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Israel and Turkey, Again
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 1, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Remember the spat between Turkey and Israel at the World Economic Forum in Davos?
Here's the follow up: Israeli President Peres phoned Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to apologize.

Peres: These things can happen between friends.

Erdogan: Firstly, of course. There is no doubt that such arguments can happen between friends. But nobody can even speak to a tribe leader so loudly and in front of the international community, and not to the leader of the Republic of Turkey.

Peres: I raised my voice. In fact my friends tell me that I have a quite voice. This has nothing to do with my relationship with the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey. I am very sorry for what happened today.

Erdogan: I heard that you are going to hold a press conference.

Peres: Not today, but tomorrow.

Erdogan: If you express these sincere feelings, which I believe you will, in tomorrow's press conference, I assume this problem will be mostly overcome.

Peres: Of course I will publicly express these remarks.

In conclusion: Paying attention to what Erdogan said, we hear that the problem will be mostly overcome if Peres apologizes publicly.
That means the problem has not yet been overcome and will not even be completely overcome after a public apology.

Erdogan stressed that nobody can even speak to a tribal leader the way Peres spoke to him. A massive personal injury was done here. Unfortunately, while the insult is real the foundation for the argument is false.

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

A New Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 31, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, we saw a new Egypt.
Yesterday marked a public change in Egypt.
Yesterday Egypt not only sang a different tune, Egypt danced a different dance.

Egypt arrested two armed men outside a tunnel on the Egyptian side of Gaza as they were about to enter the tunnel in order to smuggle in weapons. The Egyptians are searching for seven people, some of whom escaped into the tunnel.

Egypt pronounced that Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah was an Iranian agent. The pronouncement came as a response to a barrage of attacks made by Nasrallah during the Israeli operation in Gaza against Hamas.

There is no love lost in the Arab world when it comes to Hamas.
Hamas supporters, even in the Arab world, are few and far between.

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

Fighting in Davos
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 30, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The World Economic Forum in Davos is known for being a place of polite, high brow dialogue.
It is where ideas are discussed and voices are never raised to the level of shouting matches.
At least, that's the way it used to be.

Yesterday, Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Simon Peres was on a panel with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
Peres passionately explained Israel's action is Gaza.
The Turkish president was in the middle of speaking when he was cut off by the moderator. At that point he raised his voice to shout: "you are killing people."
Peres pointed his finger and said you would do the same if rockets would fall on Istanbul.
The Turkish president stormed out of the Forum, his face was beet red.
These were not polite exchanges.

By walking out, Erdogan lost credibility.
Had he stayed it would have been obvious that his argument was based on untruth and misrepresentation of reality and law.

By responding in the way in which he did, Peres was pitching to his own strengths. Shimon Peres excels in confronting liberals with liberal theory and reality couching it in the terms they understand best.

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

Same Old Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 29, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

A new approach to Iran does not mean a new approach from Iran.

Advisor to the president of Iran, Aliakbar Javanfekr, was recently quoted saying that Iran was not going to stop its nuclear development just because the United States asks them to stop. "We have no non-peaceful activities to suspend. All our activities are peaceful and under the supervision of the IAEA."

Javanfekr had his own take on what has become one of the most quotable quotes from the Obama inauguration speech.
Obama said: we "will extend a hand of peace if Iran unclenched its fist." Javanfekr says: "This is illogical to talk about unclenching fists when Iran is surrounded by American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq."
He said: "America has always extended a clenched fist towards Iran ... If America unclenches its fist Iran will extend a hand of cooperation towards America."

There may be a new administration in Washington, DC, but it is the same old leadership running Iran.

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

Obama on Al Arabiyah
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 28, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

President Obama's first TV interview was with Al Arabiyah.
This Arabic news network is watched by more people than Al Jazeera, it is also less strident.
Al Arabiyah is less well known in the US than Al Jazeera precisely because it is less critical of the West.

I watched the Obama interview several times and I read the transcript.
Several of the ideas expressed in the interview exhibit deeply flawed thinking:
The idea that all Islamic issues are linked including the situations in Pakistan, Indonesia and India.
The idea that the Palestinians should have a contiguous state.
The idea that people are basically the same and that the differences between us can be resolved.

Here's why I disagree with those comments:
Many of the conflicts in the Islamic world are inner conflicts, the Islamic world does not fall under a single rubric and Israel is not at the center of those conflicts.
The Palestinians cannot link Gaza to the West Bank without taking major sections of Israel.
The people who want to destroy the United States and obliterate US influence will stop at nothing to bring about their goal.

