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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

IOF Unprepared to Face Hezbollah Fighters


Local Editor

Once again, Israeli occupation forces appeared unprepared to face Hezbollah fighters in any new war.Israeli drill
The Zionist entity’s channel 10 broadcast a report over a drill staged by the occupation forces’ Paratroopers Brigade in the Golan Heights.

The drill simulates a face to face confrontation between the Israeli Paratroopers Brigade and Hezbollah fighters in a geographical area that looks like the Lebanese one.

“It’s right that Iran strike is delayed. However the Israeli army is training for a new confrontation with Lebanon. Our military analyst joined a group of Paratroopers Brigade and went with them to Mount Hermon in the northern side of Golan Heights,” a newscaster in the channel 10 said.

According to the report, Zionist soldiers were ambushed by Hezbollah fighters during the simulation after they crossed a long distance climbing.

The soldiers clashed face to face with Hezbollah fighters, as they did not know from where the gunfire was coming from.

The report said that during the simulation of the clashes, all the soldiers were injured by one Hezbollah fighter.

Channel 10 said that the soldiers have learned from the drill that ant tactical fault might cost them their lives.

“We can’t simulate the war with Hezbollah at all. It is impossible to bring the enemy to the training field. However the exercises can at least reach to a point that is very close to the confrontation,” said Eliezer Toledano, a paratroopIsraeli drill officer.

The drill reflected a real conflict within the Israeli army: the occupation forces are not ready to face Hezbollah fighters in the next war.

In addition, most of the paratroopers who participate in the maneuver were youths who did not take part in July War 2006, well known as Lebanon Second War.

The drill was part of Austere Challenge 2012, the largest ever bilateral U.S-Israeli military exercise.
The maneuver which stands at a little less than a billion dollars in cost stretches for three weeks and includes the participation of over 3500 American troops and a 1000 Israeli others.

It simulates several scenarios which range from dealing with the Syrian crisis, to military engagement with the Islamic Republic of Iran in addition to the strategic threat of the Lebanese Resistance movement Hezbollah.
Source: Al Manar TV

Turkey's Birthday Revelers Dispersed With Tear Gas

Demonstrators run as police use tear gas to disperse them in central Ankara October 29, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Umit Bektas )

By: Tulin Daloglu posted on Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012

The first “spring” in a majority-Muslim population came 89 years ago in Turkey. As the successor to the Ottomans, the young Turkish republic rose from the heartland of the Empire with an exceptional geography, positioned strategically among Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East.

Now, 89 years later, despite a vibrant economy and regional clout, Turkey is being threatened by chaos in its neighborhood. But what’s even more critical is the polarization inside the country.
Turks marked the birthday of their nation yesterday, Oct. 29, and they are divided over the direction of their country. More than 40 non-governmental organizations wanted to gather before the first parliament, where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father, declared the establishment of this new state. Among them were associations linked to Kemalist ideology and Alevi groups.
The Ankara governorate turned down permission requests, claiming that they had reliable intelligence that “radical groups” would provoke the crowd to create scenes similar to those in Tahrir Square. Nonetheless, tens of thousands of pro-secular protesters showed civil disobedience to the government’s ban and poured onto the streets to make a point: the 1923 revolution is not dying away.
I joined the crowd yesterday at Ulus, a district in Ankara, as a journalist and a citizen. Frankly, after living in Washington, DC for 12 years and being accustomed to attending the receptions at the Turkish Embassy for Republic Day, I thought I should experience my first Oct. 29 celebration to better understand the sensitivities of the people toward the unity of the nation.
First, the police made it difficult to get to the area — the roads were blocked. I noticed people were joyful, easy going, waving their flags. I approached the crowds to see what was happening on the front lines between the people and the police, and also to better see who exactly was in the crowd.
As I got close to the barricades amidst the friendly crowd and talked to many of them, I heard many worries about the future. I did not witness anyone doing anything wrong to the security forces — except that they booed and called Governor Alaaddin Yuksel to resign for putting barricades before them on a day like this.
And then suddenly and for no reason at all — totally out of the blue — police started to fire tear gas at us. Like many others, I was caught unprepared, and my asthma started to kick in badly. I was able to rush out of the area with the help of the people around me, who were simply kind and caring. Many actually helped each other, shared their water and lemons to clear their lungs and eyes from the tear gas.
Still, I am thinking — with no answer so far — as to why the police used that tear gas on us. But one thing is clear: There were no members of any radical group in that crowd. The police provoked the people, not the reverse.
The ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), knew that President Abdullah Gul would host a reception at the presidential palace, Cankaya Kosku, later in the evening, which the higher ranks of the military would attend with their wives for the first time since Gul took office in 2007.
Last night’s reception marked yet another crucial turning point in the normalization of relations between the military and the Islamist-based government. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, also attended this reception at the presidential palace with his wife for the first time.
Only five years ago, though, Turkey came to the brink of yet another military coup over the headscarf issue. Considering themselves the saviors of the Turkish Republic, the military believes that some head covers are political symbols rebuking the founding principles of this nation. Since those days, more than 250 military personnel — both active and retired — found themselves behind bars as accused “terrorists” under a very long and conflicted case named Ergenekon.
The pro-secular population today considers the current military leadership to be conforming to the government’s ideology, to say the least. Whatever the truth, many of the secular activists and common citizens on the street yesterday told me the government now considers them “radicals” just as the judiciary calls a former chief of staff a “terrorist.”
In that context, the AKP was awaiting the day when the prime minister’s wife, Emine Erdogan, along with Hayrunnisa Gul, the president’s wife, hosted the reception at the Cankaya palace in their headscarves. Yet Erdogan continued to chastise the old guard even on the day when a historic new beginning was taking place. Moreover, he blamed opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu for everything that went wrong on the streets of Ankara yesterday.
Specifically, he accused him of “following illegal organizations.” Indeed, Kilicdaroglu and a group of his party members had attended the celebration at Ulus yesterday, and unfortunately got impacted by the tear gas.
“People were only holding their flags and waving them,” said Kilicdaroglu. “The police kicked people holding flags. It’s a sad, disappointing day.” Speaking at his party’s meeting at parliament today, Kilicdaroglu said it’s time to give the prime minister a new name: “Tayyip Assad Erdogan,” in response to the prime minister’s criticism of the security forces.
“I did not give the order to police to bring down those barricades. They showed weakness,” said Erdogan today. Kilicdaroglu argued that the prime minister’s mentality was likely to see people get killed and wounded on the Ankara streets.
Yesterday’s unfortunate events at Turkey’s capital also revealed a surprise split between President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. At last night’s reception, it was discovered that Gul had called the Ankara governor on Saturday and ordered him to bring down the barricades in case tensions rose. The prime minister rebuked such news stories and said that the president does not have the authority to give orders to the governor or the security forces. “There has never been a double-headed administration in this country,” Erdogan said. “Everyone knows his job as prime minister and president.”
It becomes clear now that the Erdogan government really attempted to take tough measures against the pro-secular protestors, but it was the security forces’ consciences — or common sense — that prevented a bigger tragedy.
Despite all this, thousands visited Anitkabir, Ataturk’s mausoleum, yesterday. One woman told me they were scared to go to Ulus, because they worried that the police would take their names, and that they may pay the price for it later by losing their business.
“This government is too strong. They are listening to all our telephone conversations,” she told Al-Monitor. “There is no media left in the country. No one reports the truth any longer, or seriously talks about the corruption taking place before our eyes. Everyone is scared.”
Turks are truly divided, and growingly distrustful of each other’s intentions for the country’s future. The AKP considers people paranoid who doubt the party’s loyalty to the country’s founding principles of a secular, social and democratic state. But professor Abdulkadir Cevik, head of psychiatry at the Ankara University Medical Department, argues that people who oppose AKP policies don’t qualify as psychologically troubled.
“Turkey is born by the demise of an empire. We formed a new identity. But there are also those who could not break away from the old identity, or mourn enough for the loss of the empire,” he said. “To call such worries paranoia, such memories should not have existed in our national conscious. Our history, however, is full of trauma. That’s why we need to be more careful.”
The pro-secular protestors want to see the AKP out of office. They believe Erdogan hopes for a counterrevolution to 1923. And for them, that is a red line that no one should attempt to cross. Each time Erdogan got elected, he gave a “balcony speech” in which he promised to represent all the citizens of the country, but people told Al-Monitor that Erdogan’s words does not match his deeds.
“When the AKP government first came into office, their slogan was to end all restrictions, all bans and give people true freedom and democracy,” said Cevik. “The same government today bans people from putting flowers on Ataturk’s busts or statues on special days like this. Our people have such traditions, and they take issue with that.”
Semiha Kutoglu, a pharmacist, told me she is tired of the prime minister constantly speaking negatively about the country’s past and its founding years, and of the AKP for portraying themselves as victims all the time.
“They have a problem with the Republic, and I am here to show my love to our founding father. [Erdogan] should know that he owes his prime ministry to the man he criticizes every day,” she said. Many in the crowd expressed similar views. People sounded tired of the AKP machine’s never-ending praise of itself since it came to power in 2002 — as if nothing positive had occurred in the country prior to its rule.
Yet every country has made mistakes in the past. No country is perfect. As the nation’s democratic system evolves, so does its judiciary. In retrospect, the principles that the country stands on become stronger and clearer. It’s hard to build a country and have it all — to be strong and sensical and consistent. The problem is that the AKP is using that youth and fluidity to fundamentally change the character of what the country is supposed to be. The people are simply crying out that this is the wrong way to go. That in order for a democracy to develop and grow, the fundamental principles — neutrality and justice — must always be preserved. Otherwise there is nothing to base anything on.
In this polarized environment, there were still others who were simply angry at both sides. A man who asked that his name not be used told me, “While the AKP doubts the Muslim-ness of a part of Turkish society, the ones on the streets today had doubts about the loyalty of a different segment of Turkish society. Such thinking is beyond bizarre.”
Indeed, Cevik says that ordinary people on both sides — both the supporters and the opposers of the AKP — are worried about this climate of seeing the “other” as the “enemy.”
“The country seems to be heading to a direction that is unknown,” he explains.
Tulin Daloglu is a journalist and foreign-policy analyst based in Ankara, Turkey. She tweets @TulinDaloglu

