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Jordan Votes
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 1, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Jordan made history today.
Jordanians held municipal elections for mayors and city councils.

For the first time Jordanians were able to vote for their municipal seats, until now, half the seats were appointed by the King.
Only Amman did not vote, but that in no way diminishes the boldness of this act.
This is a major move toward reform and democracy in Jordan.

Obviously - the monarchy is not about to abdicate.
But change, especially in local government, serves to empower the people and teach valuable lessons about democracy.

The process of democracy is learned.
Slow transitions are the best way to ensure that radical pendulum swings and knee jerk reactions do not imperil the learning curve.
The subtle blend of the liberal concepts of democracy and the rigid rules of monarchy has begun in Jordan.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 31, 2007


Electioneering by way of assassination.

It's happening. And I'm not talking about character assassination -this is the real thing. And it's happening in the Palestinian Authority. It's the way Hamas takes care of business, even that most democratic of all businesses, the business of elections.

Hamas leadership has put out a "hit" on Fatah leader and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Faayad. The "hit" was issued in the form of a public announcement. Hamas is accusing Faayad of letting down the Palestinian people. They are claiming that Faayad is not true to the Palestinian cause. They maintain that he is not the appropriate man to lead the Palestinians.

The question begs asking: Why make a public statement? Hamas has never had any trouble assassinating people, why not just do it and then gloat about it in true Hamas fashion?

The answer is: elections.

Hamas knows that they have lost favor with the Palestinian people. They know that elections are looming and that if elections were to be held now, they would be the ones taking the hit and their popularity with the voters would drop to about only 12% - 14%. A voter return that low would mean that Hamas would lose all political power and be sent back to the margins, to the fringes of Palestinian society. It would mean political death for Hamas. It would mean back to courting the public with soup kitchens and health care and child care and hoping that those ploys would one day work again as they did three and four and five years ago, before humanitarian issues were replaced with guns, gangs and street fights.

Now Hamas has about three to four months to prepare for elections. And their chosen method of electioneering appears to be to sway voters their way by way of the death threat. To the Western mind this seems absurd, preposterous, counter productive and just plain illegal. To the Palestinian mind it makes perfect sense.

The world of Palestinian politics is divided into two camps - forever divided because they will never agree on anything relating to the future direction of Palestinian society. There is a political-national camp and there is an Islamic camp. Hamas already has the Islamic camp, but it is not a large enough voting bloc to sway let alone win an election, so now they must go after the political-national camp.

As prime minister, Salam Faayad is the supposed leader of the political-national camp, Hamas is trying to sway the voters to their own ranks by undermining Faayad's dedication to the people and more important, his commitment to the Palestinian cause.

The Hamas "hit" announced that the government of Salam Faayad is predicated on a platform that does not include the "resistance." The "hit" proclaims that Faayad has capitulated to the demands of the United States and of Israel to recognize Israel and to reject "resistance."

In Palestinian-speak, that is heretical.

In Palestinian-speak "resistance" is the codeword for "terror".

Hamas is saying that Fatah are traitors to the political-nationalist cause created by Yasser Arafat. They are saying that they, Hamas, carry on the real legacy of the Palestinian people because it is they, Hamas, who embrace "resistance" and it is they who do not recognize Israel and do not bow down to Israel and the United States of America.

Hamas knows what they are doing. They know that the inclusion of the Arabic word for "resistance" was the cause of major debate during the creation of their short-lived unity government with Fatah and they know that inclusion of the term is a deal breaker for continued support from the United States. Hamas is banking on the fact that even if this "hit" does not literally kill Faayad, it will kill his political career and bring about the political downfall of Fatah.

Faayad knows that too. So to save face and to gain back potential swing voters and supporters he took the opportunity of being at an Arab League meeting in Cairo to hold a press conference and issue his own announcement. Of course we embrace "resistance" he said, even if it is not specifically mentioned in the platform - "resistance" is such an obvious fundamental principle for all Palestinians who live under occupation that it need not be in the platform, it goes without saying.

Now Faayad is caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place. By placating his own Palestinian supporters he is seriously at risk of alienating his financial and diplomatic supporters. The United States and Israel remember well the lessons learned under Arafat and they will in no way be caught in the web of double messaging again. Yasser Arafat was a master when it came to making pronouncements, in English, to the West and then recanting those pronouncements, in Arabic, for the Palestinian people. The United States and Israel are asking, nay demanding, that now Palestinian leadership be upright and straightforward and talk about Israel as a peace partner. And they want the people to be educated to that end.

Hamas is trying to win an election. What is this world coming to?

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Hamas' Death Note
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 30, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

All eyes should turn to Gaza - Hamas is unhappy with the status quo and is signaling that they are about to make some changes.

A warning and a death threat have been issued by Hamas aimed at the new Palestinian Prime Minister and Fatah leader, Salam Faayad.
The warning reads: "Fayyad's government has given up on the principles of the Palestinian people, recognized everyone (our enemies), and done what the Zionist enemy, and its accomplice, the United States, desired - in exchange for dollars."
More emphatically: "His Government has abandoned the resistance."

Them's fighting words.
The "resistance" is Arabic code for "terror."
Hamas is justifying their death threat.
This argument goes this way: If Faayad and the Fatah are traitors to the Palestinian cause, they deserve to be publicly rebuked and even killed.

