Tuesday, September 01, 2015

01-Sep-15: Inbound rocket from Gaza announces new school year

Israeli schools go back this morning, which may be part of the reason for an inbound rocket alarm that sounded around 5:15 this morning (Tuesday) across southern Israel. For now, the thinking is that this one, like so many before it, was a Fell Short, doing damage to people or property on the Hamas side of the Gaza/Israel fence, but it's still early to know for sure. And if it does turn out to have crashed onto Gazan heads or farms or homes, it's highly unlikely we will be hearing details via anyone, least of all the terrorist regime that rules the area, of damage or pain.

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the launch was done from Gaza's Beit Lahiya and the rocket was pointed in the general direction of the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, but did not get there. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, said to be connected to ISIS, claimed "credit".

01-Sep-15: A tale of two villages: one devoted to non-violence, the other real and existing

The Tamimi boy from Nabi Saleh with his arm in a plaster caste, being
energetic and mobile in a screen-capture taken just moments before
he was photographed headlocked by an IDF soldier. 
The source is this video clip.
The events about which we wrote here on Sunday ["29-Aug-15: Revisiting a Palestinian Arab village and its monsters"] have triggered starkly contrasting reactions.

In one corner are those who see the villagers of Nabi Saleh as peace-loving, non-violent nobility, battling to preserve dignity and fields.

In the other, those who are left dumbfounded by the brazen manipulation of women and girls, naked child-abuse, and contrived exploitation of public opinion via the villagers' use of calculated provocations, staged clashes and strategically-placed photographers. Without the presence of those camera men, none of the drama would be happening.

Even if this were not the hamlet that spawned, encouraged, celebrated and then idolized the woman who planted a bomb (a human bomb) in a Jerusalem pizzeria in order to kill as many Jewish children as possible, and succeeded, we would surely have been in that first corner. 
Same boy, different circumstances some minutes later

We explained our rationale in a March 2013 post ["A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns"]. We wrote it in response to a cover story in the New York Times Magazine whose distortions, tendentiousness and adoration of murderous violence literally sickened us. We expressed our criticism in a letter to the editors at the New York Times who ignored us. We then found our own way to show our disgust; you can read about that here. We remain appalled and infuriated by some of the journalism we see them practice there.

Those who see only giants and heroes in that hateful little Palestinian Arab town probably share the view, typical of its kind, that asserts
the village is struggling for humanity, justice, peace and dignity, and... they need their freedom [via a far-left Israeli publication, yesterday]
But there are Arabic-language sources that tell us with far greater candor and clarity what really drives Nabi Saleh's Tamimis. Those Arabic texts naturally were never intended to be seen by people like us and those who read our posts. But web tools make them easy to find.

* * * 

Take for example Wikipedia's Arabic-language entry on Nabi Saleh. As we wrote here on Saturday night, someone doctored the Wikipedia text shortly after we first publicized it. Every reference to the village people's adoration of jihad, martyrdom and death to the Israelis was erased. But this past weekend, we found the original Arabic text as it had appeared on Wikipedia in May 2013. We saved the original Arabic text to here, and a partial English translation to hereThey are archived now thanks to the wonders of the Internet, and safe (we think) from the destructive attentions of those who feel compelled to re-invent the past. 

That deleted Wikipedia text is the village of Nabi Saleh paying tribute to its own viciously violent true self: to its warriors, to its killers, to its dead fighters, and above all to its favourite daughter, the one who smiles on-camera when she recalls how many innocent Jewish children she blew to pieces in the Sbarro pizzeria, our daughter Malki among them.

Virtually everyone in Nabi Saleh is a member of the Tamimi clan. That includes our daughter's murderer and the murderer's husband who is also her cousin - and also a convicted murder of Jews. And also freed in the catastrophic Shalit Deal four years ago. (They now live in Amman, Jordan). And also a hero of those self-proclaimed peace-loving, non-violent villagers.

* * * 

An expert on that form of terror, Dr Anat Berko who authored "The Smarter Bomb: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers", offers some sharp and relevant observations in an interview published today in Algemeiner. Noting that Palestinian Arab society, like virtually every other part of Arab society, is patriarchal, she points out that they systematically use women and children as front-line combatants. And as so often happens with the actions of people lacking scruples and fundamental morality, it pays off:
[T]he West will always view women and children as non-combatants. This is why they are often used as shields for the men. We have seen this in violent demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza, where the men literally hide under the skirts of females. We saw it this week in the viral video of the IDF soldier being attacked by a group of females – even bitten by a girl – while he was trying to stop a Palestinian boy throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. Any wounds sustained by women and children are automatically viewed in the West as war crimes committed by Israel...
which is plainly true. But in reality, what is happening is that
the crime against these women and children is being committed by the leaders of their society – who raise them to know nothing but hate – and by the terror masters, who treat them like cannon fodderIn this ongoing war, what we call non-combatants are actually combatants... and women and children are their ultimate weapons, because the West sees them as innocents. [Dr Anat Berko in Algemeiner, August 31, 2015]
In the company of men: The Tamimi child is taken to Turkey
to be praised for her 'bravery', December 2012 - and groomed for
more of the same [Image Source]
The West, but not so much the East. The Tamimi child (the one widely known today as Shirley Temperwho features prominently in this past weekend's video, and in virtually every video issuing forth for years via Tamimi Press, her father's well-funded Nabi Saleh publicity machine, received an award for 'bravery' in Turkey in December 2012. She was thirteen years old:
Tamimi said she was proud to get the Handala award which would enhance her strength... Handala Courage Award, handed out by the Basaksehir Municipality, was named after the cartoon character Handala created by Palestinian cartoonist Naji Salim al-Ali noted for the political criticism of the Arab regimes and Israel in his works. Visiting Turkey as being the guest of Basaksehir Municipality of Istanbul, 13-year-old Tamimi attended a series of events ahead of the award ceremony and opened an art exhibition titled "Being children in Palestine". She thanked Turkish children for welcoming her as she was one of them, and called on the Palestinian children to stand tall, at the ceremony. [TimeTurk, December 27, 2012]
We're not so sure the children heard her. But the many middle-aged men in the photo above did. It's their will she is doing. She evidently pleases them.

