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Tame UN Statement on Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 31, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

The United Nations Security Council issued a statement about Israel's bombing in Qana, Lebanon that killed 56 people.

"The Security Council expresses its extreme shock and distress at the shelling by the Israeli Defense Forces of a residential building in Qana, in southern Lebanon, which has caused the killing of dozens of civilians, mostly children, and injured many others."
"The Security Council expresses its concern at the threat of escalation of violence with further grave consequences for the humanitarian situation, calls for an end to violence, and underscores the urgency of securing a lasting, permanent and sustainable ceasefire."

This is the world of diplomacy.
Terms are important.
The Security Council used the words "concern" "shock" "distress."
But they do not condemn.

In diplomacy, nuance speaks volumes.
This specific choice of wording is a clear indication that the parties on the Security Council understand that despite pressure from certain corners, Israel is fighting an impossible battle against Hezbollah.

The Security Council statement was remarkably tame.
What could have been a scathing condemnation was a stern statement of shock.
Big difference.

Why Israel Hits Civilian Sites
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 30, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

The answer is obvious. Still, it must be asked and answered.
Why does Israel hit civilian and UN targets?
Because Hezbollah is there. Hezbollah is there to seek refuge from Israel's bombs, to shoot and to hide. And where Hezbollah is, Israel goes.

In Qana, most of the victims in the three story building that was hit were kids.
Israel dropped leaflets asking civilians to leave. And still people remained.
The people sought refuge in the three story building thinking it would be safer. The children were on the ground floor. So Hezbollah shot from that very building.

In Tyre, the command control headquarters of Hezbollah was on the 12th floor of an apartment building among the civilian population. Not in a bunker, not in a basement. When the building was hit, civilians were hurt.

The UN observer post was being used by Hezbollah as a shield. That's exactly how one UN victim described it. Four UN observers were killed.

Hezbollah wants to maximize civilian deaths on both sides. They take shelter in civilian populations and shoot randomly at civilian populations.
Israel wants to minimize civilian deaths. They drop leaflets and take aim at only essential targets.

Describing the situation does not revive the innocent. But it defines the situation.
It is the only way to fight back at Hezbollah.
To hold back would mean not to strike at Hezbollah at all.

Why Arab Leaders Change Their Tune
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 29, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Why has the public stance of liberal Arab leaders toward the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah changed?
Because the conflict has gone on too long.

Liberal Arab leaders have capitulated to the masses.
The popular feeling on the all-important Arab "street" has forced liberal Arab leadership to change their stance on Hezbollah.

The Ahmadinejads of the Arab world always knew that the Muslim masses would come out in support of Nassrallah and Hezbollah.
They know that conspiracy theories pervade Islam society.
Ahmadinejad has been fueling those theories.
The most powerful theory is that the ultimate goal of Israel and the United States is to grab Muslim lands and oppress Arabs.

Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders fought their "street" on this matter thinking it would be a 1-2-quick conflict.
As it becomes clear that the conflict will continue these leaders made the choice to tow the line of Arab unity in order to preserve internal harmony among their people.

Arabic newspapers have begun the switch.
They are no longer debating the wisdom of Hezbollah's rupturing of a fragile status quo. They have returned to their classic canards: of it's the fault of the US and Israel the US and Israel are blind and heartless oppression of Muslims.

The reality: these leaders still question Hezbollah because Hezbollah is Shiite and represents Iran while Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Egypt are Sunnis and reject Iran's beliefs as fundamentally heretical.
They still see Hezbollah as politically dangerous.
This shift - even if cosmetic and coerced, yields tremendous power to Shiites as they search for new adherents and support in the Muslim world.

Bottom line: This is a huge success for Iran and Shiites.
Looking at the bigger picture: Iran could not be happier.

UN Shielded Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 28, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

United Nations forces are stationed in Lebanon as observers.
The burning question has been: If they are only observers, why would a UN outpost have been targeted by Israelis leaving four UN personnel dead?
Well, now we know why.

One of the victims, a Canadian major named Paeta Hess-von Kruedener left us a legacy in emails he exchanged 6 days before he was killed in an Israeli air strike. He wrote his former Canadian commander Major General Lewis McKenzie.
McKenzie gave an interview paraphrasing the email exchange.

According to McKenzie, UN observer Paeta Hess-von Kruedener wrote that: Hezbollah fighters were "running around" near the UN post using it as a "shield."
According to McKenzie, that means that Israel's bombing had "not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."
"That would mean Hezbollah was purposely setting up near the UN post ... It's a tactic."

This is a gargantuan piece of evidence.
The minute Hezbollah entered and occupied the UN post it became Hezbollah territory and that makes it a target for Israeli air strikes.
Knowing that Hezbollah was using their post makes the UN complicit in the act.
Hezbollah terrorists specifically chose the UN post, much as they choose residential areas, because they are safer places to hide and launch attacks.

UN observers cannot provide safe haven, shields or refuge for soldiers or for terrorists.
UN soldiers were killed because they allowed themselves to be shields for Hezbollah.

Responsibility for the deaths lies with Hezbollah and the UN, not with Israel.

Ahmadinejad Again
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 27, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at it again.

Ahmadinejad is in Tajikistan where he signed a declaration and together with the president of Tajikistan issued a proclamation:
"the use of force against Palestine and Lebanon is unacceptable."

More telling is his comment about the United States and Israel:
the US and Israel are trying to re-carve the map of the Middle East.

