The Micah Report Columns Thoughts Predictions About Micah Archives Contact
The Micah Report

« July 2009 | Main | September 2009 »

It is All About Perspective
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 1, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

For a few days now there have been reports that a three way summit between United States, Israeli and Palestinian leaders will take place during the United Nations General Assembly.
The report was confirmed by Israeli President Shimon Peres in a Fox news interview.

There is a serious chasm between the three parties right now.
Mitchell and the Obama administration agreed that continued building in East Jerusalem on existing projects was okay.
Palestinian President Abbas says no way and no talks until all building stops. The entire Arab world is up-in-arms about the Jerusalem exemption.

Obama has his hands full.
Israel went into the Mitchell meeting saying that they agree to a 9 month moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank. But Israel asked to finish 2400 units in East Jerusalem. That sounded reasonable to the Obama administration so they agreed - after all, Israel agreed to stop all other building.

Washington is beginning to understand how nuanced the Middle East is.
It doesn't matter how things are viewed in DC.
What is considered reasonable in DC is very often not at all reasonable in the Middle East.

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

UAE Captures Weapons On Way To Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 31, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

It happened several weeks ago.
It was only reported about on Friday in a British newspaper.
It should not have been kept secret.

What is it?
What happened?
The United Arab Emirates, an Arab Gulf oil producing conglomerate of states, stopped and confiscated a ship carrying North Korean weapons en route to Iran.

This is a clear indication of what Iran is doing.
This is a clear indication of how North Korea is helping Iran.
This is also a clear violation of the international sanctions against Iran - sanctions that specifically forbid other countries from providing weapons, any kind of weapons, to Iran.

But as you probably guessed Iran does not care about international sanctions and neither does North Korea.

What is essential is that from this information we must assume if one ship was intercepted there have been many more that successfully slipped through. Who knows the kinds of North Korean weapons that Iran has imported via the vast sea?

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

Guantanamo Sends 2 Syrians to Portugal
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 30, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Obama Administration is continuing its efforts to close Guantanamo. Closing a prison in Cuba specifically deigned to hold terrorists who threaten the United States is no easy task.
The most pressing issue is: where do you put the prisoners?

How about Portugal?
This weekend two Syrian prisoners were transferred to Portugal.
Portugal stepped forward and said that they had no problem receiving the Syrians.

How did Portugal become a haven for Syrian prisoners in a US military prison? The prisoners pleaded and begged not to be sent to back to Syria. They argued that they feared arrest and torture at the hands of the Syrian regime if they were returned to Damascus. So US authorities found a Portuguese alternative.

So far, the Guantanamo prisoner relocation plan has not proven effective.
Many of the prisoners, who were never tried or convicted, were sent back to their native homelands. Upon arrival they were transformed into local heroes and catapulted back into leadership positions in terror networks.

That's what happened in Yemen and in Afghanistan.
Is depositing Syrians in Portugal a better solution?
We will soon see.

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

Jordan Lets Mashaal In
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 29, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Khaled Mashaal was just permitted to return to Jordan for the first time in ten years.
It will be his first return trip since being expelled.

The King of Jordan, King Abdullah, permitted Mashaal a temporary visit on humanitarian grounds.
Mashaal's father died in Amman at the age of 91.

We are seeing a very interesting component of Arabic society.
In Arab society it is possible for sworn enemies, like Hamas and the Royal Family of Jordan, to look the other way for reasons of mutual gain.

Let's examine what is happening.
On one hand:
Jordan gains tremendously by this act of kindness from Hamas followers in Jordan and on the West Bank.
The King has raised his currency and can now speak for the Arabs from a broader, more panoramic, perspective.

On the other hand:
This act of kindness is very risky for the King.
Mashaal could inject a huge sense of energy into Jordan's Hamas affiliates. Arabic death rituals include a mourning tent where masses come to pay tribute and Mashaal will hold court like a veritable king ... King of Hamas.

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

US/Israel/Palestinians: A Tough Trio
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 28, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The US has accepted Israel's appeal to remove East Jerusalem from the building freeze.

On Wednesday, while in London, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu met with US Presidential Envoy George Mitchell. Netanyahu agreed to a 9 month moratorium on all building of any kind in the West Bank. He was adamant, however, about 2500 units in East Jerusalem that need to be finished. Mitchell accepted the counter proposal.

This was a huge success for Netanyahu.
It was a tremendous concession from the United States.
The US has always considered East Jerusalem to be exactly the same as the West Bank.

There seems to be real progress on the US/Israel front.
US/Palestinian and Israeli/Palestinian issues are another story.
The Palestinians are up in arms about the Netanyahu/Mitchell compromise.

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

Supreme Leader Has the Right Take
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 27, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Here is an out-of-the-ordinary example of very clear, very honest, rhetoric that came from Iran yesterday.

