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Syria Has Envy
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 1, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

I am always intrigued when Arab leaders express envy.
Envy is not an emotion that Arab leaders display in public.

So imagine my surprise when I heard the following from Walid Mouallem, Syria's foreign minister: "As a private citizen, I wish Syria had this program quite simply because Israel has made huge advances in its manufacturing of nuclear bombs."

The context of this statement is important.
Mouallem was speaking to Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere and referring to the inspection of Syria's nuclear capabilities. The real question is whether on September 6, 2007 Israel bombed a harmless lab or a nuclear facility.

Humility is a classic Arabic emotion, not envy.

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

20th Female Terrorist in Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 30, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Iraqi troops shot and killed their 20th female suicide bomber this year.
Last year, in the entire twelve months, there were only 8 Iraqi female suicide bombers.
That is a very big jump .

This tells us 3 very important things about Iraq.
# 1: Terrorists are resorting to using women.
The truth is, terrorists do not want to use women. Many religious leaders in these movements have rejected women, and yet they continue to come.

# 2: The fact that the Iraqis discovered and shot this terrorist says the Iraqis are on the ball. It takes infinitely more skill to detect a female suicide bomber than a male suicide bomber.

# 3: Local Iraqis are really involved in the effort to rid their country of terrorists and have actually started taking the lead over the military.

These are all good signs.

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

Saudis Arrest 250 Terriorists
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 29, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi authorities arrested 250 terrorists this past week.
Hundreds more have been arrested over the past few months.
The arrests are an act of self-preservation on the part of the Royal Family.

Without a doubt Muslim extremists are out to topple the Saudi Royal family.
They want to place an Islamic sheik as their head, as the leader of Arabia.
And if happens the country will no longer be called Saudi Arabia which is named after the House of Saud.

The Saudis are acting out of their own self interests, but there are important regional and global by products of these arrests.
Great intelligence material is reaped from these arrests - about terrorist plans, operatives and activities around the world.
This information is shared with countries interested in fighting global terror.

That is how the war on terror is waged - through shared information.

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

Cease Fire in Gaza?
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 28, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

This cease fire between Israel and Gaza is getting to be ludicrous.

Here are several examples:
On Thursday the rockets launched from Gaza that fell on Israel were dispatched by the Al Aqksa Brigade. Al Aqksa is part of Fatah and answerable to Abbas. Fatah wants to ruin the ceasefire in order to hurt Hamas.

On Thursday the UN claimed that there have been 8 ceasefire violations. Seven were Israeli violations and 1 was Hamas. The UN somehow missed the 5 rockets that have been launched this week from Gaza into Israel.

Salem Fayad, the Palestinian Prime Minister, said that despite the rocket fire Israel must open the borders and let in supplies because 1.5 million people in Gaza have had enough. Fayad actually admits that the rockets are being fired by Palestinians and has the audacity to explain that keeping the borders closed is by no means a reasonable response.

Hamas has said that they are very upset by the rocket fire and have condemned the rocket fire. They are contemplating acting against it.

It's time to call a spade a spade.
The cease fire was nice for the few hours it lasted - but it's over.

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

They Want to Kill Ahmadinejad
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 27, 2008


There have been two assassination attempts on the life of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the past several weeks. The first attempt was made while the Iranian leader was on an official visit to Iraq, the second attempt was planned for last week, in Italy.

In making these threats public the government of Iran has added the name Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a long and dubiously distinguished list of world leaders who have been openly targeted for assassination.

Today, every world leader no matter how popular or how reviled must consider every threat a serious threat. Assassinations and terrorist attacks are a part of today's political culture. A leader represents a political party, a social agenda and a country. Today's leaders wander through many sets of cross hairs by virtue of position - personality hardly enters into the assassin/terrorist agenda and master plan.

There have been seventeen known attempts to kill a sitting United States president. Four, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy, Jr. succeeded. Presidents Zachary Taylor and Warren Harding died while in office and rumors and several books suggest that both presidents were poisoned. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, by an Israeli citizen, in Israel. Mohandas Ghandi, Father of the Nation of India as he was affectionately called by most of his country, was killed on January 30, 1948. Assassinations and attempted assassinations are not relegated to the domain of autocratic, dictatorial governments. Democracies are by no means immune from assassination attempts.

Assassinations have altered history. The successful attack on the life of Ferdinand, Archduke of the Austria, sparked World War I. And the assassination of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri is still setting off sparks in the Middle East.

There are many attempts that never make it to the history books. In the United States there are numerous threats that never make it outside the offices of the Secret Service. There are plots that are just that plots and hundreds of those are investigated each year. All it takes is one successful attempt - and when it comes to the assassination of a world leader, one is too many.

If the Secret Service is kept busy thwarting attempted attacks on the life of the president, imagine how busy the army and secret police are in a religious police state like Iran. In Iran, thousands of people are arrested for the crime of having ideas contrary to the ruling religious leadership. In Iran today, there are numerous groups and countless individuals who want to do away with Ahmadinejad.

