Friday, August 31, 2012

Rabbi Rejects Attacks Against Arabs

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Daniel Cohen, rabbi of the Israeli settlement community called Bat Ayin, wrote a letter to his community. He appealed to the community members to act properly and in accordance with moral and ethical Jewish values. Rabbi Cohen was referring to a recent incident in which youths from Bat Ayin were arrested for firing bombing a car that resulted in the injuring of six Palestinians Arabs,

He wrote: "We pray that the suspicions against our children are proven false."

That said, Rabbi Cohen went on to condemn any kind of attack. "Such an act is a crime and points to moral degeneration that fails to distinguish between murder and defense, war and terror. Such acts are wrong and reprehensible; they indicate confusion and lack of judgment."

He continued: "Do not [to] be led astray by inflammatory ideas. Build yourselves with Torah and toil. Build this country with hard work and devotion. Join a yeshiva or the army."

"The problem is not the Arabs, but an internal moral debate within the Israeli society."

"Harming Arabs is wrong and detrimental in terms of the debate."

He concluded by saying: "Remember, it's okay to protest the government's - but only legally."

There are many rabbis like Daniel Cohen and there are many more voices of people who not only condemn unjust acts but also teach the values that Cohen is referring to. I do not know the numbers but I hope that the vast majority of rabbis - in Israel and around the world - side with him and not with the bullies and the terrorists who firebomb innocent people as they drive along the road.


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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mosry Wants Nukes Program

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Egyptian President Morsy is in China.

China was the second stop on Morsy's first foreign trip as president -- the first was to Iran. The China trip has been successful. China pledged $200 million in aid.

Morsy was brilliant in his decision to go to China even before he comes to the United States. He is reaching out to world power brokers and enticing them. First Iran, now China and on September 23 he will be in Washington, DC.

Morsy said something very important while in China. He said he was considering reopening the Egyptian nuclear program in an effort to provide clean energy.

That caught my ear.

Egypt is a massive provider of natural gas and oil. They are ions behind on issues of the environment and environmental protection. Why would Egypt want to reopen its nuclear program?

The Egyptian nuclear program was never an electrical alternative. It was always a small and experimental only facility which, over the years, was constantly cited for violations of nuclear safety issues. Now Morsy wants clean energy for Egypt.

This is a progressive sign in the new Egypt, one that we have so far only rarely glimpsed.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

PA Will Not Ask For UN Membership

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

An Associated Press report from Teheran yesterday said that the Palestinians had withdrawn their bid for a change of status at the United Nations, a bid they were scheduled to make in September at the UN General Assembly.

The appeal was to be part of Palestinian President Abbas' speech and then the plan was for the Secretary General to bring the issue to a vote.

The Palestinians certainly have the votes they would need in the General Assembly to change their status to "non member state." Last year Palestinian leadership attempted to get full membership through the Security Council and failed, this year they were trying a no-fail method.

According to AP the announcement was made by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki during a press conference at the Non-Aligned Movement meeting taking place in Iran.

The assumption is that the Palestinians need to wait until after the US presidential election because a move changing the PA status could have an impact on the US presidential elections and impact the future of the Palestinian statehood.

I think they are wrong. I do not think what happens to the Palestinians will impact the US election, I think they are giving themselves more worth than does the American voting public.

But right or wrong, this decision points clearly and unequivocally to the fact that the Palestinians are squarely in the Obama camp.


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Morsy Appoints Minority Advisers

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

President Morsy of Egypt just appointed both a Coptic Christian and a woman to be assistants to the president. The appointments have been anticipated for weeks.

Having a woman and a Christian in his circle of advisers is thought to be an important gesture that will serve to mollify tensions and deflect accusations that the Islamic Brotherhood is taking over the presidency.

The Coptic Christian is Samir Morcos, a man who has dedicated his life to Christian/Muslim dialogue. His official position will be Assistant to the President for Democratic Transition.

The woman is Panikam Sharkawi, a professor of political science at Cairo University. She will serve as Assistant to the President for Political Affairs.

There is no doubt that this is an important step in the new Egypt. Opening up the inner circle to people who are not part mainstream is a significant and crucial political move - especially for Egyptians who are skeptical of the Brotherhood.

It is also a huge and important move announced times for the eve of
Morsy's first official trip to the United States.


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Egypt Convicts But Suspends Sentence

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday the Egyptian court convicted and sentenced 76 people for plundering and pillaging the Israeli embassy. The trashing of Israel's embassy in Cairo took place last September.

