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By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 1, 2009


Many myths pervade the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. None is more powerful and more convincing than the claim made by the first and still most effective leader of the Palestinian cause. Yasser Arafat used to boast that the secret weapon of the Palestinian people is the Palestinian womb.

The assumption is that over time the Arab birth rate will outstrip the Jewish birthrate. The inevitable will simply happen, there will be a Palestinian Arab state within Israel - and Israel will cease to exist.

This myth is the foundation for much of the Israeli nationalist propaganda that espouses the transfer of Arabs out of Israel. And it is this myth that fuels the canard that Israel is a racist state that promulgates racist policies to maintain a Jewish majority. But myth are myths and statistics are statistics and the two rarely coincide.

Population surveys over the past decade paint a very different, a seriously different, picture of Arab population growth in Israel.

Muslim growth in Israel since 2000 has dropped from 3.8% per year to 2.8% per year in 2008. In real numbers that means that there are only 34,000 more Arabs in Israel today than there were a year ago. In round numbers there has been no change, the Arab population in Israel stands still at 1,240,000 people.

Even the fertility rate of Arab women in Israel dropped significantly over the past eight years. Fertility rate is number of children a women is expected to have in her lifetime. In 2000 that number was 4.7, in 2008 it is 3.8. Not surprisingly, the Arab population in Israel is young. 41 % is under the age of 15 and only 3% is over the age of 65. This is a very significant statistic because 7% of Arab married couples living in Israel are childless.

What does this all mean? It means that the Arab womb is not the secret weapon. It means that Israel is not in danger of loosing its Jewish identity. It means that one long time problem facing Israel is gone, off the table - but Israel still has many real and serious threats with which to contend. In addition to the threats Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israel's physical existence, Israel is contending with the threat posed by Iran's expanding nuclear frontier.

And Israel has many challenges ahead. Israel has not yet found a balance between traditional society and modern democratic issues. And Israel must push that envelope in the fields of business and technology in order to continue to be a player in world markets in the decades to come.

Israel will struggle to make the mission and vision of an independent Jewish state exciting and attractive to future generations of Israelis. And hopefully, all Israelis, Jewish and Arab, will reap the rewards of Israel's struggles and Israel's triumphs.

Yasser Arafat is probably turning over in his grave.

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

Iran is Turning Up the Heat
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 30, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Iran just doesn't let up.

Just yesterday the Iranians announced that they are allocating $20 million to a new investigative office tasked with investigating human rights violations - US and British human rights violations.

There's more.

Also yesterday the Iranians announced that they are investing in 10 new uranium enrichment facilities scheduled to be built in the next two months.

Iran is taunting the West.

The Iranians want to show that they are in charge. They are taking advantage of the last few days of the tenure of IAEA director Al Baradei to make their point.
Iran considers world leaders and the UN powerless to exert pressure over them, Iran believes that no one can force them to change either their practice or their policy.

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

Dubai Meltdown
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 29, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Dubai financial crisis illustrates an interesting contrast between Palestinian and Israeli financial worlds.

Israel is primarily unaffected by the meltdown, the Arab boycott made certain of that.
Many Israelis wanted to get involved with Dubai, there is even an unofficial trade office under the auspices of the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Dubai. But Dubai made it difficult - so despite the financial allure Israelis could not go it alone in Dubai. There were only a few exceptions who managed to work it all out and so, Israel will fell almost no repercussions from the crisis.

Palestinians were heavily involved in Dubai, most importantly, about 100,000 Palestinians worked in Dubai.

Most of those Palestinians worked as laborers in construction which has ground to a halt. Others were engineers involved in building. The next largest group of Palestinian workers was high tech computer developers, another field which has been decimated in the financial meltdown. The West Bank was heavily dependant on Dubai in another way, they depended on Palestinian workers in Dubai sending money back home to help support families and that has now disappeared.

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

The Exchange Plan According to Arab Press
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 28, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has been very tight lipped about a potential deal will Hamas that would exchange kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israeli prisons.
The Arabic press has been much more open with information.

Much of the information from the Arabic press is not reliable. Nonetheless, it is important to evaluate each piece of information and determine what is real and useful and what is fabricated and wishful.

If and when there is an exchange it will involve the release of 1150 prisoners.
It seems that there will be a three stage exchange.
The process will begin when Shalit is transferred to Egypt where he will be visited by his parents and medical professionals. At that point Israel will release 450 Palestinian prisoners.
After Shalit is returned to Israel the remaining prisoners will be released in two stages.

According to the Arab press reports Marwan Barghouti, head of the Tanzim, and Ahmed Sadat, the person responsible for the assassination Israeli Minister Ze'evi in his hotel room in Jerusalem, are on the list.

