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Not Newsworthy
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 31, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

These are stories that did not make the news.
But should have.

During the 7 day period from May 22nd thru May 29th - 97 rockets fell on Israel.
The rockets were all shot from Gaza.
17 were Qassam rockets, crude yet very effective weapons.
79 were mortars.
1 was a Grad.

97 rockets were launched by Gaza onto Israel - and Israel held back and did not retaliate. Israel did conduct a few operations against the terrorist infrastructure, and guessed what Israel uncovered. A grenade launcher and an anti tank missile deliberately placed in a schoolyard - yes, in a schoolyard. And that same week a few Palestinian terrorists were shot as they tried to infiltrate into Israel.

Why did these stories not make the news?
Because they are expected and commonplace.
It is acceptable for Israel to be the target of almost 100 rocket attacks per week.
It is acceptable that Palestinian terrorists hide their weapons among children.

That is the kind of a world in which we live.
That saddens me.

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

First Female Jewish Arab Ambassador
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 30, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

When does the appointment of a female ambassador become newsworthy?
When she's a Jewish woman, it becomes a little newsworthy.
When she's a Jewish woman appointed to be an ambassador from Bahrain, that's very newsworthy.

I wrote about this a few months ago when it was just a rumor - now it's fact.
For the first time in history an Arab country has been named not only a female ambassador, but a Jewish female ambassador.
Her name is Huda Nunu

The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, appointed Nunu on Wednesday to be Bahrain's new ambassador to the Washington.
Nunu is a businesswoman who splits her time between London and Bahrain.
Nunu has been a member of the Shura Council, a 40 person Bahraini sort of their House of Lords, for the past four years.
Nunu is 43 years old and has two children.

In Bahrain there are only 50-60 Jews belonging to seven families. There is a synagogue and there is a Jewish cemetery. As a group, the Jews of Bahrain are a very wealthy community and they try to maintain a low profile.

Nunu's appointment is a brilliant political move.
It shows that Bahrain is open to reform.
It shows that Bahrain is open to minorities including Jews and women.
Bahrain is host to the United States 5th Fleet and this appointment can only help Bahrain expand their commercial dealings with the US.

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

WHEN 1+1 = 6+10
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 29, 2008


In a mathematical equation, 1+1 always = 2.

In an ideological equation, 1+1 can sometimes = 6+10

When it comes to the lives of their soldiers, Israel does not think mathematically, Israel thinks ideologically. And that makes the equation much more difficult to analyze, much more difficult to work out and much more emotionally laden. Ideological equations are not computed in our brains, they are wrenched from our hearts.

And that is the how and the why explaining Israel's decision to engage in talks with Hezbollah over the exchange of one famous Hezbollah terrorist, four live Lebanese prisoners, one Israeli Druze who spied for Hezbollah and ten dead Lebanese for two Israeli soldiers taken captive over the Lebanese border by Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. For Israel, it's 16 for 2 when the two are Ehud Goldwasser, affectionately known by the entire country as Udi, and Eldad Regev.

The faces of Udi and Eldad, along with the face of a third Israeli soldier taken captive by Hamas, Gilad Shalit, are known to every Israeli and almost every Jew worldwide. Their birthdays are noted. Their family members are recognized on streets and in airports. Their capture is mourned, but they have not been turned into martyrs. That is not the Israeli way.

That is the Hezbollah way. And that is why it is so important for Hezbollah to include the famous Hezbollah terrorist Samir Kuntar in this prisoner exchange.
Samir Kuntar is a symbol more than a man for Hezbollah, he is a part of Hezbollah lore.

Samir Kuntar represents the ideal terrorist, he is the man every Hezbollah member hopes their child will become. On April 22, 1979 Kuntar arrived on Israeli shores in a rubber speedboat and terrorized the Haran family in their home in the port city of Nahariya, Israel's northernmost city. Within one hour he had shot and then drowned Danny the father in front of his four year old daughter and then turned around and bludgeoned and bashed four year old Anat. He bashed, he brutalized, he butted. He shot, he drowned, he bludgeoned.

Fearing for their lives, twenty four month old Yael was hiding in a crawl space with her mother Smadar and a neighbor. Cradled in the loving embrace of her mother, fearing Yael's cries would alert the murderers, the helpless baby was smothered.

In every negotiation between Israel and Hezbollah, Samir Kuntar is on the table. He has been Hezbollah's most often repeated request from the time of his capture, conviction and sentencing. Hezbollah has not yet secured his release and Kuntar is in an Israeli prison, sentenced to four life terms. This time, only thirty years into his sentence, Hezbollah might just get their man.

These deals are never simple. This one is even more complex. When the sides refuse to negotiate directly, when they will not talk to each other, when conversations are conducted through third parties, the risk of miscommunication is obvious. In this type of sensitive negotiation the possibility for misunderstanding and the probability of misinterpretation is great.

