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Happy New Year from Iran to Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 1, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

It's a new year.
Greetings are sent around the world - from friend to friend, from business contact to business contact, and even from Soccer Federation to Soccer Federation.

Israel's Soccer Federation received a special greeting this year.
It came from the Iranians.
Not sure if it was a joke or for real, Israel sent back a New Year greeting to the Iranians.

A correspondent for Israel Army Radio called Mohammad Ali Ardebili, the information director of the Iranian Soccer Federation, and speaking in Persian, asked if it was a mistake or deliberate.
Mohammad Ali Ardebili said: "It is a greeting sent to every country in the world."
Then he asked: "Are you talking from Israel? I can't speak with you. It's a mistake, it's a mistake."
Then he hung up.

Happy New Year.

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

By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 31, 2009


It's a simple fact: There are people who want to destroy us and there is nothing we can do to change their minds.

It's a disturbing fact, it's a scary fact, but it is a proven fact and the sooner we acknowledge it, the better off we will be.

All terror is not alike. Political terrorists can be swayed - Islamic terrorists cannot. Vengeful terrorists can be swayed - religious terrorists cannot.

Al Qaeda terror is Islamic terror - it is religious terror. We do not have the power or capability to stop al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists from hating us and wanting to destroy us. We can stop their actions, we cannot change their minds.

And yet, there are people who refuse to see the fact. And some of those people are in positions of power, some of those people are our leaders. They are simply unable to wrap their minds around an idea that terrifies them. That, too, is scary.

Here's another simple fact: Fighting terror is an offensive, not just a defensive, mission.

Many of those people in power who refuse to accept that fact that we cannot change the minds of terrorists who want us destroyed have no problem sending out helicopter gun-ships to destroy known enemies, gun-ships that might accidentally kill civilians along with their intended targets. They have no problem dispatching soldiers to attack enemies who we know have concrete plots to attack us.

It is the abstract versus the concrete. Religion is abstract. Maps and plans are concrete. The terrorist who has not yet put pen to paper, hand to grenade, explosive to body, is as dangerous and intent upon killing us as the terrorist who has. In the world of terror, thought and action are synonymous.

Religious i.e. Islamic terrorists cannot be educated by us, neither can they be re-educated by us. They hate us because they hate us and there is nothing we can do to change their minds, nothing we can do to prove that we are not worthy of their hate. They cannot be convinced and they cannot be bribed. They want to cause us pain, they want to destroy us and they want to destroy the symbols that represent us.

It's nice to see that there are people who believe that there is good in everyone - but in a leader, it is dangerous. It is kind to give people the benefit of a doubt - but not when those people are mass murderers.

I understand the mind and the world of Islamic terror. Unfortunately, our president, the president of the United States of America does not.

These terrorists will never be moved by compassionate pleas or promises or acts of good will and kindness. These terrorists are not like Anarchists or Maoists, they are not the Weathermen or the Uni-bomber or Timothy McVeigh. The politics of Islamic terror dwarfs these anti-establishment sentiments in America.
They do not want to change America, they want to destroy America and destroy American values.

These terrorists dream of a world where everyone accepts their values and teachings - fundamental Islamic teachings. They will not compromise, they cannot. Until they have the world that they want, they will not rest.

Here's the final simple fact: The only way to fight terror is by guarding ourselves, by searching out the terrorists and by destroying them.

We, the United States and the Western world cannot do this alone. We must convince those who host terrorists to help us. Hosts of terror, as opposed to their guests, are open to argument and bribery. They can shut down the terrorists' bases of operation and force them out.

Not all of Islam teaches a hatred of non-believers. Believers who subscribe to those other, more peace loving, Islamic teachings will be the first step in bringing religious, Islamic terrorists towards embracing other forms of Islamic tradition. They can do it. We cannot.

Note: In deference to certain people in positions of power I have refrained from speaking about the War on Terror and chosen, instead, to use the term fighting terror.

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

End Around in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 30, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

So much happening in Iran it is almost impossible to track the goings-on.

