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Israel- Indecision is A Mistake
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 1, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Indecision is the mistake that weak leaders make when they are scared by the ramifications of making decisions.
The worst decision Israel can make at this moment with regard to Hamas - is the decision not to decide.

At this point Hamas is pushing for a long, drawn out, low level conflict with Israel. In this case a long, drawn out, low level conflict with Hamas will only hurt Israel.
Hitting open fields with helicopter gunships shows Israeli firepower, but it does nothing to intimidate Hamas. It certainly does not bring Israel any closer towards secure boundaries.

Israel must take a long, hard, clear look at the situation and then make the decision to act - to really act.
Israel must shoot for a total knock out.
Israel might not succeed, Hamas will probably not be wiped off the map or blown out of Gaza, but Israel and Israelis will be much better off for whatever damage they do succeed in causing.

Time is not on Israel's side.

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Hamas is Escalating
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 29, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas is escalating activity into Israel.
Over the past few days nearly 100 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel.
On Wednesday and Thursday alone 82 rockets were shot into Israel, 51 of those rockets were aimed at Sderot.
The targets were educational centers and hospitals.

Hamas has added a new weapon to its arsenal against Israel, the GRAD Rocket.
The GRAD is a bigger rocket than the Qassam.
The GRAD is the most used rocket in the world, used by 50 countries.
The GRAD was originally Russian-made, but is now made all over the world.
So far,10 GRAD rockets were shot at Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people.
The rockets were targeting the Barzalai Hospital Center.

Hamas is begging for Israel to retaliate.
And indeed, Israel began a series of air and ground attacks.
Israel even hit the empty house of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh who has been in hiding, anticipating this very attack.

This situation is not going away - at this point neither side can or will back down.

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Leaks in Iran's Dam
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 28, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

It is unusual to have public disagreement in Iran - especially at the highest levels.
But sometimes we see cracks in the Iranian dam of silence and solidarity.

Hassan Rowhani is a significant Iranian religious leader and a former nuclear negotiator and advisor.
Rowhani has heaped criticism on Ahmadinejad for his belligerent style and for his anti-Israel and anti-Western diatribes.

"Does foreign policy mean expressing coarse slogans and grandstanding?"

"This is not a foreign policy. We need to find an accommodating way to decrease the threats and assure the interests of the country."

"If the international community thinks that a country wants to play troublemaker and eliminate others, it will not let the country do this and will confront it."

"We must act in such a way that the world understands that we are ready for more flexibility and more dialogue."

Even the best dams sometimes spring leaks.

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MONOPOLY: GAME OR POLICY?
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 27, 2008

Column:

There are war games. There are diplomatic games. There are mind games. And there are just plain - games. Monopoly, the most popular game in the world, produced by Hasbro, one of the most successful game sellers in the world, used to be just a game, a fun, simple, wildly popular game.

And then Hasbro decided to take the game one step further. Hasbro already had the Banking Edition, the SquarePants Edition, the Junior Disney Princess Edition, but they did not yet have the World Edition. So Hasbro came up with a plan to invite fan participation and create Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition. The invitation went out from headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to the entire online world - vote for you favorite city anywhere in the world and the cities with the most votes will win spots around the coveted Monopoly board.

That's when the fun stopped. That's when true competition stepped in. That's when Hasbro - unwittingly - stepped out of the realm of gamesmanship and into the real world of politics and diplomacy. Problem was, votes came in for the city of Jerusalem, Israel. Problem is, the Arab world does not believe that Jerusalem belongs to Israel, the Palestinians want Jerusalem for their own capital city one day. The problem was solved by an independent-thinking Hasbro employee in the London office. Just take out the comma and the word Israel. London remained London comma England, Paris remained Paris comma France, Istanbul a frontrunner for first place remained Istanbul comma Turkey and Jerusalem was left to stand alone. And that did not sit well with Israel's friends.

Hasbro does not like to make enemies. Hasbro will do almost anything to avoid alienating clients. Politics is one property that Hasbro does not want to land on. So Hasbro made another decision and this time the decision came from way high up the management chain. All the commas and all the countries were dropped. After all, Hasbro was really only interested in city names for their game. The plan is working, Hasbro dodged the bullet.