What is Ahmadinejad up to?
He is fueling the conspiracy theories that pervade the Muslim world that Israel and the US are there to take over and take control.
No matter that Israel has no territorial claims in Gaza or Lebanon, that they are ceding territory not claiming it.
He is doing a brilliantly persuasive job.

This is not about logic or reality or history.
This is about perception and illusion.
It is about Ahmadinejad and about Ahmadinejad achieving his own goals.

Israel Needs Another 10 Days
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 26, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Condi Rice is now in the region, the Middle East.
Her actions and responses over the next 3 days are essential in determining whether or not Israel's goals in Lebanon will be achieved.

Israel must emasculate Hezbollah & they need another 10 days to 2 weeks.
Without that time:
Lebanon will have no chance of surviving as a democracy
Israel will have no chance of quiet on the northern border
Israel has no territorial claim on Lebanon and will not occupy, they are in & out

Syria must not be drawn into the conflict.
It would mean another front
It would break the model that Israel is creating which is a local not regional issue
If Israel bombs in Syria they will only bomb convoys carrying weapons, not Syrian targets
Israel does not want this to become a war with Syria, they want Syria to control Hezbollah

Hezbollah wants this to be a long drawn out war of attrition.
Israel wants it over fast.
The fate of the kidnapped boys has fallen into secondary status.

Condi, tread carefully.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 25, 2006


Let's get this clear from the outset. There is no moral equivalency between the war Israel is waging against Hezbollah and the war Hezbollah is waging against Israel. There is no military equivalency between the war Israel is waging against Hezbollah and the war Hezbollah is waging against Israel. None. No equivalency. Not at all.

Now let's put the conflict into perspective.

Israel is defending itself against a militia that is, first and foremost and to the last dying breath of the last dying Hezbollah fighter, dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Yes, Hezbollah would like to become the centerpiece of the Muslim world, but their platform is based upon one single issue - the destruction of the Jewish state, the Jewish nation and the Jewish people.

When Israeli bombs fall they are not simply striking out against an enemy, they are defending the country and the people of Israel against a well trained and sophisticated enemy bent on their destruction. Hezbollah is not interested in conquest. Hezbollah is out to destroy Israel.

Hezbollah has a created a very formidable fighting force. They are a well-trained, sophisticated and disciplined army. On the ground, Hezbollah has the advantage. That is why Hezbollah is trying so hard to pull Israel into an urban war or into the mountains and hills that are home to Hezbollah's fighters. And that is why Israel is fighting so hard not to slip into their trap. Israel is trying to maintain their superiority in the air.

Hezbollah wants this conflict to be a long, drawn out war of attrition which can only happen if the two sides engage on land, not in the air, in hand to hand combat, not through rockets and missiles. Israel wants to cripple, to weaken, Hezbollah. Israel wants to demoralize Hezbollah so that the Lebanese government can bring them under final control. Israel wants to emasculate Hezbollah.

It is all about self-defense. Self-defense suggests much more than protecting yourself, your citizens, your country. The international standard for self-defense does not simply mean that you protect your border and keep up your guard. International law has guidelines allowing for three tiers of actions that are acceptable and appropriate when a nation is forced to defend itself. Protecting your people and your boundaries is one. Striking at the people or group that attacked you is two. Making certain that this scenario will not repeat itself is three.

Self-defense is not wanton warfare and killing. There are many methods of war that a country may not engage in, even in self-defense, because they are either immoral or unjust. International law and philosophy suggest that there is certainly a place for weapons in a counter attack. Pre-emptive strikes are a classic example. When you know that the enemy is about to strike, a country has a moral right to launch a raid to protect its citizens. It is justified. A moral right. To launch a raid. To protect its citizens.

The only caveat is that a nation must try to limit civilian causalities when counter attacking. And how does one evaluate that caveat? By investigating the actions taken during the counter attack.

Let's look at Israel. How is Israel carrying out its counter attacks against the enemy Hezbollah? Israel drops leaflets - in Arabic - to warn civilians that the area will be bombed. Israel bombs weapons caches and transport centers so that more weapons cannot be transported and restocked. And Israel bombs communication networks so that Hezbollah's communications network will be compromised or crippled.

Now, let's look at Hezbollah. Oops, can't find them. Hezbollah is hiding among the civilians.

Even the United Nations, never big supporters of Israel, has had it with Hezbollah's military modus operandi. The UN's chief diplomat, Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs used the term "cowardly blending" to describe the actions of Hezbollah. He has accused Hezbollah of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the death of hundreds. And morally, he is disgusted by the attitude of Hezbollah. "I heard," said Egeland "they were proud because they lost few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

Even the United Nations, consistently calling on Israel to stop hitting civilians, lays the blame directly at the feet of Hezbollah. International law and the Geneva Conventions lay it out pretty clearly. The Conventions say that if an armed force hides among innocent civilians the force is responsible for the deaths of the civilians. This is a prefect parallel with United States law and the crime of felony murder. If, in the course of a crime, someone is killed, the person who committed the crime is responsible for the third person's death and will be prosecuted for murder.

This crisis is not about to simply end, even with diplomatic intervention. More and more people will die. Some will be soldiers, many will be civilian. It will be costly but it is a cost that all free countries must be willing to pay and must act upon with the highest moral standard.

Israel's actions are not just militarily sound, they are morally sound. Hezbollah's actions are not.

It's A Bad Plan
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 24, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Here comes the United States to the rescue - or so they think.