Israel and the Arab world have engaged in, negotiated and successfully arranged several swaps over the past several years. Many more have fallen apart. For the most part Israel has received dead Israeli soldiers and returned live prisoners - and that was OK, because every Israeli is deserving of burial at home. One notable exception is the recent swap Israel conducted with Lebanon which resulted in the return of Elhanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli criminal/businessman and former IDF colonel was captured by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The question is not whether Israel should do everything to free Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. According to a poll published by the Israeli daily Haaretz, 63% of Israelis think that releasing Kuntar for Goldwasser and Regev is a good idea. 21% do not agree and the remaining 16% are unsure.

The question is what happens when Israel exchanges live terrorist symbols for Udi and Eldad. Does a bargain of this magnitude increase the possibility of more captured soldiers? Hezbollah has already proclaimed that capturing Israelis is one of their most sought after goals. And one of the reasons capturing Israeli soldiers is so enticing to Hezbollah is, without doubt, because it is an effective way to bring Israel down on her knees.

The question is what is the obligation of a country to the families of the victims? What is the obligation of a country to the justice system that tries and sentences terrorists? When the exchange centers on the dead bodies of terrorists, decisions are easier. When the exchange centers live terrorists, the decision is more complex.

The question is - is Israel like every country?

When Samir Kuntar entered Israel, he came with three other terrorists. Two of the four were killed. Ahmad Al Abrass, the fourth member of Kuntar's terror unit, was freed from Israeli prison in May of 1985 as part of a prisoner exchange of 1150 Lebanese prisoners for three Israelis POW's held by Lebanon. Because of the success of that exchange the terrorists were emboldened to act again. Within months the same Palestinian group from Lebanon hijacked the Achille Lauro. They killed a disabled American Jew named Leon Klinghoffer, a passenger on the ship. And then they pushed his dead, drooping body, still in his wheelchair, overboard. They did it because they were emboldened, they did it also because they were angry, they did it because Kuntar had not been included in the original prisoner exchange. And then, once again, they demanded the release of Samir Kuntar, their star terrorist.

It is essential to recall these events and their brutality. It is essential because it provides perspective. Israel must do whatever Israel can do to negotiate the release of prisoners held by the enemy. But at what price? What about the victims of terror, what about those families? It's a very hard call. It's a question of justice.

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

Conflict Brewing in the Harmuz
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 28, 2008

I'm Predicting:

There is a serious dispute brewing in the Straits of Harmuz.
Exactly half way between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are three Islands - the largest is called Abu Musa, next is Greater Tunbs and the smallest island is Lesser Tunbs.
Both Iran and the UAE claim sovereignty over these three islands.

Why are these islands so in demand?
Resources - the islands have enormous oil reserves.
Location - the islands sit smack in the middle of the Straits which means control over the entire Persian Gulf.

The Arab world is up in arms that the Persians might take control. Historically, the British controlled the islands and gave them to the precursor of the UAE. The Shah of Iran claimed the islands immediately and struck a deal with the UAE whereby the islands would be under UAE control and Iranian protection. But the deal broke down.

The Iranians issued a statement yesterday claiming: "Misunderstanding between the countries, it will be resolved through bilateral talks."

The status of these 3 tiny islands which, by the way, claim nearly no residents, is of huge import in the Arab world.
The conflict may soon turn into an explosion.

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

Carter Does It Again
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 27, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Jimmy Carter did it again - this time at the Hay Festival in Wales.

Carter was a special guest on the literary end of the festival. During a press conference, after being asked how he thought the conflict with Iran should be handled, the former president cum world human rights champion let loose.
Carter used this platform to wail and flail at countries with nuclear weapons.

Carter enumerated.
He said the US has 15000 nuclear weapons, Russia has a similar number, the United Kingdom has hundreds and Israel has over 150.
And, yes, of course, it is all the fault of Israel.

Carter condemned.
He lambasted Israel for not permitting Gazans to enter Israel freely. He termed it "one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on earth."

Carter seems to have conveniently forgotten that Israel has a significant border with Gaza because the people of Gaza want to murder Israelis. The border helps prevent them from coming into Israel. It does not stop them from the daily sport of lofting rockets from Gaza to Israel.

But we must remember - Carter was being asked about Iran when he went off of these tangent tirades. Once again, proof about how way off base he is in his thinking and analysis.

For Jimmy Carter murdering and terrorizing innocent Israeli Jews is not considered a great human rights crime.

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

Analyze Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 26, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Let's analyze Syria.

Let's look at the tensions and tradeoffs Syria is currently confronting.

First: Lebanon - Syria has enormous interests in Lebanon and wants to maintain them. Syria is willing to scale down and lessen the involvement but only temporarily. Syria has no interest in giving up influence over Lebanon.
To Syria, Lebanon is a province of Syria.

