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Jewish Al Qaeda Californian
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 31, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Once upon a time there was a nice Jewish boy named Adam Pearlman.
Never heard of him, maybe you have heard of him as Adam Gadahn.
Adam Pearlman/Gadahn is the Jewish al Qaeda member.

Adam's first 15 minutes of notoriety began yesterday when he appeared on a new video posted on an al Qaeda website making a series of threats and announcing a long list of demands.
The video was really addressed to President Bush.

The demands were ludicrous, hilarious and threatening - all totally unrealistic.
This is one special demand that struck my fancy:
The US must immediately cease the support of Israel.
The exact quote is: 'the moral, military, economic or otherwise to the bastard state of Israel and ban your citizens ... from traveling to occupied Palestine or settling there."

This new spokesman for al Qaeda is wanted by the FBI.
This is the first time, since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, that a US citizen is to be charged with treason.

We will be hearing more from this turban clad, bearded, Jewish son of California.
Adam Gadahn is the perfect vehicle for al Qaeda.
Adam Gahdahn will be used to broadcast the al Qaeda message to the West and to the Muslim world.
Stay tuned.

Palestinian Premier Fears Death
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 30, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh is worried that Israel might target him.
He is in hiding, emerging only when he is very certain that he is very safe.

His fear is justified.
Israel should try to assassinate Haniyeh.
And Israel should also attempt to topple his Hamas government.

Hamas sponsors the lobbing of Qassam rockets into the Israeli city of Sderot.
Hamas is claiming victory over Israel saying they can fire with impunity.
Hamas refuses to accept the right of Israel to exist
Hamas has declared war on Israel.

If all these things are true - which they are - Israel has the right to self-defense.
The self-defense of Israel includes targeting the leader of their enemy, the leader of the Palestinian government.
Ismail Haniyeh, you have been warned.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 29, 2007


Israeli leadership has finally reached a breaking point.

Israeli masses have finally reached a breaking point.

It has taken too long - much, much too long but finally, Israel has realized that the daily bombardment of the citizens of Sderot, aka the Neglected City of the Negev, is not the status quo.

Israel has finally come to realize that it is neither natural nor acceptable for Qassam rockets to fall on the streets of Sderot - first frightening, then injuring and now killing the citizens of this impoverished city. For years, literally years, Qassams fell, citizens ran for shelter, damage was assessed and life went on. But then the bombing intensified, citizens attempted to run not into shelters but out of the city, the damage was no longer limited to property and life could not go on. And that is when it all clicked. That is when the reality of the lives of the citizens of Sderot smacked the rest of Israel in the face.

And then Hamas declared victory over Israel.

Proudly, loudly, Hamas laughed at Israel. Hamas described the ease with which they were able to loft rockets into a significant Israeli city. At will. With impunity.
And Israel realized that Hamas was correct. Until pushed to the edge, Israel empowered Hamas. Until pushed to the edge, Israel ignored, demeaned and derided Sderot.

How could it happen? Not how could Hamas attack an Israeli city. But how and why did greater Israel allow itself to not only accept but also embrace through neglect the fact that one of their cities would be under regular attack by the enemy, by tens of rockets every day. The answer brings shame upon the people of Israel.

In the eyes of most of Israel, the city of Sderot, the hometown even of the Israeli defense minister, was irrelevant.

Another reality brought forth by the bombardment of Sderot is that until now, right now, the masses of Israel saw Sderot and the inhabitants of Sderot as less than second class citizens. They were citizens no one cared much about. They were poor. They were immigrant. They are North Africans or they are from the former Soviet Republics. They do not matter.

The masses of Israel thought of the people of Sderot as expendable. Not even worth the effort or the loss of time.

And certainly not worth the lives of the soldiers who would be sacrificed if Israel entered Gaza in order to change the status quo and make life more bearable in Sderot by stopping the rockets.

And so Israel waited, hoping it would all go away. But rather than go away, the situation intensified. And now, when Israel can do nothing other than enter into Gaza the lives of those soldiers - just like the lives of the residents of Sderot, are at even greater risk.

Yuval Diskin, director of Israel's Shin Bet, the Internal Security Administration, briefed the Israeli Cabinet on the situation awaiting the Israeli army as they now enter Gaza on their quest to put a stop to the Qassams. "They'll be waiting for us with explosive tunnels, snipers, road bombs and anything else they can think of ..." the director said.

But go in they must. According to my own analysis the only way Israel can put an end to this situation is by thinking short term and acting short term.

Short term for the army means in and out. It means target, attack, return home. The only way to stop the bombing is to use an integrated system. Israel must hit Hamas from the air and from the ground. Israel must use Special Ops forces going in and coming out. Israel must be fast. Israel must send in surgical teams to find, hit and capture targets. It is the only way to save the citizens of Sderot. It is the only way to incapacitate Hamas.