That headline alone is misleading. .It might lead you to think that only 76 people were involved in the razing of the Israeli embassy. But there were thousands. And there were spectacular pictures of thousands of Egyptians reveling as they ripped down the walls of the Israeli diplomatic post.

But only 76 were tried and convicted for assault against diplomatic missions and sabotage.
Seventy-five of them were given one year suspended sentences. And one person named Oma Afifi who was tried in absentia was given a five year sentence. But he is not even in Egypt.

Is this some sort of joke? Are pictures not admissible in Egyptian courts? What message is Egypt sending to thugs who might attack other diplomatic missions?

Suspended sentences hardly make an example of the rioters nor do they help the international diplomat corps feel safe and secure.

Another example of the new Egypt.

 Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

More About Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Reports coming out of the Damascus suburb of Darayah speak of 200 dead bodies killed in execution style.
Darayah was the scene of a three day battle last week that ended with the rebels leaving and the Syrian army taking back the suburb.

The Syrian Army has pointed to the taking back of Darayah and their recent success in Aleppo as the pendulum that is swinging back in their direction. They are saying that they now have the momentum to put down the rebellion.

It is not clear that the analysis of the Syrian army is accurate, but what is certain is that the conflict is not winding down. And that there will most certainly be many more massacres - on both sides.

Massacre is part of the history of conflict in Syria. It has a longstanding tradition not just in early history but in modern history also.

The only time massacres stop in Syria is when a strong power assumes the helm and perpetually holds the threat of further massacre over the people.

We will see.


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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hamas to Iran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Not to be left out, the head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has also received an invite to Iran.

Representing Hamas, Haniyeh will join 120 nations at the Non-Aligned Movement meeting being hosted by Iran. Mosry and Abbas will also be in attendance.

Iran and Hamas have a longstanding relationship. Iran has been a sponsor of Hamas but with certain conditions. At times Iran has suspended their support because of the poor treatment of Shiites under Hamas jurisdiction.

Iran sees Hamas as a tool and a weapon to wield against Israel and against the West. They have never seen Hamas as a state, but there is little to no interaction between the PA's Abbas and Iran.

It seems as if the paradigm might be changing. Hamas is being treated more and more as a state and not simply as competitor to the Palestinian Authority.


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Friday, August 24, 2012

Hezbollah Manuevers w 10,000 FIghters

By Micah Halpern
 I've Been Thinking:

A report in a government sponsored Egyptian newspaper called al Gomhuria caught my attention yesterday. The report was subsequently described, in detail, on English YNET.

The paper reported that Hezbollah just completed three days of maneuvers in the Bequa Valley in Lebanon. The exercises included 10,000 Hezbollah fighters. The operation was observed by Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

Over the three days Hezbollah enacted battles with Israel. They enacted attack strategies, raids and contingency plans for conquering key areas and making certain that local villagers and villages know their role and responsibilities.

The report also referred to 2,000 Hezbollah fighters who were trained for this purpose by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. And they wrote that Iran has made it clear to Hezbollah that they must get involved and attack Israel if Israel strikes Iran.

This is a very serious set of circumstances and it must be watched very carefully. Believe me, Israel watched the satellite footage and has begun to assess Hezbollah's new technology, weapons and capabilities.
These maneuvers signal a new phase in Israel/Hezbollah/Iranian relations.


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

DC Invites Morsy

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Over the past few days I have been sounding the alarm warning that unless the United States quickly counters Iran's moves on Egypt, Egypt will be lost to the United States as a possible ally.

I pointed out that the new president of Egypt, Muhammad Morsy, accepted Iran's invite to visit Iran and participate in the Non-Aligned Movement conference hosted by Iran and taking place in Teheran on August 30 I wrote that by accepting the invitation Morsy is showing that he may be moving over to the Iranian sphere.

And now, a short while ago, Morsy's office confirmed that the new Egyptian president will be visiting Washington, DC on September 23, almost exactly one month after his trip to Iran.

Phew. This is the counter move by the United States. It is good, but must be played out carefully and delicately. The United States must, at the same time, be giving with and demanding of Egypt. In terms of giving, the United States is slated to continue providing Egypt with monetary aid to the tune of $1.3 billion.
This trip to Washington must come with the proviso that US support of Egypt is conditional - and then those conditions must be carefully spelled out. Those conditions must include Egypt's relationship with Israel and attitude toward democracy.

And then the United States must make sure that those conditions are met. It's the carrot and the stick. And Egypt will nibble from both Iran and from the United States until she decides which side tastes sweeter.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Descent in Iran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Not everyone in Iran is a saber rattling, some Iranians have a more realistic understanding of the risks that war with Israel entails.

