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Status Quo Not Civil War
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 1, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

68 dead in yesterday's rash of coordinated terror in Iraq.
48 killed in inter-group conflicts in Baghdad.
Most of the attacks were on Shiites - in Shiite centers, in Shiite communities even in a Shiite medical clinic.

What's behind this spate of violence in Iraq?
The internal struggle between Shiites and Sunnis.

Sunnis believe the Shiites are operating death squads so they are striking out.
Shiites believe that the Sunnis are attacking their holy sites and that they are trying to intimidate the masses and influence the political landscape in order to improve their standing. Shiites are afraid to go to their mosques out of fear that the mosque will be attacked.

These tensions have existed for hundreds of years. They will not disappear with the passing of a magic wand.
They are only front and center and brought to our attention now because now is when the United States is in Iraq.
If the United States were not in Iraq now the Western world would neither know nor care that Muslims are killing Muslims.

There are great tensions in Iraq between sects - but it is not a civil war.
It is the status quo.

The Good Graces of China
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 31, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The only way to neutralize the Iranian nuclear crisis is to go through the good graces of China. China, that's right, China.

Early yesterday Li Zhaoxing the Chinese foreign minister released a statement announcing a meeting between himself and Abbas Araghchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister.
The subject under discussion was - no surprise, the nuclear crisis.
Now see if you find the official Chinese announcement summing up the meeting surprising.
"Both sides exchanged views on developments in the Iran nuclear issue and stressed that it should be appropriately resolved through diplomatic negotiations."

Once again, the Chinese are telling us that there will be no sanctions taken against Iran in the UN Security Council.
Once again, the Chinese are telling us that they will use their automatic veto if sanctions are suggested.
This time, are we listening?

Where Was The Rage?
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 30, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Something has been bothering me ever since the two Fox News journalists were kidnapped. Now that they are free, I will speak my mind.

Where was the rage?
Where was the outcry?
Where was the public pressure to save the lives of colleagues?
Certainly, there were behind-closed-doors negotiations, but other than covering the "event", the media by and large kept silent. I spoke of the kidnapping at almost every media opportunity. I felt as if I was a lone voice.

There comes a time when a person has to take a stand against evil. This was that moment for every journalist.

I used to frequent the very place where the kidnapping occurred. Many journalists have. I went assuming that I was safe because I was a journalist, because my absence would be noticed, because the militant powers-that-be would not want to pick a fight with the greater Western media.

Unfortunately, the evidence proves otherwise.

Jittery Airline Travel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 29, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

What good does it do for air travel if the stricter, more precautionary, anti-terror measures implemented on some flights are not implemented on all flights?

There have been a series of serious terror scares in the air ever since the plan to explode 10 trans-Atlantic flights was uncovered and thwarted.
People - crews and passengers alike - are jittery.

A Northwestern flight from Minnesota to Amsterdam to India was turned back over Germany because of an unruly family.
Turns out they were only rude, not a serious threat.

A flight from London to DC was forced down in an emergency landing at Boston's Logan airport because a woman on board had Vaseline, matches and a screwdriver - all contraband items since the London scare.
How did she get on a trans-Atlantic plane with so many illegal items so soon after a threat to hijack 10 trans-Atlantic planes?
She boarded the plane in Abu Dhabi.
Sadly, the new boarding restrictions do not apply in Abu Dhabi.
Turns out the female passenger was only claustrophobic, not a serious threat.

BUT, she could just have easily boarded with a bomb in Abu Dhabi, disembarked in London and let the plane continue onto to DC.
Think about it.

By Micah Halpern

Monday August 28, 2006


There is a saying that goes: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
That saying has come to life. Who's the fool? We are, that conglomeration of enlightened all-powerful nations known as the West. Who is shaming us? Iran, that Middle Eastern country with serious nuclear aspirations.

Once again, the West is playing right into the hands of Iran. Once again, we don't even realize it. Once again, we are giving Iran the tools they need to laugh in our faces. Why are we turning ourselves into such fools? Because we just do not understand Iran. On the flip side, Iran understands us perfectly. Iran knows what makes the West tick. Iran knows what motivates large Western countries like the United States and England. Iran knows how to play us all, especially and including the United Nations Security Council. And Iran knows how to motivate and unite their own world, the Muslim world.

Iran just tested a Sub-to-Surface high speed missile. The missile is launched from underwater and targets both ships at sea and sites on land. In the Iranian test the missile hit a target at sea located just several miles away from the submarine launch. Thump. Bang. Boom. Splash. A perfect hit.

Did Iran do anything wrong? Not according to their interpretation of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaties. Iran signed the Treaties in good faith and now they claim that they are well within their rights to develop nuclear energy. You see, Iran understood the fine print. Iran knew that by signing on the dotted line they allowed themselves free reign to develop and test. They knew that the wise choice was to sign the Treaties.

Rather than trying to outwit Iran, the West attempts to intimidate Iran into compliance. But Iran cannot be intimidated and all our failed attempts to pressure Iran serve only to embolden the Iranian powers that be. Rather than cowering in the face of the displeasure of the Western world the Iranians turn our empty threats into rhetorical tools that unite Muslims around the world. Our threats become Iran's rallying cry. Western impotence is Iranian strength.

On the issue of the United Nations Security Council and the Nuclear Proliferation Treaties Iran knows that they need not totally comply. The big boys are in their pocket. And the big boys, in this case, are not the United States and England.

Iran carefully and specifically chose the date on which they responded to the deadline imposed on them by the UN at the instigation of the West. As far the Arab world is concerned, the move was brilliant. The date was August 22nd, a date with special historical significance in the Koran, a date of eschatological importance in Islam. The day when the night sky will be lit, the day that Mohammed embarked on his night flight to Heaven.