Israel must make it clear to Hamas that they are now in charge. That Israel will continue to assault from land and from air until Hamas-lobbed rockets stop falling through the sky and landing inside Israel.

According to Diskin the plan is working. Over the past few days Hamas has begun to be hurt badly by Israeli forces. But Hamas is not an easy enemy to defeat. Hamas is still not on the verge of collapse. The Palestinian people have no faith in Hamas and the Israelis are attacking inside Gaza but Hamas fighters remain highly motivated and well armed. Knocking out Qassam storage, transport and construction facilities will certainly set Hamas back.

Short term for Sderot means looking at the situation week by week. Was this week quieter than last week? How do you measure? Determine if more adults returned home this week than last week. See if more children came home. Check the offices of trauma specialists to determine if they are feeling a dip in volume and intensity.

And then Israel can think about long term solutions. And then Israel and Israelis can put the shame of Sderot to rest.

Lebanon Fighting Again
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 28, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The fighting between the Lebanese army and the terrorist group Fatah al Islam continues.
And the fighting - still localized in a refugee camp near Tripoli-is fierce.
Over the past two weeks the death toll from daily skirmishes has risen way beyond 100.

We already knew that:
Fatah al Islam is sponsored by Syria
Fatah al Islam pledges allegiance to al Qaeda
Fatah al Islam is led by a Palestinian and the group is comprised of Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians

Now we have surprising new information:
4 of the Fatah al Islam fighters killed during these skirmishes have been identified as Saudi fighters

Yesterday the two sides declared a truce - it was almost immediately broken.
No cease fire will ever hold between Palestinians and Lebanese unless everyone, not just splinter groups, is involved
everyone has somewhere else to turn their attention
It will never happen otherwise.

Turkey is in the Balance
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 27, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Sometimes, an Islamic democracy and the modern world can actually coexist.
Sometimes, despite the obvious tensions and serious difficulties, they actually blend and result in a successful, working country.
Take Turkey, for example.

Since April there have been steady protests against the Islamification of Turkey.
Protests have taken place in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Samsun.
Saturday another such protest took place, this time in Denizeli, where thousands of participants took to the streets.

Since the establishment of modern Turkey the country has been secular with Islamic culture.
Until now the army and the government have always been able to keep the Islamic forces in check.
Now the situation is changing, the current prime minister is from an Islamic party and he is trying to ease more Islamic laws into Turkey.

Hopefully the Turks will be able to maintain their precarious balance.
If they fail there will be serious backlash - secular forces will not tolerate too much Islamic encroachment into their lives.

Sunni vs. Sunni
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 26, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

A car bomb exploded at a funeral in Iraq yesterday.
24 mourners were killed.
Al Qaeda was sending a message, al Qaeda was targeting other Sunni Muslims.

Usually, al Qaeda just targets Shiites and Western forces.
The reasons are obvious.
Sunnis are the natural allies of al Qaeda.

So why did this happen? There is a simple answer.
This was the funeral of a 60 year old sheik, Sheik Alaa Zuwaid.
Sheikh Alaa Zuwaid was organizing anti-al Qaeda movements.
The Sheikh began his campaign after his 25 year old son was caught in the crossfire of infighting and killed as he walked down the street last month.
Since then he had been trying to get as many Sunni leaders as he could persuade to stand up and reject al Qaeda.
The al Qaeda response was to murder Sheikh Alaa Zuwaid and to attack his funeral.

Internal tensions are emerging in Iraq.
Significant forces are starting to show disgust with al Qaeda.
That is good, very good.

Elections in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 25, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Syrians are very excited about Sunday's upcoming election.
Bashar Assad is expected to win - it's an uncontested ballot.
When that happens he will become president dictator for another 7 years.

Hundreds of thousands rallied in support of Assad in the streets of Damascus.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians brought in specifically to show support for their leader, who is running unopposed, in non-democratic Syria.
Syria is not unique in the orchestration of this sham, this behavior is actually typical of Middle East dictators.

These rallies are orchestrated to show the world how everyone loves these leaders.
The truth is that these leaders hold on to their power through brute force and oppression.

Assad is an example that proves the rule.
He hangs on by the skin of his teeth and would not still be in power if not for the support of his military - who need him as a figurehead.
He will do anything he must in order to retain his position.
Right now intelligence sources say that Assad is contemplating attacking Israel as a way to strengthen his position both internally and in the greater Arab world.

The situation could change.
Assad could be toppled, he could be killed, his country could be obliterated.
But for now, life will probably go on as usual in Syria.

Arab League Condemns Fatah al Islam
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 24, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The Arab League has just done something it has never done before.
The Arab League has just condemned Fatah al Islam.
Fatah al Islam is the terrorist thug organization now engaged in a mini war with the Lebanese army that has, so far, resulted in the deaths of about 75 people and injuries to well over 100.