Two days ago the report was that the exchange was imminent.
Yesterday the report was that Hamas was slowing things down until after the Muslim holiday Id al Adha which concludes on Monday.

The situation is still very much up in the air.

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

The Barghouti Variable
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 27, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Arabic press is filled with stories about how Marwan Barghouti will be getting out of Israeli prison as part of an agreement with Hamas that will free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Barghouti was convicted of murdering 5 people in terror attacks.
He was responsible for taking the lives of many, many othersin his position as head of the Tanzim.

The story was leaked to the Arabic press by Paletinians.
According to their reports the deal will take place next week after Monday - the Muslim holiday of Id al Adha.

If Barghouti gets out several things will happen:
On the upside:
There will be a huge groundswell of support for Barghouti as the leader of Fatah.
New energy will be injected into Palestinian leadership.
On the downside:
Barghouti embraces attacks against Israel and as leader he will encourage increased terror against Israel.
Barghouti wants a unity agreement with Hamas which will also increase terror.

Barghouti's major compromise is accepting Israel within the '67 borders.
He will compromise on nothing less.

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

Barghouti Gives an Interview
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 26, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Marwan Barghouti, the terrorist cum Palestinian leader now serving time in an Israeli prison, is expected to be released in a prison exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas.

Barghouti gave an interview to an Italian news agency yesterday and declared that kidnapping Israeli soldiers is an important tool in getting Israel to take you seriously.
He also announced that as soon as a unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah was in place he would declare his candidacy for president of the Palestinian Authority.

Barghouti is a very shrewd and capable leader. However, despite the fears of many Israelis and the hopes of many Palestinians it is not clear that Barghouti will actually be on the exchange list.

What is clear is that Barghouti is still a major player in the Palestinian world.
It is also clear that Barghouti is by far the most popular Palestinian leader - even while in prison.
And it is clear that Marwan Barghouti has never stopped advocating terror as a tool to force Israel's hand.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 25, 2009


In the areas of foreign outreach and diplomacy, Iran is masterful.

The Iranians are on a mission to build bridges across the world. They are creating alliances in places most Americans would be too geographically challenged to find on a globe.

President Ahmadinejad of Iran recently paid a visit to Bolivia, a very poor country in the Andes. Ahmadinejad was there to show support. More importantly, he was there to invest. Lithium is a natural resource, it is a very light weight metal and Bolivia possesses more than one half of the world's lithium.

Lithium is an essential component in the manufacture of long lasting batteries. It is not just used in flashlights and ipods, lithium is the element used for alternative energy car batteries and electronic devices like the computers that have come to control our world.

Ahmadinejad forged an alliance with a country that has been neglected and ignored by most of the world. And to secure that alliance, Ahmadinejad opened a hospital that Iran will fund and inaugurated two milk processing plants. And Iran will invest in investigating how to best move the lithium from the mines to the industries.

It was a subtle diplomatic exchange. In return for the extravagance shown his country by President Ahmadinejad, Bolivian President Evo Morales issued an extravagant statement proclaiming that Iran has the right to develop its own nuclear program without the intruding intervention of Western nations. Let's examine the balance: facilities that provide health and nutrition on one side, nuclear facilities on the other side. And both sides are happy.

Iran is running circles around the United States. In truth, Iran does not have to run very fast - US foreign policy has not even stepped off the starting gate when it comes to reaching out to countries with untapped natural resources, countries in need of the financing to capitalize on the natural gifts they have been given, countries that can enhance our own natural resources with theirs.

I have learned not to be surprised by the inactions of our foreign policy decision makers. I am surprised, however, that America's private investors did not lunge for lithium, one of the greatest sources of alternate energy.

Granted, many countries - primarily poor and underdeveloped countries, have a natural predisposition towards Iran and against the United States. These countries see the United States as exploitive and condescending. And Iran plays that card very successfully. But isn't that what diplomacy is all about?

If the United States government or interested parties from the United States or US investors had knocked on Bolivia's door before Iran arrived, Bolivia would have welcomed them in and gladly joined forces. Bolivia and countries like Bolivia choose to side with Iran because the United States has not provided them with the other option. In truth, these countries would rather follow the US model and be transformed into a mini United States than into a mini Iran.

I know why Iran has plotted this foreign policy path. I know why Iran is building these bridges. I do not understand why the US is not doing the same. This is a race for world domination and a race to have unrestricted access to necessary natural resources. It is also a race for the hearts and minds of the nations of the world.

It is a race that Iran is winning.

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

Egypt Steps Up on the Border
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 24, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt just reported that a truck containing 1 ton of explosive and bomb making material was discovered on their border with Gaza.