Iran responded with a counter proposal knowing full well that their response would cause a split in the Security Council. Iran knew that the United States and England would not be moved by their maneuver. More importantly, Iran also knew that China and Russia would take their proposal seriously - and that is all that mattered.

China is in no hurry to place sanctions on Iran, neither is Russia. China is Iran's largest and most significant client. China needs Iran's energy exports and will do nothing that hints at jeopardizing their life line with Iran. It is highly unlikely that any significant act of reprisal or reprimand towards Iran will emerge out of the Security Council until China wants it to happen. And it's about time the Western world understood the power that China wields.

And when China does determine that, for whatever internal reason, it is time to get tough with Iran, China will communicate directly with Iran. They have no need for a middle man, even if the middle man of choice is the venerable United Nations. And it's about time the Western world understood not only Iran, but also China. The only way to intimidate Iran is to convince China to intimidate Iran. The Western world needs to stop thinking about ways to get at Iran and figure out a way to get through to China.

Time is running out.

The Western world needs to adopt a new strategy. When Iran claims the right to develop a nuclear program, the West should affirm that right. It's a moot point. Poor thinking, bad policy and powerless international bodies have already allowed Iran's nuclear program to be developed. What is important now is for the West to insist on nuclear supervision. International Nuclear Supervision is the key not nuclear development. Supervision is a significant dimension of the Treaties. If Iran wants part one - development, it requires them to also have part two - supervision.

The newly tested high speed Sub-to-Surface missile is only a part of the Iranian arsenal. It is just one of the many new weapons that Iran is developing and that, if armed with the proper warheads, will have nuclear potential. The biggest worry in the Iranian arsenal is the Shahab-3 missile. Shahab means "shooting star" in Farsi. The Shahab-3 is a new version of an old design. This version has a range of 1200 miles. It could easily hit Israel. It can be equipped with a nuclear or chemical or biological warhead. It runs on "solid fuel" and not liquid fuel which makes it a far more accurate missile than its predecessors in hitting long range targets. And Iran claims it has another missile that cannot be detected by radar.

Iran is entering a new stage of nuclear development. They are becoming ever more proficient. The West is becoming even more powerless. Shame on us.

Kidnap Count
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 27, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Let's go over the Kidnap Count:
3 Israeli soldiers and 2 Fox News journalists kidnapped by terrorists.
3 are being held in Gaza and 2 are being held in Lebanon.
3 are held by Palestinians and 2 by Hezbollah.

Several things should be made very clear:
1- the best way to get the captives is to discover where they are and launch a raid to free them
2- the controlling power - the people who pull the strings, are often far away and always more powerful than the local captors
3- the flood gates could be opening to far more kidnappings

Neither Hezbollah nor Hamas have reason to diffuse the situation. Actually, they think that the taking of the captives works on their behalf.
That is a serious miscalculation.
As things get worse on "the street" in Gaza and in Southern Lebanon, local Arabs will blame Hezbollah and Hamas and point to the kidnappings as the cause of their worsening situations.
Hezbollah and Hamas will lose their advantage on "the street."

The pendulum has begun to swing.
There is unrest in Gaza, there will soon be unrest in Southern Lebanon.
The hostages need to be retrieved before Hezbollah and Hamas lose control.

From War To War
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 26, 2006

I"ve Been Thinking:

From War to War.
One war is over, another is approaching.

That's Israel's world view for right now. It's the only attitude Israel can adopt, given their situation, their facts on the ground. The threats. Hezbollah. Iran.

Just before Israel launched into the War in Southern Lebanon against Hezbollah the Israeli Military Chief of Staff appointed a "campaign manager."

It's the Israeli military equivalent of an overall conductor or orchestra leader.

The person tapped for the position is Eliezer Shekedy, the current head of the air-force.

His job is to manage all future campaigns against countries that do not border Israel. Simply put, that means Iran.

His job is to coordinate all Israeli forces necessary for the campaign - intel, land, air and sea.
His job is to work out a serious attack and defense plan.

His job is to assess the real risk, determine how to preemptively strike Iran and think through the possible repercussions.

Politicians decide when and if to strike.
The military must be ready with plans drawn up, waiting in the drawer.

The threat to Israel from Iran is real and present.

No Way UN Sanctions Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 25, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The United Nations Security Council will not apply serious sanctions on Iran.
No way.

Maybe they will censure Iran.
Maybe they will limit Iran's sports and cultural exchanges.
Maybe, possibly, perhaps they will apply travel restrictions on their diplomats. Maybe, but even that is highly unlikely.

The Security Council is split.
One part views this Iranian counter proposal as a sign that Iran is open to diplomacy. The other part wants sanctions now. The split is between the East and West, between China and the United States.

Russia is under great pressure from the US to vote for sanctions, but it is doubtful that Russia will vote against Iran.
China will never vote for sanctions against Iran. China is the largest consumer of energy in the world. China is Iran's biggest client.

The clincher: Both Russia and China have automatic Security Council vetoes.
Think of another solution, sanctions in the Security Council will not succeed.

Assad Does Not Want UN Patrols
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 24, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

President Bashar Assad of Syria went on Dubai TV on Wednesday to explain his thoughts on a UN force monitoring the Syrian border with Lebanon.
He thinks it's a bad idea, a very bad idea.

He said: "First, this means creating hostile conditions between Syria and Lebanon."
What an understatement. There are already hostile conditions and Syria in general has had free reign to be as hostile as it wants. Patrolling and monitoring the border will only give more protection and independence to Lebanon.

He said: "Second, it is a hostile move toward Syria and naturally it will create problems."
That is correct. It will force Syria to let go of Lebanon. To this very day Syria still does not have an embassy in Lebanon. The Syrians view Lebanon as a province, not as an independent state. They think Lebanon is theirs to exploit.

