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Iran Leads Boycott of Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 1, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Iran amended their "Law for the Support of Palestine." This law imposed a boycott on all Israeli goods, on all Jewish owned companies and on companies that outwardly do business with Israel.

The amendment also requires that an annual report be presented on the status of the boycott. That puts Coke, IBM, Intel, Nestles directly in the cross hairs or Iran.

Practically speaking, Iran only has about 73 million people. Not a huge market, but large enough to sting these companies. By comparison Israel's population is only 7, 587,000 about a tenth of Iran's.

Iran's hope is that others will join in the boycott. All these companies are searching for emerging markets and hope to expand. Iran knows that if more countries join the boycott, even in name only, significant pressure will be brought on these big companies to abandon Israel.

Iran wants to show how they can isolate Israel and how they can move international corporations to conform to their will. They are implementing their own boycott in the context of additional sanctions being brought on them.

Iran intends to use their boycott as a tool to repel the sanctions.

Saudi-US Agreement
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 30, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Abdullah King of Saudi Arabia met with President Obama in the White House. They lunched and engaged in a very substantive discussion.

The king and the president had three topics on their agenda:
empowering the Saudi Army to adequately confront Iran
the Palestinian-Israeli peace plan
Iran's nuclear plan

Saudi Arabia is not a friend of Iran. The United States is playing some very important cards which would place Saudi Arabia in the front line of a conflict.

About the Saudi army: Obama promised to help strengthen the Saudi army. If rumors are to be believed, the United States will also supply the Saudis with another 70 F-16s to bolster their air-force.

About the peace plan: The Saudis have advanced a Palestinian/Israeli plan and were the advocates of normalizing relations with Israel. If the US and the Saudis can create a real strategy, they will set their agenda in motion.

About the nuclear plan: Both sides agreed to fight Iran's nuclear advancement.

The US and the Saudis have a mutual agenda and that agenda might be well on the way of being advanced. This plan has not really been made public. There have been discussions about these new-old plans but this is the first time we are seeing Saudi Arabia in official discussions with the Obama White House.

Hezbollah Will Not Talk with the US
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 29, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Deputy Chief of Hezbollah, Sheik Naim Kassam, announced that Hezbollah has no interest in conducting dialogue with the United States.

How strange. Kassam had been responding to US overtures to begin discussions with Hezbollah. Mid East experts had been pushing for a change in policy toward Hezbollah. The goal was to bring Hezbollah into the realm of respectable organizations and leading political parties. And now this.

Hezbollah won't speak to the US until the US changes its entire Middle East policy.
Hezbollah knows what they are and Hezbollah knows what the US represents.

Hezbollah knows how far they will go to fulfill their ideals.
But Hezbollah does not know and cannot understand the US. Unfortunately the US does not always understand who they are and what they represent.

Mossad Is Changing Leaders
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 28, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday General Tamim, the Chief of Police of Dubai, said that Israeli Mossad Chief Meir Dagan should have been sacked long ago for blundering the assassination of Hamas leader Mabouh.

Tamim said:
"Dagan should have resigned a long time ago as his intelligence service has been widely exposed by Dubai police and the world especially with the recent expulsion of Israelis diplomats from Western countries. We recommended him to save face and resign but he didn't."

There is no doubt where Dubai stands and there is no doubt that Dubai has scored a series of important post assassination victories. There is also no doubt that Dagan will not step down from his position because of Mabouh's assassination - about which Israel has not said a word.

Dagan will be stepping down as Chief of Israel's Mossad because, quite simply, his tenure has already been extended for two terms - once under Prime Minister Olmert and the second under Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Dagan's time is up because in democracies even secret services must rotate out their people.

Dictators United: Chavez & Assad
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 27, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Venezuela yesterday. The visit is being called historic, it is being touted as a visit that will transform the world.

Assad met with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. The two dictators signed a $100 million trade agreement. They declared that Arab and South American cultures should unite against United States imperialism.

"Arab civilization and our civilization, the Latin American one, are being summoned in this new century to play the fundamental role of liberating the world, saving the world from the imperialism and capitalist hegemony that threaten the human species."

Chavez punched the point by saying: "Syria and Venezuela are at the vanguard of this struggle."

Chavez wants to unite the developing world.
Chavez is attempting to unite the developing world by positioning the West and the United States as exploiters of the developing world.

Decoy Jews
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 26, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Dutch police have publicly announced that they will be using "decoy Jews" to fight anti-Semitism.
There has been a rise of anti-Semitism in Amsterdam. Most recently, a rabbi was harassed while doing nothing more than walking along a street in Amsterdam.

