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Rude Awakening in The MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 1, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

This weekend, a British newspaper announced that President Obama wants to see a resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict within two years.
Part of the idea calls for the Arab world to slowly normalize relations with Israel.

This is a very ambitious timetable.

Since this deadline was announced, there have already been sets backs.

Egypt has rejected the US idea of urging the Arab world to extend a hand to Israel in exchange for Palestinian peace.

If Egypt, a country with normalized relations with Israel, rejects the Obama initiative it is highly unlikely that any other Arab country will toe the US line.

The Palestinians have assumed a wait and see, not a get up and go approach - they are waiting to see what falls into place before moving ahead.

This is one conflict where forcing the issues to completion is very ill advised.
President Obama is in for a rude awakening.

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

Hamas - Fatah Conflict
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 31, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Fierce gun battles between Fatah and Hamas in the West Bank town of Qalqilya today left at least 6 Palestinians dead.

These were not accidental conflicts.
For months Hamas has been preparing for conflict with Fatah in the West Bank and now they are forcing Fatah into clashes.
Hamas is painting a picture of Fatah as collaborators with Israel, claiming that the only reason Fatah is trying to stop Hamas activities is because of Israeli demands and expectations.

The Hamas plan has as its foundation the weakness displayed by Fatah leader Abbas.
Abbas never wanted to conflict with Hamas, never wanted to attack Hamas and never wanted to raise the specter of civil war ... but now Fatah forces are clamping down on Hamas' weapons which must mean that they are doing Israel's bidding.

Hamas has given an order to resist and keep getting more weapons.
The United States has expressed the expectation that Abbas will stop Hamas, but that cannot be done without violence.
Abbas is playing into the hands of Hamas.
The large questions remain as to whether the Palestinian people will side with Hamas or with Fatah and whether Fatah has the internal strength to put Hamas down. Or will Hamas portray Fatah as traitors.

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

PA Honors Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 30, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

A Federal District Court in Texas sentenced two men, members of the Holy Land Foundation, to 65 years in prison for funneling money to Hamas.
Hamas claims that the trial and the conviction are unjust and politically motivated.

Hamas is wrong.
In the United States, Congress makes the law and Congress has made this law perfectly clear: it is illegal to give money and support to terrorist organizations. Hamas is a terrorist organization.

That point having been made we must also recognize that US dollars are going to more and more causes that glorify terror.
On Tuesday the office of Palestinian Authority President Abbas opened a new computer center for children - with money given to them by USAID.
The center is named after a terrorist who, in 1978, led an eleven member terror squad that captured two school busses and a taxi and left 37 murdered Israelis, 12 of them children. Also murdered was American photographer Gail Rubin. This terrorist attack is now known by Israelis as the Coastal Road Massacre.

The name of the terrorist is Dala Mughrabi.
In addition to this computer center, a school, a soccer tournament, a summer camp and many other tributes have been named in memory of this terrorist.

Congress also prohibits idolizing terrorists with US government funds.
This miscarriage of congressional decrees must be stopped.
Trials are one way, diplomatic pressure is another.

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

The Most Popular Arab Bad Boys
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 29, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Brookings Institute just completed a popularity study in the Arab world.
Brookings went to six Arab countries with the question: who is the most popular leader in the Arab world.

The six countries polled are Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
The answers are baffling analysts around the world - the White House included. Why is everyone so baffled?
Because most analysts have not paid attention to the "Bad Boy" phenomenon of Arab leadership and its popularity with the Arab population.

The assumption has always been that the leaders of the Arab world were Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Conventional wisdom is correct, they are indeed the leaders of the Arab world.
But they are not the most popular leaders in the eyes of Arab man-on-the-street.

Number 1 was Bashar Assad, Syria's strong man.
Number 2 was Muhammed al- Nayan, an enigmatic character from Abu Dhabi.
Number 3 was Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader.

The most important lesson the West can learn from this study is that the people of the Middle East love the bad boys who challenge the United States.
Which also explains the Arab world's love affair with Saddam Hussein.

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

Do People Change?
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 28, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Sometimes people change.
Sometimes new power and new responsibility force people to change.
Sometimes it is only the language they use that changes.

In 1987 Farouk Hosni became Egypt's Minister of Culture and has held the position ever since.
Egypt's Minister of Culture has said he will burn any Hebrew book he sees in an Egyptian library.

Hosni is now the leading candidate for the head of UNESCO.
He is now using the media to repudiate his previous statements.
Today Hosni says that he deplores racism and hatred, that he loves all culture even Jewish culture. He is saying that he "deplores the nullification of others ... the defacement of cultures and racism."

New attitude or political expedience?
Is the future head of the United Nation's educational and cultural body a racist and an anti-Semite or a reformed racist and anti-Semite?

