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Bringing Abbas Back to Gaza Not a Good Idea: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 21, 2014 — Those who believe that the reinstatement of the Palestinian Authority [PA] in the Gaza Strip would destroy or undermine Hamas and end rocket attacks on Israel are living under an illusion.
The Media Intifada: Bad Math, Ugly Truths About New York Times In Israel-Hamas War: Richard Behar, Forbes, Aug. 21, 2014 — It’s a “media intifada,” notes Gary Weiss, an old colleague and one of the world’s top business investigative reporters.
General Greene's Death and the Afghan Mission: Max Boot, Commentary, Aug. 6, 2014 — The death of Major General Harold Greene in Kabul is shocking on many levels.
How Iraq Explains Why the U.S. Shouldn't Leave Afghanistan: Paul D. Miller, Foreign Policy, Aug. 25, 2014 — President Obama has tried to articulate a clear doctrine of when the United States should use force.
PA leader: "Am I stopping You From Slaughtering a Settlement?": Youtube, Aug. 13, 2014
New York Times Gaza Correspondent Exposed as Arafat Fan: Honest Reporting, Aug. 24, 2014
Financial Crisis Looming Over Afghanistan: Nathan Hodge, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 25, 2014
Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, Aug. 21, 2014
Those who believe that the reinstatement of the Palestinian Authority [PA] in the Gaza Strip would destroy or undermine Hamas and end rocket attacks on Israel are living under an illusion. The talk about restoring PA control over the Gaza Strip was first raised during the indirect cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas in Cairo. The Egyptians made clear during the talks that they would like to see PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his forces reassume control over the Gaza Strip. One proposal called for deploying security officers belonging to Abbas's "Presidential Guard" along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
The Egyptian proposal has won the backing of the U.S. Administration, many European governments and some Arab countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Abbas, who lost the Gaza Strip to Hamas in the summer of 2007, has thus far refrained from publicly commenting on these reports. Abbas would probably love to retake control over the Gaza Strip, especially as such a move would solidify his status as president of all Palestinians, and not just the ruler of certain parts of the West Bank. Abbas is well aware, however, that under the current circumstances, his return to the Gaza Strip would be seen by Hamas and other Palestinians as an act of treason. The last thing he needs is to be accused of returning to the Gaza Strip "aboard an Israeli tank."
There are other reasons why Abbas is not eager, at least at this stage, to regain control over the Gaza Strip. The main reason is that he still does not trust Hamas in spite of the unity agreement he signed with the Islamist movement last April. When Hamas defeated his forces and toppled the Palestinian Authority in 2007, Abbas was lucky to leave the Gaza Strip alive. After the Hamas coup, Abbas revealed that the Islamist movement had tried to kill him just before its militiamen seized control of the entire Gaza Strip. In a televised speech in June 2007, Abbas accused Hamas of trying to assassinate him by using tunnels to target his motorcade.
Abbas said he had seen videotapes of Hamas terrorists digging a tunnel under a road where his car was supposed to pass in the Gaza Strip. The terrorists, he added, had planned to fill the tunnel with 250 kilograms of explosives. Abbas said that the terrorists had boasted on the tape that the bomb was "for Abu Mazen" [Abbas's nickname]. He said that he sent copies of the videotape to Arab heads of state to expose the Hamas plot. Today, when Abbas sees the dozens of Hamas tunnels discovered by the Israel Defense Forces [IDF], he must be asking himself if these are the same tunnels that were supposed to be used in the assassination scheme against him. And there is no doubt that Abbas must feel relieved to see the IDF destroy the terror tunnels.
