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Arab State Returns Israeli Meds
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 1, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

The United Arab Emirates is considered by the Western world to be one of the less extreme of Arab countries.
Less extreme, it seems, is a very subjective term.

Here's what I mean: Just yesterday, a hospital in the UAE decided to return $50,000 worth of medical equipment. Why? The equipment came from Israel.

Who will benefit from this medical equipment, after all, if not the citizens of the UAE. And yet, this hospital is willing to take second best, more expensive materials rather than own equipment that is, shudder, shudder, Made In Israel.

What a warped sense of priority.
Pity the people of the United Arab Emirates.
Hatred of Israel colors important decision making and skews analyses.
UAE leaders should concentrate on the future well being of their people, not dwelling on ancient issues of hatred.

Here's a little word to the unwise: No one says that you have to publicize the fact that the equipment came from Israel. Be discreet. There are other countries around the world keeping Made In Israel products a national secret.

The UAE needs to rethink priorities, tactics and the well being of its people.

Shame On The Arab League
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 30, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

This is what Amir Mousa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, said to the Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat:

"Israel's policies do not deserve Arab courtesy"... "Why are they offering (Israel) free rewards?" ... "I don't understand why they are hailing Israel. Because of the withdrawal from Gaza? Doesn't everyone know that this is an incomplete withdrawal and that settlements are still being built and that the wall is being built?"

Officially, Israel has full normal diplomatic relations with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Mauritainia. During the past few weeks other Muslim countries, incuding Pakistan, Indonesia, Tunisia and Qatar, have engaged in dialogue with Israel.

Since its inception, the philosophy of the Arab League has been hatred towards Israel. Mousa, like many other Arab leaguers, still does not believe that diplomatic relations with Israel is in the best interests of the Arab League. While more and more Arab countries are becoming aware of the benefits of improved realtions with the United States and with Israel there are still many who cling to long held antagonisms.

It seems to me that the Arab League is not interested in progress for Muslim states. It seems to me that the Arab League prefers instead to unite their countries in the hatred of Israel than see them flourish. That is a shame. There is much that Arab countries can learn from Israel. Economic stability would be a good start.

Egypt Leads the Arab World
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 29, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

President Hosni Mubarak, the dean of Arab leadership, played host to two colleagues over the past couple of days.
The leaders of Libya and the Palestinian Authority came to Egypt in search of advice.

Egypt, under Mubarak's reign, is a major player in the Arab world. The President of Egypt has successfully courted the West without losing standing in the Muslim world. Mubarak is the address for perspective, tactics, analysis and advise on issues concerning the Arab world, the United States and Israel.

Abbas came to Egypt to ask Mubarak to reign in Israel explaining that the new round of Israeli attacks on Hamas are going to hurt his stability.
In response, Mubarak urged Abbas to take a stand against Hamas.

Khadaffi came to Egypt to ask Mubarak to help Libya better their relations with the United States and to make certain that Egypt watches over the Palestinians.
In response, Mubarak explained the virtues of patience, advising Khadaffi to lay low, be pleasant and certainly not sponsor terror for the time being. As regards the Palestinians, Egypt is of course, keeping a close eye on them.

It sounds like sound advice to me.

Bombing Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 28, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is bombing Hamas and Islamic Jihad strongholds in Gaza.
Israel bombed the road that Hamas terrorists use to transport kassam rockets to their launch locations.
The IDF has targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad offices.
The IDF has knocked out electricity in parts of Gaza City.

Because Palestinian terrorists are shooting rockets at the Israeli city of Sderot.
Because no one in the Palestinian Authority is stopping them, so Israel must.

Israel has intel that Hamas is planning an attack inside the country.
Israel has no alternative other than sending bombs into Gaza after Israeli cities are attacked. It is the correct response, especially now.

Mohamed al Hindi, the man in charge of Hamas in Gaza, has said that Hamas will halt the launching of rockets against the Zionist entity. Of course they will. They are being pummeled.
Islamic Jihad closed their radio station in Gaza out of fear that it would be bombed. That was a smart move.

Israelis might be out of Gaza, but the situation in Gaza is not yet over.
What will happen if Gaza continues to be a launching pad for rockets and terror? Life in Gaza will be Hell.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 27, 2005


Ariel Sharon has done it again.

The man has been beleaguered, besieged and figuratively buried more times than anyone but he can count and yet, time and time again, he returns victorious and totally in control. Israel's sitting prime minister has so far outmaneuvered or outsmarted each attempt to oust him. This rancher turned warrior turned politician has proven, as if to spite the predictions of his enemies and detractors, that he not merely understands, but actually controls the pulse of his nation.

