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By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 1, 2007


Think of it as a chain reaction, a deadly chain reaction, a nuclear chain reaction.

Iranian nuclear proliferation sends ripples around the world and chills down my spine. Iran just won't stop. And there is no country in the world today that is both willing to intervene and capable of making Iran stop. Those countries willing to intervene, the United States, Great Britain and France, are all ignored. Iran just laughs. Those countries capable of making Iran stop, Russia and China, are instead aiding and abetting. Rather than asking Iran to slow down Russia and China, the only countries with power over Iran, are - either actively or benignly - helping Iran pursue the goal of nuclear proliferation.

I understand why Iran so wants nuclear energy. Iran wants to rule the world and this is one very significant step in the process. I understand why Russia and China are helping Iran. It works for them. For Russia, it is the ability to make money by selling product and technology. For China it is the satisfaction of knowing that the United States and all Western allies are spinning wheels and getting absolutely nowhere.

Even the Arab world is up-in-arms over Iran. The Arab world is divided, us against them, Shiites versus Sunnis, Shiite Iran versus Sunni everyone else. The Arab world is thinking: if Shiite Iran can become nuclear, so can we. Not only can we, but we must. The Sunni world must be at least as nuclear-ly capable as Iran. Or more so. If they can develop nuclear energy so can we. If they can take the next step and develop atomic weapons, so must we. And we must do it first and do it better.

So Sunni countries are developing nuclear facilities, it is the newest Sunni trend in the Middle East. The Egyptian daily al Ahram has revealed that Egypt has begun planning and developing the first of eight nuclear plants. The Egyptians anticipate that the entire endeavor will take eight years. Egypt already has one nuclear reactor, but it is very old and has been cited by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and needs to either be shut down or totally revamped. Egypt is reacting to Iran's nuclear reactor.

The list goes on. Jordan has announced the desire to develop nuclear energy. Saudi Arabia is investigating the development of nuclear energy. And intelligence sources and the IAEA have confirmed that Syria has been developing a small 27 kilowatt reactor. Development began in 2001 and continued until only recently. It is all in reaction to Iran's nuclear development.

Iran has stated very clearly that one of their goals is to use their own nuclear know-how to help other countries develop nuclear power. By other countries, they mean other countries friendly to Iran, they certainly have no intention of helping the West. Iran intends to cheaply export the process of nuclear capability to friends and neighbors. Iran wants every nation to be able to exercise the right to nuclear energy.

That explains why Russia is so in favor of nuclear growth within Iran. Russia views Iran as the perfect client. Russia exports all the nuclear goods that are necessary for Iran and all other interested parties to become nuclear players. Russia exports the product, provides the technology and co-ordinates the training in one package deal.

China just refuses to get involved. When China does express any interest in Iran's pursuit of nuclear capability, it is to side with Iran. China sees the entire situation as the perfect jab at the United States and at Western interests - and that makes China very happy. As the largest consumer of oil in the world, China does not want to disturb the flow of oil that reaches her shores via Iran. For now, China can chuckle about the diplomatic tug-of-war being waged between Iran and the West, but eventually, that will change and eventually, China will be forced to intercede.

Nuclear technology in the hands of pseudo-responsible and totally irresponsible nations increases tensions in the region. And increased tensions lead to instability. And instability leads to an increase in the price of oil. And that is what China does not want. When you add to that the possibility of Middle East dictators and monarchs being overthrow, much as it happened in the Soviet Union, China has cause for eventual worry.

After the fall of the Soviet Union nuclear technology fell into the hands of corrupt money making business people and from there made its way into the open market. The United States spent enormous amounts of both energy and money running after illicit nuclear technology on the black market - doing everything possible to prevent nuclear technology from falling into the hands of terrorists and rogue nations. The precedent has been set. The similarities between the Soviet approach to nuclear proliferation and the Iranian approach are glaring.

China is the only country that can break the chain. Iran understands that. China is an impartial force. China is not in the pocket of the United States and the United States has virtually no influence over China. Russia will do anything for money and Russia's current position is dependent upon the amount of pressure that the United States applies. China does not have that dependency. China does not have that pressure.

China does things when China wants to do things, China moves according to an internal Chinese timetable. Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni just returned from a trip to China. Livni reported that she saw no sign of a change in China's attitude toward Iran's nuclear development and no move towards expanding sanctions against Iran. Right now China does not want to stop Iran, but soon it will have to.

We must be vigilant. We must be patient. We must wait for China. As scary as that appears, it is the only way to stop the chain of nuclear proliferation instigated by Iran.

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

Oil Deal in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 31, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Syria just signed a $2.6 billion oil refinery deal with Iran, Venezuela and Malaysia.
It happened yesterday.

The refinery will be a joint project with shared revenues.
33% for Iran
26% for Venezuela
26% for Malaysia
only 15% for Syria

Why is this so important?
It is important because:
The oil will come from Iran and then be shipped around the world, wherever the market needs it.
It is important because:
Venezuela and Iran and Syria are all in cahoots to unseat US control of the world and because, on the other side of the world, Malaysia agrees with them.
It is not just important, it is very important.

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

Syria Thought War Was Coming
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 30, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Last week, Syria was preparing for war against Israel.
Why? Because last week Syria thought Israel was going to attack during the Arab feast of Id al Fidr.