I hope that President Obama pays attention to his daily early morning security briefings.
We should begin worrying if the new president moves those briefings from the start of his day to a later part of the day or if the daily briefing is relegated to an every other day briefing.
Should that happen the United States will lose its grip on the world's situation.

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

Carter Does it Again
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 27, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Jimmy Carter is at it once again.
Yesterday he was on the Today Show, talking to Meredith Vieira, hawking his new book on peace in the Middle East.
As a former president Carter projects great knowledge and experience.
But when it comes to the Middle East, the former president knows peanuts.

Carter asserted two un-imaginables.
He asserted that Hamas is trustworthy and believable.
He asserted that no real peace can happen without Hamas.
He concluded that Hamas was believable based on his two conversations with Hamas leaders in Damascus.
He said that Hamas held up their end of the agreement signed with Israel.

Well Mr. Former President, Hamas lied to you and you believed them.
Hamas did not keep up their end of the agreement with Israel.
Hamas sponsored and permitted and shot hundreds if not thousands of rockets during the time span of the supposed cease fire.

I cannot fathom how Jimmy Carter comes up with these ideas.

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

By Micah Halpern

Monday January 26, 2009


Israel is proposing an eighteen month truce with Hamas. Hamas is asking for a twelve month period of quiet with Israel. So what's it gonna be?

It's gonna be a serious problem. As the prison guard in the movie Cool Hand Luke so eloquently put it: "What we have here is a failure to communicate." What we have in this particular case is failure to communicate on two levels.

Level one deals exclusively with Hamas. Truce, cease fire, deal - these notions are all anathema in Hamas' understanding of Islam.

Level two deals with the Western world's understanding, or better yet, lack of understanding, of Hamas. Without understanding the Hamas approach to decision making, decision makers, diplomats and politicians from countries around the Western world will try to force Israel into a situation that is hardly optimal. It will be a colossal mistake. It will be a mistake made in the name of peace, laced with all best intentions, predicated upon a total lack of understanding of Hamas' motives and Iran's intentions. It will be a tragic mistake.

In Arabic culture conflict can be resolved in only two ways. One way is Hudna. Hudna has a deep historical and theological history. The second way is Tahadiyah. In contrast, Tahadiyah has no theology and absolutely no history outside of modern, contemporary events.

Both terms have been bantered about, both have been mistranslated. Neither Hudna nor Tahadiyah means what politicians in Washington DC, the United Nations and European capitals think they mean.

Hudna is a concept best described as a tactical response to being out numbered and out armed. As opposed to admitting to losing in conflict, Hudna is a move that permits the fighting to be halted in order to be continued on another day. One strikes a Hudna in order to regroup, rearm and then, most importantly, to attack and vanquish the party that you struck a treaty with. Hudna has a built in time limit of 10 years, but it may be renewed. It is far from anything we would consider to be a truce.

As a classic form of Islamic diplomacy Hudna was first introduced by the prophet Mohammed when, according to the Koran in the 48th Sura known as "The Victory," Mohammed engages in an agreement with the tribe of Quraysh.

The story begins in Medina. Mohammed takes 1500 men and marches on Mecca, his native city. He is confronted by an army that is far superior to his own from the tribe of Quraysh at a place called Hudaiybiyah. It is at Hudaibiyah that the two parties agree on a ten year pact. But two years later, after building a bigger and better army Mohammed breaks the treaty, attacks and enters Mecca victorious.

As the ten year pact or treaty was being negotiated, Mohammed's advisers, principally his general Umar ibn al Khatib, rejected the idea. The advisers called entering into a pact with the knowing intention of reneging on your word dishonorable. But the Prophet made it very clear that this was the way to proceed and so it was done.

As an interesting aside, the Sura aka "The Victory" in Arabic is called Al Fath. It was no accident that the first Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, chose to name his organization Al Fatah after that very same Sura in the Koran.

Tahadiyah has much less history. It is not a theological term, it is not in the Koran and there is no link to any decision or stratagem of Mohammed.

As a modern Arabic term Tahadiyah simply means calm or lull. It is a very problematic term and it is the term that Hamas is using now in talking about the cessation of hostilities with Israel. Tahadiyah does not mean cease fire. A lull implies a reduction, not a stoppage, of aggression. The concept of Tahadiyah implies that there is plenty of wiggle room. Tahadiyah is not quiet nor is it a commitment to enforce a quiet. Quite to the contrary a Tahadiyah actually allows for attacks and a gradual increase of pressure and a change in the status quo over time. It is a very ambiguous and amorphous term that translates into a very ambiguous and amorphous status on the ground.