It is easy to get swept up in the excitement generated by potential change in Israel's political structure. Democratic debate is exhilarating. The possibility of revolutionizing any political party, certainly the prime minister's own Likud party, is the stuff columns are written about, dinner party conversations revolve around and talk TV thrives on. It is part of the dynamism of democracy. But finger poking and rabble rousing does not in and of itself ensure victory for the revolution.

By voting to reject the proposal to hold early Likud primaries party members sent a vote of confidence to the prime minister, he is to remain their party leader. Once again, Ariel Sharon backed by party support is firmly ensconced in his position as leader of Likud. He has protected his position for the next seven months - an eternity in Israeli political time - until six months before the regularly scheduled party election in November 2006. The only way to oust him now is for members of opposition parties within the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to sustain a successful "no confidence" vote.

Likud did the mature thing in keeping Sharon at the helm. To do otherwise would have certainly brought down their ruling party. Despite personal rivalries, disappointments and ideological principles, it is the party that must come first. Party members came to the realization that ousting Ariel Sharon from his place in the party would almost inevitable oust Likud from the seat of government in a nationally held election. Replacing Sharon with fair-haired party rival Benjamin Netanyahu might have appeased inner party members, but it would not go over well with the nation, a majority of whom view the former prime minister as duplicitous and not to be trusted.

If Likud were to oust Sharon they would not only be voting themselves out of power but they would be resuscitating the Labor party, a floundering party with no who one person, including the venerable, perennial, Shimon Peres, capable of mounting a serious election campaign against Sharon. Against Netanyahu, it would be a different story. Netanyahu is so disliked by the general Israeli public that if he were to be Likud party head he would not merely suck the life out of his party but also breath new life into the opposition Labor party.

I cannot predict how much longer Ariel "Arik" Sharon will maintain power.

I can guarantee that Sharon will not be easily dismissed. The most amazing part of it all is that Sharon, using the rancher metaphor, is a lone rider. Sharon hurdles around and through obstacle courses and outmaneuvers opponents almost single handedly. The prime minister has very few people whom he trusts and only a few with whom he can consult for honest and accurate political assessment.

Many people surround the prime minister. A lot them are people who covet his position or people who work for those who covet his position. Another group circling round are people ideologically opposed to him or people who feel betrayed by him. Then there are people afraid to make any decision for fear that it will be the wrong decision and will cast them in an unflattering light with this prime minister or with the man who will one day replace him.

Ariel Sharon has proven again that he is a leader who understands how to evaluate the masses. Ariel Sharon hears what the silent majority has to say. They want him to stay right where he is. For now.

Turkey- Israel Oil Pipeline
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 26, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

What do you think of this idea?
Turn Israel into a major player in the oil game by extending a pipeline from Turkey to the port city of Ashkelon and from there to Eilat, in the south portion of the Gulf of the Red Sea.

According to Globes newspaper, a respected Tel Aviv business paper, the plan is already in place and other countries are signing on.

The pipeline will cost $1 billion and it will allow for hundreds of millions of tons of oil to be sent around the world. This is a perfect way to get oil to hard to reach countries that would otherwise rely on the Suez Canal, except that its waters are too shallow to allow for large ships.

India has already signed on. They have committed to 600,000 tons of oil.

This project proves that democratic Muslim countries, like Turkey, can work with Israel to create projects that will truly benefit the world.

Synergy and co-operation. I love it.

Study Bible
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 25, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

The Ministry of Education in Israel is contemplating a move that will strike a blow to the heart and the soul of all Israel.
They are thinking of eliminating Bible as a mandatory subject for "bagrut" high school matriculation exams, the national final exams that grade students on essential subjects.

The Bible is the key document linking Israel to it past, present and future in the land of Israel. Without the Bible there is no significant reason for Israel to exist, and if a Jewish state did exist, without the Bible it could just as easily be located in Canada as in Canaan.

I do not know who is making the decision in the ministry. I do know that of the secular Israeli adults I have spoken with, most are appalled. They totally reject this new educational reform. They may not like religion, they may oppose religion in politics, they are not religious themselves, but almost everyone knows that the study of Bible is essential in order to perpetuate the Jewish State of Israel.

For the sake of the future of Israel I would suggest letting go of some ministry bureaucrats and keeping Bible.

Hamas Kills Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 24, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

When I think about rallies and public celebrations, I think of balloons and noisemakers.
When I hear about celebrations sponsored by Hamas, I know that there will be bazookas in place of balloons and the noises will be exploding ammunition.

That's what happened at a Hamas rally celebrating Israel's departure from Gaza.
A truck blew up.
It was filled with kassam missiles, the make shift rockets that Hamas frequently fires into Israel. 19 people were killed, over 80 wounded.
Hamas says that Israel shot the truck from a helicopter gunship.
Palestinian security forces say the explosives were improperly handled.

