with mainstream Israeli thinking. They take actions and make decisions that totally miscalculate Israeli reaction, because they totally misunderstand how Israel now perceives them.

Still thinking of themselves as pioneers, the men and women of Gaza thought they could sway the voting public in their direction by playing the "pioneer card." They were wrong. By aggressively playing that card, they further alienated themselves from the voters of Israel.

And then they broke the hearts of Israel.

In a public relations stunt that backfired, "the Gaza settlers" called on all Israelis to wear a Star of David, not a proud blue and white star like the star that adorns the Israeli flag, but an "orange star" symbolic of the Holocaust. The pioneers now thought to transform themselves into victims, drawing the parallel between their lives as Israelis being relocated and the victims of Hitler's mass murders.

What the settlers cannot see is that that even those other Israelis who would side with them and who do disagree with the government's decision to relocate Jews from anywhere in Israel would be appalled by such a parallel.

No doubt relocation was one of the stages of Hitler's murder process and another was wearing the Jewish Star, but few Israelis would take kindly to the extension of that metaphor. To equate the democratically elected and representative government of Israel with Nazi behavior was stepping way over the line.

Even then, the abuse of the Holocaust was far less disconcerting for Israelis than the exaggeration and the total lack of perspective. It suggested that those who might disagree with them are - Nazis.

It's become a true contest, an "us" versus "them." As time goes on, misunderstandings become greater. Some Israelis are even saying that the government should let "the Gaza settlers" stay there after the handover if they like it so much. But that, too, is an exaggeration.

Anyone But Fatah
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 26,2004

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority election will be much closer than originally thought.

Using last week's local elections as an indication, when they again go to the polls on January 9 Palestinians might experience their equivalent of "Anyone But Bush."

"Anyone But Fatah," might become the clarion and effective campaign slogan.
Fatah is Arafat's party.
The local elections of last week showed that Fatah lost in areas considered to be their strongholds, especially south of Jerusalem where conventional wisdom always held that "cooler heads prevailed."

The main alternative to Fatah is the more radical Hamas. 7 village elections went to Hamas. 12 went to Fatah. The remaining 7 are so close they could easily go to Hamas.

What does it mean? It means that people are fed up with Fatah. It means that democracy does not always usher in a more liberal government. And it means that even if Abu Mazen wins on January 9, he will not have a sound wall to wall endorsement.

Stay tuned.

Israel's Old/New Labor Party
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 24, 2004

I've Been Thinking:

"Out with the old and in with the new." Or better - "Out with the old -- that is, except for Shimon Peres."

That seems to be the motto of Israel's left wing Labor Party.

Israel's left is trying to resuscitate itself under the new/old leadership of Shimon Peres. They've tried this before.
This week there were party elections to determine who would be the Labor ministers joining Ariel Sharon's National Unity Government.

There was a complete sweep:
Amram Mitznah, the former head of Labor's party, who ran and lost the election to Sharon, was so far down the list it was downright embarrassing.
"Labor past" was conspicuously out.
The top 2 places went to the young guard - Ophir Pines- Paz and Isaac Herzog. Two youngish men with experience and public notoriety but not of leadership caliber, at least, not yet.

What are we seeing? Condemnation of the failed past decade of Labor leadership and a ringing endorsement for changing the public face of Labor.
Will it succeed? The only chance Labor has is to join with Sharon in this government and then, afterwards, launch a battle to gain back the voters in the middle.
Those voters are right now firmly with Sharon. But who knows?
Nothing is as fickle as Israeli politics.

Palestinian Elections
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 23, 2004

I've Been Thinking:

Today the Palestinians successfully held local elections in 26 municipalities.
This should be seen as a prelude to their upcoming elections.

The elections for the 826 council seats in the 26 cities, towns and villages were surprisingly, remarkably, uneventful. This bodes well for the elections scheduled in two and a half weeks, on January 9, 2005.