Another reason Abbas is reluctant to return to the Gaza Strip is the ongoing tensions between his Fatah faction and Hamas. These tensions have persisted despite the unity agreement between the two parties and despite the formation of a Palestinian "national consensus" government. According to sources in the Gaza Strip, since the beginning of the war Hamas has placed more than 250 Fatah members under house arrest. Some Fatah activists who violated the cease-fire were shot in the arms and legs. The lucky ones only had their arms and legs broken. Gen. Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces in the West Bank, confirmed this week that Hamas has been targeting Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip. He said that some of the wounded men had been transferred for medical treatment in West Bank and Jordanian hospitals. A third reason why Abbas still does not trust Hamas is the revelation this week that the Islamist movement had planned to overthrow his regime in the West Bank. Thanks to the efforts of the Israeli Shin Bet and IDF, the coup plot was foiled after the arrest of dozens of Hamas operatives in the West Bank. Abbas himself seems to be aware that were it not for Israel, Hamas would have removed him from power a long time ago and extended its control to the West Bank.
Today, Abbas seems to feel safer sitting with Israel in the West Bank than he does being with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Abbas also knows that his return to the Gaza Strip would not stop Hamas and other terrorist groups from continuing their rocket attacks on Israel. Many seem to have forgotten that even while he was in control of the Gaza Strip, Abbas could not stop the rocket attacks or disarm any of the terrorist groups. Even his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, was not able to stop the rocket attacks or rein in the terrorist groups. Even if the Palestinian Authority were to return to the Gaza Strip, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups would not disappear. The PA in the Gaza Strip would end up like the Lebanese government, which has no control over the terrorist Hizbullah organization.
This is precisely what Hamas wants: a weak Palestinian Authority that would manage the day-to-day affairs of the Palestinians and pay salaries to tens of thousands of employees, while the Islamist movement and its allies continue to smuggle weapons and prepare for the next war with Israel. Such a scenario would only strengthen Hamas: it would absolve it of its responsibilities toward the residents of the Gaza Strip by laying the burden on the Palestinian Authority. Abbas and the PA cannot return to the Gaza Strip unless Hamas and its allies are completely disarmed or severely undermined as result of Israeli military action or international agreements to demilitarize the entire Gaza Strip. For now, it would be better to keep Abbas and his Palestinian Authority away from the Gaza Strip instead of turning them into puppets in the hands of Hamas and its sponsors in Qatar.
Forbes, Aug. 21, 2014
It’s a “media intifada,” notes Gary Weiss, an old colleague and one of the world’s top business investigative reporters. He is referring of course to the ongoing war in Gaza, where journalists working for American news outlets have, he says, “become part of the Hamas war machine.” As more than a month has passed since Israel began its Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, it’s high time to dig through the carnage that many of my colleagues from major U.S. media outlets are leaving behind—especially the New York Times. On August 11th, the normally Israel-averse Foreign Press Association in Israel conceded what those closely following the war coverage already knew: That Hamas has been intimidating foreign reporters. In a harsh statement, it condemned the terrorist group for “the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.”
This is hardly surprising, as who can expect a terrorist group to treat reporters nicely—except perhaps many reporters themselves? But what is surprising is that New York Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren undermined her own newspaper—quickly denouncing the FPA’s statement. She said in a tweet that she wasn’t aware of any such harassed reporters, even though she concedes she spent only one week in Gaza herself during the height of the conflict. In an email to the FPA, she said that the FPA’s statement could be “dangerous” to the “credibility” of the foreign press who are covering the conflict. “Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense,” she tweeted. I agree that there’s a lot of nonsense being disseminated about Israel’s war with Hamas, and about the media role in the conflict. And I agree that there is a danger—if people believe that the media, including the New York Times, provides a fair picture of the war in Gaza. (I would argue it is not.)