Last week a Hamas munitions house blew up killing 5 people.
The explosion resulted in a call to be more careful with weapons, especially in public.

Who brings live ammo to parades, to rallies, to celebrations? Who? Why?

There are too many accidental deaths at Hamas rallies.
There can be no justification for taking those lives. They do not care about the deaths of their own.

It seems that the only people they care about killing is Israelis

Hamas Strategy
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 23, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

A lot of organizations have think tanks and strategy centers.
Al Mustaqbal is the Hamas Strategy Center.
The Center evaluates terror methodology and develops new ideas for attacks against Israel.
The Center also maps out the social services Hamas provides for Palestinians.

Al Mustaqbal recently published several important and enlightening studies.
I've read the studies. The bottom line is that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza is forcing Hamas to change their modus operandi.

Most important: Attacks against Israel will continue but on a smaller scale so as not to draw large-scale retaliation and the possibility of re-invasion of Palestinian cities. The studies call for a period of quiet followed by an escalation in attacks.

Next: Methods of attack must be changed. With no Jews in Gaza the focus will turn to the West Bank and Israel's security fence will certainly impair the ability to attack easily. Rockets and drive by shootings are the new attacks of choice.

Finally: Hamas does not believe that the Palestinian Authority will successfully disarm them. Their fear is Israeli retaliation, nothing else.

What can I say? Hamas has said it all.

Good Cop-- Bad Cop
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 22, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, the State Department in a document summarizing the Quartet's decisions called on Israel to keep up the momentum of their departure from Gaza, suggesting that Israel should relinquish, i.e. withdraw from, more West Bank settlements.

Yesterday, President Bush reminisced about his 1998 helicopter ride with Ariel Sharon, about how that trip made him realize exactly how narrow a country Israel is, how vulnerable it is and how important the security of Israel is to the United States.

Once again, the United States played "bad cop -- good cop" with Israel.
But the game is getting stale.
Good cop White House and bad cop State Department had better come up with a new game plan, a more convincing cover, better diplomatic tactics.

Everyone knows that Israel and the United States have a special relationship. No one needs reminding, certainly not Israel, certainly not the Arab world.
No one needs reminding except maybe the State Department.

State Department get with the program you're not fooling anyone except yourselves.

Times Are A Changin'
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 21, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

The times they are a changin'.
Relationships between Israel and several Muslim countries, long thought of as taboo, impossible, impermissible, seem to be warming up.

Look who's talking:
Pakistan and Israel have begun talking publicly and President Musharaf even introduced his wife to Prime Minister Sharon at a United Nations reception.

Israel's foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, has in the past few weeks met with the foreign ministers of Morocco, Qatar, and Tunisia as well as Jordan and Egypt.

The foreign minister of Bahrain has just confirmed that his country has rescinded their direct and indirect boycott of Israel.

Afghanistan and Israel have been involved in behind the scenes exchanges.

A new era has begun. I do not know what it all means or where it will lead, but you can bet that I'll be watching carefully and listening closely.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 20, 2005


Democracy. What is it all about?

Is democracy about total freedom for all at any cost, or is democracy about the ability to freely say "yea" or "neah" in order to preserve the best interests of the people?

Hamas wants to run its candidates in the Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for January. Palestinian leaders are saying that if the people want Hamas, let them vote Hamas. They are saying that if the people want Fatah, let them vote Fatah. The Palestinians are saying that by allowing avowedly terrorist groups to actively participate in their elections they are actively pursing the democratic rights bestowed upon their people.

Israel disagrees. Israel is saying that if Hamas stands for election they will offer no support, not even on the practical level. What does that mean in practical terms? It means that Israel will not allow Palestinians permission to travel, the permission they need to get to their voting booths and cast their ballots. Without Israel's assistance, it is unlikely that a real Palestinian election can take place.

The PA, in turn, is saying that Israel should butt out. Hamas says that Israel should be eradicated from the face of the earth and that the Palestinians should not be negotiating with Israel. No negotiations, no ceasefire, no trade, no work. War, they want an all out war with Israel.

Political tensions between Israel and the Palestinians are rising high and quick. Expect them to rise even more.

The Palestinians are standing firm. So are the Israelis. And so are some of the donor states upon whom the Palestinian government depends for sustenance and subsidies. The United States, for example, has said on more than one occasion that Hamas can run in democratically held elections ... but only after they publicly disclaim violence and actually disavow acts of terror. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of the democratic process. Americans and Europeans know that a true political party cannot hold arms. They know that political parties participate in the building of the state and in cultivating civil reform, not in military retribution.

But rather than forcing the issue, Palestinian leadership has decided to pacify Hamas and hide behind a self-deluding childish definition of democracy. The Palestinians, a society with no history of democracy, are attempting to teach a civics lesson to the world. The result of their warped analysis and fear-inspired sense of reality will be a situation that will set them years back at a time when they could be propelled eons ahead.