The driver and a passenger in the truck fled when they saw the army.
The police confiscated the explosives.

It all took place near Rafah on the Egyptian side of the border. Rafah is a split city - part in Gaza and part in Egypt. An active and very lucrative smuggling business moves things from one side of Rafah to the other.

No commodities are more in demand and more fungible than explosives and weapons.
Capturing this explosive material was a huge victory for the good guys.
Kudos to Egypt, they are doing a splendid job.

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

Double Message From Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 23, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

SNS is the Syrian News Service.
SNS is an official mouthpiece of Syrian dictator cum President Bashar Assad.

On Sunday Assad made it clear that the only way peace negotiations with Israel will begin is for Israel to agree to one crucial precondition - the entire Golan Heights must be returned to Syrian.

Assad called it "unacceptable" not to expect that all land will be returned to Syria from the outset.
Assad said "This is where talks begin from. The result of the talks is peace; if you want peace then the result will be peace."

Most interesting is the contrast between this announcement and last week's announcement in Paris. Last week Assad said that he was ready to begin peace talks with Israel anytime, anywhere without preconditions.

No one in Syria will ever ask Assad about the contradiction.
Our only hope is that diplomats will seriously challenge the Syrian president.
Before the process can proceed, Assad needs to clarify his position on preconditions and peace.

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

Iran's War Games
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 22, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Iran began five days of war games today.

The purpose of these maneuvers is to show the world that Iranians can and will protect and defend their nuclear sites.
Iran is also sending a message to Israel hoping to prevent a preemptive strike.

Influential Iranian religious leader Motaba Zalnur told Iranian TV that: "If the enemy should want to test its bad luck in Iran, before the dust from its missiles settles in this country, Iran's ballistic missiles would land in the heart of Tel Aviv."

Iran is worried.
The Russians have not yet delivered their promised S-330 anti-aircraft batteries. If the S-300's do not arrive Iran's defense will be severely reduced.

These games will try to show Iran's strength - but like with all war games, they may also show Iran's limitations.

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

Contributor's Corner
By Micah Halpern

My Tunnel Vision for Gotham and Gaza

by Steven Sher

Tough times make for strange bedfellows. Take the MTA's latest gambit to raise the subway fares and President Obama's initial overtures toward peace in the Middle East. The timing of both may pose that rare conjunction of events needed to instill hope among fiscally-challenged New Yorkers and to restore America to respected mediator status throughout the Middle East while alleviating the bleak situation of the world's self-proclaimed most suffering people.

If there is one positive that we can take from the recent war in Gaza, then it is that the Palestinians have a particular skill that would be a boon to New York. They know how to build tunnels. A great maze of tunnels. In a few short years, they have built and maintained one thousand tunnels in an area that is less than half the size of all of Gotham.

What if the MTA could bring a cadre of these two-legged burrowers to the boroughs?
Here is the ready-made, skilled labor that we need to complete projects such as the long-delayed Second Avenue Subway within the current budget. Bring them in as guest workers. Offer everything from green cards (Hamas colors: a nice touch) to private jets. This would have the added benefit of curtailing their attempts to sneak into America-s porous borders.

Say this about Hamas: they are the world's poster child for underground survival. And no workers are more cost-effective.The MTA can forgo expensive equipment in favor of pick-axes, mules and crude blasting tools.

U.S. cash would trickle back to Gaza too, jumpstart an economy decimated by an unemployment rate seven times greater than New York's and a crumbling infrastructure.

Moreover, the Arab world would see that we are serious about talking with terrorists. Perhaps it could lead to our inviting the Iranians to beef up our hometown nuke, Indian Point, make it impervious to attack, or our hiring private contractors such as al Qaeda as Park Service guides (no one knows caves and mountainous terrain better than they do) and Homeland Security agents (greeting each ship that docks in our ports).

Further, the more jobs we offer Hamas, the more quickly Gaza will be rebuilt, giving Israeli jets welcome new targets during the next incursion, thereby lessening the possibility of a ground invasion. Many lives will be saved.

Even the EU and the Arab League would have to admit that the U.S. is anything but a passive peace broker. President Obama can score big foreign policy points early in his tenure. Combatants in conflicts around the globe will vie for American contracts.

Think of the photo ops too: the celebrities who will venture down into the subway tunnels to pose with Hamas workers. Great goodwill will be restored.

Maybe we can get the Egyptians, those ancient admirers of massive public works projects, whose firsthand views of Gaza's tunnels make them the natural choice, to host the negotiations.

Just to be on the safe side though, the MTA had better dust off station cameras. Get out the metal detectors. Call in the National Guard. Recording to passengers: If you see an unattended backpack--take a cab.