Truthfully, Hasbro did the right thing. Hasbro should not be in the game of politics and diplomacy. It's not good for business. That game is best played by governments and law makers. And the government of the United States of America is playing the Jerusalem game right now.

The United States government, like Hasbro, has dropped the comma and the country from the passports off all US citizens born in the city of Jerusalem. That's right. If you are a US citizen born in Jerusalem your official, listed, country of birth is ---, left blank.

There's more. Jerusalem is the only city in the world with two United States consulates. One is in East Jerusalem, one is in West Jerusalem. The embassy is in Tel Aviv. Year ago, there was need for two consulates because Jerusalem was in two countries - Jordan and Israel. But that was 41 years ago, everything changed in 1967. When Berlin was divided they, too, had two consulates. The wall came down and one of the embassies went away. Not so in Jerusalem.

The current presidential campaign is the first campaign in recent history during which no candidate has declared that moving the United States Embassy in Israel to the city of Jerusalem is a priority. In other campaigns Israel was discussed and promises were made. OK, the promises were broken, but the inequity was an issue that was opened up and discussed.

Congress even passed an act to move the embassy. The reason it has never happened is because of a presidential waiver written into the law that requires the State Department to agree and traditionally, both professionals and career people in State, have a real problem designating Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
They fear that if the US officially recognizes Jerusalem it will enrage the Arab and Muslim world and create a real problem for any future deal the US makes with the Palestinians. I disagree. I know it would upset the Arab world, but I also think that the Arab world would show more respect towards the United States if the United States, knowing that there would be strong disagreement over the policy, was emboldened enough to make a clear decision on Jerusalem.

It's about time that the world recognizes that Israel has made her own choice. And Israel has chosen Jerusalem. Jerusalem, comma, Israel.

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Heroes of Sderot
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 26, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Another Qassam hit Sdreot yesterday.
Ten year old Yossi Haimov was critically wounded.

Red Alerts are a part of life for Yossi and the other residents of Sderot.

A red alert sounded just as Yossi and his eight year old sister Maria came home from school.

Maria said that Yossi did not cry, she said he was in a lot of pain.

The Qassam ripped his shoulder.
In a medical miracle doctors at nearby Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon were able to save Yossi’s arm.

The Popular Resistance Committees of the Palestinians (The PRC) claimed responsibility for the attack.

The PRC is not embarrassed that their great resistance fighters hurt a child.

Ten year old Yossi is now a hero.
The residents of Sderot are heroes.
None of them asked for this honor.

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It's Hard Being A Dictator
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 25, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Castro has been quoted saying that he was relieved to have stepped down and that governing has exhausted him.

Being a dictator is a 24/7 job.
Castro combined his charisma with his oppression and that was exhausting.
A lazy king can delegate and luxuriate, but not THUG, not a dictator.
A dictator needs to have his eyes and ears open - there are just not enough people to trust.

In modern oppressive regimes dictators rule with an iron fist - the people must be kept in line, but at the same time, the people cannot be pushed too very hard.
In modern organizational theory dictators are the worst leadership model.

Dictators are micro managers.
Dictators do not play well with others
Dictators do not take criticism well.
Dictators have only a few trusted aides.
Dictators divvy out power like a miser.

Controlling the lives of an entire country is exhausting work.
But the benefits, the benefits . . .

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Hezbollah's Sermon
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 24, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah recently broadcast a fiery sermon from a Beirut mosque.
His audience was Lebanese, but Nasrallah was speaking to both Israel and Shiites. He issued a warning to Israel, he excited the Shiites.

He said: "In Israel there is a unanimous agreement that it lost the war. Using the word's of Ben-Gurion [the first prime minister of Israel] that if Israel loses one war it will approach its end, one can understand that this is the situation."

He said: "Now the Israelis are threatening us with war." "In the next war IDF will be destroyed"

He said: "The hajj Imad Mugniyah was killed in the framework of an open war and in an unprecedented step through which Israel is preparing for a new war. I don't wish to scare anyone. They are the ones making decisions on war and peace."

He said: "If a new war breaks out, they know their air force won't be enough to win the war. They have done all they can and have failed. We are ready for a conflict, are ready to defend and are ready to create a new victory, God willing, with all the faith and all the pride. No one can defend himself against our missiles."