Having a real border can only benefit Lebanon.
Having a real border will force Syria to re-evaluate and re-vamp their relationship with Lebanon.
Having a real border may also prevent Syria from giving missiles to Hezbollah.
In this case, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Now Watch August 23
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 23, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

August 22nd has come and gone.
Thankfully, this day will go down in history for being truly unremarkable.
Why should it have been anything else?
It corresponds to the 27th day of the Arabic month of Rajab, and Iranian President Ahmadinejad has been sending out ominous warnings that this day was coming.

Today is another pretty important date in the Islamic calendar.
This Arabic date dovetails August 22nd into one of the most significant events of Muslim history.
It was on this day that Muslim believers took back their holy city from outsiders, from the Christians. It was on this day, the 28th of Rajab 1187 that the Crusaders fell to Saladin in Jerusalem.

The metaphor is perfect.
NY and DC and LA be on alert. The modern-day Saladin (Ahmadinejad) is coming to free the modern-day Jerusalems (NY, DC, LA) and cast off the modern-day Crusaders (the West).
We've been warned.

Monday Morning Quarterback
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 22, 2006


The conflict between Hezbollah and Israel is over. At least on paper and in the corridors of the United Nations it's over. Now comes the next step in the process - the analysis, the Monday morning quarterbacking, the lessons learned.

So how will The Battle Between Israel and Hezbollah play out in history books and military manuals? What lessons have the interested parties in this conflict learned? What plans do those people who proudly claim that Hezbollah was the clear and obvious victor in this battle have for future interactions with Israel?

Bashar Assad, the ruler of Syria, learned an important lesson from this conflict and now sees things very clearly. Because of the success that Hezbollah had against Israel, the Syrians will now establish their own set of guerilla forces to fight against Israel. Assad's stated purpose in creating this new guerilla fighting unit is to free the Sheba from Israel. Sheba is a 200 square yard swath of land. Assad says that he is taking a page out of the play book of the pros, he says that Hezbollah was so overwhelmingly successful in the method of guerilla war against Israel that Syria will employ the same methods.

Count on it, Bashar Assad is a man of his word.

Hamas has drawn several important lessons from Hezbollah. Hamas has said that they will fight like Hezbollah. Hamas says that Hezbollah was successful in their battle against the infidel Israelis because of the blessing of Allah. They are convinced that the Israeli army was defeated because it is filled with homosexuals, because their soldiers are corrupt and because their fighting methods are old fashioned.

There is no point in disputing ideology or prejudice. Let us concentrate on the essential point in this analysis by Hamas. The essential descriptive evaluation here is related to Hamas' perception that the Israeli style of fighting is just plain old fashioned. Hamas truly believes that today's wars are not won with computers and laser-guided smart bombs. Hamas believes that the way to fight a modern-day war is with myriad labyrinth underground tunnels and a civilian communal backdrop that hides and protects your fighters. Truly.

The al Aksa Brigades leadership says that the most important lesson they have learned from this conflict is the lesson of the Katyusha missiles. This group, a branch of Fatah, is a highly developed terrorist force operating in the West Bank. Now they are entertaining the idea of shooting missiles right into the center of Israel from their home turf on the West Bank.

The al Aksa Brigades is learning lessons and cribbing not only from Hezbollah, but from their nemesis Hamas. Just the way Qassam rockets are shot from Gaza into Israel on a daily basis, the plan that the al Aksa Brigades has formulated is to open another front, assaulting the West Bank with a daily barrage of Katyusha missiles. The al Aksa Brigades clearly understands that rockets being shot from the West Bank cities of Jenin and Ramallah would paralyze the very sensitive under belly of Israel. They know that those Katyushas would land in clear range of the vast majority of the Israeli public and Israel's major cities. All that is left is for them to take the plan off paper and put it into action.

The Palestinians have learned the lesson of just how terrorizing rockets can be. Even rockets that do not fly straight. Even rudimentary rockets that just go up and come down. Rockets, rockets, rockets, as long as they are rockets they will terrorize.

If The Palestinians wanted to do to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem what Hezbollah did to Haifa and the Galilee they would use their home made rockets. Fall where they may, the people of Israel would be terrorized.

Now, what about countries not so convinced that Hezbollah was the clear victor in this conflict? What lessons have those countries learned?

Nothing really. Nothing that will alter the way in which the Western world approaches the prospect of terror and future conflicts in the Middle East.

We can sum up what the West has learned by a comment made by Condi Rice. The secretary of state of the most powerful nation in the West said: "If Hezbollah resists international community demands to disarm one would have to assume that there will be others who are willing to call Hezbollah what we are willing to call it, which is a terrorist organization."

Hardly a scary prospect. Hardly a deterrent for countries that outwardly support and promote terror. Hardly a lesson learned.

Syria, Hamas, the al Aksa Brigades, the Palestinians - they might be perfecting their techniques, but they are not changing their attitudes. What I find more disturbing, even scarier, than the lessons learned by the Arab world is the lack of lessons learned by the Western world.

What a shame. What a missed educational opportunity.

Syria Is Upset
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 21, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Syria boycotted Sunday's Arab League meeting in Cairo.

Syria is upset - very upset because senior Arab leadership chose to be at best silent, at worst critical, even after Syria expressly asked them to come out in support of Hezbollah's conflict with Israel.

From the outset of the conflict there has been serious criticism from Sunni leaders directed at Hezbollah and those who supported Hezbollah i.e. Syria and Iran.

Recently major US news agencies including The New York Times said that those early critics retracted their critical comments.
However, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal not once but twice called the Hezbollah attack on Israel "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible."
Who showed supported for the Saudi statement?
Egypt. Jordan. Kuwait. Iraq. The United Arab Emirates. Bahrain.