There are some pitfalls, however, that we must consider.
Palestinian election law requires women to be represented.
Muslim culture does not.

In the course of the election there was great pressure brought on many of the female candidates to withdraw their candidacy. In many towns female candidates were prevented from posting placards and signs with their pictures. Pressure on many of the candidates came even from their own family members.

Women are over 50% of the Palestinian population.
We will see what happens on January 9.

Saudi-Libya Conflict
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 22, 2004

I've Been Thinking:

There is another internal conflict brewing among Muslims.
This time it's Saudi Arabia and Libya.

Saudi Arabia has withdrawn its ambassador from Libya.
It is really a year old rumble.
At the Arab League Summit in March of 2003, the Saudi Prince snubbed Colonel Muammar Khadaffi, the leader of Libya.
Khadaffi was so offended that he set in motion a plot to assassinate the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Now, in response, the Saudis have taken action, downgrading their diplomatic status by withdrawing their ambassador.

What is the weirdest part of this plot?
The whole story comes to light because of a US investigation and subsequent trial of an American-Libyan named Abdurahman al-Amoudi. That trial just took place in October.
Al Amoudi was investigated for having unexplainably obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Libyans. Clue followed evidence and from it all emerged the plot to assassinate the Prince.

I am not surprised neither should you be.

Terror TV in the US
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 21, 2004

I've Been Thinking:

No more terrorist TV in the United States of America.

The US just shut down Hezbullah's al Manar Satellite TV. Just like the French did last week.
Why? Because Hezbullah is a terrorist organization!

I certainly do not understand how it was possible that Hezbullah was allowed to broadcast in the US in the first place - this is more than simply a case of free speech, but the good news is that a good lesson was learned from the French.

More good news: today the US also successfully closed 4 Islamic Jihad web sites that were being directed to US readers in Arabic and English. The sites were hosted in the Ukraine, but the long arm of US justice reached out to stop the process and called the Ukrainian hosts who pulled the plug on Islamic Jihad.
Why shut them down?
Same reason. Because Islamic Jihad is a terrorist organization!

We must search out these terror sites and when we find them, just shut them down. It takes time and research and lots of effort. But we must.

Terrorists must not be able to use the World Wide Web, TV or the radio waves in order to destroy us.

Allowing terrorist media outlets to roam the air waves freely makes us complicit in our own destruction.

By Micah Halpern

Monday, December 20, 2004


Here is an extremely important yet overlooked news item:

The chief Shiite leader in Iran, The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (not to be confused with the leader of the Iranian Revolution, The Ayatollah Khomeni) said, on, Sunday, December 19th, that Israel and the United States and England are the parties truly responsible for the recent murderous terror attacks that claimed over 60 innocent lives in the Iraqi holy cities of Karbalah and Najaf.

It is essential to dissect this comment carefully and learn our lessons from this statement made by the supreme Shiite leader.

It is essential that we truly understand what the Iranians are saying and doing.

This is a sine qua non for preparing strategy and foreign policy and dealing effectively and appropriately with radical Muslims.

The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was speaking to pilgrims traveling to Mecca when he delivered this message - to them, to us, to the world. His address was aired on Iranian State TV. Its purpose was clear and explicit. He needed to explain how and why these murders were taking place in holy sites in Iraq. Actually, he needed to explain them away.

"I am sure Israeli and American spy services were behind these events. This is a plot which aims at keeping the Iraqis so busy that they will miss the exceptional chance to participate in the January 30 elections." Quote, unquote.

This is a classic Muslim perception, one that permeates most Muslim societies and can be seen nearly world over. Put succinctly it goes like this: the problems that exist within our midst are not instigated and generated internally, but by external forces and therefore, we are not to blame or be held responsible.

The equation is clear.
If there were no Israel there would be no problems in the Muslim world.
If there were no US intervention there would be no violence in the Arab world or in Iraq today.