The Supreme Leader the Great Ayatollah Khamenei gave a public address in which he said that there was no evidence that foreigners or foreign government agents or governments played any role in the unrest that rocked Iran after the June 12th elections.

The Supreme Leader also said that it appears that the rallies and protests had been organized in advance and even the political candidates probably did not know about them until they happened.

The Supreme Leader is probably correct on all counts.
Despite the xenophobic rhetoric that was espoused in the aftermath of the election, it was obvious that nearly everything that happened was domestically produced.
It was obvious that the rally attendees were prepped and just waiting for the election to happen so that they could perform their roles.
The winner in this election came as no surprise, everyone knew who the winner would be.
The rallies were organized as a tool to embarrass the regime in the international arena.

The organizers were very effective - they made their point.
As I explained before, during and after the election - the objective of the rallies was not to topple the government just to embarrass the government.

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

By Micah Halpern

August 26, 2009


Being nice is not always the best policy.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was the driving force behind the decision to free Abdel Baset al Megrahi, the Lockerbie terrorist. The Libyans lobbied the Scotts long, hard and well. They charmed the Scotts and made them great promises. Libya said many things in order to secure the release of Megrahi. And then they played the trump card. Megrahi was old, he was sick, he was dying.

And once the mass murderer from Libya was free, Libya laughed in the face of the world. All bets were off. All promises were null and void. They had their man and that was all that ever mattered.

Right now the justice minister from Scotland is blistering. He feels, correctly enough, used by the Libyans. The Libyans did not live up to their bargain. But why would anyone ever expect them to? History and experience have proven over and over that Muammar Ghadaffi is not to be trusted. It was, after all, the Libyan government's intelligence branch that planned and executed the Lockerbie terror attack - Megrahi was merely the figurehead of the deadly operation.

On December 21, a Wednesday in 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 took off from Heathrow Airport in London bound for the US. The jet liner blown up just after it reached about 31,000 feet. All two hundred and seventy people aboard the plane were murdered, blown up by a bomb that had been planted on the Pan Am plane. What remained scattered over an, until then little known, city called Lockerbie, Scotland.

Many of the victims, one hundred and seventy of them, were Americans. Most of those were students from Syracuse University returning home after completing a semester abroad learning about different cultures and traditions, learning about people who are different from Americans. The bomb was brought onto the plane by Megrahi's girlfriend. She, too, was a passenger on the plane -carrying a parting gift given her by Megrahi, a tape recorder with a bomb planted inside. Abdel Baset al Megrahi thought nothing of using his girl friend as his mule, as a tool with which he could transport his murderous weapon. And he thought nothing of sending her to her death.

Libya just recently took responsibility for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 and has made restitution to the families of the victims, the exact settlement sums are still undisclosed. Libya owned up to the terrorist attack because now the Libyans have decided to embark on another mission. Libya has tried and tried successfully to get out of the international doghouse in which they have been placed. Accepting responsibility for the event over Lockerbie went a long way towards proving their new intentions, especially in the view of the United States State Department.

On January 31, 2001 Megrahi was convicted in a Scottish court and sentenced to life in a Scottish prison. Nowadays, Scotland is trying to become independent of the United Kingdom. The Scots want to assert themselves and show that they will not genuflect to either 10 Downing Street or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And so, when Libya approached the government of Scotland about freeing Megrahi it sounded like the perfect opportunity. It would be even better if Scotland secured trade deals with Libya along with the release, that would be sure proof that the Scots can be independent and effectually, stand on their own as a country.

Scotland agreed to release Megrahi on humanitarian grounds because he was dying of terminal prostate cancer. Libya promised to keep Megrahi's release quiet and not to turn the terrorist's return home into a media spectacle.

Libya lied. Megrahi came home to a hero's welcome. Parades, cheering crowds and the son of Muammar Ghadaffi were all there to greet the returning murderer. Libya reneged on the promise and Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was shocked.

Perhaps the justice minister should have consulted with the health minister. Just because someone has a terminal illness and is "supposed" to die does not mean that that person is on a deathbed and dying. Sheik Ahmed Yassin comes immediately to mind.

Sheik Yassin was known as the blind Sheik. Confined to a wheelchair and imprisoned in Israel, he was the spiritual leader of Hamas. Yassin was released from prison, traded back to the Palestinians and returned to Gaza. Why? Because everyone was convinced that the blind Sheik was on his deathbed, they believed that he had only a few days left to live. Five years and many terrorist attacks later Israel targeted Yassin in a helicopter gunship raid that brought down the Sheik and the entire building he was in.

People who murder hundreds of other people should not get humanitarian reprieves. Terrorist are not entitled a break. Terrorist are not like other criminals.

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

Finally a Plan From The PA
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 25, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

For years, one of the central criticisms leveled against Palestinian statehood is that there is no infrastructure within the PA - that they are neither investing in nor planning for an infrastructure.
They get money earmarked for infrastructure, but never put it towards an infrastructure.
Without an infrastructure there is no possibility of having an efficient state.