Iran Proves the Rule for the US
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 21, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The quote defining insanity as "repeating the same thing over and over expecting a different result" has been attributed to Kipling, Einstein and Ben Franklin.

Western foreign policy toward Iran is, I think, the best modern day way to prove the truth of that definition.
The Iranians have not fulfilled their obligations.
The permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany are now considering ratcheting up restrictions and various sanctions on Iran.

From the outset Iran knew that they were just buying time while the West, under the leadership of the United States, was just postponing actions against Iran.
11 months later and Iran is closer and closer to their goal of achieving the status of a nuclear technological nation.

The West was not strictly insane - the West was deluded.
Western nations believed their own rhetoric, not what history had shown.
Delusions can be a type of insanity.
These delusions are dangerous, they have endangered the world.

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

Internet War in the PA
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 20, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The internet is the wave of the future, that's not new - but it is also a litmus test for freedom of communication and freedom of education.

Those who fear the internet fear liberty.
Those who try to control the internet fear information.
The internet is an essential tool for spreading knowledge and information.
It teaches entire societies.

So how is the internet fairing in Palestinian areas?
In Gaza and the West Bank only 15% of people have access to the internet, 30% percent have computers.
By comparison, 20% of Egypt and 60% of Jordan have internet access.

Fatah has its own web handle called PS.
PS stands for Palestine.
Hamas has its own address.
PS.GOV which is shorthand for Palestinian government.

Hamas is trying hard to censor and suppress information on the internet.
They are filtering all items connected to any religion other than Islam.
They are censoring anything to do with sex and politics - anything other than their own Islamic style of government.

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

Hamas Wants to Kidnap Israelis
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 19, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas is offering $1.4 million to anyone who kidnaps an Israeli soldier.

The message came in an email blast sent out by a "Charity" called the Waad.
The Waad called on Arabs living in Israel to kidnap Israeli soldiers, any Israeli soldiers.

The Waad group is affiliated with Hamas.
They are a ruling group in Gaza.
The director is Hamas' Minister of Interior, Fati Hamad.

One of the greatest tools in the Hamas arsenal is the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.
Hamas knows that the life of a single young soldier is worth at least one hundred, perhaps even upwards of a thousand, imprisoned terrorists.

This kidnap appeal fits perfectly into the Waad's mission statement.
Their stated mission is to support and aid Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

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

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The decision has been made to seek the death penalty for Khalid Sheik Mohamed and his co-conspirators for the attacks known simply as 9-11.

The decision has also been made, by the Army, to seek the death penalty for Major Nidal Malik Hassan, aka the Fort Hood Terrorist.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Attorney General Eric Holder and most of the media have weighed in with their opinions, advice and counsel. Most of the always heated discussions swirling around the 9-11 trial center on the decision to try the terrorists in the New York area, in the shadow of the downed World Trade Centers.

Those passionate discussions are certainly important, but there are other issues that concern me more than the venue of the trial.

I am concerned that these terrorists be afforded - even awarded, a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal. Civilian trials give defendants more power on issues of evidence, procedure and the all-important question of "beyond reasonable doubt" than do military trials. The threshold for conviction is much higher in a civilian trial than in a military trial. No matter how confident the Attorney General is about the case, every civilian trial is a crap shoot and this is one case neither he, nor we, can afford to lose.

And I am concerned about press coverage during the proceedings. The eyes of the world will be on this trial no matter where is it conducted, no matter if it is civilian or military, but the press will have a much more difficult time turning the trial into a media event if it is held in a military court than a civilian court.

In a military trial the defense does not subpoena witnesses, they must ask the prosecution to do so as a favor. In a military trial judge, jury and even the defense lawyers are part of the officer corps - they are people who are cogently aware of the significance of the trial and of the inherent dangers in confronting terror and the nuances of controlling terrorists and terrorist rhetoric. That, too, concerns me about a civilian trial.

But of all my concerns, what concerns me more than the venue, the latitude, the coverage and the guilt is the punishment.

These defendants want to die.

Last year Khalid Sheik Mohammed asked to stay his trial so that he could plead guilty and be executed. He wants to leave this world as a martyr, a shahid. And I have little doubt that the Fort Hood terrorist assumed he would be killed as he perpetrated his heinous acts of mass murder.

By seeking the death penalty we, the intended victims of their terror, are granting these terrorists their ultimate prize. We, the infidels, the non-believers, the targets and objects of their holy crusades, are granting them the ever after. We are elevating these men to great heights in their own eyes and in the eyes of their supporters around the world. We are accomplishing for them what they did not accomplish themselves.