Irish TV host: ‘Israel is a cancer in foreign affairs’

Posted on |

Former newspaper editor Vincent Browne, the host of Ireland’s top television political talkshow, ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne’, on TV3 has called Israel “a cancer in foreign affairs”. After the remark, Vincent said that his criticism of Israel doesn’t mean he hates the Jewish people.
Israel is a cancer in the foreign affairs. It polarises the Islamic community of the world against the rest of the world,” said Browne.

Unless you deal with the problem of Israel and Palestinians in that part of the world, there’s going to be conflict and disharmony. It’s a massive injustice – they stole the land from Arabs,” added Browne.

On the show, Vincent also blasted both US president Barack Obama and his main challenger Mitt Romney for avoiding to discuss Israel’s harmful effects on American foreign policy – which has fueled Muslim hatred toward America and the West. Incidentally, the US third party presidential candidate, Jill Stein (Jewish herself), has called both Obama and Romney as Israeli slaves.

Israel’s deputy ambassador to Ireland, Nurit Tinari-Modai, called Browne “an anti-Semite” while claiming her parents were brutally murdered during the Holocaust. Interestingly, Rabbi Wolf Gunther Plaut, in his 1990 book, ‘The Man Who Would Be Messiah’, has claimed that Holocaust was committed by Frankist Jews.

I would have never believed that the day would come when a presenter on an Irish TV station would make racist, anti-Semitic remarks,” she said.
In response, Browne said:”What I resent is the suggestion that because you’re critical of Israel, you’re automatically anti-Semitic. I don’t think that’s acceptable“. Browne also refused to apologise for his statement and insisted that the Zionist entity was established in 1948 after European Jews stole Arab land.

Browne claimed that pro-Israel Jewish groups are in habit of blackmailing Israel’s critics by branding them as “anti-Semites” or “Holocaust deniers”. He insisted his remarks were not much different from Irish or European foreign policy.

Vincent Browne 68, is a journalist, editor, talkshow host and founder of popular Village Magazine which he sold in 1998. As a war-reporter, Browne covered Czechoslovakia in 1968 and later IRA-British war for The Irish Times.

Palestinian Refugees: Time to Return NOW



Will America Become the Next Jewish State? (Some Would Say It Already Is)


The Shul is a $6 million synagogue in West Bloomfield, Michigan that also functions, technically, as a college
campus--for the Michigan Jewish Institute, a Chabad school that has grown rich through the federal government's
Pell Grant program. Pictured standing in front is Dov Stein, the MJI's head of academics.

