Thursday, January 30, 2014

Threats to Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The head of Military Intelligence for Israel, General Aviv Kochavi, addressed a security conference recently. Whenever that happens we sit up and pay very close attention.

Kochavi explained that because of the Syrian civil war, al Qaeda is now spread all over the region. And that, he said, has a very negative impact on security.

He also said that while the number of rockets pointed at Israel has reduced in number, their quality and accuracy has improved.

"Some 170,000 rockets and missiles are threatening the State of Israel from all regions. Up until recently, the number was much greater and it has decreased, but it will go up again."

"They are much more precise and a lot more lethal. The most significant thing we would like to point out is the fact that the enemy has the capability to land mass amounts of arms on Israeli cities."

"There are also many terror groups, including semi-military terror groups. We can't keep referring to Hezbollah as a terror group in the simple sense of the term - an organization that possesses more than a 100,000 rockets, including hundreds of different kinds of advanced antitank missiles, advanced mortar shells can no longer be a referred to as a terror group in the simple sense of the term. And the same goes for Hamas ."

General Kochavi was typically realistic when speaking about cyber warfare. He said Israelis are constantly being attacked: "Fortunately, most attacks were foiled, but the ability to carry out such attacks is almost unlimited."

The state of Israel's security is very good - but it is clear that the country faces significant, constant, unending threats. 

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Paris 17,000 Shout"Jews Get Out"

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
On Sunday 17,000 anti-Semites marched through the streets of Paris.

And they shouted: "Jews Get Out," and "Jews Go Home" and "Auschwitz and the Gas Chambers Never Existed" and "France is Not For You - Jews" and "France is Not Your Country."

The marchers also used the "quenelle", the now infamous reverse Nazi salute created by French political comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, which has become more and more popular among the new breed of anti-Semites in Europe and even, in America.

Did you read about it? Did you hear about it? Why did this hateful march receive almost no coverage in the United States? I want to know why.

France was one of the most Western and most liberal societies in the world. France is where the modern free state was created and where Jews and everyone else were first emancipated and given complete rights as citizens with total freedom.

Why was this massive act of racism barely mentioned in the US media? It took days for it to even appear on relevant websites.

I refuse to believe that people just do not care. There must be other reasons. 

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Syrian Conference - No Progress

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

They called it, appropriately, the Dialogue of the Deaf.

That is the name given to the discussion about Syrian in Geneva.

The entire event broke up yesterday after an hour of hot and heavy shouting.

Of course it did!!!

There was total disagreement about the future of Syria. There was disagreement over whether Bashar Assad should stay in power or graciously leave his position as president. The rebels wanted him to leave and establish an interim government before the elections. Assad's representatives said absolutely not - no way, no how.

They could not even agree to disagree. 

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Israel Defense Hacked

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

According to a report by the private security firm Seculert, 15 Israeli defense computers were hacked and taken over by a aggressor for several days.

The Israeli establishment has made no comment.

The report says that 15 civil service computers were hacked. The computers were part of the agency in charge of Palestinian movements into and out of Israel, they are the division that issues passes for Palestinians to enter Israel.

The malware was XtremeRat. This is the second time in two years that this particular malware has gotten a foothold into Israeli defense computers. It was probably accomplishes by the same hacker on both occasions.

XtremeRat got into the system masquerading as a Shin Bet email about the death of Ariel Sharon. The email was sent on January 15. It fooled many of the security systems allowing the hacker to inject new Trojans, inject new commands, steal info and infect other computers.

Seculert 15 created a sink hole and the XtremeRat was tricked into entering the sinkhole where it roamed around in a controlled and protected space.

This is just the beginning. The server that hosted the original message was from the United States. But the coding was very similar to that used for a cyber attack on Israel from Gaza in October of 2012.

More attacks are on the way. 

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Election Timetable in Egypt

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

This morning in Egypt Adly Mansour, the interim president of Egypt, announced that presidential elections will precede the parliamentary elections.

This fact that this announcement comes the week of the referendum on the new charter that was overwhelmingly supported by those who voted, is significant.

The most important issue here is that according to the earlier transition schedule, known as the transition timetable, parliamentary elections were supposed to come before the presidential elections.

In Egypt, these last few days have been very violent and very bloody.

The Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to galvanize the people and move them into the street to try to prevent the interim government from proceeding with their stated goal.