So says Al Khaleej, a paper from the United Arab Emirates, in a story that was printed on Thursday.
According to the paper the Syrians called for help.
Syria had a long conversation with Turkey begging them not to permit Israel to fly over Turkish airspace.
And then in a game of diplomatic telephone tag calls went from Syria to Russia to China to the United States and finally to Israel.

Israel, it became obvious, was not preparing for war.
Syria, it became obvious, was.
Syria was moving troops - on the ground and in the air.
Syria was getting serious.

Syria is a dangerous country.
President Bashar Assad will do anything to show his people and his neighbors in the Arab world that he is strong and in charge.
It is a myth, Bashar is very weak and barely holding on to his country.
In the Arab world, myths are critical.
In the Arab world myths are more powerful that reality.

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

Syria Complains:Israel Chops Cherry Trees
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 29, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday the Syrians sent a formal, written, protest to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

The complaint stated that Israel is violating the human rights of Syrian citizens.

What are the Israelis doing?
They are chopping down cherry trees in the Golan Heights.
The cherry trees in question grow in a Druze village called Majd el Shams.

The citizens of the village are all Israeli, and they all have relatives in Syria.
According to Syria the Golan Heights still belongs to them and Israel has no right to cut down cherry trees on Syrian land.

On the serious side:
Cutting down fruit trees really is an offense and should only be done in the most extreme cases.
Actually, the Bible prohibits cutting down a fruit tree in Israel and there is reason to seriously question and examine the situation.

On the absurd side:
Syria, one of the greatest abusers of human rights in the world is championing the rights of trees.

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

Rice Gets Advice From Carter
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 28, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

On Wednesday Jimmy Carter had a meeting in the State Department.
Carter was meeting with Secretary of State Rice.
Condi was picking Jimmy's brain.
She was interested in talking about the prospects for an Israeli -Palestinian deal. She was looking for historical perspective and guidance.

Clinton. Albright. Baker. Kissinger. Dennis Ross brains were also picked by Rice.
So why would the secretary of state choose to talk to Carter?

Carter, who is guilty of inexcusable criticism of her boss President George Bush.
Carter, whose essays and interviews prove that he has no understanding of the Mid East conflict.
Carter, whose book contradicts documented history, who either does not remember or who chooses not to remember what really happened.
Carter is the worst person to get advice from. Unless, of course, you are looking for an off-the-wall solution that ignores realities on the ground.

Is this off base thinking and analysis what we can expect from Rice and the Administration for the next 14 months?

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

Gaza is Complicated
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 26, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is not supposed to be negotiating with Hamas.
But sometimes, for special need cases, they do.

Israelis and members of the Gaza business community talk when Israel sees these meetings as the only way to avoid mass decay and social catastrophe among the Palestinians.
Right now, the people of Gaza are truly starving.
And Israel is trying to help save those starving people, the very same people who put Hamas in power.

Israel is talking with Gazans for a reason - to help get food to the starving.
The talks have been going on for some time now.
They are not high level meetings but practical facts-on-the-ground meetings.
The talks between Israel and Gazans continue even as Israeli sanctions against Hamas increase.
It is a complicated situation.

Yesterday, on al Arabiya, the most popular pan Arab TV station, Mahmoud Abbas spilled the beans about these talks.
He said: "There are meetings taking place between Hamas and Israel, there were meetings held at Erez ( a crossing point between Israel and Gaza) and there are ongoing meetings in other places."

I hope this public announcement does not cause starving people to remain hungry.
Israel has kept the meetings quiet in order to best help the starving Palestinians.
Israel cares about starving Palestinians.
Does the Palestinian president care about starving Palestinians?

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

By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 25, 2007


Every child in this world should be entitled to an education. In the United States, every child is.

In the United States the question is not: whom should we educate. The question is rather: how should we educate.

In Fairfax, VA, a stone's throw away from Washington D.C., the freedom capitol of the world, there exists a school that has chosen to teach hatred - pure, evil, hatred. And that hatred is directed at you and me.

One thousand students, spread over two campuses, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, are enrolled in a Saudi sponsored school in Fairfax County. The school adheres to the educational model followed in Saudi Arabia. And even though some modifications have been made to the curriculum this is a school that preaches and teaches hatred of Jews, Christian and all Muslim non-believers.

Only fifteen miles away from the White House, the Washington Monument and the Capitol Rotunda there is an educational facility sponsored and funded by the Saudi government. Only minutes away from the Smithsonian Institute is an educational facility under the direction and influence of the Wahabi sect of Sunni Muslim.

The Wahabi sect should be familiar to all Americans. Products of the Wahabi educational experience have made their mark on our country. Wahabi is an extremist Muslim sect. Fifteen of the nineteen 9-11 hijacker terrorists were products of a Wahabi education. Ahmad Amar abu Ali, the man who in 2005 was arrested for and convicted of planning to assassinate President George Bush was not only a product of Wahabi schooling, he was class valedictorian in the Fairfax school. Abu Ali's plan was part of an al Qaeda plot, he joined al Qaeda while a university student in Saudi Arabia.

The School is called The Islamic Saudi Academy. Defenders of the Academy claim that only about 28% of the student body is Saudi, but make no mistake about it, those 28% along with the remaining 72% are all getting a true Saudi/Wahabi education. This is definitely a Saudi school. The chairman of the school board is Turki Fasial al Saud, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States. Despite the alterations made to the school curriculum, the school's website still emphasizes the fact that, in general, The Islamic Saudi Academy located in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the proud 50 states, still follows the curriculum of the Saudi ministry of education.