Acts of terror warrant the most severe forms of punishment. But what happens when the punishment is the fulfillment of the original mission? Those terrorists who by surviving, failed in their mission, will be redeemed by their execution.

Of less concern to me but of import to the world of the terrorist is the stupendous cost of civilian trials. The al Qaeda web sites have underscored this time and again.

Try these terrorists. Convict them. Punish them. But do not try them in a civilian court. And do not reward them with death. And remember, a public trial provides a platform. And during the trial the methods we use to capture, monitor and bring terrorists to justice will be visible to all. We will be handing over our secrets to terrorist organizers who will monitor, learn and adjust their own training techniques. We will do it all in the name of truth, justice and the American way.

This time, in this case, that is not the right way to go.

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

Saudi Mufti Condemns Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 17, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Leading Saudi cleric Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Alsheikh gave an important interview to the Saudi press.
The interview ran in the daily newspaper al-Watan.

In the interview the cleric had a long list of reasons to lay blame with Iran including the support of terrorists fighting against Saudi Arabia on the border with Yemen. He called it "collaboration of sin and aggression."

The Grand Mufti said, "We are right and they are wrong. They clearly must be fought. Saudi Arabia is the one defending itself and standing up against depraved aggression. We did not invade their land and no one infiltrated into it."

There is no love lost between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Tensions continue to rise.
Iran's nuclear aspirations are just one of the many points of conflict.

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

Tell the Truth, Mr. Clinton
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 16, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Former President Bill Clinton is on the lecture circuit.

Clinton is very popular and very expensive, he can be very entertaining.
Audiences are enthralled by him, they hear him speak and believe that they are privy to insight from the past and shown glimpses of the future.

Clinton most recently spoke at the Saban Center in Israel.
Haim Saban, founder of the Center, is the man who created transformers.

At the Saban Center Clinton declared that Iran is not the problem, nuclear development is the problem.
He said it with a serious, straight face.
Well thank you, Mr. Clinton, but the real problem is Iran's nuclear development.

The kind of syllogism that Clinton is creating is an insult to the region.
Saudis and Egyptians know the distinction here.
Israel's nuclear capability doesn't worry them - the region is worried only by Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Earn your honorarium, Mr. Clinton.
Tell the truth.

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

Iran Sets Up Anti Blog Police
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 15, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

On Saturday Iran announced that they were setting up an anti-internet squad.
They are targeting "liars ... spreading bad information."

That is code for bloggers.
Iran wants to shut down cyber communication.
Accomplishing their task will be a gargantuan task, nearly impossible to achieve.

The reality is that Iran's objective in setting up this police division has less to do with catching people than frightening people so that they do not use the internet and do not blog.

Hardcore activist internet users are not going to stop.
But the masses will be wary, they will be scared into thinking that the police will come knocking at their doors.

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

Obama Dissed Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 14, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The cone of silence that had been imposed on last week's meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has finally been lifted.

Information has finally been leaked out.
It seems that this entire episode was about the White house teaching Israel a lesson.

The White confirmed the meeting so late that Netanyahu was already on the plane on his way to DC before the nod was given.
The White House did not care for the fact that the meeting was scheduled according to Netanyahu's timetable.
No photos were permitted and no press conference was given.
The interviews that Netanyahu and his defense minister Ehud Barak had scheduled had to be cancelled.

The most telling of all the details, the one that shows how the White House carefully choreographed this meeting in order to take Netanyahu down a notch is in the way the leaders arrived at the meeting.
Israel's PM and DM were brought to the White House in a nice black van - not by way of the presidential motorcade that has become de rigeur for these meetings.
Junior staff is usually relegated to the vans.

Before the meeting it was reported in the Israeli press that Netanyahu could exert pressure on Obama.
The White House disagreed.
The entire affair was an insult to Israel.

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

Ceatlebrate Arafat 5 Years Later
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 13, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

It has been 5 years since Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died.

In commemoration, thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah at the Mukatah, the spot that was Arafat's nerve center.
Arafat ruled with an iron fist, he controlled and dispensed funds as if it was his personal cash because, you see, it really was.
Arafat kept it all for himself.

The fifth anniversary of Arafat's death coincides with the decision by the current Palestinian president, Arafat's successor Mahmoud Abbas, not to run for re-election in January.
This decision by Abbas will probably destroy the Fatah party, the movement that Arafat created.

What irony.

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

Iran Says The US Must Choose
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 12, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a very interesting speech in Turkey.

Ahmadinejad said that he wants to be the friend of the United States, but ...
It's a big "but."
But ... the United States has to make a choice - be friends with Iran or be friends with Israel.
The US must make the choice.