The internal crisis, the popular rallies that have turned into riots running rampage throughout the country are only part of the story.
Iranians have been killed, arrested and many - including members of the opposition, have been placed under house arrest preventing them for attending the rallies.

All the while the theocratic dictatorship has continued to not only build nuclear facilities which they flaunt in the face of the world but now, as reported by the AP late last night, they are smuggling in "yellow cake", nuclear materials from problematic nations - nations willing to do business with Iran.

Intelligence suggests that the Iranians are actively smuggling all kinds of nuclear materials to aid in the production of a serious facility.

The Iranian objective is simple - do an end around the international community and achieve nuclear independence without international supervision.

And that last part is the truly scary part.

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

It Took 3 Days For a Comment
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 29, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Each day we learn more about the failed terror attack of December 25th.

President Obama broke the silence and serenity of his Hawaiian vacation yesterday to assure Americans that his administration was keeping us safe. He assured us that all those responsible for the deed would be caught and brought to justice.

This is my first entry on the topic of the attempted terror attack.
It comes in response to President Obama's first comment on the matter.

Vacation or no vacation, it took the president of the United States too long to weigh in on what was intended to be a deadly terrorist stack aimed at Americans.

The failed attack led the news on all networks and was the focal point on newspapers and websites for days.
Everyone was asking the obvious questions - were we safe, were the people who are supposed to keep us safe doing everything they can and is that enough?

The President should have spoken out on Christmas day.
I do not blame him, for this blunder, I blame his handlers.
This was a colossal political mistake.

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

Unrest in Iran - Again
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 28, 2009

I'm Predicting:

Unrest in Iran, again.

The government of Iran is doing a very good job at cracking down on reportage in all media in all languages, so it is hard to get a real feel for what is happening, but ...

The people of Iran have a new reason to protest, to march and to revolt.
The people of Iran have a new cause and a new leader, he is the Ayatollah Montazeri.

Unlike last summer's elections, mobilizing for Montazeri is perfect.
The Ayatollah is dead, he is immune from persecution - but he has left behind a written legacy that touches on almost every aspect of Iranian political and religious life.

The next few days will be critical.
If the groundswell around Montazeri's death, mystique and isolation at the hands of the current regime continues to grow ...
If the number of marches and marchers on Montazeri's posthumous behalf continue to grow day by day ...
We may have a revolution afoot in Iran.

Now, we sit back, we watch, we wait.

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

Gaza 1 Year Later
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 27, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

In Gaza today a siren sounded and for a moment everyone stood silent and still, there were memorial services and gatherings.
Today marked the one year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, the 22 day operation during which Israel entered Gaza.

Ismail Haniyah, head of Hamas in Gaza, released a statement to the press praising the bravery of the people of Gaza and extolling them for repelling the Israelis. He spoke of the significant and damaging blows they delivered to the Israeli military thwarting Israel's goals.

The press statement read:
"The Strip won because of its durability and the Zionist enemy's failure to implement the objectives it set for itself during the war. The resistance continued in its path and forced the enemy to retreat without giving up on even one of its principles and its right to bear arms and defend the Palestinian people."

The successes and failures of Operation Cast Lead are still open to interpretation. But to assume that Hamas emerged victorious is stretching all fact and credulity ... unless, of course, you view the fact that Gaza is still standing as a victory.

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

Shalit Deal Falls Thru
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 26, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Putting it simply, it looks like Hamas has rejected the deal that would release Gilad Shalit.
In actuality, the situation is a bit more complicated.

The proposal has been going back and forth and back and forth again and again.
Most recently, Israel sent back a proposal back to Hamas further refining the deal. In Israel's new version, seven Palestinians prisoners including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sadaat would not be freed.

Hamas rejected Israel's counter proposal based on two issues. The seven prisoners who would not be freed and the large number of prisoners that Israel wanted exiled as part of the deal. A Hamas source is quoted as saying that it "was not a prisoner release deal but an exile deal."

This was expected.
Over the past three years deals about Shalit have been modified, modified again and then fallen apart - always because the modifications have been acceptable to the other side.