Iran's greatest, or certainly, one of it's greatest Islamic leaders the Ayatollah Yousef Sanei yesterday announced that: "We must all do our best to prevent the Zionist attacks on Iran, because if they happen, Iran will be hurt greatly, even though the Zionist regime will be hurt even more."

The BBC Farsi station reported the quotes. The Ayatollah Sanei was speaking in the holy city of Qom at the celebration of the Muslim Eid that concludes the fasting month of Ramadan.

He continued: "We should not act, God forbid, as warmongers in our country and provoke a war. The nation is currently in a special condition, and the most important task is to shut the Zionist regime up with our thoughts, pen, and correct efforts and actions."

And then he concludes by saying: "Everyone should make an effort so that a possible war with the Zionist regime does not break out, because although the Zionist regime will suffer the hardest, Iran will be damaged."

The entire analysis is realistic and appropriate and it is probably very mainstream Iran, it is just not a point of view we hear very often from over there.


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Iranian Bird in Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Iranian White Throated Robin, Irania Gutturalis, has touched down in the Israel.

This is a very rare bird and indigenous only to Iran. It does migrate, but only very rarely, to Israel. That explains why this robin is on the endangered birds list in Israel even though they are plentiful in Iran.

The bird was spotted and photographed in a children's park in Israel's southern most city, Eliat. The Iranian was hopping and playing and enjoying himself. The photographer quickly snapped and sent pictures to the local bird watching center to confirm it was true.

Eilat is an international capital for bird watchers. People come from all over the world to see migrating bird that travel from Africa to Europe or from the northern portion of the Middle East to the southern portion.

When a tagged bird with a computer migration tracking chip arrived from Israel to Iran a few months ago, it was treated as a spy. Calls went out all throughout Iran that the bird was Israel's new secret weapon.

In Eilat, Israel the Iranian White Throat Robin is being treated like royalty.


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Monday, August 20, 2012

Iron Dome in EIiat

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Israel positioned one of its Iron Dome Anti-Missile batteries in Eilat. Last week they positioned one in the city of Safed.

Three GRAD missiles have recently fallen on Eilat. Now the Iron Dome will be there to intercept any more missiles that are sent their way.

The Iron Dome has been placed in exactly the area where the previous rockets have fallen. It is a mountainous area off a highway that descends to Eilat.

As this is happening in Israel there have been reports that Egypt is also positioning surface missiles in Sinai. Those missiles face Israel and they are joined by T-60 tanks which have been moved to the border with Israel.

The Iron Dome was created to intercept regular GRAD type missiles - more mobile and less sophisticated than other missiles. But there are also GRADs that are very large and very accurate. The Iron Dome can also defend against those missiles, the type that Egypt is placing in Sinai.
In terms of the Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty and its viability, these are not good signs.


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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Morsy to Visit Iran

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

New Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy has decided to accept the invitation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and visit Teheran.

The visit will take place on August 30. It is the first time in 33 years that a visit of this level is taking place.
Not since the 1979 Iranian Revolution that unseated the ruling party and established the Islamic Republic of Iran has the president of Egypt has visited Iran.

Morsy will participate in the Non-Aligned Pact meeting that Iran is hosting. Iran is the international chair of NAP.

The Pact was created during the cold war in order to give voice to the many countries not aligned with the US or the Soviets. Now, well after the fall of the USSR, the Non-Aligned Pact continues to lend a voice but it has shifted its focus so that today it is a counter to the West and the United States.

Mosry got the invite form Iran last month but hesitated to respond. Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority had no qualms and immediately confirmed his participation.

Going to the NAP conference means dancing with Iran. This is not a gesture, it is a significant statement about which diplomatic side the PA and Egypt are now on.

The United States is losing Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to Iran. I am not certain that US even realizes what it is happening. If the US does have a counter move, now is the time to use it. Now, or never.


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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lebanon Arrests Gays

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

This week two Lebanese men were arrested for "unnatural sexual intercourse." That's a cliche and it means gay.

It is against the law to be gay in Lebanon and having gay relations is punishable by a year in prison.

Lebanon is the most liberal of all Arab and Muslim countries, in other countries the punishment would have been death.

And only recently, once again in Lebanon, police raided a movie and their arrest netted thirty-five men. All underwent anal inspections by doctors and three were charged with being homosexuals.

The Lebanese doctors union called on the physicians conducting the exams to cease and desist. If not, they said, the union would engage in a serious professional standards hearing and discipline them for violating the code of medicine.