That is stage one of the analysis, the problems.

Stage two focuses on those who create the problems, strangers in our midst. It is the strangers who agitate and organize expressly to create unrest in Iraq, specifically, and in the rest of the Arab world.

Instability is caused by outside agitators not, Allah forbid, by inside, internal, corruption, oppression or injustice, acquiescence, inaction and fear. Local authorities cannot possibly be held responsible for terror and the murder of our own innocent people.

These heavily promulgated and fostered myths within the Muslim world are sent out to prove to Muslims that Muslims do not murder other innocent Muslims. That's what Israelis do. It's what the Americans do.

Heretics and heathens kill innocent Iraqi civilians, not good upstanding Muslim believers.

This is much more than a simple conspiracy theory about Israel and the West. This attitude deflects all responsibility from local leaders and places it instead squarely on the shoulders of the strangers and outsiders. Read the Arab press, you'll see more and more of this finger-pointing line-of-thinking screaming across the headlines.

It is any wonder that progress towards democratization of the Muslim world is so slow? Can we be surprised that liberalization of these societies is just not happening? Do we really expect a leadership that so deftly deflects responsibility to clean up corruption?

This leadership is avowedly anti-democratic. Liberalization will only bring about their death and downfall. They are the true corrupters. They have no interest in having their citizens, their followers, see things for what they really are. Were that to ever happen, they would be thoroughly seen through.

It is always easier to blame problems away. That's the Muslim way.

By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 19, 2004

I've Been Thinking:

The trial of Saddam's associates is in the news. Grabbing headlines...but for the wrong reasons.

True. It's important to try Saddam's henchmen. They should be tried now and not wait until after the elections.
Prime Minister Allawi understands. He knows how important these trials are in shaping Iraqi public opinion.

But here's why it's really important:
Because it's important to the Iraqi people.
A just and public trial will be a crucial tool in swaying the general Iraqi masses.
It is as a serious attempt to eradicate the senseless murders of so many Iraqis. They will see it as a vehicle to cleanse the past and correct the current situation.

Only thru a public trial and thru public punishment will the message be transmitted to the masses. Only then will the general population be recruited to fight and assist against other senseless murders. Iraqi society as a whole must rise up and they must be convinced. And then they will be drafted into a movement to save today's Iraq from slipping into another catastrophic scenario.

A public trial and punishment is a clear way to achieve that goal. The best way.

Unintelligent Intelligence
By Micah Halpern

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I've been thinking:

The Intelligence Bill was finally passed and signed into law on Friday. It was a great success--bringing the 15 US intelligence agencies under one roof. Now they can communicate effectively, now they can be directed together toward a common goal.

But here is the problem.

Better people are still needed on the ground.
Smarter people, people with good, unaccented, language skills.
People like that are more important than a new director or even a bigger budget.
We need people out in the field and behind desks that understand the enemy.
We need people who understand the culture and language of our enemies.

That will take time. It will take years to retool. It will take years to rethink. It will take years to properly assess and readdress our current threats.

Our intelligence agencies and our political leaders still do not understand the threat of radical Islam.

A Hero is Murdered
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 17, 2004

I've been thinking:

Yesterday, Kissim Imhawi was assassinated in Iraq. People should recognize his name, but most won't.

He was the Director General of the Ministry of Communications in Iraq. He was the one who put the phone lines up after they were destroyed during the war.
Kissim spent nearly 20 years in Saddam’s prisons. And yesterday, in a flash, his car was riddled with bullets from submachine guns.

For Iraq Kissim represented change and development.
He was a symbol of the future.
Murdered by enemies of hope.

This assisnation, once again, proves my point.
First comes security and safety, only after they are in place will democracy follow.

Osama tapes
By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Osama gave us another audiotape.
This time it aired on the 24 hour TV news station al Jazeera.
I am not surprised by the audiotape or its message.
You should not be surprised either.