Tahadiyah is a diplomatic Pandora's Box. Hudna is diplomatic double talk. It really makes no difference if the world-at-large believes that Israel and Hamas have a year long truce or an eighteen month long truce. In the end, the hostilities will resume when Hamas is ready for the hostilities to resume. And then, Israel had better be ready.

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

Iran Needs Uranium
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 25, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Rumors have been circulating for some time now that Iran does not have enough uranium to continue with their enriching program and nuclear development.
There are reports that Iran is recycling spent uranium.

Saturday's Times (the British newspaper) reported that Iran is very short on uranium and now needs to buy it.
The report describes how the British Foreign Office has charged its diplomats to lobby uranium producing countries not to sell to Iran.
The world's top uranium miners are: Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Niger, Namibia, Uzbekistan, the United States, Ukraine and China.

This plan might succeed in stopping or at least slowing down Iran's nuclear development.
The United States, France and Germany have joined with England and they too are lobbying against the sale of uranium to Iran.
The problem is that seven of the top ten uranium miners are hard to read on when it comes to Iran and uranium.

But this is certainly worth trying.

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

War Crimes- Israel or Hamas?
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 24, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is bracing itself and preparing a legal defense in the international courts that will charge them for war crimes.

Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly defines war crimes as the "Willful killing, torture, or inhuman treatment, including .. willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, ... taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly."

The International Committee of the Red Cross embellishes the Geneva Conventions saying "The parties to conflict must at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilian population and civilian property. Neither the civilian population as a whole nor individual civilians may be attacked."

There will be a serious attack against Israel in the international courts of law but they will fail.

The law is pretty cut and dry. Israel's behavior has been pretty transparent.

What does become clear is that according to international law Hamas' actions perfectly fit the definition of war crimes.

Sadly and perhaps ironically Hamas will not be brought before an international court for their crimes.

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

George Mitchell As Special Envoy
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 23, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

George Mitchell was just named Special Envoy to the Middle East in the Obama administration.

After the announcement, I re-read the Mitchell Report.
The report was issued to the Israelis and the Palestinians on May 4, 2001.
The commission that wrote the report, chaired by the former senator, was tasked with addressing a series of specific problems that resulted in increased tensions and hostilities between Israeli and Palestinians.

The Mitchell Report is brutally honest and sadly, not optimistic.
The objective of the report was to provide a path to "end violence, rebuild confidence and resume negotiations." It lays out some clear changes that must be implemented by both sides for any progress to occur. Both sides are portrayed as in need of drastic change in behavior in order to reduce tensions and resume dialogue. The biggest issues within the report are the need for Israel to stop settlement activity and the need for Palestinians to stop terror.

Special Envoy Mitchell believes in an evenhanded approach.
That evenhanded perspective is deeply problematic to Israel, a country that has enjoyed a trusted and special relationship with the United States these past sixty years.

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

Ghaddafi Asks Obama to Talk to Osama
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 22, 2009

I've Been thinking:

Advice for the new president is coming in from the four corners of the world.
Of all the outlandish, the preposterous and the amazingly inappropriate wisdom coming Obama's way I have chosen one special favorite.

These are the words of wisdom of Libyan leader Muammar Ghadaffi to President Barack Obama:
If you are proposing a new era and new relations of openness, talk to Osama bin Laden, he said.

Yes, Ghaddafi was encouraging Obama to dialogue with bin Laden.
No doubt Obama wants change, but no, I don't think he will be following up on this particular piece of advice.

Some things, you just can't make up.

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

Obama's Mid East Briefing
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 21, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Obama administration will be a friend to Israel, of that I have no doubt, it is stated policy. But that does not mean that the new administration will not bring pressure upon Israel, especially if they take up the Middle East gauntlet at the start of the new administration.

There is a lot to deal with in the region.
Egypt, France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia - they all want to get involved, turning the Middle East into a diplomatic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. On Tuesday, even Turkey got into the mix volunteering to mediate the Middle East conflict.

This is part of what the new president will hear concerning the Middle East in his first security briefing as president:
* on inauguration day 8 rockets, launched by Hamas, fell on Israel
* only a few hundred people came to a Hamas rally in Gaza
* only a few thousand people came to a Hamas rally in Teheran
* the Egyptian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia the most populated Moslem country in the world, was fire bombed as a direct result of Israel's operation in Gaza
* India tested the Brahmos, a super sonic cruise missile and Pakistan is livid
* the NATO military chief is asking for 10,000 more troops in Afghanistan
* oil hit $34 a barrel

Some of these issues may seem to be non-sequiturs.
But each is an essential item, each must be understood and each must be put into context.