Ahmadinejad said that Iran will gladly extend a hand to the United States, but not if the US continues to have an extra special relationship with Israel. Of course he never called Israel by name.

Iran's neighbors are very upset with the statement.
Not because they are defending the special relationship between Israel and the United States, but ...
But ... because they do not want a special relationship between Iran and the United States.

How will the United States respond?
That is the key question now.

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

PA May Declare a State
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 11, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority is in crisis.
If Hamas wins the January election, Fatah will effectively self-implode.

The PA is floating a trial balloon.
The PA is asking the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian State according to the pre 1967 borders.
The PA is calling a US bluff. If the US vetoes the resolution, the Palestinian Authority PR campaign will proclaim that the US is not in favor of a two-state solution.

The reality is that the PA will not declare a state because they have not yet received the endorsement of the United States.
The Palestinians will convince themselves that they have leverage ... and the US may be swayed by the Palestinian threat.

If the Palestinians bolt and move and to announce their state without US sponsorship it will be because their ultimate objective is to maintain power by challenging US authority.

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

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 10, 2009


The time has come to properly define the term terror.

The decision not to call the Fort Hood shooter a terrorist is self-delusional and self-deceptive. Nadil Malik Hassan is as much a terrorist as are those men and women who strap bombs on their bodies and enter crowded malls and restaurants. He is as much a terrorist as the people who drive explosive laden vehicles into marine barracks and through barricades. The only difference is the choice of weapon, the intent is the same.

Deliberately identifying murderous acts like the one perpetrated by Hassan as psychological breaks rather than calling them what they are - lone wolf terrorists, removes the threat from the sphere of security forces where it belongs and places it in the netherworld of law enforcement and forensics. Maintaining that self-delusion will, in the end, hurt the security of the United States and of United States citizens at home and abroad.

Here is the problem: The FBI defines a terrorist as a person who is part of a group or a participant in a conspiracy. That is a bias and the bias impedes investigations and precludes the need to understand individual terrorists who are influenced by the media or by their teachers and mentors.

The ostensible reason for not immediately classifying an act of terror as what it is - an act of terror, is to calm the masses. So, nine months after the El Al airlines terminal at LAX is shot up one July 4th by a lone Egyptian gunman with no links to any organization, the FBI finally classifies the shoot-out as an act of terror. Think about the uni-bomber, about Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

To require that a terrorist be a member of a group or a participant in a conspiracy eliminates the lone wolf terrorist. And the lone wolf is the hardest terrorists to stop.

Nadil Malik Hassan did not crack under pressure, just ask one of his colleagues, ask any psychiatrist. His was a premeditated act. He bought his laser sited high tech weapon the first week he arrived at Fort Hood. He plotted and planned his attack. He scoped his target. He knew where to go to wound and to kill the largest amount of people. He prayed early that morning. He said goodbye to his friends, went to the terror site, and prayed again. Then he began his mission of terror.

The Fort Hood shooter did not see his mission as mass murder or as a sin. This was a man who dedicated his life to helping others. And this was a man who saw life through the eyes and mind of a terrorist. The terrorist in him won out. The terrorist in him perceived his action as the fulfillment of his religious duties. That is why prayed and that is why all terrorists pray. They are not praying for forgiveness for murdering innocents and then committing suicide.

They pray that their act will be seen and received as the greatest act of faith. They pray to be accepted as martyrs, to become shahid, martyrs who die while fighting to protect Islam. There can be no doubt that Major Nadil Malik Hassan expected to be killed during his attack. - he began his shooting rampage by shouting "Allah hu Akhbar," God is great. Not dying is the worst indignity of all.

The actions of Hassan come right out of the al Qaeda handbook. They are in the section that deals with what we call Lone Wolf terror attacks. Perhaps he owned a copy of the CD, perhaps he was told about it, perhaps these behaviors come intuitively to a person warped enough to consider and commit an act of terror. The al Qaeda CD goes down a check list that includes saying goodbye to friends and family especially those with whom you pray. It also instructs to make certain that you explain that you will be going away, traveling. And it instructs to be sure to pray before perpetrating the act.

Calling the shoot out perpetrated at Fort Hood an act of terror is not an indictment of Islam or Muslims. It is only an indictment of those who support the act. Calling it terror recognizes the act for what it is and the perpetrator of the act for the terrorist that he is. Those who are offended are those who would justify and explain away terror as an act of rage. Those who explain it away are apologizing for terror.

There is no apology for terror.

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Ahmadinejad Is Joking
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 9, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday morning I read a transcript of a TV interview with Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

It was like reading a sitcom skit.

Ahmadinejad said that the West was not afraid that Iran might be attaining nuclear weapons.

He said Iranian nuclear weapons were not the issue at all for Western nations.