He said: "As for the ground offensive they are planning, I can say that your brothers [Hezbollah fighters], these heroes, will fight the Zionists' army if it even thinks about invading Lebanon in any way and any place. I swear that your army and tanks will be defeated by Imad Mugniyah's men."

Do you hear shades of Ahmadinejad?
I do.

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Why Iran Needs Nukes
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 23, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Ahmadinejad has clearly articulated his logic as to why he attacks Israel and why he needs nuclear weapons.

In an interview released yesterday by FARS, one of the official news agencies in Iran, Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying:
"There were those inside and outside the country who asked us why we are defending Palestine and speaking against the Zionists, in the midst of all the attacks on the nuclear plan. I answered them in private meetings that today we can still do it openly. You saw that when we spoke about the Zionists' ideology, the enemy's ground was undermined, and they who speak about freedom (of speech) began crying out and had no possibility of creating unity and taking an active role."

Translation: Iran needs to keep Israel in check.
A nuclear weapon will help Muslims defend themselves against Israel. Verbal attacks against Israel help unite Muslims against the common enemy - Israel.

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Kudos Morocco
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 22, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

New details are emerging on the capture, in Morocco, of a large terror cell.

MAP, the official media outlet of Morocco, announced that 32 terrorists in total have been arrested.
MAP also announced that the cell was planning some very high profile attacks.

Over the past few years this group has supported itself through international treacheries including an armored car robbery in Luxembourg and a jewelry heist in Belgium after which the loot was melted down and sold.

This group wanted to assassinate Moroccan cabinet ministers.
They wanted to assassinate army officers.
They wanted to assassinate leaders of the Moroccan Jewish community.
There are only a few thousand Jews still living in Morocco but they are high up on Islamist targets lists.

Great job Morocco.
The time has come for all Arab states to take a strong stand against the Islamists because, believe it or not, Islamists also have Arab states in their cross-hairs.

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THE SIEGE OF SDEROT
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 21, 2008

Column:

The numbers are numbing.

Do the calculation.

Fifty days. Four hundred Qassam rockets.

If Qassam rockets continue to be fired off at this rate by the end of the year Israel will have been hit by almost two thousand eight hundred rockets.

Last year, 2007, there were one thousand one hundred and fifty rockets hitting Israel from Gaza. This year, 2008, the projected number - if the situation remains unchecked - will be three times this year's total. That means two thousand eight hundred enemy rockets hurdling into Israel.

Those mind boggling statistics refer just to rockets. What about the people?

What about the people who will be forced to run for shelter 2,800 times this year. What about the kids? Just think about it, a child born into the city of Sderot within the past six years has never known what it is NOT to run for shelter on a regular basis. Has never known that meals are NOT supposed to be interrupted by blasts. Has never known that other people sleep peacefully at night. Cannot know that bedwetting is not the norm, that shaking and difficulty concentrating are not normal childhood behaviors. Has never known life without Qassams.

And what is being done to secure the lives of these people on the brink - on the brink of society, on the brink of sanity, on the brink of the country they call their own - secure rooms are planned for their homes.

3,150 rooms will receive fortification in the near future inside homes that are within a one mile range of Israel's border with Gaza. Do not misunderstand, 3,150 homes will not be fortified. A designated room within each of 3,150 homes will be fortified. It's called a safe room, a secure room. It's where you go when everything around you is scary and unsafe, when your world is literally crumbling down upon you.

In a briefing given to the government by Brigadier General Yair Golan, head of the Home Front Command, that same briefing that announced the 3,150 safe rooms, members of Israel's Knesset were informed that since the year 2001 $138 million has been spent in the defense of civilians living in the area around Gaza.

Now do that calculation.

In seven years one hundred and thirty eight million dollars was spent. In other words, about $19 million dollars per year has been spent to protect Israeli citizens - locked into their homes because they have no place else to go - from Qassam rockets. $19 million for the people in need is a paltry sum. It is an embarrassingly paltry sum. It is smaller than the annual budget for Knesset travel.

Why are Israel's decision makers incapable of defending Israel's poorest citizens? "Why," as one general put is "are Israeli children on the front line and not soldiers?" It is not the role of children to sit, to play, to learn, to live in a bomb zone. It is the role of the government to protect those young citizens.