The precedent has been set many times over. The Palestinians need not fear that they would be making revolutionary history in the name of democracy. There are many democratic states that forbid certain movements and/or parties from running for election because they are blatantly racist or because the nature of those parties has been deemed destructive to the very nature of that society.

Germany after World War II is a prime example. Hitler was democratically elected to office. Following the War, however, when West Germany was being shaped into a democratically run government, the Nazi party was outlawed. They are outlawed even today and the logic behind this ruling is that when certain political ideologies come in contact with certain social proclivities the result can threaten the very democratic nature of society.

There are Northern European countries that do not allow parties to run in their elections if the parties have a racist plank in their platform. Spain and Turkey have recently forbidden political parties from standing for election. Both countries were challenged in the Court of the European Union for their decisions. In both cases the Court ruled in favor of preventing extremist parties from running and they ruled that way in order to preserve democracy.

Not coincidently, Israel has the very same rule. The United States, does not.

The Palestinians should be arguing that democracy allows them to say "no" to extremism. The Palestinians should take strength from the principles of democracy and control the forces that are trying to destroy them from within.

The Palestinians should not be choosing Adolf Hitler as their role model.

A French Faux Pas
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 19, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

One of the job requirements for being a world leader, it seems, is not knowledge of world history. At least that seems to be the case in France.

In an effort to smooth over the rocky relations between Israel and France the French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Balzy, paid a visit to Israel earlier this month. While there he made an obligatory appearance at Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the Holocaust.

Innocently, but persistently, the French foreign minister asked about England, whether British communities had not also been destroyed by the Nazis. He wanted to know if British Jews had also been murdered.

How do you say "duh" in French? This man is not a youngster. He has been the health minister of France and is a trained cardiologist.

According to Le Canard Enchaine, the satirical French magazine reporting the story, no one will confirm this extreme faux pas, but neither will anyone deny it.

This is a case where "no comment" would have served the minister well.

You wonder how anyone can tease Bush.

Road Rage PA Style
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 18, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

There's road rage - and then there's road rage.
But rarely do things escalate as violently as they did in the Palestinian city of Ramallah yesterday.
It all began with a parking space...

A Palestinian Commando soldier was prevented from parking his car by a group of National Security Forces. The soldier returned a few minutes later accompanied by a group of friends. They began shooting.

The result was 60 security police shooting it out in the middle of Ramallah. Ambulances came racing.

Chaos? Confusion? Commotion?
The entire episode sounds like gangs of gun toting teenagers, certainly not soldiers and police charged with keeping the rest of society safe and secure.

Sounds like Palestinians need to be kept safe from these people, not by them.

PA: When Is Enough Enough?
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 17, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

It is time to ask some serious questions about Palestinian goals and expectations.

In his speech before the UN General Assembly Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made some revolutionary statements. He said:
"The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel does not mean disregarding the rights of others in the land."
"They [Palestinians] are also entitled to freedom and to a national, sovereign existence in a state of their own."

Sharon was open, blunt, honest and magnanimous.
How did the Palestinians interpret his words?

According to Jabril Rajoub, the PA chief advisor on security, "The message that everyone in the street got was building settlements, what's happening in Jerusalem, and the fence."

Palestinians have determined that Sharon is not giving enough.
Will it ever be enough?
Will Palestinians ever be able to coexist with Israel?
Will Palestinians ever hear anything other than the chanting of their own defeatist, defiant mantra?

Iran Lends Nukes To Muslim States
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 16, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Now hear this: "Iran is ready to transfer nuclear know how to the Islamic countries to due their need."
Those are the words of the new president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The statement was made Thursday, at the United Nations, following a meeting with the Turkish prime minister.
The quote ran on the official Iranian news wire, IRNA, the Islamic Republic News Agency. It is the official statement of the government of Iran and it is out there for all of us to read and remember.
The president wanted his statement to be broadcast around the world. He was right to do so. He has demonstrated to the world just how dangerous and irresponsible his leadership is.

The day before this statement was made Ahmadinejad stood before the General Assembly and proclaimed that the purpose of the United Nations was to promote "global peace and tranquility."
Pity the poor man, he just doesn't understand why the United States and the United Nations are trying to curtail the nuclear activities of Iran.

Iran may be a member of the United Nations, but Iran is certainly not a disciple of the UN agenda.

PA Blames Israel Again
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 15, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Once again, the Palestinians are blaming Israel for their problems.
I predicted it would happen and so did Ariel Sharon.

What is it this time?
The Gaza - Egyptian border, it seems, is out of control.
Palestinians are storming back and forth as if there were no border at all.
They go out to eat, to shop, to visit and then back again.
Hamas actually blew a hole in the fence.