Arab unity is a myth.
Support for Hezbollah is minimal.
No doubt about it.

Hezbollah & PR
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 20, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Hezbollah is doling out cash - wads, bunches and bundles of cash.
Hezbollah is doling out $12,000 US for each house that was destroyed.
Hezbollah estimates that 15,000 homes were destroyed in the conflict.
$200, 000, 000, that's right, two hundred million US dollars.

The monies are coming from Iran.

The good will and the political gains this gesture buys far surpasses the monetary value.

Hezbollah is now seen as The Great Savior, not only in Lebanon but throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

We all knew that Hezbollah planned to claim victory and aid in the rebuilding. But nobody planned a counter offensive.
Nobody thought to plan for a way to counter a proud and renowned terrorist organization that is gaining in popularity across the world.

Hezbollah had a PR plan.
Where are the strategists who should have planned a media counter attack against Hezbollah?

Shame on you, Israel. Shame on you, the West.

Hollywood Supports Israel
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 19, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

The actor Adam Sandler has just donated $100,000 and 400 play stations to help Israeli kids whose lives have been marred by Hezbollah this summer.
Sandler is only one of many Hollywood figures to come out in support of Israel.
Almost 100 Hollywood biggees have signed a letter in support of Israel.

Sylvester Stallone ... James Woods ... Bruce Willis ... Nicole Kidman ... Michael Douglas ... they're not even all Jewish.

So what's the big deal?

Historically, Hollywood, especially Jewish Hollywood, has been critical of Israel. Rather than supporting Israel the big names have taken out ads and written editorials criticizing Israel.

So how do you explain what is going on now?

Hezbollah is seen across America as a terror organization.

Just about every American believes that Hezbollah started this crisis by crossing the Lebanese border into Israel and capturing two Israeli soldiers.

Even Arab countries have criticized Hezbollah.
Most importantly, Israel vs Hezbollah is a cross-party issue.
This is not a case of Republican policy vs Democratic ideals.

And Hollywood is rallying to the cause.

They Will Not Disarm
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 18, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The Lebanese Army will soon be taking up positions in Southern Lebanon.
Supposedly, officially, they will be there to keep Hezbollah from re-arming and to take away any weapons that Hezbollah might already have.

Here is the problem:
The Lebanese army has already gotten their orders and those orders have nothing to do with policing Hezbollah.
Lebanese leaders have instructed the army to defend their nation, i.e., they are to fight Israel.
Nasrallah has publicly instructed the army not to take any weapons from anyone and not to even touch any caches of weapons they might find.
And the Lebanese cabinet has said: "There will be no confrontation with our brothers."

What does that mean:
It means that in the near future, inevitably, there will be a series of clashes.
It means that there will be clashes between UN forces, the Lebanese army, Hezbollah and even Israel.
It means that the United Nations will be forced to take their role seriously.
It means that the Lebanese army will be stuck in the middle - they are weak and, once again, Hezbollah will be exploiting them.

Welcome back to square one.

Iran Claims Hezbollah Won
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 17, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

For the Western world, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
For the Arab and Moslem world, truth is in the eye of the believer.

In the eyes of Shiites - especially Iran, Hezbollah won the conflict with Israel.
Hezbollah won because they are still standing.
Hezbollah won because some of the battles with Israel took hours and even days.

There is no way of better showing the relationship between Iran and Hezbollah than by quoting the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.
In an interview with Al Manar, Hezbollah TV, Khamenei praised Hezbollah and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
He said: "Your unprecedented holy war and steadfastness are beyond the limits of my description. It's a divine victory. It is a victory of Islam."

Lowest estimates say that Hezbollah had 1500 fighters.
That means that a small cadre of Hezbollah fighters held their own against the great Israeli Army.
When you look at it that way, when that is the only way you look at it, it is a victory.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 16, 2006


Islamic terrorists perpetrate evil acts in order to achieve a better future for themselves and for their religious brethren. Islamic terrorists perpetrate evil acts in order to remind themselves and their religious brethren of ancient glories and historical conquests or of military and religious injustices. For Islamic terrorists, today is the conduit necessary to remember yesterday and plan for tomorrow.

For Islamic terrorists it really is back to the future.

Almost every act of terror carried out today by Islamic radicals, whether al Qaeda or Iranian-bred, is a variation on an earlier terror theme and is done in order to recall a previous memory or historical event. Little to almost nothing is original from planning stages to final stages, from making threats to carrying them out.

Look at the latest and what would certainly have been the greatest act of terror in our time. The planned attempt to hijack and blow up ten airliners originating in London and flying to destinations in the United States as they crossed the Atlantic is mind-blowing. The use of liquid explosives carried onto the plane in Gatorade sports bottles is terrorist genius. But none of it is original. The plans come directly out of the al Qaeda training manual, the CD set that al Qaeda uses to plan and execute attacks.

Al Qaeda took a tried and tested plan, tweaked it and put it into action a second time. In the 1990's al Qaeda had a plan to hijack twelve trans-Pacific airliners and blow them up using liquid explosives carried onto the planes in contact lens solution bottles. Details of the plan emerged and became public during the trial of Ramzi Yousef, one of the terrorists dispatched on this suicide mission by Khaled Sheik Mohamed. Then it was twelve, now it was ten. Then it was trans-Pacific, now it was trans-Atlantic. Then it was lens solution, now it was Gatorade. Then it was a liquid solution, now it was a peroxide based solution. The variances are slight, the similarities are glaring.

Al Qaeda chose an explosive already proven successful, refined it, and sent it on board. This wasn't the first attempted use of peroxide based explosives. The explosives used in the London tube bombings, the bombings now known simply as 7-7, were very, very similar to the explosives intended for use now.

But the real significance of the London terror plot was the timing.