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

Inauguration and Coronation
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 20, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The inauguration of a first term president is the closest thing this side of the Atlantic of a royal ceremony - it is a coronation, USA style.

In the days preceding the inauguration the president-elect is revered. The wheels of pomp and power move to create a transition of power that is seemingly seamless. A sense of excitement surrounds all inaugurations. The excitement surrounding the inauguration of Barack Obama is greater than all others in modern history.

The emotional high, as I walk the streets of Washington DC, is palpable and contagious. People have come to our nation's capital from cities large and small all across America. The concerts are loud. The museums are packed. The vendors are hawking photos and maps and calendars and clothing. Everyone feels a part of history. Everyone feels a part of history-in-the-making. These moments in American history are laced with magic.

When a democracy installs a leader it is an important occasion not only for that country but for the democratic world. When the most powerful democracy in the world installs a new leader it is important for the non-democratic world as well.

The President of the United States of America is the leader of the free world.
A safe and easy transition of power is the hallmark of our democratic process.
And that, my friends, is worth getting excited about.

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

Does The Islamic Society Support Hamas?
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 19, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

We have a problem.
It concerns one of the select few scheduled to speak in the National Cathedral to inaugurate the 44th president of the United States of America.

The speaker's name is Ingrid Mattson.
Since 2006 she has been president of the Islamic Society of North America.
She teaches in Hartford, CT and has a very good reputation for condemning terror.

Here is the problem:
The Islamic Society of North America has been listed by federal law enforcement agencies as supporting the terror organization Hamas.

Legal papers were filed by federal prosecutors in federal court in July of 2007 and the papers make a very convincing argument. The papers concerned a terrorism case from Dallas. Mattson's group is mentioned but not charged.

Here's where it get more complicated:

The Islamic society claims to be the largest mainstream Muslim organization in North America.

Do they support Hamas even in word? I could not find it on their website. They certainly object to Israel's operation in Gaza and to civilian deaths, but that does not mean they are Hamas supporters.

The status and mission of the Islamic Society of North America must be checked out by federal authorities, the record must be clarified.

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

Cease Fire Prediction
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 18, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Israel declared a unilateral cease fire as of 2 AM.
Hamas views the announcement as symbolic and takes it for a gesture of weakness.

Hamas has announced that they have no intention of ceasing fire.
Hamas says that "the resistance will continue."
Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, Osama Hamadan, called the announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "Failure Speech # 2."
Hamadan was referring to the speech Olmert gave ending the operation against Hezbollah in Lebanon two years ago.

What we have here is a conflict that juxtaposes Western thinking with Middle Eastern mentality.
As Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak was briefing reporters on the ceasefire Hamas rockets were raining down on Israel.

I'm predicting that Hamas will continue to launch rockets into Israel throughout Sunday and even on Monday.
I'm predicting that Israel will gather the intel and strike back hard.

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

No Israelis Allowed
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 17, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The world has taken note of the Israeli operation in Gaza.
Everyone has an opinion.

Some of the responses are to be expected, others are certainly surprising, even shocking.
Iran is recommending a boycott of Israel and of anyone doing business with Israel, which is to be expected.

In Turkey a sign was put up in a private store window this week declaring: "No Israelis buy here."
In New Zealand taverns and bars are evicting Israelis with the mantra: "Israelis are not welcome until Gaza shelling stops."
Turkey and New Zealand have been major tourist stops for Israelis for many years. Israelis spend a lot of time and more importantly, money, in these places. So much so that at some spots the Israeli shekel is accepted as currency.

In most democracies one may not discriminate against people because they come from a particular country or culture. But as we are seeing, local establishments are being given more leeway in putting out the Not Welcome mat.

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

Osama Bin Ladin Tape
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 16, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Osama bin Laden released a new audio tape.
In this version he calls on Muslim masses to rally 'round and jihad against Israel, the United States and any inactive Arab leaders who have done nothing to defend Hamas.

Bin Laden released this tape because he needs to show that:
- He and al Qaeda are still players and their positions have not been usurped.

- He can be as forceful as Iran which has, until now, single handedly spearheaded the assault against everyone not in support of Hamas.

- He cannot allow Shiite Iran to be the defender of Sunni Hamas.

