October 12, 2015

Israel's Disappearing Ongoing Terror Wave

                                                                                                         published at Honest Reporting

A week into the ongoing wave of terror against Israeli Jews, it has become nearly impossible to learn -- from major news sources outside Israel -- what is going on in Israel.

The terror wave itself is becoming invisible. Many reports minimize the hundreds of attacks against Israelis. Some suggest that attempting to stop a terrorist should be seen as the same thing as being a terrorist; other coverage depicts any Israeli defensive measures in such a way these will appear to cause the violence.

In a recent CNN report, terror against Israelis has disappeared. A video captioned "spiral of violence grips the Middle East" tells of Palestinians throwing "rocks and marbles" against "tanks and tear gas." Israel's Prime Minister is described as "stern and contentious" in contrast to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who "doesn't want the situation to escalate."

Readers would never know that Abbas and Palestinian officials have been "waging an unprecedented campaign of incitement against Israel" in what Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh describes as "calls for murder."

An Associated Press story in US News and World Report purports to be a timeline of "latest developments in the ongoing tensions between Palestinians and Israelis" but these tensions usually turn out to be that a Palestinian was stopped after killing or trying to kill an Israeli. Like many other stories, this one leads with the "shooting and wounding" of a Palestinian and then mentions that the "motorist" was trying to run over people at a checkpoint.

Similarly, BBC  writes "Israeli-Palestinian violence spreads over Gaza" which in itself is inaccurate since the Gaza government has taken credit for some of the attacks in Israel. These include what Hamas has praised as "the heroric terror attack," the murder of Eitam and Na'ama Henkin, a Tel Aviv University doctoral student and his wife who was a graphic designer,
shot to death in their car in front of their four children.

The article claiming that "violence" is moving from Israel into Gaza has it backwards. Rockets have been fired in recent days from Gaza into Israel and violent rioters  from Gaza attempted to cross into Israel. BBC's "analysis" piece describes a "sudden and sharp escalation of violence" equating attacks on civilians with the attempt to prevent such attacks.

And as the reporting on the terror wave disappears, the terrorists are provided with a more sympathetic treatment than the Israeli victims of terror.

August 30, 2015

Lessons of the French Train Heroes

The planned massacre of passengers on a train in France by a heavily armed Islamist terrorist is a horror too awful to think about. But thinking about it needs to happen.

What if something actually were learned from the quick, brave actions of three American 23-year-olds, a French-American dual citizen, and a grandfather from England who fought the terrorist with their bare hands and protected the lives of all the passengers and crew? What if celebrating the heroes were a step toward turning attention to terror vulnerabilities in Europe and also America?

What if honor for the heroes brought with it public demand for Western leaders to focus on stopping the continued plans of jihadists?

Reuters was still publishing stories with titles like "Train gunman dumbfounded by terrorist tag" when the three friends from Carmichael, California, Airman 1st Class, Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guardsman, Alek Skarlatos, and Sacramento State University student, Anthony Sadler were asked, "What do you think of the claim that it was a robbery attempt?"

The three had succeeded in disarming the terrorist, beating him unconscious, and tying him up.

"It doesn't take eight magazines to rob a train," Anthony Sadler said wisely.

As a recently retired Sacramento State professor, I paid special attention to the coverage of Anthony and his friends, and I think they have something to teach.

In Sacramento, they are hometown heroes. They are also, suddenly, world famous recipients of France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur medal. President Hollande said they have given the world a "lesson in courage."

Just before the Legion of Honor ceremony, the press asked the three young men what could be learned from their experience. Anthony answered: "I want the lesson to be learned that in times of terror to please do something -- don't just stand by and watch."

If "times of terror" unfold in our train car, we hope we are lucky enough to be surrounded by people with the instinctive, selfless reactions of Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler.

But we do know it can't be left up to college students and off-duty US military, no matter how brave, to save the day. Anthony's spontaneous response, "in times of terror...please do something -- don't just stand by and watch," should be heeded at the highest city and national levels.