Since late July, I’ve conducted an in-depth look at the credibility of the media coverage, plus interviews with military experts and some journalists covering the war. Among other things, I’ve discovered that the Times’ most important reporter in Gaza for the past few years has used the late Yasser Arafat as his profile photo on Facebook, and, in a second photo, praised the former Palestinian leader. This suggests that the Times may have less to worry about in terms of Hamas intimidation than others in the press corps. Indeed, this Times reporter’s parallel pieces for Qatar’s Al Jazeera since the war began can only be pleasing to the terrorists…
Since the operation (now clearly a war—albeit interspersed with ceasefires) began on July 8th, so much of the Western coverage has been predictably skewed against Israel—through those time-honored journalism tools of sloppy and lazy reporting, superficiality, nuance, omission, lack of historical knowledge, or flat-out agenda-driven lies and bias. Journalism ethics professors and historians take note: You are bearing witness, with few exceptions, to some of the most abysmal overseas reporting since Hearst’s New York Journal in 1898 got us into the Spanish-American War and Walter Duranty of the New York Times was ignoring Stalin’s crimes in the 1930s. “We’re not just talking bad journalism,” says Weiss. “We’re talking about journalism that functions as a tool of a terrorist organization, Hamas: breathlessly pushing its narrative, whether cowed by its threats, sympathetic to its cause, or simply ignorant.” It’s not for lack of personnel. Israel’s Government Press Office says just over 700 foreign journalists from more than 40 countries have come to Israel to cover the war (joining the 750 already there). But only a few of them are doing their jobs right—that is, moving beyond the surface imagery and the heavy-handed (and wrong) “David and Goliath” agenda being advanced by the fascistic, death-worshipping terrorist group Hamas.
I raised the topic last week with Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York. “As someone who is a student of the media and a former journalist,” he says, “I find it bizarre — journalistically and morally – that after a month of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas, there were hardly any images shown in Western media of Hamas terrorists holding guns or Hamas terrorists engaged in hostile activities against Israel. It’s as if there’s only one side, and this could be a result of two reasons: Either journalists are looking for the easy story, the available story, what’s in front of their eyes. Or they’re being intimidated by Hamas. And I believe that what we’ve probably had is a combination of both.” This epidemic of journalistic malpractice is contributing to the pain and loss of life that Palestinians in Gaza are suffering—as it helps to empower Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., the EU, Canada, Japan, Egypt and Jordan. (This designation is too often not-fit-to-print by the New York Times and other media outlets.) In turn, this no doubt helps spread oil on the rising and frightening anti-Semitism we’re seeing in Europe and elsewhere.
And that is no accident. Hamas’s rarely-mentioned 1988 charter is a throwback to 1930s Nazi anti-Semitism, pure and simple, with a genocidal intent that is unambiguous. Indeed, Hamas is the spiritual successor to the anti-Semitic Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader who famously met and worked with Adolf Hitler and his henchman Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS and architect of the Final Solution, as he aligned the Palestinian Arab cause with the Axis during World War II. You might say that the battle that Hamas is fighting is not a new one at all, but a continuation of Hitler’s unfinished business from World War II. If this all sounds new to you it’s no wonder—the media rarely delves beyond the surface into Hamas’s ideology and historical antecedents. But that is but one of many problems with the coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict, and not even the worst…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Commentary, Aug. 6, 2014
The death of Major General Harold Greene in Kabul is shocking on many levels. He is the most senior military officer killed in a war zone overseas since the Vietnam War and by all accounts a highly intelligent and competent officer who, ironically enough, had never served in combat before arriving in Afghanistan this year to take the No. 2 job at the command charged with training Afghan troops. Kabul is not particularly dangerous, especially not compared to Baghdad. I and many other visitors have been to the military academy where he was slain many times. Yet even in Kabul there can be terrorist attacks. The death of General Greene and the wounding of a number of other NATO personnel is all the more dismaying because the perpetrator was an Afghan soldier. Such incidents of “green on blue” violence have the potential to turn Americans against the entire Afghan endeavor. Why should we help them, many wonder, if even Afghan soldiers want to kill our troops?