There are several reasons for these tapes, all of them essential for bin Laden.

Osama wants you to be afraid. He wants Americans to rethink policy and strategy, to capitulate and buckle under the threats. He wants you to think he can strike anywhere and anytime.

Osama also wants his followers to think that he is still in 100% control. That his message remains the same and his that power is even greater than it was.

Osama wants to prove to the masses of Muslims around the world that the US and her allies around the world, including the Saudi royal family, will all fall from power because they are infidels and not blessed.

Just remember -- He is wrong.
He cannot strike anywhere and is actually hiding for his life.
His followers are more and more disparate.
The masses of Muslims in the world can also be swayed to the other side.

US Embassy Stays in TA
By Micah Halpern

I've been thinking:

President Bush used another presidential waiver today.

In 1995 Congress passed a law to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the capital city as recognized by Israel. That move has yet to take place. The President has the ability to postpone the move. That's a presidential waiver.

The President claims that it is "necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States." And that, "my administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem."

I do not understand!

Why is Israel the only country in the world that cannot decide where its capital should be located?
What does the peace process have to do with where the US embassy sits?
Does the administration think it will be perceived as less biased toward Israel in the eyes of the Palestinians or in the eyes of the Arab, Muslim and European world if they hold off on this move? They must.

That is a big mistake. The US is a friend of Israel and they should be straightforward about it. They should move the embassy and act clearly without mixed messages. They should explain their policy and stand by it. Friends and enemies will respect them for it--even if they disagree.

Do not tippy toe around policy.
It leads to murky principles and zig zagging statements on international affairs.
It is behavior unbecoming to the United States of America.

When Bad News is Good News
By Micah Halpern

I've been thinking:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are at one another's throat.

It's serious infighting, and trust me, these terrorist groups are not arguing about the choice of menu in their respective soup kitchens.

The rift is over power and religion.
Hamas is composed of Sunni Muslims, they take orders from Sunni clerics.

Islamic Jihad is Shiite, they take their orders from Iran.

Until recently, the rule that goes "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" applied. The two groups coordinated movements and worked together to attack Israelis and Westerners.

But now Hamas feels that Jihad is encroaching on their turf and worse, even stealing the limelight.

Sunni/ Hamas leader Fathi Hamad is on record saying "They have managed to takeover the media and get ahead of us." Hamad is a member of the Sura Council, the highest Hamas religious entity in Gaza and responsible for Hamas communications.

What happens when terrorists fight one another and anarchy sets in?
It bodes well for the rest of us.

Hezbollah TV - in Paris
By Micah Halpern


If you live in France, are a Muslim sympathizer, speak Arabic and have access to satellite television, you are probably a fan of al Manar broadcasts. If you aren't, you are probably asking the question: How could the French broadcasting authority even initially have allowed al Manar TV air time?

Thankfully, at least for now, the French court has pulled the plug on al Manar. Or have they?

Al Manar is the satellite television station of Lebanese-based Hezbollah, the Party of God. According to Western definitions, though not French definition, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. The station is headquartered in Lebanon and serves the general Hezbollah community through satellite transmission, as it does in France. It covers the issues that Hezbollah sympathizers find of interest and then adds some international affairs coverage with a uniquely Hezbollah-esqe slant. It also explains to the general Arabic audience about the goals of Hezbollah. It comes as no surprise to learn that the al Manar orientation is rabidly anti-Western, assuredly anti-Israel and always anti-Semitic.

When watching any al Manar broadcast one cannot help but be struck by the sheer ridiculousness of their conception of "news." This station actually makes al Jezera look liberal and Western- loving. Some might call Al Manar content and stories anti-historical, but I prefer to call them "creatively historical." A favorite story line is the perpetuation of medieval stereotyping of Jews and Israelis as money grabbing controllers of the world.

What finally caught the attention of authorities? Al Manar is about to be bounced off French airwaves because of their assertion, their constant repetition, that the Zionists are infecting Arab countries with terrible diseases like AIDS.