This attack was scheduled to fall into the divide between 7-7 and 9-11. Recognizing and accepting that fact is essential. Failure to appreciate the intrinsic significance al Qaeda attached to the date of this attack is a failure to understand al Qaeda.

In the world of radical Islam past events add significant weight to any contemporary attack. Modern attacks are programmed to resonate with history and reverberate with meaning beyond the present. Modern attacks are a tool used to force the collective Muslim community to recall an entire historical episode.

In Islam today, history is not simply a recollection of the past. Historical identity is the core of modern Muslim identity.

And it is not only ancient history that resonates but also the events of the recent past, the victories and the defeats of recent history.

In the course of the crisis now going on between Hezbollah and Israel, there were many Israeli air strikes over towns, villages and communities. Of the many destroyed communities, Hezbollah chose to exaggerate the death and destruction in Qana over the destruction in any other community. Why Qana? Because Qana has recent historical significance and Hezbollah seized the opportunity to use Qana as an emotional trigger.

Any mention of the name Qana recalls the time in 1996 when Israel hit Qana after Hezbollah launched rockets from a position next to a United Nations encampment. It was ten years ago and the Moslem and Arab world still vividly remembers the strong and swift Israeli response that killed over 100 people. The Qana wound is still very fresh, the wound still bleeds.

In a move that few Westerners understand the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, shouted that August 22 will be the date when all will know. When all will know what? Ahmadinejad was not talking to us, he was talking to his Moslem brothers, through his ranting he was recalling a series of essential concepts and one of the most significant myths in the Koran. He was recalling the midnight ride of the prophet Mohamed who traveled on his winged stead to Heaven and the Furthest Mosque, implicitly understood to be Jerusalem.

In Arabic this story is called the Miraj, in English we use the term similarly. The point is that according to Islamic history the Miraj takes place on the 27 of Rajab 1472. This year, that date corresponds to the 22nd of August. Ahmadinejad is invoking eschatology, the end of days and the time of "the great light in the sky" as Muslims call it. Ahmadinejad is informing the Muslim world that, this year also, an event of significance will happen on that date. Ahmadinejad is explaining that the event will change their very destiny and impact their future. Ahmadinejad is delivering very powerful messages and evoking very powerful images. It is how Muslim leaders use the past to impact the future.

Nothing in the Islamic world exists in a vacuum. Nothing in the Islamic terrorist world can exist in a vacuum. Everything reflects back on a past event, a past battle, a past conflict. It is truly a world that harkens back to the future.

Explosives And Shoes
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 15, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Homeland Security has just come clean, and it is a serious blow to the public's understanding of security.
Homeland Security has just admitted that their x-rays do not pick up explosives in shoes and yet, it is policy to scan all shoes of people boarding planes.

The only way to test for most standard explosives is swabbing and then running the swab through a spectrometer.
The spectrometers used at airports throughout the United States do not detect liquid explosives especially peroxide based explosives - the explosive de jour for al Qaeda.

So should we continue to take off our shoes?
Yes we should.
Airport security should swab our shoes and give a spritz from an aerosol can and use any and all other available detection materials.
Airport security should continue to make certain that there are no liquid explosives in, on or around the bags or the people going on planes.

This is not a game.
Citizens of the United States are willing to wait in long security lines in airports and elsewhere, but only if authorities are actually actively making America safer.

Taking off shoes for no reason - that just smells bad.

It Was Al Qaeda, No Doubt
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 14, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Some people still need more convincing that al Qaeda was behind the terror plot to hijack and blow up 10 planes departing from London.
I have no doubts about it.
The plot was taken directly out of the al Qaeda playbook.

Here is how I know:
In the mid 1990's al Qaeda attempted to put this same plan into action.
Peroxide based liquid bomb explosives have become an al Qaeda signature, they were used in the successful bombing of the London underground and in the attempted London plot and in other al Qaeda operations.
Operatives had no idea of who their colleagues-in-terror were which is an al Qaeda method of operation.
Simultaneous plane bombings is exactly the al Qaeda style.
This was a highly planned and grandiose style of attack, a la al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda goes for the big numbers, and this operation would have resulted in the deaths of about 3,000 innocent people.
This attack was scheduled to fall between two important al Qaeda anniversaries, 7-7 and 9-11.
Large sums of monies and extensive training went into this plan, a sophistication only al Qaeda has.
Co-ordination of this attack came out of Pakistan and a known al Qaeda leader, Rashid Rauf, was involved.

It was an al Qaeda operation.

Terror and Cell Phones
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 13, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

What would you think if you were Law Enforcement in Michigan and found 3 young men from Texas of Arab descent with over a 1000 cell phones in their van?

Michigan police think that these 3 Arabs are a terror risk.
Ohio police arrested 2 young men of Arab descent just days earlier after discovering that they had over 700 cell phones.

Ohio has charged the men with felonies - including money laundering in support of terrorism and soliciting or providing support for acts of terrorism and misdemeanor falsification.
Michigan police believe that their young men were intending to blow up a bridge in the area.

What's the link between cell phones and terror? Why the panic?
The young men all claim that they are going to resell the phones for profit.
But Authorities believe that the phone chips are tools of terror.
Authorities believe these phone chips were intended for use as detonators for bombs and other nefarious acts.
Also the type of cell phone they found, the Trac fones, are untraceable and often used by terrorists.

There is little doubt that there are some very dangerous people out there.
These people are resourceful and we need to be vigilant.
We need to stop potential terrorists before they become perpetrators of terror.

The Terror Threat
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 12, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

The Al Qaeda terror threat: What is really happening?

This terrorist plan was massive, but not original.
This plan comes straight out of the al Qaeda play book.
Al Qaeda actually has a training manual that is a set of 3 CDs

Al Qaeda has been planning to hijack planes to be used as tools of terror dating back to the 1990's (Ramzi Yousef)
The explosives intended for this attack were very similar to the materials used in the 7/7 attack and the thwarted 7/21 plot in London.