- He views what is happening as the perfect historical example of monarchs and dictators in the Muslim world with no real pan-Islamic ideals. He can use this opportunity to demonstrate that these leaders are more closely linked to the West than to the Islamic ideology of Hamas and al Qaeda.

Bin Ladin knows the world of PR.
Bin Ladin knows that the Arab street or vox populi feel for the suffering of the Palestinians.
Bin Ladin wants to ride that wave.

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

Cease Fire
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 15, 2009

I'm Predicting:

There have been positive signals about a cease fire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, but we cannot read much into even those signals.

Here's why:
To paraphrase Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement he made after meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Maratinos:
Theses signs are simply that, they are signs.

To paraphrase a Hamas spokesman:
Hamas has not accepted the Egyptian proposal and neither have they rejected it.
Hamas has given their reservations and if their reservations are not addressed, they will reject the proposal.

To quote him directly, in translation:
"The talk of progress exists only in the media."
"Hamas is unwilling to agree on a permanent ceasefire because the significance of this would be to halt the resistance."

Of course the list of Hamas reservations cannot be accepted.
Hamas hasn't put together a list of reservations.
Hamas put together a wish list that Egypt has already totally rejected.

Let's get real.
Talks should and will continue.
And so will the fighting.
This situation is not about to end.

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

UN and Human Shields
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 14, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Ban Ki Moon is on his way to the Middle East.

The Secretary General of the United Nations plans on using the weight of his august position to influence all parties in the region to push for a Gaza cease fire.

I have been watching the Secretary very carefully since the beginning of this conflict.
For the most part he has spoken up when it was required and made cogent evaluations and strong statements.

But on one of the most important moral and ethical issues of this conflict the Secretary General has remained utterly silent.

If there is one role that the Secretary General of the United States is required to play it is that of international moral compass. It is the responsibility of the Secretary General to not only point out the moral and ethical shortcomings of nations but to also try to influence those nations to act morally.

Ban Ki Moon has not said a word about Hamas' use of human shields.
Hamas has spoken openly, often and proudly about using human shields.
Hamas has aired TV programs about human shields.
Hamas leaders have gone on radio and TV to defend the act and to congratulate the people who participate in their human shield program.

This is a severe blemish on the Secretary.

When Hezbollah used human shields in the summer of 2006 the previous Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, made it clear that such behavior was reprehensible.

By not speaking out about the use of human shields Ban Ki Moon is allowing Hamas to appear as the innocent victims of Israel in this conflict.

The implication is that the civilian casualties are the result of deliberate act of Israeli brutality.

Speaking out against the policy of using human shields will not change Hamas' behavior but it will certainly show those who listen that Hamas cares only about the Islamic resistance and not about Palestinian lives.

Sometimes, silence really does speak louder than words.

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

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 13, 2009


Iran and Syria see the world through their own prism. They keep each other's company, they enjoy each other's company, they support each other's diplomatic machinations, they don't trust each other one little bit and they certainly don't trust anyone else.

For Iran and Syria, that's normal. Iran and Syria need to feel in charge. Ask Hamas and Hezbollah leaders and they will answer that they are independent entities, but observe Hamas and Hezbollah and you will know that they are ruled by the whim, whimsy and wealth of Iran. Ask the rulers of Lebanon and they will claim to be an independent country, watch what happens in Lebanon and you will see the guiding hand of Syria. It's a mutual admiration society - Iran applauds Syria, Syria applauds Iran and they both applaud Hamas and Hezbollah.

Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, just came back from a multi day trip to Syria and Lebanon. This was not a routine trip. This trip had a definite, specific purpose. Larijani went to gather information about Gaza, he wanted details on the Israeli operation against Hamas.

Larijani is not your typical guest. He was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator. He is a master strategist. He and Iranian leader Ahmadinejad are a team, they might disagree on economic issues and Ahmadinejad may take issue with some minor tactics within the larger strategic plan that Larijani composed, but that has not compromised their alliance.

If the Western world had been paying attention, if the Western world had bothered to monitor Larijani's comments during this trip, the Western world would have a better understanding of the rudder that guides Hamas. Instead, the Western world has averted its collective eyes, clogged its collective ears and turned oblivious to one of the most significant visits to take place in the Middle East in a long time. That's how we missed out on reacting to one of the most poetic descriptions delivered on the Egyptian/French cease fire proposal in Gaza.

While in Lebanon, after meeting with Hezbollah, Larijani summed the initiative up by calling it "honey injected with poison." While in the Syrian capital Damascus Larijani met with Khalad Mashaal, the head of Hamas. Yes, the actual head of Hamas is not in Gaza, he is in Syria, living under the protection and sponsorship of the Syrian government.