Yesterday, disputed Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayyad, a bureaucrat through and through, put forth a 65 page document proposing a Palestinian infrastructure.

The details are pretty sketchy, but for the first time, at least there is a proposal.
Fayyad advocates building transportation systems that link Palestinian areas to neighbors. He suggests stimulating foreign investment and creating a stable economy.

Fayyad is a former assistant director of the World Bank. He has a PhD from the University of Texas. He is not well liked by Hamas and is particularly despised by Fatah leaders who see him as an outsider. But at least he has an idea.

65 pages is just a sketch ... but it is a start.

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

Bibi On The Road
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 24, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

From Monday through Thursday Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will exchange his politician's hat for his diplomat's hat.
His mission will be to convince several world leader's that the Palestinians are not ready, willing or able to commit to peace right now.

Monday: In London, Netanyahu meets with Britain's ten most influential newspaper editors.

Tuesday: Netanyahu meets with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Wednesday: Netanyahu meets with US presidential envoy George Mitchell.

Thursday: In Berlin, Netanyahu meets with German Prime Minister Angela Merkel. Thursday night, he arrives back home.

The leaders Netanyahu will be meeting are neither anti-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian. They are just blind to the limitations of the Palestinians as state builders.

Netanyahu will need every skill he honed as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. He will have to be both charming yet forceful. He will be waging an uphill battle on hostile playing fields.

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

Hamas Finally Gives Aid
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 23, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The month long fast of Ramadan starts today in most parts of the Muslim world.
Muslims fast during the day, they eat at night and each night is a celebration. The month is dedicated to introspection and repentance.

To celebrate Ramadan, Hamas in Gaza has decided to transfer $100 of aid to all 78,000 registered employed and unemployed workers who live in Gaza. They will also transfer $50 worth of goods in the form of a food package.

Given the dire straits one would think that the leadership in Gaza would be more involved in distributing aid.
Unemployment in Gaza has reached 50%.
The assistance amounts to only about $12 million dollars.
Hamas receives significant international aid packages and they have smuggled in mega millions, but this will be the first time that Hamas is undertaking a serious program to distribute aid to the people of Gaza.

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

Iran Appoints Terrorist as Defense Minister
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 22, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The new nominee for defense minister in Iran is Ahmad Vahidi.
That should not come as a surprise.

Vahidi is wanted in Argentina for the 1994 terrorist bombings that killed over 100 people in massive explosions at the Jewish Community Center (JCC).
Vahidi commanded the Quds Force which was part of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard responsible for terrorist activities abroad.
Vahidi helped Hezbollah perpetrate the attacks against the JCC.

There is no reason to assume that this nomination, the choice of Ahmadinejad, will not go through.

The Vahidi nomination is another example of how Iran enjoys strutting their feathers.
Iranian leadership knows who Vahidi is and they know what the Western world thinks about him. But they don't care.
Iran wants to appoint a man who is know to have successfully sponsored attacks against the West.
Iran is saying "in your face" to the West.

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

Organizing Against Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 21,2009

I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday.

The meeting was brought to the public's attention on the web site of the Russian foreign ministry.
Clinton and Lavrov spoke about Iran and the potential threat of Iran's nuclear technology.

As a result of the conversation, five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany will gather on September 2nd to discuss Iran and the Iranian nuclear threat. That, too, was announced on the Russian web site.

After the Russian website posted the announcement the German Chancellor said that they are gearing up to pressure Iran by adding more significant sanctions.
The Obama Administration is giving Iran until the opening of the UN General Assembly which takes place at the end of September to accept and toe the line.

Iran has begun to feel the heat of international pressure.
Yesterday the Iranians permitted United Nations inspectors entry into some atomic energy sites.

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

Abbas in Sudan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 20, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The head of the Palestinian Authority just visited Sudan.
He was treated like royalty and he returned the favor.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, announced that he supports the Slaughter of Sudan aka Omar Al Bashir aka President for Life.
Al Bashir has been indicted by the World Court for mass murder and crimes against humanity.
Al Bashir is singly responsible for the massacres in Darfur, he is probably responsible for the deaths of 400, 000 and the displacement of 1.5 million.

Why is Abbas even in Sudan no less cuddling up to Al Bashir?
This visit raises all the wrong questions about the agenda of the Palestinian leader. He need not visit and he need lend support, he could just be silent.
Most of the Arab and Muslim world has stood silent about Darfur.
Now the Palestinian leader has embraced the leader of Sudan, a member of the illustrious group that includes Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 19, 2009


All of us, regardless of our profession, have an obligation first and foremost to tell the truth. Journalists, columnists, professional observers and commentators bear that responsibility a bit more heavily than do people in other professions. As do politicians.