This is all taking place in the most open and liberal of Arab regimes. Most human rights organizations have been silent on the issue although Human Rights Watch has supported the doctors union in Lebanon. There has been no international call to stop this abuse.

Where is the outrage?
The situation almost sounds medieval.

Human rights and civil rights should be independent of religious points of view. One has the right to reject homosexuality but that same person should - actually must - defend homosexuals who are harassed, threatened and persecuted by individual thugs of by thugocratic societies.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Egypt Prosecutes Press for Anto Gov POV

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Egypt is drifting quickly and deeply towards dictatorship.
Yesterday an Egyptian court charged two people for publicly berating the current president of Egypt.

And not just any people. The two are Tawfik Okasha, one of the most popular TV presenters in Egypt and Islam Afifi, the editor-in-chief of Al Dastur, an independent newspaper.

Both men have been extremely critical of President Morsy.

On air, Okasha told Morsy not to attend the funeral of the sixteen soldiers killed by terrorists. He continued by saying that the Muslim Brotherhood had a role in the attack and as a result "spilling his blood would be permissible because of this."

Afifi's paper is already calling the new administration a dictatorship.

Being critical of the government is one thing, being charged for being critical is another thing entirely.



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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Women Murdered in PA

By Micah Halpern

Column:

Murder is wrong and murder must be punished. It is a fundamental principle and should be a basic tenet of all societies, cultures and religions. But it is not. There are those who justify murder under a rubric called honor.

Justifying murder under the rubric called honor is neither honor nor is it justified.

For centuries the Islamic world has practiced what they called honor killings. Even supposedly secular governments in the Muslim world treated honor killings differently than they did murder. The excuse was that honor killings are part and parcel of Middle East tradition.

But there is no honor in murdering defenseless women and there is no way to justify the actions of the men who murder them.

So-called honor killings are most often perpetrated by men who are out of control - angry and shamed by the actions of their female victim. They murder the objects of their anger and absolve themselves of shame.

The numbers are staggering. Since 2007, forty-two women have been murdered in the Palestinian Authority in honor killings. In 2011 alone thirteen women were murdered. So far, in 2012, twelve women have been murdered by their husbands.

The Palestinian Authority has done almost nothing to stop this epidemic.
Last year PA president Abbas signed a new law changing the status of honor killers. On paper, men who murder in the name of honor are to be treated like all other murderers. In practice, the new law has never been in effect. Palestinian men who kill their wives or daughters are seldom convicted and if they are sentenced, they are given a mere six months. In Gaza under Hamas the maximum sentence for honor killing is twenty-four months.

The most recent and a very blatant example of honor killing took place in Bethlehem just steps away from the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus. The victim was Nancy Zaboun, a twenty-seven year old mother of three who had been was abused by her husband for ten years and was finally filing for divorce. After a court hearing Nancy left the courthouse and walked up the steps through the open air market in Bethlehem, extremely close to the Church. He husband then stabbed her multiple times in the chest and slit her throat. It happened in broad daylight, in the open air market, and everyone watched.

Over the years Nancy Zaboun had been hospitalized because of the beatings and yet, her husband was never charged. Instead, the police had him sign a document saying that he would no longer beat his wife. In this case he did not beat her, he stabbed her and slit her and murdered her. And now her five, eight and eighteen year old children have no one to look after and protect them.

A silent march was organized in Bethlehem to memorialize Nancy Zaboun, victim of an honor killing, and to truly honor her. Marchers carried signs that read: "No to murder, yes to life" and "Shame on us Palestinians who kill our women." But the protest, not surprisingly, had very little impact.

Even the term used to describe these murderous acts is wrong. Calling them honor killings bestows an ill placed and even false sense of honor upon men who have premeditatedly murdered a relative. Using the term killing buys in to the erroneous belief that what they have done is a justifiable act and it lessens the degree of criminality.

These murders are not justified - not in the Koran and not even in post-Koranic Islamic law. The Koran actually forbids the murder of another believer. That explains why these murders have been swept under the category of tradition or, as it is sometimes called, culture.

Islam, especially the Islam of the Middle East, is heavily influenced by tribal customs and this is one of those examples. When someone brought dishonor to the family/ tribe they were killed and through their death honor was restored to the family or tribe.

Traditionalists, on the other hand, actually argue that holding the threat of death over a family member protects the family unit from breakdown.

They argue that the knowledge that if you shame your family you will be killed and justifiably, by the person shamed - is an essential part of family and tribal life.