Israel tried very hard to accept the deal as it was presented this time, but the release of these particular seven people was too difficult for Israeli leaders and the Israeli public to accept.

These seven prisoners in question are young, hardcore, terrorist leaders.

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

Politics In Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 25, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Some serious political ploys have been at play in Israel recently.

This week Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu offered Tzipi Livni, head of the opposition, a partnership - Netanyahu asked Livni to join forces by joining the government.
If Livni and her Kadima party were to join his government, Netanyahu would be able to broaden and stabilize his government and discard his radical right flank.

The problem with this plan for Livni is that there is an internal conflict within Kadima right now.
Livni is fighting to protect her position as party leader - number two in the party, Shaul Mofaz, is making a move to take over.

Netanyahu has another agenda.
By bringing Kadima into his coalition, Netanyahu can split Kadima into two, destroying their ability to garner votes in the next election.
Let us not forget that in the last national election Kadima won more votes than Netanyahu's Likud party.

It's about maintaining power or destroying power, it's what makes politics go 'round.

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

Iran in Space
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 24, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Iran announced that they are preparing to launch a new satellite into outer space.
They are asserting that they have a new generation of satellites with far more sophisticated technology.

The Iranian Defense Minister made the announcement yesterday. He told the world that Iran will be launching their newest satellite an the end of February beginning of March 2010, just two to three months from now.

The significance of this announcement is enormous for several reasons.
The most important reason is that satellites are used for intelligence gathering.
Another is that the mechanism that launches a satellite is exactly the same technology that is needed to send a non-conventional weapon careening toward Israel.

Iran is unquestionably a nation in space.
From space, the Iranians can watch and attack any country they choose.
And that threat is even greater than the Iraian nuclear threat.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 23, 2009


Mainstream Western press has taken proper note of the death of the Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. Even his funeral was covered in a significant and respectful way in major, national, newspapers in the United States.

This Iranian cleric deserved our notice. He deserved our praise.

The Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri had a clear and forward thinking vision for Iran. He helped shape Iran - not the tyranny that envelopes Iran today.

Montazeri functioned as the right hand of the original Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Revolution. Montazeri was his protege and it was Montazeri who drafted the Iranian laws that empowered religious life in Iran. It was he who created the framework enabling parallel lines of leadership, one religious the other political. This Ayatollah's vision, however, took on a life of its own. Montazeri believed that religious leadership should serve on an advisory level for the political leadership and not be involved in the day to day happenings in the newly established Islamic Republic. The ultimate power of the clergy in Iran today is antithetical to all that he believed and gave root to.

Our press is correct in noting that Montazeri was the first person chosen to become successor to the first Supreme Leader. When that decision was made, he was, without a doubt, the most learned and most widely respected of all Shiite thinkers. But then the cleric overstepped his bounds as both adviser and protege to the Supreme Leader.

He dug his own premature grave when he went on record renouncing a spate of public executions. Later that same week Montazeri started hammering the nails into his own coffin when he went public again, this time rejecting the death sentence that had been issued against British author Salman Rushdie. In his own defense the cleric responded to the outrage over his pronouncements saying that he was fearful that the world would see Iran simply as a society that glorifies killing, nothing more.

Montazeri was immediately stripped of his position and of his future position. The Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was demoted from Grand Ayatollah to a simple Ayatollah. He was placed under house arrest in the holy city of Qom.

After the death of the Ayatollah Khomeni and the subsequent appointment of his heir, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, it became clear that a sub par leader had been placed in leadership and that there were far more superior Islamic thinkers than the Grand Ayatollah chosen to lead.

Montazeri had always asserted that the Supreme Leader must be accountable to an earthly body and not, exclusively, to heaven. In many ways this man was not only wise, he was prophetic.

Unlike Khatami and Mousavi, Montazeri had a real and fundamental respect for leadership and cultural for power bases. He spoke without fear of punishment from the establishment because he was indisputably the greater Islamic thinker of our time. Unlike Khatami and Moussavi, the relationship this Ayatollah had with the people of Iran rang genuine, he was their hero. He will be missed by his people. Montazeri's death, the mourning period and the mourning rituals surrounding his death will be significant and will allow us a window into the hearts of Iranians.

The Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri will be missed. And not only be the people of Iran.

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

Demjanjuk Trial is Becoming a Joke
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 22, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The John Demjanjuk trial restarted in Germany yesterday.
This will probably be the last Nazi war trial for Germany, it may even be the last Nazi war trial in the history of the world.

I was expecting a very serious and well prepared defense.
I am disappointed.

On the first day of the trial Demjanjuk's defense attorney, Ulrich Busch, spouted that kapos were worse than Nazis. Kapos were prisoners who were forced to be guards in the camps. Busch actually asked: "Is it not true that the Jewish police were worse than the Nazis?"

The prosecution and the judge demanded a source for this ridiculous claim.
Busch's response was: "If you Google it, you'll find it."

The behavior of Demjanjuk's defense attorney should really not be a surprise.
During the trial opening, he suggested that Demjanjuk was a Holocaust survivor.
Hollywood could not have come up with an opening like that.

Whatever else happens in this case, I am now certain that Busch will push the envelope. He will challenge every fundamental historical and moral boundary.
The victims - and history, deserve better.

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

They Found The Sign
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 21, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday famous sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, the sign that read "Arbeit Macht Frei" was stolen.
Three days later, on Monday morning, it was found and five people were arrested.

The sign was found in northern Poland, the other end of the country from Auschwitz. The fifteen foot sign had been cut into three pieces - each piece was one word long: Arbeit, Macht and Frei. "Work Will Set You Free."

Poland had declared a national emergency and dedicated almost everything they had to finding the sign.
The world was shocked.

This sign marking the entrance to the worst of all the Nazi murder factories had become a symbol.
It was a symbol of evil.
It was a symbol of how the world stood still as millions of innocent Jews were marched to their deaths.

Last week the leaders of Poland joined by leaders from around the world stood up and demanded the sign be found.

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

Iran Grabs in Iraqi Oils Field
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 20, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The situation is tense between Iraq and Iran.

On Friday, Iranian forces crossed over the Iraqi border and took control of an oil facility and pumping station.

The eleven Iranian troops hoisted an Iranian flag at the oil field and stationed themselves in a defensive position awaiting an Iraqi response.

This field has been disputed.

Until now it was on the Iraqi side of the border.
Iran seems to want to change that status quo.
This is an important trial balloon for Iran.
Crossing a border and raising a flag is a very significant statement.

The objective is two-fold:

# 1: to test how the United States will respond to this aggressive act
# 2: to test how local Iraqi leadership will respond to this incursion

What happens in the next few days will be an important predictor of Iran's future actions.

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

Petraeus Says Iranian Air-force is Weak
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 19, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

General David Petraeus, the general in charge of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, delivered a tremendous blow to Iran yesterday while in Bahrain.

Petraeus was at a conference speaking about the issues of the region.
He concluded that the United Arab Emirates air-force could destroy the Iranian air-force.
Petraeus said that "[t]he Emirati Air Force itself could take out the entire Iranian Air Force, I believe, given that it's got ... somewhere around 70 Block 60 F-16 fighters, which are better than the US F-16 fighters."

This is a damning blow to Iran's ego and image in the region.
The UAE, a little collection of sheikdoms, has a better armed and more sophisticated air-force than the great Persian fighters.
The Iranians sputter and bluster about their great air-force, but now it seems that it is all just hype.

The essential germ of Petraeus' comments is that the Iranian air-force is dangerous and will certainly hit some of their targets - but they are beatable, especially against a better trained, better equipped air-force.
Petraeus was not pointing out the greatness of the UAE, he was using them as a source for comparison with Israel.

The general made his point.

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

A Nuclear Model for the Middle East
By Micah Halpern

December 18, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The United States and the United Arab Emirates signed an important agreement yesterday.

The agreement will enable GE- Hitachi Energy to provide nuclear energy to the UAE.

The agreement, aka, The 123 Agreement, allows GE to create an atomic energy plant for the purpose of making electricity.