Al Sisi has stepped down as Army chief of staff. Now he is preparing to run for president. It is not clear how free these elections will be. It is widely assumed in Egypt - by just about everyone, that Sisi will be the next president.

I can tell you with almost complete certainty that, this time, the Muslim Brotherhood will not be permitted to stand a candidate for election.

Egypt has learned its lesson. The hard way. 

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Some Details of the Peace Deal

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Details on the Israeli Palestinian discussions have been under wraps.

We do know that the Israelis were unhappy with some of the suggestions proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry. It has also been made very clear that the Palestinians are frustrated and feel as if the United States was adopting the Israeli position in the negotiations.

But recently the Palestinian magazine Tariq ran an in depth and extremely candid interview with Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo during which he delineates much of the US proposal.

According to Abed Rabbo, the US plan calls for a staged process of Israeli security withdrawal linked to increased effectiveness in Palestinian security. Israel would be the evaluator determining if Palestinian security is effective.

Additionally, Israel would maintain mountain top and aerial monitoring over the Palestinian areas and have the ability to follow - in hot pursuit, inside Palestinian territory.

About Jerusalem, either the Arab neighborhood of Abu Dis or the neighborhood of Kfar Aqab would be called the Palestinian capital.

Palestinians had hoped for much more. 

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Friday, January 24, 2014

PA Russia $1 Billion Deal

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The Palestinians and the Russians have signed a deal.

Russia will give $1 billion to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for PA help in exploring for natural gas off the coast of Gaza.

Russia would then get dibs on part of the gas if any is discovered.

Aside from the obvious and much needed injection of money into the PA, there are several huge benefits to this deal.

By partnering with Russia the Palestinians have lessened their dependence on US aid. That means they are less beholding to and consequently, not required to, toe the US line.

This new agreement will enable the Palestinians - it will boost the psyche of every individual Palestinian and it will move the Palestinians closer towards independence.

It is not good news for the United States and it is not good news for Secretary of State John Kerry who has begun to apply pressure on the Palestinians to move towards peace with Israel on US terms. 

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Fire Wall Of China

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
10's of millions ---maybe even 100's of millions ---it is just a guess  .... that's how many Chinese lost access to the Internet on Tuesday.

Whenever you talk about numbers and the Internet in China it is all just a guess. But assume that it was a gargantuan, even a Malthusian number of people who were redirected from their intended sites to other sites.
The Chinese restrict freedom of the Internet. Their web is so censured that we jokingly refer to their system of web control as "The Great Fire-Wall of China."

Tuesday's debacle was probably orchestrated by hackers who hate the Chinese wall. The result was that users were sent to an illegal and highly censured site owned by a US company.

The US company DIT confirmed that they own the site but said that they did not hack China. Instead they offered a plausible explanation. DIT said that it was probably due to an accidental mis-configuration of the Chinese fire wall.

The firewall normally redirects requests to sites that are Chinese friendly. This time all the unfriendly sites were now the destination. Now the forbidden sites were now open to all.

Not surprisingly, this happens pretty often when you try to control information to 1 billion 500 million people. There are 2 million cyber police in China today dedicated to hacking Western sites and keeping that firewall up.

Some days the system works better than others. 

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Conference on Syria Will Fail

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Geneva Conference dedicated to creating a resolution in Syria has begun.

The conference has all the necessary components - for dismal failure. Actually, this conference has more of a chance of failure than the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

How can the conference even hope to succeed when there is not even an agreement on the direction of a resolution? Until now, even agreed upon cease fires have failed to last more than 20 hours.

How are the parties going to adhere to a peace accord or to devising a path that leads to the resolution of a three year old bloodbath?

Ceasefires are child's play relative to the solutions needed here.
Ceasefires were based on religious and calendar dates that were easy to quantify and understand. They ceasefires were seen as goals that all sides could relate to.

A general resolution to the conflict? No way.

Assad is feeling more and more powerful. He is gaining strength and amassing more areas under his control with every passing day. The rebels are on the run - and the rebels are fighting one another.

Believe me, this conference will not yield the end that either the United States or the United Nations hope for. 

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hamas is Trying to Stop Rockets

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

A few days ago Hamas enacted a policy to try to prevent rocket fire into Israel.