This issue is not going away. During the month of July there were two more horrific examples of honor killing in the Palestinian Authority during which fathers beat their daughters to death, one in the city of Tulkaram and the other in Hebron. Imagine beating your child to death.

If there is any good news it is that this year, in Gaza, a husband was executed for murdering his wife and Nancy Zaboun's estranged husband was arrested at the scene of her murder. Nancy was killed because she sought a divorce.

After the murder Nancy's family refused to bury her. They said they would bury her only after justice was carried out and her murderer was himself convicted and executed. But soon after making those statements the family succumbed to Islamic law and tradition and community pressure and laid her to rest.

The PA has not yet decided how to proceed with charges, but Palestinian leadership is sensitive to world opinion and Palestinian leadership might respond to pressure if the non-Islamic world pays attention to this murder and other honor killings. The PA wants to join the community of nations and the community of nations should not look away and neither should they condone this behavior.

What disturbs me is how, in the aftermath of these murders, the feminist movement and almost all women's organizations have remained silent. There has been no audible outcry to protect these women by the organizations whose very reason for existing is to defend women. One excuse that I have heard is that these women's groups are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place: how can they attack the Palestinians, the group that they so vehemently defend against Israeli oppression.

It seems to me that their lack of response is a clear message saying that they are more true to their hatred of Israel than they are to their defense of Women's Rights. I say to them, there are other organizations to champion the case of Israeli Palestinian relations, these women have no one else.

These women need you now, before another woman is senselessly and unjustifiably murdered in the name of false honor.


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Egypt's Candid Camera

By Micah Halpern
Column:

I never watched Candid Camera when I was a kid. We only watched The Wonderful World of Disney and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. My parents enforced strict TV rules. But as an adult, when I can watch whatever I please, I really enjoy those old shows and have made up for lost times when it comes to shows like Candid Camera. Watching the episodes years and years after they were first shown, I still get a kick out of the antics of the producers and the actions of the unsuspecting guests. Candid Camera took normal situations, twisted them and made them funny. The camera caught real, unrehearsed, responses to the most mundane situations.

It all began in 1948 when Candid Camera was a radio show starring Allen Funt and called the Candid Microphone. Eventually the program made its way from ABC to NBC to CBS. In 1949, now on television, the name of the show became Candid Camera. It was the precursor for many of today's popular reality shows. And like reality of TV of today, it was very popular and consistently top rated.

Candid Camera of yore was wholesome, honest, fun. It was laugh-out-loud amusing to see real reactions to strange and funny situations. It was funny to see someone's reaction after a mailbox talked to them. It would have been funny to see a person walk into closet thinking that it was a bathroom, but that episode was nixed because, in those days, the episode was considered too dicey.

Times have certainly changed.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. But in the case of a newly reborn version of Candid Camera now airing on Egyptian TV, I am not so sure the adage proves true.

In the Egyptian version of Candid Camera the surprise almost always follows the same script. The set up is always the same. The sketch repeats itself. The only different variable is the personality upon whom the prank is played. Several episodes, aired in Egypt from July 20 through July 22, 2012 can now be viewed at: www.memritv.org/clip/en/3504.htm

Viewer be warned: these episodes are truly shocking and extremely candid.

In each episode a famous personality is invited to a cable network for an interview. The guest is made to think that the program airs on a German TV network. While on air a caller calls outraged that this person is actually appearing on Israeli TV. The caller is cut off. he guest puts the pieces together thinking that he or she is now on Israeli TV. Tensions rise. Often, so do fists. The guests shout ugly, horrendous, curses against Israel and about Jews. They beat and punch and pull hair and kick the production staff even the female host thinking that they have been tricked into appearing on Israeli TV.

One guest, still thinking that she was on German TV, said that Jews are all liars and that there was no Holocaust. When asked if that was not an exaggeration she said of course not.

As a famous Egyptian entertainer was being led into the trap he said that peace was between governments and not between peoples. He said there will never be peace between peoples. After the traps have been sprung and the anger erupts, the production staff steps in to save their on-air people from the anger of the guests.

Without exception, at the end each and every episode concludes with clapping and shouting that everyone is an Egyptian patriot, that it was just a gag, a joke, Candid Camera.

It was a joke and it was a gag - both in poor taste and certainly, it was candid. After viewing these clips over and over I came to the conclusion that the material was, by its very nature, much more honest and candid than I could have ever imagined. No dialogue with an Egyptian would have elicited as much raw anger and unadulterated hatred toward Israel and Jews as this faux Candid Camera. The guests, all of them, interchanged the words Jews and Israelis which is very important to note. And they did not use the word Zionist which is what the Iranians use. While it is commonplace for Westerners to assume that the anger and hatred is reserved for Israel and Israelis, not against Jews, that is totally untrue as these scenes reveal. This is what they call entertainment in Egypt. This is considered funny and mainstream.