These decoys will be undercover cops. They will probably wear kippot, sport long beards and some will probably adopt an even more ultra orthodox look. The minister of justice said that in the past, these decoys have been very effective at capturing hard to catch criminals.

The unfortunate reality is that anti-Semitism is becoming more and more acceptable in Europe. Thankfully, democracies are still using this prejudice as a litmus test through which they can better understand their own societies.

Iran Nixes Flotilla
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 25, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's former ambassador to Syria made an announcement yesterday saying that the Iranian flotilla was not setting sail for Gaza as originally scheduled.

Hussein Sheik el Islam, who now heads the Iranian Organization to Protect Palestinians, said that Iran will not send this ship because the "Zionists" (the Israelis) have made it clear that they will interpret it as an act of war. He also said that Iran also has another ship ready to depart Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

For weeks Iran has been promising to send ships and aid. On more than one occasion they claimed that they actually were sending the flotilla - but that was for media consumption only.

Now Iran is not only admitting that the ship will not sail, they are also explaining why it will not sail. That's unusual.

Usually, Iran would rather lie than tell the truth if it makes them look weak. In this case the Iranians are more likely to shove off with great fanfare and then turn around than show weakness. That explains why they coupled the cancellation with a promise of future flotillas. They also said that all the aid will be delivered to Gaza using a different method.

We'll see.

New Nuke Meeting
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 24, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that in the next few days a conference call will take place between Brazil, Turkey and Iran.

The purpose of "the meeting," as they referred to the conference call, is to discuss the nuclear conversion energy deal that they agreed upon last month.

Turkey and Brazil have been insisting that this new agreement with Iran is a real chance for compromise and a way of moving all parties back from the brink of war.

At this point it is highly unlikely that this highly unorthodox agreement between Iran Turkey and Brazil will have an impact on the real status of the conflict between Iran and the West.

Simply put, neither the West nor the rest of the Muslim, has any faith in Iran.

Israel's New Satellite
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 23, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Israel launched another spy satellite. It was the Ofek 9 spy satellite.

The Ofek 9 reaches a whole new level of spy capabilities. With this launch Israel now has multiple spy satellites crisscrossing the world all at the same time.

Israel has anywhere between 3 and 6 satellites in the sky. That means that Israel can, independently, cover the world - with no need for aid from any other nation. It means that Israel can now see arms movements, people movements, even cars along with their license plates and drivers.

In this age of intelligence, satellite images are a significant element in decision making everywhere from local police to the most secretive, sensitive corridors of power.

Another Oil Leak
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 22, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

There is another leaking oil rig in the world.
This leak is much smaller and it is in the Red Sea.

The leak was made public by the Middle East News Agency (MENA) on Monday. MENA asked the Egyptian Government spokesman about the leak point blank and the spokesman admitted that there is a "limited oil leak."

The term limited is not too specific. But we do know that oil has washed up on the shores of a very popular Egyptian Red Sea resort called Hurghada.

This leak must be plugged. Where is the public outrage and outcry? It's all a matter of location.

There is little doubt that information about this leak will even get out. The Egyptian government is not in the business of free flow of information.

Bibi to Meet Obama in July
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 21, 2010

I've Been Thinking:
The White House announced yesterday that on July 6 President Barack Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This meet will be a follow up to the meeting that was cancelled several weeks when the "humanitarian aid" flotilla attempted to break the Israeli blockade and enter Gaza.

The White House was so grateful that the earlier meeting with Israel was cancelled that Obama gave Netanyahu an open invitation to come back at any time. At that particular time, it would have been a very difficult spin for Obama meeting with the Israeli prime minister.

Israel needs to get the United States back on their page. It helps that the White House is confused about the Palestinians. The facts on the ground in the Palestinian Authority do not correspond with the image the White House is projecting. That is a problem Netanyahu can use to Israel's advantage.

US Passes Thru Suez
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 20, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

At least 12 United States ships, including an aircraft carrier, passed thru the Suez Canal this weekend. An Israeli ship accompanied the US naval group.

The most critical point in this scenario is that now the US Naval group is in position to confront both the Iranian challenge and/or the Hezbollah challenge should either of them occur.

The Mediterranean Sea is not that big but it is a stepping stone to Europe Now, more than ever, it is essential that the US protect the Mediterranean Sea from the Iranians.

Iran wants to influence the entire world and they have a plan to carry it out.
The next step is to move expand their influence beyond Hezbollah and Hamas to include the surrounding areas.

If left unchecked, in just a few years Iran will have near total control of the Mediterranean Sea, the gateway to Europe.