The explosives were liquid, peroxide based explosives, the stuff anyone can buy in a local pharmacy.
The expertise comes in destabilizing the materials and then carrying them to the point of attack. It requires a home chemistry lab that looks a lot like something used for home-made hooch, only with serious refrigeration.
Anyone who watches CSI can guess how to detect peroxide based bombs -detection kits include aerosol sprays, swabs and pen scanners. These can easily be used in airports.

It is simple - and now essential - to check all liquids.
We must monitor the extremists Muslim religious sermonizers most particularly in England & France & Belgium. Many terrorists come frequent the same mosques.

Terror In The Air
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 11, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

There is no such thing as a sleeper cell.
Terrorists are always planning, readjusting targets and realigning objectives.
Calling them sleeper cells lulls us, their intended victims, into a false calm.

This latest terror threat should not surprise anyone.
The fact that these terrorists were homegrown should not surprise anyone.
This is definitely an al Qaeda operation.
This is how al Qaeda is now operating - using operatives on home turf.

A plan that included at least 24 people and at least 10 transatlantic airplanes is another example of the advanced, sophisticated war we are fighting.
Liquids are the easiest explosive tool to bring on an airplane.
The new TSA rules regarding liquids are an inconvenience that will better secure our planes.
Drinks are already required to be sampled - even children's drinks - in other highly secure environments.

The best way to prevent terror is to catch the terrorists before they get to the airport as they did in London.
Once they are in the airport, if detected, the terrorists can always go to Plan B.

Israel's Bold Move
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 10, 2006

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday, the Israeli Cabinet decided to extend their mandate in Southern Lebanon.
The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is moving further on in.

Why? It looks like a bad decision. It is a given that this move further into Lebanon will mean the lives of more Israeli soldiers.
Why? Because Israel is looking at the big picture. Israel is weighing the long term against the short term.
Why? Because the international community has been dragging, hesitant to step in and fill the power gap in Lebanon, so Israel is filling that gap.

Fewer Israeli citizens will die in the future because Israeli soldiers will be dying now in the fight for Israel's security and freedom from future Hezbollah attacks.
It is a bold political calculation on Israel's part.

Israel could have finalized their operation in the next few days. But now they are taking the opportunity to further clean up Hezbollah terrorist cells and find and destroy even more weapons.

How long will this Israeli initiative go on?
It's easier to fight a war during summer. Cities. Municipalities, communities must be back on track by September 1st, that's when the school semester begins.
I give it until the end of August.

Media Bias & Propaganda
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

This is a media war.
The media has been involved in wars for a very long time. During WWI the media fabricated atrocity stories. During WWII true life atrocity stories were not believed because of the untruths of the previous War.

For an example, look at Reuters:
Reuters released and has just removed from their files two doctored photo showing the atrocities of the Middle East Conflict. The photos were on the website for media outlets to use. One was a picture of Southern Beirut immediately after Israel had bombed. The other was of an Israeli fighter jet dropping flares but doctored to appear as if it was dropping bombs.

Clear cases of cut and paste, of photo shop and clone programming.
The photographer, Adnan Hajj, was one of the Reuters photographers who photographed the supposed atrocities at Qana. Reuters has suspended him.

Phil Commes, the BBC photo editor, actually said "One man's color balancing is another man's grounds for dismissal."

We the press must be very cautious.
We cannot play into the games of the propagandists.
There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, but facts are facts - they are not open to distortion or fabrication.
War is atrocious enough, it needs no embellishment.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 7, 2006


In the West, especially in the United States, we do not pay enough attention to symbols and to the cultural importance of symbols. We pay attention to status symbols, but we totally ignore cultural symbols.

We live in the world of the bottom line. We have little time and even less patience for nuance. The value of terms and the symbolic value of actions are almost totally lost on our culture. Maybe symbolism is a lost art. Maybe it is a study relegated to university seminars. Maybe, just maybe, it is a major oversight on our parts, a major gap in our knowledge bank, another example of the way in which we think of ourselves - as the most powerful and important people in the world.

Not so in the Middle East.

In Arabic a metaphor is more than a collection of words. It can be a prophecy or a blessing. It can be a curse. In Arab cultures a symbol speaks volumes, only wordlessly. Symbols are ideas, they dictate behaviors, they tell stories. They are lore. They carry religious resonance.

I am a student of history. Imagine my shock when I learned the name of the new and improved Iranian missile that Hezbollah is shooting at Israel, a missile that goes further and causes more damage than any missile that has come before it, a super missile. The Khaibar.

Why has the Hezbollah chosen to name a missile Khaibar? Because Khaibar is not merely a name, Khaibar delivers a message. When the Arab and Muslim worlds hear the word Khaibar a story of mythical proportions is conjured up before them. Israel is familiar with the story.

Khaibar was the name of an ancient town. As the story unfolds in the Koran, it was a town predominantly inhabited by Jews. Mohammed the prophet targeted Jews. He tried to convert them in order to show off the success of his new theophany, his new revelation - that there is but one God and he, Mohammed, is his prophet.

Mohammed gave the Jews of Khaibar the option to leave the town taking with them all their belongings. The Jews declined to leave. Mohammed gave the Jews of Khaibar the option to just leave. Again, the Jews declined. Mohammed massacred the Jews of Khaibar. All of them. The story of Khaibar is the story of Sodom and Gemmorah, only Mohammed style.

The name Khaibar resonates with hatred and the mass murder of Jews.

Every Arab and every Muslim who has read the Koran realizes the true meaning behind this choice of name. Naming a missile Khaibar is a metaphor for the struggle between the Arab world and Israel. It is a metaphor suggesting the ultimate end to this struggle. The Arab world is telling us, the West, that this battle is not about Southern Lebanon, it is about the very destruction of Israel.