By Richard Edmondson

With Jewish power in America standing at unprecedented levels, it is only natural we should begin to see Jews reap gains and benefits disproportionately greater than those available to other segments of the population.

Take college Pell Grants, for instance. Administered by the US Department of Education, the Federal Pell Grant Program provides grants to low-income students, mainly undergraduates, to help pay college expenses. The grants are named for former Senator Claiborne Pell, a Rhode Island Democrat, who way back in 1972 sponsored an amendment to the Higher Education Act that established the program as well as the funding to pay for it, the idea being to level the playing field and make higher education available to the poor as well as the rich.

“Lack of Finances is No Obstacle”
From a Chabad School, to a Chabad Synagogue, to
A Chabad Yeshiva in Israel

The Department of Education maintains a list of approximately 5,400 public and private colleges and universities at which students receiving Pell Grants may attend classes. These are schools which must be accredited and meet certain other qualifications as defined by Federal Student Aid guidelines, and while over the years religious-affiliated colleges have been included, it is doubtful Senator Pell would have envisioned quite the arrangement that now exists in West Bloomfield, Michigan.

It is here, in this upscale suburb of Detroit, with a median household income of $98,832, that the Michigan Jewish Institute managed to “transform itself from a small campus-based college into a burgeoning online university,” in the words of the
Jewish Daily Forward . In an article published earlier this month, The Forward reports that the school has done this “thanks in large part” to federal aid designated for low-income students, mainly Pell Grants, totaling more than $25 million over the past five years. And here’s the real kicker: most of this money is going to students who aren’t even studying in the U.S. Most, in fact, are in Israel. Or as the Forward puts it:

But very little of this money has been spent on men and women taking courses in Michigan or, indeed, in the United States. Instead, the majority of MJI’s students can be found working toward an MJI degree in Judaic studies at yeshivas and seminaries overseas, mostly in Israel.

Affiliated with the Chabad Lubavitch movement, the Michigan Jewish Institute “seeks to serve all segments of the Jewish community,” offering “an environment that adheres to the highest ethical standards and religious traditions of Judaism.” The MJI website lists the address of its “Main Campus” as 6890 Maple Road, West Bloomfield, MI, which also happens to be the address of “The Shul,” a Chabad synagogue (“shul” is Yiddish for “synagogue”) built at a reported cost of $6 million, with menorah-shaped glass panels on either end, and which opened its doors in 2002.

A look at
The Shul’s website informs us that the synagogue, located on 40 acres, was intended from the very start to serve as the MJI’s campus, however, it appears that today, ten years later, very few actual classes are taught there. This is due largely to an online degree program that was launched by MJI in 2008—in Judaic studies. There are now also programs in computers and business, but according to The Forward, the vast majority of MJI’s 200 students are enrolled in the Judaic Studies program—and most if not all of them end up studying at yeshivas in Israel. One in particular is the Mayanot Institute, a Chabad yeshiva in West Jerusalem.

Mayanot’s website reassures prospective students that a “lack of finances is not an obstacle” to an education at Mayanot. In addition to grants and scholarships from Jewish institutions such as local American federations, Taglit-Birthright Israel and MASA (a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government), Mayanot directs prospective American students to the U.S. Department of Education’s Pell Grant program.It’s not unusual for foreign institutions to accept American students who are funded partly by Pell grants and come to study in a year-abroad program. Many overseas schools and colleges operate such programs. But in this case, Mayanot’s website appears to be directly recruiting students by suggesting they apply for Pell grant aid so that they can attend Mayanot in Israel as their primary institution.

A yeshiva in Israel as their “primary” institution of learning? On a Pell Grant? The information gives pause, to say the least, but take special note of Mayanot’s mention on its website of the MASA program. MASA is a work-study program which allows Jews to travel and study in Israel. Regular readers may recall a post I put up a few weeks ago about Armando Abed, a Palestinian Christian who was murdered on October 5 during a hotel shooting spree in the Israeli resort city of Eilat. The gunman was identified as William Herskowitz, an American Jew enrolled in MASA. Was Herskowitz also on a Pell Grant courtesy of the US taxpayer? We may never know for sure, but certainly it’s possible. In either event, Pell Grants seem to have become very much the lifeblood of the MJI:

As MJI has expanded rapidly, it has drawn increasingly on the Federal Pell Grant Program, the government’s largest education aid program targeting low-income students, which funnels public funds directly to the school. At the same time, MJI’s net income has soared. According to the institute’s most recent available tax records, between 2006 and 2010 inclusive, MJI’s net income increased to $850,000 from $89,000 — a staggering 860% five-year jump. The school ended 2010 with almost $3 million in assets. So far this calendar year, the school has received $8.7 million in federal aid.
But its academic record is poor.

Its academic record is poor? Why on earth, with all this federal money coming in, would the MJI have an inferior academic record? Well, one reason is that the institute is plagued with a low retention rate. At the end of the 2011-12 academic year, the school had 1,522 freshmen, 320 sophomores, 51 juniors, and 26 seniors. Also, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, only 9 percent of its freshmen who began their studies in 2010 returned in 2011 for their second year. It seems that after enrolling and receiving their Pell Grants, most of MJI’s students are going on to study abroad—in Israel. And as The Forward points out, this is no obstacle to a student’s eligibility to receive a Pell Grant.

Thus: Mayanot here we come!

Rivka Preisler, Mayanot’s financial aid officer and finance manager, said that about 15 to 20 of the institute’s 120 students are on an MJI study abroad program partly funded by Pell grants. Preisler said MJI takes “a certain amount” of the Pell grant and the rest is “applied to Mayanot tuition.”

But in addition to Mayanot, the MJI website also lists more than 40 other participating schools in its Study Abroad program. Of these 40-plus schools, three are in Canada, two in Australia…and the rest are in Israel.

But wait! Receiving funding from the US government as it does, MJI
must be obliged to observe federal guidelines prohibiting discrimination, right? One would think so. But it kind of comes down to the question of whether Gentiles are allowed to enroll in Jewish yeshivas (not that many would want to, but conceivably some might). And here it gets kind of technical. At the MJI website, we find the school’s Non-Discrimination Educational Policy, which proscribes discrimination in some study areas—but not others. The defining factor seems to be whether the program is a “degree program” or a “certificate program.”

The MJI “admits students to its degree programs” without regard to race, religion, gender, or other considerations, we are informed…but in the very next paragraph the policy advises that only “qualified men of the Jewish faith” are admitted to the “certificate program in Talmudic Law and Jurisprudence.”