The United States has a plan to:
handle the conflict in the Middle East
solve the problem of Hezbollah
resolve the problem of Iran

Here's the US plan: Enlist Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to influence Syria to separate from Iran and to stop Hezbollah.
Bad plan, bad idea, the only thing it will accomplish is to make a bad situation much, much worse.
Iran and Syria should not be separated - not at all, they are a couple and they need to be confronted as a unit.

By separating Syria and Iran, Syria is taken off the responsibility hook.
Suddenly, with a wink and a nod from Jordan and Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Syria helps the United States and is transformed into a "good guy."
I think not!

Inner Muslim Conflict
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 23, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Traditionally and historically, the Arab and Muslim world strives to present a united front to the rest of the world.
Reaction to the war between Hezbollah and Israel, however, is providing us with some seldom seen or articulated signs and sounds of serious and divisive debate

The debate goes as follows:
Did Hezbollah cross the border in order to marshal Muslim honor and confront Israel?
If they did, then this would be a fight for Arab pride and honor and that is the kind of conflict many Muslims would support.
Was confronting Israel just a silly boneheaded mistake by Shiites whose only motive was to generate publicity by waging a war they cannot win?
If Hezbollah's actions were purely religious-based, because they so badly want to thrust themselves into the thick of things and attract more Shiite adherents, then most Muslims reject it.

The debate is going on everywhere, the Muslim press, the streets and the cafes - not only in high echelon corridors.
There very few variations on the theme.

Higher Moral Standard
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 22, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

The number of humanitarian messages I have received from Israeli groups and social agencies offering help to the people and causes compromised and left unable to care for themselves in the wake Hezbollah's bombs is overwhelming.

One agency is sending children in the war zone to summer camps across the rest of Israel.
Other summer camps are going out to find children from the north on their own and inviting them to their facilities.
Another group is sponsoring family hospitality for families in need.
One organization is actually collecting abandoned pets and asking citizens throughout the country to step forward and adopt these animals who would otherwise starve to death. They suggest that there are thousands of stranded pets in the war zone.

It's inspiring.
A nation under attack from katyushas has the moral and ethical grounding to care not only for the people but also for displaced and abandoned pets.

I know that the same cannot be said of Hezbollah.

Arab Self Delusion
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 21, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Hassan Nasrallah was interviewed on al Jazeera TV yesterday.
One smart aleck I know asked why, if he could get to al Jazeera, how come Israel can't get to him, but that's another question for another time.

Nasrallah, typical of his rhetoric, made some pretty wild statements.
He spoke of the two young Arab brothers from Nazareth killed by a Hezbullah sent katyusha bomb.
Nasrallah called the boys "shahid"s. He said that they are martyrs for Allah who died fighting for a Holy Cause. He said that they merit automatic places in heaven.

Everyone with a heart grieves for the parents of these boys, but honestly, they were two kids playing outside like kids do - when a bomb fell and killed them.
The death of these boys, like all other civilian deaths in this crisis is a tragedy, but they bring no honor.

Nasrallah is so deluded in his own mission that he even views his own mistakes as divine.
Open your eyes, Muslim world.
The great leader Hassan Nasrallah, like other despots and dictators, lives a life of self-delusion.

A Warped Sense of Reality
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 20, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

How would you define the term "terrorist organization"?

In a meeting, just yesterday, with Tzipi Livni, a lawyer by profession and now Israel's Foreign Minister, Javier Solana the European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy explained that it is unclear that Hezbollah has fulfilled the definition of a terrorist organization. He said that this is a legal issue not an ethical one.

A silly comment but it also illustrates the perspective of certain world leaders.

At just about the same time Syria informed the United Nations that Terje Roed Larson, the UN's lead ambassador was not welcome in their country.
Now Larson is no friend of Israel but he is the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy. He is a solid by-the-book envoy who follows strict policy.

These aren't items you read about in the mainstream press.
But understand the situation for what it is.
The European Union dwells in a world of delusion.
Syria is an obstacle, Syria is not, cannot and will not be, a part of a possible solution.

Saddam's Advice
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 19, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Sometimes, sound advice comes from some of the strangest sources.
Today, Saddam Hussein gave Syria advice concerning the current conflict between Hezbollah and Israel.

Saddam warned Syria to be very careful about trusting Iran.
Saddam blamed Iran for the current crisis in the Middle East.

Now, we all know that Saddam Hussein is a liar and a cheat. He was a despot and a tyrant. But in this instance, he has nothing to gain and no reason to lie.
Saddam Hussein is simply giving his opinion and offering his own analysis based on years of experience in dealing with the involved parties.

The big question is this: How is it that Saddam Hussein can see the truth here while the European Union, the United Nations and a whole long list of other countries cannot.

Syria is out of the Iran's league, Syria is overplaying their hand.
Saddam is saying that Iran and Hezbollah may just ensnarl Syria in a big mess, in a very big mess.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It is a military and political crisis. Some are even going so far as to call it the onset of another World War. But there is more happening in the Middle East than the two-front conflict Israel is waging. There is a subtext to The Battle Between Israel and Hezbollah and The Battle Between Israel and Hamas.

There is The Battle Between Hezbollah and Hamas - and in that war, Israel is caught in the crosshairs.

Think about it.

The conflict between Lebanon and Israel began when Hezbollah crossed over from Lebanon into Israel and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Had they "only" lofted katyushas and killed Israelis and not kidnapped and crossed international boundaries, we would not be witness to this escalation of tensions. Rather than kill, Hezbollah chose to kidnap. Rather than kidnap one soldier, Hezbollah chose to kidnap two soldiers. Why?