Hamas already has Islamist camp supporters, but those numbers are finite. Hamas is arguing this line of thought in order to grab supporters from the nationalist camp.
If Hamas can win over the nationalist camp, they can win another election.
Winning another election is what Hamas really wants right now.
My, how things have changed.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Arabic for Humiliation
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 29, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

In Arabic it means total humiliation.
It is the way the Arab world is defining the actions and behavior of the Palestinians - in Gaza and throughout the Palestinian Authority.

In the Arab world the Six Day War is defined as NAKSA.
NAKSA means a defeat by an outside force.
In the Arab world the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 is defined as NAKBA.
NAKBA means catastrophe.
They are powerful, emotionally laden terms - but WAKSA is the heaviest of all.
WAKSA implies self humiliation, self destruction, self ruination.

The loggerheads conflict between Islamic forces and nationalist forces is compelling both Palestinian intellectuals and the people on "the street" to ask themselves a very serious question?
Can Palestinians truly rule themselves, or will they only self-destruct?

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Russia Says No to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 28, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Simon Istomin, the Russian chief nuclear contractor in charge of building Iran's 20 GW nuclear power plant, said the operation will not be ready until Fall 2008.

That was not the original agreement.
What happened is that Iran is behind on the $25 million a month payment.
As a result, nuclear fuel will not be shipped until fall of next year and then it takes 6 more months to get the system up and running.
The United States, the Israelis and most of the West are relieved.

Russia always said that they will handle Iran in their own way.
Russia came through, after all.
Russia figured out a stalling technique that is working.
They tried in September of last year but Iran called their bluff and the stall failed - Iran paid up and started work on their own Iranian nuclear facilities.

This time, everyone knows the time table.
This time, everyone has to act accordingly.
Diplomacy on all sides will kick into full gear.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Harry Potter and the Arab World
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 27, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

J. K. Rowling's latest work is creating quite a stir in the Arab world.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has induced the Arabic press to engage in soul searching, introspective dialoguing and reality checking.

Al Jazeera and the Gulf News in Dubai have been covering the Harry Potter phenomenon as it impacts on their world.
Some interesting insights have emerged giving us a peek into the Arab world.

"We have to take into account that reading itself is what's lacking in Arab nations. Those nations do not even read the Koran. I say we must learn the love of reading from the West without saying that reading that [Harry Potter] book is a waste of time. Hundreds of thousands of [Westerners] stood in line to get a copy of the book and no one in the Arab nations even goes into a bookstore more than once a year. There's no crowding in bookstores. People crowd around the television, and they're highly skilled in wasting time on the Internet."

The Gulf News quotes 2 bookstore proporietors. One says that while he stocks about 10,000 volumes in his store, he sells maybe sells 2 to 5 books a month.

The Arab world today does not read.
The Arab world today is vastly, functionally, illiterate.
Religious leaders in the Arab world detest and demean the Western ... culture of music and sexual inuendo / but what about the Western culture of letters.
The great Arab literarians of the Golden Age are turning over in their graves.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Arab League & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 26, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Sometimes, even those in the know make grave errors.
Even The New York Times sometimes gets things wrong.
Even the office of the Prime Minister of Israel sends out incorrect information.

Case in point:
The foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan visited Israel, meeting the prime minister, the president, the foreign minister and various other important people.
Both The NYTimes and the PM's office reported that the foreign ministers were in Israel as representatives of the Arab league.
They were not - they acted on behalf of their own countries and their own countries alone, specifically without the permission of the Arab League.

This is why it matters:
Arabs want to accept Israel, they want relations with Israel - but they can't.
So each country secretly negotiates a separate, hidden relationship with Israel.
When it is the right time they will step forward and publicly, openly accept Israel.
Hopefully, the right time will come soon and more Arab countries will take that big step forward and follow the lead of Egypt and Jordan.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 25, 2007


Al Qaeda is alive and well and thriving on the internet. In fact, the latest message to the world sent by al Qaeda came not from Osama bin Laden and not from his right arm Ayman Zawahiri. It came not via the video and audio tapes we have become familiar with and come to expect and accept as valid.

It was sent through one of the many of websites under al Qaeda auspices, it came from the North African branch of al Qaeda. Experience should tell us that we do not have to verify the authenticity of the site to determine the seriousness of the message. All we need to know is whether the message is both appropriate and reasonable.

And this message is serious. The site posted a threat aimed at non-believing countries accompanied by a series of warnings aimed at non-believing Muslims.

The threat:
"The Mujahadin (Holy Fighters), thanks to Allah, have managed to reorganize their ranks and set forth their plans, and they are preparing many hidden surprises for the enemies of Allah in the countries of the Islamic Maghreb, (North Africa) which will come in an escalating sequence."

The warning:
"We call upon all our Muslim brothers to stay away from the centers of the infidels and official apostates, as well as security (gatherings) of army and police ... The Mujahadin are determined to target their quarters, centers and barracks with all available means of detonation, bombing and demolition."
The site explained that earlier intended attacks against military targets had been cancelled "only due to the presence of Muslims."

The importance of this message, in addition to alerting the world to the reality that there is an organized, vital arm of al Qaeda in North Africa, is the clear and undeniable intention of al Qaeda to strike out not only at the West, but also at local targets.

Al Qaeda is giving fair warning to friends who do not tow the line. Al Qaeda is prioritizing a list of objectives. Al Qaeda is letting it be known that, right now, local intimidation is an even higher priority than attacks on Western targets.