Western thinkers and analysts speak about the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nouri party as representing extremist idea and attitudes these are real uncensored people voicing those same ideas and exhibiting those same attitudes. It is wrong to think that the Egyptian masses do not hold these attitudes toward Israel and the Jews and the West.The Candid Camera I love to watch concludes with the phrase: Smile, you're on Candid Camera. There was nothing in this version to make me smile. They made me cringe.
Again, the website to watch is: www.memritv.org/clip/en/3504.htm


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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hamas Demands Egypt Open Border

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Hamas in Gaza is lashing out at the new Egypt. Hamas leadership is drawing direct parallels between Mubarak's Egypt and the new Egypt. Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad shouted:

"We suffered from the unjust regime of Mubarak that participated in the (Israeli) blockade of Gaza. Why should we suffer now in the era of Egypt's revolution and democracy?"

"The Egyptian leadership is requested to order the reopening of the Rafah crossing to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians wanting to travel, students, patients, residents in third countries and pilgrims," he added in a statement.

Egypt has not yet figured out how to deal with Hamas in Gaza. But at this stage, after it is 100% clear that the terror attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers came from Gaza and was Hamas affiliated, I doubt that there will be calm and friendly relations between these Mid East neighbors.


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Monday, August 13, 2012

Changes in Egypt: Sacks Army

By Micah Halpern
 I've Been Thinking:

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy is making serious changes.

Yesterday he forced Field Marshal Tantawi to retire. Tantawi had been in charge of Egypt since the revolution and was the defense minister under Mubarak for over 21 years. He was the head of the Supreme Military Council. In effect, Tantawi and the military were the counter balance to Morsy.

Sacking Tantawi was a huge move. It was a move signaling independence.

In addition, Morsy announced new laws that put him in charge of everything. He is now head of the executive, the legislative and the military. Morsy can now issue new laws and annul old ones. And that is exactly what he is doing.

Morsy has effectively become a dictator - with no check and balances. Until now the balance was the army but Morsy ousted the entire upper echelon of the air force, the navy, the army and intelligence.

The impetus for these changes was the horrific terror attack that killed 16 soldiers during Ramadan.

We must wait and see what happens. But as of now, Egypt is looking very much like a dictatorship.


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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Qatar Lends Egypt $2 Bill


By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Qatar just announced that they are giving Egypt a $2 billion loan. The exact terms of the loan were not made public.

The Emir of Qatar visited Egypt on Saturday and MENA, the Middle East News Agency, reported the news of the loan on Sunday. MENA is an official arm of the Egyptian government sponsored and paid for by government funds. In this case, we can certainly rely on the report.

In Egypt, independent news agencies are censored for insulting the president. SaturdayĆ¢€™s edition of Al Dustor. a private newspaper owned by a Christian businessman, were confiscated before they were delivered and sold. The front page of the paper was dedicated to warning Egyptians that Egypt is becoming a Muslim Brotherhood state.

Egypt desperately needs the $2 billion. The question is whether they will invest it and build with it or just hand it out.

If they choose to hand out the money they will end up defaulting on the loan.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Egypt Demands That Hamas Turn Over 3 Men

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Serious tensions are arising between Hamas and the new Egyptian government.

Egypt has demanded that Hamas hand over the 3 men who helped plan the attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. Thus far, Hamas has refused.

According to a report in the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds the names of the men are Ayman Nufal, Raad al-Attar and Muhammad abu Smala.

Nufal was a commander of the Izza Din al Qassam brigades, the fighting unit of Hamas. He was arrested in Egypt in 2008, escaped from prison and smuggled back to Gaza last year during the uprising.
Al Attar and Abu Smala are commanders of the Rafah brigade, a highly efficient unit that strikes and attacks Israel regularly. Attar is believed to be the person who planned and executed the Gilad Shalit kidnapping.

There was a report that Hamas agreed to hand over the men but the men refused. They feared torture - and rightly so.

This is just the beginning. Egypt is very upset that Hamas is sheltering these murderers - men who killed Egyptians in order to use their weapons and vehicles to attack Israelis. Adding to their anger is the fact that the entire episode took place on Ramadan at the time of break fast.

This act of mass murder during Ramadan was tantamount to saying that Egyptian Muslims are not true Muslims. Egypt will fight this battle to the bitter end.