The Iranians blame the United States for the two plots on the life of Ahmadinejad. Specifically, the Iranian government blames President George Bush. They rationalize the accusation by pointing out that on several occasions the US president has said that the conflict the United States has with Iran is not with the people of Iran, it is with the leadership of Iran. In Iran-think, the leap is obvious. Iranian leadership interprets this diplomatic statement as a direct threat and credits the US president with sponsoring coups as well as assassinations.

The Iranians would do better analyzing the data rather than fabricating an unreal scenario if they truly wish to protect their leader. Both plots would have Ahmadinejad assassinated outside his own country, in Iraq and Italy, respectively. That is important. It is not to say that the assassins, or intended assassins, were not Iranians - it is to say that if caught, the assassins would be outside the jurisdiction and control of the brutal Iranian police force. The plotters were looking for more freedom and more safety. Local governments are less concerned about the plot against foreign, visiting dignitaries and have less intelligence about the plotters.

The odds are there really are people out there trying to assassinate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But those people are not the CIA or any United Sates agency. There is a significant Iranian expatriate community who see Ahmadinejad as a tyrant. There are a significant number of Middle East Arabs who see him as one the most explosive and problematic leaders in the region. These groups fly way under the radar in Italy and especially in Iraq, but they are on Iran's radar. They are probably the same groups trying to sponsor political opposition to Ahmadinejad, at home, in Iran.

Ahmadinejad, like almost every other world leader today, is on someone's hit list. A news flash, planning an assassination is a lot easier than executing the plan.

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

Things Best Not Said
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 26, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

In the world of diplomacy, there are certain statements and observations best left behind closed doors.
In the world of defense strategy, certain comments may appear to be cold, ruthless and heartless.
In the world of international intrigue, some things should just be kept secret, far away from a probing media and curious public.

That explains why certain briefings are secret and certain decisions are made behind closed doors.
Moshe Yaalon, Israel's former Military Chief of Staff, recently observed said that the price to pay by the nation of Israel to save the life of one single soldier might just be too high. He concluded that the State of Israel should not pay.

On a military level, where a calculus of cost using human lives is used, his remarks may have been appropriate.
On a political level, such discussions cannot and should not ever be made public.

Parents lend their children to the army for the profound and essential task of defending their country against enemies.
Parents ask that the government and the leaders take good care of their children and return them home.
If the ultimate sacrifice is made, let it at least be for a purpose - not a mistake.
If the ultimate sacrifice is made, make certain that the body is returned so that the family has a place to mourn.

Military Chief of Staff Yaalon was way out of line by saying what he was thinking.
He has undermined the morale and spirit of Israeli parents and their children.

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

Olmert May Live Another Day
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 25, 2008

I'm Predicting:

A "no confidence" vote is scheduled in the Israeli Knesset.
The vote has been touted as a no brainer. A slam dunk, the end of Olmert.

I am not so certain.
Out of the 120 seats in Knesset, 61 must vote in favor of "no confidence."
Last week it seemed that the no confidence group had the majority.
But in Israel, things are never simple.

Here is the issue: If Olmert goes there must be new elections and some of those parties choosing to oust Olmert now might very well end up with fewer parliamentary seats in the new government in the next Knesset.

Kadima, Olmert's party, will shrink.
Labor and Likud, the other large parties, will probably gain.
But Shas and Meretz will probably shrink, too - actually, they might even shrivel.

So, acting out of the need for self-preservation, Shas and Meretz just might be able to keep a 61 majority in place and defeat the "no confidence" vote.
Olmert would remain in place.
The Olmert government would lose several Knesset seats in his majority after firing Labor ministers now in his government who voted against him.

Olmert will probably survive to fight another day.

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

Hamas Breaks the Cease Fire
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 24, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Hours ago, in the dark of night, a mortar landed in the Negev.

It was not a meteor from outer space - it was a rocket from Gaza.
Why am I even mentioning it?
Because a cease fire has been in place between Israel and Gaza since Thursday morning at 6 AM.

Not much hoopla about the breaking of the ceasefire.
After all, it was just one rocket. Relative to a normal day on the Gaza border only one rocket is still considered quiet.
But the ceasefire was broken. And the question begs asking: What would have happened had Israel broken the ceasefire?

The city of Sderot has been expecting the ceasefire to be broken.
They have had two false alarms and sirens have sounded detecting incoming rockets.
Israelis living on the border with Gaza still have not had a quiet night's sleep.

In Sderot, the threat is as terrifying as the reality.
For good reason.

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

Another Christian Pogrom in the Arab World
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 23, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday in a small Egyptian town called Al Nazallah, located south of Cairo, hundreds of Muslims burnt Christian homes and businesses.
It was a veritable pogrom against Christians.

It was the classic age old conflict of religions.
A woman, a new convert to Islam, had disappeared.
Muslims thought Christians had kidnapped her to convince her to recant.

Muslims rioted, they burned down and destroyed the Christian part of town.
Police are saying that about 1000 Muslims were involved and that they needed to use tear gas in order to regain order in the town.

We have learned two very important lessons.
Lesson # 1: How deep the anti-Christian sentiments run.
Lesson # 2: The response of the Christian world.
I am still waiting for any Christian response to this pogrom.

