Friday, October 31, 2014

Israeli Technology Fighting Ebola

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel has developed two technologies that will help fight Ebola.

The first technology is a made-to-specifications special pop-up isolation tent. The technology was created by an Israeli company called SYS. All that is needed are the desired dimensions and details and the tent will be delivered in only two weeks.

So far Ebola has been detected in eight countries. 10,000 people have contracted Ebola and 50% have died from it. These tents control the contamination. They also come with special stretchers to isolate the patient in transit to the tent.

The system utilizes positive air technology to create a hermetically sealed system. Many airports and hospitals have already placed their orders. The SYS tents are already being used in Guinea.

The other technology that Israel has developed is for an infrared thermometer which can be used in airports to detect if travelers have a temperature.

These new products developed by and marketed in Israel will both save lives and control the spread of Ebola. 

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Attack in Jerusalem

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The attempted assassination of Yehudah Glick, in the middle of Jerusalem, just outside the Menachem Begin Center, marks a new low point for the city and for Palestinian - Israeli relations.

The shooter actually got very close to Glick, an activist and extremely vocal proponent of the rights of Jews to traverse on the Temple Mount. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Glick's political point of view, the attack set a new nadir. The shooter confirmed that it was Glick by asking his name. Then he shot him four times - in the head, the neck, the chest and the arm and fled on a motorcycle.

As the news spread, Israelis were in communal shock. Such a brazen act of terror in the heart of Jerusalem is deeply worrisome. This heinous act was not simply an assassination attempt. It was an expression of the desire to ignite a full blown Intifada.

When nighttime came, the sky was lit up by fireworks in celebration of the attack. Yes, Palestinians in Jerusalem were elated that Glick was shot. To them it was an act of courage and heroism.

That is hard to comprehend. 

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Egypt Attacks Hamas Tunnels

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Egypt is very seriously and aggressively destroying the new tunnels that Hamas has dug from Gaza into Egypt.

It is through those tunnels that terrorists smuggled themselves and their weapons into Egypt and were able to conduct an attack against

Egyptian soldiers, killing 31 Egyptian military personnel.

Egypt has now evacuated every home and every building which borders Gaza. They are instituting a buffer zone. That buffer zone will protect Egyptians from Gaza and from the tunnels.

The exact dimensions of the buffer zone are still unclear. It will certainly vary according to specific locations. But it is clear that the buffer zone will reach far enough into Egypt to make it very difficult for Gazans to burrow under.

Understand - this does not mean there will be no more tunnels.

Creating a serious buffer zone means there will be significantly fewer tunnels. It means that building the tunnels will be more difficult. It means that entering Egypt and committing acts of terror will happen less frequently. It means that life just got harder for the terrorists of Gaza. 

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pressure Building on Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is being squeezed in a diplomatic vice grip. Israel is being pressured into accepting a two-state solution.

The United States and the European Union have publicly denounced the decision by Israel to build 1000 housing units in East Jerusalem.

They both used similar language in their official comments suggesting that Israel cannot be serious about peace when they continue to build.

The US and the EU and frankly, almost every other country, is trying to understand why Israel continues to build. Unfortunately, it will be very difficult to convince any of those nations of the inherent right of Israel to build - even if the areas being developed will almost certainly fall within Israel in any future agreement with the Palestinians.

The problem the United States has is not legal. The US sees building as a direct act of breaking down any sense of trust that might possibly emerge diplomatically.

And so, the US, the EU and just about every other Western country has concluded that current Israeli leadership is simply not interested in a two-state solution. These nations believe Israeli leadership is making up excuses and buying time. They see the Israelis as not fully committed to finding a negotiated resolution. 

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Israel - Jordan to Sign Gas Deal

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Jordan and Israel are about to sign an energy agreement.

Israel will provide 600 million cubic feet of gas per day to Jordan for 15 years. The deal should save Jordan $1.5 billion per year.

Jordan has been suffering since the collapse of the pipeline from Egypt, which ran through Israel, was destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Jordan used to receive 80% of their natural gas through that pipeline.

Now, two years later, they struggle to find natural gas to power their electricity.

Due to population increases Jordan's natural gas demands have increased by about $6 billion per year. They have great difficulty keeping up with their electrical demand.

This deal will make natural gas easily accessible and extremely secure for Jordan. It is a very simple decision Yet, there was much debate and dispute about it among Jordanian parliamentarians.

