Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Status Quo W/ Hamas

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The ceasefire between Hamas in Gaza and Israel was broken. It was also timed out. No surprise.

Now, again, Hamas is launching rockets and Israel is countering with airstrikes. Israelis were told to stay in their bomb shelters.

Hamas is claiming that Israel dragged their feet in this stage of the negotiations. They were probably correct.

At this point there is no doubt that, from Israel's perspective, Israel would be giving way too many concessions to Hamas in a long term status accord. So it is in Israel's interests to just create a new status quo and live by it.

Hamas was not budging. Israel was giving in to more and more demands. At a certain point Israel simply said enough.

That is where the talks are now. In many ways this kind of status quo is better than an agreement that is neither applicable nor enforceable. In the new status quo Israel will have to use its own power of deterrence to make certain that Hamas does not step out of line.

At the beginning it will be very important that Israel clearly send that message and set down the cost of violating the status quo to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. If Israel does not respond quickly and strongly, Hamas will not understand the high price of firing at Israel and disturbing the peace and quiet of the Israeli citizens that live near Gaza and in all parts of Israel. 

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hamas Plots to Overthrow Abbas

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Intelligence, known as the Shin Bet, arrested 93 Hamas members in the West Bank. Israel also confiscated hundreds of thousands of dollars and numerous weapons and ammo.

The arrested are charged with plotting a third intifada. But the intifada was actually simply a terrorist's tool.
The objective was to sow the seeds of great antagonism and cause huge resentment by way of an intifada that would cause Israel to clamp down on Palestinians living in the West Bank and force the Palestinian Authority to break down and, finally, implode.

Think of it as a game of dominos.

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority would either have to clamp down on the intifada - or let it happen. Either way, either decision that they made, the Palestinian Authority would come crumbling down and Hamas would take over.

Interestingly, Turkey was also included in this Hamas move. The Hamas organizer has been in Turkey and much of the money and many of the players came to the region via Turkey.

There's more. On Tuesday Abbas went to Qatar to meet with the head of Hamas, Khaled Mashal. Abbas went to meet Hamas knowing of this plan.

For months I have said that the objective of Hamas is to oust the PA and Abbas. That is why Israel so diligently kept Abbas in the loop.

The irony is that Israel Is actually protecting Abbas and the PA against Hamas. And PA security forces are helping Israel and briefing the Shin Bet. 

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Monday, August 18, 2014

New Old Anti- Semitism in Europe

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
People are blaming the rise of anti-Semitic violence in Europe on the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

They are wrong.

The idea that Israel's conflict with Hamas is connected to Europe is a disconnect with reality.

The hatred has been presented as anti Israel, but it is clear that the real tone of hatred in Europe is, in fact, anti-Semitic - not anti Israel. When we review the protests, the posters and the shouts and slogans we are reminded of Europe in the 1930's.

European protesters in 2014 are shouting "Gas the Jews" and "Hitler was right." Their placards read "Child Murderers." The protesters publicly declare that Israel is murdering Palestinian children as a policy.
This is a clear reenactment of the blood libel.

This is not about being anti Israel. There is no evidence for these canards. It is an exact replay of medieval Jew hatred. Only it's 2014. 

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

With Hamas- No Agreement Works

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The good news and the productive tone that came out of the Cairo talks on Thursday and Friday has disappeared.

It looks like there is no way for any ceasefire to emerge. Hamas has totally rejected the Egyptian proposal.

The main reason for their rejection is that Hamas gained nothing from the Egyptian brokered deal. There is no real success that Hamas can point to as an accomplishment from the entire operation.

But this is not a sign of total despair. The probable outcome of the breakdown of the talks will be the creation of a status quo without an agreement.

In the absence of a signed agreement, Israel will need to monitor and make certain that quiet reigns in the south. That means that things return to what they were before operation Preventive Edge and if Hamas once again begins to launch rockets at Israel, Israel must immediately respond and re-institute a system of deterrence by quickly and forcefully retaliating.

The system of deterrence forcing Hamas not to attack Israel will be based on Hamas' fear of retaliation by Israel.

If that system is in place a de facto ceasefire will work - and quiet will be returned to the south of Israel, at least, for the short term. 

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hezbollah Lashes Out At ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Hassan Nasrallah is the head of Hezbollah.

Nasrallah lashed out at ISIS in part two of a rare six hour interview.

Nasrallah called ISIS an "uncontrollable monster conducting horrible massacres," and then he said "They have no reservations: Not ideological, not moral, not religious and not human."
Nasrallah said that ISIS is a "monster that has come to devour the region's people."

Hezbollah challenged ISIS in Syria. Had Hezbollah not stopped ISIS in Syria, ISIS would now be in Beirut.

Nasrallah asks:"If someone steps up to fight this monster ... should they be thanked or condemned?"

That was not the most biting of Nasrallah's critique. His most biting critique of ISIS came in the form of an explanation of their true character. "The danger in ISIS is that they don't differentiate between Shiite, Sunni, Christian, Druze, Yazid or Arab. The monster is growing and everyone should be concerned."

Nasrallah is saying that ISIS will gain access to places where one group claims that others are non-believers and heretics, what is known in Islam as "takfiri." He said "Wherever there is support of takfiri there is a basis (for support) for ISIS. This is in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Gulf states. Any country that thinks it can use this group for its advantage will find out it has no mercy when their turn comes."

And as you look at the map it looks clear that ISIS is on the way.

Never did I think that I would see eye-to-eye with Hassan Nasrallah on anything. On the subject of ISIS, I do. 

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Tensions Btw Israel & US Climb

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

I have been writing and speaking about increased tensions between the United States and Israel for weeks now.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a very important piece illustrating some of those tensions. They wrote that Israel tried to fast track the restocking of their arsenal by going through the Pentagon for Hell-Fire air-to-surface missiles and the White House shut them down.

Of course, the administration denies that anything has changed. But it has.

Just listen to how Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson at the State Department, dealt with the issue.

1st she said: "Let me make it very clear - there has been no change in policy. Period."
2nd she said: ... "no other country is as supportive"
3rd she said: ... "it is normal in crisis that each agency pay close attention"
4th she said: there has been "no broad change in our policy"
5th she said "We made it clear publicly that we thought Israel could do more to protect civilians."

It seems that there was a change, but not a broad change and there was a reason for it.

As she continued Harf intimated that Israel was able to strike and even hurt civilians because of US support and weapons and, she said, that was what the United States was concerned about. Her exact phraseology was: "a number of their capabilities because of our support" but nonetheless, the US "continued to provide offensive capabilities as well."

This entire exchange in the State Department briefing room confirms the WSJ report, not the administration's denial. 

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Arabs Are Blaming Hamas

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians have leaked the Egyptian brokered ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

The issues raised in the agreement seem to be reasonable and should satisfy the needs of all the involved parties - Israel, the Palestinian Authority/Hamas and Egypt.

From the leaked document It seems that one of the byproducts of the ceasefire will be the strengthening of Mahmoud Abbas and his PA. The strengthening of Abbas means the weakening of Hamas and that can only be good.

There is no doubt that weakening Hamas is an objective not only of Israel, but also of Egypt. It should not surprise you that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority want the same thing.

So, too, do many of the Palestinians living under Hamas in Gaza.

Many Gazans want Hamas held accountable for their deeds in the recent conflict with Israel. The Washington Post published a powerful story yesterday about Gazans who blame Hamas for their mess.

Hamas can claim victory, but not everyone has to believe them. 
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