I am fond of saying that I am an equal opportunity critic. We all have a point of view and that point of view colors our approach to almost every issue we discuss and every action we take. One of the ways I carry out my obligation to tell the truth is by monitoring the actions and words, the deeds and decrees, of world leaders and when I find fault with them, I point that out to the public.

It seems appropriate now, as President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and President Barack Obama sit in Washington, DC rehashing the problems of the Middle East to take a long, hard look at why the constant pursuit of a resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict flounders in a sea of perpetual failure.

There are many truths in the Middle East and each one is born out of bias - cultural bias, historical bias and religious bias. For almost everyone in the Middle East and involved with the Middle East that bias is more than a predilection for or against, it is a bias that colors their entire approach to events and distorts their ability to critically analyze those events. When it comes to the peace process especially, the distortion can be seen in the Arab and Muslim worlds, in the Israeli and Jewish worlds, and in the Western world.

Journalism, by its very nature, lends information and shapes opinions. A propagandist cannot be objective, a propagandist is blinded by bias. Most journalists in the Arab world, more than in Israel and more than in the West, are propagandists.

In the Arab world there is no real journalism because there cannot be real journalists. They may carry the title "journalist" but in order to survive, they must act like propagandists. In the Arab and Moslem worlds there are nearly no democracies and there is almost no such thing as a free press. It is dangerous to write about or report on certain events on Monday which could get you arrested on Tuesday for writing. In these dictatorships the press, which is government controlled and sponsored, is in many ways a vehicle to control the masses. There are very few exceptions.

The Arab and Moslem worlds feed on conspiracy theories about Jews and Israel. About how Jews murder and steal, about how they destroy and gobble up Arab land. The Jewish and Israeli worlds feed off of paranoia and conspiracy theories too, but to a lesser extent.

Israelis and Jews tend to find anti-Semites lurking about and poking their heads everywhere. Looking at the world through the perspective of anti-Semitism is not only disturbing, it drastically narrows your perspective and limits any real learning. As a result, Israelis become incapable of seeing that sometimes they are the unrealistic party in terms of demands and expectations. Thinking that every stand is a Masada, that every stand is the last stand, and that every decision is one of survival can significantly bring creative problem solving to a halt.

History and culture are hard to unlearn. They bear a large part of the responsibility for the conspiracy addicted Middle East and for the conspiracy lore that has invaded the thinking of Western democracies involved with the Middle East. It will take formal re-education programs to change the foundations upon which these biases are grounded, and that process takes time.

For the here and now, there is a way. To forge a resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict it is only necessary to deal with a small handful of issues. Neither side must love the other - that will never happen. Both sides must agree only to abide by the other, to agree not to kill each other and to stop those others who want to kill them. It will not solve all the problems of the Middle East, but it will bring about peaceful coexistence.

The West has its own bias about the Middle East. Western leaders and by extension Western journalists believe that the panacea for the entire Middle East is the resolution of the conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinians. That is simply delusional. It is an erroneous conclusion based on exclusively Western thought, perception and deep misunderstanding. The problem is much larger than Israelis and Palestinians. The problems between Shiites and Sunnis will remain whether or not the Palestinians live in peace with Israel, but the West has yet to reflect on that truth. And yes, the US presidential election was also impacted by bias and conspiracy theory. The United States is not totally immune.

Without a thoughtful critical press, without insightful view without a truthful approach there can never really be progress. Like everyone else, I too have a bias, but I can say in all honesty that I try to see the varied truths and untruths of all sides.

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

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 18, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Now that the US and Egypt have begun their summit in Washington DC the United States can pressure the Palestinians and the Israelis to begin their dialogue. At least, that's the word from State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley who made the announcement at the conclusion of an hour long meeting between Hillary Clinton and Hosni Mubarak.

To quote Crowley: "We're trying to work hard to create conditions for negotiation to continue and we hope to have this phase of this process completed in the next few weeks."
Now that is a pretty optimistic timetable.

The Palestinians have said they will not come to the table unless there is a total stoppage of building.
The Israelis believe that a total stop to building is unrealistic.

Mubarak threw another monkey wrench into the equation today.
Mubarak said that The Arab world will only make its gesture of recognizing Israel or of even warming relations towards Israel after a final peace treaty is signed.
That will not go over well in Jerusalem and it was hard for Washington to hear.

There was serious expectation that Arab relations towards Israel would be thawing. That thaw would be presented to Israel as a way to urge them on to make real concessions towards the Palestinians.
That whole scenario looks very unlikely right now.

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

Mubarak Goes to DC
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 17, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in Washington, DC.
This is Mubarak's third face to face with Obama, but it his first trip to the White House trip in five years.

The agenda is obvious and the issues are big.
Throughout the week Mubarak will meet with senior Obama people.
On Tuesday he is scheduled to meet with the president.
He is also supposed to meet with the leaders of 8 Jewish organizations in what is being termed a closed door session.