What poppycock! Who could possibly take that seriously?

It got to the point, though, where even the commonly anti-American and anti-Israeli citizens of France could no longer countenance such lies being broadcast on their airwaves. Finally, the highest administrative court in France accepted a petition by France's broadcasting authority known as the Higher Audiovisual Council (CSA) to ban al Manar.

When al Manar was originally given a license to broadcast, they agreed to follow French law. French law clearly prevents the use of mass media to propagate hatred and racism. Everyone knows who Hezbollah is, what Hezbollah advocates and why Hezbollah would have the need for television broadcasting. So why did the French let Hezbollah television broadcast in the first place? Because of the craziness of French Law. This first liberal democracy cannot forbid broadcast until a communications corporation violates the law.

Now that al Manar has been found in violation of the law they have 48 hours to stop broadcasting. It that doesn't happen, their sponsoring satellite broadcast agency, Eutelsat, will be fined a 5000 Euro a day. That comes out to about a measly $7500 a day. Not much at all.

Eutelsat has already gone on the record as opposing the court's decision to single out and censure al Manar. I would not be surprised at all if Eutelsat absorbs the fine and pays it on a daily basis. And then? Then al Manar continues broadcasting as usual.

Stay tuned.

Palestinians Apologize to Kuwait
By Micah Halpern

I've been thinking:
Mahmoud Abbas, the leading Palestinian presidential candidate, arrived in Kuwait today.

He made the trip expressly to apologize publicly for the fact that the Palestinians sided with Iraq in the 1990 Gulf War.

Remember, Arafat and the Palestinians along with Jordan supported the Iraqi aggression that began with an attack on Kuwait. In response, all Palestinians were evicted from Kuwait after the war. There have been no relations since. Palestinians are personae non grata in Kuwait.

So why the change?

Because Abbas, or Abu Mazen as he is called, needs to be seen as a person who mends fences in the Arab world. He needs to campaign across Muslim and Arab countries in order to be perceived as a leader, and elected leader, by his own people.

I do not believe, however, that the Kuwaitis will be easily duped. They remember the Iraqi invasion of 1990 and Palestinian reaction as if it were yesterday.

Powell and Mideast Reform
By Micah Halpern

I've been thinking:
This weekend there was a US sponsored conference hilariously touted as the "Forum for the Future," a gathering on political reform in the Middle East.

The conference was held in Rabat, Morocco. 20 Middle Eastern and North African countries attended.

Colin Powell and US policy took some hard shots right on the chin.

Saudi Prince and Foreign Minister, Faisal, summed it all up when he publicly challenged the US Secretary of State saying: "Let us face it ... the real bone of contention is the longest conflict in modern history. For too long, the Arabs have witnessed the Western bias toward Israel ..."

Powell's response was sad. It was as if he was taken by surprise. He asked for leaders to show the way. He said that no change could happen with out them.

This is exactly the point. The Arab world (as well as Europe) has no idea why the US supports Israel. And the US has no idea of how to defend, or define, its position to the Arab world.

So what happens? They talk in circles. Where is the logic in that?

It should be made clear that democratic reform in totalitarian regimes of the Middle East has nothing to do with US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.

It should be made clear that "the Palestinian" cannot and should not be an excuse for Arab regimes anymore.

What's needed now is straight talk, not diplomatic speak.

Female Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

I've been thinking:

Arin Ahmed is a female Palestinian terrorist from Beit Sahour, a suburb of Bethlehem.

In May of 2002 she strapped a bomb onto her body and set out to murder Jews in Rishon Letzion, part of a double suicide bombing.
While on the way she changed her mind and returned home. Her partner continued on, exploded himself in a walking mall, killing 2 and wounding 41.

Arin turned herself in and she was just convicted of aiding in a terror attack.