In summation, it should be equally emphasized that Pell grants are just that—grants.
They don’t have to be paid back. It should also be emphasized that the MJI’s rapid growth and expansion, fueled by its Pell grant money, has come at a time when student loan debt has exploded in the US—now standing at just over $1 trillion.

The Jewish Rainbow

The words “starving” and “artist” often are found together in context, and for a very good reason: in America the overwhelming majority of artists and arts groups don’t make much of a living from their artistic achievements. Perhaps it’s the hallmark of a capitalistic society gone mad that artistic expression is undervalued and often even frowned upon. But in the relatively small urban community of Albuquerque, New Mexico, we find an arts group doing rather well for itself these days.

Last month, the US Economic Development Administration, an agency of the US Department of Commerce, awarded a $1 million grant to the
Keshet Dance Company, an Albuquerque dance and repertory group which offers public performances as well as a variety of dance classes for both children and adults.

The grant money will go toward establishing the Keshet Ideas and Innovation Center, an “incubator” that is to be housed in the future Keshet Center for the Arts, and which is expected to “support start-up or struggling arts-related businesses with a variety of resources like development services and access to lending providers,” according to the
Albuquerque Journal.

“With this funding, we’re more than halfway done with our fundraising campaign,” said Shira Greenberg, who founded Keshet in 1996 and today serves as the dance company’s artistic director. “We’ll continue to raise funds for the building and are hoping to have the entire center opened by spring.”

Virtually every city in America, large and small, has struggling arts groups of one kind or another—musical, dance, theatrical, and so forth. So why, one might wonder, would this particular group be singled out for such a large grant? And why by the Department of Commerce, when normally one thinks of the National Endowment for the Arts as the main provider of federal grants to the arts?

The award was approved by acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and publicly announced on September 12 by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall. “The arts are a defining part of New Mexico’s history, community and identity,” said Udall. “This innovative public-private partnership will help provide entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need to grow art-focused businesses.”

-focused businesses? Is this a new commitment to the arts on the part of the Obama administration? Or is it perhaps more a commitment to a certain type of art the Obama administration approves of? What is it about Keshet (the word means “rainbow” in Hebrew) that motivated such generosity from the Department of Commerce?

Whether developing productions based on the impact of the Holocaust on American Jews, the images and texts of poet Pablo Neruda, or a modern interpretation of the traditional Nutcracker, Keshet’s repertory engages audiences young and old, opening minds and changing perceptions of what dance and a dancer can be.

The above words can be found at Keshet’s website, where we learn that one of the staples of its repertory is a production entitled Ani Ma’amin, described as “a powerful and thought-provoking modern dance piece exploring the impact of the Holocaust on American Jews.” The program has been performed at numerous locales inside the state of New Mexico, and has even toured outside the state, helped in part by funding from the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. This would be the same Jewish Federation, by the way, whose executive director, Sam Sokolove, accused the Friends of Sabeel-North America of promoting anti-Semitism in connection with a recent conference on the Palestine-Israel conflict held in Albuquerque. *

The name Ani Ma’amin (“I believe” in Hebrew) is derived from the so-called 13 principles of faith, propounded by Mosheh ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides. Each of the 13 principles begins with the words “Ani ma’amin be-emunah shelemah” (“I believe with perfect faith”), and while Maimonides didn’t include the holocaust as one of the attestations, it would probably be fairly accurate to say that this has become the 14
th principle with the majority of Jews these days. The recitation has been set to music over the years, and according to Wikipedia, “One version of the tune is attributed to the Reb Azriel David, a Modzitser Hasid, who reportedly composed the tune in a cattle car when being taken to Treblinka.” Others were said to have sung the same song, or some variation, as “they were being herded into the gas chambers”, and the melody apparently is still cantillated at holocaust remembrance day services and Passover seders to this day.

All of which brings us, in a roundabout way, back to the Keshet website and its description of its
Ani Ma’amin dance production:

Choreographed by Shira Greenberg, the 85-minute piece runs with no intermission. Five dancers recreate the experiences and themes expressed by multiple generations beginning pre-war and culminating at the present-day. Dynamic and emotional movement is threaded together with poetry and video testimonies from Holocaust survivors and children of survivors, with footage compiled from the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.

The production is also being promoted as “an educational tool,” and as such is performed for school children, including school matinee productions where “free admission is encouraged,” and where Keshet will even “provide a custom-created, 50-page Curriculum Guidebook at no cost for all educators” who attend the performance. Shows are then followed by “a Q & A audience discussion session to provide an avenue for the community of performers and audience members to process and discuss the work while exploring their reactions to the event and the intense subject matter.” In such manner is a “dialogue about diversity, tolerance, and anti-Semitism” opened, whereby “the young audiences can examine and discuss their own thoughts and actions.”

Following is an Ani Ma’amin segment available on YouTube:

And here we have Ani Ma’amin, as sung by members of the Israeli Army, also available on YouTube:

Despite providing free school matinee performances along with the generously-supplied 50-page curriculum guidebooks—all of which must theoretically cut into its revenue—Keshet manages nonetheless to have professional, salaried dancers on its staff, something almost unheard of among community arts groups. This in fact is even remarked upon at the Keshet website:

Keshet became one of only a handful of dance companies within the country to offer full-time employment and benefits to professional dancers and staff. [Only 5% -9% of dance companies in major metropolitan areas are able to pay salaries to their dancers – Dance/USA]Shira Greenberg was named one of New Mexico Business Weekly’s 40 Under Forty, recognizing 40 professionals under the age of 40 in the State of New Mexico who “stand out in their fields and are engaged in their communities making New Mexico a better place to live.”

Greenberg, were are informed here, began her formal dance studies at the Minnesota Dance Theatre, and also attended Interlochen Arts Academy, Ithaca College, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. And apparently she still maintains her connections to Israel. Earlier this year, Keshet brought “acclaimed Israeli choreographer” Bar Roggel to Albuquerque to collaborate with its repertory dancers in a new production called “Gesher” (Hebrew for “bridge”). The production was scheduled for three performances in late April:

Keshet is excited to welcome Israeli Dancer and Choreographer Bar Roggel to Albuquerque! During the month of April Bar will be working with Keshet in a cultural exchange that involves collaboration, creation, outreach and performance. The exchange will culminate with community-wide Yom Ha’atzmaut performances celebrating Israeli Independence Day across New Mexico.