What does Israel have to do with all this?
Nothing, unless you are Nasser al Kidwa, the Palestinian Foreign Minister.

Al Kidwa publicly blamed Israel for the disorder.
He said that Israel is to blame because they did not negotiate the Gaza withdrawal with the Palestinians.
I would call the Palestinian reaction a deflection of responsibility.
Actually, Israel negotiated with Egypt to make sure the border would be secured.

Who is going to straighten out this mess?
Not Israel. Not anymore.

The US Promised Israel 2B
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 14, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Issue # 1: The White House promised Israel $2.25 billion for biting the bullet and exiting Gaza.
Issue # 2: The recovery and restoration effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has been estimated to be at least $100 billion.

Serious questions are now being asked in Jerusalem and DC.
Should Israel request all the money? Can they, in good conscious, expect it?
If Israel does not receive the promised billions, is that a violation of a US commitment and does that nullify other agreements made under the assumption that compensatory monies would be forthcoming?

Honestly, given the monumental destruction and devastation it would be naive for Israel to assume that the $2.25 billion would just be there to give Israel.
But it would also be naive for the US to assume that Israel got out of Gaza for nothing, without getting anything in return.

My recommendation is a "slow time released solution."
I recommend that over the next 5 years the US monies be allocated to Israel.
Israel gets it reward and the United States can re-proportion budgets to meet these immediate and unforeseen needs.

That's what friends are for.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 13, 2005


Sixty years for the United Nations. Happy Anniversary.

Does the sentiment come with hesitation? It does not. It does, however, come with reservation. Am I amongst the many interested in eliminating that tall, imposing, glass building along the East River skyline? I am not. I do, however, think that, sixty years later, it is time to take a realistic look at what the UN can accomplish and what it cannot.

Unless we understand who and what the United Nations represents, until we recognize the real limitations of the United Nations, we as Americans, as Western countries, will never be satisfied with the way this body conducts its business and will never be successful in our attempts to reform the United Nations. Until we take stock of the internal limitations of the United Nations all our efforts at reforming this venerable international body are irrelevant and even self-destructive.

The United Nations does not speak for you and me. It is not there to meet our needs as Westerners, certainly not as Americans. We are there to maintain a balance. The UN General Assembly exists to give voice to the small, globally and diplomatically irrelevant nations who feel put upon by the West. And there, it is a "pile up."

The United Nations is the only valid place in the world where the enemies of the West have the power to challenge the United States and to attack Israel. And they will never miss an opportunity to do so. Given the present structure of the UN, the mighty United States and wily Israel are powerless against those attacks.

The United Nations General Assembly is not about justice or truth or about democracy. The GA is about all the nations of the world. And even though anywhere between 40%-50% of member nations are democracies, most of those democracies are fragile with despotic groups waiting in the wings, breathing down their necks, cooling their heals, eager and searching for a chance to regain power and overthrow democracy.

The United Nations has, for decades, been hamstringed by the anti-semitism, anti-Israel and anti-US decisions of the members in the General Assembly. That is what the UN is about and that will not easily change. They member states are hateful, they hate the West, they hate the US, and they hate Israel. And the United Nations gives them the power and capability to act out that hatred.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the United States, now under the momentum of newly appointed US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, have been proposing to reform the United Nations. The US wants to make the UN more useful and less corrupt, more democratic and more in line with Western governments. Annan wants that too, he also wants the UN to be streamlined, he is proposing accountability, he is hoping for a UN that will pave the road for improved human rights around the world.

The problem with Annan as everyone suspected and as anyone familiar with the damning critique of cronyism and corruption, the Volcker report, is now convinced is that he himself has been blind to major elements of corruption under his tenure.

The bigger problem is that the tone at the United Nations is set not by friends of the West but by enemies of the US and enemies of the West. Not recognizing this as a sine qua non will doom all efforts at reforming the United Nations. The effort to transform the UN into a more democratically oriented body is destined to fail if the nations themselves do not reform. The effort to create an agency with transparency is admirable but it cannot succeed.

The United Nations will never meet the goals of the reformers until the country members are reformed, until democracy is truly, not temporarily, embraced. Until then the United Nations will remain an agency that empowers democracies in name only, democracies that are truly run by dictatorships, despots and demons that have been allowed to hijack an international body created and dedicated to preserving human rights and giving those countries carte blanche to mask their own abuses.

It's worth the effort. It will take time. We can make it happen. We must. Do not expect other member nations to join the effort for reform, most nations like things just the way they are. But that's a wish worth making on this anniversary.

Watch Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 12, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Syrian President Bashar Assad has sent a message to Palestinian terror organizations working out of Syria to continue their struggle for a Palestinian State in the aftermath of the Gaza redeployment.