The Iranian/Hamas meeting lasted hours, it ran deep into the morning and when it was over, there were no official reports, no statements, no press conferences. Iran wanted details. Iran wanted specifics about Gaza - how much damage has been done, how strong is Hamas, how capable is Israel. Larijani was not interested in the mainstays of Arab conversation, rhetoric and hyperbole, he wanted cold, hard, facts, he wanted what the business world calls a real time assessment. For Larijani the situation in Gaza is a business deal turning sour.

Mashaal was not interested in giving over information, Mashaal wanted Iranian support, even Iranian intervention. If he could not persuade the Iranians to enter the fray against Israel he was at least hoping for them to sanction and enable international terror strikes, if not that then to at lest unleash Hezbollah rockets upon Israel from the North forcing Israel into a two-front war. He got none of that.

In return for information Iran promised to give money and to help rearm, retrain and rebuild their proxies - but they will not act. Iran will not jeopardize assets and push to the margins their larger objectives to help Hamas in a losing battle. Iran will serve as cheerleaders galvanizing Muslim support for Hamas and rally against Arab leaders, against Israel and against the West, against anyone helping Israel even by fiat or through acquiescence. Nothing more.

Iran is taking the Israeli invasion of Gaza very seriously. So seriously that Larijani is not the only high ranking Iranian official to visit Syria and meet with Hamas and Hezbollah. Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, also traveled to Syria and met with Syrian leader Bashar Assad. More importantly he met with Halad Mashaal and Ramadan Salah, the head of Islamic Jihad, the other terrorist group in Gaza. Jalili, not quite as poetic as Larijani, echoed a common Iranian theme, saying that "the Zionists are one step away from collapse."

Syria and Iran are trying to spin the situation in Gaza, they are trying to figure out how to best manipulate world opinion against Israel. That's why Mashaal rejected all the cease fire proposals but demanded that Israel live up to the UN and Egyptian/French proposal. Is that seems like a contradiction it's only because you are analyzing the situation from a Western perspective. From the Iran/Syria/Hamas perspective the UN and Egyptian/French proposals are ammunition with which Israel can be attacked in the international arena.

Gaza is not going away. Syria and Iran are not going to change. Hamas and Hezbollah are not going to give up. If we want to keep up with the situation, we had better start looking at it through the Iranian/Syrian prism.

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

UN Cease Fire
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 12, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Much has been said about the UN Security Council's resolution for a cease fire in Gaza. The vote for the cease fire was 14 - 0.
In a surprise move, the United States abstained.

Why did the United States abstain?
US Secretary of State Condi Rice was part of the process in drafting the resolution.
The reason the US abstained was because President Bush got a last minute call from the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pointing out the flaws in the resolution that the United States helped draft.

The resolution is deeply flawed.
Rice was off base in helping to develop and draft the language of the resolution. The nine short clauses of the resolution never once mention Hamas.
One clause actually speaks about Israeli Palestinian peace.
Despite the wishes of the Arab foreign ministers involved in drafting the resolution neither does it mention condemnation of Israel.

Here's what it does say: Article 8. calls for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders, as envisaged in Security Council resolution 1850 (2008), and recalls also the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative;

Folding the Palestinian/Israel peace process into the Hamas conflict with Israel legitimizes Hamas, it de facto takes Hamas to a whole new level.

The Israeli operation is not about peace with the Palestinians, it is about a terror group in Gaza shooting rockets at Israel.
Why would the US initiate such a new elevated status? They wouldn't. That's why they abstained on their own resolution

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

Chemical Weapons in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 11, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Times of London broke the story which then ran on Al Jazeera:
Israel was using WHITE PHOSPHORUS in Gaza.

The assumption is that Israel is using a chemical war agent and will be condemned world over for that action.
The probability is that Israel is using Willy Pete as it is more commonly known by soldiers.

Willy Pete, which is widely used in many forms is not illegal by any treaty nor is it one any list of chemical weapons.
It does however smell like garlic and that could be offensive.
Most importantly, Willy Pete acts as a smokescreen, it hides movements and operations, it permits Israeli teams to get into position without being seen.

Willy Pete was first used in WWI by the British and then used very often in WWII. The US uses and actually, the battle in Fallujah went so well because of Willy Pete. Israel used it in Lebanon against Hezbollah and seems to be using it now against Hamas.