The deal will be signed soon without public fanfare. It will be a new lifeline for Jordan. And it will also be an important positive link between Jordan and Israel - a link that underscores the mutual gains that emerge from good diplomatic relationships. 

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

US Disses Israel in DC

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel's Defense Minister Moshe "Boogie" Yaalon has been in Washington. Not a single member of the US Administration or even their assistants was cleared to meet with him.

Imagine that - Washington is teaching Israel a lesson.

Yaalon and his boss Prime Minister Netanyahu have been insolent and publicly insulting to the US. Yaalon told US Secretary of State Kerry to just get his Nobel Prize and stop coming back to the region - and that is just one of his numerous public outbursts.

So when Yaalon comes to DC, no one will meet with him.

This is not childish or immature behavior. It is the way things are done. Everyone and anyone who has been involved in foreign affairs knows that the United States expects theirs friends, especially those who receive three billion dollars a year are expected to be civil towards them. If not, they will be disciplined in DC.
Hence the cold shoulder.

This is simply a lesson and Israel had to know that it was going to happen.

I would have done things differently. If I were the Administration I would have scheduled the meetings and then cancelled them seconds before they were to happen to further humiliate Israel and to make certain that Yaalon could not use his time in Washington for other meetings or purposes. That way, his entire trip would be turned into a colossal waste of time.

That would not be called vindictive diplomacy, it would be appropriate diplomacy. 

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

US Calls Terror a Traffic Accident

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The US Consulate in Jerusalem sent out a memo calling the murder of 3 month old United States citizen Haya Zisl Braun - a traffic accident.

Here is the exact wording of the memo.
" As of 2105 hrs Reports of unrest/demos in many EJ neighborhoods all related to earlier traffic accident near french hill"

The United States could have called it an incident, they could have called it an act or even an event. They chose to call it a traffic accident. The United States is afraid.

There are many ways to parse word and diplomats are very good at creating words or at using many words to say nothing. The situation now is that the United States does not like the word "terror."

The US has yet to call the axe wielding incident that took place in Queens, NY on Thursday terror. They officially called it "Ĺ“another crazy New Yorker" even though Zale Thompson, the axe wielding terrorist, changed his name to a Arabic name and posted numerous online justifications for murdering innocent people in the name of Jihad.

This is not a good sign for the United States of America. 

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Nigerian President Visits Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Make sense of this. Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria, made an agreement with the terrorist group Boko Haram to free the 219 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped six months ago.

Next year there is a presidential election scheduled for Nigeria and Goodluck is the incumbent.

But today, Goodluck is arriving in Israel and visiting Jerusalem to get some good luck. Jonathan is a devout Christian and believes that Jerusalem - and specifically the Western Wall is holy and that he will get blessed by visiting. He will participate in a mass of 300 Nigerians.

Goodluck Jonathan comes to Israel as a president with a private plane and an 80 member delegation. They book 40 rooms at the brand new beautiful Jerusalem Waldorf.

I have not even gotten to the strange part yet. The strange part is that Nigeria sits on the UN Security Council. And during his stay, Israel will try to convince Goodluck Jonathan of the importance of not backing Palestinian Statehood.

Israel is deeply invested in Nigeria. About 50 Israeli energy companies operate there.

Right now Nigeria has been non committal about their stance on Palestinian statehood. Hopefully, Goodluck will get good luck and will commit to supporting Israel at the Security Council. If Nigeria supports Israel, the United States may not have to utilize their automatic veto. 

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Terror & Riots in Jerusalem

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Thankfully, there was only one death as a result of the terror attack perpetrated in Jerusalem yesterday.
Tragically, the one death was that of a three month old Jewish infant name Haya Zisl Baron. Haya Zisl was buried almost immediately after she was declared dead - brutally murdered in a terror attack at the light rail station. The terrorist deliberately ran her down.
And then the rioting in Jerusalem began.

One may have thought that the rioting was by angry relatives of the three month old or by anger Jews frustrated about the death of this innocent soul.

But NO!

The rioters were Palestinians who took to the streets and threw rocks and burned tires and tried to further disrupt life in Jerusalem.

Nir Barkat, Jerusalem's mayor, a leftist by all definitions called on the police to restore order. He said "the situation in Jerusalem was intolerable." Arab violence had reached the point where the police must enter into Arab neighborhood and restore order.

Watching the video of the terror attack was surreal. A white car slowly moves out of its lane, driving between a pole and barrier and then deliberately swerves into the crowd. That is where the driver murdered Haya Zisl.