He said that the issue that frightens the West is that Iran is becoming energy independent.


Iranian hierarchy sometimes disseminates disinformation to the Iranian masses. There is a reason for that and we can understand it. But this is so far from reality it is hard to fathom why Ahmadinejad would spin this tale.

The West along with the Middle East region is petrified of Iranian nuclear aspirations.

About the claim of energy independence, that would be a dream come true for the West.

If only everyone would become oil independent, that would mean that the entire region would be left with almost no international, diplomatic or economic leverage. If that were to happen, Iran would be a country like Micronesia - a country most people have never heard of it.

Ahmadinejad - that joke would be on you.

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Fort Hood Shooter
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 8, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

There has been much speculation about the Ft. Hood shooter, Nidal Malik Hassan.

Some elements are simple fact.
He was a medical doctor and trained psychiatrist. He was a major in the US Army and the Army paid for his education. He was born in America but his family is Palestinian from the village of al Bira.

But the most telling element in the life of Nidal Malik Hassn is the mosque in which he prayed in Northern, VA.
He prayed at Dar al Hijrah in Great Falls, VA. He prayed there during the same period that two of the 9/11 bombers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour, prayed there. And he prayed there at the same time of day as they prayed there.

The Imam of the Dar al Hijrah mosque, Anwar al Awlaki, preached violent and extreme ideas. The Sunday Times of London describes this Yemini born Imam as a man who supports attacks on British troops and supports terror attacks.

The Times of London quotes a fellow Muslim officer describing how the Ft. Hood shooter talked with deep respect about the radical Imam's ideas and how his eyes would light up. The FBI is investigating these connections.

This is not a simple coincidence.
The Ft. Hood shooter was not part of the 9/11 gang, but he was clearly and heavily influenced by the same factors and teachers as the men who perpetrated the worst terror attack against the United States.

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Abbas Resignation?
By Micah Halpern

Saturday November 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

It was assumed.
Now it is official.
At least for now.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has informed the election committee that he will not submit his name as a candidate in the upcoming January election.

Abbas went on to say that his announcement was neither a publicity stunt nor a political maneuver.

Abbas has said this all before.

If Abbas resigns there is little chance that Fatah will be able to fend off Hamas' total sweep of the Palestinian elections.

If Abbas pulls out Hamas will easily win the presidency as well as the prime ministry.

Fatah's failure in the election will be rightfully blamed on Abbas.

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Iran Is Sending Even More Weapons
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has intercepted an enormous arms shipment.
The arms were en route from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to Hamas in Gaza.
This was the largest arms cache ever stopped by Israel on its way to terrorists in Lebanon and Gaza.

As I looked down the list of the weapons captured by the Israeli Navy and as I watched video of the cases and cases of weapons being taken off the captured boat in Israel - I was shocked. I saw two types of rockets, the 122 mm rocket and the 107 mm Katyusha.

These are very common weapons in the Hamas Hezbollah arsenal.
According to military intelligence reports in Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas already have a significant supply of these rockets.
If this is true, why were the Iranians shipping these weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas?

The answer is that Iran is using every means - air and sea - to deliver weapons to Lebanon and Gaza. And they are undoubtedly successful.

This particular sea shipment was intercepted but it is abundantly clear that many others got through.
And they and will continue to get through.
Hamas and Hezbollah weapon stores are growing larger and larger and more and more quickly.

That should frighten all of us.

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By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 5, 2009


Internal divisions within the Muslim world are as old as Islam itself. Disputes and conflict have resonated throughout history. This period is no different.

Mecca is the holy most site in Islam. In Mecca sits the Kabbah, the focus of prayer for all Islam and the site to which 1, 400,000,000 Muslims from around the world many of whom make a pilgrimage there. The city of Mecca is located in Saudi Arabia and for some Muslims that is a problem.

There is a movement underway to reorient Islam away from Mecca. The person at the forefront of this movement is a well respected Iranian Shiite cleric named Ahmad Alam al Hadi.

This Shiite cleric has his supporters. Al Hadi is trying to convince the greater world of Islam that Muslims should not pray towards, nor visit holy sites in, Saudi Arabia or Iraq because those countries are controlled by infidels. He asserts that the leadership of Saudi Arabia is empty of Islamic value and interested only in its own self preservation. He asserts that Iraq is run by the West. And al Hadi attacks the prevalent form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Wahabism, as extremism and as not representative of true Islam.

Ahmad Alam al Hadi proposes an alternative site. He suggests replacing Mecca, the centerpiece of Islam, with Mashhad. Do not pray to Mecca, he says, pray toward Mashhad. Do not make pilgrimage to Mecca, make pilgrimage to Mashhad. Reorient yourselves, he says, towards Mashhad which has been a spiritual capital of Islam for hundreds of years. These are very powerful statements coming from a respected religious leader and they have sparked significant debate.