We all know that there are religious schools in this country. We know that there are private, special interest schools in this country. The problem with The Islamic Saudi Academy is that it takes educational preaching and moralizing to the extreme. Students are not taught simply to hate non-believers, they are taught extreme hatred. The hatred the students are exposed to goes beyond the typical hatred that Muslims in other schools are taught for Jews and Christians. At The Islamic Saudi Academy students are taught that Jews came from apes and that Christians came from swine. They are taught that once upon a time Jews were believers, but now they do not believe.

Trust and friendship are concepts that occupy a large chunk of the curriculum. By twisting truth and narrowly defining friendship pathways to hatred are opened for the students.

The school teaches:
That trusted friends can only be Muslim.
That even family members, if they are non-believers, have nothing in common with you and should be abandoned or ignored.
That people further away from you geographically and culturally are truly closer to you than the family you live with if your family does not believe.
That one should never establish a close and trusted friendship with a non-Muslim.

Ninth and twelfth grade curricula heavily emphasize the concept of Jihad, of holy war, and the obligation to fight and destroy the enemy and the non-Muslim. There are no grey areas in Saudi schools, it is all black and white and it is all reinforced in classroom assignments, papers and homework.

To those who claim that The Islamic Saudi Academy is an example of freedom of religion and freedom of speech and that it is our responsibility to protect those freedoms even if we do not agree with their content I say - wrong.

Education is mandated by the federal government and the federal government delegates the states and the states empower the counties and school districts to provide education. There are standards - even for private schools. No court should permit a school whose curriculum flies in the face of the very premise of freedom to continue to teach those lessons. The teaching of extreme hatred cannot be allowed to continue in our country, not even in a school sponsored by a foreign government, not even in a school sponsored by private funds. Even if the Saudis pull back to avoid a public black eye and private people pick up the financial slack this school should not be allowed to remain open as long as the present curriculum is in use.

Education should open doors, not slam them in someone else's face.

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

Osama's New Tapes
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 24, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Arabia for Muslim Arab's only.
That is Osama bin Laden's credo

The bin Laden audio tapes that were recently posted on Muslim web sites and were partially heard on al Jazeera clearly and precisely demonstrate the mind set of al Qaeda's leader.
Arabia for Muslim Arab's only is a message that plays very well in the Middle East.

It is one of bin Laden's most important and galvanizing concepts.
All non-Muslims must be driven out of Arab lands.
Unite against the foreigner who is on Arab land.
Deny the words of the foreigner.
Repel the foreigner.

It is an age old concept within Islam.
It is a concept that suggests that the unity of Islam and the right of Islam to control all Arab lands dates back to the Muslim conquest itself.

Any power that permits outside foreign forces to enter their land - especially military forces - is a traitor to the credo.
Traitors must be toppled and replaced by true Arab Muslim leaders who will reject the foreigners.
Traitors are those who weakly crumble and invite foreigners into their land and allow the foreigners to stimulate a civil war between Muslims.

Bin Laden has spoken these words out loud.
It is our responsibility to listen and to respond.

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

Iran's New Nuke Guy
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 23, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Now that Iran's nuclear negotiator has resigned, Iran will become even more hard-line.
Ali Larijani resigned because of an internal conflict with Ahmadinejad.
Larijani was a hawk, a member of the extremist camp.

Larijani was an officer in the Iranian National Guard.
Larijani was the head of Iranian national radio and is credited with discrediting all the liberal forces in Iran.
Larijani and Ahmadinejad had their differences.

Those differences were revealed earlier this year when Larijani expressed dissatisfaction after the president contradicted him about attending a nuclear summit. Larijani was not in favor of attending. Ahmadinejad was.

Despite his hawkishness, Larijani actually prefers negotiations. Ahmadineajd does not.

So when Larijani submitted his resignation Ahmadinejad was quick to accept it. Now a relative unknown named Saleed Jalili, former deputy foreign minister for European and American Affairs will take over as nuclear negotiator.

Jalili will do exactly what Ahmadinejad tells him to do.
The hard-line just got even harder, if that is at all possible.

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

A Hamas Mistake
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 22, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

There is almost never internal critique within the Arab world.
Especially political critique.
And then, along comes Ghazi Hamad.
Ghazi Hamad was the spokesperson for Hamas.

Hamad was the person who spun the Hamas takeover in Gaza that ousted Fatah from the area this past June. Hamad was the person who put a spin on everything that had anything to do with Hamas.

Hamad just published a critical letter on a Palestinian website called AMAD.
In the letter he clearly calls the Hamas takeover of Gaza real mistake.

It did not unify Palestinians.
It did not garner support from the Muslim world.
It did the opposite.

Palestinians continue to be divided and Hamas continues to be isolated.

This outspoken attack by Hamad, a clear rejection of policy by a well known former insider, is a serious blow to Hamas.

For the record, Hamas leadership responded by labeling Ghazi Hamad a traitor. They backed up their assertion saying that he advocated talking with Israel.

That response comes as no surprise.