Second: Iran - Syria is beholding to Iran and needs Iranian investments and support. Even if Syria wanted to divorce from Iran it would be impossible, the connections are too deep and the commitments too critical to daily operations. Iran has invested in Syrian factories, infrastructure and security.

Third: Israel - Syria wants one thing from Israel and that is the Golan Heights. But Syria does not want it enough to give up ties with either Lebanon or Iran in return for the Heights.

No Arab leader would give up two known commodities for the promise of a third.
And that explains why, from the Syrian point of view, there can be no traction on the peace front with Israel.

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

Syrian- Israel Peace?
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 25, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Iran is perturbed by the prospect of talks between Jerusalem and Damascus.

Ahmadinejad was just quoted in a London Arabic newspaper saying that anyone who joins with the enemy will be seen as the enemy and in the end will be punished.
This is the same response he had only last month when the rumors began spreading about Turkey running messages between Israel and Syria.

The reality is that Iran has nothing to worry about.
Syria is not interested in peace.
Syria is only interested in the Golan Heights.
Syria is saying yes to Turkey to make it clear that they lay claim to the Golan.
This is exactly what the Syrian ambassador said on Al Manar, Hezbollah TV.

So why is Iran so worried?
Iran needs to make certain that Syria is not cut lose and becomes a free agent. Iran has too much to loose if that happens.

Expect 3 things:
# 1: Increased pressure on Syria
# 2: Increased anti-Israel rhetoric from Syria and Iran
# 3: No peace process with Syria
So, what else is new?

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

Russia & China vs the US
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 24, 2008

I'm Predicting:

There is a new and quite popular form of diplomacy emerging.
I call it Back To The Future Diplomacy.

Here's an example:
China and Russia are uniting for mutual benefit - and to attack the United States.
They have joined forces to condemn the US missile defense system saying that it is detrimental to the world effort to stop nuclear weapons development.

Medveved, the new President of Russia, and Jintao, the Prime Minister of China, released this joint statement: "the creation of global missile defense systems and their deployment in some regions of the world ... does not help to maintain strategic balance and stability and hampers international efforts in arms control and nuclear nonproliferation."

They issued the statement after signing a billion dollar deal.
The deal is for Russia to build a uranium enrichment factory for China.
Russia is to also supply low enriched uranium for the already existing Chinese nuclear program.
Double standard, wouldn't you say.

In his first diplomatic move as president, Russia chose to join China against the United States.
Expect to see many more such diplomatic moves and maneuvers.

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

Al Qaeda Feeling the Heat
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 23, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Al Qaeda is waging a PR campaign for the hearts and minds of Muslims and Arabs.

A 45 minutes sermon delivered by an al Qaeda spokesperson was released yesterday. The spokesperson ranted and raged against the West throughout most of the sermon. One special segment was reserved for Muslim leaders and Imams who teach and speak about the connections between Islam and other religions. These Imams were accused of actually luring Muslims away from Islam.

Al Qaeda is feeling the heat.
Al Qaeda knows that people are seeing the messages suggesting that monotheistic religions are all from the same root.
Al Qaeda considers that message to be blasphemous.

Al Qaeda seeks to delegitimize all forms of behavior that are not precisely prescribed by al Qaeda.
And that includes other forms of behaved sanctioned by Islamic law.

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

Peace With Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 22, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

It is important that Syria and Israel are meeting to discuss peace.
It is important even though, ultimately, the discussions will not lead to peace.

Let's look at this for what it really is and what it is not:
# 1: There is so much baggage brought to the discussion table that there is no way either side can meet the other side's minimum requirements for a peace deal.
# 2: It is not really a peace negotiation, the parties are not speaking to one another, they are using a third party intermediary, Turkey.
# 3: Peace with Israel is not in the interest of Syria.
# 4: Syria will not and cannot disengage from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.
# 5: Syria will not and cannot normalize relations with Israel.

So if these aren't peace discussions, what are they:
# 1: It is not war. War is something Syria does not want and cannot afford. A war would result in the ousting of President Bashar Assad from his post and could jeopardize the entire regime.
# 2: It is Syria's way to lay claim to the Golan Heights. For that, Syria is willing to enter into third party negotiations with Israel.
# 3: It is Israel's way of telling Syria that in order to receive the Golan Heights they will have to swear not to attack Israel. Israel needs real assurances from Syria and real movement away from Iran. That will not come.

So where does this all lead?
To a situation in which Israel is no closer to peace with Syria, but Syria and Assad are farther away from an Israeli attack.

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

Peace Index is Upside Down
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 21, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

In a new study on peace called the Global Peace Index Israel ranked 136 out of 140 countries.

The study was conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
The think tank judged each country on how it approaches peace-related issues including crime, human rights, relations with neighboring countries and foreign policy.

The number 1 ranking went to Iceland, followed by Denmark, Norway and New Zealand. France came in at 36, England came in at 49. The US ranked 97, last year they were 96. Iran was ranked at 105, Russia squeezed in at 131, Lebanon at 132 and North Korea at 133. Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia were at the lowest end of the list with Iraq taking placing last at 140.