Israel has withdrawn its objection to Hosni and he will probably get the UNESCO appointment.
Eventually, the truth will out.

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

Jerusalem & Diplomacy
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 27, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Discussions about Jerusalem have sent a flurry of diplomatic shots across the bow this week.

In Jerusalem, during Jerusalem Day celebrations held last week, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu announced that Jerusalem will continue to be the undivided capital of the Jewish State.
The French, among others, are saying that Netanyahu's announcement prejudices diplomatic negotiations and influences the final outcome between Palestinians and Israelis.

The US State Department is saying that the status of Jerusalem is unresolved.
What a diplomatic understatement.

For those who do not know, to this very day the United States maintains two consulates in Jerusalem.
One consulate is in East Jerusalem and one is in West Jerusalem.
When an American is born in Jerusalem the US issued passport, issued out of the East Jerusalem consulate, does not list Israel as the country of birth.
The passport simply reads: Jerusalem.

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

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 26, 2009


President Barack Obama's desire for change is admirable, but it is also dangerous. It is especially dangerous when he reaches out and embraces other nations and cultures. Especially, in the Middle East.

The buzz has begun on the Obama Middle East doctrine. The speech is still in the formation stages, but it has already had a huge impact on events in the region.

The chosen date is June 4th. The chosen venue is Cairo. It began during the presidential campaign and has been repeated over the last 100+ days. Obama advisers have promised a broad, far reaching presentation aimed at putting into perspective the desires, intentions and ambitions of the United States for the Middle East. In short, this address will speak of the changes that President Barack Obama hopes to wrest from the Israel, the Palestinians, Iran and the nations, cultures and religions of the Middle East region.

The concept of such a speech is as grand as it is tactically well intentioned. Barack Hussein Obama has chosen an Arab center of power from which to reach out to the Muslim world and explain where the United States stands on important issues. In his own way, Obama is restoring to Egypt the grandeur of days long gone, re-asserting the power and presence of Egypt in today's historic and diplomatic context.

Obama will not lay out details of an Israeli/Palestinian peace, the White House made that clear last week. He will mention it and he will emphasize the US conception of a Two State Solution and he will stress the need for Palestinians to have their own, independent state, one that lies next door to Israel and lives there is peace.

He will talk about terror and about freedom and about Iran and about Iran’s race to acquire nuclear technology. He will speak of advancement and of culture, of sharing and learning and understanding. The speech will be very polished and very well delivered - that is the Obama way. And the president of the United States will probably include phrases in Arabic and perhaps even begin his address with an Arabic verse from the Koran. He will not speak in Pharsi, the language of Iran. And much of what he says will fall on deaf ears.

As smart a tactical move as making this speech is, as good as it will look and sound from the point of view of the United States and the West, the impact of this grand maneuvering, of this speech, will be, at best, negligible in the Muslim world. At worst, it will be dangerous.

The Muslim world is divided into three parts. Part one is looking for a ray of light, of hope, of change, from the United States. Part two can never see or hear or experience anything positive from the United States. Part three, the majority of the Muslim world, requires much more than a well spoken, well intentioned, grandstanding speech from the president of the United States of America to impact the way they view US/Muslim interaction.

Despite the good intentions and the positive aspects of the speech, it will bring about no serious change in US/Muslim interaction. By definition, it cannot.

Arab and Muslim cultures are deeply informed by myths and historical narratives. Those narratives take a long time to develop and to seep into the culture. They may be and often are based on half truths and incorrect, revisionist, history but they are a part of the collective memory of the region and of the entire culture.

And part of the currently held myth is that the United States and Israel are inextricably bound together. The myth propagates the idea that the US protects Israel and oppresses the Arab and the Muslim. Part of the myth is that Israel is grabbing Arab land and that Israel is intent on the destruction of the Arab people and Muslim/Arab culture.

Iran has already rejected everything Obama is about to propose, even before the words have been said. Iran has no desire to reach out and grab the Obama gesture. Rather, Iranians exploit Obama's gesture and use it as cover for their own duplicitous end in acquiring nuclear capabilities. Iran understands Obama, realizes how weighty his words will be to part of the Muslim world and knows that they can be the counter weight to this message.

As he ascends the literal platform to deliver his address in the heart of the Arab world, Obama is handing over a figurative platform to enemies of the West. And that is dangerous and damaging.

For Iran, the Obama message is a message of assimilation and a Western cultural attack against Islam. For Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah it is emboldening. The warming period that Obama has extended to these rogues has given them the opportunity, means and motives to act more boldly and become more powerful.

I admire Obama's desire for change, but the Arab world is not the United States.

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

Israel and Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 24, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

A recent poll, conducted by the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, illustrates how Israelis feel about the threat of Iran and about whether to preemptively strike at Iran now or to wait for diplomacy to work.