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

Bush & WW III
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 21, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

It was last Wednesday that President Bush spoke about an impending World War III if Iran was permitted to have nuclear weapons.
Ever since last Wednesday Iran has been pushing buttons across the diplomatic world and sending out press updates warning about this dangerous man named George Bush.

Finally, on Friday, the White House called the tumult a whole lot of-rhetoric.

First, the White House issued a statement saying that President George W. Bush was simply making "a rhetorical point" when he suggested that if Iran could make nuclear weapons, it could lead to World War III.
Next, Dana Perino the White House press secretary said the president was just "making a point." She said the president was emphasizing how dangerous it would be for the world if Iran gained nuclear weapons. She said: "The president was not making any war plans, and he wasn't making any declarations."

Iran, a pro at media manipulation, grabbed the original comment and with great diplomatic energy attempted to turn the tables to make the US President appear irresponsible.
So far Iran is being moderately successful in the Arab, Muslim and even in European arenas.

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

Mubarak is "Unwell"
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 20, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The health of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has tongues wagging and rumors flying throughout Egypt and the Arab world.

Everywhere in the Arab world, newspapers are writing about it.
Everywhere that is, except Egypt, where writing on that subject is forbidden.
Even England - a country with a significant Arab population - picked up the story and the World Tribune ran a news piece on Friday.

Here is what I can piece together from all the rumors and reports:
Mubarak, 79 years old, collapsed last week as he was about to leave on a trip to Saudi Arabia. The trip was cancelled. Mubarak was also scheduled to leave for Germany to undergo medical tests. That trip, too, was cancelled. Mubarak was too weak to fly.

Several months ago similar rumors were swirling around.
After Arabic press around the world picked up the story, Mubarak did a slew of interviews to show that he was strong and still in charge.

There is much at stake here.
He might call himself "president" but Mubarak is a true dictator.
Egypt is the most significant country in the Middle East both in population and influence. Instability in Egypt sends waves throughout the region.

Mubarak controls Egypt with an iron hand encased in silk.
No one, not even the son he is grooming to take over his position, is capable of maintaining the calm Mubarak has commanded - except the military and police.

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

He is A Nut and an Antisemite
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 19, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko held a press conference last week during which he explained the problems facing the city of Bobruisk.
The problems, he said, were a direct result of having had Jews in the city.

He said: "This is a Jewish town, and Jews do not look after the cities in which they live. Take Israel for example, I was there and I saw it myself."
He said: "The status of the city improved only after the Jews left."
And then he urged the "Jews who have money" to return to Bobruisk.

Lukashenko is one of the biggest thugs on the planet.
Lukashenko has been called the last dictator.
Lukashienko gave refuge and even passports to many high level Iraqis who escaped to Belarus during the early stages of the War with Iraq.

It is high time that the world came down hard on Alexander Lukashenko.

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

By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 18, 2007


President Vladimir Putin of Russia was in Iran. The ostensible reason for this meeting cum summit between Russia and Iran was to make an attempt at ratcheting down rapidly rising Western tension over Iran's nuclear aspirations and nuclear development. At least, that's the way the meeting was presented before Putin's arrival in Teheran.

Once the Russian leader was actually in Iran, meeting with Iranian leaders and making public statements, a different agenda emerged. It immediately became evident that both the Russians and the Iranians were pleased with the way in which their relationship is progressing and the deals they are making. Watch out world. When Russia and Iran pose for the camera and smile it is a signal for the rest of us to worry.

In an interview with Iranian national television Putin declared that Russia would stand by its commitment to Iran and complete construction on the Iranian nuclear reactor at Busher. Putin explained away the many delays and work stoppages on the construction project by saying the obstacles were the result only of "legal and technological problems" and of faulty equipment provided to the Iranians by Germany.

And in an interview with Russia's RIA news agency Iranian leader Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying: "Iran is ready to cooperate with Russia in building the second and third units at Busher."

What Putin and Ahmadinejad are really saying is that political pressure, meaning pressure applied on Russia by the United States to halt construction of the plant, had no effect whatsoever. No effect on Russia and no effect on Iran. It is as if they are saying "Ha, ha, America and your Western allies, so there. We will continue to do what we want, however we want to do it."

That wasn't enough. Russia and Iran felt the need to publicly ridicule the United States even more. Putin also met with The Supreme Leader of Iran the Ayatollah Khamenei. That meeting, too, was successful. And in the course of their meeting, as was publicly recorded, the Ayatollah told Putin that "the interest of Russia lies in a powerful and influential Iran." And then the Ayatollah continued to underscore that Iran rejects anyone who stands up to them. Once again, anyone, in this case, refers expressly to the United States.

So far, in this visit, there was a promise to work on a nuclear plant, a not-so-veiled threat against the United States. Then came a move to dramatically improve Iran's conventional, military weaponry.

The Russian daily Kommersant, an economic paper akin to the Wall Street Journal, carried a story saying that before leaving Teheran Putin would close on a $150 million deal for Iran to buy fifty RD-33 turbo-thrust engines from the Russians.

Certainly, the Russian-made engines would be a significant upgrade to Iran's fighter jet situation as it now exists. But right now, that's not the point. Iran now uses a fighter jet called the Azarakhsh. The Azarakhsh, which translates to mean "lightening" in Persian, is totally Iranian-made and designed. Having a Russian-made engine will be a huge improvement. The Iranians created this aircraft in 1997 by reverse engineering the US F-4, F-5 and F-14 fighter jets. One of Iran's biggest gripes is that they cannot get spare parts for the US airplanes because the US will not sell spare parts to Iran. Continuing to use their own plane and equipping it with an engine from Russia is an end around the real problem.