I wonder how he did that. After all, just a little while ago he made comments to the effect that all Palestinian terrorist offices had been shut down in Syria.

Assad has a love/hate relationship with terrorists.
Syria sponsors terror outside Syria, but Syria will not tolerate any terror internally. Syria will sponsor Palestinian terror, terror in Iraq, terror in Lebanon.
But Syria will brutally handle any threat of internal terror or challenge to its leadership. Several days ago, for example, 5 terrorists were killed in a shootout with Syrian forces in the city of Hama.

Assad is struggling with his reputation and the way he is perceived by the US.
Syria sent a condolence message to the US in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Why? Reason #1 is that it made them look bigger in the eyes of their people and in the eyes the Arab world. Syria can now say that even though the US may attack them they are "above it all" and that human tragedy trumps politics.
Reason #2 is that Assad is trying to show the United States that he is not mono-dimensional, that he has good sides as well as the bad sides.

I monitor Syria carefully. It's important.
I view what happens in Syria as a litmus test for the rest of the Middle East.

9-11 Anniversary
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 11, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Today is 9-11-2005.

We must always remember the lesson we were taught four years ago today.
We must teach that lesson to our children.

The terror threat against the US and the West will continue for years to come.

We must convince our leaders of the need to always fight terror.
We must realize just how real and dangerous the threat of terror is.
We must search out and find the terrorists before allowing them to strike.
We must never become placid or deluded by the quiet between terror attacks.
We must understand the ultimate goals of terrorists.
We must not make excuses for terror.
We must try to reeducate the world so that terror is never justified.
We must create an unambiguous definition of terror.

The more that time separates us from 9-11 the less real the threat, the less vivid the memory. That frightens me.

I understand terror and terror is not going away.

Arafat Shot 23 Times To The Head
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 10, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Press coverage of the assassination of Gaza Chief of Security Mousa Arafat, gunned down in his Gaza home, neglected to report some very important details.

The assassination was conducted as a military strike.
There were at least 30 attackers.
The shootout lasted 45 minutes.
The first shots fired were rockets launched into the house.
The son of Arafat was kidnapped during the melee and has since been released.
The Popular Resistance Committees is - once again - claiming responsibility for the attack.

Most disturbing was that this mini war was conducted only several hundred feet away from the Palestinian Authority Office for Counter Terror.
It took place only a few hundred feet away from the residence of President Mohammad Abbas who is said to have heard the shootout.
It was right near the Interior Ministry for Safety, the governmental body responsible for security and a few feet away other government offices and from private homes with their own extensive security systems.

The only reason the shooting ended after 45 minutes was because the mission was accomplished - Mousa Arafat was dead.
Mousa Arafat was grabbed, shot in both legs, dragged out of his home and publicly assassinated, 23 bullets to his head.

Where were the reinforcements? Didn't anybody have a conscience?

Arafat Haunts Us From The Grave
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 9, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Yassir Arafat continues to haunt Israel, even from his grave.

Arafat's death read like a murder mystery. Was he poisoned? Did he have AIDS? Did Israel do it? Was it an intricate plan formulated by the Shin Bet?

Now, nearly a year later, the final chapter in the life and death of Yassir Arafat has been written. A physician's health report has been secretly released. The mystery is over. The doctor confirms that - it was all pure paranoia, speculation, a desire to blame Israel.
Arafat died of a massive brain hemorrhage.

Yes, Arafat had AIDS. Yes, Arafat suffered a bad case of food poisoning shortly before his death causing incontrollable and constant vomiting and diarrhea. Yes, Arafat led a decades long life of decadence. But none of that killed him, and neither did Israel.

Those who want to blame Israel already have and always will.
Nasser al Kidwa, the Palestinian Authority foreign minister and former PA Ambassador to the United Nations and a nephew of Yassir Arafat calls the report inconclusive. It was Kidwa who was shouting that Israel had poisoned Arafat.

Expect a sequel.

Arafat Assassination Shows Anarchy
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 8, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Mousa Arafat is dead. He was assassinated.

Who was Mousa Arafat ?
He was a close relative and trusted confidante of Yassir Arafat. The two were in exile in Tunisia together and later returned to the Palestinian territories together.

Mousa Arafat was one of Yassir Arafat's security chiefs and was later appointed Assistant Chief of Security in Gaza by Arafat's successor, Mohammad Abbas.

Why should we care?
The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility, then denied playing any role in the assassination out of fear of reprisal from the Abbas government.

This assassination was a direct attack on Abbas and on the Arafat legacy.
This assassination was a direct attack on the idea that Palestinians create a civil state next to Israel.
This assassination was a direct attack against those demanding that all non-police personnel i.e. terrorists, turn in their weapons.