The story of the Siege of the Qassams upon Israel is the story of 21st Century international diplomacy.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and members of his government have been traveling the world talking to world leaders trying to get the nod of approval for a sustained Israeli strike against Hamas forces in Gaza. Israel wants to set the groundwork for the propaganda battle that will inevitably ensue after an attack. Israel's intentions are admirable - but time is being wasted. It is a pre-determined, historically-validated given that most of the world will condemn Israel even as they tacitly acknowledge the moral right of a country to defend her citizens.

Why scurry around the world begging for permission to do what you know must inevitably be done with or without permission? Why waste time, risk more lives, incur more injuries, ruin more lives? Just plan and implement multiple sets of attacks, strategies and counter attacks. Include media plans along with the military plans. Do it before more young boy lose their legs. Do it now.

Do it before a horrific disaster. Quite frankly, that is my fear. I fear that Israel is waiting for a sign - an awful, disastrous, costly sign - to legitimize an Israeli attack against Hamas. I fear that Israel will wait until a Qassam hits a house and kills a family. I fear that Israel will wait until a terror attack from Gaza successfully infiltrates into Israel and people are murdered.

The founders of the Jewish State were obsessed with the idea of taking charge. The idea of creating Israel was predicated on moral and historical ideals. One of those ideals was controlling the destiny of the Jewish people, another was providing a safe refuge for Jews from around the world.

The Jews have arrived. Protect them.

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Castro- What's Next
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 20, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Castro's step aside was widely anticipated.
But what will happen next on the international front?

In order to make predictions about a post-Castro future, we understand his past. Castro was a master:
a master thug
a master leader
a master manipulator
a master politician

What has Castro left behind?
Castro has left the world a living legacy.
As he was ending his career he reached out to Chavez. That was a tell.
It signaled that Fidel Castro was firmly handing off the baton of anti-US leadership to his ideological comrade Chavez.

Castro has left a vacant playing field.
Expect Iran to court Cuba. It is in the best interests of the Iranians to reach out and expand in the backyard of the United States of America.

What should the US be doing now that this void has opened up?
The US must now realize that the competition for Cuba's favor is Iran.
The new Castro-in-charge will probably continue in his brother/mentor's footsteps, but it behooves the US to use backdoor channels in order to plead its best case before Cuba.
Hopefully, Cuba will be swayed by the US more than it will be swayed by Iran.

Fidel Castro was more than a man, he was an internationally acclaimed thug, he was a symbol.
The stepping aside of Fidel Castro has far greater implications than the removal of one man's presence from the international scene.

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Morocco Arrests 23 Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 19, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

We often fail to realize the value of behind-the-scenes work in battling terror.
Terror not only colors the Western world, but also the Arab and Muslim world.

Yesterday Morocco announced that they arrested 23 people - an entire terror cell, leader included. The cell was set to attack Western and Arab targets. All this was made public by MAP the official Moroccan state news agency.

The report clearly stated that : "Twenty-three of them, including the network's leader Abdelkader Belliraj, were taken into custody."
This is an essential bit of news.

Al Qaeda runs freely across the Arab world.
Arab regimes need to try to stop al Qaeda, but more often than not they are afraid of Al Qaeda.
In reality, the Arab regimes are bigger targets for Jihadists than are the United States and the West.

Morocco has now made a choice.
Morocco finally understands.
The assistance that Morocco can offer in the fight against terror is invaluable.

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Mugniyah Was An Inside Job
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 18, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Michael McConnell is the Director of National Intelligence.
As a guest on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace McConnell gave important insight into the assassination of Hezbullah's master terrorist Imad Mugniyah.

He said:
"Hezbollah has blamed Israel. But there's some evidence that it may have been internal Hezbollah. It may have been Syria. We don't know yet, and we're trying to sort that out."

"But let's just - let me just mention about Mugniyeh, the person we're talking about - responsible for more deaths of Americans and Israelis than any other terrorist, with the exception of Osama bin Laden."

"There was a warrant for his arrest here in this country for a murder of a U.S. citizen. So this man over time had lots of enemies. Remember, he's a Shia, [sic Shiite] and oftentimes his targets could be Sunni as well as against Israel and so on."

The list of those wanting Imad Mugniyah dead was long.
But who had the means and who had the opportunity?
It had to be a local - a Hezbollah or Palestinian or Lebanese assassin.
This was an inside job, about that there is no doubt.