* * *

How obvious is the ongoing abuse of women and children in bucolic Nabi Saleh? The answer is pretty clear in the video clips of Friday's staged confrontation. Take this video clip for instance. It's from Tamimi Press, the propaganda business operated by Shirley Temper's father,

At the start of the "clash", we see a group of mostly men, plus two or three women and girls setting off down the road to find the soldiers:

A few minutes later, it's men only as they launch into rock-hurling and sling-shot firing at the Israelis:

Then more of the same, with no women or girls to be seen:

And then finally, the now-gone-viral iconic scene of an IDF soldier, armed with lethal weapons that remain carefully under his control, suffering a biting- and manhandling-attack by women and children along with a freelance photographer:

So where are the rock-hurling, sling-shot-firing macho fellows, the men, whose manly voices are heard singing songs of triumph at the start of the video just a few minutes earlier? The men - where are the men? 

That's a question for the camera operator. If anyone knows what sort of image the global market needs to be fed, needs to buy, it's the camera person. And men are not part of it. You do what you need to do. This is war - that sort of war.

Nabi Saleh's children jubilant as they prepare to get back several
of their beloved convicted murderers, October 2011 [Image Source]
* * *

When the convicted and unrepentant mass-murderer Ahlam Tamimi, the architect of the Sbarro massacre and already a celebrity, was about to walk free in the Shalit Deal, the joyous public celebrations in Nabi Saleh featured prominently in media coverage. 

(Three other Tamimis, all males, all convicted of the vicious 1993 murder of Chaim Mizrachi, a man with whom they had friendly relations, all sentenced to life terms, were due to be freed at the same time. Two of them - Nizar Samir Mahmud al-Tamimi and Ahmad Yusuf Mahmud al-Tamimi were in fact let loose and returned immediately to Nabi Saleh as heroes. The third, Sa’id Rushdi Mohammad At-Tamimi, was released in a separate round of US-inspired terrorist releases two years later in December 2013. The connection of these three convicted Nabi Saleh killers to non-violence, dignity and human rights is somewhat unclear to us.)

Nabi Saleh, October 2011. The woman holding the portrait
of our daughter's murderer is the murderer's sister, Eftikhar
Tamimi [Image Source]
Four Nabi Saleh murderers freed long before serving out their sentences, and at the same time subverting Israeli justice - clearly a cause for celebration in villagers' eyes. The pretense of Nabi Saleh's ersatz devotion to non-violence was dumped for a while as the joy of seeing killers returned to their homes in triumph kicked in. See "The anthem of Nabi Saleh: “Release our prisoners or arrest us all”" for more background.

* * *

The repurposing of Palestinian Arab women, and especially girls, for terrorist warfare took on a new reality in the past few weeks. An Al-Monitor reports ["Hamas concludes first-ever military training camp for girls", August 1, 2015] on a summer training program that was opened up for teen-age females in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Called "First al-Quds Army Camp" it was created
to prepare academically exceptional girls aged 12-18 for the liberation battle of Palestine... Hamas has never organized a female training camp before. Around 1,000 girls attend the camp, which offered a special curriculum to resist the occupation taught by women affiliated with the Hamas movement. These women enjoy extensive military experience and know how to intellectually mobilize people against the occupation. Camp director Rajaa al-Halabi told Al-Monitor, "The goal of the First al-Quds Army camp is to prepare girls for self-defense and for future battles against the occupation." [Al-Monitor]
Dr Anat Berko naturally looks beyond the self-serving rhetoric of the Islamists who created it:
"Women in Palestinian society have always been abused; training them to become fighters along with the men is not an act of equality, but rather another form of abuse." Berko, who spent years interviewing would-be and actual terrorists in Israeli jails, has frequently pointed out that the terror masters and their dispatchers never send their own children on suicide missions. [The camp] is part of the wider campaign of Hamas and other groups to take advantage of and manipulate the population. "It is the socialization of kids through terror,” she said. “It is child abuse, plain and simple. But where is the international outrage about it?" [Algemeiner]
There's no good answer to her question. Billions of dollars flow annually into the coffers of global child-protection and children's rights organizations like UNICEFDefence for Children InternationalUNESCOChild Rights International Network, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Washington-based Jerusalem FundSave the ChildrenArab Council for Childhood Development and others.

Strangely, the Islamist regimes and the terrorist training they inflict on the children fated to live under their boots routinely get ignored by all of them. Why? Because.