There is something wrong with these kinds of studies.
The Institute claims that the emphasis is on the need to change the status quo and to stabilize governments and business.
The reality is that those countries working hardest to pursue peace and stabilize unstable parts of the world are far from the top of the index.

The Global Peace Index demonstrates a real bias against successful Western democracies.

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

Iran Arrests Bahai
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 20, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The Iranians have arrested six leaders of the Bahai.
Bahai is a religion that split off from Shiite Islam and has been outlawed in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
In Iran it is permitted to persecute Bahai and they are often executed after being arrested.

There are about 300,000 Bahai who live in Iran and about 5 million across the globe. These 6 leaders now under arrest in Iran represent not just the local leadership but also international Bahai leadership, a faith that embraces peace.

Arrest and intimidation.
This is a classic example of how Iran handles people who are different.
The idea now is to intimidate the 300,000 Bahai still living in Iran.

Forget all the rhetoric from Ahmadinejad about freedom and people's rights.
In Iran, you do it the mullah's way or you hit the highway to prison.

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

By Micah Halpern

Monday May 19, 2008


George Bush participated in the festivities and was himself feted on his trip to the Middle East in honor of Israel's anniversary. And while that component of his visit was important, it was not the focal point of the trip.

The most important discussion George Bush made on this diplomatic mission to the Middle East was with Saudi Arabia. And it was also the most demeaning.

The president of the United States, the most powerful country in the world, attempted to persuade the King of Saudi Arabia, the most oil rich country in the world, to increase oil production for US consumption. And the king turned the president down. And this wasn't the first time it happened. Only eight months ago the president made the same visit to the king with the same request and received the same negative response. O.K, so this time it was not an outright "no." This time a promise was made to increase oil production for the United States by 300,000 barrels a day - but in diplomatic-speak, that is worse than a "no," that is a "dis." It means "I can do it if I want do, but I don't, so I won't."

Why did Saudi Arabia turn down this request by the United States?

Because they could. And because it makes the Saudis feel very good and very powerful to turn down the United States. And because Saudi Arabia knows that they will suffer no repercussions for having turned down a heartfelt plea from the most powerful country in the free world.

In diplomatic terms, this was a botched job. It proved, once again, just how little the policy wonks of the United States understand the Middle East. The United States, in the person of President George Bush, threw diplomacy aside and begged. And when he was laughed at for begging, he scuttled out leaving gifts behind. Good gifts. Great gifts. Valuable gifts. Gifts that will elevate the status of Saudi Arabia in Middle East circles. Gifts that will change the status of the Region.

The United States approached Saudi Arabia from a position of weakness, it was, in the eyes of the Arab Middle East, an act of humiliation and degradation. By repeating his request to the Saudi king, Bush telegraphed to the Arab world just how needy the strongest country in the world is.

The entire situation could, and should, have been conducted differently. As opposed to putting forth his request while in the Region, the United States could have continued the discussion from home field. It is an ages old rule in the history of diplomacy in the Middle East - power sits with the host. And as opposed to rewarding the Saudi Kingdom with gifts following the refusal of the Saudi Kingdom to aid the United States, those gifts should have been held back either as rewards for complying with the request and significantly expanding oil production for the United States, or held back and denied entirely.

And what are those gifts:
Gift # 1: On the Friday following the turn down the White House announced that the United States will help Saudi Arabia develop atomic energy.

Gift # 2: The United States has signed a very expansive military arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The US will be selling some of the most sophisticated and most advanced weapons in the US arsenal to the Saudis - this deal includes new planes and technology.

Israel, not surprisingly, has issued a formal request to torpedo the deal because these new weapons would significantly threaten Israel's qualitative advantage in the region. This time it was the United States who said "no" and the US will go through with the deal.

What could have been important fulcrums for leveraging power have turned into fool's gifts. What incentive do other countries have for assisting the United States when gifts are lavishly dispensed anyway? All countries create foreign policy and act in their own best interest. Saudi Arabia is no exception, neither is the United States. The point is that until now the United States had tremendous leverage when urging other countries to help out. Bribes worked, arm twisting worked. Dangling enticing carrots from the Oval Office packs far more power than standing hat in hand in another country's front yard.

So what if the world accused the United States of offering bribes? The United States can handle that. In many parts of the world, that ability inspires respect and commands fear. That is how successful US foreign policy has often been determined. In the words of Machiavelli, "It is better to be feared than loved."

And in the words of Alexander Pope,"... fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

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

Lebanese Talks Fail: Hezbollah Says No Way
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 18, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The Lebanese have finally begun talking to each other.

The talks, which are sponsored and hosted by Qatar, took place on Saturday.
One side is supportive of the government, the other side is Hezbollah.
It is an attempt to resolve past hostilities and prevent future violence between the militias.