The Israeli court sentenced her to 3 years imprisonment. She will be out in 6 months because of time served before the trial.

Why only three years for facilitating a terrorist attack?
Because she cooperated with intelligence and justice authorities.

This raises a critical question.
Can a terrorist repent?
And if he/she does should that effect the punishment?

Arin Ahmed did not actually kill anyone. But she was certainly part of the process.

Any cooperation from a terrorist becomes very important in protecting the homefront. When terrorists freely talk, they solve all kinds of mysteries -- how things are done, the process of the cell, links to leaders higher up the food chain, intel about activities...

Information is worth a short sentence---not contrition.

Barghouti's Bid
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

I've been thinking:
Over the past years I have met with Marwan Barghouti.
He is far more extreme than Arafat was, if only because he clearly articulates his expectations and his demands in every language he speaks. No doublespeak!

His off and on again political candidacy clearly defines how much of a threat he is to the old establishment. Undoubtedly he is a terrorists leader. He is also very creative. Actually, he is one of the most creative thinkers I have met within the Palestinian leadership.

But he is not a liberal.

Barghouti's major concession to Israel is accepting that Israel exists within the pre '67 borders.
That is his minimal demand. He has told me that.

You do not even want to hear about his "best case scenario."

Arab Disunity
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

I've been thinking:
We, in the West, are under a misconception that the Arab world is united.

It is not.
In order to understand the Arab world, we must first see the vast conflicts within their world and study Arab methods for conflict resolution. Only then will we be able to predict future behavior and plan, accordingly, a sophisticated and workable foreign policy for the Middle East.

Here is one example:
Since 1990 oil rich Kuwait and the Palestinians have been bitter enemies. Kuwait adopted an anti-Palestinian stance during the first Gulf War after Arafat and the Palestinians supported Iraq and Saddam when Kuwait was invaded.

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak just visited Kuwait. While there he succeeded in convincing the Kuwaitis to lift their 14 year ban on the Palestinians. He received a Kuwaiti commitment to assist in the Palestinian Israeli peace negotiations.

This shows, once again, the movement and change, dare I say progress, which has shaken down since Arafat's deaths.

Egypt NEEDS to be the main player and leader of the moderate Middle East and bringing Kuwait into the game is a big success. That is one of the dynamics of the Middle East that the West has yet to assimilate.

Sly Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

I've been thinking:
We've witnessed another terror attack in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a police state. They should be in control of these matters. They employ huge numbers of people in security and as informants -- and they still cannot root out these terrorists.

Why is that? The answer is clear.

The Saudi population offers massive popular support for the terrorists and their anti-US attacks.

Despite the protestations of Saudi spokesmen and leaders, the streets of Saudi Arabia are rife with hatred of the US.

They may say: "The kingdom is determined to root out terrorism and preserve its security and stability," as the state-guided newspaper, Okaz, quoted Prince Saud as telling US Ambassador James Oberwatter.

But the facts on the ground prove otherwise.

Rooting out terror in a monarchy, in a totalitarian dictatorship, should be significantly easier than rooting out terror in a democracy.

I am still waiting for real results.

Democracy, Ready or Not
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

Palestinians just do not understand democracy.

It comes as no surprise. They have no history of democracy. They have never really known or accepted responsibility for their actions, their plight, their very being. They have no democratic role models. Palestinians have no idea at all of the awesome power or democracy-they have never tasted the elixir of democratic freedom.

What they do have is "know how." Palestinians know how to exploit those freedom loving countries that lend them support. They know how to hate. They know how it feels to be the downtrodden underdog. They know how to survive, but just barely.

It all comes from the top down. Palestinian leadership has no commitment to improve the plight of their people. They do know how to line their own pockets with the aid money earmarked for their needs and needy. They know how to say the words that need to be said in order to gain the attention of the Western world. And then they know how to masterfully avoid the actions that should be taken in response.