The cover of a smoke screen saves lives.
It saves the lives of Israeli soldiers and saves the lives of civilian non-combatant residents in Gaza.

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Cease Fire With Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 10, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The cease fire between Hamas and Israel is being hammered out on two fronts.
One front is the UN.
The other front is the Egyptian/French initiative.
Both are problematic.

About the UN:
On Thursday night the UN Security Council voted 14 - 0 for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, the United States abstained.
In reality this is just a declaration for the sake of a declaration.
The word Hamas is never mentioned, there is no operational language and no effective language. It is simply a tool to placate Arab and Muslim countries that were pushing hard.
If the Security Council really wants quiet in Gaza they will see to it that a real ceasefire resolution is forthcoming with in the next few days.

About the Egyptian/French Initiative:
The Egyptian- French proposal is heavily weighed to help Egypt and not to stop the fighting.
Egypt has an agenda, they want calm in their streets especially from the Egyptian Brotherhood. They would like to strike a blow to Hamas. They would like to build up their own military on the Gaza border and they do not want to have any responsibility for or in Gaza now or in the future. That is why they want international observers, the PA and Hamas to control the Gaza side of the border.

The reality is that Israel must not stop now.
Israel must keep their soldiers moving in and out. The longer Israeli soldiers stay in one place the more likely they are to take casualties.
The reality is that Hamas is on the run.

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The Terror Risk: The Lone Wolf
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 9, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

In Islam, Friday is the Sabbath, it is the day of rest.
And on Friday's, like every other day, Muslims pray five times.
The difference is that on Friday the Imam delivers a sermon in honor of the Sabbath.

There are some mosques and some Imams who speak not only on Friday, but in every mosque the Imam delivers his main sermon on Friday.

I will venture to bet that today, in almost every mosque around the world, Imams will be preaching about Gaza, Israel and the world.
Some will add their own unique insight but almost all will draw a direct link between the United States, Israel and the Western world. Most will speak about how there is a clash of cultures.

The implication of these sermons is particularly important.
Friday sermons and Islamic websites are often the stimulus for the
"lone wolf" phenomenon.
Lone wolves are people who become so agitated by events or so inflamed by sermons or so frantic by what they read on the websites that, on their own, they set out to attack a soft target.

We must all be aware of the "lone wolf" phenomenon.
Soft targets are religious schools, synagogues, churches and institutions.
Soft targets are official offices, individuals and businesses.
There is no way to strategize against the lone wolf, the best defense we have is simply to be alert and to be aware.

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Gaza Operation: The End in Sight
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 8, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Now, well into the second week of the Israeli operation into Gaza, the head of emergency services in Gaza says the death toll has reached 700 and injuries 3,100.
It looks as if the end is in sight.

Here are some indicators:
Israel is delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza everyday.
Israel has created a humanitarian corridor and a quiet period lasting several hours during mid-day allowing Gazans to replenish their supplies in the corridor.
The co-sponsored Egyptian/French ceasefire initiative has Israel's support and Hamas is listening.

The details will take several days to work out.
In the meantime Hamas will continue to launch rockets and Israel will continue to try to find the stockpiles of weapons hidden in Gaza.
As the weekend winds down the Gaza operation and the process of intermediary dialogue will be happening simultaneously.
Egypt and France will be dealing with Hamas and Israel.

A new status with a severally weakened Hamas is close.
That means that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority will join the discussions.
The final result may not be ideal.
In the end, Abbas and Hamas may join and create a power sharing deal.

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Chavez Expells Israeli Ambassador
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 7, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Chavez just expelled the Israeli ambassador from Venezuela.
Chavez's stated reason for cutting diplomatic relations with Israel is Operation Cast Lead.
But there is more going on here.

Chavez wanted to take a public stand against Israel and against the West.
This was his opportunity.
This was an important gesture.
This was proof of his commitment to support those whom he perceives as being oppressed by the United States and her associates.

The act of expelling the Israeli ambassador because of the Gaza defense operation empowers Venezuela as a leader of the developing world.
No one else stood up against the US and Israel.
Chavez can now claim that he alone stood up to the US and Israel.
This is serious currency in the bigger game of world domination.
Impressing Iran with his initiative and boldness is the big prize Chavez seeks.

Many people, including the Israelis, are upset by the loss of human lives in Gaza. For Chavez this is more than an issue of innocent lives lost.
For Chavez it is a mission, he is challenging US and Western values and leadership.
In this Chavez is in cahoots with Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and of course, Hamas.