Last week after a cease fire was negotiated with the help of the Prime Minister of Qatar, Hezbollah agreed to come to the talks.
Of course, the agreement also meant that Hezbollah got everything they wanted.
The hope was that once in Qatar Hezbollah could be pressured to compromise.

False hope, it seems.
Hezbollah flatly refused to disarm claiming they need weapons to fight Israel. The problem is that Hezbollah is using their weapons to kill and intimidate the Lebanese.

What surprises me is this misread of Hezbollah by Qatar.
I would expect unrealistic expectations from the United States, not from an Arab country hoping to become a leading influence in the region.

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

Obama Took Offense
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 17, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Candidate Barack Obama took offense at the comments made by President George Bush in front of the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
The president's comments warned about talking to terrorists.

The reference seemed to be about Obama - but it was not.
Yes, Obama wants to even the playing field and talk to Syria, Iran and North Korea. But no, Obama does not want to talk with Hamas. He has maintained that position from the start.

So why does Barack Obama think that George Bush was speaking about him?
It is all about a basic insecurity over the policy of talking with your enemies and about reinventing that particular diplomatic wheel.

Bush was referencing an ex-president who was just in the region talking to Hamas in Syria. An ex-president who laid a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat.
He was talking about former President Jimmy Carter who strongly believes in talking to terrorists.

A world of advice to the candidate: If you are insecure in your own foreign policy, the people will have a hard time believing in you.

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

The New Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 16, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

A high level delegation of the Arab League is in Lebanon right now.
Their mission is to convince Hezbollah to back down.
They want the situation in Lebanon to return to the status quo.

Which status quo? The status quo of before last week's flare up which threatens to spiral out of control and weaken and even destroy Lebanon as we know it.

The Secretary General of the Arab League, Amir Moussa, and the Prime Minister of Qatar have been meeting with Hezbollah leaders.

And what is the response of the deputy head of Hezbollah, Sheik Naim Kassem, to these leaders - he says he wants to return Lebanon to normal.

And what is normal for Hezbollah and Kassem?
Normal to them means returning Lebanon to the civil war of the 1980's.

Hezbollah really wants to intimidate the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah wants to control the Lebanese government through threats and intimidation. And that is exactly what has happened. This conflict erupted because the government squelched Hezbollah's independent phone system and took back the Beirut airport by sacking Hezbollah's Airport security chief.

And yesterday the Lebanese government voted to reinstate the airport chief and permit Hezbollah to run their own phone system.

Score another one for Hezbollah.

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

Hurt Israel At All Costs
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 15, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Defaming Israel has become a Palestinian pastime.
Taking advantage of humanitarian gestures has become a Palestinian sport.

Examples of chemical explosives being smuggled into Gaza under the guise of food aide in flour and sugar bags are numerous.

Stories about Palestinians approaching border crossings under the guise of medical treatment and them turning themselves into human bombs are almost commonplace.

Here is a new twist.

In a story that spread like wildfire in news accounts around the world it was reported that a man Muhammad al Harrani, the father of 6 children, died of cancer waiting for his permit to enter Israel for his treatment. His entry interview was postponed because Israel was commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Turns out, Muhammad al Harrani is still alive.

No, it was not a miracle ... yes, it was a hoax.

Sadly, it was more important for the family of al Harrani to defame Israel than it was to get needed medical treatment for a sick and dying man.

Sadly, now al Harrani will probably be denied entry into Israel.
Inevitably, Israel will be blamed for denying medical treatment to a master media manipulator.

To what depths will people sink to defame Israel and call her the oppressor?

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 14, 2008


President George Bush is singing his swan song.

There are several verses to that song. One verse has decidedly Middle Eastern overtones. And that explains this American president's trip to the Middle East occasioned by Israel's 60th anniversary.

This trip was motivated by several objectives. One objective is, truly, to celebrate Israel's 60th. There is no doubt that the United States and Israel have a special relationship and special friends share special occasions. There can also be no doubt about the impact that President George Bush has had on that relationship - he has strengthened and deepened and made that relationship more significant and more unabashedly public.

At the same time, another objective of this trip is to apply pressure on Israel to make concession to the Palestinians in the name of advancing the peace process. For the president, that would be the perfect closing stanza of his song.

George Bush wants to create a lasting legacy and he does not want it to involve Iraq or Afghanistan. Condi Rice wants to create a position for herself as the next vice president of the United States. But Israel should not be forced into being the spring board for either of those noble aspirations.

Israel has sacrificed enough in the name of friendship. Asking Israel to totally abandon borders that keep Israeli citizens safe, asking Israel to take down roadblocks that prevent terrorists and tools of terror from entering their country, asking Israel to stop arresting terrorists is asking too much. Asking Israel to abandon the methods that have proven effective in safeguarding the lives and property of Israeli citizens is taking too much advantage of friendship.