Muslims Reject Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 19, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

No one who understands the Middle East will be surprised.
Others might be.

The Middle East is a complex, multi-faceted region. Here is one good example:
Pew Research Center, a non-partisan polling outfit headquartered in Washington DC, asked 25,000 respondents in 22 Muslim countries about Iran, about Iran's nuclear ambitions and about whether or not a military strike is an acceptable means to stop Iran.

The overwhelming majority said that Iran should not have nuclear technology.
The hold out country is Pakistan.

In 16 of the 22 countries there was agreement that a military strike should be used to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear technology.
In Egypt 55% said they agreed with a military strike against Iran and only 16% actually disagreed.
In Jordan 53% said yes to a military strike while 20% objected.

The numbers are telling - they prove a very important point that only the people who know, know.
Iran and Iranian nuclear technology are not welcome in the Middle East, this is much larger than a simple US/Israel issue.

Russia: Sanctions Are Unfair
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 18, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The US and the EU have ratcheted up the Iranian sanctions.

The fourth set of sanctions has been now been passed through the UN Security Council. And now the US and EU have independently increased their own sanctions.

Russia is very upset.
They called the actions of the US and the EU "unacceptable."
"For us, attempts to place oneself above the Security Council in this way are unacceptable," the official Foreign Ministry statement said.

Included in these new sanctions will be Iranian oil companies and banks and the businesses controlled by the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Russian leaders think that the US and EU are being unfair. Unfair? Yes... unfair.

Russia only voted for sanctions against Iran because they were watered down.
Now Russian is claiming that the US and EU are putting themselves above the Security Council.

High Tech Firms Go to Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 17, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

This week, Syria had some very interesting visitors from the United States.

According to SANA, the official Syrian state news agency, executives from Dell, Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec and VeriSign all paid a visit to Damascus. They met with the Minister of Higher Education.

These high level executives are courting Syria. They want to open offices in Syria.
Syria is coming out of the dog house, Wall St style or, more accurately, Silicon Valley style.

There is no good reason for these businesses to expand into Syria except to save money. Given what we know about Syrian higher education and technology, this will be a huge business mistake. It might also be a serious security blunder. Syria could become the easiest portal through which to launch a cyber attack against these companies. If not a cyber attack, then sabotage.

If I were a stock holder in any of these companies, I would be up in arms.

China & Israel Make a Tourism Deal
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 16, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and China are expanding their diplomatic relations and mutual investments. The result will be seen in significant improvements in diplomacy and understanding.

Israel's Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, just visited China. The two countries agreed to have a conference and expand tourism. What that really means is that Chinese tourists will now be going to Israel.

China has about 47 million outgoing tourists a year, the largest number of outgoing tourists in the world. If a very small percent of the 47 million come to Israel that alone will result in a huge increase in Israel's tourism industry. It will also have a tremendous impact on China because, by definition, those Chinese tourists coming to Israel will be people of power, China’s leading decision makers and business leaders.

China's modus operandi is to use real politic to determine foreign policy. Their operation has now been expanded to include Israel.

Iran Is Sending Ships to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 15, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday a ship heading for Gaza departed Iran fully loaded with toys, food and construction supplies.

Iran claims that another ship will depart on Friday and is asserting that 100,000 Iranians have signed up to sail to Gaza. In addition, 3 Iranian Parliamentarians will be visiting Gaza this week entering via Egypt.

Will the Iranian ships reach Gaza? I doubt it. Permitting Iran to enter the Mediterranean Sea will shift the balance of power. That means that the Iranians can be turned back by the United States navy.

It is also possible that the ship will just disappear. The alternative is worse. If the Iranian ship succeeds in coming close to Gaza, Israel will not permit the ship to break the blockade.

Elite members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are probably aboard the ship lying in wait for an Israeli boarding.
The entire situation is explosive.
The Middle East might light up like a tinder box.

Ahmadinejad Is Blustering
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 14, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Ahmadinejad has been very busy since the passage of the new sanctions against Iran.

This weekend when interviewed by Iranian State TV the Iranian president said that this vote proves the irrelevance of the Security Council. He called it "the end of the Security Council." He said that the purpose of the Council is a "suppressive tool in the hands of world powers."

In another interview Ahmadinejad said that the United States and Israel were trying to drive a wedge between Iran and their neighbor Saudi Arabia.
The truth is that Saudi Arabia has a very suspicious, problematic, tense, antagonistic and even bellicose and belligerent relationship with Iran. They are far apart diplomatically and their relationship can best be described as tense. Iran and Saudi Arabia are not and do not intend to be friends and that has nothing to do with either the United States or Israel.