The Arab League statement came after a long day of meetings on the topic.
Using unusually strong language the official Arab League statement said that they: "strongly condemned the criminal and terrorist acts carried out by the terrorist group known as Fatah al-Islam." They said: this group "has no relation to the Palestinian question or Islam."

"strongly condemned criminal and terrorist acts."
Those are strong words coming from an organization that rarely does anything to condemn terror.
Those are strong words from an organization that usually defines terrorists as liberators fighting the Zionists.

This is a significant step for the 22 member countries of the Arab League.
Now, if only those 22 member countries would be as critical of these acts within their own countries the world would have a better chance at fighting terror.

Convicting Terrorists At Last
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 23, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Finally, a court has begun to convict terrorists for plotting to attack the US and joining forces with our enemies.

Earlier this week a US District Court in NY convicted Rafiq Sabir, a 52 year old American doctor, of pledging allegiance to al Qaeda.

Sabir, originally recruited by an FBI agent, was convicted not because he went to Afghanistan, but because authorities have him on tape taking an oath to Sheik Osama and al Qaeda.
The other parties in the bundle, the taxi driver and the martial arts expert, plead guilty in a deal.
This case is a big feather in the cap of the US Justice Department.

All three terrorists will do time, but anyone looking at the cases carefully will see how woefully and poorly our legal system is on this level.
None of the players was trained or stepped foot in a terrorist training camp.
None of the players met with any al Qaeda personalities, they met only the FBI. The players were checking out sites for a camp in the US.
The players were checking out possible target sites in the US.

The reality is that this group was not really capable of putting a plan together.
The reality is that this group was definitely the enemy.
The reality is that this time the government got lucky.
The reality is that we cannot rely on luck.

Who Supports & Who Condemns
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 22, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Qassam rockets have become routine for the Israeli residents of Sderot.
A routine nightmare.

Israel is trying to counter the barrage using helicopter gunships to strike at the people launching these portable rockets.
Israel is also countering the barrage by hitting Hamas leaders.

The Israeli response is justified.
The Pope came out with a statement saying that Israel must protect its citizens.
The US came out with a public statement justifying the Israeli counter attack. Sean McCormack, US State Department spokesman, said: "Israel is faced with the difficult challenge countering these continued rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli territory." He continued, "they have a right to defend themselves."

The Arab world has condemned the Israeli response.
Many in the Arab world are demanding international investigation and even prosecution.
Saudi Arabia has demanded that the international community investigate these attacks and then force Israel to accept the Arab peace plan.
Well, what do you know?!

By Micah Halpern

Monday May 21, 2007


For a long time the international community has thought of Lebanon as a wash out, a puppet state, a sorry, unfortunate mess. It's time to take a new look at this small, Arab, Middle-Eastern country. The eyes of the Western world should begin focusing on Lebanon.

The Lebanese Army is now engaged in a serious fight with a new enemy, Fatah al Islam. This group, led by a Palestinian named Shahr al Abassi, came into existence only last year as a break-off from a Syrian-backed Sunni fighting group. Fatah al Islam is composed of Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian fighters. Lebanon's new nemesis was created in the image of al Qaeda, espousing al Qaeda beliefs and pursuing al Qaeda goals.

Fatah al Islam is probably - nay, almost certainly, sponsored by Syria. The ultimate mission of this group is to bring disorder and unrest to Lebanon. The short term goal is to act as a distraction thereby preventing any investigation into the assassination of beloved, anti-Syrian, independent, Lebanese leader Harriri - believed by the Lebanese and the free world to have been brutally murdered by the Syrians.

The fighting is fierce. In one day of battle the death tally was nineteen for Fatah al Islam, thirteen for the Lebanese army, six civilians caught in the crossfire and sixty civilians wounded. This particular battle took place in a refugee camp just outside of Tripoli. Fatah al Islam claims that their group is being targeted unjustifiably by the Lebanese army and that there will be just payment in return for the attacks against them. Turns out that in this case members of the group had robbed a bank and all the army was doing was doing their job and attempting to arrest the culprits.

The emergence of Fatah al Islam in Lebanon and the response of the Lebanese army to fight Fatah al Islam offer us several important insights into the new workings within Lebanon and the new reality of al Qaeda terrorists.

Al Qaeda is in Lebanon.
Al Qaeda today is not the al Qaeda the Western world was first introduced to, an al Qaeda headed by a very active Osama bin Laden. Today, al Qaeda is a very loosely linked structure. New al Qaeda groups all agree with the principles of al Qaeda - they are tutored through the al Qaeda-terrorist-DVD box set, they tune in to al Qaeda websites and receive spiritual support from the network that al Qaeda established and continues to develop. But this new generation of al Qaeda-ists has never been to an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. This new generation is locally trained and sponsored. This is the fresh, new face of al Qaeda, this is al Qaeda as we are seeing it emerge in Lebanon.