51% of the 507 randomly selected Israelis said strike now - while 49% said give diplomacy a chance.
74% responded that the new US policy toward Iran would certainly fail.

As this poll was made public one of the Iranian presidential candidates, Mohsen Rezai who had been the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards for 16 years, said that under his leadership Israel would never threaten Iran. Why? Because in one shot he would destroy Israel. Rezai said that he knows Israel's weakness and could, with a well placed shot, stop Israel forever.

Here is Rezai's exact quote from a Sunday news conference:
"My government ... understands missiles and tanks as well as foreign policy and knows exactly where Israel's sensitive spots are. It could stop them forever with one strike."

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

"Calamitous" Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 23, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was just quoted saying that a nuclear Iran is potentially "calamitous."

"Calamitous" is a very powerful word.
Mullen said, "I'm one who believes that Iran getting a nuclear weapon is calamitous for the region and for the world."
Here we have it:
The most important military leader and adviser in the United States is saying that Iran is very dangerous.

Ahmadinejad has been using his own very powerful word.
Ahmadinejad is on record saying that he is standing up to the West and defending Iran's honor.
He chose the word "disgraceful" to describe the decision of former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to freeze the Iranian nuclear program in 2004.

Everyone seems to agree on the power behind Iran's nuclear activity.
Everyone, that is, except the White House.

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

Biden in Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 22, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

US Vice President Joe Biden will visit Beirut, Lebanon today.

Biden will meet with the Lebanese prime minister and president.

The objective of the trip is to bolster support for the Lebanese elections that are scheduled for two weeks from now, on June 2nd.

Right now, the elections look very tight.

Hezbollah might actually get a plurality in these elections and then take over Lebanon. Hezbollah is getting assistance and support from Syria. They are growing in their percentages because so many non-Hezbollah supporters are fleeing, leaving the oppressive environments controlled by Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon.

Since 2006 the United States has given a billion dollars in aid to Lebanon.

If Hezbollah becomes the prime force in the Lebanese government, that aid will stop.
If Hezbollah wins the election Lebanon will become a mini Iran, it will be a second Shiite nation and it will be an Islamic state.
It will threaten Israel and be a strong, effective proxy for Iran in the region and around the world.

If Hezbollah wins the election, Hezbollah will destroy Lebanon.

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

Russia Says Won't Sell MIGS to Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 21, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Word just came that the Russians have decided not to selling MIG-31's to Syria.

The Russians have decided to nix the deal that would add 8 new MIG- 31's to Syria's arsenal.

The MIG-31 is no ordinary flying machine.

The plane has a radius range of about 500 miles and can reach speeds of 1800 miles per hour.

The cost of buying these high flying, high tech fighter planes was half a billion dollars.

These fighter jets, often called "Fox Hound" would have been a huge improvement to the Syrian air force.

The Kommersant is the newspaper that reported that the deal was off.

The paper quoted two sets of sources giving differing reasons for the implosion of this deal.

Source # 1 said it was due to Israel's lobby. That ever since the rumors of the deal began, Israel and other Western governments lobbied Russian leadership to rethink selling such sophisticated military hardware to an unreliable and unpredictable government like Syria.

Source # 2 said the deal was scrapped because Syria could not come up with the money.

The second reason sounds more plausible than the first.

I think that Syria was asking Iran to foot the bill and stringing Russia along. Russia realized what was happening and made the preemptive move of canceling the deal.
Past experience with Russian deals to Iran shows us that Russia is impervious to international pressure and geopolitical arguments about good and evil hold no sway with the Russians. All that counts is the dollar.

Bottom line: This failed deal is good for the free world.

The relationship between Israel and the US remains very strong.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 20, 2009


It happened because it had to happen, because history dictated that it happen.

Barack Obama, the newly elected President of the United States of America and Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu, the newly resurrected Prime Minister of Israel, were fated to meet. The meeting had historical precedence. The meeting had diplomatic overtones. And like historical precedence and like diplomatic two steps, the meeting yielded nothing except for another page written into history and another diplomatic gesture politely completed.

Think tactics, not strategy. The changes in the administrations brought about under the leadership of both Obama and Netanyahu will be tactical changes, not strategic changes. To think otherwise is to be naïve and overly optimistic.

The changes we will see will be in the attainment of short term goals, not long term objectives. Both men acted maturely and stately. The tensions that were expected were present, but only minimally. They heard each other out. They shared and they discussed for one hundred and five minutes. And they both leaned a little.

They learned about each other and about each other's agenda. And because they were engaged in discussion and dialogue, not in debate, they actually heard what the other had to say. In the end, Netanyahu confirmed what he knew about Obama the man and came away reassured about Obama the leader vis a vis his take on Iran. Netanyahu came away so reassured on that one important issue that he was quoted as saying that "the US and Israel see eye to eye on Iran" and since the meeting, Obama has repeated more than once, that Iran must not be allowed to acquire military nuclear power.

