Monday, July 16, 2018

Lebanese Army commander in DC: the 3rd visit

My weekly article for Al-Akbar: "Lebanese Army commander in DC: the 3rd visit".

Success rate of the Paper Dome

"Israel said that in the initial hours of the ceasefire militants had fired two rockets across the border, of which one was intercepted by the Iron Dome system." So is it 50% now? (thanks Basim)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

WINEP: U.S. should occupy 40% of Syria's territory

“Carefully integrated into a larger strategy, a small, nimble U.S. force presence offers a powerful obstacle to two threats—a regenerated Islamic State, and Iran's effort to use Syria as a power projection platform in the heart of the Arab Middle East and against Israel.” “Iranian aims conflict squarely with Israeli security, and the IDF has repeatedly taken action to blunt Syria's transformation into a platform for attacks against the Jewish state.” Second, work out an understanding with Turkey in the north that would permit the United States and its allies to exercise control over 40 percent of Syria's territory, including the country's most resource-rich tier.” (thanks Amir) 

How Ocasio-Cortez has suddenly started to sound like a mainstream Democratic candidate on Israel:

Does not she sound like Bush or Obama or Hillary?

"Margaret Hoover: What is your position on Israel?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Well, I believe absolutely in Israel's right to exist. I am a proponent of a two-state solution. And for me it's not--this is not a referendum I think on the state of Israel. For me, the lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist, as an organizer, is sixty people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, sixty people were killed in the South Bronx--unarmed--sixty people were killed in Puerto Rico. I just look at that incident more through...through just, as an incident, and to me it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores. But I am--
MH: Of course the dynamic there in terms of geopolitics--
AOC: Of course
MH: and the war in the Middle East is very different than people expressing their first amendment right to protest.
AOC: Well, yes. But I also think that what people are starting to see at least in the occupation of Palestine is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition, and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.
MH: You use the term "the occupation of Palestine"? What did you mean by that?
AOC: Oh, um. [long pause] I think it, what I meant is like the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.
MH: Do you think you can expand on that?
AOC: Yeah, I mean, I think I'd also just [waves hands and laughs] I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue. You know, for me, I'm a firm believer in fighting [possibly "finding"] a two-state solution on this issue, and I'm happy to sit down with leaders on both of this issue, on both of these, for me I just look at things through a human rights lens--and I may not use the right words. [laughs] I know this is a very intense issue.
MH: That's very honest, that's very honest. It's very honest and when, you, you know, get to Washington and you're an elected member of Congress you'll have the opportunity to talk to people on all sides and visit Israel and visit the West Bank and--
AOC: Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that's, that's one of those things that's important too is that, you know, especially with the district that I represent, I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background, and Middle Eastern politics was not exactly at my kitchen table every night. But, I also recognize that this is an intensely important issue for people in my district, for Americans across the country, and I think what's at least important to communicate is that I'm willing to listen and that I'm willing to learn and evolve on this issue like I think many Americans are."  (transcript from Steven Salaita).

Is this the origin of what we now call "fake news"?

"The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries, military officials said."

Friday, July 13, 2018

U.S. airstrikes in Syria & Iraq

“Officials admitted last year that strikes against Isis in both Syria and Iraq since 2014 have killed at least 800 civilians, but credible monitoring teams put the toll at at least 6,000.” (thanks Amir)

This is hilarious: Washington Post publishes an article which claims that Samir Ja`ja` is an anti-establishment politician

You have to read this to believe it.  It does not tell you that while Ja`ja` "doubled" the number of seats for his bloc it it is now 15 seats, while the parliamentary bloc of the `Awn movement is 29 seats. (thanks Sean)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Income disparity between Arabs and Jews in Israel

From Eyal:"Prof. Dror Feitelson's blog on statistics and public affairs has a post
and chart up:

Hebrew original:
contrasting the per-household income of Arabs and "Jews" (not sure about the exact definition of Jews for purposes of that chart; I doubt it's properly religious), at different household sizes. The circle sizes indicate the number of households of the different sizes. The income disparity is very stark, usually over 2x for Jews over Arabs. The raw data was published by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel, and is based on a statistical survey from 2015."

The world’s worst humanitarian crisis and South Korea

“Much of the anti-refugee rhetoric has taken on Islamophobic overtones,” “The most outspoken critics of the Yemenis have come from conservative Christian groups.” (thanks Amir)

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Mossad now has the reputation of the incompetent Arab intelligence services of the 1950s: the story of the wrist watch of Elie Cohen

The Mossad has really suffered over the decades.  Its entire reputation (based on lies and fabrications and exaggeration) has been effectively demolished--certainly in the Arab world if not in the Western world.  But even in the West, there were many bungled Mossad operations: the assassination attempt on Khalid Misha`ah which was foiled by one bodyguard, or the famous parading of Mossad agents in Dubai Hotel, or the kidnapping of a man named Hasan Nasrallah because the Mossad experts thought that there was only one Hasan Nasrallah, etc.  The Mossad in my youth had a reputation that it can never fail in its missions, although from the 1980s Admiral Stansfield Turner had it right when he told ABC News that Mossad gets a high score in PR but a much lower score in actual effectiveness.  The recent episode was the press statement by Netanyahu that the Mossad was able in a highly sophisticated operation to snatch the wrist watch of Israeli spy, Elie Cohen.  But within a day the true story was exposed: that the Mossad bought the watch from an auction.  Tomorrow, the Mossad will show off a potato and it will claim that it was once owned by Elie Cohen.  Israel faces really acute strategic deficits that it never suffered before: 1) the Israeli soldier is no more scary to Arab fighters. If anything, it is the other way round.  People in South Lebanon still like to tell stories on how Israeli soldiers were audibly screaming out of fear in the July war of 2006. 2) the Mossad does not have the reputation that it had in the post.  It is a matter of time, really.