The agreement is totally transparent and there is no chance that the plant will be converted into a nuclear power plant to be used for nuclear weapons.

The US is delighted and is hoping that their agreement will serve as the model for the region enabling nuclear energy for electricity in a responsible and safe environment with transparency and supervision.

The obvious parallel is Iran.

Iran does not believe in transparency.

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

China says No to the US
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 17, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Trying to influence Iranian policy on nuclear development is nearly impossible.

One measure would be trying to introduce more sanctions. But that requires international support, especially from China and China is proving to be very difficult and is not joining the team.

The United States is using Israel as leverage. It was just reported that on his trip to China President Obama told Chinese President Hu Jianto that Israel was chomping at the bit to attack Iran and that the United States could not hold them back indefinitely.

The US thought that China had received their message and would agree that sanctions and international pressure were the best ways to keep Israel from attacking, but the US was wrong.

China has declined a US-Saudi deal that would isolate Iran much more significantly than any other international action.
The deal would substitute Saudi oil for Iranian oil and Saudi Arabia would supply China with all the oil it gets from Iran at significantly lower costs.

China does not want to save the money or to isolate Iran.
China wants to maximize its own leverage over Iran.
That is not good.

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

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 16, 2009


No problem. It's an expression often heard in the Middle East, specifically within the Palestinian Authority. Since Arabic does not have a "p" sound, the words come out sounding more like "no broblem." To the untrained Western ear this response to a vast array of questions is amusing. Trained Western ears, however, know that whenever those words are uttered it signifies not just a problem, but a very big problem.

The Palestinian Authority has a broblem, a big broblem.

The most pressing of the myriad political issues confronting the PA right now is the looming election. In January, just a few short weeks away, the term will end for both the Palestinian president and the Palestinian Parliament. The Palestinian Liberation Organization's Central Council has just met to draft and lay out a direction that will begin addressing the challenge. The elections has been postponed.

President Mahmoud Abbas has declared that he will not run again, he reiterated his statement during the Council's meeting. The Council, for their part, has asked Abbas to stay on - at least until a new, new election can be called.
Abbas is their only hope.

If Abbas stays on, the question of the Palestinian presidency will be relieved, even if only for the short term. That still leaves the question of the Parliament. Hamas now controls the Palestinian Parliament and Hamas is hoping for a new election because, according to all polls, Hamas will rout out Fatah for both Parliament and the presidency. Will the Council ask all parliament members to remain on, as well?

The Palestinian Liberation Organization's Central Council, in their infinite wisdom - or perhaps out of sheer desperation, has come up with a different solution. The PLO Central Council has suggested replacing outgoing elected members of Parliament with an appointed committee somewhat representative of the demographic reality and accountable to the president.

This is not a very good idea. The Palestinian Authority purports to be. This is a common practice in thugocracies, whether controlled by benevolent dictators or monarchs, which is what the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of becoming.

Do not get me wrong, I am not in favor of Hamas taking power and Hamas will most certainly get a landslide victory whenever the elections take place. But neither can I support a suspension of democracy because one does not like the potential results.

The political failure of Fatah and the PLO can be traced to the fact that they have never successfully shed their mantle of corruption and a reputation as politicians who hold office in order to better serve themselves, not their public. They have failed in their mandate to provide the Palestinian people with a vision for the future and have provided no alternative to poverty and despair.

Hamas will win not because the Palestinian people favor their form of government. Hamas will win because they will receive the anti-vote. They will receive the anti-Fatah vote and they will receive the anti-US/Israel vote. They will get those votes because there are still a significant number of Palestinians who respect Hamas for rejecting US and Israeli influence.

The PLO still has a chance. There is still time to sway those anti voters who are more discouraged by the status quo than they are pro-Hamas and the way to do that is through social not political means. The PLO must start providing services for the Palestinian people. But I don't think that the PLO will seize the opportunity and run with it. The PLO Council continues to make poor choices.