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Friday, August 10, 2012

Another Virus Strikes-- Gauss

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yet another cyber weapon virus has been discovered in the Middle East.

The Russian antivirus company Kaspersky announced yesterday that it had discovered another virus. They call this one Gauss, named after one of the 19th century's greatest mathematicians, Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss. They also, by the way, found and named hacking files for Kurt Godel and Joseph-Louis Lagrange. These men were all trail blazing math philosophers and theorists.

The largest and major hacking file Kapersky found was in the virus called Gauss.

Experts at Kaspersky are saying that it is abundantly clear that the Gauss virus was created by the same people who created Stuxnet, DUQU, Viper and Flame. There are too many similarities.
Other viruses probably self destroyed, but this new Gauss is very sophisticated and will take a long time to unravel and crack.

Gauss can record and break identities and assume identities. It looks like Gauss specializes in banks and accounts. It is probably not an attack virus but a spy and manipulate virus.

The Godel program is automatically transferred to a USB drive. It will only decompress when it hits its target. Godel is probably the attack virus. It will do dramatic harm if and when it is unleashed.


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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Abdullah of Jordan's Take on Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Jordan's King Abdullah said that the conflict in Syria could have a long term detrimental impact on the region.

King Abdullah went on to explain that he was worried that if Assad was unable to hold on to the entire state called Syria, Assad might carve out a smaller region which would be a safe haven for his own Alawite tribe.

The Alawites are a break off of Shiite Islam.

If that should happen it means that another state would emerge in the region, a state which is the sworn enemy of some of its neighbors.

This is not the King of Jordan's biggest worry. Abdullah's biggest fear is that the same type of al Qaeda sponsored unrest now in Syria will cross over the border into Jordan and attempt to oust him and his family from power.

There are so many people now coming across the border seeking refuge in Jordan and Abdullah knows that some are there to foment and organize a movement against him.

Will Abdullah learn the lessons of Mubarak and Assad, both of whom exercised moderate restraint? Or will Abdullah massively murder on the first day of an uprising the way his father did when he massacred anywhere between 3,400 - 10,000 Palestinians in 11 days to put down a coup. That period in Jordanian history is now and forever known as Black September.

Micah@MicahHalpern.com

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Egypt Does Not Get It

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Morad Mowafi, head of Egyptian intelligence, admitted that Egypt had detailed and specific intelligence that a terror attack was to take place - they knew where, when and what. They had all the details.

He said: "Yes, we had detailed information about the attack, but we never imagined that a Muslim would kill a Muslim on the hour of breaking the fast in Ramadan."

All those details, and yet, unimaginably, the intelligence forces of Egypt did not believe that Muslim terrorists would murder Muslims on Ramadan at meal time to achieve their ends. In the end, sixteen Muslims were murdered by Muslim terrorists.

And then he said: "This incident should never raise any questions regarding the efficiency of the security forces in Sinai and their alertness."

Of course there are questions about Egypt's ability to secure their country against Muslim terrorists. Most essential is that it is now clear that Egyptian Intelligence knows so little about Islam that they believe they would not murder another Muslim on Ramadan.

This is the rule of: "if I would not do it then it could happen."
But the rule is false - that is why we have intelligence.

The only real way for Egyptians to understand what did happen is to blame it on the Israelis. And that's what they did.

But that does not take into consideration the 2000 Muslim terrorists, most of them al Qaeda trained and oriented, currently sitting in Sinai and waiting to strike.

The Egyptians will explain that one away, too.


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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Iran to Hold Summit on Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was quoted by IRNA news agency yesterday saying that on Thursday Iran is going to host a regional summit in Teheran about Syria. Those who will attend, he said, will have a "reasonable" perspective about the outcome.

"A consultation meeting on Syria will be held in Tehran on Thursday with the participation of those countries who have realistic stances on this country."
Rest assured that the Saudis will certainly not attend the summit, neither will Qatar nor Turkey.

This is not simply another publicity stunt by Iran.

There is no doubt that Iran supports the Assad regime as do China and Russia who will most probably attend the summit. In arranging and hosting the summit Iran is trying to suggest that ousting Assad is not the only and certainly not the best option available.

With that, I agree.


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Monday, August 6, 2012

War of Rhetoric w/ Iran

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Conflict in the Middle East is more about battles with weapons of rhetoric and propaganda than it is about conventional weapons of guns and missiles.

Yesterday Ahmed Vahidi, the Iranian defense minister, announced that it is beyond the realm of possible that Israel will strike Iran.