The Muslim world gets it, but do we? That is the question we must ask ourselves.

If al Qaeda now intends to set their sights on local targets, should the West breath a sigh of relief? Does this mean that we are off the terrorist hook, at least for a little while?

Absolutely not.

The West has fallen victim to what I have termed "targetism".

Our fear of terror - righteous as it is - has clouded our ability to analyze and understand the underlying facts of terror. We think of ourselves as the targets of terror, and any attack that does not target us, we think of as marginal and significantly less important. And that is wrong thinking. And it is dangerous thinking. It is targetism thinking.

Targetism thinking does not permit us the ability to learn from the experiences of others, it does not let us see that other targets of terror were chosen by the same enemy for the same reasons that we are chosen and targeted.

Because the Western mind has succumbed to targetism we do not realize that al Qaeda terrorist attacks against the Algerian army or the streets of downtown Marrakech in Morocco are just the same as attacks against American army bases on foreign soil and the streets of New York and Washington. Victims of targetism do not recognize that members of the Saudi royal family and Red Cross office in Iraq are targets for the same reason that citizens of the West are targets.

For al Qaeda, we are all one. Targetism obscures the fact that al Qaeda prioritizes operations according to access and ease. The easier to reach a target, the more likely it will be hit. But al Qaeda is not lazy and will take the time and make the effort to infiltrate and penetrate other targets until they, too, are easy. And that's where the West in general and the United States in particular come in.

Al Qaeda wants to attack the West, but al Qaeda also wants to destroy those Arab countries and communities that embrace Western culture and ideas. Al Qaeda wants to paralyze Western leadership, but al Qaeda also wants to hurt Arab leadership that is not really Islamic.

Al Qaeda wants us all to believe in their beliefs, and if we don't, slowly and methodically, al Qaeda will try to eliminate us all. Al Qaeda will continue to send their messages through the air waves and on the internet. They will continue to remind us that we are all in their cross hairs. But as long as we do not allow ourselves to become our own worst enemies by falling into the trap of targetism we have a chance at beating our real enemies.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Laugh or Cry
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 24, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Iran recently arrested 14 spies.
There was hardly a news blip reporting the story.

They were captured near the border.
They were outfitted with high-tech hardware listening and filming devices.
They were squirrels.

Why didn't the Western press run with this great story?
After all, it was reported by the INRA (Islamic Republic News Agency), the official arm of the Iranian government.

The most ludicrous part of the whole story is that some people believe it is true. They believe a decision was made to waste money by attempting to train these rabid rodents in the art of high tech surveillance.
They believe it because in the Muslim world, conspiracies can mean everything. They believe that the United States conspired to corrupt the rodents in order to invade Iran.

Do we laugh or do we cry?

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Hezbollah is Too Proud
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 23, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that seems to speak directly to Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
The proverb goes: "One who is overly proud will certainly meet defeat."

Courtesy of al Jazeera, the Sheikh spoke to the world on Sunday.
"In July and August (2006), there was no place in occupied Palestine which was out of the reach of the resistance missiles."
"Tel Aviv or elsewhere, we were certain that we could reach any corner or spot in occupied Palestine and now we are certain that we can reach them."

We all know that Hezbollah hit Israel this past summer, and we know that it was a hard blow for Israel, especially psychologically.
Despite that success, Hezbollah's arrogance - and failures - has turned Lebanon and most of the Arab world against them.

Hezbollah has not restored calm to Lebanon, they are creating more tensions.
Hezbollah has not forced Israel into compromise, despite kidnapping 2 soldiers.
Hezbollah has not gotten Sheba Farms, despite their claims.
Hezbollah has not been able to lift the Arab pressure on the investigation into the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hezbollah may have a vision, but Hezbollah has not delivered on that vision.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Iran Syria Nexus
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 22, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Ahmadinejad's trip to Damascus has paid off.
Iran and Syria have reached a new - and overarching - agreement.

Iran promises to:
Fund Syria's acquisition of Russian and North Korean weapons
Set up factories to build military weapons
Support Syria in Lebanon

Syria promises to:
Not move forward with any peace deals with Israel
Work to destabilize the current Lebanese government lead by Siniora and Lahoud.

At least, that's the way Iranian news is reporting the agreement.
Reports from Iran should always be met with skepticism.
But this one makes sense.
Iran's overarching goal is to sabotage progress and normalization in the region.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Jordan's King to DC
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 21, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Abdullah King of Jordan will be in Washington, DC on Tuesday for talks with President George Bush.

The King wants to discuss how to move along the president's idea of a summit. The King wants Palestinians, Israelis and others to advance towards peace.
The King wants to help.
The King wants to plead the Palestinian case.

Jordan is making a big tactical error.
Jordan is playing the wrong game - they should be pleading their own case.
Relations between Jordan and the US are much improved, but for example, the US gives Egypt over $2 billion a year and Jordan gets only about $250 million.

Jordan should be positioning itself as a friend of the United States in the region rather than the mouthpiece of the Palestinians.
Only by helping the United States will the Jordanians be able to help themselves - and then by extension they can help the entire region, including the Palestinians.

Wise up Abdullah King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Thugs & Ahmadinejad
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 20, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Ahmadinejad has been very busy.
He met with President Assad of Syria and Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Khaled Maashal of Hamas and Ramadan Shallah the Secretary General of Islamic Jihad - all on Thursday, in Damascus.