For starters, Europe and the US might want to make a few adjustments. The attacker, Ayoub El-Khazzani simply walked onto the train with a bagful of weapons, box cutters, and ammunition. It doesn't seem that complicated to need to place one's bag on a conveyor and at the same time walk through a metal detector gate at the entrance to train stations. It works well in Israel.

Of course, in Israel there are other security measures as well, like personnel trained and equipped for emergency. And yet the atmosphere (not counting the rush hour crowds and general noise) is relaxed.

But on the Amsterdam-Paris train not only was security lacking, according to French actor, Jean-Hugues Anglade who was injured while breaking an emergency glass, when the terrorist appeared the train crew disappeared without so much as a warning to the passengers.

Along with no bag checks there were also no ID checks. El-Khazzani had already been identified as a terrorist by Spain, and Spanish officials had alerted the French. He was on watch lists in France, Spain, Belgium, and Germany, the same lists as the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo murders. Are these lists something officials "just stand by and watch"?

Amid the well-deserved praise for the actions of the heroes, the lessons learned should not be simply for passengers but for crews, not just for everyday citizens but for agencies and governmental leaders who are responsible for helping preserve our freedom to live lives that are anathema to jihadist inspired terrorists.

"I'm just a college student," said Anthony Sadler. "It's my last year of college. I came to see my friends on my first trip to Europe and we stopped a terrorist. It's kind of crazy."

An earlier version of this post appeared in AmericanThinker.

August 12, 2015

Why Don't We Hear About the Fate of Palestinians?

As of this May, 2,770 Palestinians had been killed since the start of the civil war in Syria. But when Palestinians there sought refuge in Palestinian controlled Gaza and the West Bank, PA President Mahmoud Abbas turned them down. He said, "It's better that they die in Syria than that they give up their right of return [to Israel]."

In Arab countries, Palestinians are subject to apartheid laws such as the ones in Lebanon that prevent them from working in many professions including medicine, law, engineering, and accounting. This stands in sharp contrast to Israel where all professions are open and Arab-Israelis are also Supreme Court justices and Knesset members.

While the Arab/Palestinian population in Israel is constantly growing, Palestinians have been and are being expelled from Arab countries in which they have lived for years.

In the 1990's, 200,000 Palestinians were forced to leave Kuwait.

In Iraq, only 6,000 out of 25,000 Palestinians are left. According to the head of the Palestinian League in Iraq, Thamer Meshainesh, militias routinely attack Palestinians as part of an organized plan to get them to leave the country.

Khaled Abu Toameh writes:

...when it comes to ethnic cleansing and torture of Palestinians in Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, the Palestinian leadership chooses to look the other way.

Similarly, the international media seems to have forgotten that there are tens of thousands of Palestinians living in various Arab countries. The only Palestinians that Western journalists know and care about are those living in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

Toameh's report this week, "The Secret Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians" is startling because media tell us so little about Palestinians in the Arab world.

If Israel can't be blamed, there seems to be no interest in what happens to Palestinians.

July 21, 2015

The Iran Deal and Doublethink

                                                                                                                published at Honest Reporting

The substance of what’s wrong with the Iran deal (see here and here) can also be found in the uses and abuses of language surrounding the deal.

It is hard to reconcile that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran say, directly, that we should not expect them to change in any way, and yet, the US led team of negotiators seems to disregard the plain meaning of these leaders’ actions and words. It may not quite be George Orwell’s “doublethink” in 1984:

“To know and not to know…to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic…”

But it is certainly disturbing.

The Best Deal We Could Get

Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt realized that he could bypass the need for a 2/3 majority vote from Congress by referring to a treaty as something other than a treaty, presidents have at times called treaties “executive agreements.” The treaty with Iran goes by the name, the deal

And though discussion might have centered on whether this was a good or bad treaty, calling it a “deal” has not only made it sound like a less than weighty agreement, it seems also to have obscured why we, that is, the West as represented by the US, EU and UK, were negotiating in the first place.

The point of “dealing” with Iran was to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons.
Lifting sanctions was to occur in order to stop Iran’s nuclear build up. Since the deal does not accomplish this, the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis, 77% of Americans, and Iranians (those who have left Iran and are free to voice their opinions) are against it.