Over the past week several dozen rockets launched from Gaza and landed in Israel. Israel is retaliating. Now Hamas is afraid that Israel will increase that response. And Israel will definitely increase their response if rockets continue to land.

In order to prevent the escalation Hamas has set up roadblocks on all roads that lead to borders with Israel. They are checking the cars for rockets.

Hamas cannot simply make an announcement - they do not have that kind of control in Gaza. The rockets are being launched by a number of groups and sub groups - and these groups do not profess allegiance to Hamas.

So in order to prevent unnecessary and costly damage, Hamas is trying to be preemptive. Only time will tell if Hamas succeeded in stopping the rockets and preventing the retaliation. 

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Israel Returns More Terrorists Bodies

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is returning another 36 dead terrorists to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

One was returned last night, the others will be transferred over the next two weeks. It brings the number of dead terrorists returned to the Palestinians over this past year to 91. So far, nine bodies were returned to Gaza, the rest were transferred to the PA in the West Bank.

In Israel, the families of the victims murdered by these terrorists are livid. There has been very little publicity and very little press coverage about the transfer and none about the outrage - not even after the Israeli Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the families of the victims to cancel the transfer.

Among those bodies now being returned are the bodies of the terrorists who bombed cafe Hillel in 1993 and those who took over the Savoy Hotel in 1975. It also includes the bodies of the terrorists responsible for the bus bombing that killed 16 in March of 2003. 

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Israel Strikes Back

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel has responded to the increased rockets that have been showering them from Gaza.

Over the past week there has been a huge increase in the rocket fire and today the Israelis struck back. With surgical precision Israel launched a missile that critically wounded Ahmed Saad, the 22 year old responsible for launching this last batch of rockets into Israel, as he was riding his motorcycle.

The bike was damaged but not destroyed. The Israelis used just enough explosive in the missile to strike at the motorbike. A 12 year old boy was also moderately wounded in the attack.

Because of the increase of rockets lobbed at them, Israel has also decided to use its new anti-rocket devise, named the "Iron Beam."

The new system is a laser beam that locks on to rockets and destroys them before they land.
The difference between the Iron Beam and the Iron Dome is that the Iron Beam is designed to intercept low flying rockets that do not hit the height trajectory required before the Iron Dome can effectively intercept them.

The low flying rocket has been the Achilles heel of anti-missile batteries. The Iron Beam should be a defensive game changer. 

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Bibi Meets Abdullah in Amman

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu flew to Amman, Jordan yesterday to have a sit down with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Last week Abdullah hosted Palestinian President Abbas.
We are told that the talks were candid.

According to an official Jordanian report King Abdullah urged Netanyahu to make use of "and build on the opportunity made available by the consolidated efforts of the U.S. secretary of state to achieve tangible progress in the peace negotiations."

The official report continued, stating that the objective is to create an "independent and viable Palestinian state" with East Jerusalem as its capital. The report also revealed that an Israeli Palestinian agreement is in "higher Jordanian interests."

In discussing the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel the king told the Israeli prime minister: "They are a top priority for us."

The overriding issue is whether the agreement will be practical. I am certain that was the focus of Netanyahu's presentation to Abdullah. 

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Egypt & Their Charter

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There is no real word in Arabic for "constitution".

That is why the word being used to describe the Egyptian Constitution is the Arabic word for "charter". For these purposes, constitution is synonymous with charter. The word "charter" comes from the Latin word "carta" which means map and as we all know, the founding document of England is the Magna Carta.

160,000 soldiers and 200,000 police officers were deployed to preserve the peace during the two day election period for the new Egyptian Constitution that ended in Egypt yesterday. On the first day of voting, 9 people died in election violence. On the second day at least 79 pro-Morsi protesters were arrested.

Commenting on the election, the head of public relations for the interior ministry, Major General Abdel Fattah Othman, said that the "turnout so far may exceed 55% and the approval of the constitution is perhaps more than 95%." His interview was broadcast on private satellite channel Al-Hayat.

Duh! People who came out to vote came to vote in favor of the Charter. There was no alternative. The joke was that either you went and voted for the charter, or you went to jail. 

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Poles Do Not See Anti Semitism

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It is a basic rule of civilized society. When thugs and football hooligans shout anti-Semitic epithets it is our duty to condemn the slurs as base and unacceptable.