A little perspective is in order. While there have been all too many “green on blue” attacks in Afghanistan, the number has actually dropped in the past year and it was never all that high to begin with. Very, very few Afghan soldiers have ever been driven to turn their weapons on their allies. As in, an infinitesimally small amount. We’re talking about a few dozen individuals out of a force more than 330,000 strong. Remember that even the U.S. Armed Forces are hardly immune to these kinds of “insider” attacks. Fort Hood alone has seen two such attacks, one in 2009, another in April. The fact that Major Nidal Malik Hasan fatally shot 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009 is not and should not be taken as evidence that the U.S. Armed Forces are fundamentally disloyal. It was and should be seen as a freak occurrence by one disgruntled officer. The shooting in Kabul should be seen in the same light. There is no larger problem of disloyalty among Afghan military units. They are not defecting to the enemy or refusing to fight. In fact they are fighting hard and suffering considerable casualties. The “insider” threat in Afghanistan is real, but it is actually decreasing. The U.S. military is acutely conscious of this issue and has taken steps to mitigate the danger, for example by assigning troopers to act as “guardian angels” for other troopers when meeting with Afghan counterparts. Such steps have paid off. According to the Brookings Institution, there were 21 insider attacks in 2011, 41 in 2012, 9 in 2013, and just one this year prior to the attack on General Greene.
Moreover, while any death is tragic, it is important to keep in mind that U.S. fatalities overall are rapidly decreasing. According to the icasualties website, 39 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year–down from 127 in 2013, 310 in 2012, and 418 in 2011. Those figures will undoubtedly fall even more as U.S. personnel transition to an entirely advisory mission. What may happen is that, as the threat from IEDs and other types of attacks goes down, the percentage of fatalities caused by insider attacks goes up. But that should not mask the overall trend, which is that Afghanistan is getting safer for U.S. personnel. Thus there is no reason to rethink the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan after this attack, no matter how shocking or tragic. Given General Greene’s lifetime of distinguished service–and the service of his family members as well–it is safe to assume that this is the last thing he would have wanted, for his death to lead to a pullout from Afghanistan that will undo all that he and so many other soldiers fought so hard to achieve.
Paul D. Miller
Foreign Policy, Aug. 25, 2014
President Obama has tried to articulate a clear doctrine of when the United States should use force. He said in his Nobel lecture in 2009 that force was justified against al Qaeda because "negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms." He also said, "I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later." Force is justified when either or interests or our ideals, or both, are threatened. These principles seem to have animated his decision to use force against jihadists in Iraq. The militants, clearly in sympathy with al Qaeda's ideology, would present a danger to the United States if they gained the resources and safe haven of sovereignty. As it is, they already present a danger to U.S. allies in the region, including the Kurds. In addition, the terrorists "threat[en] to wipe out Yazidis and other religious minorities trapped on Mount Sinjar," according to the New York Times, "add[ing] to the urgency." Despite his obvious and understandable hesitations to return U.S. military forces to Iraq, the president's humanitarian concerns combined with the United States' strategic interests and added heft to his decisions to use force in Iraq.
In other words, the president has articulated the best possible argument for remaining engaged in Afghanistan beyond the 2016 deadline he established for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops there. The United States has real national security interests at stake in Afghanistan's future and the future of South Asia. Iraq could hardly be a clearer cautionary tale: If the U.S. withdraws before the Afghan security forces are fully prepared to lead the fight against the Taliban and deny safe haven against al Qaeda, jihadists are almost certain to regain safe haven there, much as the Islamic State (IS) has gained ground since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. That is what losing the war in Afghanistan looks like. But U.S. interests are not limited to a narrow counterterrorism concern. Just as in Iraq, there is the potential for a major humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the premature withdrawal of international security forces and development money. If the Taliban continue their resurgence in the wake of the international withdrawal (as noted by the Times here and here), they are likely to engage in reprisal killings against Afghans who allied with the Karzai government or international forces — including whole tribes who worked en masse with U.S. forces over the years. The ethnic Hazara, whom the Taliban targeted for ethnic cleansing in the 1990s, will face the same fate as the Iraqi Yazidis. The Hazara will be joined by women, Tajiks, Christians, Shia, and the Popalzai and Barakzai tribes.
