Micah Halpern is an author, columnist and The Morning Zone's Middle Eastern Analyst keeping us on top of the latest news and happenings from this volital area of the world each day. Listen each weekday morning, too, for Micah's "I've Been Thinking" daily radio blog at 6:35 and 9:35AM MDT. on AM650 KGAB and www.kgab.com.
Israel to Help Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 30, 2012

I've Been Thinking:

The Israel Chemical Company's "Aqua Tab," a simple tablet that purifies water and makes it drinkable, will now be used in Syria.

Syria has been in a recent crisis situation over the lessening amount of fresh water available to them and this will solve the problem.

UNICEF asked for the tablets and Israel will sell them to Syria through their Irish subsidiary. The deal needed to be approved by the Israeli government because it meant, in essence, delivering goods to an enemy.

The Israeli Minister of Economics approved the deal for three reasons:

#1: it was for humanitarian purposes
#2: it was being provided by a 2nd party
#3: it was being given to UNICEF and not Syria.

The Syrian water situation will not be totally solved by the Aqua Tab, but it will alleviate the crisis and permit people to have basic water until their own infrastructure problems can be resolved.

UN Score Card
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 29, 2012

We need a playbill to follow all the scene changes and dialogue that has captured center stage at the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

One set of issues worth watching and monitoring, is of course, the dialogue between Netanyahu and Abbas. Even more interesting than the interplay between these two leaders are the various reactions to their interplay.

Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke about the need to resume talks in order to advance an agreement.

Hamas was livid. They could not believe that Abbas addressed the world assembly and called for dialogue and talks with Israel. Hamas called these comments destructive and said Abbas was going against the interests of the Palestinian people. That the real emphasis should be on unity talks between Palestinians.

The Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt declared that there cannot be talks with Israel. And newly elected president of Egypt Mohammed Morsi said that there will be no talks with Israel. Morsi, it goes without saying, must toe the line of the Brotherhood.

The comments are ridiculous. Practically speaking Egypt is talking with Israel even at the highest levels. But to make a public display of it would tarnish the image of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Christians Forced Out in Egypt

By Micah Halpern

Friday September 28, 2012

Several days ago in the Sinai Egyptian town of Rafah the Christians living there received a note on their doorsteps. "You Have Two Days to Leave or Else" read the piece of paper.

After two days militants sped through Rafah on motorcycles firing machine guns. It was frightening. There was property damage but no one was hurt.

The Christian leaders of Rafah ran to the newly appointed regional governor. He told the Christian leaders that he would happily facilitate their relocation to the nearby city of Al Arish. He did not offer to try to protect them or even investigate the threats.

Over the past year the ancient beautiful church of Rafah has been firebombed and looted. It has been nearly razed to the ground.

The church dates itself to the time of Jesus but its structure and design is Crusader. It survived a thousand years but could only withstand a few month of Muslim Brotherhood rule.

It is unclear if any Christians remain in Rafah anymore. But this is a very foreboding sign.

Arab Spring in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 27, 2012

The Arab Spring might have arrived in Gaza.

Yesterday over 500 people rallied and demanded that Hamas step down. The protests were a result of the tragic death of a 3 year old baby burned to death in a fire caused by candles due to the electricity blackouts.

Hamas blames the electric blackouts on Egypt.

It is against the law in Gaza to protest against the Hamas government. So when 500 people gather in the streets to call for ousting them, that is big news.

This story should be covered around the world. Let's see if Arab news agencies, especially Arabic TV, pick it up.

If this takes hold and protests continue it just could cause an ousting of Hamas.

Subway Ad Shouts Defeat Jihad
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 26, 2012

There is a new ad on the subways and buses in New York City. It will run for a month. The ad has already been running in San Francisco.

The ad reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel/Defeat Jihad."
In July the MTA lost a federal case after they refused to post it.

The ad is now in 10 subway stations.

While this ad certainly articulates strong ideas, it is not offensive in and of itself. What it does is draw a line between Western support for Israel and the terrible violence and murder that has emerged in the Middle East.

The ad was created before the 9-11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

Hamas Boycotts Israeli Fruit
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 25, 2012

Gaza has banned the import of Israeli fruit - with the exception of bananas and apples. The ban has increased the cost of fruit by 100%.

The already tough economic conditions in Gaza have now become even more difficult because Hamas wants to boycott Israel. Even fruits like grapes that grow in Gaza have spiked by 50%.

This boycott will increase prices and in the end, it will force people to starve.

Hamas Director of Marketing in the Ministry of Agriculture Tasheen al Saqqa said, in response to the change in policy, that --- "We are people under blockade and we should have the culture of resistance." "Why should someone have all kinds of fruits on his table?"

Hamas wants to hurt Israel by closing Gaza as a market for fresh fruits.

This is very revealing insight into their leadership and point of view. In reality the boycott is hurting the people of Gaza much more than it hurts Israel. The market for Israel is a paltry $26 million.

French Arrest 2 For Plan Beheading
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 24, 2012

French police arrested two people yesterday for plotting to behead the editor of the satirical magazine that published caricatures of the prophet Mohammed.

The suspects had knives and posted demands and took claim for the plan to behead editor Charlie Hebdo.

This should not be a surprise. This magazine is notorious for lampooning anything and everything. It was not the first time they lampooned the Prophet. Lampoon and caricatures are the medium that Hebdo regularly uses.

Security has been higher than normal at the magazine lately. But the reality is that neither Hebdo nor his publication will be intimidated by threats. They believe that making fun of situations is their editorial contribution to political discourse in France.

This is not a debate over issues of censorship and free press. It is well within the purview of this or any other journal to raise these questions - and they will certainly continue to do so.

To reprint my essays contact sales (at) www.featurewell.com