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

Iran: Attacked by Sunnis Again
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 22, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Sunni Muslim terrorists attacked and killed 16 Iranian Shiite police on the Pakistani border.
It happened on Friday.
This was the 2nd Sunni attack in Iran last week.
The first attack was the blowing up of a Shiite mosque.

The attacks were perpetrated by a terrorist group called Jundollah, a Sunni Muslim organization that is linked to al Qaeda.
Iran claims that the United States supported Jundollah.
The whole assertion is preposterous.

In the past the Iranian government has blamed al Qaeda for Jundollah attacks.
Now Iran has changed focus and is blaming the United States.
Iran is changing focus in an attempt to re-direct public perception in Iran.

This tells us that:
Iranian leadership now views the United States as an increasingly greater threat inside Iran and is counteracting the threat by folding arch enemy al Qaeda under the wing of the United States.

In other words:
Everything anti-Iran is sponsored by the United States.
All that is bad comes from America.

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

Chasms in Palestinian Leadership
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 21, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

It's all about power.
The chasms are growing deeper and deeper between Hamas and Fatah and between all the various Palestinian factions battling each other for control.

On Thursday afternoon a Fatah delegation sent by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was supposed to meet Ismail Hanyieh, Hamas leader of Gaza.
The delegation never showed up.
Hanyieh waited for an hour and then left to continue his day.
Hamas was livid.
Fatah was copying a page out of the Arafat Book of Leadership.
Arafat would miss meetings, he would be hours late to meetings, he made people wait for hours.

"We deplore the irresponsible act by the Fatah leaders and the envoys of President Abbas," a Hamas statement read.
But the message was delivered.
Fatah was saying to Hamas you are not worthy of even a cell phone call to say we are late - you are irrelevant.

This is just the beginning.
The gloves have come off.
Everyone is out to win.

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

By Micah Halpern

Friday June 20, 2008


Peace is an elusive term in the Middle East, especially if you are Israel. Peace is the dream, never the reality. While Peace In The Middle East is not quite the oxymoron many people believe it to be, it is a concept that goes by many names.

Despite it all, despite a long history of missed opportunities and wasted efforts, despite the many intentional misrepresentations and outright lies, if Israel had a wish list, Peace With Neighbors - or some variation on the theme - would top the list. Right now, at a dizzying speed, in both much heralded and grossly overlooked negotiations, Israel is pursuing peace with all those neighboring nations with which there is no signed document diplomatically termed a peace treaty.

In the end, as history is our teacher, Israel will be lucky if even one opportunity turns into a reality - even a short term reality. There will be disappointments, but that is all part of the process, it's what happens when a Middle East country, especially Israel, pursues peace.

Hamas and Israel
Word of the ceasefire, truce, lull, between Israel and Hamas has been front page and lead story news. At best, the situation as it now stands is tenuous. It was a long, complicated process and even eleven hours before the cessation of attack and retaliation was actualized the office of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert predicted that the truce will be fragile and short lived.

But that's okay. The day before the ceasefire 50 rockets and mortars were shot from Gaza into Israel. The day before the ceasefire Israel shot back hitting two launch sites in Gaza. The day after, there were none - no rockets, no mortars, no retaliation. Just as there is no doubt that a ceasefire is critical for the well being of those Israelis within firing range of Gaza there is no doubt that an open border is good for the Palestinians living in Gaza.

The biggest problem right now is that the terms of this variation-on-the-theme - of - peace are not clear. In an off the record interview one Israeli official made it perfectly clear that this is not to be construed as peace. Call it a truce, call it a lull but do not for a minute call it or think of it as peace. And it doesn't even matter if each side calls it a different name. This arrangement is not a written agreement, it is an agreement brokered by third party Egypt. All Israel and Hamas have is the information given them by Egypt. Neither Israel nor Hamas have any idea what was said by Egypt to the other side.

It is a game of perception.

Israel and Syria
Most people would be surprised to read Israel, Syria and peace linked in the same sentence. But right now, Syria is out to surprise.

Surprising at it may appear on the surface, the Syrians are looking at the Egyptian brokered deal between Israel and Hamas with optimism. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem said that Israel's lifting of the blockade against Gaza will help the Palestinians - which is as close as Syria has come to complimenting Israel in pasta memory. He was, not surprisingly, quick to add that he also expects that the Israelis will soon violate the agreement.

Even more surprising is that in another press statement the Syrians said that a peace deal with Israel will "produce a harmonious Middle East." Even the Syrians are putting Israel, Syria and peace in the same sentence.

And even much more surprising is an item spilled by Claude Gueunt, Chief of Staff to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Gueunt suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may sit down face to face with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Paris on July 13th of this year, of 2008. The occasion will be a summit of European and Mediterranean countries hosted in Paris by Sarkozy who thinks that he can get the two men, these two nemeses, in the same room.

Even if they don't shake hands, that photo will be worth many words.

Israel and Egypt
Israel and Egypt have a "cold peace." They are not at war, neither are they friends. It is a situation that works for both sides of the border. The key word here is border. What is good for one side of the border is good for the other and Egypt's border with Gaza is no exception. By brokering this deal Egypt was also doing itself a favor. And just as neither Israel nor Hamas know what Egypt told the other, no one knows what the other told or promised Egypt.