The United States bears more responsibility for preventing mass atrocities in Afghanistan than in Libya, in which it intervened explicitly and solely for humanitarian reasons in 2011. First, the United States has repeatedly and publicly promised to stand by the Afghans and help them secure their country — in the 2005 Strategic Partnership Agreement, the 2012 Strategic Partnership Agreement, the 2013 Bilateral Security Agreement, the (presumably) forthcoming Status of Forces Agreement, and the 2012 designation of Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally — promises we never made to the Libyans. The Afghans are betting their future on our promises. Secondly, many Afghans have risked their lives to fight our enemies. Countless Afghans soldiers, policemen, and intelligence agents have fought on the frontlines, and far more of them have been killed than U.S. troops. Nor has their service been simply in defense of their own country: Afghan forces have regularly been a part of broader counterterrorism operations of more concern to us than to them. Their service to our country creates an obligation on our part to help protect them. No such relationship ever existed with Libyan forces.
Third, the United States has a specific and unique opportunity to invest in Afghanistan that rarely exists in other countries facing state failure or mass atrocities. In many cases — the Congo, perhaps, or North Korea — the United States has virtually no presence, no resources, or no platform from which to base resources; or the political environment is an obstacle to the introduction of U.S. forces. We can't stop every atrocity in the world, nor should we try. But in Afghanistan we have a robust infrastructure in place. We have tens of thousands of troops already there. We have a partner in the Afghan government that wants us to stay. None of these things were true in Libya; there are not true in Iraq anymore; they are not true in Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, Mali, or just about any other place on the planet that faces the possibility of a mass atrocity. If there any single place in the entire world where we are most well postured to prevent atrocities where they are likely to occur, it is Afghanistan.
Some critics argue that we've already done everything we can and there is no point to investing any more in a country seemingly impervious to our best intentions. Others argue that the Afghan government's incompetence, paralysis, and corruption excuse our obligation to them. Both are wrong. Adm. Michael Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, famously told Congress in 2007, "In Afghanistan we do what we can. In Iraq, we do what we must." When the top military official in the United States openly admits that we did not devote to Afghanistan the resources required to accomplish the mission, there are no plausible grounds for arguing that the United States has done everything it can, and therefore no grounds for arguing that there is no point to further investment. Obama's surge of troops there helped, but did not change, the overall trend of under-resourcing the mission in Afghanistan. Nor does the Afghan government's corruption erase our obligation to them. It may change how we deliver our assistance, or cause us to place conditions on its use –but to pull out over frustration with the government's kelptocracy would be to punish the Afghan people for the sins of their government. Rather, continued engagement at least gives us the possibility of leverage to use against their corruption, while pulling out gives us nothing. The president has outlined clear criteria for the use of force abroad: primarily situations in which U.S. interests are at stake, but also those in which humanitarian crises are possible. That is a good standard. Afghanistan clearly meets the standard. That is why two administrations from both parties have repeatedly promised for more than a decade that we will stand by the Afghans. President Obama's decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 is inconsistent with his own standard for the employment of force abroad.
Petition: Hamas Leaders Must be Tried For War Crimes—We, the undersigned to this petition and hundreds of million more around the world, expect the UN’s decisive action against Hamas leaders’ flagrant war crimes and crimes against humanity.
PA leader: "Am I stopping You From Slaughtering a Settlement?": Youtube, Aug. 13, 2014—Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rajoub: “I’m telling everyone: Fatah has decided that our relations with the Israelis are relations between enemies.
New York Times Gaza Correspondent Exposed as Arafat Fan: Honest Reporting, Aug. 24, 2014—Investigative journalist Richard Behar has written what is possibly the definitive article on the media bias we’ve witnessed during the current Gaza conflict.
U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene Was Buried Today at Arlington National Cemetery…Guess Who Was Missing…: Aug. 23, 2014—U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene was buried today at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, including a caisson, two escort platoons, casket team, firing party, colors team, and a caparisoned horse.
Financial Crisis Looming Over Afghanistan: Nathan Hodge, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 25, 2014— Next week, if all goes to according to plan, a new Afghan president will take office and inherit an immediate crisis: a government that is running perilously low on cash.
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