The Palestinians are another matter. As part of their give and take, their point and counterpoint discussion, Obama made his case for a Palestinian state to be created now. And Netanyahu, the consummate orator, treated Obama to a brief course on Israel’s reservations about creating a Palestinian state at this juncture. There was nothing new in the material that either the American president or the Israeli prime minister delivered over, but the time, the place and mutual respect between these two Western leaders required that it be said and said in its entirety.

They spoke, they listened, they changed nothing. Not at the White House, that is. On Capitol Hill Netanyahu who had been courting the Hill was greeted with great fanfare - and with frankness. Much as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had done, John Kerry, Chairman of the Senatorial Committee on Foreign Relations made it very clear that the United States is in favor of creating a Palestinian state and that the United States wants Israel to cease settlement building.

America wants a two state solution and so do the vast majority, over seventy percent, of Israelis. That comes as no surprise, but it does come with a bit of a problem. The problem for Israeli leadership, aka Bibi Netanyahu, is that in order for Israel to sign off on a Palestinian state there must be real safeguards, not theoretical safeguards, within the Palestinian government. And right now, there are no safeguards of any kind.

Looking out on the Palestinian horizon there is no leader who can control the Palestinian factions. Looking past the horizon the only figure to emerge would be Marwan Barghouti, but he is serving a term in an Israeli prison for his role in terror attacks against Israelis. In the absence of a real leader it will be almost impossible to reign in the various Palestinian factions in. Without a real Palestinian leader it will be impossible to strike a blow against Hamas and return Hamas to its proper place in the Palestinian hierarchy. And without a real leader the Palestinians will never be able to invest in building the institutions that will help pull them out of the muck and mire and into the modern technological world.

Despite their desire for a Palestinian state to be established, US senators realize the dilemma of the situation. And that is why, in a letter addressed to the president they wrote that they hoped he would "promote far greater involvement and participation by the Arab states both in moving toward normal ties with Israel and in encouraging moderate Palestinian elements."

Creating a Palestinian state takes vision, not history. The meeting between Obama and Netanyahu was historic. The meeting between Obama and Netanyahu was not visionary.

The relationship between Israel and the US remains very strong.

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

Obama - Bibi Meet Went As Expected
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 19, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Obama - Bibi meeting played out just as expected.
There was a pinch of tension and a fistful of listening.
In the end, both sides agreed on almost everything and decided to disagree about the other things.

The Israeli said what he had to say about Iran and about Palestinian statehood.
Obama listened and then said what he had to say while Netanyahu listened.
Both men felt that they had successfully and convincingly delivered their messages.

The reality is that there are many commonalities between Israel and the United States.
It is the differences that are fundamental.
Obama wants to shake things up and start all over again.
Obama wants to give Iran a chance.
Obama wants to enable Palestinian statehood.

The relationship between Israel and the US remains very strong.
Read my new book THUGS. It's easy. Just click.

Face to Face: Bibi & Obama
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 18, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

I just got the news that the Bibi Netanyahu/Barack Obama meeting is scheduled to last for 3 hours and 15 minutes.

It will begin with a face-to-face tete-a-tete.
That's very unusual, it is also a very good move.
It means Obama and Netanyahu will meet and greet without staff.
It means they will do what they each do best - allow themselves to be themselves in a one-on-one situation.
They will be able to deliver their messages without posturing and without the input of others.

Netanyahu's national security advisor set up this Washington visit, coordinating everything through an advance trip. On Sunday he went on the record laying out what he understands to be to most essential issues that Israel will be addressing.

# 1: Iran. Not just the threat of Iran, but also the US approach to Iran.
# 2: The Palestinian State. Israel's prime minister will explain that immediately after Ariel Sharon gave Gaza over to the Palestinians the area was transformed into a haven of terror and a center for Hamas. He will stress that unless the PA accepts both control and responsibility what happened in Gaza will happen in the West Bank.
Netanyahu will probably use expressions like, "this is not rocket science" and "this will be a direct threat to the very existence of Israel and that is unacceptable."

Obama will just listen.
At a future date he will have his staff present the themes the United States wants to see evolving over the next few months.

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

Obama & Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 17, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Tomorrow Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu will meet President Obama in the White House.
Fireworks are expected.
The real fireworks will be on Capitol Hill.
Congress is where each leader has staked a claim and intends to argue his case.

Tensions may emerge during the White House meeting, but for the most part, it will probably be a pleasant experience.
Neither side wants to make a scene. Neither side wants an explosion. Neither leader will loose his temper.
There will probably be some group time and some private face to face time before the obligatory press conference.

The leaders will express their concerns.
Obama wants a Palestinians state and he wants it soon, he wants immediate results and thinks this Israeli can deliver.
Netanyahu wants a serious policy on Iran.