Because Hamas had captured one Israeli soldier and Hezbollah needed to up the ante.

Because all international eyes were focused on Hamas and Hamas had become the Middle East Islamic terrorist group to be reckoned with.

Because Hezbollah plays by their own rules and in Hezbollah's world, Hezbollah rules. Not Hamas.

By crossing over the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel Hezbollah altered the very fragile balance that existed between Lebanon and Israel and, also, between Hezbollah and Hamas.

Hezbollah had three goals to accomplish. They wanted to draw Israel into a two-front war - which they accomplished. They wanted to deflect attention from Iran - which they accomplished. They wanted to insert themselves as chief negotiators over prisoners by displacing Hamas.

Hezbollah saw an opportunity to unify their cause and grabbed it. That is important to remember. Kidnapping is a means to an end for Hezbollah and the end is greater than the exchange of Israeli soldiers, alive or dead, for Arab prisoners. The end is a unified Muslim world under Shiite Iran and Hezbollah. The end is the Shiites becoming a major player in the Muslim world.

The connection between Hamas and Hezbollah has always been arms. Hezbollah was one of the largest suppliers of arms to Hamas. Hezbollah is far more dangerous than Hamas and far more organized. They have a real army with 25,000 trained and well-equipped soldiers. They are professional fighters with a military hierarchy. They have a weapons cache and their weapons are advanced and have highly sophisticated guidance systems and long range capabilities. Hamas is a scraggly group of scroungers. They take what they can get and make the best of it. They are getting better and more sophisticated, but they lag well behind the power and prowess of Hezbollah.

Hamas wanted to teach Israel a lesson. They wanted to become big leaguers like Hezbollah and pose a real threat to Israel. But Hamas is new at the game of Kidnap for Prisoner Exchange, they have no experience. Hezbollah is the pro. Hezbollah wrote the original rules of the game and they overshadow Hamas and until the military hostilities stop, Hamas will remain in the shadows.

Now Hezbollah is on the front line. But the rules have changed. That is one thing Hezbollah never counted on and do not even realize now.

In 2004, when Hezbollah kidnapped and then murdered three Israeli soldiers an exchange was brokered through third party mediation. With the help of Germany the three Israeli bodies and one Israeli criminal were returned in exchange for the release of 436 Arab terrorists. At the time, Hezbollah claimed that they were fighting for the Lebanese, doing their dirty work so to speak. But that was never true. Of the 436 released prisoners only 43 of them were Lebanese, 5 were Syrian and one was actually a German. The remainder was all Palestinians.

Hezbollah relied on past experience when they planned and executed this move. The fact that Israel negotiated for the release of their soldiers in the past led them to believe that they would do the same again. But they were mistaken. Rather than a few symbolic sorties over Lebanon as Hezbollah expected they are being big time bombed. Rather than immediate international pressure to negotiate, the international world kept silent.

And Hezbollah does not understand the nature of international borders. That was made clear the moment they first stepped over the border from Lebanon and landed on Israeli soil. Because Hezbollah does not recognize the international border they cannot see the value that Israel and the free, Western world places on the border. Israel has become accustomed to periodic katyusha attacks from Hezbollah. But this miscalculation will play a big role in the eventual destruction of Hezbollah.

And as each day passes, a frustrated, exasperated Hezbollah escalates the situation rather than bring it to an end. Hezbollah just doesn't get it. They do not understand the implications of their actions. They do not understand the international community, they see the world only through their own veiled and hooded eyes.

Hostilities. Crisis. War. It will continue in northern Israel and in the south. Hezbollah is not backing down and because they are not, neither can Hamas.

Hezbollah wanted to trump Hamas and in the end, they are being thumped.

What Hezbollah Has
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 17, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Hezbollah has a few surprises for Israel.

One surprise is that they have the ability to hit Tel Aviv with weapons that have significant explosive heads.
It's no surprise that Hezbollah wants to hit Tel Aviv, they have already hit Afula and the Jezreel Valley which are only a stone - or a rocket throw away.

Another "surprise" is that they have is a variety of guided weapons even better than the one used to attack the Israeli Navy vessel.
Hezbollah probably has weapons that will neither free-fly nor free-fall like katyushas, but are guided missiles that can identify and seek out a target.

The definitional distinction between a rocket and a missile is that
a rocket free-falls
a missile has a guidance system

Nasrallah and Hezbollah want to hold on to some of their surprises in order to maximize their effect later on in the conflict.
Hopefully, Israel's air force will find Hezbollah's weapons cache before the weapons catch-up to Israel.

Hezbollah's Big Mistake
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 16, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Hezbollah has been making serious blunders in the attack against Israel.

Biggest Mistake: to assume that there would be massive Israeli internal rejection of Israel's counter action, that Israelis would not have the internal strength to fight Hezbollah, to believe that the Israeli public would force their politicians to stop the army and the air force.

It's the opposite: nearly across the board, with only few exceptions, Israelis want a real solution crippling Hezbollah and their constant relentless bombing of civilians.

Another mistake: hitting Haifa and threatening Tel Aviv which only strengthened Israel's attitude that they must solve the Hezbollah problem and solve it differently than in the past when Israel just pounded back.

One solution is targeting Nasrallah the head of Hezbollah.
Another is wiping out Hezbollah's infrastructure and arms caches.
Either way, Hezbollah's ability to organize and communicate and grow will be disabled.