In any sport, even in soccer matches, racism is totally unacceptable.

Poland is no exception. In fact, Poland has a set of laws prohibiting racism. Those laws include a prohibition against the dissemination of racial slurs. So why then have Poland and Polish official prosecutors decided to justify the racism in their midst?

When the home team in Poznan, Poland, started shouting: "Go Jews, Get out, Go to Auschwitz" the local prosecutor determined that those shouts, that sentiment, was not an anti-Semitic slur.

Even when the slogans continued with the added verse: "send you to the gas chamber," the prosecutor did not think that it was racist.

His rationale was baffling. The prosecutor reasoned that the shouts were levied against the other team Widzew, Lodz and that there were no Jews on the other teams or, for that matter, anywhere in the Stadium.

This incident would not be so noteworthy if were an isolated occurrence. It is not.
In the city of Lublin, the home of Tomasz Pietrasiewicz was recently vandalized. Bricks with swastikas were thrown threw his windows.

He is not Jewish but he is deeply involved with Jews and publicly advocates for and teaches about the rich Jewish history of Lublin.

Here, too, the local prosecutor chose not to file racist charges against the hoodlums because Pietrasiewicz is not a Jew.

And in Bialystok people spreading leaflets with swastikas were not prosecuted. To add insult to injury, the prosecutor added that the swastika is an ancient Hindu symbol - not just the sign of the Nazis.

If this were not so sad, it would be funny. Do intelligent people actually believe that anti-Semitism exists only in the presence of Jews? Do they really believe that in the world today anybody sees any other realistic symbolism for the swastika other than Nazism? The Nazis themselves were unaware of the Hindu derivation.

Football hooligans must be held accountable. The clubs know that and they banish teams that violate the rules. If the prosecution does not get it then the home team should take a stand.

Anti-Semitism cannot be ignored. No form of racism should go unpunished. 

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

US - Iran - Russia Conflict

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There are some rather out of the ordinary interactions happening of late between Iran, the United States and Russia.

The United States is deeply concerned about an oil for goods barter involving Iran and Russia. The deal would allow for a $1.5 billion monthly swap.

According to the White House, US Secretary of State John Kerry shared the US concern directly with his colleague, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on Monday when the two were in Paris working out the details of a conference on Syria which is scheduled to take place on January 22.

The biggest worry is that this barter could be considered a violation of the P5+1 agreement with Iran. If it is, it could trigger new US sanctions against Iran, sanctions that Congress has already prepared - just in case of a scenario like this.

If this barter deal goes through, everything everybody has been working so hard for could just fall apart. But Kerry is hopeful.

Kerry is also generous. He gave Lavrov a special present in a modest size box yesterday. It was a box of 2 Idaho potatoes. While speaking during the break Lavrov mentioned his love of the Idaho potatoes, so Kerry gave him a few.

We are told that there is no symbolism there. No symbolism at all. I do not care if this is or there isn't, but if there is - I don't see it. 

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Assad Visits Mosque

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Over the past 3 years, since the fighting in Syria began, President Bashar Assad has ventured out in public only a handful of times.

There was always an important reason for the public appearances.

Often, they included a trip to a mosque. But the real purpose of appearing in public is to say that I am still in Damascus and I am the man in charge. Assad needs everyone, allies and enemies alike, to know that the conflict did not shake him.

So yesterday, on Sunday, Assad went to prayers at the al Hamad Mosque in northwest Damascus. The trip was broadcast across the Arab world, most especially on Syrian state-sponsored TV.

To all appearances Assad went to the al Hamad Mosque to celebrate the traditional birthday of Mohammed. In reality Assad was saying that the end is in sight, that the rebels have crumbled and that the country is getting quieter.

Assad was saying that although there are still areas withering away by virtue of violence, the conflict will soon be over. He was saying that the rebels are fighting amongst themselves and his supporters and troops will soon secure the entire country. And even though a few pockets of rebels may continue to exist in Syria, the country is his to once again preside over. Totally and completely. 

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Egypt Votes This Week

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

I'll bet almost nobody knows that last Thursday, Egyptian expats living all over the world were able to vote on the new proposed Egyptian constitution.

And on January 14 and 15 the entire country of Egypt will vote on the constitution as a referendum.