(We have written about this ongoing Arab child-abuse tragedy several times: "24-Jan-13: Sacrificing the lives of an entire generation of adolescents on their altar of hatred, the thugs of Hamas boast of plans to create a children's army"; "10-Feb-15: The Islamists of Gaza: Yet again preparing children to kill and be killed" and "12-Feb-15: It's Red Hand Day. Do you know where the children are?" The information we pulled together is open source and available to anyone who wants to find it.]
Among the last of the photos we have of our murdered
daughter is this one from the few days she spent in
August 2001 being a camp counselor to special-needs

* * *

Our daughter Malki, whose life was stolen from us when she was the same age as little Shirley Temper is today, spent most of her last week of life at a summer camp too, as
a volunteer counselor at a summer camp for children with developmental delays and special needs. The camp takes place each summer in the north of Israel, and involves many hundreds of participants from all parts of the country. It's organized by Etgarim, an association with some lovely people running it. Malki and her friend Rachel traveled up north without being sure they would be accepted as volunteers. They were, in the end, and Malki came back from there smiling from ear to ear. She loved everything about it. She was murdered a few days afterwards, and we heard most of the stories we know about that camp from the other counsellors and the organizers... ["11-Aug-06: Good and evil"]
Malki's mother Frimet wrote this nine years ago:
During the five days they were there assisting the counselors, Malki's gentle, caring way touched everyone. Many of the people associated with Etgarim travelled long distances to comfort us during the Shiva - one trekked all the way from Kiryat Shmona at Israel's northernmost edge and back in one day, a four hour drive each way-and related incredible stories to us about Malki.
One of the counsellors who had supervised her remembered the farewell chat he had conducted with the volunteers the night before their return home. When he asked each of the volunteers to stand up and tell the group what they viewed as the most important feature of their stint, they all emphasized the importance of and satisfaction gained from giving to others. Malki was the last one to speak. We were told that she was the only one who spoke of what she had gained - of the happiness she had experienced in working with the children. ["27-Nov-06: Today Would Have Been Our Daughter's 21st Birthday"]
We're thinking still of Malki's gentle smile, and struggling even now with the fact that she will never reach her sixteenth birthday. And trying to make sense of the summer camps, role-models and futures our neighbours have created for their children.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

29-Aug-15: Revisiting a Palestinian Arab village and its monsters

Nabi Saleh this past Friday [Image Source: Daily Mail UK]
Imagery in the service of jihad, mayhem and chronic
child abuse
There's a media fuss about images [here] of an Israeli serviceman tangling with "a little boy" in a Palestinian Arab village. The Daily Mail UK, one of the busiest online news sites, gave it very considerable attention on Friday here, correctly linking it to the particular form of image exploitation defined by Prof. Richard Landes as Pallywood
the alleged media manipulation by Palestinians to win public relations war against Israel [Daily Mail UK, today]
This short video clip of the same interaction provides a little more helpful context.

People not-so-much-in-the-know are unlikely to realize that the published photos are a small part of a larger, orchestrated event of the kind that happens in Nabi Saleh every week. Local press people know this because of the weekly invitations they get to come along and provide coverage. But most news consumers don't know that. They have no reason to understand - or to care about - the context and the larger picture.

Back in March 2013, we wrote ["A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns"] about several of the people who appear prominently in today's photos: about their town; about its systematic abuse of its own children; about how a place hell-bent on acts of lethal violence directed against Jews and Israelis has succeeded in camouflaging itself thanks to the willingness of gullible reporters, photographers and editors who provide them with the exposure they crave like oxygen; about the girl - the one in the pink t-shirt in the photo above - who for years has been paraded in front of the cameras in a variety of spunky-on-demand poses (all based on the certainty that IDF personnel are required to be careful and considerate when facing children - this isn't Syria, Ramallah or Gaza) and who has fully earned the nickname given to her by insightful observers who understand the artificial nature of the provocations in which she is the central performer. They know her as Shirley Temper: it's a totally fitting stage name.

From our March 2013 post
That article remains the most viewed post we ever wrote. But most news consumers unfortunately have no idea of the points we made and are making now. The mainstream news reports didn't tell them.

We went back to the contents of that 2013 post tonight in light of what happened on Friday. And we were struck by something interesting that unfortunately we failed to notice much earlier. Here's part of what we said in 2013:
The Wikipedia entry for Nabi Saleh describes the village of some 550 people in notably gentle terms. Centred on an old religious shrine to the prophet Shelah whom we encounter in Genesis as the son of Judah and grandson of the patriarch Jacob, it was a hamlet of a mere five houses in the late nineteenth century when the Turks ruled the area. It grew slowly under the Jordanian military occupation that started in 1948; then declined when Israel took control of the West Bank in 1967, and flourished and multiplied in the past two decades. Today, it’s the scene of weekly protest demonstrations and, to judge from Wikipedia’s English-language version, a place where things are done to passive inhabitants and for no apparent reason. Now if you go to the Arabic-language version of Wikipedia, you see a quite different emphasis. It's not at all a direct translation of the English version. It's created by different people for a different audience and different sensibilities. The Arabic Wikipedia entry depicts Nabi Saleh as a place of “popular resistance” that boasts of having taken a prominent role in two Intifadas, providing “hundreds of prisoners” and 17 so-called “martyrs on the altar of freedom”... The most prominent of the prisoners (Wikipedia's description) is a woman called Ahlam. Her surname is shared with almost every other inhabitant of the village: Tamimi
(That woman is the convicted murderer of our daughter Malki. Often described as an "escort", she was in reality the chief planner of the massacre at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria on August 9, 2001. She personally brought the bomb to the site that she had selected, and fled before the explosion. She lives free as a bird today in Amman, Jordan, from where she makes weekly TV propaganda programs encouraging more acts of terror. Her chilling demonstrations of pleasure at the deaths of her victims, and in particular the children she killed, have given her the status of an iconic figure in the social media of both sides.)

If you go to the Arabic Wikipedia entry for Nabi Saleh today, you will see only a small fraction of what we saw then. Every single reference to the village people's adoration of jihad, martyrdom and death to the Israelis has been erased. The place is filled with virgins all over again.