Russia makes believe that they are cognizant of the dangers they are sponsoring by sprucing up Iran's military machine, but they are empty words. Russia claims that they demand that papers be signed pledging that the weapons will not be used as offense but only as defensive tools and that they not be used as weapons of terror. But look who is signing. Syria signed a Russian document and then turned around and sent the weapons off to Hezbollah.

Russia has not surprised anyone during this meeting. Russia is an Iranian advocate. Putin made that very clear only last week in a meeting with French President Sarkozy. The French and Russian leaders had a public disagreement over Iran's intentions and objectives. Putin came to the defense of Iran saying, in essence, that we do not know Iran's objectives and until we know that Iran aspires to develop nuclear weapons we cannot assume that they will.

For Russia it is a win-win-win situation.
Win # 1: Russia is a sponsor of the Iranian nuclear plants.
Win # 2: Russia has very little it can export other than technology and weapons and for those items, Iran is the perfect client. Iran has the money and Iran has the need.
Win # 3: Russia does not care about anything other than Russia’s own bottom line.

For Russia, winning is what it's all about.

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

Condi Thinks There's Progress
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 17, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Here's the good news:
Condi Rice was able to secure Egypt's support for the upcoming Peace Conference in Annapolis.
That's important, without Egypt the Conference could never happen.

Here's the disturbing news:
During her press conference with the Egyptian foreign minister the secretary of state hinted that the Conference will be held in late November or early December. That would be a second timetable delay. First, the Conference was moved from mid-November to end of November, now from end of November to the beginning of December.

The reason for the delay is to allow the Israeli and Palestinian sides to hammer out a mutually agreed upon document of objectives.
To quote Rice: "I do think the prospect of the meeting has given them (the Palestinians and Israelis) some momentum in the document that they are trying to forge."

The good news is that Condi Rice thinks things are happening.
The disturbing news is that they haven't happened yet.

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

Deal: Hezbollah and Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 16, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

It was a 3 for 1 deal.
That was the trade.
Two dead Lebanese Hezbollah bodies and one live Hezbollah prisoner for one dead Israeli body.

Yesterday Hezbollah and Israel completed a transfer.
The Lebanese had been killed this past summer in the war between Hezbollah and Israel. The Israeli was a civilian who had drowned in 2005. The current carried the body north where it was scooped up by Hezbollah.

The significance of this deal is enormous.
It is a dry run for Goldwasser and Regev, Israeli soldiers kidnapped last summer. If Lebanon and Israel could agree on this deal it means they can move ahead and agree on the exchange of the two most recent abductees.
Hezbollah has been known to be very difficult and to drive a very hard bargain in negotiations. Everything must be handled through third party negotiators - Israel does not negotiate with Hezbollah directly.

The success of this trade should be seen as a hopeful first step toward achieving even more difficult objectives.
This was a real time trial run.
This was proof that both parties are willing to put out in order to get back that which is important to them.

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

Putin in Danger in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 15, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday Russia's Vladimir Putin arrives in Teheran.
According to the Interfax News Agency, the largest news company in Russia, a surprise awaits Putin in Iran.

Interfax is reporting that Russian intelligence is aware of a plot to either intended to either assassinate Putin using suicide bombers or to kidnap him.
The report asserts that the operatives have been trained and dispatched.

The Iranians totally discount the report.
The Iranians say that it is their enemies who engage in psychological warfare. The Iranians assert that Interfax is a place where Russian insiders often plant messages intended to torpedo policy.

Assassination or kidnapping, they both sound like viable threats that Russia cannot ignore and should take seriously.
I would hope that, at some point, Iran takes these threats seriously as well.

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

Palestinians Are Entrenching
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 14, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The US Secretary of State is in the Middle East for a few days.
Her mission is to help Palestinian and Israeli diplomatic teams come up with a workable document to take to the Annapolis Conference.

Finally, Secretary Rice is taking a realistic approach in the Middle East.
Finally, a sign that Secretary Rice sees and understands the dilemma posed by growing expectations of the parties in the Middle East.

Publicly, Palestinian leadership has raised the level of expectations so high that any and every conference will inevitably fail - it is all contrived, a ploy, a blackmail tactic.
Using rhetoric and the media they have created a situation in which any compromise will be seen as failure. They are publicly entrenching themselves in negotiating positions way, way beyond the realm of anything attainable from the point of view of either the United States or Israel.

Privately and in bilateral leadership discussions there seems to be some significant flexibility shown by the Abbas.

Interesting, isn't it?
We have a problem.

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

Past Presidents: Shame on Them
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 13, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Two past presidents have broken protocol by criticizing the sitting president, both within the past few days.
Both blunders have gone practically unnoticed.

# 1: Past President Jimmy Carter breached protocol by directly criticizing sitting president George Bush in a nationally televised interview.

# 2: Past President Bill Clinton announced that he would open direct talks with Iran with no preconditions.

The Carter critique is just plain historically and factually inaccurate, rude and self-serving.
The Clinton critique is preposterous.
Clinton assumes that negotiations would bring us to a better position. But the United Nations has attempted discussions for the past decade to no avail.
The obvious answer is to keep open all options including an air strike and also negotiations. Iran is a wily country and negotiations alone will not force them to step down.