The verses missing in this stanza of Bush's song are the lines asking the Palestinians to stop the flow of terror and to, of their own volition, arrest the terrorists. Missing is the US demand to Palestinian leadership to clamp down on Hamas and to issue a cease and desist order on the activities emanating from Gaza. Missing is a plea from the president of the United States to the Palestinian people to place their values and their future on the line by challenging Hamas, the real threat to Palestinian dreams.

If President George Bush succeeds in making the Palestinians realize that the real enemy rises from within and that Israel and the United States are there to help them achieve the lofty goals of statehood he will have succeeded in the Middle East. He will have sown the seeds of peace. But if the Palestinians cannot be made to see what is obvious to the rest of free and democratic world, there can never be peace with Israel.

We don't yet know the words to the Bush Swan Song, they are still to be composed. So let's just sing the song we do know. Happy anniversary to Israel, happy anniversary to you. And many more!

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

If The Qassams Don't Stop
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 13, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Another day, another Qassam rocket lands in Israel.
Islamic Jihad in Gaza has claimed responsibility for a Qassam that killed a 70 year old woman as she visited her sister who had come to visit from abroad.

The clock is ticking.
Olmert and Barak both met with General Omar Sulieman, head of Egyptian intelligence, on Monday, in a last ditch effort to avert a serious military assault on Gaza - an assault that will put a short term stop to the unending barrage of Qassam rockets into Israel and cause serious damage to Hamas.

Hamas knows an Israeli assault is coming.
Hamas is preparing.
Israel is preparing to make certain not to fall into the same trap as Southern Lebanon did two summers ago.

Israel is sending a warning.
Two Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets in the past three days.
If the Qassams do not stop, Israel will respond and respond with power.

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

Arab League to Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 12, 2008

I'm Predicting:

The Arab League has condemned Hezbollah.
In a meeting held in Cairo the foreign ministers of 22 Arab countries declared that Hezbollah is wrong to violently conduct attacks in Lebanon against the Lebanese government and government supporters.

The Secretary General of the Arab League and the Foreign Minister of Qatar are being dispatched to Lebanon to deliver the message and try to instill some sense of order in Lebanon.

Actually, Hezbollah violated their own agreement, the 1989 Taif Accords, that officially ended the civil war in Lebanon.
The Accords said that Hezbollah would only fight in defense from the occupation (Israel) and not turn weapons on other Lebanese within Lebanon.
Certainly, the Arab League will formally remind Hezbollah of the content of the Taif Accords, but Hezbollah knows exactly what Hezbollah is doing.

The question is:
Does the Arab league have any desire to exercise power and influence, will the Arab League force Hezbollah to back down?
The answer is:
I doubt it, but at least they are sending a delegation.

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

The Hezbollah Plan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 11, 2008

I'm Predicting:

Two obvious predictions about Lebanon:
It will get worse before it gets better.
Hezbollah will not step aside on its own.

Hezbollah has successfully been working their militia battles and defeating the supporters of the ruling union across Lebanon.
And the army has not gotten involved.
The Head of the army, Michel Sulieman, is the presumptive next leader of Lebanon in a compromise.

Sulieman has secured his position exactly because he has seen to it that the army did not come in to save the Sunnis and Druze coalition.
It was Hezbollah that did not want Sulieman to intervene and now he strategically forged a bond by not stepping in to save the democratically elected government.

The Hezbollah coup is nearly complete.
All Hezbollah needs now is an election and they will seal their total control of the Lebanese Parliament.
And Sulieman will have passed the test as their potential new President.

And that was the objective of Hezbollah all along.

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

Lebanon vs Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 10, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

We must pay closer attention to what is happening in Lebanon.

Hezbollah, over the last few weeks, has made a bold move on the communications system of Lebanon.
Hezbollah has instituted an independent and parallel telephone system throughout Lebanon.
The objective is to be off the radar of Lebanese intelligence and of all Western intelligence services.
Hezbollah does not want their conversations tapped.

The implications of this move go far beyond a new and separate telephone system.
Establishing their own phone system is tantamount to creating an independent government apparatus over all of Lebanon, not just over the southern areas that are, de facto, under Hezbollah control control.

The Lebanese government struck back.
They dismantled the telephone system and fired the head of security at Beirut Airport who was a Hezbollah operative. The government took back the airport.
Now militias have taken up sides and taken to the streets.
Now the army is getting involved.

It is about time - Hezbollah must be stopped.
Lebanon has a history of weakness when it comes to their internal defense.
Lebanon does not take their country back from encroachers.

Hezbollah wants to turn the entire country of Lebanon into a Shiite state sponsored by Iran.
The only way to prevent from happening is to stand up against Hezbollah.

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

World Leaders Praise Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 9, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

In honor of Israel's 60th birthday there have been a great many speeches and statements by leaders from around the world.
These tributes have furthered my realization that the vast majority of the world, even countries that have been traditionally critical of Israel, recognize Israel's vital contributions and role in the Western world.

