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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Monday, July 21, 2014

Israel Respects Human Life

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is a society that respects human life.

The value of human life is primary, it is second to none. And it is for that reason that Israel began the operation in Gaza - to protect the lives of Israeli citizens.

That's Israel. Hamas is different.

Hamas is using their citizens as human shields and it is for that reason that it is innocents who are being killed. Hamas does not care about the deaths of their people. If they did, they would not use human shields and they would certainly have accepted the ceasefires.

Israel has a very low threshold for the deaths of innocent civilians and even for the deaths of soldiers. Israelis have an even lower threshold for kidnapping.
Hamas operates differently.

In order of goal prioritization, Hamas wants to kidnap soldiers, kill as many civilians as possible and kill as many soldiers as possible.

Up until Sunday Israel was very successful at preventing Hamas from achieving any of their goals. But it was always clear that as soon as Israel initiated a ground operation in Gaza, the risks would increase dramatically. 

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

ISIS Takes Oil in Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Over the past week our attention has shifted to Gaza and Israel. But there are still major issues that need to be monitored.

Syria had been relatively quiet.

ISIS, now IS, took its battle to Iraq and forces loyal to Assad are mopping up major swaths of regions that had been under the control of IS.

Then yesterday, from out of nowhere, IS attacked and captured a major oil field in Dir el Zour. It is the most significant oil production area in Syria and it fell to the Islamic State.

In the process over 100 of Assad's soldiers were killed and 200 taken captive. While at the same time only 20 IS fighters were killed.

This is a huge victory for IS, Baghdadi and his movement - not from the economic point of view but because of how the capturing those oil fields will stifle Assad's economy.

IS does not have the wherewithal to extract the oil and the markets and ability to sell the oil. But they prevented Assad from having it. 

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Hamas Just Does Not Listen

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It should be abundantly clear that Hamas does not listen to any outsiders. Not Egypt, not Turkey, not Qatar.

And it should be absolutely clear that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has absolutely no influence over Hamas either.

That was the case before the unity government and it is the case now with the conflict between Hamas and Israel.

It should all be crystal clear.

In many ways Abbas is happy that Hamas is being pounded by Israel. Destroying Hamas's leadership and organizational infrastructure allows Abbas to lead with fewer restrictions and hindrances in the West Bank.

There is a small chance that if Hamas is weakened a scenario will emerge in which Gaza will toe the line with Abbas and again join the PA. It is only a small chance and it is very unlikely, but it is possible. Should it happen, it would require enormous PA police resources in order to bring Gaza under its wing and to keep Hamas under control.

It would also mean dissolving the Hamas / Palestinian Authority unity government. 

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