The project, perhaps not surprisingly, is another one supported by the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. But take note: it isn’t only the Jewish Federation that adores Greenberg. In 2009, Greenberg was awarded the Coming Up Taller award by First Lady Michelle Obama in a ceremony at the White House. The award was given in recognition of Keshet’s work with incarcerated youths at New Mexico’s Youth Diagnostic and Development Center.

“It’s really cool to see these teenage boys who are incarcerated do ballet class, and really doing a good job and being excited about it. It really connects them to their bodies, to each other and to their energy in a different way,” Greenberg enthused.

Keshet's Greenberg and Elianna Boswell, with Michelle Obama

Interestingly, Greenberg has also been recognized as a “top-performing CEO” by New Mexico Business Weekly, and has been the happy recipient of a number of other awards as well, including the Women of Influence Award and the Governor’s Award for Outstanding New Mexico Women. Also, this holiday season, Keshet will be performing Greenberg’s “Nutcracker on the Rocks,” described as “an original rock-n-roll rendition of the classical holiday tale,” and which includes “the roaring excitement of a Harley Davidson on stage.”

It’s probably only a coincidence, but “Keshet” is also the name of an illegal Israeli settlement in the Golan Heights that was established in 1974 and located near the abandoned Syrian city of Quneitra—destroyed by the Israeli Army in the 1973 war. Get it? After destroying the Syrian city, the Israelis named the new settlement “Rainbow.”

Quneitra, by the way—in what amounts to yet another curiosity—also means “bridge.” The city once served as a “bridge” between Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Its ruins can be seen in a video here.

Homeland Security for Jews

If you think the cases of the MJI and Keshet Dance are aberrations, think again. Back in July I posted an article in which I discussed how the Department of Homeland Security has favored Jews and Jewish organizations in the awarding of grants under its Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Between the years 2007-2010 a whopping 73.7 percent of DHS’s NSGP grants went to Jewish organizations, while in the year 2011, the figure rose to 81 percent—meaning non-Jewish organizations got just 19 percent of the grant money that year.

After I posted that article, I then posted an update to it, in which I cited figures on the 2012 grant recipients, which had just then been announced. This year the percentage of Jewish organizations receiving NSGP grants rose even higher—to a staggering 97 percent.

The NSGP grants are designed to provide “target hardening” and “security enhancements” to American nonprofit organizations deemed “at high risk of a terrorist attack,” and DHS Director Janet Napolitano has not only candidly acknowledged that Jewish organizations have made up the bulk of recipients, she has even justified the decision making them such. In a podcast here you can listen to Napolitano explain why she thinks Jews face special risks the rest of us don’t have to worry about.

A Multitude of Tentacles

A rather conservative, albeit in a sense “time honored” institution in America is the Chamber of Commerce. There is a U.S. Chamber of Commerce, established in 1912, as well as a myriad of loosely-to-non-affiliated state and local chambers representing businesses of all sizes in all locales of the country. Based in Washington, the national organization is primarily a lobbying group that has at times been quite reactionary (opposing national health care, for instance), but at the local level, chamber organizations can play a positive role, providing, at least theoretically, a synergism for small businesses, helping them grow and become profitable.

But lately strange mutations have begun to appear—in the form of chamber organizations devoted to promoting Israel. The objective is to foster alliances between US and Israeli businesses, and to that end, conferences and other specialty events are being held, “venture capital missions” are embarked upon, and trade and investment opportunities touted—all seemingly with the goal of interfusing what might be thought of as the commercial and economic “DNA” of both countries. For instance, there is the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce-Southeast Region, based in Atlanta, which claims more than 500 members, and which seeks to “boost” the respective economies of both Israel and the Southeast US.

With the backdrop of Israel’s stable economy and innovative companies, AICC’s Professional Committee presented another outstanding seminar on August 23rd in Atlanta that addressed many aspects of “US Jobs and Economy: The Israel Innovation Effect”. Almost 100 members and guests were treated to the program that featured presentations, case studies, and panels to illustrate the theme and engage to participants.

“The presenters delivered another great program that educated our audience about the value of the US-Israel business relationship and prepared them for successful interactions with Israeli companies,” said Greg Kirsch (Ballard Spahr), new chairman of the Professional Committee.

The seminar mentioned above is only one of a number of events promoted or discussed at the AIIC-SE website. In June, the city of Atlanta also hosted the Eagle Star Awards, an annual gala to honor “the people and companies who have contributed most to the Southeast-Israel business relationship,” while in September the Israel Innovation Impact, known also as the “Big Data” conference, took place at the Atlanta headquarters of IBM Internet Security Systems. Organized by the AICC’s Hi-Tech Committee, the three-day event featured representatives from Israeli data processing developers, including Personetics, a firm which “helps enterprises respond to a major shift in consumer behavior.”

Following the presentations, the audience had the opportunity to rate the Israeli companies in an interactive session and discuss interest in following up with them.”

Other Israeli companies that currently seem to be making or attempting to make inroads into the Southeast US include Data Analytics, a Herzliya-based developer of a system of identifying and analyzing hidden data patterns in large scale data warehouses; Beauty Care, a Yavne-based company which markets “a diversified range of beauty care products,” including Dead Sea products; and Infrastructure Networks, a Tel-Aviv-based provider of industrial Ethernet solutions.

AICC-SE has also been promoting the Journey 12 business conference which took place October 25 in Tel Aviv, and the organization equally boasts of its relationship with the BIRD Foundation (US-Israel Bi-national Industrial Research and Development Foundation), an entity set up by the US and Israeli governments in 1977 whose activities include matchmaking services between Israeli and American companies, and which also provides funding “covering up to 50 percent of project development and product commercialization costs.”

One Israeli company which has already gained a foothold in the Southeast is Elbit Systems, a manufacturer of electronic surveillance technology which has been the target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The Haifa-based company now has offices in Talladega, Alabama and Fort Mill, South Carolina. But Elbit is not by any means the only one. The AICC-SE website features an extensive directory of Israeli companies that have established locations in the American Southeast, with state-by-state listings. The list features no less than 80 companies in six states.