This seems unfair to us, so we went digging and - bless the Internet and its boundless resources - found the original Arabic text as it appeared on Wikipedia in May 2013.
  • We have now saved the original Arabic text here
  • For those without an online translation capability to do Arabic-to-English, here is the same page rendered into English courtesy of Google Translate.
Friends of Israel, and of objective and accurate news reporting, understand well that the negative, visceral impact of powerful imagery - irrespective of whether it is stage-managed or altogether faked - is powerful and often unstoppable. The Tamimis of Nabi Saleh know this better than most and act on it. Their abuse of children, truth and the global news media channels will certainly continue because... it simply works.

UPDATE: Here's a longer video of Friday's Nabi Saleh production courtesy of the Tamimi publicity enterprise. And another here. The IDF service men we see clearly have the power, the skill, the strength and the weaponry to do something dramatic and long-lasting to stop the unpleasantness to which they are exposed in this stage-managed eruption of violence. They choose to avoid rising to the locals' provocation, handing the provocateurs a publicity gift, but ensuring the patient men and women of the IDF will continue to face the same kind of challenge in the coming days in Nabi Saleh - as they have for years already.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

27-Aug-15: Sometimes a knife attack is more than just a knife attack

President Mahmoud Abbas sharing the triumph of freshly-released Palestinian Arab terrorists, all of them
convicted, unrepentant murderers - and proclaims them heroes. AFP image from August 14, 2013
How people with power deal with terrorism gets our attention to an extent that some might find surprising. It should not be hard to see why. We have learned that being wrong on how to deal with terror has serious life-and-death consequences. Terrorism has become very personal to us.

Something happened here in Jerusalem last night that has again triggered our need to be heard on the subject.

A young Israeli was stabbed. He is in hospital as we write this, getting treated for knife injuries as a result of an attack on Wednesday evening. That's when (according to Ynet)
a Palestinian man attempted to attack a group of border guards near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. The guards managed to overpower the Palestinian, who stabbed one of them in the leg, wounding him lightly. The suspect was arrested. The wounded policeman was taken by ambulance to Hadassah Medical Center. The suspect in the attack is a 56-year-old resident of Hebron, who does not have a permit to enter Israel... [Ynet, today]
No ordinary "Palestinian", this Hebronite has a stunning back-story. Times of Israel says his name is Muammar Ata Mahmoud, and that he
was released in 2013 as part of an ultimately unsuccessful round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority... [Times of Israel, today]
Peace talks? No, not exactly. As The Daily Beast pointed out in August 2013:
The prisoners were freed as an inducement for the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to participate in the peace talks. Since 2009, Abbas has said he would participate in negotiations only if Israel stopped settlement activity after President Obama imposed the condition on Israel in the first year of his first term. But Abbas has moderated his position at the behest of Secretary of State John Kerry... Some families of victims of prisoners who have been released in the past are now seeking a meeting with Kerry to explain to him what they see as the dangers of pressuring Israel to release to release Palestinians from prison... [The Daily Beast, August 14, 2013]
So was Abbas induced? Again, not exactly. In fact, Abbas himself explained that the freeing of 104 convicted terrorists, absurdly labeled "Pre-Oslo prisoners", all of whom were serving unfinished prison terms for involvement in acts of terrorism-related murder, mostly against Jews and Israelis, actually had nothing to do with that:
...Mahmoud Abbas told a visiting group of (Israeli) Meretz MKs in Ramallah on Thursday… that the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails was unrelated to the launching of the peace talks. ["25-Aug-13: Wake up call for those who thought the terrorists are walking free for peace"]
Don't blame Times of Israel's writers and editors for being wrong on this. Almost everyone was during those dark days of 2013. Over and again, the freeing from Israeli prison cells at the urgent and insistent behest of the US government and Secretary of State John Kerry (though his staff denied this from start to finish) of convicted, unrepentant murderers was said to be for peace - to jump start the peace talks, to show compromise in the name of peace, to trigger a peace eruption.

But not us:
“We don’t see this as a step towards peace,” Arnold Roth, one of the Israelis who helped organize a letter to the secretary of state, told The Daily Beast. “The objection is to the madness of positing the peace process on the prior release of murderers. We support a peace process.” Roth has some experience with the pain of seeing the killer of a loved one go free. His daughter, Malki, was killed in Aug. 9, 2001, in the bombing of a Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem. One of the planners of that attack, Ahlam Tamimi, who also broadcast the bombing for Palestinian television from Ramallah, walked free from multiple life sentences in 2011... [The Daily Beast, August 14, 2013]
Two weeks after that, reflecting on how those convicted, unrepentant killers of Jews were received as heroes in Ramallah, their arms held high by Mahmoud Abbas, we wrote here:
Israel's prime minister, in deciding to let the mis-named Pre-Oslo prisoners loose and thereby lifting Abbas's stocks among the Palestinian Arabs, did his calculations the way politicians do. He had a small number of options... The one he chose - freedom for 104 convicted terrorists - must have seemed to him and others in the cabinet as the least bad of several undesirable alternatives. And if this meant the victims of the terrorists would feel betrayed (we can imagine them saying in the cabinet room), so be it. Regretfully, a greater good is served. But speaking as victims of Palestinian Arab terrorists ourselves, we see it this way: justice was trampled, lives and sacrifices were demeaned, public opposition was ignored. In turning a deaf ear to the protests of the victims, our politicians threw down onto the negotiating table the cheapest, most disposable, of the cards in their hand. Not for the first time, we find ourselves saying that decisions like this one will be the cause of much long-term regret. ["27-Aug-13: Justice devalued, lives demeaned, principles cheapened: the high price of freeing murderers"]
It would be nice to think that there are political leaders with backbone, moral fibre and some conscience who might be thinking about regret at this moment. A politician willing to admit to having regrets could be someone worth knowing.