Arabs rioted after the brutal murder of a Jewish baby by an Arab driver. Jews went to the funeral to mourn with and comfort the family. 

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Assad Hit 200 Sites - US hit 7

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Syrian air-force launched 200 strikes against rebels within the last 36 hours.

And yesterday, with the new increased intensity of the US led coalition, the United States and her allies launched 7 strikes.

At the same time Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, spoke about the US strikes against ISIS. He said that the US strike against ISIS pales in comparison to the Israeli strikes against southern Lebanon in 2006.
Actually, he said that all the strikes combined do not equal a single day of Israel air strikes.

We can understand why Assad is striking the rebels. The Syrian president fully expects that the US will soon send weapons to the Syrian rebels - just like the US sent weapons to the Kurds. Assad and his air force are also taking advantage of the moment as the United States busies itself with attacks al Qaeda affiliated groups and ISIS. That way, there are fewer attacks on Assad and he is free to strike against the rebels.
200 is a heck of a lot of air strikes. 

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Qatar Wants UN Directorship

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
The Emir of Qatar is throwing a lot of weight and a huge amount of money behind his former prime minister.
The Emir is backing his PM for secretary general of the United Nations.

The Emir of Qatar wants his former prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, to take over the position of UN chief now held by Ban Ki-moon, who will vacate his post when his term concludes in 2016.

This is very problematic.

The Emir of Qatar is one of the most powerful men in the Middle East. He is also the single largest supporter of Hamas in the world.

With this kind of money and an already very well oiled campaign in place, Hamad bin Jassim will be a very serious candidate for UN secretary general. He is the man to beat - and as of now, more than a year away from the actual election, no one else is even on the docket.

If Hamad bin Jassim wins, the entire United Nations will shift directions. Overnight Israel and most of the Western world, including the United States, will become pariahs. The strength of the non aligned nations will become unprecedented.

It will be the end of the UN as we know it. 

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Israel To Sell Gas to Egypt

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The tables have turned!

2.5 years ago Islamic terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood were blowing up the natural gas pipeline that led from Egypt to Israel.

They were upset that Egypt was providing gas to Israel.

Thirty months later, Israel and Egypt have signed an agreement. This time Israel is providing Egypt with natural gas and using the same pipeline. But now the pipeline is more secure. Egyptian President al Sisi believes he can provide the line the protection it needs.

Over the next 3 years Israel will regularly provide a minimum of 5 million cubic meters of natural gas to Egypt.

Egypt has not yet recovered from their internal turmoil and crisis. The Egyptian economy, especially their oil and natural gas industry, is dependent on outside powers for a jump start - and it has barely moved.

Egypt has a long way to go. They need to import. And the perfect partner is Israel which is now marketing their newly discovered natural gas resources.

Strange but true, just the way things happen in the Middle East. 

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kerry Makes A Silly Statement Again

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State John Kerry recently made the startlingly ridiculous statement that in his travels in the Middle East "there wasn't a leader I met within the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation."

The suggestion that the lack of resolution between Israel and the Palestinians is in any way a reason for radicalism and the rise of ISIS is simply uninformed fiction.

The presence of the United States and the role of the United States in the Middle East - including the coalition, have much more to do with increased recruitment to ISIS and radicalization in the region than the lack of progress between Israel and the Palestinians.

And that is still no reason for the US to stop its involvement.

Kerry continues to stun me. How can the person responsible for US policy in the Middle East repeatedly make these ridiculous statements? 

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

NYC Imams Condemn Extremism

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The other day almost a dozen Imams from New York City gathered on the steps of City Hall. They announced that they were going to fight extremism.

This is a huge step forward for the Muslim community and for Muslims living in the United States.

The Imams announced that Islamic law forbids acts of terror and violence against innocent people.

The leader of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, Imam Al Hajj Talib Abdur Rashid, explained that the group would now start a serious educational campaign to combat extremism. They would use the web and counter extremist propaganda.

In addition, they will educate their constituency about balance - especially the need to balance public safety issues and constitutional issues with Muslim issues.

I will monitor them carefully. I wish them good luck and great success. So far they have received no death threats from Muslim extremists.

Death threats tend to silence moderates. 

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Friday, October 17, 2014

US Finally Hits ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The tide might be changing. The Kurds are scoring more points against ISIS - especially around Kobani.