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Accidents Happen
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Three Israeli soldiers have been killed and 24 have been wounded by friendly fire.
More Israeli soldiers have been killed by Israeli fire than by Hamas fire.

It was devastating, but not surprising:
Tragic accidents occur in all conflicts and in all operations.
In this case a tank hit a building where an entire Israeli team was taking shelter.
When so much firepower is so close in such a tight environment misfires happen.
That is why training and discipline so important.
They are the tools that are supposed to minimize the accidents that cost lives.

This should not come as a surprise either:
While all this was happening Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was telling EU representatives that there is no way that Hamas can have any victory.
Egypt's representatives were telling Hamas they must accept unconditional surrender and abandon their demands.

There is certainly no surprise here:
Muslim websites are calling the Israeli accident a sign from Allah.

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Israel & Hamas: The End Game
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 5, 2009

I'm Predicting:

The clear objectives of Israel's land operation are exactly the objectives of the aerial operation.
The success of the operation depends, in part, on the willingness of Hamas to say "uncle."

Israel's prime objective is to secure a stable, sustainable quiet.
For that to happen Hamas must agree to either international or local mediation.
Israel needs to eliminate Hamas' ability to launch 20-60 rockets daily.
So far, even under the pressure of Israeli fire, rockets are still being launched into Israel, so Israel's ground offensive is targeting the rockets, their factories and the commanders and, of course, the people who dispatch the weaponry.
Hamas, on the other hand, wants the world to know that despite the great fire power of the Israeli air force they continue to successfully launch Qassams.

I would predict that even after an agreement or a cease fire or a "lull" there will be a series of Hamas launchings into Israel just to prove that Israel did not totally destroy Hamas' caches of rockets.
Hamas will want to prove that an agreement to cease fire came out of strategic interests not as result of being crushed by Israel.

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Hamas: Lessons Learned
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 4, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas is beginning to feel the squeeze of the Israeli operation.
Israel's ground objectives are being easily obtained, the ground offense has been very effective against Hamas.

Israel's army has sustained almost no serious casualties.
Hamas is using machine guns to halt the Israeli army.
Hamas is also shooting mortars, not an effective method in this fight.

Hamas leadership:
Hamas leadership seems to be softening their attitude and reconsidering a "lull."
Hamas leadership is shocked by the passivity and resounding silence of the greater Muslim world.
Hamas leadership is realizing that no significant international pressure has been brought on Israel to stop the offensive.

The next few tomorrows:
In a few more days Hamas will crawl back to Egypt with its proverbial tail between it legs and ask Egypt to lay the framework a "lull."
The damage that Hamas has done to itself is unquantifiable.

Implications for the Obama Presidency:
Israel's invasion into Gaza will prove to be a huge benefit to the Obama presidency.
This invasion points out clearly and definitively that the vast majority of the Muslim world has taken a stand against Muslim Extremism, they have taken a stand against Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

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

Security Council Changes for the Better
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 3, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

A special session of the UN Security Council is being called to debate a critical resolution on Israel's operation in Gaza.
The draft of this resolution is very difficult for fair minded country to accept.
Even Egyptian foreign minister Gheit said that it is not realistic to only blame Israel at the UN.

The good news is that the Security Council changed over the past few days.
South Africa, Panama, Indonesia, Belgium and Italy are out.
Uganda, Mexico, Japan, Austria, and Turkey are in.
This is a big move toward more rational Security Council resolutions against terror and Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.

Replacing Indonesia with Japan means replacing the world's most populated Muslim country with a country petrified of terror.
Replacing South Africa with Uganda means replacing dogmatic anti-Western rhetoric with real politics.
Replacing Mexico with Panama means replacing a country on the fringes with a burgeoning Western wannabe.
And Turkey is the model for all Islamic states that hope to blend the modern world with Islam.

Looking at it through Western eyes, things are looking up at the United Nations.

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Hamas Will Hit Back
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 2, 2009

I'm Predicting:

We are coming up on one week since Israel began their operation against Hamas.
Hamas has threatened to increase their attacks into Israel.
Hamas continues to hit despite being badly pummeled by Israel.

Hamas has been shooting back at Israel.
Israel anticipated that Hamas would hit back much harder.
Either Israel has successfully struck at Hamas weapons hordes , or Hamas is waiting for a more opportune moment to strike.

Today is the Muslim Sabbath.
Many Muslims in the region will go to Mosque and hear sermons aimed at motivating them and psyching them up even more.
So I would expect today, Friday, to be a day when Hamas unleashes even more rockets and even several suicide bombers on Israel.

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

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