The Lebanese Army is at last making a stand for honor, country and control.
The future might be changing for the people of Lebanon. Lebanon has been a country hesitant to act on its own behalf, frustrated and impotent in the face of stronger military and governmental elements. Now, thanks to the support and encouragement of the Germans and the Italians, the Lebanese are actually starting to police Lebanon. The Lebanese are beginning to put an end to the days when Hezbollah and other outside and terrorist groups simply ran roughshod over their country. The border with Syria is still not totally sealed, but Germany and Lebanon are endeavoring to work out a system that will better secure the border. The proof is that the Lebanese army has actually confiscated convoys of weapons - not enough and not all, but more than they ever did before. And, not at all surprisingly, Hezbollah has demanded that their weapons be returned.

Terrorists are actually thieves and thugs.
It is essential to see terrorists for what they truly are - all around bad guys. Terrorists don't only kidnap and bomb, terrorists murder for the thrill of it, they rape because they feel like it, they rob banks. Terrorists use their guns to terrorize locals - in Lebanon and every place else they can be found. Terrorists are not freedom fighters, they are thugs with weapons creating their own wild, wild, West. They use fear and intimidation to get what they want. And what they want is often religious submission, but it is also material goods and cold, hard cash. In this case, in this Lebanese refugee camp, the terrorists truly showed their hand.

Sunni/Shiite conflicts are well-documented but there are also Sunni/Sunni conflicts.
Intra-Sunni conflicts are not about religious orientation and dominance. Intra-Sunni conflicts are about law and order, about politics and power. Fatah al Islam does not want law and order, Fatah al Islam refuses to accept the power of elected politics. Fatah al Islam refuses to accept that the people of Lebanon have spoken and they want law and order and they want an investigation into the Harriri assassination. Fatah al Islam wants and respects only what Fatah al Islam wants.

Syria is still the power and influence behind much of what happens in Lebanon.
And not for the better. The reality is that the Syrian flag waves behind almost all illegal activity and every group within Lebanon that challenges the authority of Lebanon. Fatah al Islam is not the lone exception. Almost every single act of violence within Lebanon is Syrian - sponsored - almost every act. Syria would like nothing more than to destabilize Lebanon and step back into power. Right now that is not happening, but nor for lack of trying on their part.

The enemies of stability are the friends of terror. Lebanon has chosen to fight those enemies. Lebanon needs the support of strong, freedom-loving, friends.

Important Info from the IDF
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 20, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

When the Israeli Army, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), sends out an update from the field it is a sure bet that they have important information to impart.
The reports are very short and to the point.

Last night I received an IDF update:
17 Kassam rockets shot from Gaza fell into Israel on Saturday.
Over the past 4 days 110 rockets were shot and fell in Israel.

The idea is very hard to fathom.
Do the math - Hamas is lobbing an average 27.5 rockets per day into Israel.

Israel has only now begun to respond and even that response is minimal.
The Palestinian rockets are small, launchers are smaller, portable and leave no trace. Within seconds the launchers are up and gone.

Hamas has pledged not to stop until Israel puts a stop to retaliatory aerial raids.
To quote from the movie Cool Hand Luke:
"What we have here is a failure to communicate"

The hard cold reality is that the only response that will stop the rockets is to wipe out Hamas and Israel is not willing to go that route.
At least, not yet.

Israel Needs the US
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 19, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

A new survey of Israeli public opinion has just been released.
71% of Israelis want the United States to strike Iran if diplomacy fails.
59% of Israelis feel that the war in Iraq is justified.

This study was conducted by Bar Ilan University and the ADL (Anti Defamation League).
It shows where Israelis stand on matters involving the United States in the Middle East region.

91% of Israelis said that relations with the United States are an essential component of Israeli security.
65% said that the US is a loyal friend of Israel.

Throughout the past decade Israelis have been looking for support from around the world, especially from the United States.
This survey demonstrates that the trend is continuing.

Israelis feel that the United States is a friend.

Iran is Ready
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 18, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Of course.
Iran is further along the nuclear path than the US and the IAEA thought.
They were very conservative because they were afraid of the potential ramifications.
The Administration understood this, the diplomats did not.

Israel got it right.

What is so surprising about the new reports is that anyone is surprised. Iran has been publicly announcing all along that they are making more and more progress.
The United States and international experts doubted the veracity of Iran's reportage.
Yes, Iran has been exaggerating - but not much.

Never underestimate the other side.
Certainly never underestimate the other side if you are a diplomat dealing with a potentially explosive situation. The US and the IAEA have blown it big time with Iran.