While it is undeniable that there have been violent clashes recently in Egypt and it is true that the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed in Egypt, strange as it may seem, all of it has been done in the name of democracy. Democracy must prevent non-democratic forces from taking over which is exactly what happened when Morsi was elected - and Egyptian leaders today are determined to see democracy thrive in their country.

The proposed constitution is called a draft charter. It uses moderate Islam as a foundation for legislation.
Interim President Adly Mansour has been on national Egyptian radio and television urging people to come out and vote for the referendum and to "lead the ship of the nation to the shores of safety."

An Arab country like Egypt needs to have a constitution and that constitution needs to be loosely based on Islamic tradition. Egypt cannot be a secular society, it must try to marry the valued and essential traditions of Islam with modern democratic rights.

Sounds easy ... but turning theory into a reality will be very difficult, especially as Islamic tradition confronts modern human rights. 

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ariel Sharon Is Dead

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Ariel Sharon is dead.

Since his stroke in 2006 the former prime minister of Israel has been nonresponsive. Even though he has been gone for nearly eight years, now is the time when Israel and the world must say their final goodbyes.

Everyone had an opinion about Ariel Sharon. No one was indifferent about him. You either liked him or hated him - nationally and internationally. To Sharon it made no difference, his actions and decisions were based on his own convictions, not a desire to either please or to enrage others.

Ariel Sharon was a great warrior and he was a great politician.

Seldom are politicians so simple and so direct, Sharon was different because Sharon approached politics like he approached war.

Sharon was very easy to understand. His priorities were simple and clear on every level. He never minced words. He was a pragmatist.

He achieved his goals by placing them in priority order and then attacking them one by one.
Most of all, Ariel Sharon was a master tactician - in that arena, he was truly unparalleled.

The overarching goal of Ariel Sharon at every level - prime minister, defense minister, member of Knesset, author, private citizen, land owner and farmer - was the protection of Israel.

The word of Sharon was his promise, and yet, he was a man of action, not words. Part of his appeal for the Israeli public was that people believed that Ariel Sharon would deliver on his word. And he did.

Surely there was much controversy in his life and surrounding his career and I do not know how history will treat Ariel Sharon. But I do know that the world, not just Israel, not just the Middle East, the world has lost a great man, a true hero. May his memory be blessed.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Iranians In the IDF

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It is not rocket science but it is very important - and Israel is trying its best to take advantage and make the most of it.

What am I talking about? Here it is: BaMachaneh, the IDF magazine, printed a story that is not only very interesting, but also very unusual for them. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) never releases figures, but here they did.

According to the magazine each year fifty Iranian-born Israeli boys enter the army. The army is trying to move these soldiers into intelligence units and keep them "in" as long as possible. The article also reports that 23% of Iranian-Israeli girls join the army and within that group, 33% of the girls join intelligence units. That is an astounding number and it is even higher than the statistic for the males which is about 20%.

Every year about 100 Iranians arrive in Israel. They all arrive via a third country.

The upside is that these young people have language and familiarity with Iran which is unequaled. The downside is that they are young and have never been trained in how to really see and analyze raw data. For that, they need to be trained from scratch.

This Iranian intelligence force in Israel is a very powerful weapon. There is almost no chance that any of these young men and women are double agents. The Iranian Jewish community is too small and there is no amount of money that would tempt an Iranian Jew to betray his Jewish family.

Israeli intelligence is ions above other countries because of this very valuable human asset. 

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Arabs Do Not Want to Join the PA

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

They used to be called Israeli Arabs. Then they became Palestinians living in Israel and sometimes they were called Palestinians with privileges. Now they are just called Palestinians.

All these names refer to Palestinians who are also Israeli citizens.

The topic has emerged again as peace discussions dealing with land swaps come up for negotiation. The idea is that certain places on the Israeli side of the '67 border will be swapped for certain places of on the Palestinian side of the border.

Recently Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman suggested that the Wadi Ara area which is the area of Um al Fahm also known as the triangle would be the perfect place to swap.

The entire area is Arab and it abuts the West Bank. The area gained notoriety as a major center of Naqba protests against Israel. Naqba means the tragedy corresponding to Israel's Independence in May of 1948.

And yet, all those residents of Wadi Ara who have been interviewed absolutely reject any idea of living under the Palestinian Authority.