The people, the masses, have no expectations of change, no expectations that the leaders will change or that their behaviors will change. They have no true expectation that their lives will ever be changed. And probably not the lives of their children, either.

The Palestinian Authority is probably the best example of a cleptocracy and corruptocracy in the world today. It's frightening. But it is to be expected.

Equally frightening, but totally unexpected, what I do not understand and what bothers me even more than Palestinian behavior, is the behavior of the United States vis a vis the Palestinians. US policy advisers and the White House have no idea that the Palestinians are not ready for democracy. None.

Palestinian leaders know how to deceive others. US policy people are operating under the influence of self deception.

In their dealings with the Palestinians, United States policy makers perceive a reality that meshes with their own objectives ---- an independent Palestinian state. But the facts on the ground clearly show that the groundwork is insufficiently prepared for the Palestinians to function within a democratic society. Much more education and a significantly larger investment of time and energy must be dedicated to help improve the status and the attitude of Palestinians toward decision making and problem solving in a democratic way before any democracy can be imposed.

This self deception will assure failure. It is a mistake of the highest order.

So why can I see this and the White House cannot?

Because they want it so bad. They want a Palestinian state and peace with Israel so much that they are not willing to entertain even the thought of potential pitfalls and shortcomings let alone the reality the rest of the world is seeing so clearly.

That is the mistake that the Clinton Administration made. It is the mistake that Israeli prime ministers and negotiators Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres made.

They were intoxicated by their own dreams. And they duped themselves.

The only way out of this mess is to help the Palestinians recognize and come to grips with the corruption of the past. Help them purge the remnants of that negative leadership. Show them how powerful the voice of democracy can be. Teach the Palestinians of this generation so that they may pass on to future generations the need to respect those who are different. Expose them to the process of debate. Describe why it is so essential to resolve issues through discussions. Explain the power of democracy, and then let them experience the pleasure.

To do otherwise is to treat the Palestinians with as little respect as do their leaders. It is dangerous. The United States must take upon itself the responsibility of impressing the Palestinian masses with the power they inherently have to control the few among them who may be violent. To teach them how the majority has an imperative to squelch the trouble makers, the terrorists and the criminals in their midst.

That is the only way to democracy. It is not simply about voting. To do it wrong, is worse than not doing it at all. Self defeat trumps self deception.

Iraq: Don't Vote Now
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

I've been thinking:
Iraq should postpone their elections.
I know the US wants them to take place as scheduled on January 30.
But it is a mistake.

Iraq is not prepared to vote. Iraq is not ready for democracy.
Afghanistan postponed elections until the voters were closer to being ready.
Iraq should do the same.
Before democracy, the situation on the street must be safe and secure.

When IS the right time?
When people feel safe to walk the streets.
When people have a modicum of security.
When locals and residents are not in perpetual fear of being blown up in a terror attack.
That will be the right time.

Thompson's Ludicrous Swan Song
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

I've been thinking:
Tommy Thompson, the outgoing, US Secretary of Health has sung his last, great, swan song. But rather than going out on a high note, he hit low.

His final ruminations sounded to more like the ravings of a fool than sound advice.

What could he have been thinking when he said:
"For the life of me I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do."

Put aside transmitting intel to the terrorists or giving them ideas, that's a non-issue, terrorists already know what they want or need to know, they don't need us for that. My concern is the thought process of the man responsible for a very significant portion of American society. These are the final comments of a secretary of Health for the US? This is how he wants to be remembered?

His comments are ludicrous and ridiculous. Thompson should not be rewarded with another position of trust. Leaders should not and cannot stoop to the level of "I cannot believe ... I cannot understand."

It was part of his responsibility as a leader to make certain that he did indeed understand. It was part of his job to make sure that his fears will never be realized.

Jordan's Power Play
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

It is an embarrassment of riches.

Jordan has just announced that it is volunteering to mediate between Syria and Israel. That announcement comes only one day after Egypt announced that it is volunteering to mediate between Syria and Israel.