What's In Libya's Future
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 17, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

There are rumor and reports that Libya's Muammar Ghadaffi had a stroke.
The family forcefully denies the report and any notion that Ghadaffi is unwell.

Ghadaffi is not a man who hides from the press.
The state of his health will be determined by how quickly he makes his next public appearance and the shape he is in.
Ghadaffi stands alone in holding his country together.
And so ...
The issue of Ghadafi's health has forced the obvious question.
Who will succeed this Libyan leader?

Ghadaffi has not adequately groomed a successor.
Ghadaffi has 8 children, 7 sons and 1 daughter.
If he becomes incapable of ruling I would anticipate a power sharing situation between his sons Saif al Islam and Mustasim Billah along with his daughter who recently received a flurry of media attention as one of Saddam's lawyers.

If Ghadaffi is ill Libya is in for major change.
Either a revolution or a real police crack down.
Or both.

PA Unity Break Up
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 16, 2007

I'm Predicting:

The Palestinian Authority unity government is bound to collapse.
Given the recent upsurge of violence in the PA there is no alternative.
Even Mubarak of Egypt said that Fatah and Hamas have crossed the red line.

The Mecca Accord was predicated on the idea of an independent third party interior minister responsible for the policing and safety of the Authority.
And now the new minister of the interior has resigned because of the violence, the rampant murder and the injuries inflicted upon bystanders.

He was a compromise appointment in the first place.
He was put in place to create the unity government.
He had no experience.
He created a plan, never-the-less.
He attempted to bring law and order to the streets of Gaza.
He failed.
Because Hamas bolstered their units increasing their numbers on the streets.
Because Hamas wanted him to fail.

And yet, all this week as the PA violence continues, the United States and Jordan have been pushing Israel to talk to the Palestinians.
Seriously now, with whom should Israel be talking?

Terror: New Lessons Learned
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 15, 2007


The arrest and capture of the terrorist cell in New Jersey was a shock to many people. More significantly, it was a learning experience for most of America.

Most Americans were taken by surprise. A terrorist cell blithely operating in Southern New Jersey, only a stone's throw away from the great New York City and even closer to Philadelphia, was inconceivable, unfathomable and very, very scary.
Lesson # 1: There are American-Muslim extremists who want to destroy democracy and everything democratic values stand for.

And they were shocked by the realization that not all Muslim terrorists hail from the Middle East, that in fact some of the men arrested in New Jersey were European.
Lesson # 2: Muslim terrorists really do come in all shapes, sizes, colors and sexes and it is a serious and potentially dangerous mistake to assume that one region produces all terrorists.

And then they were struck by a combination of outrage and disbelief to learn that these people, undeniable terrorists, were only charged with the crime of conspiracy to murder United States servicemen.
Lesson # 3: The United States legal system is not set-up to handle acts of terror, still not, still not over five years since 9-11-2001.

Western countries in general, the United States very specifically, are nearly powerless to defend themselves against terror because laws are not yet properly in place to adequately deal with terrorists.

The United States still looks at terror like any other crime and that is a serious mistake. And because the United States looks at terror like any other crime it makes it almost impossible to crack down on terrorists. And because it is almost impossible to crack down on terrorists the rate of convictions for terrorists in the United States is abysmally low and punishments for the handful of terrorists actually convicted in the US rarely go over five years incarceration.
Lesson # 4: The United States must lower the bar in order to appropriately convict terrorists of the crimes they are perpetrating.

I'm not advocating an eye for an eye, I am saying to US lawmakers create a RICO act for terror.

I'm saying allow for easier convictions and relax the standards on collecting information.

I'm saying that these six men have been charged with crimes that do not carry much jail time and I am saying that America will once again be astounded when the case comes to trial because these six men will probably not serve any time at all even if they are convicted.

The key informant in this case was actually the leader of the group. He is the person who clearly admits to having experience in weapons, the person teaching the other terrorists to be terrorists. He is the person with the plan and most importantly, he is the person that everyone else wants to please. That, fellow Americans, is entrapment.

Entrapment is best defined as being induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that one had no previous intent to commit. If the leader was the informant, and every indication so far leads us to assume that he was, the Federal government will have a very difficult time convicting any of these men of anything, certainly of anything substantial.

These men were out to destroy our democracy. Our democracy, in its present legal state, might set them free.
Lesson # 5: Sometimes, even the best of democracies must be modified to meet changing world events.

Iran Says Farewell to Blair
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 14, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Historians and ideologues will argue about the subject for years.
Doctoral dissertations will be written.
It is certainly the end of an era.
Tony Blair is stepping down, leaving office, shrugging off the mantle of leadership.

Was the world a better place with Blair in a leadership role?
England, the United States and the West will reserve judgment for a long while.
Iran has already taken their stand, Iranian sentiments are clear.
Iran is anti-Blair.