Egypt worked hard making this agreement happen. The deal with Hamas is not just with Hamas. Egypt had to get the agreement of 12 different organizations in Gaza, each individual organization had to agree to stop firing at Israel. Then Egypt had to convince Hamas to absorb most of the responsibility for compliance and insure that the other 12 groups would not violate the agreement. At least, not violate the agreement in the short term.

Hamas has to stop the attacks. Hamas has to stop smuggling weapons and building tunnels and producing rockets and explosives. Only then will there be an opening of the border to allow in food and other supplies for Gazans. And after that, if it works, there is to be accelerated talk about exchanging 350 Palestinian prisoners for one Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held in Gaza.

The role of Egypt was applauded by certain other members of the Middle East Arab community, especially by Egypt's comrade-in-arms, Jordan.

Israel and Jordan
Israel and Jordan, too, have a "cold peace" arrangement. Warmer than Israel and Egypt but still diplomatically chilly.

At a conference that he was hosting for Nobel Prize winners in Jordan, the King took the opportunity to speak about the lull between Israel and Hamas. King Abdullah of Jordan said that it would indeed be a great tragedy if this opportunity was lost to create a Palestinian state.

Israel and Hezbollah
While most of the headlines are going to the lull between Hamas and Israel, there is another story going on between Hezbollah and Israel. In this noted but much less heralded story, Germany is to Hezbollah and Israel what Egypt is to Hamas and Israel.

In this story, Germany is the middle man, the broker, the deal maker. In this story Germany has been working to create a situation that would allow for the return of the two Israeli MIA's, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, captured by Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 and taken to Lebanon.

Israel and Lebanon
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert announced on Wednesday June 18, 2008 that Israel wants to embark on direct bilateral relations with Lebanon. Now that is a curveball that barely made any news at all. It should have.

What makes this an even more interesting and compelling and historically newsworthy story is that Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has made statements in the past proudly proclaiming that Lebanon would be the last Arab country to make peace with Israel. Is the fat lady about to sing? Olmert's statements were on the record, even if they were not widely recorded.

It all seems like just too much for one country to handle. The past week has seen a flurry of diplomatic tap dancing in pursuit of promises, pledges and peace. What will next week bring?

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

Insight From Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 19, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Mahmoud Al Zahar is one of the leaders of Hamas in Gaza.
Halad Mashal is head of Hamas headquarters in Damascus.
Both men have offered insight into the "lull" between Hamas and Israel.

According to Al Zahar the lull is a victory for the resistance.
It proves that Israel and their "blockade could not crush us."

According to Halad Mashal the lull is welcome as long as people remember about Hamas and the relationship Hamas has with Syria.
He is saying that Syria and Hamas will not break off relations despite the overtures of peace being made between Israel and Syria.

In the eyes of Hamas:
Every act and every event in politics and foreign policy must be interpreted as a great victory.
Never can any act be seen or presented as simply fulfilling a need.
By touting their victories, Al Zahar and Mashal are touting the party line in order to save face.

In truth:
The real reason for the "lull" - for this cease fire, is to get food and supplies into Gaza for a suffering people.
The real reason Hamas has decided to care for the people is because the more the people suffer, the more Hamas drops in popularity.

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

Energy Watch Dog Sham
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 18, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Sometimes the double talk of diplomacy is just that - double talk.
Here is a case in point.

On the one hand:
In an interview with Al-Arabiya Syrian television yesterday, Mohamed El Baradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that Syria does not have the human potential to create an international quality atomic weapon. He said:
"We have no evidence that Syria has the human resources that would allow it to carry out a large nuclear program. We do not see Syria having nuclear fuel."

On the other hand:
Syria has not granted permission to investigate the three potential sites in their country.

How can both be happening?
Obviously Syria does not have the potential.
The claim is that the North Koreans are helping them develop nuclear technology and fuel.
The reason for Syria's refusal to permit IAEA inspections is to cover up the role of North Korea and the presence of the nuclear centers.
The reason Israel bombed Syria on September 6 2007 was to make a point before there was nuclear fuel on site. After the arrival of fuel an attack would have had a devastating effect on the entire region including Turkey Iraq Iran.
Bottom line: Syria must permit an inspection.

Shame on you, Mohamed El Baradei.
What a sham.

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

Deal is Close With Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 17, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like a deal is in the works - maybe even as early as Friday if you trust Lebanese news.
A deal between Israel and Hezbollah - with the Germans in the middle.

The deal, which has also been confirmed by Israeli sources, would involve a prisoner exchange. One source, Zvi Goldwasser, is paying very close attention to the deal - it involves his son.
Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two Israeli soldiers captured on July 12, 2006 which started the 34 day war between Israel and Hezbollah would be returned to Israel.

Notorious Hezbollah terrorist Samir Kuntar will be part of the exchange package. Israel has been holding on to Kuntar as their last possible chip with which to bargain for Ron Arad, captured twenty-two years ago. But it has become clear to Israeli Prime Minister Olmert that Hezbollah has no new information about Arad.