This meeting will conclude without any real results.
The leaders will have to check with Capitol Hill to determine how to proceed next time around.

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

Nakba 2009
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 16, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians have been commemorating the Nakba.
The Nakba is Arabic for the "Catastrophe."

The Nakba refers to Israel's Independence - Palestinians mourn Israel's creation.
The Nakba rallies took place in Ramallah on Thursday May 14th and in Gaza on Friday, May 15th.

I have never understood why the Palestinians do not use the Arabic calendar. I have never understood why some Palestinians commemorate the Nakba on the 14th and others on the 15th when the Gregorian date for Israel's independence was May 14, 1948.

In Gaza, Hamas forbade all Fatah organizations from participating in the Nakba events. Hamas ordered the head of Fatah in Gaza not to have any of his people there. These were Hamas events, Fatah participation was not welcome.
The participants held banners and signs that read "we will return to Jaffa & to all our lands" and "we will never recognize Israel" and "Israel is a cancer" and "the right of return is sacred."

The events of the Nakba are the centerpiece of Palestinian culture.
This entire commemoration demonstrates a basic Palestinian disconnect from reality, it illustrates Palestinian disunity and shows how fundamentally, Palestinians blame Israel for all problems.

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

Iran is Helping Out
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 15, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Iran sent two naval warships to the Gulf of Aden yesterday.
Their job is to protect ships traveling with Iranian oil.
An Iranian spokesman put it this way: "The aim of sending these ships is to protect Iranian commercial vessels and oil tankers or those ships which carry Iranian commodities or nationals."

Iran is the 5th largest exporter of crude oil in the world.
Iranian exports have been attacked by the Somali pirates and Iran wants to make it more difficult for the pirates to strike again.
A NATO armada already operates in the gulf but these additional Iranian ships will help spread the security blanket and more completely cover the region.
There is already one Iranian warship in the area and it was unclear from the announcement whether there will now be three ships or if the original was included in the count of two.

Iran understands the danger of piracy.
Iran will be cooperating with the other ships in the gulf.
This is a very important move. It signals a willingness by Iran to participate in international activities for mutual gain and illustrates that Iran can cooperate when Iranian self interest is the motivating force.

The only question is whether new information can be applied to other issues.

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

Conflict Within Fatah
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 14, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Word has it that Fatah leadership has ordered that government appointees of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad not appear and not be sworn into the new government.

Hamas/Fatah tensions are nothing new.
Now we are seeing Fatah/Fatah tensions.

Abbas and Fayyad are in sync, but the rest of Fatah leadership has a problem with Fayyad.
It has to do more with style and history than with substance.
Fayyad came from the outside, he had been in Washington DC at the World Bank for many years and it was Arafat who parachuted him in to leadership.
Resentment still lingers until today.

In the end, there is no need to worry.
Fatah will be as stable as Fatah can be.
Abbas will mollify the dissenters and push this issue to the sidelines.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 13, 2009


The pressure is on for a Two State Solution. Almost everyone, from east to west, is hounding Israel's new prime minister, pushing and pushing hard.

The UN Security Council issued a statement advancing the idea.

Egypt clearly and directly stated their point of view in a face to face meeting with Netanyahu in Sharm el Sheik.

Jordan's King Abdullah is calling for it. The European Union. Spain. The Czech Republic. President of the United States Barack Obama and General James Jones, his National Security Adviser, are endorsing it.

The only voices not heard advocating for a Two State Solution are the voice of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the voice of Hamas.

The question we need to ask is "why?" Why are so many countries and so many world leaders so very interested in a Two State Solution. There are as many answers as there are countries. Each country has its own agenda, its own special interests, its own selfish reasons for wanting the Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side, state-along-state, sharing and in harmony.

King Abdullah of Jordan has a one word reason for pushing towards a Two State Solution. War. For the past year the Jordanian monarch has been repeating the same refrain: it is essential that there be a resolution, a peaceful resolution, a Two State Resolution because the alternative is war. He has said that if there is no resolution within a year, the Palestinians and Israelis will be at war.

So far, the King's prediction has not panned out. In fact, as far as war goes, the Palestinians are closer to a civil war than an Israeli/Palestinian war. And as far as an Israeli/Palestinian war goes, there is less likelihood of that happening now than there was a year ago. In fact, the head of Israel's Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin, just testified before his Knesset committee saying "the likelihood of war with the Palestinians within the next year is low."

The US National Security Adviser explained the American point of view while interviewed on a recent Sunday morning talk show. Jones explained that the United States supports the idea of two states and then took it a giant step forward. He said that solving the problem of Palestinian/Israeli tensions would help reduce the problem of Iranian nuclear tension. It's an interesting theory, but the NSA chief is way off the mark. His first error is in his analysis, his second error is in turning his analysis into political posturing. It's embarrassing.