Ahmadinejad is blustering - about everything.
The UN Security Council is problematic but has more value than almost any other division of the United Nations.

Abbas Says: Don't Lift Blockade
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 13, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

When Palestinian Authority President Abbas and US President Obama met in the White House last Wednesday one major topic on their agenda was Israel's blockade of Gaza.

The conversation did not progress exactly the way the president of the United States expected it would. To the surprise of Obama, Abbas is not in favor of lifting the Gaza blockade. Abbas said lifting the blockade would strengthen Hamas. He said the time was not right for lifting the blockade.

This information comes from European leaders who were briefed by the White House on the Abbas-Obama talks.

The Europeans reported back to the Israelis who in turn leaked it to the press. Israel's daily Haaretz published the story more as a Ripley's Believe it or Not headline than a news item.

4 Terrorists Escaped Sudan
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 12, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Four terrorists sentenced to death for the murder of a US diplomat in escaped from prison in Khartoum Sudan yesterday.
The terrorists crawled through a sewage pipe which led to the main street and then fled.

Their crime was murdering John Granville, 33 years old and originally from Buffalo, NY. Granville and his driver a local Sudanese hire were returning from a New Year's Eve party held at the British Embassy in 2008. It was 2:30 AM. They were overtaken and their car was riddled with 17 bullets.

In 1973 two United States diplomats were murdered in Khartoum by Palestinian terrorists. Sudan has been a haven for terrorists, but with that exception, there had been a tacit understanding that assassinations should not take place in the Sudanese capital and that Sudanese terrorists should not attack Western diplomats.

This terrorist action and the subsequent break out are a significant transformation of the terrorist modus in Khartoum.

Russia Building New Nuke Plants in Iran
By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Friday June 11, 2010

All it took was one day.

The day after new United Nations sanctions were imposed on Iran, Russia took matters into its own hands and modified the rules of sanction.

These were the fourth sanctions imposed on Iran by the Security Council. The permanent members of the Security Council all voted in favor. But not easily. Russia and China were real hold outs. Russia made certain that the sanctions were watered down to permit dealings and interaction. Now we know why.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has announced that Russia is in negotiations with Iran to build more new nuclear power plants. On Thursday Lavrov said: "We are discussing these (new plants) with our Iranian partners, we are practically discussing this now."

Is anybody surprised? I hope not.
Russia and Iran have outsmarted the United States once again.

UN Sanctions Pass
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 10, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The UN Security Council passed its fourth round of sanctions against Iran.

That Russia and China voted in favor of the sanctions is a huge success for the United States. It was Brazil and Turkey who voted against sanctions while Lebanon abstained.

Yesterday, on the very day that the vote took place, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said that he has never seen a sanctions program that worked. He cited North Korea as an example saying sanctions have not stopped North Korean from furthering their nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad has said that Russian should think hard about siding with Iran's enemies. Iran has also said that sanctions will have no impact on them. His exact quote about sanctions is that "they are not worth one cent."

The weakness of these sanctions is clear, they do not crack down on either Iranian international banking or trade. That means that Russia can still sell and deliver their highly advanced S-300 missile system to Iran without violating the sanction.

Putin knows what he is talking about.

Yemen Will Not Extradite The Sheik
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 9, 2010

I've Thinking:

The United States has made a formal request of Yemen and the United States has been rejected.

The US asked Yemen to extradite Yemeni-American Sheik Anwar al-Awlaki. And Yemen said no.

Sheik Anwar al-Awlaki is not just any sheik. He used to preach in the US but has been in Yemen since 2004. Awlaki is the religious mentor that the Fort Hood terrorist corresponded with. He is the person who influenced the Christmas plane bomber. He is the voice that the Time Square Bomber listened to on line.

This man and his teachings are all over the world wide web. Among haters of the West and haters of the United States, Awlaki's teachings are particularly attractive.

Shutting Awlaki down would be a huge success for the United States.
Bringing Awlaki to trial and then ultimately convicting him turns Awlaki into an extremely high value target.

Iran is Making Their Move
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 8, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has made two very important moves and they must be monitored.

# 1: President Ahmadinejad has embarked on a diplomatic trip to Turkey, China and Tajikistan.

# 2 Iran has signed up 8,000 young adults to join flotillas which will sail to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid. Iran promises to sign up another 8,000 by next week. They claim that their first flotilla will set sail on Sunday.

I doubt that the flotilla will sail on Sunday.
What Iran is doing is setting the stage for a series of important diplomatic moves.