So Kuntar will be exchanged along with four live Lebanese prisoners captured in 2006.
There is no information as to whether the Israelis are still alive or dead.
Either way, they will be turned over to Israel.

The exchange will take place in Germany.
Israel does not want to encourage a Hezbollah celebration in Southern Lebanon, near the Israeli border.

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

Egypt Critiques Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 16, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

I am fascinated when one Muslim leader criticizes another Muslim leader.
This internal critique is one of the best ways we in the West have for looking at the Muslim world and understanding the real tensions within.

The foreign minister of Egypt must have exceeded his boiling point to publicly dress down Iran as he did yesterday.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit made it very clear that Iranian involvement in the Region has not been "positive."
He said that the influence of Iran in Lebanon and with the Palestinian has been for the good of Iran and not for the betterment of the Region.
He wanted to make it clear to Iran that Egypt is looking out for the Region.

In his own words Aboul Gheit said:
"The political cards which Iran holds ... it holds out of a desire to defend Iranian interests. It might be Iran's right to try, but Egypt has a right to defend Arab territory."

"You now find that Iran is on a surge and it imagines that it is able to influence the region. Perhaps they can influence the region, but we always say to our friends in Iran: 'Let the influence on the region be positive.'"

He said that the Iranians are fighting the Americans and need cards to play the game. "This has a negative effect on the Palestinian question, definitely, and in Lebanon to some extent."

Egypt is not mincing any words.
Egypt is telling Iran to butt out and mind their own business.

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

LA Lakers Come to Sderot
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 15, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles visited the embattled Israeli city of Sderot on Friday.
Good for him.

Sderot is the target of relentless rocket attacks and mortar attacks and bombings all launched into Israel by Hamas from Gaza.

When the mayor of a huge city like Los Angeles comes to Sderot he is not merely paying a visit, he is making a statement.

Villaraigrosa came to Sderot the morning after the LA Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics for the World Basketball Championships.

Israelis are wild about basketball, NBA basketball is almost a religion in Israel. The mayor came bearing special gifts - Lakers jerseys.

The national press had a photo of Villaraigrosa giving a smiling Eli Moyal, the beleaguered mayor of Sderot, a Kobe Bryant jersey.

That small but significant gesture was a huge shot in the arm for Sderot.

For a short moment the residents of Sderot were no longer victims.

For a short moment the residents of Sderot were transported to a different world --- they were Lakers fans.

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

One Year After Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 14, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Today is the first anniversary of the Hamas coup in Gaza.
One year since Hamas emerged victorious over Fatah in Gaza.
Unlike many anniversaries, this anniversary is worth noting.
Hamas, of course, will be celebrating.

Some interesting statistics about Gaza:
70% of Gazans would prefer to live anywhere in the world, just not in Gaza
70% of Gazans are on welfare
60% of Gazans earn less than $2 dollars a day

Gaza is a dictatorship.
Gaza has no industry and Hamas does not govern.
Gazans live entirely on handouts from abroad, with the most significant allocations coming from Iran.

Gaza was never the lap of luxury.
Gaza under Hamas is the epitome of squalor.
Until Hamas is ousted that will not change.

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

By Micah Halpern

Friday June 13, 2008


In the end, it will all come down to a simple, strategic, calculus. The "X" Factor. How many lives versus how many lives. How many Israeli civilian lives have already been lost and how many Israeli military lives will be lost in an operation fighting Hamas and Islamic Jihad forces in Gaza versus how many civilian and military lives will be lost if the situation remains status quo.

Heartless? Humane? Those are the issues that Israel's political and military leaders have been struggling over.

For months there has been talk of an Israeli invasion into Gaza. The objective is obvious - to silence, even if only for the short term, the relentless barrage of rockets and mortars that rains down on Israeli communities bordering Gaza.

The mission would be justified morally and legally, about that there is no question. Even die hard Israel bashers Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu have condemned the Palestinian launched rocket fire on these defenseless, civilian Israeli townspeople. Even the United States, in a high level meeting held several weeks ago, asked Israel if they had a response to the Qassam crisis, a response other than sitting still and allowing the rockets to fall where they will. Even the venerable United Nations has made it clear and public that, although restraint is advised, Israel, one of the unacknowledged least favored nations, has the right to act in order to protect Israeli citizens and protect Israeli borders.

Internationally, of course, there would be a backlash from the typical far flung corners of the world. The Muslim world, the Arab countries, Venezuela, and one or two European countries will cry out for the pain of the Palestinian people denied their favorite sport - injure the Israeli.

An Israeli military response to the untenable situation called Gaza has been in formulation for long months. And during those months many Israelis have been injured, some physically, some financially, almost all psychologically. An Israeli does not have to share a border with Gaza to feel national pain. The reason the response plan has not yet been activated is because the political side has not yet been reconciled with the military side. Political Israel is less comfortable with the calculus than is military Israel.

How fast and furious are these rockets and mortars coming? On Thursday June 12th, 40 mortars and 24 Qassam and I GRAD rocket fell on Israel. What has been the damage in terms of lives? 8 Israelis and I Ecuadorian farm worker have been killed by Qassam rockets in 2008.