It will take time and require patience, this is not an overnight operation.
Israel will return Lebanon to Lebanon without Hezbollah, or at least with a very weakened Hezbollah so that the Lebanese can run Lebanon.
They might not say it out loud, but the Lebanese will thank Israel.

Israel in Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 15, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has been pounding away at Lebanon.
So what are Israel's actual goals, what is Israel really fighting for?

Israel's most important goal is to destroy the infrastructure of Hezbollah.
If they succeed Israel will be handing back to Lebanon a society with a weakened
Hezbollah which is the only Hezbollah that the Lebanese will be able to control

Israel's secondary goal, after weakening Hezbollah, is look for and find captured Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.
They are knocking out Lebanon's transportation routes in order to make certain that the soldiers are not moved to Syria and then to Iran.

Israel's priority order is inverted.
The main objective should be to get the soldiers. They should be sparing no expense in finding them. Over the past few years there has been a clear change and an erosion of the sacred sacrament of the Israeli Defense Forces, one that promised every Israeli soldier that their country would do everything, everything possible to get a soldier back.

This change in IDF principles of operation will have a huge impact on the future fighting force of Israel. Parents send their children to defend the country and they want at the least a body to bury, a grave to visit and an official day of mourning. A soldier needs to know that his country will move mountains to secure his return. Ron Arad was supposed to be the exception, not the rule.

Who Condemns Israel?
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 14, 2006 #2

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia seems to be the only country to really understand the escalating situation in Lebanon.
Certainly, the Saudis understand much more than either the European Union or the United States.

Read these comments carefully and compare:
SPA, the official Saudi news agency issued the following statement: "A distinction must be made between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements inside (Lebanon) and those behind them without recourse to the legal authorities and consulting and coordinating with Arab nations."

Condi Rice said "It is extremely important that Israel exercise restraint in its acts of self defense."

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said: "This is a disproportionate operation and is dangerous in the long term. I believe the entire international community sees it this way."

The European Union, too, used the word "disproportionate," in an official message distributed by Finland, presently head of the EU.

In the end this whole situation helps Iran's international agenda.
It pits Western countries against Muslims.

Why Hezbollah Hit Haifa
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 14, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Why and How did Hezbollah make the decision to target Haifa with a Raad I Missile, more commonly known as a katyusha?

Here's probably Why:
Hezbollah believed its own rhetoric and then mistook rhetoric for cues to shoot.
The rhetoric said that if Israel hits Beirut, Hezbollah will hit Haifa.

Here's probably How:
Hezbollah dispatched a team of people with several Raad I Missiles and gave them orders to launch only when told. The team has been in place for weeks. When they heard that the Beirut Airport had been hit they thought that was their cue to launch. It was not.

It was a huge mistake.
Hitting Haifa was an escalation too soon in the game and should not have happened, it raised the stakes very early on.
Hezbollah have always been masters of the waiting game.
The Raad I Missile, capable of bringing 2 million Israelis into range, should have been Hezbollah's all powerful frightening weapon.
While some Israeli sources suggest that an Iranian unit launched the missile.

This is no longer a game of intimidation.
The move has been made from the theoretical into the very real world of war.

A 3 Front War
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 13, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Israel is now at war on two fronts.

In the south, Gaza, Israel is fighting Hamas.
The agenda is three-fold: finding their kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, stopping the missiles being fired into Israel on a daily basis, breaking Hamas.

In the north, Israel is fighting Hezbollah.
The agenda is two-fold: retrieving the two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a border operation that also left 8 Israel soldiers dead, strike a serious blow to Hezbollah.

Here's what is happening:
Hezbollah has stolen the thunder from Hamas.
Hezbollah will now force their agenda.
Hamas will most likely take advantage of the second, northern, front war and turn the situation into a three-front war.
Hamas will start launching attacks into Israel from the West Bank, the middle of the country. In fact, Abbas met with King Abdullah of Jordan who informed him that missiles are aimed at Israel from Jenin and specific other locations and said, go stop them. But Abbas is powerless, even when confronted with accurate intel.

A two-front war is difficult to co-ordinate and control. A third front is harder still.

New War in The Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 12, 2006 #2

I'm Predicting:

Hezbollah has been threatening to take i.e. kidnap Israeli soldiers for years.
Hezbollah succeeded three years ago, the boys were returned dead.
Hezbollah succeeded again today taking two Israeli soldiers into Southern Lebanon.

This was not terror it was an act of war.
Israel is now forced into a two-front battle: in Gaza and in Lebanon.
Israel will respond very harshly on both fronts.
Israel has no choice, the longer they wait the less chance the soldiers will remain alive.

Hezbollah is much more experienced than Hamas.
Hezbollah has experience in fighting in hiding and in executing missions. Hezbollah is a modern organized army in Southern Lebanon.

Kidnapping is the weapon of the future. And this might lead to another war in the Middle East

Terror in India
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 12, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

There are lessons to be learned from the gruesome, organized terror that shock Bombay, India and killed over 190 people.

Terrorists and supporters of terror unequivocally believe:
that the innocent people they murder are guilty simply because they exist
that the mass murder of innocents is the only weapon against a stronger and better armed enemy
that their acts are justified as self-defense because attacks are the only language the enemy understands

In truth, the terrorist mass murderers in Bombay, like the terrorist mass murderers in Israel, London, New York, Madrid and Istanbul are criminals, not freedom fighters. To think otherwise is delusional.