Ahmadinejad met with some the most notorious leaders of terrorist organizations and enemies of freedom and the West alive today.
Ahmadinejad had the same clear message for everyone.
Stay united against the enemy. Islam will win and they will fall.

To Hezbollah he said: congratulations on your victory against Israel, "thanks to the victory, while the Zionist regime is becoming weaker every day, Lebanon is enjoying internal serenity."

To Syria he said: "Iran and Syria are allies and will remain allies." We "are united against the enemies of the two countries and the region." "The relations between Iran and Syria have a great and important influence on the region and on the entire world."

To Islamic Jihad he said: "The Zionist regime has lost its ideology of existence and will therefore try to compensate for its failures." "This issue should lead to a state of high alert among the region's nations, particularly among the Palestinians and Lebanese."

According to reports he spoke with Hamas about ways to continue the fight against Israel and encouraged them and the other Palestinian factions to resume a joint dialogue and stay united against a common enemy.

Thugs. Ahmadinejad, Assad, Nasrallah, Maashal, Shallah.
Ahmadinejad convened a conference of thugs.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Hamas- Al Qaeda Connections
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 19, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Extremist organizations, by their very nature, see the world through their own unique prism of warped reality.

Take Hamas, for example.
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica quotes Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader who was ousted as Palestinian prime minister, saying that the current isolation of Hamas might just push the people toward extremism.
He is also quoted denying that al Qaeda has laid down any roots in Gaza.

Huh? Current PA leadership, Israeli intelligence and even the government of France are very worried that al Qaeda infiltrated Gaza and is working with Hamas.
On Wednesday French Foreign Minister Bernard Koucher explained the Hamas/al Qaeda bedfellow relationship saying: "I think Hamas did not wait for this extreme situation - the current terrible situation in Gaza - to have contacts with al Qaeda. And it would perhaps be too simple to think that we, the international community, are responsible."

Hamas is a terror organization.
Al Qaeda is a terror organization.
Al Qaeda and Hamas may have ideological differences, but they are both extremist organizations.
There are no gradations in terror groups - they are all bad.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Threat Assessment in the US
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 18, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The National Intelligence Estimate is an assessment of potential threats against the United States. Findings were just made public.

The most striking line reads: "We assess that al-Qaeda will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the homeland."

That information is not new, but it is relevant.
That information reminds us that we need to focus our attentions and resources in areas where we can make a difference, where we can proactively work to prevent terrorist attacks.

We know that al Qaeda is getting important know-how and training in Iraq.
The hard part is not getting those trainees, the hard part is getting those trainees into America. Europe, as we have witnessed, is much easier to infiltrate and attack than the USA.

That's good news for the United States.
But it does not mean that al Qaeda will not keep trying.
And one day, once again, they will be successful.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 17, 2007


Full disclosure:
I like Pope Benedict XVI.
I think Pope Benedict has a clearly articulated vision and direction for the Church. I think Pope Benedict understands the threat radical Islam poses to the world.
I think Pope Benedict is sincere in his appreciation and respect for Jews.

And I do not understand the big fuss circulating around the position Pope Benedict XVI has taken on reinstituting the Tridetine Mass, the mass that is known in certain circles as "the mass that prays to convert the Jews." I have studied the mass in Latin and I have studied the mass in English, I have examined versions of the mass pre 1965 and version post 1965. I have looked at its history and its role in Catholic ritual. I do not understand the hoopla.

You cannot be more catholic than the Pope - nobody can argue with that. And anybody who does not realize that a significant part of Christian doctrine, in general and Catholic doctrine, in particular is that the Jews are unfulfilled specifically because Judaism does not recognize Jesus as The Savior has no understanding of Christianity. There is no arguing that point. Even in interfaith dialogues and discussions it is a given - a point on which everyone chooses to agree to disagree for the sake of moving on and engaging in other dialogues and discussions.

The Tridentine Mass - when it is celebrated at all - is said once a year, on Good Friday morning. The original mass contained the word "perfidis" which, in the Latin of Catholic doctrine translated to mean "faithless." That was changed in 1960 when Pope John XXII made the decision to remove the religiously charged word. It is important to know that there are also other meanings for "perfidis" - deceitful, dishonest and untrustworthy - all Catholic concepts describing the characteristics of non-believers. So while the pre-1960 version of The Mass read: "Let us pray also for the 'perfidis' (faithless) Jews," the post-1960 version which actually took hold only post-1965 read: "Let us pray for the Jewish people. Lift the veil from the eyes of the Jews and end the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of your truth, which is Christ." Change does not happen either quickly or arbitrarily within the Catholic Church.

The final, post-Second Vatican Council version of the Tridentine Mass has come to be know in the press as the prayer or mass for the conversion of the Jews. It reads something like this: "Lift the veil covering the hearts of Jews so that they may recognize Jesus Christ our Lord." "Let us pray for the Jews, that the face of the Lord our God may shine on them so that they too recognize the redeemer of all, Jesus Christ, our Lord." And The Mass continues: "Listen to your church so that those who were once your chosen people may reach the fulfillment of redemption."

For many years the Tridentine Mass has rarely been celebrated. Now, Pope Benedict XVI is calling upon the Church to reinstitute the Mass. And now, voices within the Catholic world as well as Jewish world are rising up in alarm, in anger, in confusion.