The decision to invade Gaza will be made easier if the death toll goes higher. If more than 2 Israelis are killed by mortar or rockets in a single week Israel will be forced into it and the response will commence.

Israel needs to have fresh victims in order to respond. Israel needs to appear to be responding to a fresh act of aggression. Israel needs this to happen because Israel is unlike many other nations, because Israel does not arbitrarily, indiscriminately, unjustifiably invade another entity. For the sake of Israel it must appear that Israelis are responding to a specific act of aggression, even if most of the free and democratic world is convinced that Israel would be justified if the response attack came now - right now.

The X Factor calculus weighs most strongly, but there are other issues that go into the decision making process of whether or not to launch an invasion into Gaza to ferret out and destroy the Hamas and Islamic Jihad rocket launchers. One of those issues putting the brakes on a military response is that military intelligence is saying that Hamas is preparing for an Israeli land assault.

The way in which Hamas prepares is to physically, bodily, lay in wait and create booby traps for the invading Israelis troops. If that happens, casualty numbers will be great and that troubles decision makers. Then again, the situation in border towns like Sderot, particularly in Sderot, is unacceptable and intolerable. And that troubles decision makers.

It took Hercules to cut off heads of the many-headed serpent. It took super human (Herculean) strength to defeat the Hydra from the Lake of Lerna. And Israeli defense planners are saying that they have a series of plans to invade and cut the off the many heads of their own Gazan serpent.

The ancient Greek myth has taught an important lesson to Israel's leaders. Over the past 8 weeks 81 Hamas leaders have been killed by Israeli soldiers using In and Out operations and air force helicopter and unmanned drone attacks. More than 300 Hamas leaders have been killed over the past 6 months. It also has become apparent that Egypt has begun an attempt at foiling acts of aggression within Gaza by protecting their own border and by searching for underground tunnels with the help of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Hamas might be on the ropes. There is talk of internal conflict. There was an assassination attempt by Iranian backed Hamas fighters against the current leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

It might soon be time to formulate another calculus: How strong is Hamas - will an Israeli invasion into Gaza unify Hamas or topple Hamas.

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Ghadaffi on Obama
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 12, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Libyan leader Muammar Ghadaffi spoke yesterday at an event celebrating the 39th anniversary of the US leaving Libya.
Ghadaffi took the opportunity to speak his mind about Barack Obama

Ghadaffi said that if elected president, Obama would have an inferiority complex because he is black.
He said that if elected, Obama might "behave worse than whites."
He called Obama "Our brother, the Kenyan with American nationality."

"We still hope he will be proud of Africa and change America and free America of its past policy, namely with the Arabs."

"Obama offered $300 billion in aid to Israel and more military support. He avoided talking about Israel's nuclear weapons."

"We suspect he may fear being killed by Israeli agents and meet the same fate as Kennedy when he promised to look into Israel's nuclear program."

I bring these quotes to show you how warped the Arab perspective is.
The $300 billion is total fabrication.
The idea of an assassination by Israel is a throwback to the conspiracy theory. The notion that Obama would have an inferiority complex is incorrect social psychology and shows how little the leader of Libya knows about America.

Bottom line is that Ghadaffi hopes that Obama will be proud of Africa.
Interestingly, Ghadaffi referred to Obama as a "Kenyan" and as "Our brother."
It would have been much more powerful and laudatory had Ghadaffi used the term "son of Africa."

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Syria Does Not Want Peace
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 11, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Just to set the record straight:
There is little chance of a real peace treaty between Israel and Syria.

Here is what the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal al-Mekdad said yesterday: "I hope Israel responds to the requirements of peace, which are the end of the occupation of Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian state, restoration of the Syrian Golan and pull out of remaining occupied Lebanese territory ... Our goal is an Israeli withdrawal from all the lands of the Syrian Republic. This is the basis for launching direct talks."

In other words:
Israel, get out of the Golan - and then we can have negotiations.
The rest of his comments are just bluster.

It is essential to realize is that Syria does not want to give anything.
Syria just wants to receive.
Syria just wants the Golan Heights.
Then, as far as Syria is concerned, whatever happens, happens and whatever doesn't happen, doesn't happen.

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Obama and the Arabs
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 10, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

For a few days now I have been thinking about the speech Barack Obama delivered at the AIPAC convention in Washington
and about his follow up interview on CCN
and about the follow up to the follow by Obama staff and their quick response qualifying the statement "eternal capital" in reference to Jerusalem and Israel.

The Arab press was shocked by the Obama statement.
One after the other they could not believe Obama would say that.
After all, Obama was their candidate.

Some papers referred to the entire episode as a slap in the face to Islam.
Some papers emphasized his status as a murated an apostate, someone who was once a Muslim and has now left the fold.
Being an apostate is a crime punishable by death in Islam.

Even the characters who originally endorsed Obama were baffled.
Hamas and Hezbollah were shocked - Hamas really does not understand America and does not realize that because Obama disagrees with Bush it does not necessarily follow that he will break off a historic and special relationship with Israel.

One prominent Arabic website put it in perspective for the Arab world by saying: "They forgot that he is an American Zionist who turned his back on Islam and that he is hostile to Islam more than the infidels the Christians and the Jews."