The coalition against ISIS has been more and more effective in their air strikes and the Kurds of Kobani and elsewhere have been more successful in pushing ISIS back.

The United States announced that they believe that they had killed several hundred ISIS members on Wednesday. It is not clear that the Kurds now have the power of serious momentum pushing them forward, but in the short term, we are seeing a change.

So why are the coalition aerial assaults more effective this week than they were last week? Good question.
The answer is that the Kurds are currently giving the US and the coalition the proper coordinates. With proper coordinates the air strikes are making a difference.

So why did the US and the coalition not use Kurds to get them they coordinates they need earlier? Another good question.

Unfortunately, in this case there are no good answers.

I could speculate and in doing so the possible answers would not cast positive light on the United States or on the coalition.

Whatever the answers --- at least now the US and the coalition are getting intel from the Kurds. 

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

US Names Operation-- LOL

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The US has now named the operation against ISIS. We know that it is a coalition of many who agree to stop ISIS - but in reality most nations are not actually doing anything.

Inherent Resolve is the name of the operation.

I think the name is very appropriate. Resolve is necessary to defeat ISIS. Inherent implies that everyone, every human being, should have that resolve.

If the message is so inherent, that may have been a reason that the operation went without a name for so long, at least until yesterday.

Now the operation has a name. Now we know what we are fighting for and what we are fighting against. And we know that we are fighting it inherently and with great resolve. 

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Israel in Line For Huge Conflict

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is gearing up for a huge fight.

Not the kind you would expect. No guns or rockets, no Iron Dome.

This is a diplomatic battle.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom recently voted, in a non-binding vote, to recognize the Palestinian State. France will soon do the same. Other Western European countries will follow suit.

In addition, there is an international, primarily European, move to punish settlements and settlers and boycott Israeli products from the West Bank. Some are even calling for a total boycott of Israel products.

The political leadership of Europe understands the need to not step forward and recognize a Palestinian State but the masses, even rank and file politicians not in leadership positions, see no harm in recognizing a Palestinian State.

Why is recognizing a Palestinian state so dangerous? It means that the fiat, or votes, around the world trump direct face to face dialogue.

The only way to create a state is for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to discuss and then agree upon the terms. A unilateral declaration is simply counterproductive. 

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Iran Sudan Rift will Hurt Hamas

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Iran and Sudan are at one another's throats.

Sudan shut down all Iranian culture centers in Sudan. The shutdown was ordered by the king himself.

Sudan shut down the Iranian centers because Iran was using them to spread Shiite tradition and influence Sunnis in Sudan.

This breakup will have a huge impact on weapon transfers to Hamas. Iran sends weapons to Sudan and the Sudanese then bring the weapons through Egypt and into Gaza.

This breakup between Iran and Sudan is troublesome - but it is also typical. All Sunnis are skeptical of Iran.
The Sunnis fear that the Shiites want to poach Muslims and bring them over to Shiite Islam.

The difference between Shiites and Sunnis is so dramatic that they think of each other as heretics and can kill each other with impunity. 

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Iran Tries to Help the US

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Stranger things have happened. But they are seldom as strange as these reports from the Iranian press.
Iran appears to be looking out for the United States and Israel.

Iran has warned the United States that toppling Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will increase the risks to Israel's security.

Over the weekend Iranian news covered and quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullahian as having specifically told his counterparts in the US that ousting Assad would endanger Israel.

There is no doubt that the Iranian assessment is correct. An ISIS or an al Qaeda/al Nusrah government in Syria would endanger Israel.

But why does Iran care enough to let the United States know their evaluation? And why have they made that message public?

The answer is that Iran does not think that the United States sees the region with the proper perspective. So they are helping the US view the region from the POV of US interests - or at least the way the Iranians see US interests.

Iran thinks that the human rights issue is so dramatic that ousting Assad is on equal footing with fighting ISIS. I fear is that Iran is wrong and that the United States does not understand it own priorities.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Donor Conference for Gaza

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Today, in Cairo, the Donors Conference to rebuild Gaza is taking place.

The Palestinians are asking for $4 billion. As might be expected, the donor nations and agencies know that giving money to Gaza needs to be properly administered to make sure that it really goes towards the reconstruction of Gaza - and is not funneled to other purposes.

The United States planned on pledging $118 million. But in the end John Kerry pledged $212 million.That is hardly a significant sum.
Every donor nation thinks that if they give money now to rebuild Gaza, in two years Hamas will launch more rockets into Israel. They do not want Hamas involved in the rebuilding. The PA needs to step in.