The Iranian Republic News Agency reported that Israel will never attack Iran "unless the Zionist regime wishes to commit suicide."

Iran knows full well that Israel is planning multiple strategies for attacking Iran. But they want their people to be calm and they want the Israelis to perhaps have second thoughts about attacking and to give more thought to the effects of an attack.

When we were kids we used to say that we were "psyching" each other out. Iran is trying to psych out Israel and the people of Iran.


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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Iran Sends 3000 Soldiers to Syria


By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Arabic media giant Al Arabia reported on TV that Iran has sent thousands of soldiers to Syria to help Assad.

The head of the Joint Military Council confirmed the report and said that 3,000 Iranians soldiers were now in Syria fighting. The Joint Military Council is one of the many groups fighting the Assad regime.

He explained that the reason the Assad regime needed Iranian help was that Syrian soldiers were too much of a risk. They could not be trusted as they were likely to defect to his group or to other rebel forces.

All this was happening as Assad stepped up his fight using planes and helicopters to reclaim strongholds and pound the rebel fighters in Aleppo and Damascus.

The situation in Syria continues to unfold.
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Micah@MicahHalpern.com

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Iran Fear Soft War

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Ali Jafari is the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The IRG is by far the most powerful group in Iran.
Jafari addressed a conference in Teheran recently and his speech was pasted on the IRG website. Jafari talked about the "Soft War."

He said that the biggest challenge to the Islamic revolution was the "Soft War." The expression "Soft War" normally refers to a conflict that does not involve conventional weapons of war like guns and planes and bombs.

In other words, a "Soft War" refers to sanctions to cyber warfare and to propaganda.
Iran is waging its own defense and attack in the "Soft War." But it has also taken some devastating blows.

Acknowledging this publicly was a huge strategic move on Iran's part.

The IRG is hoping to get the support of the masses. The "Soft War" is felt most by the middle class. Jafari needs the middle class to know that at home, they are the true fighters for their Islamic revolution.

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Micah@MicahHalpern.com

Friday, August 3, 2012

Brutal Murder of Wives in PA

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Several dozen women and handful of men marched silently through the street in Bethlehem. The march was in protest of the inaction of the community and they demanding that all people especially the government and police protect women.

Earlier this week a woman was brutally murdered in the street by her husband in the Palestinian town of Batir. The murder took place in broad daylight in front of people who did nothing to stop it. This was the third such incident in a matter of weeks, the others were in Tulkaram in the West Bank and in Shati in Gaza.

Since January 12 women have been murdered by their husbands in the PA. And since 2011 thirteen women have been murdered for honor - they did something to bring shame on the family name.

In the Palestinian Authority police seldom act to protect or even investigate these murders.

The public demonstration may embarrass PA leadership and force them to act. President Abbass' office responded by saying that he held a meeting with the police about ensuring civilian safety.

That is not quite enough. Not if you are a victim.


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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hamas Critique of PA & Auschwitz

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday a Hamas leader publicly strafed and viciously criticized a Palestinian Authority advisor for visiting Auschwitz.

Last week Zaid al Bandak a close adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas went to visit the infamous and most notorious Nazi death camp located in southern Poland. In Auschwitz the Nazis murdered 1 million Jews in gas chambers and then burnt their bodies in crematoria.

Hamas made clear in their criticism of the visit that they firmly believe that the Holocaust is a lie fabricated to give Jews superior victim status that justifies their oppression of the Palestinians.

This conflict shows just how different Hamas is from the PA. It's critical that the difference be underscored.

Hamas is a terror organization that has sworn to destroy Israel. It is part of their very essence.
The PA is the authority that Israel was, is and will need to deal with in order to achieve a rapprochement.

It is too simple to lump everyone together and say that the all Palestinian leadership is the same.


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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Egypt Denies Sending Ltr To Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Egyptian President Morsy sent a letter to Israeli President Peres yesterday. The letter spells the name of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt with a "Y" not an "I". Who am I to spell it differently.

The letter, accompanied by a cover letter, was delivered by the Egyptian Embassy in Israel.

The Israeli press picked up the news and heralded it. The Egyptian spokesperson for President Morsy who is the representative of Muslim Brotherhood said that the press reports in Israel were "all a fabrication."

But it is not so.

I saw a copy of the cover letter which mentions the official letter. In the cover letter Morsy blesses Peres and thanks Peres for the blessings he bestowed upon him.

So why the denial in Egypt?

Because being friendly - or rather, not being hostile - to Israel, is unacceptable in the new Egypt.


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