Both past presidents know better. Shame on them.

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

House Cmt Vote on Genocide
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 12, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs made the correct decision on Wednesday with their 27-21 vote.
It was the right decision to define the events of the mass murder of Armenians as a Genocide.
It was the right decision to move the resolution on to the full House for their vote.

Our foreign policy should not get in the way of defining right and wrong.
Our friends will respect us more when we are clear and unequivocal about what constitutes right and what constitutes wrong.
What happened to Armenians was wrong, what happened to Armenians was a Genocide.

The Bush Administration did its best to prevent this vote and will probably lobby the full House when it is their time to vote.
But it will pass and honestly, it should pass.

The word Genocide was coined in 1933 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish scholar of international law. In describing the massacres in Iraq Lemkin recalled the Armenian massacres of WWI calling them a Genocide.

Turkey will move on and Turkey will get over it.
Germany got over it and today the United States and Germany are friends.

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France vs Russia on Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 11, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

President of France Nicolas Sarkozy just met with President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
The subject under discussion was Iran.
The question was: Does Iran actually want to develop nuclear energy or is Iran just interested in energy?
The presidents agreed to disagree.

Putin explained his point of view in a press conference after the meeting.
Putin said that in the absence of "objective data" about Iran's nuclear program "we proceed from an assumption that Iran has no such plans."

There is but one problem with the assumption and I am sure Sarkozy was quick to point it out.
What happens if Putin is wrong? The genie never goes back into the bottle.

My assumption is that Iran is hiding something.
Why? Because Iran is not being transparent.
If Iran should ever become transparent, Putin's argument may prove valid.
Not now, not with this behavior.

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By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 10, 2007


Not many countries celebrate defeat. Syria does. Not many countries want to be reminded of grossly embarrassing encounters.

Syria is celebrating Israel's victory in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It's a celebration with a twist. While the rest of the world records Israel's October 1973 victory over Syria and Egypt, Syrian historians, Syria's military and most importantly Syria's president Bashar Assad tell another story. The Syrians have re-written history. And in their version, Syria emerged victorious against the enemy Israel.

Delusional is the word that comes to mind. But for Syria, properly placed myths and choreographed delusions are often a very effective propaganda tool.

Israelis commemorated Yom Kippur in synagogues across the country. This past Saturday, over the border in Damascus, Syrian crowds cheered and waved flags in parades sponsored by the government in celebration of their great victory against the Israelis in the Yom Kippur War. In Arabic the celebration is called Harb October or Harb Tishrin. Harb means battle, October is October and Tishrin is the name of the Arabic month during which the war was waged. Sometimes, it is simply called the '73 War.

There is no historical doubt that Syria, as a country and Assad, as president, are totally re-writing history. Yes, for the first few hours of the '73 War it appeared that Israel was caught with their fatigues down - but within 48 hours Israel had repelled both the Syrian and the Egyptian armies and Israeli soldiers were on their way to Cairo and Damascus.

By the time the armistice was signed at the end of October Israelis were only miles away from the Syrian and Egyptian capitals.

Josef Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, was fond of saying - in the most profound of ways - that the big lie actually works. He believed that as a rule, people are gullible. That if a lie is repeated often enough and with enough conviction, especially if it is voiced by those believed to have authority the people will believe the lie. Syrian leaders and Egyptian leaders are proof that Goebbels was not telling a lie. Both Syria and Egypt have actually erected monuments commemorating victory over Israel in October, 1973.

Bashar Assad is not the inventor of The Big Lie of '73. His father was. As the situation began to change, as it became more obvious to Syria's leaders that they were losing ground, Hafez Assad made the decision to prevent the Arab press from covering the war. Arab reports of the war from day one and day two are accurate and historical - the Arabs were winning. Arab reports beginning day 3 of the Yom Kippur war are pure fiction. There is no mention of the fact that the Israelis had taken the advantage, no mention that by the conclusion of the war Israel had defeated the Arab armies of Syria, Egypt and Iraq. There was no mention because the media was given no access, they were fed information and the information they were fed was false.

Syrian and Egyptian leaders had to lie. Their lives and kingdoms are not built on reality, their lives and kingdoms are built on Arab pride. If the people knew that their armies lost a war to Israel they would have been shamed. Blame would have fallen on the shoulders of their leaders. Control would be lost. Countries would be destabilized. And heads, quite literally, would roll.

Time marches on, but Syrian politics remains unchanged. Here we are, 34 years later, and Bashar Assad is still pumping up Syrians. He is saying that we did it in '73 and we can do it in '07. He is saying that we the Syrians can still defeat Israel. As proof, he is using another piece of altered history. He is citing the Lebanese war with Israel that took place this past summer. He is recalling the message that rang clear throughout the Muslim world that Israel can be hurt badly, that Israel can be defeated.

Bashar Assad knows the truth about the Yom Kippur War of '73. He understands the realities of today. He is conveying a warped reality to his people for a purpose. Assad is laying the groundwork for a Syrian offensive against Israel.