They do not want to exchange freedom for corruption.
They do not want to give up their Israeli privileges - especially health care, education and accountability, law and safety.

They do not want to give up all that is taken as a given in Israel and will most certainly be lost in the Palestinian Authority. They want to continue living in Israel and reside under Israeli law. 

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

UN Doesn't Count Victims In Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There are signs of change that we look at to determine if solutions are on the horizon.

The Geneva Conference about Syria is one of those signs, it is a good sign. The disagreement between the United States and Iran as to how involved Iran should be in any resolution undertaken at that conference is another good sign. And the fact that Iran and the US both recognize that they are confronting similar Sunni radical movements is a third good sign.

A bad sign, in fact a very bad sign, is that the United Nations Commission for Human Rights has officially announced that they are no longer keeping track of the victims of the Syrian crisis. They stopped totaling the figures in July, when the number of victims hit the 100,000 mark.

Rupert Colville, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, explained that they just cannot verify the sources and so, they cannot even speculate on the numbers. Until they stopped tallying, the Commission based their estimation on six different sources and reports that were made available to them.

But all of the sources were biased - it was always a guessing game.

The problem with not even trying to determine the number of victims in the Syrian crisis is the message that is being sent out. The message is that the numbers do not count and once the numbers do not count the lives do not count. And for a crisis like the conflict overtaking Syria --- that is the wrong message. 

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Egypt Shuts Tunnels

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Yesterday Egypt destroyed eight tunnels running between Gaza and Egypt in the area of Rafah. The tunnels are used for smuggling everything from weapons to construction materials.

The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported that the Egyptians also arrested 24 people who worked in the tunnels and in a warehouse which housed explosives and other weapons. The warehouse was in the Northern Sinai, abutting the Gaza Strip.

Egypt has increased their vigilance in trying to shut down the tunnels and the movement of weapons and explosives in and out of Gaza. Those weapons and people often take up arms with the Muslim Brotherhood and attack Egyptian targets.

There has been a huge recent increase of attacks in Sinai and the Egyptians have received special permission to abrogate their peace treaty with Israel and bring their own military into the Sinai. The Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel very clearly specify that Egypt may not militarize the Sinai, but in this case the Egyptians need to bring in the army to prevent a terrorist takeover. Israel understands and agrees. 

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Golan on Alert

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There was a recent report of footprints crossing the border in the Golan Heights.

The entire area went into alert to find potential terrorist infiltrators.

In the 1970's and 80's this used to happen more often, it was a common occurrence. Sometimes the tracks were cows in search of pasture. Sometimes a terrorist sat on top of the cattle. Sometimes the footsteps belonged to drug suppliers coming from Syria and Lebanon into Israel.

This was a real set of tracks crossing from Syria into Israel. And with increased al Qaeda involvement in Syria, Israel takes these tracks very seriously.

There is no doubt that the conflict in Syria has destabilized the region. There has been spill over into Lebanon, into Iraq, into Jordan and into Turkey. It will spill over into Israel - it is just a matter of time. 

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Palestinians Can't Accept Jewish State

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Palestinians were extremely tough both yesterday and today.

Reports from the meetings are that strong words were exchanged about the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish State.

This is a fundamental demand by Israel.

Netanyahu raised the issue several years ago as a simple test to prove that the Palestinians really did not recognize Israel. At that time, when the Israeli prime minister told the White House of his expectation the White House responded that it was a “no brainer,” they said of course the Palestinians recognize you as a Jewish State.

But not so.

The Palestinians have a revulsion to accepting the Jewish State. They claim that they recognize Israel as whatever state it wants to be. They have already said that. The type of state, they say, is an internal issue.

This really is not a "no brainer." The acceptance of Israel as a Jewish State strikes, on many levels, at the raison d'etre of the vision of Palestinian nationalism. It means that the Palestinians must accept the two-state solution for the long term and not plan for an eventual demographic gobbling up of Israel.

So why can't the Palestinians just lie, why can't they just say what they need to say now and act like they always have been acting?

Because Palestinian leadership cannot make a public proclamation accepting the Jewish State without losing face at home and across the Arab world.

Recognizing the Jewish State means recognizing Zionism and that would rip at the very narrative that the Palestinians created and would justify Israel's right to be on the land. It would justify their oppression.

They should accept it - but they cannot. 