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New Trilateral Talks
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 9, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

The United States is proposing trilateral talks between Israel the Palestinians.
Proposing is a nice way of saying that trilateral talks are a forgone conclusion.

Israel and the Palestinians will talk and the United States will moderate.
Actually, Condi Rice will be the moderator. The first set will take place at the beginning of next week. Rice departs for the Region on Saturday night.

Why trilateral talks?
The United States does not trust that bilateral talks will work.
The United States wants to turn up the pressure in order to reach an agreement.
Both Israel and the Palestinians will be forced into positions that they would not have agreed on in bilateral talks.
The United States has a good idea of what the final agreement should look like and will work to make sure that it does look that way.

One thing is certain:
Both Israelis and Palestinians will be unhappy with the talks and with the results.

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Maliki Vists Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 8, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Most people do not follow the Persian news, so here I am to provide an important newsbreak - an item that has not yet been picked up by Western media.

Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, visited Iran on Saturday.
Al Maliki came to talk about the upcoming US/Iraq security agreement.
The objective of this agreement is to maintain a United States presence in Iraq for the coming years - even after a US withdrawal.

Iran is against this agreement, of course.
Iran wants the US out Iraq ASAP.
The US wants to be able to monitor events on the ground, to be able to check on and maybe even respond to and prevent things from getting out of hand.

Iran does not and probably never will get it.
Iran thinks that this move by the United States is the height of arrogance.
Call it what you want, Iran is one of the big reasons the United States wants to keep a small force in the region.

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UN Human Rights Council
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 7, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

It is about time.
The United States has formerly declared that they are removing themselves from the United Nations Council on Human Rights.

The Council meets in Geneva and was created two years ago.
It is composed of 47 members.
The United States is not a member, the United States has observer status.

The US would often voice an opinion against atrocities.
That was a problem.
The Council is controlled by many of the worst human rights abusers in the world. The lock on the majority comes from the Arabs, Muslims and Africans.

The main objective of the Council is not to criticize Israel and but to protect human rights and advocate for human rights - which is used an entree to criticize Israel.

Ironically, some of the worst human rights abusers voted for the establishment of the Council on Human rights - Burma, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe.

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Conflict Emerges in the Arab World
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 6, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

There is real conflict emerging in the Arab world.

One end of the spectrum:
Yesterday King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called on Islam to embrace its moderate side and reject extremism.
He warned of radicalism and extremism in Islam.

Yesterday Abdullah and Saudi Arabia opened the Mecca Conference, a gathering of 500 Muslims from 50 countries.
The objective is to create a framework to dialogue with Jews and Christian.

In his opening remarks King Abdullah said: "You have gathered today to tell the whole world that ... we are a voice of justice and values and humanity, that we are a voice of coexistence and a just and rational dialogue."

The other end of the spectrum:
Dr. Ayman Zawahiri delivered another speech aired on radical Muslim websites.
During the 11 minute clip he called for increased extremism and violence.
He called President Mubarak of Egypt a traitor and called for attacks against leaders of countries leaning toward the West, toward the US and toward Israel.

The only way to stem the tide of Islamic Extremism is through the involvement of the Arab leadership - there is no doubt about that.
That day may soon be upon us.

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

By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 5, 2008


If Tzipi Livni is elected the next prime minister of Israel, she should say a big "thank you" to The Sunday Times of London.

And The Sunday Times of London will probably respond by saying "oops."

This is a story of a smear campaign gone awry. It is the story of misplaced values and misunderstood priorities. It is shoddy journalism from one of the most respected newspapers in the democratic world. The Sunday Times of London recently devoted space to a large and probably exaggerated piece on Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The newspaper had an agenda - to marginalize a serious contender for the position of prime minister. Instead, they elevated her status. If I didn't know better, I would say that Livni planted the story herself - but she would have been more accurate.

The Sunday Times of London may understand their British public, but they are clueless about the Israeli public. They reported that during the 1980's Livni, then a first year law student, took leave to become a Mossad agent attached to Israel's Western European operation. The Sunday Times claims that young Livni was attached to an assassination team charged with hunting down Palestinian terrorists in Europe. The story they tell runs similar to the story told in Munich, the 2005 Steven Spielberg movie, depicting an Israeli assassination team sent out to find and kill the terrorists involved in the 1972 Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympic team.

Tzipi Livni's connection to the Mossad is not a secret. Tzipi Livni's specific role in the Mossad has been and will probably always be cloaked in secrecy. But portraying her as an assassin is almost definitely a stretch. It has always been assumed that her role in Europe was that of analyst and gatherer of intelligence. An attractive woman who frequents coffee houses, chats up the clientele and pieces together and passes on the information she receives.

According to the piece in The Sunday Times Livni was part of a team specifically charged with gathering information needed to search out terrorists and then assassinate those terrorists. The Times does not place her as an assassin, but definitely as part of that team. The objective was to smear Tzipi Livni. The objective was to point out that Israel's foreign minister has a dark past, to point out that she acted to seek out and perpetrate assassinations. The objective was to point out that, as a law student on leave, she knew the difference between revenge and justice, she knew that justice is cold and revenge is hot. The Sunday Times of London had an obvious political agenda in writing this piece.