Officially, Iran welcomed Blair's exit and expressed hope for better interaction with the new UK leadership - if they change policy.
Of course Iran would like nothing more than for the UK and the entire world to change policy and conform to Iran's own warped perspective of the world.
But that will not happen.
England may reduce troops in Iraq but England will not, under any leadership, look kindly on a nuclear Iran.

Dream on, Iran.

Assad's Preconditions for Peace
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 13, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

President Bashar Assad of Syria addressed his new and powerless parliament this past Thursday on the prospects of peace with Israel.

Assad had several points to make. This is what he said:
Point # 1: "Syria has not presented any preconditions for the peace process, but we do have demands."
Point # 2: "The land is a basic principle for us, and we will never relinquish it."
Point # 3: "The Golan Heights region is not open to negotiation."
Point # 4: "We are working toward a just and comprehensive peace."
Point # 5: "Israel is incapable of conducting comprehensive and just negotiations because its government is too weak to take the necessary steps."
That has become a perennial favorite of the president.

What Assad is really saying is that he has a basic precondition for peace.
What Assad is really saying is: Return the Golan Heights and then we can talk.

The reality is that Syria has no interest in peace.
Syria has an interest in being brought out of the "diplomatic cold."
Syria will say and sign anything in order to bring that about.
Syria cannot be trusted.

The Muslims of Michigan
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 12, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The Muslims of Michigan have recently signed an agreement to set aside the centuries old dispute between Shiites and Sunnis.

After some recent violence the leaders have decided to put aside differences and unite by creating a treaty.
Sounds like a great idea - but it is truly impossible to unite Shiites and Sunnis.

Why is it impossible to unite Shiites and Sunnis?
Because of "takfir" an Islamic term which literally means "excommunication."
The word "takfir" comes from the root "kufr" which means "non-believer."
From there the concept of "takfir" evolves.
A "takfir" results from a situation in which a person or group rejects the principles of their faith.
That is exactly how Shiites perceive the Sunni.
That is exactly how Sunnis perceive the Shia.
They consider each other to be heretics.

This Michigan Agreement is based on a perception of Muslim unity. It is predicated on the belief that the sides can unite against a common enemy and set aside theological differences. But in reality they cannot. The hostility between Shiites and Sunnis goes too deep and has been there for so very long.

A takfir is a takfir and with a takfir comes persecutions and even deaths.
All that cannot be erased, not even in Michigan.

VIolence in France
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 11, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Most Americans really do not care what happens in France.
But whether Americans care or not, it is important to pay attention to the French now.
France's election results impact not only the French, but on America and the rest of the world.

Nicholad Sarkozy just won the presidential election.
Nicholad Sarkozy is a conservative.
On the streets of France there has been a violent backlash - not with the same intensity as the street violence of a year ago November, but certainly similar.
The first night after the election 292 cars were torched.
The next night 198 cars were torched.

French authorities say that things are calming down.
This is what I say:
Mainstream France is moving to the right - that is good for US and French relations. But there is a small vocal and even violent minority that rejects this move. These loud and violent few are taking it to the streets.

Mainstream France is beginning to understand that the country needs to conform to the standard set by the rest of the West. The violent few still want to frighten the rest of France and that will just backfire.

That is how and why Sarkozy came to be elected.

Sunnis and Shiites United
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 10, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The US Army Spokesperson for Iraq made a fascinating assertion today.
He officially stated that the United States believes that Iran was supporting certain Sunni insurgent groups.
He is right and it is about time the United States understood the situation.

Iran is Shiite.
Sunni insurgents are attacking Iraqi Shiites and Shiite holy places.
Why would Iran give the Sunnis any support?

The answer is Machiavellian.
The answer is: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

The groups that Iran supports are almost unilaterally dedicated to expelling the US from Iraq and the entire region.
It is a goal that most Muslim radicals in the region agree with.
So for the moment, and for the moment only, both sides have decided to put aside theological differences and overlook centuries of tension and unite against a common enemy - the Western non-believer.

Until now, Western logic has missed the greater point and fallen short of understanding the enemy.
The West has been attempting to exploit the differences between Sunnis and Shiites in order to drive a wedge between Muslims.
In truth, the West has unified these Muslim groups.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 8, 2007


Know thine enemy the phrase goes. Good advice, but to borrow from another popular saying, a little easier said than done.

One of the best ways of knowing what an enemy is really thinking, planning and plotting is to listen to what is being said. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the undisputed leader of Hezbollah, recently gave us a glimpse of his thinking, a peek into the mind of this enemy, an opportunity to see the wheels turn, to understand how his decisions are made and how his conclusions are determined. He gave us insight into his analysis and his own world view.