There are rules to fighting.
One of the most important rules is to identify the targets of attack and to try and avoid hurting innocents.
Terrorists target innocents.
Terrorists intentionally and deliberately murder innocents.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 11, 2006


"The basic problem in the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime, and the Islamic world and region must mobilize to remove this problem ... the biggest threat today for the region is the existence of the fake Zionist regime."

The fact that those statements are, if not blatantly false than at least open to dispute, is completely irrelevant given the mouth from which they came and the context in which they were spoken.

The speaker was President Ahmadinejad of Iran. The occasion was a regional conference, sponsored by Iran. The topic of the conference, just like the conference held in Istanbul, Turkey in April of last year and the conference held six months before that in the Iranian capital Teheran, is the security of Iran.

Ahmadinejad is a man who weighs his words carefully, everything he does is for a purpose. When he discounts the horrors of the Holocaust, he intends to motivate the Muslim masses against the West. When he speaks of Israel he knows that his words will galvanize Muslims against Israel. When Ahmadinejad speaks to the masses he aims to move people closer to his vision of the world.

When Ahmadinejad says that the Islamic world must remove the fake Zionist regime he is not just making a point, he is pointing a finger. He is pointing a finger at Israel is order to deflect the fingers that are being pointed at him and at Iran by the rest of the Islamic world, by the very people he is calling into action.

Iran has always angled to become a major player in the Muslim world and by extension, in the entire world. In this, Iran has failed miserable. Rather than being a major player, Iran is a thorn in the side of the other nations of Islam. In fact, although Iran lays the blame on Israel, Iran is the most significant factor of destabilization, to quote Ahmadinejad, in "the Islamic world and region." In sponsoring this conference and the previous conferences, Iran is attempting to deflect attention away from a real problem hampering the region and place it elsewhere.

The reality is that Iran failed with the first two conferences, they elicited no significant beneficial results and Iran will probably fail again a third time.

Iran, without realizing it, is being outplayed by the Law of Diminishing Returns. Clearly, Israel's very existence is not the biggest problem in the Middle East. Clearly, Israel does not destabilize the Middle East. And clearly, there is very little that any nation, let alone Israel, can do to change the image that Israel has in the Middle East.

Ahmadinejad, however, is working hard to change Iran's image.

Ahmadinejad is working hard to change Iran's image in the eyes of Islam, and could not care less about how the West perceives him or his country. Iran does not speak with the United States, Israel or any Western nation in mind. Ahmadinejad speaks exclusively to and for the Muslim world. He is intent on putting forth, front and center for the Muslim world, the Iranian agenda.

But the reality is that the Iranian agenda does not resonate with the rest of the Muslim world. The Muslim world has heard this song before, danced this dance too many times, seen this play too often, to care.

The reality is that Iran does not fit in with the rest of the Muslim world. Iran is a Shiite country and the very vast majority of the Muslim world is Sunni. The Muslim world sees Iran as heretics and Iran sees the Sunnis as blind to the honest religious truth. Ahmadinejad knows the truth about his country, he just refuses to accept it as truth. So he points fingers and makes outlandish proposals and grand demands.

There is only one hope the Iranians hold for becoming the epicenter of Islam. The Iranians hope that if they successfully galvanize all other countries against Israel they will be heralded as the leader. Unifying the Muslim world through the mantra of Israel's oppression of the Palestinian has been a common ploy for decades. Until recently, until now.

The Middle East and the Islamic world are different than they were even two decades ago.

Not that every Muslim or Arab country is waiting to become an ally of Israel, but many have strategic concerns and economic issues, and many Islamic countries are exploring and expanding back door interactions with Israel. Many Muslim states - not just major player states - have informal relations and more and more are moving toward formalizing relationships with "the fake Zionist regime" Israel.

Iran has not yet accepted a truth that is becoming more and more commonly-held by other Muslim nations. Israel is really not the problem.

Israel is not the big problem for the region and Israel is not even the problem for the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat was a significant problem. The corruption, nepotism and cronyism that Arafat fostered was a serious problem. The fact that monies collected for and donated to the Palestinian people by nations around the world have never even trickled down to the people who need it is a problem.

Iran and Iran's nuclear aspirations are a problem. Iran is a problem that has the potential to thrust the region into turmoil. Muslim states in the region see Iran as a problem they want little to do with.

Hamas is a problem. And Hamas views Israel much the same way Iran views Israel.

Ahmadinejad is very good in front of a camera. Ahmadinejad makes for good soundbites and great quotes. Ahmadinejad is - the problem.

Palestinian: 77% Support Kidnapping
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 10, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

The Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre, a Palestinian polling organization, has provided us with a window into the Palestinian mind.

A just released poll asked 2000 Palestinians what they thought about the practice of kidnapping Israel soldiers and civilians.
77% said they agreed, they believed it was fine to kidnap Israelis.

They were asked what they thought about shooting missiles into Israel.
64% said that was OK, no problem, appropriate action.

They were asked if this current crisis will end on a positive note or a sour note.
37% of Palestinians think this situation will end positively for Palestinians.

These are profound statements about the future of Israel/Palestinian interaction.
What frightens me as much as the attitude of Palestinians is the attitude of the West. The West does not believe that average Palestinians think this way. The West must now factor this new knowledge into their analysis.

Iran: Big Talkers
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 9, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Months ago Iran promised 50 million US dollars to help the Hamas government in their time of need.
I predicted the money would be slow in coming - if it came at all.