It is not as if the US, UK, Germany and France actually need a deal with Iran. (Perhaps China and Russia are happy with the deal for economic reasons.) But the West and the Middle East do need Iran, the world’s biggest enabler of terrorism, not to add nuclear weapons to its arsenal.
If this really were the best deal that could be arranged, the logical alternative would be no deal – at least not yet.

Centrifuge and Subterfuge

The focus on making a deal--as opposed to influencing Iran’s behavior--has led to some weird obfuscation. 

Even if there will be some slowing of Iran’s process for the next few years, the materials and machinery needed for making nuclear weapons are still in place. The promised “anytime-anywhere” inspections not only have disappeared, they’ve been replaced with an up to 24-day advance notice and, even more bizarre, with the requirement that the Iranians must receive specific explanation of the cause for the inspection. 

US Undersecretary of State, Wendy Sherman said that calling for anytime-anywhere inspections was merely “rhetorical.”

The Not Moderate Republic

Everything other than the sanctions and the nuclear program was “off the table.” The deal lifts the sanctions and pretty much keeps the nuclear program. Human rights of Iranians were not discussed, not the beatings or killings of victims of rape, nor the hanging of gays, nor the lack of freedoms overall. Off the table, also, was discussion of the illegally imprisoned four Americans being held there.

Nor was Iran asked, in exchange for lifting the economic sanctions against it, to stop threatening Israel, to stop supporting terrorism by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad’s forces in Syria, or Hamas in Gaza. In fact, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenai announced, the day after the “deal” was completed, that this “victory” would change nothing about “policy toward the arrogant US” or their agenda, an agenda that uses very clear language. 

Throughout the months of negotiations, Iranian leaders led chants of “death to America” and “death to Israel” and reiterated their goals of becoming the dominant force in the Middle East, as they believe is the destiny of the Islamist Republic of Iran.

Trying to account for agreement to this deal seems to require Orwell’s doublethink.

June 27, 2015

"Bloody Friday" Free Pass For Terror?

                                Tourists leaving Sousse, Tunisia after terror attack            --photo: Daily Record 

ISIS supporters made good on the call this week from Abu Muhammad al-Adani, Islamic State official spokesman, to use the month of Ramadan to create a “calamity for the infidels…and apostate Muslims.”

On Friday, they slaughtered 38 people, mostly tourists from England, who were relaxing at a beach in Tunisia.  Earlier in the day, terrorists in France beheaded a businessman after ramming a truck into a factory and causing an explosion. And at around the same time, in Kuwait, a suicide bomber killed 25 worshipers and injured hundreds at a mosque.

On any given day if you happen to be an “infidel,” that is, a Christian, Jew, Hindu, or Buddhist, or if you are a Muslim who goes to the wrong kind of mosque, a former Muslim, or an atheist, you are a target. A target wide as the world.

While the horror that was the beach at Sousse, and the beheading in France by a terrorist who was known to French authorities, may take Western attention for a while (for a lifetime for those who lost loved ones and those who are among the many wounded) it is especially scary to think that quickly we will stop paying attention, again.

Terror attacks in France and Tunisia are very recent, those that ended the lives of 12 people who were working at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and 4 people who were shopping in a kosher market in Paris as well as the terrorism at the Bardo Museum in Tunis that left 22 people dead.  Yet, every new attack shows up as if anomalous, as if only tenuously connected to what has come before, and without acknowledgment by Western powers of the war that has been declared on us.  

Instead there will be some speeches and memorials and investigations. The UN will focus its next emergency session on Israel.

As a member of the vast, world majority of non-jihadists, of we, the people enjoying living life and intent on continuing to do so, I’d be encouraged to hear some direct statements from our leadership. What kind of plan is there for defense of the overwhelming majority of the people of the world?

A disturbing question but an obvious one:  Is giving nuclear weapons to Iran --whose mullahs see themselves in opposition to ISIS but also to the US and Israel – the best you can do?