The Conference is sponsored by Egypt and Norway in cooperation with the European Union, the United Nations and the Arab League.

There is almost no that the conference will reach the projected money goal.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

EU Lifts Sanctions on Iran Oil Tankers

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday an EU court lifted the sanctions against Iran's main oil tanker company. The court said that the sanctions have been annulled.

The EU did not even present an opposing point of view and so, the sanctions were automatically annulled.
The time frame allotted for appeal had elapsed and no paperwork had been submitted in order to continue the sanctions.

That means that Iran's largest oil tanker company known as NITC which stands for the National Iranian Tanker Company is free to deliver oil to the European Union without restraints.

Of course there are still limits on the export of Iranian oil --- but not on the Iranian tankers delivering the Iranian oil.

This effectively destroys any potential power a European boycott of Iran would have. It means that there is almost no way to effectively pressure Iran. Their most important cash cow is free to function as it wishes and Iran is now able to provide Europe, a continent starving for fuel especially oil, with as much as they demand.

What a downturn and disappointment this is for those hoping to create a united front to pressure Iran to adhere to international demands and expectations regarding nuclear technology. 

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Who Can Beat ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It is a crap shoot. That is the answer I give when people ask me what the chances of defeating ISIS are.

I know the West can win. But ...

Every day, about 30 times a day, I get reports about battles and conflicts with ISIS and al Nusra. I read about losses and injuries, casualties and beheadings. I get regular reports on the vast numbers of people running away to escape the horror.

The real issue is not if the United States air force will inflict enough pain on ISIS or whether ISIS can endure the pain of the aerial strikes. The real issue is will ISIS be contained, do the Kurds and Hezbollah have the where-with-all to repel them.

Hezbollah and the Kurds are the only real groups on the ground with the psychological power to confront ISIS, they are the only groups with the need to succeed.

The reports I get concerning battles between Kurds and ISIS bare very important. If the Kurds trounce ISIS, that is a very good sign.

And if Hezbollah forces ISIS out of major parts of Syria, that, too, is very good.

It has nothing to do with agreeing with Hezbollah or liking Hezbollah. It has to do with wanting ISIS defeated. And other than the Kurds one of the only groups who care enough to fight them face to face and who have the experience, the weapons and the gumption is Hezbollah.

So I watch the daily skirmishes. I get moment by moment updates and I count the casualties. I also watch the map very carefully to make certain that areas and rings and swaths are or are not being connected.

This fight is happening even without US boots. And it may be over before you know it. 

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Hezbollah Fighting ISIS

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

There are only a few groups in the Middle East who have the psychological wherewithal to confront ISIS.
They are the groups that fight for their land and their lives and know that they cannot run from ISIS. The
Kurds are one group and Hezbollah is another.

Yesterday, ISIS and Hezbollah had a huge battle on the Syrian Lebanon border in the Bekka valley.
Yesterday, also, Hezbollah had another major battle with the al Qaeda affiliate group called al Nusra.

Hezbollah sustained two losses and several injuries. ISIS and al Nusra fared much worse, losing 16 in one battle and 8 in another.

It sounds strange but in this case, we need to root for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah will defend Lebanon and Syria from al Qaeda and ISIS because they know that if either one or both of those even-more-extremist-than-they-are groups gains a stronghold, Shiites will be massacred.
Hezbollah has nowhere to escape and their only option in the short and in the long term is to push back as hard as they possibly can.

Here I am, a major critic of Hezbollah and there is no doubt in my mind that Hezbollah will not abandon their ranks and will not run away from the fight and will not be deceived into believing that ISIS and al Qaeda are just a passing fad.

Ditto for the Kurds. 

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Israel's Fight Against Ebola a US double Standard

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Israel has just decided to send 3 mobile medical units to Liberia and Sierra Leone to help the fight against Ebola.

The request was officially sent from US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers to Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prossor.

Originally Israel rejected the request.

At first look, denying the request seemed strange and out of place.
Israel is usually the first country to jump in and help out other countries in need. And it appeared as if any disciplined Western medical team could institute the proper protocol to minimize risks to their team and their
home country.

So why did Israel say no? And then say yes?
The request officially went to the Israeli Defense Ministry. The Foreign Ministry weighed in and suggested that Israel go. The Foreign Ministry thought that it would counterbalance the negative PR Israel was still getting from the summer conflict with Gaza, Operation Preventive Edge.