The man who stabbed a young Israeli man last night next to Damascus Gate and the walls of Jerusalem's Old City is the convicted murderer of Professor Menachem Stern.

Prof. Menachem Stern,
murdered in 1989
[Image Source]
Prof. Stern was a renowned historian, a member of Israel's prestigious National Academy of Sciences and Humanities. On the morning of June 22, 1989, he was briskly striding through Jerusalem's Valley of the Cross as he did nearly every day on his way to work at the Jewish National and University Library on the Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus. That day, he encountered this same Muammar Ata Mahmoud, equipped - as he was yesterday - with a knife. Mahmoud and an associate stabbed the historian for reasons that probably made great sense in terms of the savage blood lust and the terrorist creed to which the attackers subscribed. Prof Stern died of his injuries.
A group of first-graders, out for a walk with their teacher, found his body alongside one of the paths. The police came to Professor Stern's house on Tchernichovsky Street, and brought his wife, Hava, with them to the Valley of the Cross to identify the body. The police commander told Hava that he had had the privilege of studying with Professor Stern when he was a student at the university. Thousands came to the funeral, held at the Hebrew University... [Blog of Rabbi Carl M. Perkins, August 6, 2013]
One murder by knifing is never enough if you are that kind of human being. Hence the attack last night, made possible by a chain of awful political decisions based on self-serving logic and a fundamental lack of respect for principles of justice. (Yes, we did say justice - now please read what we said on that subject at the time: "25-Jul-13: Justice and morality and struggling to be healed from the bereavement disease"; and "14-Aug-13: Making 'peace' by celebrating the murders of children and of Holocaust survivors" and "27-Aug-13: Justice devalued, lives demeaned, principles cheapened: the high price of freeing murderers".)

Naturally that's not how it's going to be reported in the news. But it's the truth.

We noted at the top of this post how being wrong on terror has consequences. In that spirit, here is a reminder of an opinion piece Frimet Roth wrote for Times of Israel who published it on December 26, 2013. Less than a week later, yesterday's knife man - the murder of the famous historian - walked out of his Israeli prison cell, free, along with more than two dozen other sociopaths .

Some extracts from "Mr Netanyahu, how’s that working for you?":
Here we go again. The next tranche of terrorist murderer releases is five days away. Most Israelis will pay it no attention. True, polls show that 91% oppose it in principle but it takes more than principles to nudge Israelis off their couches...
We expect that when a prime minister experiments with a new “strategy” – which is what Netanyahu has labeled the releases – he will assess its efficacy at some point.  A drastic move like this – discarding judicial verdicts in favor of a Prime Minister’s preference – demands that. In short, the question that begs asking is: “How’s that working for you, Mr. Netanyahu?” Or, to be more precise: “How’s that working for your people?" ...Have they won Obama’s support against Iran? The releases may even have doomed Netanyahu’s campaign to galvanize the West behind his tough stand on Iran. Netanyahu committed a travesty of justice that those states would never in their wildest dreams entertain. World powers would have rallied around a firm Israeli prime minister. But a spineless leader who crosses his very own red line against releasing terrorist murderers demonstrates that all his ultimatums are shams.
Has it endangered Israelis? Do released terrorists return to terror?
Reports abound of terrorism’s resurgence in the West Bank. Much of it is orchestrated by Hamas – until now considered exclusively Gaza-based...
Bereaved parents grieve until the day they die. Bereaved parents who watch their children’s murderers walk free, grieve and seethe until the day they die.
But we will protest this upcoming release with no illusions.  Netanyahu, who has refused to meet with, speak to or even write to us, is impervious to reason.  He is a junkie of European and American kudos.  And for that coveted pat on the back from Kerry, Merkel, Hollande and co., Netanyahu is emasculating our justice system and destroying our democracy... [Frimet Roth writing in Times of IsraelDecember 26, 2013 - the article appeared less than a week before the release of the convicted murder who carried out yesterday's knifing attack]
Has it endangered Israelis? Do released terrorists return to terror? We have more questions like those. Getting political figures to address just these two could be a constructive start towards stemming the ongoing damage.

27-Aug-15: A midnight rocket attack on southern Israel

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel a little after midnight (Wednesday/Thursday) crashed into open fields in the Eshkol region of southern Israel. Reports say there are no injuries and no significant damage to property.

Times of Israel says residents in the area heard no Color Red incoming-rocket sirens but did hear the sound of the explosion. None of the usual array of heroes who customarily fling explosives over the border to see if they can cause damage or worse has taken credit so far, but we will keep watching for the inevitable claims.

The last such rocket attack down south on which we reported happened about three weeks ago ["02-Aug-15: Violence, incitement, double-talk, more violence"]. That was quickly followed by made-in-Gaza allegations on the fact-challenged social networks that this was just Israelis trying to drum up sympathy ["02-Aug-15: Can't make this kind of shot up"].

Ynet says (but we did not write about it at the time) that the last such incidents of Gazan mayhem occurred when a mortar attack on southern Israel, followed shortly afterwards by two rocket attacks, happened a few days after that, on August 7, 2015. The mortar and the first of the rockets landed in open fields on Israel's side of the border, doing no physical damage (which was of course never the intention of the men doing the attacking). 

That second rocket was a "Fell Short". We will probably never know what harm that caused, since news reports from the Arab side systematically avoid disclosing damage done to life and property by such self-inflicted Arab-on-Arab explosions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

26-Aug-15: Defiance, activism, jihad and New York Times journalism

Click for the background to this 2013 CAMERA campaign.
The girl in the poster is our murdered daughter, Malk
An article by Diaa Hadid in yesterday's New York Times, a classic exemplification of lethal journalism, reminds us of the extraordinary amorality the paper's editors have demonstrated when dealing with the ideology-driven murderers of Jews and Israelis.