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Russia in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 17, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Russia has decided to double the manpower in the Busher nuclear plant in Iran. They claim that Busher needs more trained workers in order to bring it on line by the Fall of 2008.

Russia is playing both ends against one another, a game they are very good at.
On one side the Russians are supplying Iran with nuclear technology and know-how as well as with training and with workers.
On the other the Russians are trying to be international brokers to stop Iran's race to nuclear independence.

Russia wants to have it both ways.
And because Russia has a permanent Security Council seat with veto power - Russia may actually get it both ways.

It is our job to make certain that Iran is kept under control too.

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Iran & Syria Again
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 16, 2008

I've Beeb Thinking:

Iran and Syria form the most powerful nexus in the Middle East right now.
And Iran and Syria are becoming cozy, very cozy.

Iran's Foreign Minister was just in Syria for meetings.
That has many leaders, policy makers and advisers deeply concerned.
They are concerned about the power that will emerge from the continued diplomatic and economic sharing that will result from this friendship.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and most of the small Gulf States know that an Iran/Syria alliance means a move to the extreme.
It means a new tone will be set in the Middle East.
It also means a nose dive for US policy.

US policy in the region is predicated on the actions of Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Jordan.
Until now, those countries have set the tone and squashed Islamic radicalism through official military and judicial means or through financial means.
Now the extremists, Hezbollah and Hamas, will be sponsored by Iran and Syria.

This is not good news - not for the Middle East and not for the Untied States

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Ahmadinejad Going to Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 15, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Once again, in the name of political/diplomatic correctness, the United States is making a big and potentially costly mistake.
Iran has just announced that Ahmadinejad will visit Iraq on March 2 and 3.
The visit was expected - last week the Iranians announced that a visit was planned for some time before March 19.

As of now, Ahmadinejad plans to:
meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki
spy Iraq's new military apparatus
spy United States forces stationed in Iraq

OK, so the US permitted Ahmadinejad entry into NYC in order to address the UN. And OK, so Columbia University gave him a platform from which to spew forth his rhetoric.
But those were not sensitive areas, no military was around for him to observe. Iraq is one big base for the United States and for US interests.

Why is the United States, the acknowledged interim gatekeeper of Iraq, permitting Ahmadinejad entry into Iraq.
If Ahmadinejad and Nuri al Maliki need to meet, do it somewhere else.

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The World is Better w/out This Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 14, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Know this: People who play with bombs sometimes blow themselves up, too.

Yesterday an explosion in Damascus killed one of the worst terrorists in the world.

Imad Mugniyah is his name.

Mugniyah was the head of operations for Hezbollah for the past 20 plus years. Mugniyah was as important to Hezbollah from the operational side as Hassan Nasrallah is from the religious side.
Mugniyah and Nasrallah were a team, his death is a significant blow to Hezbollah.

No Hezbollah sponsored terror attack occurred without the OK of Mugniyah.

No Hezbollah attack was carried out without his hand in the design and in the execution.

Mugniyah masterminded the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev that provoked the war between Israel and Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

Mugniyah masterminded the bombing of US Marine barracks and embassy bombings in Beirut.

Mugniyah masterminded the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires.

Mugniyah was the face in the cockpit, behind the pilot, when a TWA jet was hijacked in Beirut in 1985.
Fingers are being pointed at Israel, claiming that Israel was behind the assassination.
The truth is that many countries, Israel amongst them, wanted Imad Mugniyah dead.

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Qatar Sues Kuwait Over Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 13, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Every once in a while a real live event from the world of Arab/Israel relations begs to be included in the world of Ripley's Believe it or Not.

The Prime Minister of Qatar has sued a Kuwaiti newspaper for ruining his reputation.
The Qatar paper is somewhat independent as Arab newspapers go.

Why is the Prime Minister so upset that he is suing?
A columnist for the paper named Fouad al Hashem has routinely criticized Qatar for ties with Israel.
In his columns al Hashem asserts that the Qataris are getting rich through deals with Israel, especially and most recently, a diabetes drug being developed in Israel.

Qatar suing Kuwait because of Israel.
Who would have thunk it?

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Israel Will Invade Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 12, 2008

I'm Predicting:

The planets are coming into alignment.
Something big is about to happen.