But why? Why should anyone - Catholic or Jew - be upset by the Tridentine Mass?

As for Catholics, only a Pope or Vatican Council can authorize change in Church doctrine. No one else, no outsider, should even try. It will never happen. Catholics are free to disagree, and when someone disagrees too much with the Church and with so much of the Church, they end up leaving the Church. One is free to disagree. And when you disagree too much with the Church you end up leaving the Church.

As for Jews, how narrow minded it is to be upset when the Pope, the supreme Catholic leader, chooses to reinstitute a prayer that clearly articulates, in as religiously polite as manner as is possible, just what the Catholic Church fundamentally believes to be truth.

In chapter 40 of Isaiah, the prophet describes non-believers as those who pray to emptiness and nothingness and to a god that cannot redeem them. Those words were originally incorporated into the famous Jewish prayer called "Aleinu", recited at the end of daily and holiday services. In the Middle Ages Christian censors removed the phrase from all European Jewish prayer books on the grounds that it was considered offensive.

The Middle Ages are long gone. Let us all move on. Together.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Ahmadinejad On The Move
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 16, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Guess who is traveling again?
Ahmadinejad. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency Ahmadinejad is going to Syria on Thursday, spending the entire day in Damascus in honor of Bashar Assad's second seven-year term.

It is important for the Syrian and Iranian leaders to meet and to meet often.
The two countries are playing a very dangerous game and they must be sure to keep themselves from making mistakes.
They must constantly evaluate and revaluate their actions versus the actions of the West.

But all is not well in Iran.
On Sunday, 50 of Iran's most important economists ranted against Ahmadinejad and his economic policies for endangering their entire society. They said that he is eating away at the wealth of the country, especially the oil reserves. They fear the worst if fiscal responsibility does not take hold soon.

Is this the mistake that will topple Ahmadinejad?
Will internal strife, not external Western opposition, be his ultimate downfall?

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Iran Will Target 600 Israeli Sites
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 15, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Bombastic statements are exaggerations, exaggerations of the truth.
Listen to what the Iranians said on Sunday.

Al Watan, a Qatar paper, has quoted diplomatic sources in Damascus issuing a threat to Israel.
According to the quote, Iran has targeted 600 targets in Israel for missile strikes if their country is attacked by either the United States or by Israel.
The report says that, when attacked, all 600 targets would be totally destroyed.

Of course Iran is exagerating.
600 accurate hits is highly unlikely and out of the question.
But even one partial hit would be devastiating for Israel.

Iran has capabiblities - attacks are not without cost.

Should we be the first to attack?
A miltiary strike against Iran must be considered, but only as a final resort, only as a pre-emptive strike.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Abbas' New Government
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 14, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas just appointed and new set of ministers.
Well, sort of a new set of ministers.

I have read the Palestinian Code of Basic Law.
According to my understanding of the Code, Abbas is perfectly within his right to fire the prime minister - just as he did when Hamas representative Ismail Hanyih had the position. What happened this time is that Abbas asked Salam Fayyad to step down - and then promptly reappointed him. Fayyad, the old new Prime Minister, is now in charge of the new Palestinian government.

Also according to the Code, Abbas can appoint an emergency government for 30 days - but there's a catch:
All new ministers must be approved by the Palestinian Parliament and Abbas skipped that step.
He reappointed people whom he had previously appointed to his emergency government and even added two new ministers. The reappointments might just slip through a loophole, but the new appointments certainly do not.

So why did Abbas opt out of Parliamentary confirmation?
Because the majority of the Palestinian parliament is made up of Hamas.
So what can Abbas do in order to form and legally maintain a government?
Abbas must disband the Parliament and call for new elections.
And then together Abbas and Fayyad can plan a real future for their government.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Nothing Changed in the Arab League
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 13, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

First, a meeting between Israel and the Arab League was scheduled.
Next, it was postponed for two weeks.
Now, the entire historic encounter has been cancelled.

The Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers had been selected as Arab League representatives, scheduled to meet Israelis in Israel on July 25th.
When the plans changed Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit issued a statement. He said: "[t]his is not a visit where the Arab League flag will be raised." "This is a matter of principle."
Instead, the two foreign ministers will visit, representing only their own countries.
Amr Moussa, head of the 22-nation Arab League, made his own announcement saying that the foreign ministers would not represent the Arab League.

What does it all mean?
It means that nothing has changed.
It means that the Arab League is entrenched in a vision that does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

What could have been a major step forward is now a lost opportunity.
What a shame.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Al Qaeda Loves Summer
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 12, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff confided to the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune that he has a "gut feeling" that there may be a terror attack this summer. "Summertime seems to be appealing to them" he said.

One person's gut feeling is another person's educated guess.
Michael Chertoff is correct, and we all know it.
Two weeks ago there were two bungled plots in the United Kingdom.
Last summer the Brits broke up a ring that was trying to smuggle explosives onto trans-Atlantic flights and blow them up midway.
The summer before that there was the devastating July 7th London tube bombing and later the failed duplicate bombing.

What's so hot about summer? Why is it al Qaeda's season of choice?
Because the more tourists there are, the more victims there are.
Because with so many strangers milling about, terrorists do not stand out.
Because with all the sightseeing going on, terrorists have ample time to scope out and research their targets.
Because the day is longer and people stand out less during the day and are much less suspicious looking than they are at night.
Because it is easier to buy bomb making materials during BBQ season, when purchasing propane gas is so commonplace, than any other time of year.
Because it is easier to buy fertilizer, another ingredient for explosives, when everyone else is buying fertilizer.