It's a piece about a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist (rooted in a defiant past, she writes) who is at the center of an article we posted here on Friday ["21-Aug-15: Hungering, thirsting, just dying for fresh victims"] and another two days later ["23-Aug-15: Do they understand the price of freeing the hunger-striking terrorists?"].

Hadid repeatedly invokes his quiet, his defiance, his activism. But never his blood-lust or doctrinal hatred of Jews.

She devotes precisely zero words to an explanation of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and its goals ("destruction of Israel through violent means", according to the Council on Foreign Relations) and its status as a client of the Islamist regime in Iran. These are at the very heart of understanding how a man ends up being and doing what he is and does. But it goes unmentioned, unanalyzed.

What she and her editors have created can only be called a hagiography, beatifying a quiet-spoken hero who... thirsts, hungers, to kill people.

But let's start with her words: what did he do before becoming a hunger striker?

Mr. Allan joined Islamic Jihad when he was studying law... in Jenin, said his father... He said his son was energized by the fight against Israel during the second Palestinian intifada. Mr. Allan was first jailed by Israel in 2006 for trying to recruit a suicide bomber to carry out an attack in Israel, and was held for three years. He was briefly detained a second time by Israel in 2011...
We expect some readers will wonder why "trying to recruit a suicide bomber" causes this much angst.

Not for the first time, we want to say here clearly and unambiguously that we hate the expression "suicide bomber". We tried to explain why here: "30-Jun-15: We need to be calling them what they are: human bombs". Here is part of what we wrote then:

Whatever the intentions of those who do them, who engineer them, who plan them and who encourage them, lethal attacks in the nature of 9/11, 7/711-M, the massacre by a Saudi inside a Kuwaiti mosque this past Friday, are never about suicide, and never were. Acts of murder is what they are about, and what they are. The intention of those acts and of the people who do them is to kill. Often, the person doing the killing is completely indifferent to the personal outcome for himself or herself, for reasons that are worth understanding but come down to this: the killing is the reason; the death of the killer is an incidental outcome about which the perpetrators (and those who facilitated the killing by sending the killer on his or her way) have no particular concern.
This has significance. The term "suicide bomber" is used frequently in the mainstream media - almost always inaccurately and usually misleadingly - when what they are in reality describing is human bomb, and a human bomb attack.
Hadid is of course not the problem. Like anyone else, she holds views. At the New York Times, a huge commercial entity, they have people whose jobs including filtering out tendentiousness, subjectivity, hate-filled polemicism masquerading as journalism, and bad, agenda-driven writing. 

And in the case of Ms Hadid's work product about which there is some background here ["The NY Times' Israel-hating Reporter", FrontPageMag, April 28, 2015], it's not really that difficult to know what to watch for if watching is part of what a NY Times person is supposed to do. 

Things like this tirade from 2007:

"I can't look at Israelis anymore. I can't separate your average Israeli citizen from the occupation, I don't want to be friends with them, I don't want to talk to them," says Hadid... ["Diaa Hadid: AP's Propagandist"] 
There's nothing wrong with any of this as long as we agree that people are free, in democratic societies where the human rights of all are respected, to express the most intolerant of viewpoints, and under certain conditions even hatred. But then why would the New York Times decide to give a person with that kind of mindset a job reporting on Israel-hating, murder-minded Islamist terrorists? And, to judge from the by-line of yesterday's piece, to give them the privilege of writing it from the NYT Middle East bureau in the heart of beautiful Jerusalem... where Ms Hadid can't avoid looking at more Israelis than she plainly wants to. Doesn't seem right or fair or smart.

As for the editors at the New York Times, we wish they had reconsidered that extraordinary paragraph we quoted above. Here's how, in our view, it should have been phrased:
Mr. Allan joined Islamic Jihad when he was studying law... in Jenin, said his father... He said his son's Islamist passions, and especially the lust for murdering Jews wholesale was ignited during the terrorist war declared by Arafat in September 2000. Mr. Allan was first jailed by Israel in 2006 for trying to plant a human bomb in a location where many Jewish Israelis would have been blown to pieces (as had happened five years earlier at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria, the credit for the blowing up of which was first claimed by Islamic Jihad before Hamas made a more convincing case to show it was their work.) He was held for three years, an astonishingly light sentence given the effort he had made and the intended carnage that was so narrowly avoided. He was briefly detained a second time by Israel in 2011 on the basis of well-founded fears that he was making another effort to achieve the barbarous aims of the outlawed terror organization to which he had pledged alliegance... 
So do we expect to get any serious attention for this from the New York Times? 

If you are familiar with some of our previous posts about its work ["28-Jun-07: About sweet-faced young women", "5-Jul-07: A Balance of Views?", "17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns", "30-Mar-13: "To see the NY Times gloss over this travesty of justice is journalism of the most amoral sort", "9-Aug-13: Protesting journalism of the amoral sort", "14-Nov-13: To really understand about terrorism's victims, can't beat the New York Times"], you probably know the answer already.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

25-Aug-15: Hard to ignore how much Iran believes its old goals are the right goals

FARS News home page at this hour
While some parts of the US mainstream media drop heavy (and loaded) hints about Obama White House displeasure at
Netanyahu’s unprecedented interference in domestic U.S. politics... [McClatchy DC, August 18, 2015]
many of us over here in Iran's backyard and target zone are getting more than a little sick of how the unleashing of Iran's nuclear weaponization scheme has come to be sold to American voters as a matter of exclusive US domestic concern.