The one statement that gave me pause, however, came from Israel's own president, Shimon Peres.

Peres said that he had not anticipated the Kassam rockets.
He was referring to the cycle begun when Israel withdrew from Gaza leaving Gaza under the control of the Palestinians that saw the rise of Hamas to power enabling a relentless showering of rockets from Gaza into Israeli communities that border and abut the area. The most noted of all is the city of Sdreot.

Not to have anticipated the Kassam rockets is a major flaw.
Israeli leaders, especially seasoned leaders like Shimon Peres, should have realized that rockets were the only way for Palestinians from Gaza to strike at Israel. The shame of it all is that Israel still has no response, no answer, no solution, to this initial mistake and miscalculation. And Sderot is still suffering.

One of the great elements of Israeli society has been creative responses to new challenges.
Where it that spirit of creativity when it comes to helping Sdrerot?

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

Peace @ 60 ?
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 8, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

I do not normally quote from contemporary politicians as examples of profound, significant or insightful thought.
Gone are the days when politicians were great orators.
As always, however, there is an exception to the rule.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said something at Israel's Memorial Day ceremony, which falls on the eve of Israel's 60th birthday, that struck me as so important that I am quoting it and want to underscore it.

Olmert said: "I cannot ignore the deep moral abyss between us and our enemies. We do not deny the right of any people and state to live in peace."

Olmert simply but powerfully encapsulated the chasm that divides the basic value system of Israel from that of her enemies.

Golda Meir said it so well when she said "We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."

After 60 years it is clear that Israel will not be pushed into the sea.

But 60 years later Israel still faces significant threats.

Israel is threatened because of a huge gap in basic human values - mostly about love and about hate.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 7, 2008


The prophet wrote "and they shall turn their swords into plowshares." And when will that happen? When there is peace among neighbors.

Israel is trying to bring peace to the neighborhood called the Middle East. First there were overtures towards the Palestinians, now those overtures are being reformatted and put forth to the Syrians. What is Israel really up to? Is it the Palestinians or is it the Syrians? And is any of this realistic? Or is Israel making a public, ceremonial, wish before blowing out the candles on her 60th birthday cake?

Peace in the Middle East is certainly in the best long term interest of Israel and of the Palestinians and of the Syrians and of the entire region - it's in the best interest of the entire world, but the truth is that true peace is not exactly what Israel is pursuing right now.

Let's analyze the situation.

Israel is in a no win situation with the Palestinians. The two are at loggerheads. The Israelis are frustrated and discouraged. The more successful Israel is at fighting terror, the more successful Israel is at keeping the borders safe, the farther Israel is from peace with the Palestinians. It sounds counterintuitive and that's because it is a matter of Palestinian pride.

Israel, you see, has figured out how to keep terror down without the help of the Palestinians. This newfound security solution is in direct conflict with the accords signed in Annapolis and the testosterone levels of Palestinian leadership. The Israelis do not see the Palestinians as seriously combating terror. Israel wants Palestinian leadership to take charge and bring stability and a sense of normalcy to the Palestinian people and that, the Israelis feel, is best accomplished by providing a safe haven, literally and figuratively a safe home, for the Palestinians.

Clearly the Americans want peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And to that elusive end the United States is investing huge amounts of time, energy and money. The United States wants the conflict resolved and the United States wants it resolved by the end of 2008. Just as clearly, Israel does not want to disappoint the United States, their sponsor and friend. But progress on the Palestinian peace front is v-e-r-y slow and not even arm twisting and document signing has succeeded in moving the process along.

Israel's success at road blocks arrests and targeted attacks prevent terrorists from reaching their targets. Israel's success at arresting gang members breaks up the units that are plotting terror attacks. Israel's success at assassinating terrorist leaders knocks the tops off of terrorist organizational pyramids and disrupts the command and control of the terrorist network. And for the most part, Israel is doing it without Palestinian assistance. And that hurts Palestinian leadership pride.

So Israel has turned her diplomatic energy away from the Palestinians and aimed it in the direction of Syrian. It was not a difficult move. It required nothing more than sending a message to the Turkish prime minister who passed it to the Syrian ambassador who delivered it to the Syrian foreign minister. It is the ripple effect of that overture that is dramatic.

The Palestinians know that Israel can only move on one peace track at a time. Israel cannot pursue peace with Syria and the Palestinians at the same time and the Palestinians know that they have been sidelined. They are upset. The pressure is on.

The world is getting the message that Israel is interested in negotiating for peace. Israel is so interested in negotiating for peace that they are turning to Syria, one of the members of the evil access. That means that Israel is willing to make concessions. That means that Israel has changed and the first country to break the logger jam and join Israel in peace will reap the most rewards.