Yes, Michael, summer is a good time for a terrorist attack.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Arab League Talks With Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 11, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The Arab League is getting ready to engage positively with Israel.
This is not a typo. The Arab League ... engaging positively ... with Israel.

From the time of its inception the Arab League has been virulently anti-Israel.
Now the member nations have cautiously agreed to a sit down with "the enemy."
The 22 nation Arab League, represented by the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan, is coming to Israel.
And it is happening this week, and it is happening in Jerusalem.

This historic meeting was arranged in order to move the Saudi Plan ahead.
This historic meeting directly implies acceptance by the Arab League of Israel's right to exist - not just the acceptance of Egypt and Jordan, the acceptance of all League's nation members.

It does not matter that Israel will reject numerous points on the Plan.
What matters is that Israel is now de facto negotiating with 22 Arab countries all of whom, at one time or another, have expressed the desire to push Israel into the sea.
Whatever the results, this is history in the making.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 10, 2007


Salam Fayad, he's the man. If he can't do it no one can.

It sounds like a summer camp time cheer, but really, it is a rally for Palestinians and for the Palestinian Authority. In the course of the past two weeks Palestinian leadership has taken positive and very significant steps in the direction of law, order, stability, accountability and eventual statehood.

Most importantly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed Salam Fayad to the position of interim prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. The name Salam Fayad is not yet recognized by Western masses, but it is not only recognized but also respected in international, diplomatic circles. For Palestinians, this man is a hero - not for his military prowess but for his keen economic sense, for his conscience, for his ability to change the lives of average Palestinians in a positive way. Fayad is one of the few men of power in Palestinian political life to have bucked the system and been invited back to do it again.

Salam Fayad spent most of his career in the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He is a player with a long history of interaction with the West. He understands the game of diplomacy and is well versed in the dynamics of bureaucracy. Fayad knows how the United States goes about the business of getting things done. He knows how to talk to the West. And he understands how to erect an infrastructure for a real democracy.

Salam Fayad is a man with a vision for the Palestinian people.

Yasser Arafat, the first and greatest of all Palestinian leaders, was notorious for pleading for monetary aid for his beleaguered people, receiving international aid and then hiding it away under mattresses and in secret bank accounts. When really forced to share the money for items like salaries and running his government Arafat would divvy up cash, personally place designated amounts in envelopes and dispatch underlings to distribute the payments.

Fayad served as finance minister under Yasser Arafat. One of his greatest accomplishments was establishing bank accounts for employees of the Palestinian Authority - for people like police and teachers and sewage workers, and for instituting direct deposit payments into those bank accounts. He did it under Arafat's watchful, if not approving, eye. Fayad created a paper trail, he inserted the notion of accountability into the PA finance ministry. Until then, under Arafat, there was no recourse, no such thing as redress of grievances, and certainly, there was no way to collect taxes on payroll.

Salam Fayad is a man of principles.

One of the first things tasks Fayad has undertaken as prime minister is the implementation of a law, dictated by presidential order, outlawing guns and explosives. According to this new law the only people permitted weapons are to be members of the established PA police forces. That means no militias. That means no gangs.

The law is a direct attack against the two populations to most threaten and tear apart the fabric of Palestinian life. The law is directed at Hamas in Gaza and at rival local gangs roaming through and ravaging the West Bank.

Hamas claims they do not know about this new law. And the leaders of the largest gangs in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jenin say that the new law has nothing to do with them. Critics of the new law claim that it was explicitly formulated in order to destroy Hamas and to placate the United States and other Western countries.

Everyone might be correct, but that is beside the point. What is most important is that for the first time in a very long time a Palestinian leader is attempting to restore law. For the first time in a very long time a Palestinian leader is attempting to create a central authority with a forward direction.

Salam Fayad is a man with backbone.

Still in his first days in his new position Fayad has already met with about 800 Palestinian preachers, including some who outwardly support Hamas. The purpose of these meetings is to tell the clergy, in no uncertain terms, that incitement will no longer be condoned or permitted in the Palestinian Authority.

It is a recognized reality that much of the hatred and the violence that is tearing apart the Palestinians and much of the general Arab world begins in mosques. Fayad knows that, the preachers certainly know that, you and I know that. In his own forceful yet diplomatic words, Fayad said: "We will collect weapons and replace them with pens and books." ... "The phenomenon of militants is very dangerous and we want to stop it in all forms." ... "We will not allow them (mosques) to be turned into places of incitement and intimidation." ... "It is the responsibility of men of religion to present religion as a way of tolerance and not as a cover for bloodshed."

And then, once again breaking with tradition, Salam Fayad met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to discuss numerous issues - most importantly a quid pro quo, a way to get Israel to ease the road blocks. And on that same day he met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. And he will have other meetings. Bottom line, Salam Fayad is a bureaucrat and bureaucrats have meetings, and meetings are an essential tool in breaking logjams.

Vision and principles and backbone are not common attributes in Palestinian society. Vision and principles and backbone are extremely rare in liberal Muslim leaders.

Salam Fayad has plans for the Palestinian people, he has thought seriously about the future of the Palestinian Authority. We know what he intends to do, the real question is whether he has the ability to actually follow through and achieve his vision. It will take a long time to transform Palestinian society, it will take a long time to remove the Palestinian people from the nightmare they have been living and realize the dream of the new interim Palestinian prime minister.