Israelis like us actually have some large pre-occupations arising from an unsigned agreement (deliberately unsigned, as we pointed out here) that claims to be all about verifying and neutralizing what the mullahs are up to but in reality seems much more about egregiously-misplaced trust and hope

We're aware of the
precipitous drop in support since the agreement was announced in July. Between a half to two-thirds of the American public currently reject the deal. Those numbers were flipped in reverse before the agreement was finalized... [Source]
But we're also aware of the voices that say this is all about finding the way to peace in a difficult time and place and so on. And how there was no better alternative anywhere to be found, none at all. And with rising despair we're reading advice from people who believe
Here's a taste of the problem we have.

Britain's foreign secretary, with Iran's  president Rouhani
yesterday [Image Source]. Headline reads:
"I believe in Iran’s desire for better ties with the West,'
says Philip Hammond after Tehran trip"
Right now (Tuesday, 6:00 pm Jerusalem time), if you were to go the home page of the influential and somewhat authoritative Iranian government-mouthpiece website FARS News as we just did, you would get a sense of what is on our minds. There's a lead story there bearing this headline: "Parliament Advisor: No Change in Iran's Policy on Israel". (It's archived in full here.)
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Parliament Speaker's Adviser for International Affairs Hossein Sheikholeslam blasted British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond for his interfering remarks, and said Tehran's positions against Israel have not changed at all.
"Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan," Sheikholeslam told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday. After reopening the British embassy in Tehran on Sunday following four years of strained relations between the two countries, Hammond claimed in an interview with the British media that the current Iranian government had displayed a more nuanced approach than its predecessor to a long-running conflict with Israel...
Relations between Iran and Britain hit an all-time low in November 2011, when the two countries shut down their diplomatic missions around Britain's key role in the imposition of a new set of western sanctions against Iran and its repeated meddling with Iran's domestic affairs. But after President Rouhani rose to power, he and his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, pursued the policy of detente and started talks with London on the resumption of diplomatic ties and reopening embassies...
Does UK foreign secretary Hammond view "annihilation" as part of that more nuanced Iranian stance? If not, then what does he think it means?

Does he know that Iran says officially that it will simply not follow those parts of the nuclear deal that restrict its military capabilities? You can't just ignore this stuff - it's out there on public display via Reuters for anyone who wants to check.

Meanwhile back to Hossein Sheikholeslam, who brings some classically-Iranian qualifications for the job of adviser on international affairs. He was one of the so-called 'students' in the notorious Iran hostage crisis (depicted in the 2012 movie 'Argo') in which 52 American diplomats and civilians were held by force in Tehran between November 4, 1979 and January 20, 1981. They were let loose only on the day Jimmy Carter's presidency ended (the goal was to humiliate him), an illegal incarceration of 444 days.

Sheikholeslam then rose to become the Iranian Foreign Ministry's director for Arab affairs in the 1980's, a role that, according to this article on the website of Radio Free Europe (from 2004) put him in charge, as coordinator, of the
Islamic Revolution Guards Corps participation in Hizballah operations. He was Mohtashami-Pur's Foreign Ministry contact in connection with the April 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
You could say he's a well-accomplished terrorist with plenty of blood on his hands. And the designated bearer of a message his bosses have chosen to display on one of their most watched front pages.

Sheikholeslam also happens to be the Iranian regime insider we quoted anonymously a week ago [here] when his government
denied a request by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to visit Tehran... [and] dismissed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) officials' claims that Abbas will make a trip to Tehran in October. "They requested the visit more than once but we haven’t accepted it yet; they have recently repeated their demand once again but we have not provided them with a positive response," he said, according to the news website. Sheikholeslam also stressed Tehran's full support for the “resistance front”, adding that no one can destroy the friendship and strategic relations between Iran and Hamas. [Israel National News, August 20, 2015]
So just to re-state this: the Iranian official who today, at this very hour, is saying in his official capacity and in the most prominent and public of places that Israel must be annihilated is also the Iranian official who managed his country's strategic involvements with the terrorists of both Hamas and Hezbollah. And it's also he who supervised the Iranian part of the 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut in which 63 people were murdered - mostly embassy and CIA staff members along with several US soldiers and a US Marine.
It was the deadliest attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission up to that time, and is thought of as marking the beginning of anti-U.S. attacks by Islamist groups... [Wikipedia]
Now tell us again why trusting the Iranians is going to bring peace. And why Israel's existential concerns amount to interference in domestic U.S. politics.

It's hard for us to ignore how openly and loudly Iran states that its old goals - those that earned it recognition as a pariah state - are today's right goals. Does making these points mean we're part of the group the president of the United States has taken to calling "the crazies"? Should it matter that most Americans, most Representatives in the House and a majority of the US Senate agree with us?

Monday, August 24, 2015

24-Aug-15: Honor, shame, technology, crime and how they brought down a good, hard-working boy

A French investigator in protective gear gathers evidence on-board the Thalys intercity train on Friday
[Image Source] The role of officials before and during the attack is considerably less clear
or media-covered
This past Friday evening, as we described here ["22-Aug-15: Carnage on a high-speed European train and the quick-thinking that prevented it"], a massacre on board a busy train traveling between two European capitals was narrowly averted, though the gunman managed to get off several shots. Fast-thinking, selfless action on the part of some of the intended victims made all the difference.

This was not a victory for the governments, the authorities or the people responsible for ensuring public security. Quite the opposite - it was a reminder of what happens when security systems fail. And the huge influence of luck and circumstance.