The United States is being shown, subtly but clearly, that Israel can make diplomatic decisions without consultation, without asking for or receiving permission from Washington D.C. It means that the United Stats must revaluate the power plays of the Middle East because perhaps, just perhaps, little Israel may be able to wrestle Syria out of the grips of Iran. It means that the United States has to accept Israel's overture to Syria despite any previous hesitations over just such an overture on the part of Israel.

And it all happened without Israel's ever sitting down with the Syrians.

In real terms Israel cannot possibly come to terms with Syria at this stage. But Israel can put pressure on the Palestinians. And Israel can engage in a diplomatic ploy to push off the pressure by the United States to pursue peace on the Palestinian front.

There are many reasons why countries make overtures towards peace, only one of them is to actually achieve peace.

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

The Pope & The Archbishop of Canterbury
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 6, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury met on Monday.
That's historic.
Henry VIII broke with the Pope because of dictates regarding divorce and created the Anglican Church - today there are 77 million Anglicans worldwide.

It's also contemporary.
The two spoke about Christian-Muslim interactions.
This past February the Archbishop touched on the subject saying that some Sharia, some Islamic laws, would be adopted in England.

There is significant tension between the Pope and the Archbishop and this comment just exacerbated the situation. The Anglican Church already has women priests and homosexual bishops. Now add on their attitude toward Islam.

Today the Pope's people were quiet about the meeting and the Anglicans termed it "warm and friendly."
But in March the Vatican's Cardinal in charge of Islamic relations called the Archbishop of Canterbury "naive" for saying what he said.

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during that meeting.

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

Some Mourn Israel @60
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 5, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Every year for the past six years there is a conference to mourn Israel's creation.
The conference, organized by the Palestinian Committee in Europe and the Palestinian Right to Return Committee, is held in Europe.

The conference is timed to coincide with Israel's Independence Day.

This year is no different.

These are quotes from Sheik Rayid Sellah, head of the Islamic Movement Northern Branch in Israel.

"Your homes await you ... The mosques and churches, hyssop and peppermint herbs await you as well. They symbolize the roots and identity, the history and culture, they are our future."

"We have come to deliver a message of yearning and love from each grain of sand in the Galilee and the Negev, the Triangle and the Coastal areas, and Jerusalem. This grain of sand tells you - don't leave me, I expect to see you very soon at the dawn of the refugees' return."

"The city of Jerusalem is calling you to salvage it from the Judaization it is undergoing and from what the Israeli government is doing."

These are very powerful words.

These words do not speak of olive branches or appeasement or a desire to live together in peace.

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

MI 6 Head to Visit Israel On Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 4, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The head of MI 6 is coming to visit Israel.
MI 6 is the British equivalent of the US CIA or the Israeli Mossad.

He is coming to get a briefing from Meir Dagan, head of the Mossad, about new intelligence concerning Iran's nuclear development.
The idea is to try to convince the West of the seriousness of Iran's project.
This new intel is said to be very convincing.

Israel has always taken a more serious approach to the Iranian nuclear program than other Western countries.
Israel has always maintained that the reality of a nuclear Iran is closer than other Western intelligence has predicted.

This little visit has the potential to make a big difference.
The West may now be convinced of just how dangerous Iran wants to become and how close Iran is to achieving that goal.

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

The Conference to Aid Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 3, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The Donors Conference to Aid the Palestinians just wrapped up in London.
Like at all conferences, the interesting stories were not agenda items.
The most interesting story to emerge here is that Turkey used the conference to deliver messages between the Syrians and the Israelis.

A second interesting story is that the British hosts of the conference chastised the Arab League for failing to support the Palestinians.
Arab League members pledged $717.1 million to the Palestinians for this year's budget and have paid only $123 million.
And that money came from only three countries - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Algeria.
No other Arab League countries have come to the aid of the Palestinians.
This is nothing new, last year the Arab League succeeded in giving only a third of what they pledged to the Palestinians.

Israel is donating millions of dollars per month in medicine and food necessities.
But not the Arab world.
All this talk about Arab unity is simply a myth.

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

Female Jewish Ambassador from Bahrain
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 2, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Bahrain is a very moderate Arab island country.
It is run by a King and King Hamas bin Isa al- Khalifa, controls every aspect of Bahrain society.

Imagine my surprise to learn that the leading candidate for the new ambassador from Bahrain to Washington DC from is not only a woman named Huda Nono, but a Jewish woman.

Nono is a member of the Upper Shura Council.
Nono attained her position by replacing her cousin on the Council.
The Upper Council is like the British House of Lords, it consists of 40 people, all of whom are appointed by the king.
The Lower House consists of 40 elected officials and has no real power.

Some interesting statistics:
There are 11women on the Shura Council.
There are 7 Jewish families living in Bahrain today, totaling 50-60 people.
The Jews of Bahrain arrived in the 19th century and are involved in business and banking.
Nono splits her time between Bahrain and London.

Who would have thunk it?

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

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