The intensity of the Qassam attacks on the Israeli city Sderot is increasing. IDF leadership has begun to speak of plans to embark on a wider, prolonged Gaza campaign. Israeli military leadership is saying that Israel can and must defend the homeland and the people.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in Germany trying to get support for such an operation. The United States has already given quasi approval.

I'm predicting that an Israeli military operation into Gaza is in the wings, just waiting for the right excuse to be executed.
The excuse can be a terror attack with a large impact on Israel.
The excuse can be a barrage of even more Qassam rockets shot in one day.
The excuse may be that Israeli citizens have just had enough already.

And then by land, air and sea Israel will go in and root out the terrorists.
The result will be costly in terms of Israeli soldier's lives.
But it is the only way to bring quiet back to Israel's southern border.

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WHEN HAMAS IS OUT OF CONTROL
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 11, 2008

Column:

Sometimes, the pen truly is mightier than the sword.

Hamas, in Gaza, has shut down a newspaper called Al Ayyam. A Hamas court ordered that the newspaper cease operations and that the people employed by Al Ayyam in Gaza, there are about thirty-two of them, cease work.

The newspaper was ordered closed on Sunday because of a cartoon that appeared on the back page of the paper last November. The cartoon depicted former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh addressing the Palestinian Parliament. All the men he was addressing looked like clones of the prime minister and they all held photos of the prime minister. The caption on the caricature translates to mean "illegitimate" or "irrelevant."

Haniyeh, to this day, is a strong, mighty and fierce Hamas leader. And Hamas leadership took offense at the portrayal. November, December, January, February. What took Hamas so long to react? That, I can't answer. Maybe they read slowly. Maybe this was a down period, maybe they were just looking for something else to be angry about, another way to prove to us all how un-democratic and non-Western they are in thought and in action.

But this I can tell you. A Hamas court may have ordered the paper closed, but the paper will not close. Ay Ayyam is a privately owned, Fatah leaning, press. And Al Hayyam is homebased on the West Bank not in Gaza. The thirty-odd reporters who write from Gaza may be forbidden from doing their job, and their lives may be in jeopardy if they continue to post their pieces from elsewhere in cyberspace, but those presses will continue to roll. And given the fact that there are over one million three hundred thousand Palestinians living in Gaza and the fact that only 3,400 copies of the paper were distributed in Gaza, I don't think the publishers will even notice the loss. My high school paper printed more copies
than are read in Gaza.

And I can tell you that the Hamas declaration ordering the closure of Al Ayyam is another clear and definitive indication of the way in which Hamas is now officially out of control.

Hamas is threatened by the slightest criticism. Hamas, right now, reminds me of the Soviets during the Communist era. We in the West encourage critique and thoughtful dialogue. Freedom or expression, especially freedom of the press, is sacrosanct. Western journalists are willing to surrender themselves to prison in order to uphold that freedom, they are not, as in Hamasland, imprisoned for writing for the "wrong" paper. Hamas feels that freedom of the press should be restricted - and even eliminated.

Hamas' greatest enemy right now is not Israel. As much as Israel applies pressure upon Hamas, the reality is that Fatah and Egypt are applying even more pressure. Hamas is fighting for survival, but ultimately, not survival against Israel. Israel, right now, is a side show. Israel, right now, is a way for Hamas to let our aggression and pent up hostility. The real battle is being waged within, the battle is against Fatah and against Egypt.

A stable Hamas was dangerous. An unstable, out of control Hamas is all that much more dangerous.

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The NIE Repudiated
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 10, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Last week the Director of National Intelligence repudiated that ridiculous report claiming that Iran had stopped nuclear development in the fall of 2003 aka NIE, the National Intelligence Estimate.

Michael McConnell testified at a hearing in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
He said: "If I had 'til now to think about it, I would probably change a few things." I would change the way we describe the Iranian nuclear program. I would have included that there are the component parts, that portion of it, maybe the least important, had halted."

What is McConnell's present day estimate of Iranian nuclear development?
"We remain concerned about Iran's intentions and assess with moderate to high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons."

Now that is an accurate and honest assessment.
Why didn't we hear that until now?
What took so long?

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US May Not Got to Durban
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 9, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Twenty-six US senators have sent a letter to Secretary of State Condi Rice saying that they want to pull out of the UN World Conference On Racism.
Scheduled to be held next year, this conference is better known as Durban Conference II.
Canada has already pulled out.