Sharon was correct. His plan was to force Palestinians to fight against each other. Sharon wanted to force Gaza into anarchy.
Abbas has no choice. He must now force all terrorist groups, including Hamas, to disarm.

If not - he might be next.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 7, 2005


The United States is undeniably the most powerful country in the world today. The United States is also one of the most misunderstood countries in the world today. That just should not be, and Karen Hughes is out to change the way the world views America.

Karen Hughes is faced with a formidable task. Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for diplomatic affairs, is the new face of America.

The new undersecretary has been described in a wide variety of ways throughout her professional life - driven, presidential confidante, not afraid to make waves or step on toes. All of those will come in handy for Karen Hughes PR czar and World Educator. It has fallen on Karen Hughes to explain to the world why the United States does what it does and why, to make the world realize that there is logic and a strong set of principles behind United States foreign policy.

I wish her well. For some reason the Bush administration has left the issue of US foreign policy PR unattended for too long. Perhaps it was just typical US arrogance and myopia. The United States may be part of the big, strong and Western world but they are a minority vastly outnumbered by the smaller, weaker non-Western countries of the world.

I hope that Ms. Hughes can make a difference. But I am not too confident. I am not sure that the new undersecretary for diplomatic affairs has successfully internalized the scope of her position.

It's hard to say "no" to the President of the United States, even if he is a friend, but I do no think that the first public outing for Hughes, even before officially assuming office, should have been as presidential representative at an American event even if it was for ISNA, The Islamic Society of North America, even if it is the largest annual meeting of American Muslims, even if her attendance was very much appreciated by the participants. Muslims in the United States feel besieged. They feel that their community has become the target of federal and local investigations and that actions against them are abusive and discriminatory.

It was admirable to have attended the conference, admirable but a colossal mistake. It is a terrible misunderstanding of the orientation and central point of her job. Hughes is not supposed to explain US foreign policy to Americans in America. She is supposed to explain it to our allies and enemies and fence sitters. She is the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, that implies foreign, not domestic policy.

The position Karen Hughes has been appointed to dictates that she meet and greet and convince foreign gatherings and individuals, not Americans.

It's important that the undersecretary said "We need to foster a sense of common interest and common values among Americans and people of different faiths and different cultures and different countries across the world" but I would have been more moved had Americans not been included in the sentence, I would have been more impressed had she been addressing a non-American audience when expressing that mandate.

With all due respect, I have a few suggestions for the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. I have a simple plan that will, I think, allow her to do her job more easily and effectively. Convincing the world, especially the parts of the world that foster US hatred and that recruit anti-US suicide/homicide bombers is neither simple nor easy, I know, but perhaps this plan will help.

My Plan:
*Create TV and radio stations that broadcast to those parts of the world that misunderstand, strongly disagree with or strongly disapprove of American foreign policy in their native languages.
*Do not create 24 hour news stations, that is antithetical to the mission.
*Broadcast US Culture - music, fashion, films TV, that is what the people of even those countries that hate the US crave and covet and cannot access on their own.
*Follow the same formula with web sites aimed directly at local audiences.
*Introduce news with an American spin casually, only at the beginning of every hour and half hour, do not hit them over the head, let it gradually insinuate itself into individual consciences.

Here's why the plan will work:
Even if people zap and surf to different stations, the US message will get out through kids and those people who love American music and culture.
The idea is to reach audiences with an American based message replete with the essential values of democracy and freedom, not to have local Tokyo Rose impersonators or even al Jazeera, put their own spin on things.

This is the only way to defeat non-Western and anti-United States propaganda machines.

American culture might not be the highest of world cultures but it is the most popular. Karen Hughes, go with our strengths.

Give Oil Not Money
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 6, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Blessings and condolences.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we are learning not only a lot about ourselves as Americans but also about other nations around the world. It's interesting and important to pay attention to what other counties are saying and doing in support of the United States.

The Palestinian Authority has offered blessings and wishes.
So has Israel, and they are sending army rescue teams and Israeli Red Cross, Magen David Adom, teams to aid in the recovery of bodies.

Kuwait and Qatar have also responded to the crisis.
Kuwait has pledged $500 million "of oil products needed by afflicted states in these conditions and other humanitarian assistance."
Qatar has pledged $100 million.

Money is nice, but not the issue. We would all be better off if these countries chose to really help by increasing oil production and dropping oil prices. We would all be better off if they convinced OPEC that it is the right thing to do.

A few hundred million dollars is a drop in the bucket.
More oil in the pipe line, that would be true humanitarian assistance.

Condolences From Al Qaeda
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 5, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Many messages of condolence have been sent in response to Hurricane Katrina.
But nothing like this.