This true enemy of the West and Israel, and of everyone and everything outside his own religious domain regularly speaks to his adherents through the medium of television and radio. Nasrallah is most often seen and heard on Hezbollah stations, but sometimes, when he has an important message intended for greater audiences, he ventures out of home court and finds a larger arena through which to speak his mind.

The round faced cleric with the steely eyes is most often heard delivering sermons. He is a Sheikh and he is a leader and his chosen method of delivery is religiously motivated but with a modern twist. His sermons always, inevitably, deal with political and practical issues. Never are his sermons strictly theological, they are always grounded in the here and now.

I listen very carefully to most of the comments of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. I paid even closer attention to his spoken observations on the occasion of the release of the Winograd Commission, the partial report issued by Israel devoted to an analysis of the process that went into decision making this past summer in their war with Hezbollah. He began by describing to his audience what the Commission was and why it was indeed named the Winograd Report. And then he applied his own logic to the report.

Speaking on Iranian television, in his own, translated, words, Nasrallah said: "Winograd is the Israeli leader appointed chairman of the commission established following the failures of the last war, as the Israelis put it."

He went on: "The commission has determined once and for all the issue of victory and defeat. There are those in Israel who say that they won and those who say they lost. The commission has determined they lost. There are over 100 occurrences of the word defeat in the report. That is the result."

He had more to say on the issue. This time for his forum Nasrallah chose the opening of a book fair in Southern Beirut that was held on a lot that had been leveled by Israel during the summer war. Nasrallah continued his theme.
"I will not gloat," he said. But "it is worthy of respect that an investigative commission appointed by Olmert condemns him."

He was, of course, gloating. And he continued: "The first important outcome of this commission is that it has finally and officially decided the issue of victory and defeat ... This commission spoke about a very big defeat."

The Sheikh then teased Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz, the man who had dared to taunt Hassan Nasrallah during the first week of the war saying that the leader of Hezbollah will never forget the name "Amir Peretz."

Nasrallah said: "I stand here today not in order to attack Peretz. Peretz said that 'Nasrallah will never forget the name Amir Peretz.' I tell him, you are right, I will never forget that name."

Nasrallah has never complimented Israel - not about anything, certainly not about performance during war. These statements were intended to be perceived as a jab at Israel. Nasrallah wanted to show the Arab world the foibles of Israel. But he showed the rest of the world, the Western world, something else. Nasrallah showed us that he has a deeper understanding of democracy and a higher respect for committees of inquiry than we had ever suspected of him. Most importantly, Nasrallah showed that he monitors Israeli news very carefully and that his own policy is determined by what he sees and perceives as going on in Israeli society and government.

His perceptions, however, are not always on target. Whatever understanding of democracy Nasrallah showed was shattered by his personal conspiracy theory - a theory that the United States forced the hand of Israel during the war. The Arab world is rife with conspiracies. This one is blatantly false. The reality is that the United States did not force Israel at all into this war with Hezbollah. The United States took a step backwards giving Israel a free hand. The ultimate irony is that had Israel listened to the United States, the war would have taken an entirely different form and there never would have been a Winograd Commission. The urging of the United States to Israel during this war was to take off the kid gloves and forge ahead.

Nasrallah and the Arab world celebrated the Winograd Report without really understanding the Winograd Report. Democracies gain their power through voting. Commissions and rallies and protests can help sway governments and formulate policy - but nothing is more important than the voice of the people as heard on election day.

And that is something that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and the enemies of democracy and the West have never experienced and will never know.

Mickey Mouse and Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 8, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

If you saw him, you would swear you were looking at Mickey Mouse.
But it's not Mickey. It's Farfur.
And Farfur is the star of a Hamas TV show.

Forget copyright infringement for a minute - this is much worse.
Farfur is about abusing a symbol and the brainwashing of kids.

Farfur thrives on violence, fighting and unrest.
Farfur routinely tells his young audience that Islam is going to take over the world.
Farfur preaches about the need to fight the Zionists and the Occupiers.
In one scene Farfur talks to a young Palestinian girl named Sarraa and the dialogue goes: "We are setting with you the cornerstone for world leadership under Islamic leadership. Isn't it so?"

Everyone loves Mickey.
This is an abuse of faith and of childhood.
The creators of Farfur and the Hamas TV show should be stopped - if not by the lawyers then by the millions of people who really believe in the power of Disney's Mouse.

It's a world of laughter, a world or tears
It's a world of hopes, it's a world of fear
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small, small world

Zawahri Slams US
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 7, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Osman bin Laden's number 2, Dr. Ayman Zawahri, is at it again.
True to his style he tried to bolster the al Qaeda cause by striking out at the West.

Zawahri took a jab at the US Congress on the occasion of the vote to reduce United States forces and spending in Iraq.
This is what he said as heard on a video posted on an al Qaeda website:
"We ask Allah that they only get out after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, so that we give the blood spillers in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson to motivate them to review their entire doctrinal and moral system."