There is absolutely no connection between Iran and the Palestinians and certainly, there is no connection at all with Iran's nuclear program. Iran pays tribute to the Palestinian issue but does nothing to advance the Palestinian cause. Iran offers words and words only to the Palestinians and when it comes to the Palestinians the word of the Iranian government is nothing more than hot air. And the Palestinians are happy that way.

Mainstream Palestinians reject Iran and reject Ahmadinejad. Only Hamas supports Iran. Mainstream Palestinians reject Iran's message and Iran's culture. The Palestinians view the Iranians as heretics. The Palestinians are not alone in their opinion of Iran.

The entire Arab world views Iranian support for the Palestinian cause as a façade. They view it as a tool used by Iran to advance its own objectives and primary among Iran's objectives is to be positioned as the leader of the Muslim world.

Sadly, President Obama's most important and influential adviser, James Jones, buys into Iran's rhetoric. And if Jones cannot realize that simple truth about Iran it calls into question some of the most critical decisions taken and to be taken by the United States regarding the Middle East region. The Saudis are livid. The Egyptians are fuming. The United States has shown itself to be ignorant of the machinations that run the Middle East.

The 50 state large United States has no idea of what a Two State Solution means.

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

The Pope's Awakening
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 12, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Pope's historic dream trip to the Holy Land crashed into reality yesterday.

Conflict and shouting erupted during a meeting in Jerusalem at the holy site Notre Dame.
Religious representatives of all the religions of Israel had gathered to meet the Pope and have a traditional exchange of ideas. The situation got so far out of hand that the Pope was ushered out of the sanctuary before the event ended. The Pope was treated to a rude and real situation, one in which anger and uncivilized shouting are the norm.

What happened was that after the Pope's presentation about unity and working together in order to overcome differences, the head of the Muslim courts started shouting at the Pope. He shouted that Israel was murdering children and destroying mosques. He shouted that Israel needed to be stopped. He shouted that Israel was stealing Palestinian land. He shouted that the Palestinian capital will always be Jerusalem.

The Pope would not confront the ideas.
The Pope just left the room.
The biggest shame of it all is that the Muslim community was not even embarrassed by or ashamed of this verbal explosion.

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

PA Says Iran Butt Out
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 11, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appeared on Italian TV on Sunday. Abbas made it clear that Ahmadinejad has no business sticking his nose in the business of the Palestinian people.

The interview was fascinating.

It highlighted the tensions between Iran and everyone else in the Middle East.

It demonstrates that the part of the world inhabited by Abbas and Ahmadinejad is anything but united.

The hottest button in the Middle East is the Palestinian button.
The Palestinians want help from everyone ... everyone except Iran.

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

Inner Palestinian Troubles
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 10, 2009

I'm Predicting:

It is going to get uglier before it before it gets better for the Palestinians.

Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas, issued a stern warning to PA President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday.
The warning was: Do not charge your prime minister, Salim Fayyed, with creating a narrow government.

For months, using Egypt as a back door conduit, Hamas and Abbas have tried to create a unity government.
According to rumor, Abbas is now throwing up his hands and saying enough and Hamas is issuing threats of destabilization.

These threats come only days after a rosy sweet interview Mashaal gave to the NYTimes during which he said that his movement was in favor of a cease fire with Israel and that Hamas wants to be part of the solution.
Mashaal told the NYTimes: "I promise the American administration and the international community that we will be part of the solution, period."

Which is the real Hamas?
Hamas that threatens Abbas or Hamas that paints a rosy picture for the world to see and read?
I predict it is the first.

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Obama's Speech to the Muslims
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 9, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The word is that during Obama's June trip to Europe he will stop in the Middle East.

We already knew that the president was going to pass through Israel and meet with Palestinian leadership.
Now the inside word is that he will also visit Egypt and from there he will deliver his much anticipated speech about new US relations with the Muslim world.
This speech will be the Obama vision of a new US/Muslim nexus.
He will lay out his perspective for the future and delineate what it means to work together.

I could write the speech for him today.
There is very little that will change between now and then. It will not be a speech about immediate events, it will be about tone and about the past. Most importantly this speech will be about the future.

Obama will condemn past American administrations.
He will emphasize the importance of Islam. He will embrace Islam for being a world leader in culture and civilization. He will underscore the need for everyone to confront extremism. He will assert the need to put down the terrorists and the need to stand up against the murder of innocent people. He will say that this is not about politics, that it is about doing what God demands. He will clearly explain that a better world requires us to work together.

Barack Obama will be very well received.
The masses will be happy but skeptical of him and of his message.
The extremists will not be convinced.
The rest of us will be left wait and watch and determine the real impact of his words.