Why is there opposition to the conference?
It is becoming clear that this conference, like the first Durban Conference, will devote itself to Israel bashing by promoting anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity in session after session after session.

Libya was appointed chair of the conference.
Iran is vice chair of the conference.
The letter, drafted by Senator Norm Coleman, asks: how crazy is that?
Iran rejects the Holocaust and has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and they serve as vice chair. Is there any greater form of racism today than to deny the Holocaust?

State Department spokesperson Karl Duckman said no decision has been made. I hope the United States makes the correct decision.

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Iran's Rejects Khomeini's Grandson
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 8, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

I spend a great deal of time trying to understand Iran.
I try to predict Iranian actions and behaviors.
And sometimes, even I am surprised by the action of Iranians.

Ali Eshragi, grandson of The Ayatollah Khomeini, was forbidden from running for office in the upcoming elections.
Eshragi even received the blessings of the current Supreme Leader, the
successor to his grandfather, Ayatollah Khamenei.

The committee that vets candidates rejected Eshragi.
The committee that vets candidates tows the line as decreed by Ahmadinejad.

Once upon a time Ahmadinejad's religious mentor was rejected by Khomeini, the founder of the revolution.
Nowadays, it appears that The Ayatollah Khomeini and his grandchildren are neither extreme enough nor Islamic enough for Ahmadinejad and his allies.
That is truly unbelievable.

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US Strike Kills Civilians
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 7, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Earlier in the week the US embarked on an air-strike just south of Baghdad.
The target was in a densely populated area in the village of Tal al Samar.

Nine civilians including a child were killed.
Three civilians including two children were wounded.
To top it all off the American air-strike hit friendly soldiers who were actually fighting for US interests.

The Iraqi press has been all over this story.
The US and other foreign press have barely given it any attention.

Here's the rub:
If these were the outcome of an Israeli air strike Israel a UN resolution would have been passed condemning the action.
If this was the outcome of an Israeli air strike human rights groups would be all up in arms.
Something is inconsistent here.

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1 - 2 -3 BOOM
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 6, 2008

Column:

It was a 1 - 2- 3 punch.

An increase in terror inside Israel proper was as predictable as it was inevitable.

Step one, Gazans breached their border with Egypt. Step two, terrorists from Gaza set up new centers inside Egypt. Step three, the terrorists mobilized. Step four, BOOM.

This time the attack took place in a sleepy little city, primarily populated by immigrants and even a group of Black Muslims originally from Chicago. The city is called Dimona, it is home to the most developed nuclear reactor in Israel. The reactor was not the target. A pedestrian mall located in the city's commercial center was the target.

What makes this terror attack a classic example of terror attacks? The intention of this attack like all other attacks was to wreak havoc and devastation. The intention of this attack like all other attacks was to maim psychologically even more than to harm physically.

What makes this attack dramatically different from so many other attacks? One innocent little old lady who is now dead, one medic who ran to the scene as soon as the boom was heard, one well-trained police officer who saved many other innocent victims from dying and an entire group of people celebrating the deadly attack with candy and song.

After scanning the crowd to determine who was most in need of care the Jewish Israeli medic ran to the side of an Arab man lying on the ground. The medic evaluated the condition of the unknown stranger and ripped open his coat to begin administering care. And then he saw the explosive belt still strapped to his body. He had run to the aid of the second of two suicide bombers, a bomber whose worst nightmare had come true. His partner was dead, he was still alive. The medic, Salomon Amar, ran to help a patient as if he were any injured man, not a man dedicated to ending his own life as a mass murderer. Keeping watch was an Israeli policeman who, after rushing to the scene, had cleared out the area to protect those still uninjured from the blast. And when the hand of the suicide bomber reached towards the explosive belt still on his body, as the suicide bomber attempted to complete his mission, Kobi Mor, the policeman, shot him. Kobi Mor shot him four times in the head killing the Arab terrorist, the failed mass murderer. For 73 year old Lyubov Razdolsky, a retired physics professor, it was too late. She was already dead - killed on impact.

The attack in Dimona claimed three dead. Two suicide bombers and one old lady so badly disfigured that her sons could only assume that it was she after discovering that their father had been seriously injured and their mother was nowhere else to be found. Over thirty people were injured. And then the celebrations began.