The next Israeli election might take place six months from now, it might take place a year from now. The timing of the election is unclear, the knowledge that Tzipi Livni will be on the short list as a candidate for Israel's top position is perfectly clear. The Sunday Times wants to influence the political field. The Sunday Times wants international leaders to begin exerting pressure and playing behind-the scenes games now.

But the plan is backfiring.

In Israel, the only place where it really counts, the political stock of Tzipi Livni has skyrocketed. What the Sunday Times failed to understand is that by circulating a rumor that Livni was willing and able to defend her country in a way few people can, that she was a part of the dangerous and secret world that defends Israel internationally, they showed that this woman, Tzipi Livni, has what it takes to lead the country.

Israelis like female leaders. They like them on the right of the political spectrum and on the left. They particularly like them if they have the strength to act to defend their country. In Israel this is not an inter-party argument, it is the sine qua non of every Jewish, Israeli party.

Israelis have a long history of senior leaders, prime ministers, having been in involved in dangerous and desperate acts in defense of their country. Benjamin Netanyahu, like his brother Yoni, was a member of the IDF anti-terror team and was one of those responsible for rescuing a hijacked plane. Ehud Barak was a member of a secret team and even disguised himself as a woman and entered Lebanon in order to assassinate terrorists. Yitzhak Shamir was Mossad station chief in Egypt and was also stationed in France after WWII, which would account for the superb French accent of this tightly wound little man who broke his teeth over English. Menachem Begin fought in pre-state Israel against the Arab terrorists and was responsible for blowing up the wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem where the British were headquartered.

She is a woman. She is a defender of her country. She has political savvy. She has a track record. The Sunday Times of London has helped to strengthen Tzipi Livni's bona fides far more than it has damaged her.

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Al Qaeda and Women
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in line, is really starting to annoy people.
And right now, most of those people are women.

Zawahiri is continuing with his on-line question and answer forum, which seems to be meeting his and al Qaeda's needs - recruitment.
In his most recent response to questions he made it very clear that Al Qaeda has no place for women.
According to Zawahiri women belong at home, women are there to help support the shahid and to raise the children.

Problem is, there are many women shahid nowadays - not in al Qaeda, but throughout the Muslim Fundamentalist world.
Since that audio was released the web has been full of women lamenting that they cannot join the jihad - entire websites are dedicated to the idea of women and jihad.

The historical reality is that women really do not listen to the al Qaeda credo.
In Iraq, since 2003, there have been 20 female suicide bombers.
In Israel, since 2001, there have been 11 Palestinian female suicide bombers.

I wish that more women would listen to Zawahiri.
Detecting female suicide bombers is much more difficult than detecting male bombers.

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

Christians Attacked Again in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 3, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

I am looking for coverage of the anti-Christian activities taking place in Gaza.
The Al Manara compound and school in Gaza is owned by the Baptist Bible Society.
On Saturday the Christian compound was attacked and a school bus was stolen. It was a terrorist attack.

The Christian community has been victim to several brutal attacks recently. This bus incident is just the last in a series. Terrorists have bound and beaten a guard. Terrorists have burnt book stores as well as the books inside.

I have not heard the voices of Christians around the world raised in protest.
I have not heard Christian voices decry this atrocity.
Does the Christian world not know what is happening? Do they not care? Do they think that by raising their voices they might cause more harm - more harm than has already been perpetrated.

I am reminded of a quote from Heinrich Heine:

"Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people."

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Birth Rates
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 2, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

Arafat used to say that the secret weapon of the Palestinian people was - the Palestinian womb.
He was saying that natural Arab population growth will easily and quickly outstrip the Jewish birthrate in Israel.

Arafat's argument was often sited by fear mongers predicting the demise of Israel.
They claimed that the onslaught of Arabs would erode the democratic nature of Israel.
It has always been a problematic argument.
In findings made public this week it appears that the evidence is pointing the other way.

The rule in population studies is the wealthier and better educated a community, the fewer the children.
The only exception to that rule is the Jewish population in Israel.
The new findings tell us that as Arab lives in Israel improve they are having fewer children - and at the same time Jews are having more children.

The Jerusalem study shows that between 2000 and 2006 the Arab rate of reproduction fell from 4.30 per family to 4.
During that same period the Jewish birth rate rose from 3.7 to 3.9.

Those are very important and impressive statistics.

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Work Accidents in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 1, 2008

I've Been Thinking:

There was an explosion in Gaza City on Saturday night.
One person was killed, 16 were wounded.
The explosion did not come from an Israeli helicopter or gunship.

A Hamas terrorist blew himself up while preparing a bomb.
He's dead, 16 of his family and friends, people in his home in Gaza City that day, are wounded.
The report of the explosion came from the medical people. It seems that the best sources for these "work accidents," as they are called are the medical professionals.

Hamas leaders are blaming Israel.
But if you look at the situation seriously, you will discover that these "work accidents" actually claim many Palestinian lives.
Call it irony, call it a prophetic twist.
Call it what it is - a terrorist murderer kills himself and injures his own innocent family.

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

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