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Watch How Arabs Treat Arabs

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Paying attention to how Arabs relate to other Arabs can be instructive.

Tunisia is sponsoring an Anti-Zionism Conference. Not unusual.
Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad were prevented from entering. Unusual.

Al Mayadeen, a Hezbollah TV network in Lebanon, reported today that the Hezbollah delegation was not permitted to enter the hall where the Anti-Zionism conference was taking place.

And the Islamic Jihad group was prevented from landing in Tunis.
The story was picked up by several other media outlets.

Why were Hezbollah and barred? The answer is simple.

Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad of Lebanon have sided with Assad and with Iran. And that makes them pariahs in the Arab world - even when it comes to the hatred of Zionism.

Now that is interesting. 

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Yr of Jewish Strength Says Egypt Astrologer

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Astrology is the craze in many parts of the world - like in Egypt, where people believe that the future can be seen in the alignment of the stars and constellations.

Sayyed al Shimi, one of Egypt's most popular astrologers, appeared on Egyptian national television as part of a year-end round-up for 2013 and to offer predictions for 2014.

During his prediction segment al Shimi warned that in 2014 the Jews will "grow stronger." He explained that it is a historical reality that in the past, when the stars have been in just such an alignment, the Jews have been greatly successful.

"We discovered that Saturn entered the fire sign of Sagittarius when the first World Zionist Congress convened. The Balfour Declaration was released when Saturn was in the fire sign of Leo. The Haganah Brigades [the pre-1948 Jewish defense force] began organizing and helping the English in 1928, when Saturn was in the fire sign of Sagittarius. The 1948 war took place when Saturn was in the fire sign of Leo. The 1956 war took place when Saturn was in the fire sign of Sagittarius. The 1967 War took place when Saturn was in the fire sign of Aries."

"Between 1963 and1967 my late father warned in his annual reports:
'Beware, Saturn will enter the sign of Aries in 1967 and this means that the Jews will grow stronger, just like in 1956 and in 1948.' 'Beware,' he said, 'something is about to happen.' But they refused to believe him."
Personally, I would never argue with the stars. And I am glad that even the Egyptians see that Israel and the Jews are powerful and will be even more powerful. Let them continue to believe that 2014 will be a year of Jewish great strength. 

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

2 State Solution

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

A new study about a Two State Solution was just released. The results of the study should surprise all those who think that the two-state-solution is dead in the water.

The study certainly surprised me. For two years now I have been saying that there is no will on either the Israeli or the Palestinians side for a two-state-solution, that each side is content to live with the current status quo.

Then comes this study which says that 63% of Israelis and 53% of Palestinians answered favorably to questions supporting a two-state-solution. The numbers dropped by 10% in both communities after details were added to the questions, especially details about settlements.

Each community was polled by pollsters from their own community.

Israelis were polled by the Hebrew University who asked 601 people and had a 4.5% degree of error. Palestinians were polled by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research who asked 1270 people and their margin of error was 3.0%

Granted, this is not a ringing endorsement for the two-state-solution, but neither is it a total rejection of the proposal.

Several significant sectors within the Israeli government are on record rejecting the two-state-solution. In addition, it is pretty clear that Palestinian leaders have never embraced the idea. And for the past two years we have been under the assumption that the masses on both sides had no faith in having a two-state-solution.

This study shows us that even now, or perhaps, especially now there is a critical mass of over 50% of Israelis and of Palestinians that can be used to sway the process if a good deal emerges from the Kerry talks.

That's leverage. 

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kerry Back to Push Both Sides

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State John Kerry will be returning to the Middle East on Thursday. He will meet with both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas revealed his strategy for the Kerry meeting when he welcomed back the Palestinian prisoners recently released from Israeli prison. Abbas made the point that his main objective is to secure the release of all prisoners.

Abbas said "this won't be the last time that prisoners are freed," and "there won't be a final agreement with Israel until all the prisoners are released."

The Palestinian leader was also very clear about his take on the Jordan River Valley. Abbas said "this is our land, and it will remain that way. This a red line on our part."

Abbas will secure his legacy in Palestinian history by forcing Israel to release prisoners. The Jordan Valley is actually less about the land than it is about the border. For Abbas and the Palestinians it is a practical issue, they are concerned about securing a border with Jordan.

Kerry will have his work cut out for him. 

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