Zawahri has been the voice of al Qaeda ever since bin Laden dropped off the media radar.
Zawahri repeatedly mocks the United States and her allies.
Zawahri delivers messages that have a single purpose.
Zawahri is dedicated to galvanizing world support for the al Qaeda cause.

The US is Out of Touch
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 6, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The US just submitted Benchmarks for Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) to Israel and the Palestinians.

This diplomatic document pinpoints exactly where the United States stands when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians.
This diplomatic document shows that the United States is totally out of touch with the situation.

The document contains a list of items to be dealt with and then dates of implementation next to each item, hence the title benchmark.
Who are the Palestinians who are supposed to apply this agreement?
Abbas and Dahlan.
But Abbas and Dahlan have no power and no authority.
Of course the leaders of Hamas have rejected the document.
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashal has publicly denounced the entire concept.

Does the US actually believe that because they put it in writing Hamas will adhere to the will of the United States?
Does the US actually believe that Abbas is capable of convincing Hamas?
Doesn't the US realize that they are not empowering Abbas - they are humiliating him.
Doesn't the US realize that they are showing the entire region how little they really understand about what is actually happening?

For shame.

The Violinist Wore Red
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 5, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

So this is how it went:
The Iranian foreign minister was supposed to be seated opposite Condi Rice at a formal dinner that took place during the Egyptian summit.
The dinner arrangement was artfully, diplomatically, designed to be an informal ice breaker.
Just as he was about to be seated, the Iranian caught a glimpse of the violinist scheduled to perform during the dinner.
He turned around and walked out.

The violinist was a woman.
She was dressed in red.
She was dressed in a risque red dress.
At least, that is the way the Iranian foreign minister perceived the situation.

Red is a particularly problematic color for a woman to wear in many cultures.
Red shows a lack of modesty, a low cut red is even worse - insult on injury.

Even the Egyptians, cultural cousins of the Iranians, are guilty of faux pas.
Even the Egyptians do not understand the Iranians.
What can we really expect from the West and the rest of the world?

Let Them Have Nukes
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 4, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is racing towards nuclear development.
The West is trying to monitor Iran's race toward nuclear development.
The two are headed towards a standoff.

While Iran and the West may be at odds over the situation, this is not a purely black and white issue.
There is a lot of grey area here.
It is that grey area that may provide the "out" necessary to avoid a standoff.

What precisely is the grey area? The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty permits members the right to develop nuclear energy - as long as those countries are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the UN.(IAEA)
Iran has signed the treaty.

The executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Claude Mandil, put ti perfectly. He said: "I don't see why a country like Iran could not have nuclear power as part of its energy mix."

This could very well be the compromise everyone had been looking for.
This could be the way out of a sticky, dangerous, international dilemma.
Let's watch and see.

Condi's Syrian Agenda
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 3, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Rumor has it (and it has been already confirmed) that US Secretary of State Condi Rice met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem.
The "meet" took place while they were both in Egypt attending a 2-day summit.

There is no doubt about Rice's agenda:
Iraq, Lebanon and the region.
Stop sponsoring terror. Stop sponsoring terror. Stop sponsoring terror.
Meeting with Syria in order to elicit support is very dangerous.
Bringing Syria "in" comes with a very high price, a price Syria will exact.
That price tag will certainly include tremendous pressure on Israel.

And there's more. Any discussion with Syria assumes that Syria can and will and wants to deliver. That is where everything falls apart. Delivery for Syria means turning their back on Iran.

I do not trust Syria to be a reliable partner.
Everything for Syria is about propping up a dictator who hangs on by the skin of his teeth, everything is about the best interests of Bashar Assad.

Diplomats beware.

Will Olmert Resign
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 2, 2007

I'm Predicting:

A scathing report pointing the finger of blame at the prime minister of Israel for improper decision making during the summer war with Lebanon has been released and is all any Israeli can talk or think about.
But despite the speculation, despite the outcry and the outrage, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not about to step down.

Only a synopsis of the Winograd Report has been released.
So even if the Winograd Commission did recommend that Olmert resign it will take months before the conclusion of the Report is made public.

Why? Because that is not the way democracies work.
Why? Because the Commission members were appointed, not elected.
Why? Because Ehud Olmert was democratically elected by the people of Israel.
Why? Because regardless of his approval rating at the moment there are only two ways that Olmert can be removed. A vote of "no confidence" or if he resigns.

No leader relies on ratings unless it is the eve of an election.
Leaders do not obsess on whether they are liked or not liked.
Leaders respond to public critique and that is what Olmert will do.
Olmert will embark on a mission to resuscitate his name and improve his standing but he will not be out in the near future.

If there is change - it will not happen before the summer and elections will only be held in the fall, after the high holidays. That is how the system works in Israel.

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