Turkey is the key to Iran's uranium enrichment deal. He is there to attend the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
China holds the key to sanctions at the Security Council.
Tajikistan is the 3rd largest grower of poppy in the world and has a huge opium and heroin trade.
The flotilla is Iran's kick off to an ingenious public relations campaign.

Iran is set to shake up the entire world.
Iran is flying in the face of the United States.

Pope Speaks Out Against Islam
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 7, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Pope Benedict the XVI wound up his visit to Cyprus with a scathing attack against radical Islam.

He said: "Extremist (Islamic) currents, clearly a threat to everyone, Christians and Muslims alike, require a treatment in common."

Pope Benedict has been developing this theme for years, but for the past 18 months his fear has remained practically dormant because of the backlash that met his previous comments.

This Pope understands radical Islam. He as written about it and has taught about it. Whatever it was that stimulated Pope Benedict XVI to speak out against radical Islam once again and express this strong concern, it had to have inspired fear.

Radical Islam is dangerous.
Pope Benedict XVI is issuing a warning to us all.

Egypt Don't Marry Israelis
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 6, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

An Egyptian court has ruled that any Egyptian citizen married to an Israeli be stripped of their Egyptian citizenship.

The court handed down their ruling and has now advised the government to implement the law on the grounds that marriage to an Israeli compromises the Egyptian and allows for the possibility that the Egyptian will be used to spy on Egypt.

This entire scenario is indicative of Egypt's bureaucratic point of view on Israel.
Much of Egypt's intelligentsia and the Egyptian elite have nothing but disdain for Israel and for the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

This prevalent Egyptian attitude is often hidden from the West and from the public eye.
In Egypt, political leadership keeps things like this under wraps.

Irish Ship En Route to Israel
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 5, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Irish government has come to a very fair agreement with Israel over the ship that set sail from Ireland en route to Gaza. The agreement is that the ship will dock in Ashdod Israel and unload. The cargo will be checked and then Israel will deliver it to Gaza.

Yesterday, late in the day, the crew that was intent on busting the blockade busted the agreement - they refused to go along with the arrangement.

After hearing this and recognizing the severity and the danger their citizens were in, the Irish Government issued a statement: "the Government demands that (Israel) demonstrate every restraint" when it intercepts the ship.

The Turkish flotilla is only the beginning of a very long wave of blockade busting ships. The summer activity for a certain segment of people will be joining ships destined for Gaza.

Israel has learned a lesson, of that I am sure.
Israel will find other ways to tow ships to Ashdod without endangering Israeli commandos.

Israel will not abandon this blockade.

UN Sanctions Against Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 4, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Yesterday White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs announced that the United States expects that the sanctions on Iran will be presented for a vote by the UN Security Council next week.

I seriously doubt that the timetable will be adhered to.

Here's why: By next week the Flotilla Crisis will not be over. And China and Russia will not yet be convinced to follow the lead of the United States because they will still have serious questions with the way the US handled Israel.

The question is: Why should China and Russia support the US over Iran when the US cannot control Israel. China and Russia assert that controlling Israel is a very important part of the counter Iranian game plan.

When the Security Council meets next week they will discuss the sanctions.

I hope that they apply the sanctions but I do not think that it will happen by next week.

International diplomacy will necessitate a delay in implementation of the sanctions.

Egypt is Part of the Blockade
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 3, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has taken it on the chin for blockading Gaza.
But let's look at some of the facts surrounding the blockade.

It is not a secret. Israel has been shutting off sea and land access to Hamas in order to make certain that few weapons, ammo and rockets will get into Gaza and into the hands of terrorists. Whatever gets into Gaza will, ultimately, be used to attack Israel.

Not only Israel. Egypt is also a part of the blockade. Over the past six months Egypt has done an admirable job of keeping their border with Gaza blocked.

But despite it all, Israel still delivers 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid per week to Gaza. And yesterday Israel finished checking the flotilla's cargo and decided to send the safe cargo to Gaza - over land, not sea.

And what happened in the end?
Hamas refused to accept the aid that arrived via Israel.

Truth is Coming Out About the Boat
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 2, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Several important pieces of information have become clear about the humanitarian flotilla.

The group that organized the ships is called IHH. They are headquartered in Turkey and according to terror watch groups around the world IHH has been funding terror for years. A Danish Institute for International Studies report as early as 2006 that the IHH has funded and sent terrorists to, among other countries, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.

Israel has now interviewed most of the people involved in the lynch. They have determined that almost every single one of the people on board the ship had an affiliation with terror or extremist groups like the Islamic Brotherhood.

We have an obligation to understand exactly what transpired on that boat.

Perhaps the Israelis should not have even boarded the ship, but they did and nothing can justify or whitewash the events that followed.

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