Today, in Teheran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki proved me right.
During a press conference Mottaki confirmed that not only has the money not been sent to the Hamas government but that it was still in the decision stages.

Iran provides funding for terror attacks, that's where they put their money.
$50,000,000 to the Palestinian government is not chump change and is not, in Iran's estimation, money-well-spent. When a recent survey of Iranians asked if Iran should support the Palestinians the vast majority rejected the idea.

Iran is a country of bravado - talk big, move slowly.
The PA may yet get some money, but slowly and only a little.

P.S. Also today, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that the Zionist entity must be removed. We'll see ...

Terror Plot in NYC
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 8, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Uncovering the plot to attack the tunnels of New York and the arrest of operatives involved in the planning the attack is significant.
However, there are many issues to be discussed about the way in which the operation was handled, about the strength and the weakness of counter terrorism and law enforcement.

On the one hand:
Very little of the plot was jelled, but there was enough proof to consider it a significant threat. The circle is larger than the three principals who were arrested (one in Beirut and two in Holland) and the five others are still at large.

On the other hand:
Counter terror raids during the initial stages of the plot make prosecution problematic. When you get the terrorists early in their planning before anything can really develop, you shut them down and eliminate the cell. But our courts and our laws are still not quite equipped to understand the terror. Prosecuting terrorists for the threat when no explosives were purchased and when the plan is very impractical is a nightmare. This is the same situation that arises with the capture of the terror cell in Florida.

As the plots jell there is more evidence and more material which can be used to convict the perpetrators.
More importantly, the longer the plan is being plotted, the more contact there is with other operatives, sponsors and supporters and the more potential there is for more arrests.
That's what's missing in this scenario.

Hamas Now Attacks Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 7, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

The Interior Ministry of the Palestinian Authority has given the green light.
Palestinians troops may now - officially - attack and shoot Israeli troops.
That means war.

The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has raised the stakes.
The objective of Hamas security forces is to fight Israel.
The objective of Israel is not to attack the PA.
Israel's objectives are to get back their soldier and stop the missile launches.

Why has the Palestinian Authority chosen to attack Israel rather than stop the missile launches into Israel and return the soldier?
Israel has no territorial aspirations in Gaza, they will leave when the missiles stop and the soldier is returned.
It would make more sense to stop the missiles than to attack Israeli targets.

The answer is abundantly clear to me.
While Israel has no territorial aspirations on Gaza, the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has territorial aspirations on Israel.
Hamas wants more than Gaza and the West Bank.
Hamas wants much more.

Mashal Is In Charge of Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 6, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Khaled Mashal.
He is the brains behind Hamas.
He is the head of the Hamas political wing.
He is the man who orchestrated the missile attacks against Israel and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.

He used to be headquartered in Damascus.
Word is, Khaled Mashal left for Algeria on Sunday.

Syrian President Bahsar Assad was none too pleased last week having his presidential palace buzzed by the Israeli Air Force. Low flying planes breaking the sound barrier are freakishly frightening and tend to break the good china.
Assad called Meshal in for a tete a tete and told the Hamas leader that he does not enjoy being threatened by Israel's Air Force.
Assad told Meshal that he should give up the Israeli soldier.

Mashal got the point.
So as not to draw the rage of Syria, the country that had just increased his security detail, he left. It was also made clear that Israel was looking for Meshal.

Mashal's leadership is causing real tension with the rest Arab leadership.
They believe that the matter of the soldier should be put to rest.
Mashal disagrees and he is the man in charge, the one calling the shots.
Mashal is now totally out of touch, with the situation, with the Palestinians, with reality.

Depose Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 5, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Israel's coastal city of Ashkelon was hit by a rocket/missile yesterday.
The rocket/missile was a message from Hamas, they claimed responsibility.
This was the longest range rocket Hamas has ever shot.
It was not a direct hit, it hit a school parking lot, but even that is way too close.

Israel has one option: Israel must respond.
The situation has escalated, now it is not only about a kidnapped soldier.
Now it is about major cities being threatened, deliberately threatened, by Hamas. Hamas shot the missile to prove that they can and will continue to attack Israel even as the Israeli Air-Force is hitting Gaza.
This plays very big in the Arab media.

Israel must advance on ground efforts in Gaza.
Israel must destabilize and eliminate Hamas.
Hamas must be removed from the political scene.
If Hamas is not removed from power more Israelis will be kidnapped, more missiles will be launched into Israeli cities, there will be more terror attacks against Israel.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 4, 2006


Mind games. Some personalities are so strong that even after death their colleagues, cohorts and supporters are able to successfully manipulate the deceased's spirit so that it continues to haunt, to torment, to plague those same people the person haunted, tormented and plagued in life.

Take, for example, one of the greatest masterminds of terror this millennium has known. Arch terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Metaphorically speaking, Zarqawi is reaching out from the grave in order to agitate the people around him - his enemies and his supporters. Why metaphorically? Because the subject of Zarqawi's grave is precisely the haunting question.

Where should Zarqawi be buried?

Zarqawi lived in Jordan. He was also sentenced to death in absentia by Jordan for his role in planning terror attacks that shook the capitol city Amman. Many members of Zarqawi's family still call Jordan home and it was there that, in accordance with Muslim tradition, family members mourned the loss of their loved one. Paying a condolence call is another Islamic tradition.

Several members of Jordan's parliament, representatives of The Islamic Action Front, paid a condolence call to Zarqawi's family in Jordan, their countryman. In paying their respects to the family of the man targeted and killed by the United States Air Force these members of Parliament, members of the government who had sentenced him to death in absentia, remembered him fondly, they recalled his heroic deeds, they praised his life. They called the deceased terrorist a "martyr."