Mubarak has been in power since 1981, he is 81 years old.
He is a gifted, charming, politician and an exceptional international diplomat.

Mubarak understands that he has something to offer and he wants things in return. He is working hard and making sure that everyone knows he is the lynchpin of the Middle East - working hard for regional stability and working hard to diminish if not quite extinguish Islamic extremism and terror.

Mubarak wants to continue to get his $28 billion in US financial humanitarian and military aid. Most importantly he does not want that aid linked to the liberalization of his autocratic dictatorial regime.

Mubarak knows how to play the game.

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

A Jew is on Trial in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 16, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is undergoing change.
It is our job to monitor those changes carefully.

Today is the last of three trials of people arrested for post-election violence.
Over one hundred people have already been tried in the first two trials.
Twenty five people stand in the docket today.
One of those people is a Jew.

The man, 19 year old Yaghoghil Shaolian, is quoted by his lawyer as saying that he is neither a member of a group nor did he participate in the protest movement. He does admit to throwing stones at a bank.

There are about 25,000 Jews who still live in Iran.
In 2000 there was a show trial of 13 Jews accused of being Israeli agents.
Today’s events have the potential to explode into a series of other charges orchestrated to publicly rally Iranians.
The Iranian government wants to channel the ire of the public away from the government and give it a new focus.

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

Historic Day in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 15, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday was a truly historic day in Iran.

Yesterday, a letter was sent to the Assembly of Experts by several (it is not known how many and who they are) former parliamentarians asking for an investigation of The Supreme Leader and his role in the elections and in the torture of protestors while they were in prison.
The letter asked that The Supreme Leader be removed from office.

The Supreme leader is selected by the Assembly of Experts which is composed of 86 Mujtahids, or great religious scholars. In theory, the Assembly may remove The Supreme Leader - as they did once in 1985 during Ayatollah Khomeini's lifetime. At that time they chose Montazeri to be Khomeini's successor. In 1989 the Assembly changed that decision and that is how the current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, assumed the position after the death of Khomeini.

The Assembly of Experts is elected every 8 years.
This Assembly will sit until 2015.
The Assembly leader is Rafsanjani.

The Supreme leader is all powerful in Iran. His word is the final word on all issues. The people recognize The Supreme Leader to be untouchable and that is why during the unrest in the streets that followed the election, the people called for the removal of Ahmadinejad, but not of The Supreme Leader.

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

Al Qaeda targets Kuwait
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 14, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Kuwait, the 4th largest oil producer in the world, has thwarted an al Qaeda plot to blow up one of their largest refineries located in Shuaiba.

The attack was supposed to take place during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The plan was to attack several important sites in addition to the refinery including a US military base and the Kuwaiti security headquarters.
Six members of an al Qaeda cell were arrested.

There is a lot for us to learn from these arrests.
Al Qaeda has pinpointed Ramadan as a very important month for targeting.

Kuwait is taking this plot very seriously.
Kuwait is just as much in the cross hairs of al Qaeda as is the West.

Most important and most crucial of all the lessons we can learn is this:
the best way to stop attacks from happening is through good, reliable, intel.

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

Iran Outsmarts Us Again
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 13, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

At the International Atomic Energy Agency general conference planned for next month Iran will be proposing a resolution.
Iran will propose that any strike against a nuclear plant be determined illegal and be internationally condemned by the IAEA.

The motivation for the Iranian proposal is obvious.
Iran wants to make certain that should Israel strike at their nuclear sites there will be international condemnation.
Iran claims that this resolution is about making nuclear technology safe and about making certain that civilians are not injured in attacks against nuclear sites.
Iran claims that they are not concerned about Israel and that there is nothing selfish or self motivating about this resolution.

Iran is brilliant in proposing this resolution.
The majority of the 150 members of the IAEA will support the resolution.
Most IAEA members are dead set against using military force to deal with any conflict - especially a nuclear conflict.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 12, 2009


The 6th Fatah Conference that took place in Bethlehem has come to its conclusion. Phew. There were fireworks, but thankfully, they were only metaphorical.

The Conference was fraught with back stabbing and internal bickering. The single most important objective for most participants was to create blocks of voters insuring that their chosen candidates would sit in one of the one hundred and twenty coveted seats on the Revolutionary Council or one of the twenty allotted seats on the Executive Council. It was all politics, back room deals and disappointments.

The last Fatah Conference was held twenty years ago. In principle, this Conference was all about new ideas, new steps to be taken to forward the Palestinian cause and new leadership. In reality, much of the Conference was a rehash of the old days and a throwback to the reign of Arafat.

Two major votes were taken in Bethlehem and they both went off smoothly and predictably. In a vote taken shortly after the proceeding began the entire plenary unanimously voted that Israel was responsible for the murder of Yasser Arafat.
After that there was a vote by acclamation to renew the positions held by Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority and as leader of the Fatah movement. The vote was only in the affirmative and it was conducted by a show of hands. The intention was to make it impossible to gauge how many people neglected to raise their hands and who they are. The result is that Conference publicists are proudly claiming that Abbas has unanimous and undisputed support for his next term.