It seems as if the Defense Ministry determined that Israel could not take the risk. Or, maybe not.
The IDF has a good number of ready prepped MASH units. They were the proper address. They had the training.

Once again, Israel is faced with a huge double standard.
Liberia and Sierra Leone have not been shut down by the FAA. US airlines are still free to fly there and have been for months with no restrictions since the outbreak of this deadly virus now turned epidemic and potentially even pandemic. And yet, during the summer, Israel's Ben Gurion Airport was shut down to travelers to and from the United States causing over a billion dollars of lost tourist revenue.

There is no irony here - simply a double standard.

This is another example showing how wrong Washington has been when it comes to making certain foreign affairs decisions.

But in the end, Israel is sending teams to help. The teams are from the Foreign Ministry. Officially they are mobile medical clinics not MASH operations.

Why? Because Israel does the right thing. Israel helps people in need. 

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Egypt will Invite Israel & PA to Talks

By Micah Halpern
I've Been thinking:

If things go according to schedule Palestinians and Israelis are soon to resume peace negotiations and Egypt will act as mediator.

But it is not that simple. Egypt does not want negotiations. Neither does Israel. Not now.

Why doesn't Egypt want negotiations to resume now? Because Egypt has carved out a new position for itself within the Arab world. The Egyptians have successfully moved themselves into a position of leadership and Egypt does not want to jeopardize that new/old position.

Why doesn't Israel want negotiations to resume now? Because negotiating with the Palestinians now means negotiating not only with Abbas and his Fatah party, but with Hamas, too.

Egypt sees eye to eye with Israel about Hamas. They have said that the speech delivered by Abbas at the UN General Assembly was not simply wrong, it was a mistake.

But Egypt will do what it needs to do - it will do the right thing. After the Jewish holidays and after the Muslim pilgrimage known as the Haj and feast of the Eid, Egypt will sponsor new talks. They will send out invitations inviting the Israelis and the Palestinians to meet in wither Jerusalem, Ramallah or Cairo.

They will go through the motions, but their heart will not be in it. 

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Big Lie About Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Saeb Erekat, the outspoken Palestinian negotiator and spokesmen, drew a parallel between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of ISIS.

The ad hominem attack is far from the truth - but never the less, it must be addressed.

Erekat begins by drawing the parallel between words and names. He reminds people that Netanyahu is the head of the Jewish state, while ISIS is creating an Islamic state.

Erekat goes on to say that Netanyahu allows his Jews to kill innocent people, massacre children, burn churches, destroy mosques and he permit settlers to perpetrate terrible attacks against Palestinians at will.

There is no way to compare ISIS with Israel. Yet Erekat does just that.

Israel is a democracy with checks and balances. Leaders and citizens are held accountable for their actions and for their misdeeds. There is an Independent judiciary in Israel and independent investigations and police and prosecution.

Israel is a country of law and justice.

Erekat did not just get his facts wrong - he is deliberately trying to transform a democratic country of peace loving defenders into a pre-modern society of barbarians.

Shame on you Saeb Erekat. And shame on anyone who actually believes your lies.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Protests Against Israel in US Ports

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The Port of Oakland is the 5th largest port in the United States.

On Saturday September 27, for the second time, protesters prevented an Israeli cargo ship from Zim Cargo from unloading its cargo at the port. The group of protesters was small - only about 200 people. They were organized under the banner of "Block the Boat for Gaza Online." Officially, they were upset by Israel's 50 day operation against Gaza this summer.

The first time this happened was in August and now this second time during the last days of September it has happened again. Twice in two months. Each time, the Zim ships eventually pulled out of Oakland and unload their cargo in Los Angeles.

Protesters prevented the ship from unloading by blocking the ship and the entrance to that section of the port so that the longshoremen could not and would not access the Zim ship.

The ILWU union (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) speaking for the longshoremen said that they did not take a stand on the politics. They also said that their workers and their vehicles were blocked and that they were threatened so they decided not to unload the ship or even break the line.

Here is the real problem: If this situation becomes more common, Zim will simply dock in LA or Long Beach. Zim is one of the biggest cargo companies in the world. It is a multi-billion dollar company.

Ironically, what the protesters do not realize is that they are not hurting Israel, they are hurting their local workers. When Zim takes it business elsewhere, the port will have to cut workers.

In the end, this kind of boycott will not be successful. 

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