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Real Tensions Btw Israel and DC
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 8, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

There are serious murmurs about tensions and lack of coordination between the new Israeli administration under Bibi Netanyahu and the relatively new United States administration under Obama.
People are worrying.

This is not a judgment based on a comparison between old administrations and new administrations.
It is a true and significant series of questions about teamwork.
The problem is not Israel, it is Washington.

Washington is not telling Israel what it wants.
Washington is not coordinating messages or articulating expectations.
Jerusalem is in the dark about some very important issues.

For example:
Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Nuclear Issues, Rose Gottemoeller, called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States blind sighted Israel, making a demand and never even broaching the subject with Israel.

For example:
The United States sent special envoy Dennis Ross to the region to work on Shiite-Sunni tensions between Iran and her neighbors. And Ross did not brief Israel, not before the meeting and not after.

In the past, even during periods of tensions, Israel and the US coordinated large issues. Why? Because of their obvious, mutual interests.
Now, when there is no reason for tension between the two countries, the White House and Jerusalem are not on the same page, they are sharing neither agendas nor priorities.
Israel is still standing.
But Israel is standing alone.

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Pakistan Reacts
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 7, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Finally, the leadership of Pakistan has decided to act against the Taliban.

Until this week Pakistani leadership was handcuffed, refusing to act against the Taliban in the Swat valley which is located a mere 60 miles from the capital of Islamabad.

For some unfathomable reason, leaders in Pakistan felt it judicious to merely sit and watch as the Taliban swarmed the Pakistani countryside.

Muslim history over the past few decades has shown that most leaders simply do not act against extremists. They hope that the extremists will wither away, they pray that by some miracle they will not have to fight the extremists, turning Muslim against Muslim. The result is that as time progresses extremists become stronger and stronger and Pakistani leaders become weaker and weaker.

This is exactly what was happening in Pakistan - until this week. With the insistence and the tough love and urging of the United States, Pakistan decided to confront the Taliban.

This is not just an important step - it is an essential step. Without acting against the Taliban there is no way that Pakistan can defend itself or protect itself.

The assumption that there is a grand Islamic code whereby a Muslim will not hurt a Muslim is simply wrong.

If permitted to do so, the Taliban will destroy Pakistan and the only way to save Pakistan is to attack the Taliban.

Finally, Pakistani leadership figured it out.

Pakistan will not only be helping itself, it will also be helping to make the world more secure.

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Watch Ahmadinejad's Travel Schedule
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

I watch Ahmadinejad's travel schedule very closely.
I want to know where he is going and with whom he is speaking.

This week his schedule is very interesting.
Ahmadinejad cancelled a trip to South America where he was supposed to visit Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador. The cancellation came with no explanation.

Tuesday was spent on a visit to Syria, his third visit to in a very short time span.
Note that Ahmadinejad's trip to Syria took place at the same time that President Obama's new team is making advances toward Syria and Iran.

There is no doubt about the Syria/Iran agenda:
- the new United States overtures
- the new Israeli prime minister
- the possibility of peace between Palestinians and Israelis
- how they can move Hamas into the mainstream in order to sabotage any plans for peace by means of political pushes, media blitzes and terror

Serious brainstorming sessions will produce concrete results.
That leaves us to wait and see what diabolical plans have been hatched.

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

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 5, 2009


The equation is simple: pirates capture, companies pay.

Millions and millions of dollars have been paid out as ransom to pirates who capture vessels on the high sea. The story has repeated itslef many times over the past few months. The glaring turth is that the modern world is extremely under-prepared to battle piracy.

The world has changed, but piracy hasn't.

Centuries ago civilized nations were held hostage by pirates, much as we are today. Centuries ago civilized nations were virtually powerless to act against piracy, much as we are today. Centuries ago it was fear that gripped the civilized world, today, that fear is mixed with law.

Historically piracy was never considered political. It was never seen as a form of terror. It was seen through the prism of thievery. Pirates were self motivated. They wanted money. They still want money. But in today's world, if pirates are helping a government and that government, in turn, helps them continue to kidnap ships the law says that the pirates are outside the boundary of the the international law of the high seas and of UNCLOS.

The UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS) defines piracy as
"any illegal acts of violence or detention, committed for private ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship"
"on the high seas"
"outside the jurisdiction of any state"
This is the definition of piracy as laid down in international law. It is Article 101 a,b,c. It is simple, direct and woefully incomplete.

Imagine this situation: a NATO ship captures an entire pirate crew, captures them red handed, with their weapons, with the goods and even saves the day by freeing the hostages and returning the captured vessel to the crew. After a spectacular rescue the NATO team has the pirates and the pirate vessel. The crack NATO team confiscates the weapons, searches for more weapons, finds and takes those, too and then - then the NATO team releases the pirates. Why? Because according to the law NATO does not have jurisdiction. NATO cannot arrest pirates, NATO cannot bring pirates to trial and NATO cannot punish pirates.