Elections for the twenty seat Executive Council were almost as unsurprising as the earlier votes. Before the Conference began, analysts predicted that if the old guard were to be replaced with a new guard, the 6th Fatah Conference would be a success. At its conclusion it became evident that the new guard is not that new and that its members, while not octogenarians like Abbas, are growing old.

Ten members of the old guard ran for positions on the Executive Council, five of them won. One big loser came as a surprise, he is Ahmed Qurei the former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat also known as Abu Ala. Queria's loss was an undoubted blow to the old guard. But many of the new people elected were recycled, ex-Arafat players and advisers.

Jibril Rajoub is fifty six years old and under Arafat he served as head of security for the PA. Rajoub was both feared and revered. Mohammed Dahlan is a tall, dashing, well dressed and impeccably groomed fifty four years old. He was the head of security in Gaza and is thought of as the arch enemy of Hamas and the symbol of Fatah in Gaza. He is also the person that many West Bankers blame for Fatah's sound defeat at the hands of Hamas in Gaza. The Gaza coup took place while Dahlan was out of Gaza on vacation and no security infrastructure was in place to stem the bloodshed and prevent the takeover.

Marwan Barghouti was elected to the Executive Council, but as of now, he is unable to serve. Barghouti, an "anti-intellectual intellectual" who often sported leather bomber jackets and work boots is a prisoner in Israel. Barghouti, former head of the Tanzim, the Fatah military wing in the West Bank, was tried and convicted for orchestrating five terrorist attacks. Even though he has been out of the political fray for several years, Barghouti is by far the most popular political personality in the West Bank.

Neither Jibril nor Dahlan nor Barghouti are to be considered politically liberal. They were the "iron fist" that enabled Arafat's rule. As leaders they believe in pursuing peace but not in achieving compromise. And yet, Israel is being asked to release Barghouti as a gesture of good faith that will also shore up the more liberal aspects of the Palestinian society.

Barghouti is in favor of living side by side with Israel but only within the '67 borders - without a single exception. Dahlan has said that he does not recognize Israel. Rajoub is the most practical of anyone in the new old guard. He wants a Palestinian state but is schooled enough to understand that he cannot force it.

Optimists were hoping that new blood would re-invigorate the Fatah organization making it more of a political organization and less of a military organization. That did not happen. Realists hope that Fatah does not implode and is strong enough to fend off internal threats from Hamas.

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

Egypt Praises Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 11, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Iranian news ran story after story about the congratulatory wishes sent by Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

INRA, the Iranian national news agency, carried a glowing report on how Mubarak blessed Ahmadinejad on his new second term as president.

The Egyptian press, on the other hand, was totally silent on the matter. No official spokesman was able to confirm that indeed Mubarak had bestowed such praise on the Iranian leader.

There has been a tumultuous past between these two Muslim countries, no real love is lost between them. An endorsement from Mubarak, however, would certainly help solidify the Iranian leader's standing and further secure his position not only at home but also in the greater Muslim world.

Those in the know, know, that Iran cannot invent Egyptian support.
Somewhere in the grand palaces of Egypt along the Nile some very important aide related the president's message of support to the Iranians.

This is another sign that the cold relations between Egypt and Iran are slowly thawing.
And that frightens me.

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

Shalit Deal is Very Close
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 10, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Talks designed to free Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas forces for the past 1143 days, seem to have seriously intensified over the past week.
At least, that is the report coming from an Islamic Jihad website coming out of Gaza - and it is a report I am inclined to believe.

Ever since Shalit was taken hostage in a cross border attack, talks have been stalled, railroaded and stopped.
Now Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is urging Israel to make decisions on a list Hamas has put together naming the prisoners they want released in return for the release of Shalit. And Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader of Gaza, paid a clandestine visit to Cairo urging Mubarak to urge Israel even further on.

The report says that Hamas is just waiting for Israel to agree to the list.
The report also says that Israeli President Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Barak met on Friday to review the list.

I'm predicting that Israel will nix one or two of the names on the now infamous list.
When that happens, Hamas will be left with two alternatives.
Hamas can accept the changes Israel is asking for and release Shalit.
Hamas can reject the name changes and discontinue the negotiations.

It all depends on Egypt and how forceful Egypt is with Hamas.

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

The Most Dangerous Man in DC
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 9, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Egyptian newspapers are laying the ground work for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's trip to Washington, DC.

The papers are debating Obama's Middle East policy.
They are writing about power and interests in DC.
They are discussing how and if Egypt and the Arab world have new power and pull with the US president.

One paper, however, is taking a different approach.
The Egyptian newspaper Al Akhbar has done a profile on the person they declare to be "the most dangerous man in Washington."
Who is that person?
His name is Michael Oren.
He is Israel's new ambassador to Washington.