But it should be kept in mind that the AICC-SE is not by any means the only philo-israelitic chamber of commerce organization. Not by a long shot. There are at least 19 others, and more seem to be in the fledgling stage. Below is a partial list:

The California Israel Chamber of Commerce—Cupertino, CA
Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce—Los Angeles
Colorado-Israel Chamber of Commerce—Denver
Florida-Israel Chamber of Commerce—Hollywood, FL
American Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region—Atlanta
America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago—Deerfield, IL,
Maryland/Israel Development Center—Baltimore
Michigan Israel Business Bridge—Bloomfield Hills, MI
American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Minnesota—Minnetonka, MN
America-Israel Chamber of Commerce& Industry—New York
Israeli Business Forum of New York—New York
Ohio Israel Chamber of Commerce—Cleveland, OH
America-Israel Chamber of Commerce-Central Atlantic Region—Philadelphia
Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce—Dallas
Virginia Israel Advisory Board—Tysons Corner, VA
South Carolina-Israel Collaboration
New Mexico-Israel Business Exchange—Albuquerque
Oregon Israel Business Alliance—Portland
Washington Israel Business Council—Seattle
Israel-America Chamber of Commerce (AmCham)—Tel Aviv

If we think of each one of these organizations as collaborating, like the AIIC-SE, with its own aggregate of Israeli businesses, then what we have here, quite literally, is a multitude of tentacles. Most if not all of these “chamber of commerce” organizations seem to have as their primary goal “matchmaking,” i.e. establishing business relationships between Israeli and American companies. How profitable this is all calculated to be for Goyim-owned American businesses is perhaps questionable. For instance, the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago has a section on its website entitled Why We Do It, which reads in part:

The America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago (AICC) is founded on the premise that a strong and independent Israel requires a robust Israeli economy producing growth, jobs and tax revenue for Israel and its people. Our operations take many forms, but they all are focused on this basic goal. By continually demonstrating to business leaders here in the Midwest that it makes good business sense for them to do business in and with Israel, and by serving as the catalyst for this economic activity, we provide critical support for Israel's economy and its people.

The emphasis does seem to be very much on benefiting Israel rather than the United States. It isn’t until the next paragraph that we find, added almost as an afterthought, an allowance for the possibility that, oh yes by the way, America might benefit as well.

Be that as it may, the economic DNA integration seems to be proceeding apace. Earlier this year, representatives from 18 Israeli companies attended the Michigan Israel Automotive Event, while a number of Israeli companies are also honing in on the city of Philadelphia. These include IntelliradControl Inc, an Israeli medical device company, and Rosetta Genomics, a medical research firm, both of which have already located there. Other Israeli companies in Pennsylvania are: Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Delta Galil Industries, Eci Telecom, Retalix, Scope Metals Group, SHL Telemedicine, Dbmotion, Golan Fine Crafts, and Quantum Systems. And if we click here we can see a list of additional Israeli companies apparently seeking business opportunities in the state of Washington.

The concern for Americans, of course, is we have no way of knowing which of these enterprises are legitimate businesses, and which are Mossad front operations having the objective, possibly, of carrying out industrial or economic espionage against American companies. And as Grant Smith has discussed, Israel has a long history of such activity in the US. But perhaps even more worrisome than a case of industrial espionage, is the possibility that one of these Israeli companies could at some point begin to function in a manner similar to System Planning Corporation. Formerly headed by Rabbi Dov Zakheim, SPC developed a highly sophisticated “Flight Termination System” (FTS), enabling remote control of multiple aircraft on varying frequencies, presumably only for the purpose of guiding drones, but that may have played a role in the 9/11 attacks. Zakheim, by the way, was comptroller of the Pentagon at the time of the attacks, and in a recent article Kevin Barrett discusses his and SPC’s possible role in the events of that day:

Zakheim's FTS system was apparently used to remote-hijack passenger aircraft, and stage a military attack disguised as a hijacking incident, under cover of the 46 military drills happening on and around September 11th, 2001. (One of those drills, a live fly hijacked-plane-into-building exercise, apparently “went live,” while the others provided distractions and excuses.)

Zakheim's company SPC also had detailed knowledge of the blueprints and architecture of the World Trade Center. An SPC subsidiary, Tridata Corporation, oversaw the investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The knowledge thereby gained was presumably used in the controlled demolitions of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers on 9/11.

Oddly, perhaps, US officials (some at least) would appear wholly unconcerned about any of this. The US Department of Commerce—the same branch of government that awarded Keshet its $1 million grant—even has an agency that operates out of the US embassy in Tel Aviv and which basically extends an open invitation to Israeli firms interested in moving into America. Called the U.S. Commercial Service, the agency offers what it refers to as its Commercial Connection, whereby it will “find you appropriate contacts in U.S. companies” as well as provide “short company backgrounds on U.S. firms,” and even arrange introductions with company officials.

“An introduction by the U.S. Government gives your company the credibility it needs to be considered a qualified business partner,” states the website. “With 105 offices throughout in the USA, the Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy can be your official U.S. Government partner for contacting American suppliers and service providers!”

In other words, the US Commercial Service functions in a manner very similar to the above-listed “chambers of commerce,” only instead of membership dues, it is funded by U.S. taxpayers. Its staff includes “commercial specialists” who specialize in different industries, such as biotech, computers, electronics, etc.

And…in addition to all of the above, you can go here to find listings for Israel chambers of commerce in other countries, including China, Japan, and Australia. However, it is probably safe to say that no country in the world has been more thoroughly penetrated than the United States. So reaching are the tentacles, we now almost literally seem on the verge of becoming the next Jewish state, if we have not crossed that line already.

H/T to msa

*Sabeel is a Palestinian Christian ecumenical organization founded to advocate for peace and justice and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza. On Sept. 28-29, the Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA) sponsored a conference in Albuquerque entitled “Justice: The Path to Peace in Palestine/Israel.” The speakers included Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans. In a September 21 op-ed piece in the Albuquerque Journal, Sam Sokolove, executive director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, and Todd Goldblum, chair of the Israel Action Network-New Mexico, denounced Sabeel and FOSNA for their criticism of Israel and their alleged anti-Semitism. ( See, New Mexico Jews Scream ‘Anti-Semitism!’ Over Sabeel Conference ).

Ayoub Drone’s Second Journey… Haj Imad Moghnieh Flies in Dimona’s Sky!


Sayyed Muhammad Sadek al-Husseini, "al-Vefagh Newspaper"

Initiated with "Ayoub" drone's* second journey, this is the first turning point for the Resistance's open-war mechanics. This time the story is full of mystery as the official airlines are Hizbullah's... A greater jeopardy is yet to come!

Being the turning point from defense to attack, this is the first time the Islamic Resistance deprives the enemy of its initiatives and innovative capacities.