The reality is that legally, not only NATO has no jurisdiction. Almost no country will arrest pirates, that is the unwritten rule of the sea and it is a rule that pirates know well. The exception to that rule is in those rare cases in which the rescue team is from the same country as the captured crew. In other words, the only way that pirates will be arrested is if, by chance, the host nation is around and sails to the rescue. Why? Because that way there is no jurisdictional challenge. And that almost never happens.

According to this inadequate definition of piracy, the Somalian pirates plying their trade within the territorial waters of Somalia, are not practising piracy. And according to this definition, pirates who pay tribute to local governments and leadership are not practising piracy either. The act of paying tribute transforms the illegal action from an international act to a local act. Jurisdiction is then covered locally because the pirates have linked themselves to a particular cause and political leader. In the eyes of the law they have been transformed from money and booty seekers to political or governmental activists.

These laws must be changed.

These antiquated perceptions of piracy help the pirate, defend the pirate and lend no incentive to stop the pirate.

When looking at the situation around Somalia it becomes clear that the Somalian government is powerless. The government of Somalia is too weak to stop the piracy and the government of Somalia does not want to stop the piracy because the government gains from the piracy. Rather than stop the pirates, local governments offer the pirates protection, safe haven and refuge.

During the 19th century Barbary Pirates ruled the seas. Civilized countries paid regular ransoms to insure that either their ships were protected in advance or that the vessels would return safely after being boarded and abducted. It was Teddy Roosevelt who said enough, and charged the United States Marine Corps with the responsibility of crushing piracy. Rooselvelt asserted that neither the free world nor the world economy should be brought to its knees by a handful of sea pirates.

The Marine Corps is still capable of handling the job. They just need international law behind them. The time has come to update the law and put down the piracy.

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Syria Gives Tips to Obama
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 4, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, in an interview with France-3 television, Syrian President Bashar Assad praised the new Obama diplomacy and offered some tips for future success.

Assad recommended that the United States talk directly to Hezbollah and Hamas because they are, according to Assad's description, essential pieces in the greater Middle East and the conflict with Israel.

More remarkable than the content of Assad's comments was the tone.
It's as if Syria was an insider, as if a friend is offering insight to the United States on how to deal with a complicated issue via the French airwaves.

Syria is not a friend.
Syria cannot be trusted.
Syria is the farthest thing from a resource on this issue.
Syria sponsors Hezbollah and partially supports Hamas, by propping up Hezbollah and Hamas they are propping themselves up.

Israel's analysts are doing their best in trying to understand the motivation behind this US shift towards Syria.
Syria has not changed, so why has the US attitude toward Syria so changed?
I take that back, Syria has changed, Syria has clamped down and become even more repressive over these last few weeks.
What's with the new attitude, President Obama ?

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Peres From the PA POV
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 3, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

In a damning critique a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority called Israeli President Shimon Peres a "launderer" of Israeli governments that do not favor peace.
The attack explicitly said that Peres has done nothing for peace and has white washed governments who hurt the peace process.

Shimon Peres is many things, but he is neither an enemy of peace nor a launderer.
If anything, Peres talks too much and too often says what is on his mind without caring about the consequences.
Over the course of his career that brutal honesty has hurt him politically while endearing him to much of Israeli society.

This statement is more damning to the Palestinian Authority than it is to Peres.
This statement demonstrates just how obtuse the PA is about peace.
Palestinians believe that if you do not support their cause 100% you are not an advocate for peace - and that is a huge mistake.
Shimon Peres is one of the biggest supporters of peace within Israel, but not peace at the price of the destruction of Israel.

And that is precisely why Shimon Peres is such a convincing Israeli spokesman for Israel against unfair attacks.
Shimon Peres has unquestionable credentials in the peace arena.

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Justice Drops AIPAC Case
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 2, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday United States prosecutors moved to dismiss the case against two former AIPAC personnel.
Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, former high level AIPAC lobbyists, were about to be tried in US District Court on charges of espionage.

The case should never have gotten that far.
The prosecution is dropping the case and the court will certainly agree.
The prosecution was convinced that they could not win given the pre-trial rulings in favor of the defendants.
The Judge, JT Ellis III, saw the case for what it was - a ridiculous miscarriage of justice by the prosecution that bordered on anti-Semitism.

AIPAC made two gargantuan mistakes in dealing with this entire situation.
# 1 was a moral mistake
# 2 was a monetary mistake
Morally, AIPAC was wrong for not standing up for their own.
Monetarily, by dropping their employees and forcing Rosen and Weissman to fend for themselves AIPAC lost the opportunity to raise millions for their defense in the face of this anti-Semitic prosecution.

AIPAC showed poor judgment and even poorer leadership.

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

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