The Saturday editorial in Al Tishrin, a Syrian government-sponsored daily, named after the Syrian victory in the October War reads: "there will be no real resurrection for the Arabs unless they recapture the glorious spirit of October, which demonstrated our people's courage and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. Our brave leaders went on to secure the Arab victory and on the 34th anniversary of this glorious Arab war we must pay homage to our deceased leader Hafez al-Assad ... what the Arabs need now is not to pine for October's war but to regain its political, military and financial principles."

Glory? Victory? Principles? The Syrians lost!

But the lies work!

The lies, the delusions and the conspiracies now emanating from Damascus and Cairo are dangerous, explosive, motivational tools. Assad and Mubarak are preparing for war against Israel. In the Arab world leaders do not create illusions and tell lies in order to bring about peace. Sadly, it is always about war.

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Ambassadors from Iran & Israel Talk
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 9, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

I caught a news flash yesterday - it was online for just seconds and then it disappeared.

The Iranian Ambassador to Chile, Kambaz Jalali, showed up at a book launch. The guest of honor at the event was Moshe Baker the Israeli ambassador to Chile. The book was about Jewish youth who left Chile, immigrated to Israel to help found the state.

Surprised, Baker approached Jalali and asked if he accidentally come to the wrong event since this was about the founding of Israel and the role of Chilean Jewish youth in its creation.

The Iranian said "I know."
Then he said: "I have to tell you something, but don't be offended, it's nothing personal. We are forbidden from speaking with Israeli diplomats."

The Iranian asked the Israeli if he knew that there was a sizable Jewish community in Iran. The Israeli responded that yes, he knew all about it.

You don't make things like this up.

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Annapolis and Peace
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 8, 2007

I'm Predicting:

People are starting to talk about the Annapolis conference.

The Israeli and Palestinian teams have begun to hammer out ideas.
Israel's Deputy Prime Minister, Haim Ramon, was quoted as saying: "Whoever thinks that in the Annapolis Conference the parties will be discussing the structure of institutions in the Palestinian Authority is fooling himself."

Several changes will emerge as a result of the Annapolis Conference:
Israel will be forced to capitulate on some big issues - like relinquishing control of Arab neighborhoods surrounding Jerusalem.
Arab representatives will gang up and push hard on what they consider human rights violations by Israel.
The US and Israel together will try to push the Palestinians to create real institutions of government, justice, education and police and they will insist that the Palestinians crack down on terror and vitriol.

The US will be wearing three hats and it will be a difficult juggling act.
# 1: host
# 2: mediator
# 3: defender of Israel
Defending Israel will be the most untenable position for the US and so Israel will be on its own declaring its limits and lines in the sand, most of which will have been determined in advance of the Conference.

The limited objective of this Conference which is to create and then continue dialogue is both superficial and ridiculous. The Conference winner will be the group that pushes hardest and since neither the United States nor Israel will push, the outcome is obvious and foregone.

Expect milestones, but no miracles.

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Murdering Christians in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 7, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

A 32 year old Christian, Rami Ayad, was murdered in Gaza on Saturday.
Ayad who was kidnapped early in the day called his mother saying that if he was not returned in a few hours he would not come back for a long, long time.

The body of Rami Ayad was found several hours later.
The body had multiple stab wounds.

Ayad was the director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society.
The Society's Christian book store, The Holy Bible Society, was bombed and totally destroyed 6 months ago in April. There are about 3000 Christians in Gaza and their property, schools and lives are threatened every day by Hamas.

I do not understand the silence of the Christian community.
Where is the disgust, the protests, the shouting?
Where is the public pressure?
If more people cared maybe more Christians would be safe in Gaza.

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

Iran and the Holocaust
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 6, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Ahmadinejad addressed the Jerusalem solidarity rallies in Teheran on Friday.
He suggested that Israel be moved, maybe to Canada or Europe or even Alaska.

This is not a new rant.
Ahmadinejad believes that there is more space in those places than in the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad believes that Westerners and the Europeans should pay the price of the Holocaust, not the Palestinians.
Ahmadinejad believes that he has come up with a very practical solution - areas that have much land, few people and a perfect spot for a Jewish State.

On Friday Ahmadinejad was quoted in the official Iranian media, IRNA, The Islamic Republic News Agency, speaking about the Holocaust.
He said: "the world should know that the Iranian nation hates massacre(s). It regards agents of the World War II and Hitler as dark and black faces."

According to the logic of Ahmadinejad the Holocaust happened in Europe and Europe should pay the price, i.e. Israel, not the Palestinians.

It's as simple as that.

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New Gaza Poll
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 5, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

470 Gazans participated in a telephone poll.
The results were released this week.
Some of the results are obvious.
Some are surprising.

58% of those asked were afraid to speak freely
86% of those asked were worried about the state of affairs in Gaza
72% support a final agreement with Israel
60% think Hamas security teams do not respect personal rights
52% see Abbas as the legitimate leader
24% support Hamas
42% would vote for Fatah if elections were held today
15% would vote for Hamas if elections were held today

I congratulate the pollster and the respondents.
This took a great deal of guts.

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Olmert Abbas
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 4, 2007

I'm Predicting:

On Wednesday Olmert and Abbas met for what turned out to be a realistic and very productive meeting.
It was one of the most realistic meetings in recent Middle East history.

The Palestinian leader and the Israeli leader concluded that the United States sponsored conference to be held next month is not a goal, it is a step.
Coming to that conclusion and formally verbalizing it is in and of itself a big step.