The truth is that Mashhad is and has been a Muslim holy site, primarily for Shiite Muslims, but it also holds importance for Sunni Muslims. Al Hadi claims that Mashhad already accomodates 20,000,000 Iranian pilgrims and 80,000 foreign pilgrims every year and can certainly accommodate the greater onslaught of pilgrims who would be making their way to Iran.

On paper, the plan works. But Islam is not about progress or about change. Islam is about tradition. Even the use of the verb "to orient" is based on tradition. The word "orient" means "to the east." Every Muslim place of prayer contains a mikhrab, a prayer niche, and that prayer niche points in the direction of Mecca. Moving away from Mecca, replacing Mecca, would be a revolutionary move in the world of Islam - and a move that would foment an Islamic revolution.

The irony behind the choice of Mashhad as the new holy site in Islam should not be lost. Imam Raza, the 8th Imam and one of the most influential leaders in the development of Sufi Islam, is buried there. After Imam Reza was murdered in the year 818, probably poisoned to death, there was massive conflict over who should take control his Abbasid Empire. The fight was between his two sons. One son was the son of his Arab wife, the other was the son of his Persian wife. The Shiite Persian son won.

Internal historical conflicts between Islamic groups have very deep roots. So do linguistic traditions. Saudi Arabia is called the land of "Hijaz," an expression which really means the lands of the Hajj, the religious pilgrimage to Mecca. Iran can try to unseat Mecca as the holiest of holy sites, but they will fail - there are too many direct links to the Koran and Mohammed. When the move to change is approached from the perspective of serious Muslim scholarship which begins every investigation by examining the written word of the Koran and the teachings of the prophet Mohammad the argument to replace Mecca with Mashhad appears very, very weak.

Iran wants to take over the world. But first, the Iranians will have to conquer the Islamic world. This is a good - even if unsuccessful, try. They will try and try again. Iran does not shy away from conflict and dispute.

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Military Intel in Israel Shows New Threats
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 4, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

I have been poring over reports by Israel's Chief of Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin.

Yadlin made it very clear that Syria and Iran have provided Hamas with a rocket that has a 60 kilometer (48 mile) range - a rocket that can hit downtown Tel Aviv.
Yadlin reports that Hamas test fired this ordinance into the Mediterranean Sea.

He paints a picture of Syria that has them working on two completely different tracks.
Track one is warming and expanding relationships with the West.
Track two is arming Hezbollah and Hamas.

He describes Iran's Qom nuclear site as definitely NOT scientific, but built for the purposes of public energy. He said that in Qom there are advanced centrifuges whose purpose was to speed uranium enrichment.

Yadlin made it clear that Israel's enemies are becoming stronger and more sophisticated.
Yadlin made it clear that the threat to Israel is increasing.

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The Hajj Begins
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 3, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Hajj is about to begin.
The Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca to visit the Kabbah, the holiest site in Islam.
The Kabbah is located in Saudi Arabia and is kept under very strict security.

The Hajj takes place from the 7th to the 13th day of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, the month is called the Dhu al Hijja.
It is a reenactment of the story of Ibrahim and Hajar, also known as Abraham and Hagar.
It is from Hagar that the word Hajj is derived and a pilgrim is called a Hajji, someone who is participating in the Hajj.

Iranians are beginning to set out for Mecca.
As they prepare to depart the Supreme leader of Iran has given them a message. Actually, it is more of a warning.
The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said: "display the firm resolve of the Muslim nation to confront attempts that damage its unity and progress." In other words, confront the Sunni Leadership of Saudi Arabia.

In response, Saudi Arabia has issued a clear statement that they will strictly uphold security and that no politics will be permitted during this Hajj.

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2 Big News Items
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 2, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Two very important news announcements came out of the Middle East yesterday.

Saudi Arabia announced that they discovered an al Qaeda arms cache containing hundreds of weapons and ammo - proof that al Qaeda is alive and well and planning attacks in Saudi Arabia.

Iran announced that president Ahmadinejad will be visiting Turkey next Sunday - a visit that comes on the heels of the Turkish leader's visit to Iran last week.

The deepening friendship between these two neighbors is deeply troubling not only to the West but also to many in the Arab world.
The warming of diplomacy could have a tremendous impact on regional relations and will influence the ways in which the West exerts pressure on Iran down the line.

Turkey refused to give the US permission to launch or to fly over their airspace during the last Gulf War.
This could take the bite out of any diplomatic or military strike against Iran.

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