In the past few days, a little more has become known about the attacker. He started out as a question mark, described in vague terms. Now through media enquiries, we know a little more. Some of it is useful. All of it is helpful to understanding how and why terrorism keeps happening, and will keep on doing so.
  • First and most important, the intending murderer was "a good boy". His father, Mohamed El Khazzani who lives in Algeciras, Spain and who admits to not having had contact with him "for over a year", says so in a Telegraph UK interview.
  • And not only a good boy but a "very hardworking" person who "never talked politics; just football and fishing". In the mosque which his family does not attend, the president of the South Algeciras Muslim community who presides over it knows him. And surprise, surprise, it turns out "He was an ordinary young man, he played football, went fishing, he worked to make a living" [Alarabiya, August 23, 2015].
  • But he's evidently also a "good boy" with a serious grievance. Echoing the days of European slave-trading and its horrors, the son "had been brought to France" (father's words, speaking of an able-bodied son in his early twenties) by "a French telecommunications company... to work on a six-month contract that was terminated early." Imagine. The father of this murder-minded gunman knows a felonious scenario when he sees one: "They're criminals in that company, using people like that... After one month they were just kicked out. So now he's in France, not Spain. What is he meant to do? What is he supposed to eat?" Right. The path from that outrage to dead and bleeding bodies on an inter-city train carriage floor is evident to any thinking person possessed of an honour/shame frame of mind.
  • Then there's the small matter of the fish-loving lad's actual criminal record. Father says his hardworking good boy was arrested twice in Madrid in 2009 on charges of selling hashish though "he was only carrying a little bit". A British report [Mirror UK, August 22, 2015] quoting the Spanish paper El Pais says that in fact he was arrested for "drugs trafficking, in May and December 2009, and a third time in Spain’s north African enclave of Ceuta on a warrant issued by a court in Madrid for a drugs offence." It adds that he is subject today to an arrest warrant issued by a different Madrid court, again for a drugs-related offence.
  • He gave up smoking hashish when he moved back to his parents' home in 2012, and after that "seemed very calm". [Telegraph UK]
  • The father "recycles materials for a living" (meaning he's a scrap dealer, we assume) in Algeciras. He moved there after earlier bringing his family from Morocco to Spain in 2007 and living for a short time in Madrid. Algeciras is a southern port city in Spain with a population of about 120,000. Some 10,000 of them, or about 9%, are Muslims, according to one report [Mirror UK].
  • As for the charges of terrorism-inspired attempted murder, the father says the "hardworking" "good boy" was merely "trying to rob passengers". The young lad "is said to be "dumbfounded" by accusations he was planning a terror attack" [AFP]. Because, we're thinking, that would be so wrong.
  • As for us, we're dumbfounded too. The son, Ayoub El Khazzani, now 25, was not "only carrying a little bit" on Friday when he boarded the train. He was actually packing (and struggled hard to use) a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Luger automatic pistol, plenty of ammunition and a box-cutter with which he came close to slicing off the fingers of one of the men who stopped him.
  • Prior to Friday's murderous attack (or unfortunate attempted robbery, if we engage in fantasies) he had already been tagged "as an Islamic extremist by intelligence services in Belgium, France, German and Spain" [AFP
  • The Mirror report says the French authorities had already decided in March 2014 that his "relationship with radical Islam" justified keeping him under watch. Since he was on a train hurtling towards the French capital when he cocked his high-powered gun and prepared to fire at fellow train travelers, one would be excused for wondering what kind of watch he ought to have gotten. And also whether there might one or two other ladies or gentlemen traveling Europe's roads and tracks at this moment, and who are believed to have a "relationship with radical Islam" that warrants them being watched.
  • Those authorities had had some opportunities to check him out since, as BBC reports, he visited Spain, Andorra, Belgium, Austria, Germany and France in the past 6 months alone, There is some evidence he also went to Turkey and Syria, but his lawyer says that part is untrue. Naturally we're wondering why that's important to either side.
  • Spanish anti-terrorist services are reported [Mirror UK].to have entered Ayoub El Khazzani's data into "the Schengen-area police database" because of a perception that the young man had ties to "religious extremism". Whoever takes care of checking passengers who board international trains in Europe might eventually be asked how the data and the millions of Euros of technology completely failed to trigger any security measures when he board at Brussels South station. 
  • And that's before anyone starts asking about the Kalashnikov assault rifle and the other implements of death and destruction that he brought on-board with him.
  • In that last point, we think the Mirror report means to refer to the "Schengen Information System" or SIS. Let's take a moment on thaty. SIS is a European inter-government database keeping and accessing information on people "of interest" in matters of national security, border control and law enforcement. It's a phenomenally important tool. 27 countries officially use the SIS data: France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Greece, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia.
  • But if, as reported, Friday's would-be massacre-man was listed there, and still got on-board the train with enough fire power to carry out a world-class act of carnage, something might be a teeny tiny bit wrong with this picture. Was SIS down that day? Is using it optional for security officials? Do any security officials work at Belgium's inter-city train stations watching for suspects or trouble? And who watches the watchers?
  • The gunman's lawyer is named as Sophie David by Alarabiya which quotes her saying the client looks ill and malnourished: "[V]ery sick, somebody very weakened physically, as if he suffered from malnutrition, very, very thin and very haggard" but also a person of enormous good fortune who "found the Kalashnikov he had taken onto the train in a park near the Gare du Midi rail station in Brussels where he was in the habit of sleeping..." and, as anyone would, then "decided to get on a train that some other homeless people told him would be full of wealthy people travelling from Amsterdam to Paris and he hoped to feed himself by armed robbery".
This is all probably going to get much clearer soon, especially the part about why it took three quick-witted, selfless and tough travelers to save a carriage full of train passengers while some of the world's most sophisticated anti-terrorism measures - along with the people who operate them and the policies according to which they work - totally and utterly failed

Until it does, we're left to muse about the risks we ordinary people take as we walk into stores, board planes and trains, and generally act as if we live in safe and free societies.