All amounts of mass-destruction arms in the enemy's depots cannot change this fact; instead, the enemy's arms have changed into nothing but mere "iron junk"!

"It is neither the first time nor the last. And this is only a very little part of what the future is to bring along!"

Obviously, however, it is "the prerequisite" for reshuffling the major events the Arab and Islamic Region is experiencing. On the other hand, some have already lost their vessels in the moving sands of "the Arab Spring"!

It is the inevitable "Awakening" that will reshuffle the Arab movement and save it from forgery, falsification, seduction, or exploitation that any vigilant rebels can realize!

It is certainly a distinguishable mark; though we have been steadfast during besiegement, now we are experiencing a stage of great triumph- contrary to what some want us to believe!

It is an important juncture as we are in a stage of inseparable "conflict bonds". That made Hizbullah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah- the Master of the Lebanese Islamic Resistance- make a speech clearer and franker than ever!

The drone was made in Iran, and a cadre of the Lebanese Islamic Resistance assembled its parts. This is not neither the first maneuver nor the last. Launched in Lebanon to a destination in occupied Palestine, the drone scanned both sea and land like a body manufactured by a self-sacrificing unit never did before. Lethal, the drone flew for three consecutive hours along 300 km above land and water; whereas the enemy in the celebrated desert was absolutely unaware.

That was the Lebanese Hizbullah's first official trip to occupied al-Quds (Jerusalem) - an outstanding, fruitful one!

"Ayoub's" flight was the fruit of consecutive years of work. As the Islamic Resistance's flexibility surpassed the others', the Resistance decided to pioneer setting the first turning point of the massive battle royal anticipated!

It is the battle ‘royal' all sides of the resistance axis have been working for and anticipating as a part of confronting all Zionist aggressions against our nation.

This is the battle ‘royal' that capable, coherent, and harmonized powers have continuously been preparing for. Positioned in Khorasan, Bagdad, Damascus, Sur (Tyr), Bint Jbeil, Nablus, Ramallah, al-Quds, Gaza, and Cairo, these powers have been working to achieve the battle royal so successfully that it changes the entire Middle East- no matter how the villains act!

Two days before the Master of the Islamic Resistance declared Hizbullah's responsibility for "Ayoub's" flight to the blesses lands, "Iran's Nuclear Website" stated, "...Such flights will spread in the airspace of occupied Palestine, especially in the north and near the Golan..."

"Throughout the recent years, the Resistance groups have sketched a full map and made a thorough scan for all military and natural barriers against clash..." The website added, "The aims beyond sustaining this act have been:

1-Testing the efficiency of the "Israeli" air ‘defense' systems, which have so far proved to be inefficient!

2-Collecting information and determining targets!

3-Developping the Resistance groups' abilities through drilling in the enemy's airspace!"

So it's old, new work whereby its oldness proves planning and constant will are there; its newness verifies we have commenced the stage of "open surprises". This is said by the careful observers of the thorough war of intelligence and informatics secrets - the war which has existed for years.

Whereas the Zionist Jews seek avoiding their fate, others are eager to fight for freeing the blessed al-Quds: the Muslims and Christians of the new East ranging from the colossal Atlas Mountains, the Great Wall of China, to Eurasia (the doors of Moscow and Beijing)!

This is "Ayoub's second journey", and it ultimately signifies this is a turning point: from defense to attack!

As we read about "Ayoub's" sacred journey, Allah's soldiers all along the Iranian provinces are readying themselves for the greatest maneuvers ever! Around 5 million fighters are going to accomplish virtual operations of defense and combat. The maneuvers are to be made in accordance with the geography of every province. But all phalanges are to be named "Holy al-Quds Phalanges"!
At this moment, too, one of the fiercest and most complicated battles is taking place on the roads and in the alleys and countryside of Aleppo; also in the countryside of many blessed lands mentioned in the Holy Qur'an. It's going to be a global war.

Careful observers tell it is going to determine the kind of the future global system, as well as the geopolitics that'll redefine our Islamic World and Arab Nation!

This is the journey full of surprises every day. No matter what kind of surprises these will be, their last turning point will eventually determine the time for terminating the last occupation and settlement units and racism phenomenon of the recent history.

More clearly, the camp of the little, so-called "State of "Israel"" is going to be dissociated. Definitely, no more "Israel" will exist; Palestine will retain its demography, geopolitics, and geography as its legitimate right says.

But, what does all this mean to Hizbullah in particular?!

Remember the words of His Eminence Sayyed Nasrallah: "We need neither chemical weapons nor nuclear ones. We do own what is more efficient!"

Having made its first trial, today "Ayoub" drone can demolish the "Israeli" gas platforms in the sea!

"Ayoub" drone can bombard the warships of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) by the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea!
To Dimona, "Ayoub" drone is death that might strike any moment!
So it can strike any enemy commander before it even gets exposed!
It is the first turning point that'll revenge for martyr Haj Imad Moghnieh. Today, his phantom masks the hills, mountains, valleys, and shores of occupied Palestine. So has the time for revenge come?!

*"Ayoub" drone has been named after Prophet Ayoub (Pbuh), who was known for absolute patience; also after Hizbullah martyr Hussein Ayoub.

Arms to Syria: Theft, Entrapment, and Tampering

A gunman carries a gun as he sits behind sandbags at the neighborhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, 23 August 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Omar Ibrahim)
By: Qassem Qassem
Published Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Huge quantities of weapons passing through smuggling networks in Lebanon indicate a major battle for Syria looming on the horizon, but even the arms market is rife with division as dealers sabotage merchandise and inform on customers.

Since the eruption of the Syrian crisis and the escalation of violence between Syrian government forces and rebels, arms prices in Lebanon have increased threefold.
The tag on an AK47 or a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launcher recently reached $2,000, up from $700 to $1,000 before the crisis. PK machine guns and Dragunov sniper rifles were being sold at record prices of around $8,000.
Then, about ten days ago, the arms market in Lebanon witnessed a sudden recession. According to one arms dealer, “the Syrian market reached saturation.” Moreover, he says, “the rebels began selling their surplus arms and ammunition.”
The dealer says the price of an AK47 bullet dropped from $2 to $1.5 in one week. For RPG rockets, it fell from $500 to $300.
The sudden drop was also an indicator to Lebanese arms merchants that the rebels are now receiving supplies from other sources, probably Iraq and Turkey.
Despite this sudden “recession,” arms dealers are still working day and night so that their merchandise reaches its destination in Syria.
They do not seem to care about the informants watching them closely.
Although money is the main motivating factor, even arms merchants find themselves divided between the two warring sides of the Syrian conflict.
One dealer, who consider himself “politicized,” refuses to sell to anyone who would use the arms against “our people,” meaning, in this case, the Syrian army and regime supporters.
For this group, the real battle is between the US and Israel on one side, and the “axis of resistance” – Hezbollah, Syria and Iran – on the other. For them, the loss of a few dollars is a small price to pay.
If they wanted to make “a quick buck,” they might sell some malfunctioning weapons to the rebels.

