Monday, July 28, 2014

US -Israel Tensions Rise

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Tensions between the US and Israel are now becoming public.

Israelis feels that the United States is not dealing straight with them. Israel feels that the US was simply pressuring them, not Hamas, to accept the terms of the Kerry ceasefire. And Israel feels that the US was pushing Hamas' terms for the ceasefire.

Israel is so upset that they leaked the entire proposed deal to the Haaretz newspaper so that everyone can read the details and confirm for themselves that, indeed, the United States had practically abandoned Israel on this issue. Readers of the proposed document for a ceasefire are left asking what the United States was even thinking in putting those ideas on paper as an official proposal.

As you can imagine, the leaking of the document really ticked off the United States. The US responded by hemming and hawing and saying that the document was meant for comments - not as a final agreement.

The entire episode has shown that there is a real disconnect between the United States and Israel. And it underscores the fact that there is very little good faith between the two countries at this juncture.

Israel thinks that the United States is more interested in a ceasefire than in returning calm to the region. For the United States, getting everyone to stop shooting is a priority. The United States has misplaced priorities. 

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ugly Anti- Semitism in Europe

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

We have been witnessing a huge spike in anti-Semitism in Europe. Much has to do with Israeli Operation Preventive Edge. Preventive Edge is not the cause of the anti-Semitism, it is the release valve for the hatred.

The hatred was been simmering, just under the surface, waiting to erupt.

According to reports in Belgium this week, some shops are not serving Jews. The most dramatic example is a cafe which posted two signs one in Turkish and one in French. The Jewish Forward reports the signs as saying "Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Jews are not under any circumstances." The French version of the sign replaced "Jews" with "Zionists."

In addition, outside that same cafe, two flags were hung. The Palestinian flag and the Israeli flag - with a huge red X through it and two kafiyahs, Palestinian scarves, hanging on it.

Sadly, when I wrote about this hatred last week, some people responded saying that those who were exhibiting this ugly hatred were not Europeans but Muslim immigrants --- well, to those people I say, that makes them Europeans.

It is the role of the host nation to educate their immigrants as to what is and what is not acceptable in their country.

I was glad to see the foreign ministers of several European nations stand up this week and, in unison, renounce the rise of anti-Semitism. 

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hamas Being Rcvd by Hezbollah Syrian & Iran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

One of the very bad consequences of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, a consequence that no one else seems to be speaking about, is that this conflict may very well be uniting some very bad, even evil, forces in the Islamic world.

Syria had successfully drove Hamas away from Hezbollah and Iran and Syria. But over the past few days Hamas representatives have had conversations with Hezbollah and Iran. That is bad.

Until now, Hamas has been isolated. Not just politically isolated but also isolated in terms of resources, money and weapons. Only Qatar has been supporting Hamas.

That fissure was caused by Hamas siding with the Sunnis as they were trying to oust Assad in Syria. Iran and Hezbollah took exception to that decision and it was a very ugly divorce.

If there is a rapprochement now - political, economic, weaponry - it will open a whole font of support for Hamas at a time when they are reaching the very end of their stockpiles of weapons and other resources.

Unfortunately this is happening just as Israel is gearing up for a strike that should end Hamas' weapons cache and ability to strike at Israel. If Hamas rekindles their relationship with Iran, Hezbollah and Syria their weapon flow is very likely to be revived. 

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Where's the Outrage

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Where is the outrage?

That was the question a friend posed to me the other day. He was asking why civilized leaders of the world were silent when Hamas attacked and publicly declared that they were targeting civilian transportation and civilian aviation - attacking Israel's largest airport, Ben Gurion.

There has been no official comment by world leaders following the declaration by Hamas. It is as if it is OK for Hamas to target a civilian airport. It is as if the world expected Hamas to target civilian aviation.

But it is not OK. And it is not OK that Hamas has not even been chastised, let alone censured or condemned, for threatening to attack Ben Gurion Airport.

World leaders should be up in arms, they should demand that Hamas be isolated. Instead we have another, blatant, example of the double standard. Israel is condemned for hurting civilians after warning them. Hamas is permitted to attack an airport.

The world is afraid to condemn Hamas, afraid to condemn that which is wrong. Hamas is a terrorist organization - and the world is scared of terror, and that terror is paralyzing.

That scares me. 
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rioters Attack Israeli Soccer Team in Austria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Since the beginning of Operation Preventive Edge, there has been a dramatic increase in attacks against Jews around the world.

In France, two synagogues were fire bombed. People have been assaulted. Pro-Palestinian protests have turned into violent mobs of anti-Semitic riots.

In Austria yesterday a sporting event turned very ugly. Maccabi Haifa soccer team played an exhibition match against Lille from France in Austria. In the 84th minute a group of rioters rushed the field and started beating up the Israeli team which, in turn, started kicking and hitting back. Security was slow to respond and in the end calm was restored but the game was called.

Across Europe there has been an increase in violence and rhetoric against Jews and Israel.

The rhetoric is often couched as anti-Zionism and not anti-Semitism.

In reality, there is no difference between the two - anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Violent riots may start off using terms that are anti-Israel but soon the vitriol turns to hatred of the Jew.

The anti-Zionist cliche is simply a socially acceptable veneer for anti-Semitism. 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Laugh - UN Returns Rockets to Hamas

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Even painful and costly conflicts are not without humor. Sometimes, when we find the humor, it serves as both critique and catharsis.

Laughing helps.

Israel told the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza that Hamas was hiding rockets in their schools. This has happened several times.

The first time it happened the United Nations school run by UNRWA called up Hamas and asked them to come and please take the weapons out. Hamas did just that. The school was not targeted by Israel. But the rockets were taken to be used by Hamas.

Yesterday, the same thing happened again.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird was livid when he heard of these events. How can the UN give weapons to Hamas? Here is what Baird said:
"I was appalled to hear reports, one as recent as today, of stockpiles of rockets in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza."
"Even more alarming were reports that in the first case, officials with the United Nations returned these weapons to Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, once Israeli officials discovered their location."

And in conclusion, Baird said, "Canada unequivocally calls on the United Nations to launch an immediate independent investigation to determine the facts surrounding these reports. Canada also calls on the United Nations to ensure that in the second case, no rockets are returned to Hamas. Anything less than an independent investigation would be absolutely unacceptable."

Laugh. It's our only response. Laugh. 

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Israel is Not Using Disproportionate Force

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

There has been a lot of talk about Israel's "disproportionate" reaction to Hamas.

But proportionate and disproportionate force are not literary or mathematical terms. They are legal terms and mean something very different than what one might think.

The terms are found in the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 and mean "a defensive operation." In other words, it is by definition a category of self-defense.

The Geneva Convention lays out 3 basic requirements.
# 1: Use the amount of force necessary to remove the threat but not more than that.
# 2: Avoid civilian casualties as much as possible.
# 3: Use as much force as necessary to make certain that the threat does not return.

When these limits have been exceeded, you have perpetrated disproportionate force.

Add to that the Rome Statute which confirms that, under these conditions, in a defensive operation civilian casualties are regrettable but they are not a war crime.

It seems clear that Israel is fulfilling all the requirements of a defensive and proportionate response. 

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