For example, look at the demand the PLO Central Council has laid down regarding the peace process: that the world recognize the Palestinian state within pre 1967 borders. Abbas, in his statement outlining the demand, made it perfectly clear that there can be no compromise on this issue, that the state be entirely within the 1967 border - without exception. The announcement runs contrary to years of dialogue. The dominant theme has always been that the 1967 border would be the model, and that when it became unfeasible the alternative would a land swap for mutually agreed upon land of equal size and arid-ability. That announcement dramatically set back the negotiation process and any hope for a resolution in the near future.

The Palestinian state will wait. But what about the election? Fatah and their PLO Central Council have a history of raising expectations to the point of unreasonable and creating situations where compromise is nearly impossible. They do not have a history of learning from their mistakes.

It's almost January and the parliament will soon disolve. Hamas is waiting in the wings. It's a problem, a big, big problem.

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

No Change From OPEC
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 15, 2009

I'm Predicting:

On December 22nd OPEC ministers will once again meet.
This year the meeting will take place in Angola.

Assessing the comments OPEC oil ministers have made to date, it seems pretty certain that oil production will not change - there will be no scaling down and no new limits placed on oil production.

Iran very much wants to jack up the price of oil and is lobbying for a reduction of quotas - but OPEC oil ministers are not easily swayed.
Contrary to popular perception, the ministers in OPEC are extremely conservative and right now they are extremely happy with the price per barrel.
OPEC ministers do not like volatility in the market.
OPEC ministers do not plot the oil addiction of the West and they are not in charge of the price.

The bottom line is that OPEC knows they cannot play with supply and demand right now.
It could all boomerang and that boomerang would either cause a huge spike or huge drop in price - either way, they would suffer.

The West is addicted to oil and OPEC is the willing supplier.

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

Hamas Visits Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 14, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

A Hamas delegation, headed by the Khaled Mashaal the undisputed leader of Hamas, is being hosted in Iran.

Hamas is in Iran to get unconditional support from the Iranians for their cause. They are getting that and much more.

The message of support has come through loud and clear in press reports and press conferences.

According to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "the government and the people of Iran will always stand by the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people."

He went even further: "today Palestine is symbol of the global front of freedom-seekers and militants."

Hamas will continue their fight until there is no more Israel.
Iran will support that fight by supporting Hamas until the Zionist entity is totally annihilated.

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

Iranian Protests Touch a Cord
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 13, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Things are changing in Iran in unexpected ways.

This past week anti-government student protesters burned pictures of their Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.
This is unheard of in Iran.
Never have protesters, or anyone at all, burnt pictures of the Supreme Leader.

In the Iranian way of understanding theology the Supreme Leader is answerable to Allah and exclusively to Allah - not to any other force or power and certainly not to student protesters. Burning pictures of the Supreme Leader is also a serious violation of Iranian law.

In response to these protests the powerful religious leadership of Iran held two days of rallies in support of the Grand Ayatollah. The supporters numbered in the tens of thousands.

This new student protest touched a very sensitive cord.

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

US Finally Responds to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 12, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like the US has finally started to challenge Iran's free reign in Latin America. For one full year now Iran has been cultivating and investing in Latin America, courting and developing diplomatic relationships.

At last, yesterday, at a State Department briefing on Latin American relations, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lambasted Latin American leaders for allowing themselves to be courted by Iran.
The Secretary of State said: "We can only say that is a really bad idea for the countries involved."
Clinton put forth a very compelling argument.
She said: "This is the major supporter, promoter and exporter of terrorism in the world today." "If people want to flirt with Iran, they should take a look at what the consequences might well be for them. And we hope that they will think twice."
Unfortunately, Latin American countries think otherwise.
Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador have concluded that the US has little to no influence over them or even in the region.
The power house players in Latin America that Iran has targeted for improved relations are happy with their new diplomatic amigos.

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

Hanukah's Real Meaning
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 11, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Tonight, across the world, Jews will light the first Hanukah candle. When we think of Hanukah, we most often focus on the crucible of oil and the miracle. Not to diminish the miracle of light, that is only a small part of the story.

Hanukah was a battle for religious freedom against the religious intolerance of the Syrian Greeks.