These two terrorists were celebrated around the world. Their identities are known and were broadcast on TV and radio. I will not identity them by name, they are not deserving of recognition. They should not be googled, their photos should not be displayed. But the youth of Gaza would disagree with me.

Across Gaza young people handed out flowers and candy. Young men and women stood at intersections and stopped cars giving sweet and fragrant gifts in honor of the two murderers. There was shared laughter. There was a feeling of national pride.

Until we understand a culture that celebrates brutal killing, a culture that calls terrorists soldiers, a culture that transforms murderers and elevates them to the status of national heroes, we will never succeed in the fight against terror.

By reading or listening to the responses of Hamas and of other extremist groups in the Muslim world immediately following this lone attack in the city of Dimona one would think that a death blow had been dealt to Israel. How can anyone truly be convinced that murdering one elderly woman was a death blow to Israel? Hamas and Hamas henchmen, in this case the al Aksa Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinians, the groups claiming credit for this attack are not super powers, their operatives are not super heroes, they are simply a band of murderers.

They live in order to kill. And their victims are 73 year old women.

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George Habash Is Dead
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 5, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

George Habash died on Saturday January 26, 2008.
His long overdue death was a relief for many in the free world.

Habash was, above all else, a terrorist.
Habash was responsible for tens of terror attacks.
Habash was responsible for the deaths of dozens of people.
Habash will be held up by some as a hero.
That is a classic litmus test determining who embraces democracy and who embraces terror.

Habash founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in the late 1960's as a direct response to Arafat.
Habash felt that Arafat - the world's greatest terrorist in the 70's -was too soft, too weak and too liberal in his approach to terror.
Habash wanted his PLFP to wreak more havoc and more devastation on the civilized world.

George Habash was born in Jerusalem.
In a quirk of fate his home of long ago is diagonally across from the present day official residence of the president of Israel.
The Palestinians have declared a three day mourning period for George Habash.

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France is Right
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 4, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

France has it right - the United States has it wrong.
That's one headline that never made it to the front pages and it's a shame because it really is front page news.

French Foreign Minister Herve Morin just finished a 36 hour trip to Washington. It is no secret that there is tension between DC and Paris over several issues. Surprisingly, these meetings were overall very positive.

There was one point of contention.
France thinks that Iran is pursuing nuclear technology and does not believe as the National Intelligence Estimate assesses that Iran stopped in the fall of 2003.

Viva la France.

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Radioactive Cargo To Iran Found
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 3, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

A radioactive cargo train en route to Iran departed Kyrgyzstan recently.
The train never made it - it was stopped traveling through Uzbekistan.
The Uzbekis turned the train back.
A huge investigation is under way.

We know that the train was en route to Iran.
We can assume that it was ordered by the Iranians.
We do not know who sent out the train and how the shipment was arranged.
We do not know what special arrangements were made to allow the train out of Kyrgyzstan and across the border in to Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the former Soviet Republics, it is actually in Asia – one of the "Stans" as I affectionately refer to them.
Kyrgyzstan borders China and many Kyrgyzsians have Chinese features.

In Kyrgyzstan the vast majority of the population is Muslim, Sunni Muslim.
In Kyrgyzstan, however, Islam more a flavor and a culture than an obsession and extremism as is found elsewhere.

Find the extremists in Kyrgyzstan and you will find the people who organized the radioactive train.

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Wingograd & Amnesty
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 2, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Since its release the Winograd Report has made headlines and generated critique throughout the world.
The Report evaluates Israeli leaders and the decisions they made during the Second Lebanese War.

I need to comment on Amnesty International's comment.
Amnesty International is saying that the Report does not mention Israel's wanton disregard for civilians. Amnesty International is saying that Israel did not distinguish between Hezbollah and civilians.

Nothing could be further from the truth.
The entire reason there was a Winograd Report was because of the way Israel fights a war - which is by making every effort to minimize civilian casualties.
If Israel had approached Southern Lebanon with wanton disregard for civilians, as AI contends, there would have been thousands and thousands of civilian deaths and Hezbollah would have been totally destroyed.

That did not happen.
Hence, the Winograd Report was commissioned and the results were released for the world to read.

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