This is a true victory for the forces of good versus the forces of evil.

These two Arab neighbors of Israel have only had a cold peace with her and here they are now, vying for the role of mediator with Syria.

Is it altruism? Is it true generosity? Or are there ulterior motives?

What is this really all about?
It is about a power play between Jordan & Egypt.

The Syrian/Israeli initiative is percolating at just the right time.
Jordan is making its move.

Jordan wants to become THE LEADER of the moderate Arab world. Last week they entertained Allawi, temporary prime minister of Iraq, in a failed attempt to reduce the terror and tension in Iraq, led by former Jordanian Zarkawhi.

Egypt has held that spot, as THE LEADER, for the past half a century.

Maybe Jordan can do it better. They think they can.

Silly White House
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

I've been thinking:
If I were a democratic strategist...
I would have a field-day with the White House's $20 million gift (even if they call it "assistance") to the Palestinians.

Here's why:

First, the White House proposed giving the $20 million to help in the January 9 Palestinian elections.

Next, (much as I predicted) certain congressional leaders took exception to the White House's attempt to bypass Congress, which is charged with the responsibility of allocating money.

Plus, Congress has already said NO to the Palestinians, an absolute NO unless they instituted proper transparency and accountability.

Now the White house is suggesting that the same money go to the PA in order to pay an over due electric bill owed Israel.

They are hoping the pro Israel Congress will not challenge this gift to the PA because it is, supposed, eventually destined for Israel.

But who is to say that is where it I going to end up? There are no traces in place!

What backwards logic!
How gullible does the White House assume Congress to be?!
Until the PA puts in proper controls it should get no US money!

Barghouti is Running
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

Marwan Barghouti changed his mind. AGAIN.

NOW he is a candidate to become the new leader of the Palestinian Authority.

Being in prison is the PERFECT PLOY. It would not be the first time that a prisoner ran for election. Or won. And if Barghouti actually won, it would be a sharp slap in the face to Israel.

This is the second time he is running. He withdrew his candidacy last week, insisting he wanted a SINGLE CANDIDATE from the Fatah party in the election.

NOW, he wants to be that candidate.

It is a brilliant tactical move on his part: IF he wins he will be a Nelson Mandela character and that will force Israel to deal with him very differently.

He'll need to be treated like a world leader NOT a terrorist a prisoner or convict.

He is more popular than any other person IN OR OUT of the region.
He symbolizes disdain for Israel and embraces Palestinian pride at the same time. His popular support is grounded in his style and image as "ONE OF THE PEOPLE."

Marwan Barghouti is the PERFECT candidate for the Palestinian people.

I met him numerous times. Someone is his office must be reading my columns!

Goal Post Negotiations
By Micah Halpern

Welcome to The Micah Report, my ruminations on Israel, terror & security and the Middle East as well as politics and world events. Thanks for stopping by.

I've been thinking:
There is an art to the game of negotiation that's been perfected by several Arab leaders. Arafat was king when it came to this negotiating style. Now, Bashar al Assad of Syria is trying his hand.

Syria, after prodding by Egypt, has announced that they want to re-establish the negotiations with Israel that broke off in 2000.

Sounds good, right?

The UN special envoy to the Mid East thinks so. He says it would be a mistake for Israel to decline and that Syria wants to negotiate without conditions.

But pay attention. This is a farce, not an invitation to negotiate.
The Syrians may say that there are no pre-conditions, but their basic premise belies that. They want to start "where the negotiations broke off in 2000."

That, in and of itself, is a precondition!

That is how Arafat used to negotiate. It is a classic form of moving the goalposts. The reason for stopping negotiations then, after concessions were already made, now becomes the starting point of the new negotiations. It is the perfect ploy.

Stall negotiations only to restart them in order to gain more.

It would be wise for the US and the West to wait, watch and see how it plays out.

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