The war waged by the Macabees was truly fought with swords and arrows, but it was more than a military operation, it was a war of culture and media. It was a conflict between a small religiously observant enclave and pagan masses. This clash of culture was without a doubt one of the most dramatic in Jewish history.

It was a conflict of tradition versus modern society that split families and pit family members against each other. What tipped the scale for the Macabees were the laws that were passed forbidding all Jewish observance and the absolute rejection by the Syrian Greeks of any type of religious Jewish life.

To the Syrian Greeks it was all a game, they were convinced that they defeated the few Jews because they were more modern. In the end it was the Syrian Greek culture and reign that fell. It fell because the culture and spirit of the Macabees was not simply encased in a building the Greeks desecrated but in behaviors and teachings handed down from generation to generation.

Some things cannot be taken away, not even by edict, intimidation or terror.
The Syrian Greeks learned that lesson the hard way.
Happy Holiday.

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

Iran's Defense Minister Visits Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 10, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's Defense Minister Ahmed Vahidi was in Syria, while there, he held several press conferences.

Iran is keeping thee rhetoric at high pitch.
In response to one set of questions about Iran's ability to fend off an Israeli air strike Vahidi gave some very insightful responses.

He said that if attacked by Israel "The Islamic Republic of Iran's armed forces are fully prepared."
According to Syrian press reports he continued and said that If attacked by Israel, Iran would immediately respond and attack Israel's atomic sights.
He said that they would strike the "dirty weapons and other unconventional nuclear centers."
He said that "The Islamic Republic of Iran's armed forces are fully prepared"

Iran has spent the past few months analyzing the various moves Israel might pursue to stop them.
Iran has begun to investigate its own possible responses to Israel's potential responses.

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

Bin Laden - Only a Symbol
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 9, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about Osama bin Laden.
Capture him or kill him - that is the question.

People are frustrated.
So many years later and the United States has still not found bin Laden.
Now, as the new Afghan policy takes hold, people are wondering if he will ever be found.

Yesterday General McChrystal went on the record again saying that we cannot defeat al Qaeda if we don't find bin Laden.
I disagree.
Bin Laden is no longer essential to al Qaeda. Capturing him or killing him will be a huge moral victory for the US and an enormous morale booster, but it will not defeat al Qaeda.
Bin Laden created an organization, a network, that reproduces on its own and that can and will flourish on its own.

Osama bin Laden is only a symbol - an important symbol, but just a symbol.

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Problems with Shalit Exchange
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 8, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

There are some serious obstacles to be over come in the Gilad Shalit negotiations. Some of the information that is bouncing around is totally without merit, some seems very plausible.

One bit of info was gleaned form court papers presented to the Israeli Supreme Court. In the Government's response to a challenge concerning the prisoner exchange the court listed a definitive number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails slated for release as part of the deal. That number is 950.

Israel still has some serious issues to resolve regarding the prisoners:

For example: 125 prisoners originally from Gaza want to make certain that once they are released and deported they are not deported back to Gaza.

For example: there are prisoners who lived in Israel prior to their arrests and were imprisoned before the Oslo Accords were signed and so technically, they should not be part of the deal at all.

Of those 20 are Israeli Arabs, 1 is from the Golan Heights and 44 are from East Jerusalem.

Israel does not want these released prisoners/terrorists wandering around Israel freely and planning and perpetrating more terror attacks.

Not to be forgotten or minimized is the release of Marwan Barghouti, the biggest of all the big wig prisoners slated for release in this deal.

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New Rocket Lobbed From Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 7, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

An S5K rocket was launched from Gaza and landed in Kibbutz Alumim yesterday.

This is the first time an S5K has been known to be in Gaza and the first time one has been shot into Israel.
This S5K rocket has a much larger explosive charge than the Qassam, but it is also much less accurate.

The S5K is a Russian made rocket and was originally designed to be launched from an airplane. Recently it has been used against the United States and other Western forces by terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan who shoot the S5K from the ground in order to hit targets on the ground.

The terrifying new reality is that despite concerted efforts by Israel and Egypt this new Russian rocket has made its way to Gaza .
We now have confirmation that Hamas has been successful in smuggling weapons into Gaza.