"Congratulations to the Islamic nation, to our sheikh Osama abu Abdullah (Osama bin Laden) and to sheikh Ayman Zawahiri (bin Laden's deputy) for the destruction of America, which is at the forefront of evil. It is the start of its collapse."... "God attacked America and the prayers of the oppressed were answered."... "The wrath of the All-powerful fell upon the nation of oppressors (The US)... Their dead are in the thousands and their losses are in the billions."... "Only recently America killed and starved whoever it wanted, but today it is appealing for oil and food."

This is the message of terrorist leader and head of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarkawi. It was posted on a website on Sunday.

Do not be surprised. The enemies of the United States have found that God or Allah hates us and loves them. Do not be surprised.

But here is the catch: Yes, this was an act of God, a devastating act of God.
Just as I do not understand why God allowed this to happen, believe me, neither do bin Laden, Zawahiri and Zarkawi.

Pakistan & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 4, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

The foreign minister of Pakistan met with the Israeli foreign minister this past week in Istanbul.
With that meeting the FM took the first step in establishing warm, friendly, diplomatic relations between the countries.

It was an enormous gesture.
Pakistan is the second largest populated Muslim state in the world and sets the tone for Muslim character. This meeting paves the way for other Muslim states to also establish significant relationships with Israel.

Pakistan also has a history of aiding al Qaeda. Bin Laden is probably hiding on or near the Pakistani border. Yet, Pakistan is working hard in the fight against terror and has been instrumental in aiding the United States in the fight.

Israel has a very close military relationship with India, Pakistan's neighbor and traditional archenemy. Over the past year, as a result of mutual interests and especially the fight against terror, tensions have rescinded between the two countries.

Israel has much to offer a country like Pakistan.
Pakistan can be a model for other Muslim states.
A first step in the right direction.

Putin's Stupid Ploy
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 3, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Vladimir Putin really stuck his foot in his mouth yesterday.
He spoke the truth, but his truth is detrimental to his country.

Speaking to families and survivors on the anniversary of the horrific terror attack that took place last year in Beslan Russia School #1 Putin said:
"I must say, immediately, I agree with those who believe that the state is not in the condition to provide for the security of its citizens to the necessary degree."

It seems clear that the Russian model of fighting terror is not very practical.
Their objective in a hostage situation is to kill the terrorists, not to save hostages. We were witness to that model in the Moscow theater and again in Beslan.

The very essence of his and the state's responsibility to its citizens is security and safety. If the President thinks himself incapable of shouldering that responsibility he should step down or do what it takes to improve the situation.

World leaders cannot and should not capitulate to terrorist demands. Leaders must show power and strength in face of terror and bring citizens together united against the evil.

The comments made by Putin did exactly the opposite.
His words should be even stronger than his actions.
Take no prisoners. Seek and destroy.

Terrorost's Last Will & Testament
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 2, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

Mohammad Sidique Khan's last will and testament ended up at al Jazerah TV.
They broadcast his words around the world. Most of us missed it.
Mohammad Sidique Khan was one of the July 7th London suicide bombers.

Khan wrote: "therefore we will talk to you in a language that you understand. Our words are dead until we give them blood."
He was trying to teach the West a lesson.
It is a lesson we already know.
It is a lesson the terrorists will never learn.

Khan confirmed what we all understand to be true: the language of the terrorists is blood and the language of the West is words.

The reality is that the West disagrees with the very premise of the terrorist.
The West heard the terrorist point of view and rejected it.
One of the greatest freedoms the West has is the ability to agree to disagree, while terrorists need everyone to conform to their point of view.
Terrorists murder in order to make their point and to force people to capitulate.

Khan inserted Zawahiri, bin Laden's # 2, in his video will.
He wanted to draw a connection: from Khan to al Qaeda and world terror.
Here is the real connection. All terrorists, from Khan to bin Laden, want to frighten the West into submission. But the West will not submit and that is something that terrorists, world over, do not understand. They never will.

A Jewish Constitution in Iraq?
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 1, 2005

I've Been Thinking:

The Sunni population of Tikrit, in Iraq, held a protest rally.
The organization of this protest is typical of the problems the US faces is Iraq.

The point of the rally was to protest the new constitution. But that was hard to figure because the posters they were parading were pictures of Saddam Hussein and their shouts proclaimed him as their leader. It makes some sense since Tikrit is, after all, Saddam's hometown.

What was their problem with the new constitution? Is it unfair? No. Too Shiite oriented? No. Not protective enough of minorities? No.
Their problem is that they think the new constitution is Jewish.

How can a constitution be Jewish?
And even if it is, what is wrong with that?
The Koran is filled with Jewish stories, replete with Jewish prophets and teachers, and Abraham was the father of both Isaac and Ishmael.
Their ultimate putdown is actually a compliment.

Iraqis must stop focusing on Israel and Jews and blaming them for all their problems.
It's time for Iraqis to take a long, hard look at themselves and start the process of self-correction.

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