The Jordanian parliamentarians were censured for their actions. There was a public call for their party to be expelled from politics and ousted from the political process, they were even detained and interrogated. Everything that Zarqawi stood for, his actions, his ideals, his values and ideology, his every breath, was antithetical to all that the Hashemite Kingdom's values.

No lesson was learned from the antics of the parliamentarians. The Zarqawi issue has not yet been put to rest. Zarqawi supporters want the devil to be remembered - if not as a martyr, then at least as a saint.

The brother of Zarqawi, a resident of Jordan, has made public a request to have the body of his brother - which was still under the control of the United States Armed Forces - brought to Jordan. The claim is that if the body were transferred to Jordan the Zarqawi family would be able to pay the proper respect to their fallen family member. They would be able to properly mourn Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

The United States military and the current Iraqi government are saying No Way to the request. Jordan has not yet commented, but I am certain that they would echo the United States and Iraq and are wisely removing themselves from the fray for the moment to minimize the validity and legitimacy of the request.

Where is the body right now? After the Americans killed Zarqawi they removed his body from the building in which he was found and took it to a medical examiner for DNA confirmation. That probably took place in Iraq. The Iraqi National Security adviser, Mouwafek al Roubai, is quoted by AP as saying that Zarqawi was buried in a "undisclosed location." He says that the body was buried according to Muslim custom. A US spokesperson has confirmed that Zarqawi has been buried.

Who cares where Zarqawi is buried? We should all - Muslim Fundamentalists and lovers of freedom and democracy - care. What one group fears the other covets. The obvious concern is that the grave of Zarqawi will become a center for terrorist ideals and a focal point for galvanizing hate. The fear is that the gravesite of Abu Musab al Zarqawi will become a monument for evil. A monument to monster Zarqawi may yet be erected, but the United States, Iraq and Jordan need not assist the architects of the edifice.

Even Osama bin Laden, through the release of his latest tape, has reached out from his own netherworld and added his voice to the discussion on Zarqawi's last resting place and his place in Muslim history and lore. The tape pays tribute to Zarqawi, the tape proclaims him a hero.

Bin Laden and Zarqawi were not friends. The tape extolling Zarqawi is nothing more than a prop. It allows bin Laden the opportunity to portray himself as a great international Muslim leader, one who pays respect to the dead and appeals to the enemy - George Bush - in the name of honor for the dead and in order to console the family of an Islamic fighter. On the tape bin Laden beseeches the president of the United States to allow the body to be brought to Zarqawi's family in Jordan.

The tape shows that despite the rumor about their disagreements, in death, bin Laden respects Zarqawi as a true Jihadi, a true fighter for Islam. The tape was released in order to show the Muslim world that Osama bin Laden is not just a great fighter for Islam but a true diplomat for Muslim causes.

In Islam, respect for the dead, proper burial and condolences are major dimensions of the final life cycle event. It is in death and in burial that Muslims are careful, cautious and punctilious. That is the only way to insure that the body will properly pass on and enter heaven.

And that is why Muslim suicide bombers are so baffling. It is expressly forbidden by Islam to commit suicide or to kill innocents. And yet, Zarqawi and other terrorist leaders and organizers routinely and without conscience send out bombers for the sole and exact purpose of perpetrating suicide attacks that kill innocents. And then, then those suicide bombers are praised within their Muslim communities and heralded as Muslim martyrs.

Muslims like Zarqawi sacrificed their place in the kingdom of heaven long ago.

Saddam's Wife is Guest of the King
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 3, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Iraq's new Most Wanted List includes two very interesting personalities: Sajida Khairallah Tulfa, the wife of Saddam Hussein and Saddam's oldest daughter Raghdad.

Tulfa and Raghdad and her daughter are now living in Jordan as official guests of the King.
The Hashemite Kingdom did not take kindly to seeing the names of their guests announced on the List.
The Jordanian prime minister responded to the announcement by saying:
"Raghad Saddam Hussein and her children are in Jordan for purely humanitarian reasons, hosted and protected by the Hashemite (Jordanian Royal Family) as foreigners."

Being a guest of the King of Jordan implies that you are untouchable-Unless!
Unless it is discovered that you have abused the King's gracious hospitality.
Unless it becomes clear that you sponsored activities that undermine Iraq's stability and/or Jordan's stability.
Unless you have behaved in a manner that would be considered seditious and treasonous.

If mother and daughter have crossed the line they can expect to be punished in ways that the Western mind can not even imagine.

Iraq PM Fight Terror
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 2, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

"I would like to stress that if we fail in the battle against terrorism, there will be no Iraq left."
Those are the words of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

Maliki always knew that the threat of terror was potentially dangerous and he knew that the threat came from within.
But it was not until now that he took the bold step of appealing to the average Iraqi citizen and saying to everycitizen: we need your help in this battle and without your help we will be left with anarchy and lawlessness.

By empowering the average citizen, Maliki takes the power away from the terrorists who count on people to cower in fear of their actions.
Now Maliki must maintain his tone and direction and continue his appeal to the citizens of Iraq to unite against lawlessness.

Maliki is a Shiite in a country composed of a Shiite majority.
Last week a significant Sunni religious leader also sent out an appeal for calm and lawfulness.

If Iraqi leadership keeps up this message Iraq will have a real chance of ousting the terrorists.

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