If anyone can do it, Salam Fayad can.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Civil War in Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 9, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Warning bells are ringing fast and furious in the Middle East.
Syria is expecting a civil war to erupt in Lebanon.

Question # 1: How soon?
As early as next week.

Question # 2: What's happening?
The Syrian government is removing all Syrian citizens from Lebanon.

Question # 3: What is the stimulus for a Lebanese civil war?
Hezbollah. Iran and Syria are trying to oust the UN from Lebanon. On June 15th the UN will decide whether or not to plug the holes in the border between Lebanon and Syria. Hezbollah wants to force the UN's hand and take charge. Hezbollah wants to keep the border open and control the rest of Lebanon.

Question # 4: What is Hezbollah's agenda for Lebanon?
Hezbollah wants to take total charge of Lebanon. They are Shiites and so is about 40% of Lebanon. The remainder of Lebanon is a mix of Sunnis and Christians and they will fight a Shiite coup.

Question # 5: Will the Sunnis and Christians be successful?
They have a good chance because the rest of the Arab world - which is primarily a Sunni world - will side with the Sunnis of Lebanon against Hezbollah and Iran.

No matter the outcome, if there is a civil war, much of Lebanon will be destroyed.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

UN Acts In Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 8, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have broken with tradition.
UNIFIL raided and arrested a terrorist group that was planning to attack a UN German Military boat.
That is not what UN Forces usually do.

But these are not usual times.
UN forces have been hit very hard of late. The last attack took place on June 24th when 6 Spanish soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb set by terrorists.

The terrorists planning the military boat attack were not the same group that perpetrated the June 24th bombing. These terrorists were not yet perpetrators, they were in training, plotting a future event. They were arrested at their training facility in northern Lebanon, on the shore, practicing land sea maneuvers.

In the eyes of the terrorists UN troops are easy targets.
In uncovering the terrorist plot and then actually arresting the terrorists the UN is acknowledging that they are no longer simply observers in Lebanon.
UN Forces must do more than simply defend themselves - they must search out and destroy the terrorists.

Congratulations to the United Nations.
Congratulations for finally standing up and doing the right thing.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Egypt Finds Explosives
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 7, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Islamic radicalism and terror is beginning to frighten Egypt.
Egypt may be so frightened that they will close their border with the Palestinians and start collecting weapons belonging to terrorists.

On Thursday the Egyptians discovered 2650 pounds of explosives hidden in 27 plastic sacks buried in the Sinai dessert.
The explosives had one of two purposes:
either to be detonated in Gaza against Israeli soldiers
or to be detonated in the Sinai against Westerners and Israeli tourists

Munitions smuggling has been a major problem for Israel.
Now it is also a problem for Egypt.
If Hamas gets stronger and has more weapons they will threaten Egypt. There has been long standing tension between the Egyptian government and Islamic radical parties, especially the Islamic Brotherhood which spawned Hamas.

Hopefully, Egypt's fear and worry will translate into real action eliminating the ability of contraband to get through - either above or below ground.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Iran & Belarus
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 6, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Most people do not even know where Belarus is, let alone care about who leads the Belarus government.
That is about to change.

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, has just made it clear to the world that his country's "... cooperation with Iran in the military - technical sphere is based on the development, above all, high technologies."

In plain English, Lukashenko is referring to nuclear technology. His comment was made after meeting Mustafa Mohammed Najjar, Iran's minister of defense.
Najjar responded that Belarus has a special place in Iran's foreign policy.

Belarus is a teetering country, barely held together by a dictatorship that has been in place since 1994.
Lukashenko is an oppressive dictator - the White House has actually termed him "the last dictator." He not only provided haven to many Iraqi Bathists leaders, he actually gave them passports and asylum.

This alliance is greatly troubling.
Nuclear weapons in Lukashenko's hands are like a time bomb with an unpredictable fuse.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Why Hamas Released Johnston
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 5, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Why did Hamas help release BBC radio correspondent Alan Johnston?

The PC reason:
The real leader of Hamas, Haled Mashal, who is the director of Hamas' Politburo headquartered in Damascus said that Hamas actually cares.
He said that they were reaching out to the international community to show that Hamas can provide order.
He said, "We have been able to close this chapter which has harmed the image of our people greatly. The efforts by Hamas have produced the freedom of Alan Johnston."

The PR reason:
Hamas was trying to get back into the good graces of the Arab world which has, with the exception of Iran, Syria and al Qaeda, rejected Hamas.
Hamas was out to prove that they can solve their foreign public relations problems simply by freeing Johnston.

The PA reason:
Hamas was saying that now the streets of Gaza are safe.

The entire ordeal took only a few hours once Hamas decided to act.
Hamas was part of the solution, but Hamas was also part of the problem.
Package it any way you want, the rest of the Arab world knows the truth.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Johnston is Free
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 4, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston is free.

But we must not let ourselves be fooled - this is not the beginning of the end.
Tensions between Palestinians - in Gaza and in the West Bank - are growing.
The conflict is intensifying and will continue to intensify.

A little background:
Hamas declared that it would not tolerate militias and other armed groups in Gaza - they create anarchy.
Then Hamas openly declared war on the Army of Islam, the group that held Johnston and to make their point even stronger, kidnapped Mumtaz Dughmush, the Army of Islam's religious leader in Gaza.
In response, the Army of Islam kidnapped 10 Hamas people.
Everyone was released in the move that ultimately led to Johnston's freedom.