Now there are rumors that the mid-November conference will be pushed off to late November.
That is not bad news, it is a sign that the sides are working together.
More specific groundwork and homework needs to be done.
Israel and the Palestinians must agree on a one page document of principles to present at the Conference.
Small group negotiations are kicking in and that is where the nitty gritty takes place.

The hard part happens before the Conference even begins.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 3, 2007


If you are going to tell a lie, it had better be convincing.

If you are going to tell a big lie, it had better be very convincing.

If you are going to tell a bunch of lies, they had better be consistent.

Syria has been lying about the events of September 6th, the day of the pre-dawn Israeli aerial raid into Syria ever since September 6th. Lying, lying again and then lying a third time. Yes attack, no attack, yes attack. This is how it all breaks down:

Lie # 1: Syria claims to have shot at Israeli aircraft forcing Israeli fighter jets to back down and return home fearing for their lives.

Lie # 2: Syria claims that no Israeli attack took place at all.

Lie # 3: Syria claims that there was an Israeli attack but insists that the strike was against nothing but empty buildings.

The claim that Syria sent Israel back home defeated and cowering, Lie # 1, sounded so preposterous that analysts immediately began to question the entire story. Lo and behold they discovered that not only did Israel not run away, but there was no anti-aircraft activity in the area at all. Analysts determined that there was, however, evidence that Israeli rockets had been shot and had landed in Syrian territory. Ejected fuel tanks from Israeli fighters were discovered in nearby Turkey.

No surprise, the Syrians had lied.

If you are Syria and you have been caught in a lie and if the people you have been lying about, i.e. your enemy Israel are remaining uncharacteristically quiet and restrained about the entire incident you are left with but one recourse. Lie again.

And that is how Lie # 2, the claim that there was never any attack at all, came into being. By this time, the Arabic press had run with the story and American media had picked it up, but that made to difference to the Syrians. It was time to spin another story. Syria and friends decided to change the venue.
Instead of talking about an aerial attack Syria mounted a media attack against Israel and the United States. Syrian leaders began pushing the idea that no Israeli attack took place at all, that is was all fabricated, a myth. Ignoring the fact that they were the ones who first let out the story, Syrian voices shouted that these deliberately propagated myths were proof of the true intentions of Israel and the US in the Middle East region. They said that Israel and the United States have only one interest - continuing war, not peace. They said, and they are still saying, that the US sponsored and proposed Middle East peace conference scheduled for November in Annapolis, Maryland is no more than a tool to help the United States and Israel.

The Arab League collaborated with Syria, supporting the new party line by issuing statements about how the attack on Syria never happened, that it was all an Israeli fiction. An Arab league spokesman was even quoted in a-Sharq al-Awsat, a London Arabic newspaper, saying "These are just fantasies and part of the wartime psychology being waged in the Middle East. Talk of Israel violating Syria's airspace is all mean(t) to rehabilitate Israel's deterrence after the war in Lebanon." As if that was not enough, the Syrians brought forth people living in the area of the supposed attack, had them interviewed in the Arabic press and had them saying that they never saw any planes, heard any missiles or witnessed any explosions.

But that wasn't enough. On Monday night, October 1st, Lie # 3 was born.

Syrian President Bashar Assad in an interview, in English, with the BBC, acknowledged the Israeli attack but insisted that the strike was against empty buildings. He said that the attack showed Israel's "visceral antipathy towards peace."

The plan worked. Someone took note.

The spin in the Arab world influenced Israel. On Tuesday, October 2nd, Israel lifted the ban the military censor had put on the events of September 6th. Official Israelis, not just Bibi Netanyahu, were ready to talk about the raid. Netanyahu had grabbed local headlines claiming he was a major part of the decision to strike Syria and he was the only one who actually acknowledged the Israeli raid, but his statements were seen by Israelis for exactly what they were political grandstanding, an opportunity to grab voters. What Bibi said meant nothing - now it was official.

The military censor permitted the release of a single line officially confirming that Israel struck Syria. That was all, they gave no other official details. Under different circumstances one line would be a tease, it would open the flood gates and leaks would come pouring in. Not this time, not yet.

Over the next few weeks far more material will be released about the events of September 6th. They have to, or Syria will have the upper hand in the aerial raid propaganda war. Neither the United States nor Israel wants that to happen. The Syrians know their audience. They are playing to an audience that believes them and distrusts Israel. It is an audience that truly believes that the United States and Israel conspire to trick and exploit the Arab world. It is a world that can never be convinced that it is Syria behind the trickery and that the US and Israel are trying to create some kind of rapprochement. The true story line is difficult to sell in the Middle East.

If you are going to tell a lie, hope it doesn't backfire.

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

Mud in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 2, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Gaza is hot, dirty and dusty enough to begin with.
Now there is mud being slung all over the place.

When Hamas took over in Gaza they found some "interesting" material.
It seems that Fatah security caught and taped several prominent, high level and very rich Fatah leaders conducting homosexual affairs - some even with their wives present.
Now, Hamas has the tapes.

Not to be outdone, Fatah has responded by claiming that they have evidence of a Hamas Imam having homosexual relations with young boys.

The reality is that neither side is pristine.
The reality is that this should not be a big deal.
The reality is that for centuries homosexual acts were not uncommon among the elite of Muslim culture.

P.S. The video starring Fatah elite will cost you $20 on the streets of Gaza.

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

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