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Iran-Swiss Conflict
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is sending a message directly to Switzerland.
Iran is displeased over the recently passed Swiss referendum outlawing minarets.

The Iranian foreign Minster has gone public with his phone conversation with the Swiss foreign minister. He was quoted in IRNA, the Iranian official news agency, saying that the Swiss vote was "against the prestige of a country which claims to be an advocate of democracy and human rights."

The chief Iranian diplomat said last week's referendum would "damage Switzerland's image as a pioneer of respecting human rights among Muslims' public opinion." He said: "Values such as tolerance, dialogue and respecting others' religions should never be put to referendum."

The entire Muslim world is up in arms about the vote, but only the Iranians have made their statements public. This is the beginning of a serious tension between Islam and the West.

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Real US Policy in the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Saturday December 5, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

For those skeptical of US foreign policy in the Middle East, here is a diplomatic maneuver that should put things in perspective.

The Quartet is the driving force behind the Middle East peace process.
It is composed of Russia, the US, the EU and the UN.
The United States approached the other Quartet members and proposed that a statement of support be made concerning Israel's decision to halt settlement.
All agreed, but the drafts were left to each party to develop.

The original proposal came from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The person charged with getting everyone on board was David Hale, deputy to the President's Special Envoy, George Mitchell. Hale went to the parties with his own statement, but could not forge an agreement.

The problem is with two points that the US insists upon and that Russia will not sign off on.
# 1: that Israel is a Jewish State
# 2: that the final borders will be determined by the facts on the ground

The Russians will not budge.
Neither will the United States.

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Vatican and Moscow Create Pact
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 4, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

The Vatican and Russian are making peace.
For centuries there has been bad blood between the Vatican and the Russians.

Since 1990 relations between the two parties was so troubled that they had no ambassadorial exchange.

Now President Medvedev of Russia visited Rome and successfully hammered out a solution that will lift the diplomatic status to the level of ambassadors.

Under Communism, established religion was illegal.

Today there is serious competition for religious followers.

The Russian Orthodox Church has argued that Roman Catholics were poaching adherents and were proselytizing.

This is a battle over more than souls, it is a battle for money, too.

The Catholic Church has a lot of capital to invest in building, not only in chasing new believers.

Putin and Medvedev are looking towards the future.

Relations with the Vatican today will be brokered into a political tool for Russia to utilize at a later date in a power play.

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Iraqi Elections
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 3, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like the elections in Iraq, scheduled for January 18, 2010, have been postponed.

Iraq is undergoing a serious election law crisis.
The United States is stunned.
The US did not expect a postponement, even though the Iraqi vice president who vetoed the new election law announced that he would be vetoing the election.

The election law dispute is all about who gets to vote.

Iraqi vice president Tariq al Hashemi is a Sunni and the Sunnis want to make certain that foreign or absentee ballots can be cast. There are a significant number of Sunni Iraqis living abroad and if they are given the vote Sunni representation will be clearly reflected.

The Presidential Council must unanimously approve the new law before it can be passed.

The Presidential Council consists of 2 vice presidents, one is Shiite, the other, Hashemi, is Sunni and the president of Iraq, Nuri el Maliki, who is a Kurd.

Iraq is at a stand still.

So is US policy which cannot move ahead until it is clear that the situation in Iraq is stable.

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

Iran's New Threat to the West
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 2, 2009

I've Been Thinking:

Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali, made a bold and categorical statement on Tuesday.
He said if the West "keeps on insisting on determining our nuclear policy, we will determine theirs."
Larijani is no stranger to this discussion, until a short while ago, he served as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator.

This comment requires careful analysis.
Larijani has no real power, but he is a senior adviser to both the President and the Supreme Leader.
Larijani is saying that Iran will entangle the West in a web.
Western nations will now spend a lot of time and energy analyzing every move Iran makes trying to make sense of this unveiled threat.
As it is the West has almost no idea what Iran does and why they do it.

This threat is probably very real.
It is a very effective Iranian tool against the West.

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

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