Now we must puzzle out who was pulling the strings of the Johnston kidnappers. For 4 months Hamas said they were doing everything in their power to free him.
In the end, it all came together in 36 hours.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Nasser's Son In Law Killed In London
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 3, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Ashraf Marwan was a wealthy Egyptian businessman.
Ashraf Marwan was also the son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Ashraf Marwan, 62 years old, was found dead on Wednesday.
His body was found in London, outside the luxury apartment complex in which he had lived for twenty years.

This death is very suspicious.
One of the many reasons is that for many years, Ashraf Marwan was suspected of being a double agent.
An agent for Egypt - and an agent for Israel.
No matter that his father-in-law was Nasser, an Egyptian spying for Israel is a line that can never be crossed.

Ashraf Marwan was buried on Sunday in Cairo.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

By Micah Halpern

Monday July 2, 2007


The terrorists who perpetrated the attacks in London and Glasgow were midgets compared to Mohamed Atta and his 9-11 plotters. And we should thank God for that.

Mohammed Atta performed his duty as a true disciple of al Qaeda. He was true not only to the spirit of the cause, but to the letter of the cause. Like Atta, these homegrown terrorists pledged allegiance to al Qaeda and dedicated themselves to the ultimate mission and to the cause of the Islamic revolution and of terror. Like Atta, these terrorists were in pursuit of Jihad, they wanted to destroy the enemies of Islam, they wanted to destroy the West.

Unlike Atta these terrorists did not do their homework. And that is why, from start to finish, their missions were - there is no better or polite way to describe it - botched.

The London and Glasgow terrorists undertook jobs for which they were unprepared and untrained. They lacked sophistication and savvy. They were amateurs, and for that the Western world should be grateful. These terrorists could not even read and follow directions.

Al Qaeda makes it simple. Al Qaeda makes it seem like following the dots. On al Qaeda websites and in an al Qaeda CD pack are point by point directions on perpetrating an attack. On assembling a car bomb. On preparing an explosive belt. On detonating a bomb. The directions are clearly posted. The directions are posted by al Qaeda on their Arab language websites. Point by point, item by item.

It is not rocket science, it is like following a tried and true recipe.

One of the most important items on the al Qaeda list for a successful terrorist attack is to park the vehicle legally. Two Mercedes cars were used in the attempted bombing of London. Both vehicles attracted the attention of authorities because they were not properly, legally, parked. We can laugh about it now, but one of the vehicles had even been towed away.

Once the vehicle is legally parked, if the intent is to perpetrate a "non-martyr attack" as these men intended, al Qaeda instructions say to walk away calmly, slowly, nonchalantly, not to arouse any interest or suspicion. But first, follow the instructions and properly attach the detonator, in this case the cell phone device. These guys could not even do that. Not only were they amateur and inept, they were undisciplined. The phone did not go off. One of the terrorists got into an accident and fled the scene.

The three Glasgow terrorists were equally unprepared for their attack. They could not manage to get the Jeep 4x4 through the glass door. They could not ignite themselves and they could not properly and effectively set off the explosives. As a result, one terrorist was killed by accident in the accident and the fire they succeeded in igniting, another was burned and hospitalized and the third was simply arrested, unharmed and healthy. Only five people in the Glasgow airport required medical treatment and that was for were light injuries and shock. That hardly makes for a successful terrorist attack.

Every so often we read and hear news reports of premature suicide car bombings. The public gets the impression that the bombings were premature, that there were malfunctions, that the bombs went off before arriving at their intended destinations. Actually, those bombs went off just as planned. Just as planned by the handlers of the terrorist martyrs, that is. Not as planned by the naïve and now dead perpetrators of the attacks.

Handlers would set the explosives to ignite early, before the drivers chickened out or flubbed their missions. Handlers turned their recruits into unknowing suicide bombers. According to the master plan, even if the terrorists were blown up in the middle of nowhere, a point was still being made. It was still a horrifically threatening and intimidating act of terror.

The al Qaeda play book suggests that ideal targets are theaters, stadiums and large celebrations. It recommends placing explosives in specific locations including and especially at exits. It tells the reader/future potential terrorist to go on practice runs and scope target sites to best understand how to avoid being checked. It warns never to speed. Never to arouse suspicion.

But driving a car laden with explosives and nails into a crowded mass of innocent people takes real training and some serious nerves. Parking that car and walking away, acting as if nothing is about to happen so as not to attract attention in a busy area takes good acting skills. Walking nonchalantly into a crowded and public space in which you are not welcome is not a simple thing to do. Not very many people can pull it off successfully. So the handlers just help the plan along.

But al Qaeda knows what it is doing. The al Qaeda website uses information that was gleaned from Iraq, a place where al Qaeda has a lot of experience. Al Qaeda commanders in Iraq wanted to help others, to give them the benefit of their knowledge and their expertise. But you can never replace experience. And experience, not intention, is what was missing in London and in Glasgow. Don't forget that it is also easier to find legal parking in downtown Baghdad than in downtown London.

The frightening reality is that had these terrorists gotten it right there would have been countless injuries and hundreds of deaths. Thank God these terrorists were inept - but we cannot rely on ineptitude for too much longer.

Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

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