Al Akhbar believes that Oren is dangerous because he is very active, because he has access and because he is, all around, very comfortable in Washington. He is able to make inroads.

Al Akhbar believes that Oren can reinvigorate the Israel US relationship that has been on the ropes. That Egyptian paper is concerned that Israel's ambassador will do a disservice to Arab interests.

Honestly now, what should be the objective of the Israeli Ambassador to Washington?
The objective is to serve the mission of Israel.
Al Akhbar is nervous because Ambassador Oren is doing his job and doing it well.

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

Israel Exports Apples to Syria
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 8, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is in a state of war with Syria.
There have been third party overtures to iron out some issues that may lead to negotiations that may lead to formalizing relations - but Israel and Syria are in a state of war.

So isn't it surprising to learn that Israel exports food to Syria.
And Israel is increasing those exports to help elevate the food shortage in Syria brought on by the drought.

The most important food export from Israel to Syria is the apple crop grown by the Druze communities in the north of Israel. Israel's Minister of Agriculture recently visited the largest Druze community and informed them that his ministry will authorize expanding their exports to Syria.

Not only will Syria benefit, this is a tremendous boost to the Druze community. The Syrian border is so close to Druze orchards that transport costs are practically nil. The profit margin will increase tremendously. And Israeli Druze will play a significant role in helping to feed the Druze communities in Syria which is a psychological as well as financial boon - Druze families are actually split on either side of the border.

Despite, or perhaps in spite, of the state of war, this is a winning plan for everyone.

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

Fatah Conference
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 7, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

I have been paying close attention to the goings-on at the Fatah Conference in Bethlehem, the first conference since 1989 and the first since the death of Arafat.

Before the Fatah Conference began it was understood that the objective was to elect new leadership and to establish an agenda. The goals of the conference were to solidify Fatah's centrality to the Palestinian electorate and to sideline Hamas.

So far, most of the Conference far has been fraught with internal bickering, jockeying for power and jockeying for political positions.
Almost no decisions have been made and those that have been made are, quite frankly, ludicrous.
For instance, it was unanimously decided to blame Israel for Arafat's death and to establish an international inquiry.
Arafat died in 2004, there have already been a series of inquiries into his death including a Fatah inquiry.

The Fatah delegates can agree on only one point.
Whatever the problem, Israel is to blame.
What a shame.

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

King Tells Abbas to Unite
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking:
The Saudi Press Agency, the official arm of the king, pasted a very interesting news item yesterday.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia sent a cable to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the occasion of the Fatah Conference taking place in Bethlehem.
King Abdullah urged the Palestinians to unite saying that internal conflicts between Palestinians have done much more harm than "decades of Israeli aggression."
King Abdullah went on to say that if the entire world supported the idea of a Palestinian state it still could not be created because of the disunity among the Palestinians.

This is a damning critique of Palestinian leadership and vision.
This one cable makes it abundantly clear just how little respect the Saudis and other Arabs have for the Palestinians and their disdain for the infighting and killing in which Palestinian sects are engaging.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 5, 2009


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was officially appointed to his second term as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a nationally televised ceremony that came complete with pomp and circumstance. The Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, presided over the ceremony. After being graced by The Supreme Leader, the new second term president kissed the Ayatollah's robe and then kissed his shoulder.

This gesture by the president to The Supreme Leader displayed a very formal, very reserved, sense of respect.

Flashback four years.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was officially appointed as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a nationally televised ceremony that came complete with pomp and circumstance. The Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, presided over the ceremony. After being graced by The Supreme Leader the new president kissed the Ayatollah's hand and cheek.

In the Middle East, much more so than in the Western world, gestures make a difference. In the Middle East, gestures tell a story.

More than time separates these two ceremonial events. Four years ago Ahmadinejad was able to show respect to The Supreme Leader coupled with warmth and closeness. Four years later, he showed respect. The warmth is gone, the closeness is no longer there.

A kiss on the hand and a kiss on the cheek demonstrate closeness and warmth. A kiss to the shoulder and to the robes demonstrates distance. It shows fear. It shows hierarchy and deference.

During the first ceremony the president was saying through gesture and gesture alone that together we - The Supreme Leader and I - will rule. Days ago, as he was inaugurated for his second term, the president showed acceptance of the true reality of his position. The true ruler of Iran is the Ayatollah and the Ayatollah truly rules alone. He, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retains his position purely through the graces of The Supreme Leader and for no other reason.

Communicating through gesture is not unique to the Middle East. The difference is that in the Middle East body language does not need interpretation, it is intentional and specific. Leaning forward during a conversation is as significant as leaning back - and it is intentional. Crossing one's legs and showing the sole of one's shoe during conversation is a sure and deliberate sign of disrespect - and when done it is done with intent and with malice. Crossing one's legs with the toe pointed down, however, is a relaxed expression that says lets continue talking, it is especially cordial if accompanied with the gesture of leaning forward and placing one's hands on knees.