We must not miss the symbolic value of this message. The dream of seeing Israel destroyed resonates up and down the streets and alleys and hallways of the Arab and Muslim worlds today.

When does the Arab world band together? Never to offer praise and rejoice because of the good that has happened to them, only to rejoice because bad has happened to someone else. The Arab world gathers together in hatred. They gather because of the United States and because of Israel. The Muslim world is galvanized because of the story line in a movie, the lyrics of a song, because of caricatures in a newspaper. They are moved to action because of perceived insult and evil, principally insults and evils interpreted to be hurled at them by the West.

It is this destructive side of a once great tradition that will be the cause and the downfall of the Muslim world. Rather than rejoicing at the wondrous advances of the modern world, rather than incorporating the scientific and technical wonders available to us today, the Muslim world opts to deprive itself by shutting out all glimpses of modernity. That is not true ancient Muslim tradition. During the Golden Age when Islam was a significant world cultural force Muslims lent and even borrowed ideas in order to enhance their own society.

Today the majority of the Arab world suffers from abject poverty and illiteracy. The energy spent on propagandizing about how evil the West is, how devilish the United States is and how dangerous Israel is would be well spent instead teaching children how to read and write giving the future of the Arab world the chance to one day become scientists and researchers and economists. Today, the greatest brain-drain in the world is out of the Arab world.

Historically, the desire to destroy has been a simple tool used in order to galvanize a society against a common enemy. But history marches on. Societies can make transitions, they can be resuscitated, societies and even religions can make the move forward. Russia did it and while the Russians are still puzzling out their future, it is clear that the new Russia will not be a society of destruction.

Signs and symbols pointing to a future for the Muslim and Arab worlds are negative. I, for one, am not hopeful.

From Russia To Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 7, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Fact: most of the damage that Hezbollah has inflicted on IDF forces in Southern Lebanon has come from anti-tank missiles.

Fact: Hezbollah is using the most modern anti-tank missile there is. This missile has even succeeded in disabling and penetrating the Israeli Merkahva Mark-2 tank which is considered one of the safest tanks in the world.

Fact: the weapon Hezbollah is using is a shoulder mounted RPG, a Rocket Propelled Grenade, the RPG-29.

Fact: the RPG-29 is made in Russia, shipped to Syria and delivered to Hezbollah.

Fact: Russia was insulted when asked if the missile was theirs and demanded to see the remains. After getting the tail fin they said they could not determine if it was theirs without knowing the serial number.

Fact: Russia is to blame for these deaths. Years ago they were warned that their weapons were going to Hezbollah and being used to hurt Israel and the Israeli army. Russia should assume responsibility, pressure should be brought upon them to accept responsibility.

An Ugly Double Standard
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 6, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Fadi Jamma was 60 years old. Samira her older daughter was 33. Sultana the younger daughter was 31. They were killed by rocket fire.

Fadi Jamma, Samira and Sultana were Arabs. They were Bedouins. They lived in al Aramish. Al Aramish is in Israel.
This family was destroyed when a Hezbollah rocket landed in their yard.

Almost no international news agency carried their story - Reuters has one citation. Nothing else, no where else.
Sultana was engaged to be married. Their home was open to Muslims, Christians, Druze and Jews.
Why are the lives and tragic deaths of these three women not newsworthy?

Because it is only interesting when Israel kills innocent people.
Because it is only heart wrenching when Israel kills families.
Because it is only news when Israel is responsible.
Because there is a double standard in the human interest coverage of this war.

Take note - when the dust clears editors and producers should be held accountable for the stories they covered and for the stories they didn't cover.

Saudis Stop Hezbollah Rally
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 5, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Are Muslims becoming more supportive of Hezbollah today, almost three weeks into the war with Israel, than they were at the beginning of the conflict?

Some reports are surfacing saying that the Muslim attitude towards Hezbollah has softened.
But I don't think it is a pervasive attitude.

Here is an example:
Israeli flags are regularly burned at rallies in Muslim countries.
It is condoned, it is accepted, it is de rigueur.
Yesterday in Saudi Arabia, in the predominantly Shiite region of al Qatif, there was a peaceful demonstration.
It was the third protest of its kind.
Yellow Hezbollah flags were waved, pictures of Nasrallah the leader of Hezbollah were raised and, of course, Israeli flags were burned.

And then police broke up the demonstration.
Because support for the Shiite Hezbollah is not deemed appropriate in the Sunni Saudi Kingdom.

Israel Is Winding Down
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 4, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's offensive is winding down.
Another stage will begin in the next few days.

Condi Rice has been making it known that the end is in sight.
She is pressuring the nations of the world to start volunteering the soldiers necessary to create an international force to step in when Israel steps out.

Israel has begun to achieve the goals that were set out at the beginning of the conflict.
Israel is emasculating Hezbollah.
Almost all of Hezbollah's fire power has been reduced.
Most Hezbollah fighters have either been wounded or killed.
Hezbollah will not be permitted to threaten Israel's northern border again.
But until that international force is in place, Israel will not leave.

When the international force is ready and deployed then Israel will withdraw from Lebanon and begin the process of scaling back and mopping.
Israel will hand the region over to a group charged with the responsibility of helping Lebanon keep Hezbollah from re-arming.
That is the agenda of the international force, it is what Israel and the United States want, it is the short term solution.

In the long term ... only time will tell.

Hezbollah's Media War
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 3, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Hezbollah is not only waging a military war against Israel, Hezbollah is waging a media war against Israel.

For Hezbollah the media war has two equally important fronts:
the Western world
the Arab and Muslim world

The stage was set with the Israeli attack on the city of Qana.
Hezbollah rewrote the script turning the awful true-life reality of an air strike into Hezbollywood, an even more devastating display of staged carnage and destruction including close-up shots of already dead children.

For the Western world the staged incident was intended as a vehicle to turn the tide of Western support away from Israel and towards Hezbollah. It was supposed to be a way to apply pressure on the world to stop Israel's assault.

For the Arab and Muslim world it was a horrifying example of the evil of Israel and was intended as a vehicle to unify the Arab and Muslim world, to give them purpose, meaning and direction, to back Hezbollah against Israel, the US and the West.

We must be aware of the multiple levels of the Hezbollah agenda.
To Hezbollah's dismay, Israel is doing well in the media war.
Why? Because Israel has the upper hand on the moral front - and the moral front is something Hezbollah cares nothing about.

Staging Qana?
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 2, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

There is something very rotten going on in Qana.
At first glance it appeared that Israel targeted and hit a residential area because it was an area Hezbollah was using to launch its rockets.
At first glance it appeared that there were many civilian deaths, civilians used by Hezbollah as shields against reprisal attacks.

But on second glance, a different picture is emerging. Over the past few days I have seen more and more convincing argumentation that the atrocity at Qana was a well choreographed media event. It's even being called Hezbollywood.

When you look at all the pictures and their time logs a series of questions emerge. Discrepancies are so blatant that one must question whether the entire event was staged. Yes, Israel hit Qana. But from the video footage we have the building collapsed a full 8 hours after it was hit.

Most intriguing are shots of a medic carrying a child and putting her in an ambulance - and doing it again, 3 hours later. He's wearing a green helmet, next time he isn't. He has glasses, he doesn't. He has on a reflective vest then he doesn't, yes latex gloves, no latex gloves. The victim remains unchanged.

One of the children clearly has rigor mortis. With one hand another medic holds the child up. The child's body is stiff and straight. According to medical experts that kind of rigor happens only 12-24 hours after death. And there is almost no blood, no screams no cries, no survivors. Strange for that to happen when a building collapses.

The more I look, the more questions I ask.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 1, 2006

Because Congress understands.

Wall-to-wall, both sides of the aisle, red and blue alike, Congress understands that the war Israel is waging against Hezbollah is a prelude to their conflict with international terror. And because Congress understands, United States President George Bush is getting as close as you can get to across the board Congressional support for his policy on Israel as it confronts Hezbollah.

Bewildering? Astounding? Because the cabal called the Israeli lobby has gotten to everybody? No, it's none of the above, not when you stop to think about it.

Republicans and Democrats rarely agree on anything. Why would they choose this issue, a completely non-domestic issue, to agree upon? Because both Houses of Congress understand the real issue here. Because both Houses of Congress understand the equation.

In the matter of Israel versus Hezbollah, Israel = The United States of America and Hezbollah = al Qaeda. It's simple. It's true.

Democrats and Republicans know full well that Israel does not deliberately target United Nations posts and kill innocent civilians. They are not happy with the deaths but they understand, they know that Hezbollah is using civilians as human shields. Those casualties are a footnote, a sad and horrible but inevitable footnote of war. Democrats and Republicans know full well that Israel is confronting terror and the regimes that support terror. Israel is doing what the United States would do if the United States did not have to deal with bi-partisan politics. It is easier to get unilateral support from the United States for Israeli strikes against the terrorist enemy than it is to get unilateral support from the United States for United States strikes against the terrorist enemy. It's the political way.

As a matter of fact, there is little doubt that the arguments used by the republican Bush administration in support of Israel's continuing strike against Hezbollah are exactly those arguments that a democratic administration would have used. Some tonal differences perhaps and maybe some stylistic changes, but the same basic script would have been followed. Republican or Democrat, it does not matter.

Congress understands that this conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is a mirror image - smaller but crucial to the survival of the West - of the United States' struggle against terror. Israel is not only fighting a proxy war against Iran and Syria, Israel is fighting a proxy war against al Qaeda.

It is obvious to nearly every United States elected official that Hezbollah is not just some band of hooligans with powerful weapons. They have a strong, even if misplaced, ideology. Hezbollah is an organization that wields tremendous influence in the region and throughout the Muslim world. Hezbollah is a threat not only because of the violence it perpetuates but because of the myths that it perpetuates, myths about Israel and myths about the United States, myths that anger, inflame and scare the greater Muslim world. Myths that portray the West as monsters poised to take over and destroy the Muslim and Arab worlds.

Certainly Hezbollah provides social services for adherents and followers - schools, medical care, childcare facilities and even food. But that's not what Hezbollah is really about. Hezbollah is about the destruction of Israel and the downfall of the West. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization in political clothes. Congress understands. Congress knows that Hezbollah's political attire is akin to the Emperor's new clothes.

Congress has historical memory. And Congress remembers that in the days before al Qaeda, the days when the threat of terror was distant and theoretical Hezbollah was the terror group to be feared. Hezbollah was the terror group responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any other group. Hezbollah perfected the car bomb and Hezbollah perfected the truck bomb. It was Hezbollah who sent out suicide bombers. It was Hezbollah who captured the special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Terry Waite, and held him hostage for years. It was Hezbollah who, between April and October of 1983, murdered over 300 US citizens in Lebanon - 63 people in an April car bomb explosion at the United States Embassy in Beirut and 241 people in October when a truck filled with explosives drove into the US Marines barracks compound. That was Hezbollah terror.

There are very few issues upon which there is overwhelming agreement in Congress. But there is also very little doubt that Israel is properly defending itself against the forces of evil called Hezbollah.

Congress knows that Israel is on the front line of the conflict with terror and understands that the United States has a very steep learning curve ahead.
For the sake of the Western world, Israel must not fail. Congress understands.

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