Kissing on one cheek or on two cheeks or two kisses on the right hand is a shorthand form of conversation in the Middle East. They are ways in which Middle East Arabs and Persians convey both a sense of affection and an appreciation of status and stature.

A kiss on the cheek means that you are close to that person in soul, in blood and in stature. You kiss the hand of someone who is your superior and you kiss the cloak of someone who is your superior. The cloak is significant in the Middle East because it symbolizes the dust, sand and dirt that would be picked up on the hem of the desert ruler's robes. The hands of the leader are clean and should not be tarnished by a commoners' kiss.

Hand shaking is not a part of Middle East culture, it is a tradition that became incorporated into Western tradition because of Roman tradition. The Romans were all right handed and held their daggers in the left waist of their togas. Their right hand was their dagger hand and so extending it to shake meant that it was a greeting, it meant that the right hand was unarmed and there was no intention to do harm.

In the case of The Supreme Leader and Ahmadinejad we are seeing a president who is clearly contrite. Ahmadinejad was, through gesture and gesture alone, asking forgiveness. The Supreme Leader was creating significant distance. He was letting the entire population of Iran know that he was unhappy with Ahmadinejad's behavior. It was clear to all of Iran that Ahmadinnejad had disregarded a direct order from The Supreme Leader in regard to his vice president. And despite his support of Ahmadinejad in the elections, challenging The Supreme Leader at any time is unacceptable.

Their relationship will mend. Over the past four years Ahmadinejad has on several occasions attempted to wrestled decision making and other powers from The Supreme Leader. At times he succeeded, other times he failed, but in the end it was always success because he Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah, permitted his president to succeed.

The Ayatollah is in charge and Ahmadinejad knows it. We should know it, too.

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

France & Syria Conflict On Wheat
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 4, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Syria and France are in serious conflict.
This conflict is almost as serious as the rift that was only recently repaired, the rift that began on February 14, 2005 with the assassination of Rafik Hariri of Lebanon.

This time it is all about wheat.
About 21 tons of wheat from France that is sitting in the port of Tartus in Syria.

The French have a 150,000 ton wheat deal with Syria.
These 21 tons of wheat left France on June 4th after being inspected not once but twice by Syrian grain experts.
Four days later on June 8th when it arrived in Syria, the Department of Agriculture said that the bundle contains a dangerous fungus and they will not unload it.

The result of that decision is a significant international crisis.
President Sarkozy of France has just written a letter to President Assad of Syria saying that if the grain is not unloaded it "will likely damage future trade."

What is happening here?
I think that the Syrians want to default on or break their wheat contract with France. Instead of simply breaking the contract, they are suggesting that the product is defective.

France was the first Western country to extend a diplomatic hand to Syria and, in essence, to let them out of the doghouse.
Syria needs wheat, they were hit hard by the drought and will produce almost nothing this season, so imports are essential.
But Syria also has little to no GNP and no cash to buy the imports -that's why the Syrians are playing games with France.

This situation does not portend well.
I'm expecting the situation to backfire.

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

Leonard Cohen's Concert Sells Out
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 3, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Leonard Cohen's concert in Israel on September 24th sold out in just a few hours.
47,000 tickets were sold between Saturday night and Sunday.

The theme of the concert is coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

The 47,000 Israelis who grabbed up the tickets are just part of a much larger society, a society that aspires to that very goal of coexistence.

Leonard Cohen was planning on holding a concert in Ramallah on the same theme. Palestinian outrage forced the concert organizers to cancel. According to the Palestinians, coexistence implies that Israelis have a claim, it implies that the Israeli narrative might be correct. That was unacceptable to the Palestinian masses and to Palestinian leaders.

One has to ask the question: Is it possible that one side does not want peace?

If the answer is yes, what is it that the Palestinians really do want?

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

Islamic Revolt Nearly 1000 Dead in Nigeria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 2, 2009

I've Been thinking:

Nearly 1,000 Nigerians have been killed over the past few days.

The killing is a result of a coup d'etat initiated by a radical Islamic group called Boko Haram. This group wants to transform Nigeria into an Islamic state, they want the state to run according to Shaaria, Islamic law.
Most of the fighting is taking place in the Northern section of Nigeria.

Nigeria, with a population of 148 million, is the most populous nation in Africa.
Nigeria is a black African nation off the West Coast of Africa, it borders Chad.
Nigeria has a history of take-overs, but since 1999 it has been governed as a pseudo-democracy and significant efforts have been made to stem corruption.

Right now, a lot of people have killed and the number of killed will continue to rise.
This insurgence will not be well covered in the press and the tensions that underlie the violence will not even be raised.

Islamic movements are on the rise.
We must monitor them carefully

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

Powered by Movable Type     Site design by Sekimori