One such merchant goes by the name Abu Mustafa. The young man sits in a coffee shop on the Hadi Nasrallah strip in Dahiyeh to meet with anAl-Akhbar reporter.

From afar, he blends in perfectly with the rest of the customers. No weapon is visible at his side, and, contrary to popular conceptions of people in his line of business, he has no visible scars or tattoos.

Abu Mustafa calls himself a “small” arms dealer, but he is actually a middle man, acting as an intermediary between the big-time merchants known as “whales” and the customers.

His outward appearance gives no clues as to the huge profits he makes off these deals – his clothes are plain, and he does not flash any symbols of luxury.

Although he is religiously observant, he admits he pretends to be unemployed but actually sells weapons. His unemployment is a good cover since “there is so much work these days,” he said sarcastically.

He knows that there are informants watching him. He is watching them back.

“Every officer has his price and we often coordinate together,” he says, unfazed.

Coordinating with Army Intelligence means he often informs on the people who purchase arms for transport to Syria.

He mentions an ambush he helped the authorities set for someone who wanted to buy 5,000 rounds of AK47 bullets. He waited for the customer on the airport road, arranging the deal over Whatsapp, the smartphone messenger service.

He told the customer a car with tinted windows would come to pick him up. The car was from Army Intelligence, and the man was promptly arrested.

In this particular case, the suspect claimed he was not intending to transport the ammunition to Syria, insisting that it was for personal use only. But his politics were at odds with those of Abu Mustafa, so the latter had no qualms about turning him over to the Army.

Arms dealers like Abu Mustafa, who see themselves as having a stake in the conflict, do not stop at informing on their customers (after they get paid, of course). They even go as far as sabotaging merchandise sent to Syrian rebels.

Most of the weapons “we knew were going to Syria, so we made sure to make it unusable,” one merchant claims. He went on to say that he and his associates have sold the Syrian opposition RPG rockets that are intended for training purposes only. This means they do not have the same explosive power as the regular ones.

“The rocket might explode and kill a person, but it will not inflict the same amount of damage on vehicles like the original,” he explains.

“They would not be able to differentiate the model from the original, unless they wanted to open each and every one, which they will not do, of course,” the merchant adds.

Some of the weapons they sold were just molded plaster painted green.

He also said that some merchants, including himself, are selling “rubbed out” AK47s.

“We smooth out the bores of the barrels for a few millimeters,” he said. “They are undetectable by the naked eye, but enough to affect the range of shot...The AK47 will fire as if it was spitting.”

The weapons they ruin are not the good supplies. They get them from the Lebanese army, which takes apart its damaged weapons and sells them as scrap.

“Most of the scrapped weapons are delivered to a junkyard in Shatila where we buy them and refurbish them,” the dealer added.

“Some weapons are found in good condition,” he went on. “When the army saws off its M16 rifles, we turn them into M4s and add some Chinese parts, so they look like new. The army would cut the barrel and save us some work and around $6.”

It should be noted that such weapons are useless in a real battle.

Open Bazaar

It is not just the merchants who are selling weapons.

Recently, a group of officers from a Palestinian armed faction stole weapons from their movement’s depot in Ain el-Helweh and Burj al-Shemali refugee camps and sold them to Syrian opposition fighters.

Some Lebanese merchants are also purchasing handguns in Turkey and importing them to Lebanon where they refurbish them with longer barrels and sell them as “toys.” Although they are for personal use, they are more powerful than regular handguns.

Ammunition is obtained mostly from officially licensed shooting ranges, including some that are run by security forces. The owners of these clubs are stealing ammunition supplies and selling them to the merchants.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Wissam al-Hassan: A Man Who Had Many Enemies

Urgent investigations conducted by the Information Branch did not show any suspicious activities in the area. But the precision of the information from the UAE led Hassan to treat it seriously. (Photo: Marwan Tahtaht)
Published Tuesday, October 30, 2012
The fallout from the assassination of Internal Security Forces (ISF) Information Branch chief Wissam al-Hassan nearly two weeks ago was very similar to that following the series of assassinations that has rocked Lebanon since 2005.

Syria was blamed immediately, and those who expressed doubt were labeled collaborators. March 14 alluded to Hezbollah’s involvement as well. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea even went as far as accusing Hezbollah directly.

Jumping to conclusions prevents honest dialogue. In reality, prior to his death, Hassan felt threatened by more than one party.

People who knew Hassan heard him in recent years speak about those he thought wanted to kill him. Some of this information was based on analysis, but some of it was also based on data and facts on the ground.

Of course, Hassan had his suspicions regarding Syria’s role in Lebanon. Over the last few months, he became more apprehensive towards Syrian intelligence agencies. He would often mock their structural weaknesses, which became especially obvious following the arrest of former minister Michel Samaha who was indicted for his involvement in "terror plots" in Lebanon on behalf of the Syrian regime.

Hassan also never hid his conviction that Hezbollah, along with Syria, was behind the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, but he was convinced it was the product of a conspiracy within the organization.

Hassan believed that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and assassinated Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh did not have prior knowledge of the killing and were not involved in it in any way.

The intelligence chief made it clear that he feared a certain group within Hezbollah made up of “undisciplined elements who do not obey their leadership.”

This apprehension did not prevent Hassan from cooperating with Hezbollah and even exchanging intelligence on several occasions.

While the Information Branch led the crackdown on Israeli spy networks over the last four years, the Resistance provided information that was crucial to their discovery.

“The are better than us in human intelligence gathering,” he would say of Hezbollah’s intelligence branch.

Hassan knew that the nature of his work made him a target. He often said that his job “left me without any friends.”

A few months ago, Hassan told people close to him about meetings he had with Jordanian officials, including the head of Jordanian intelligence, who he met in Germany, and a minister linked to Jordanian intelligence.

He said that each of them had relayed information – on separate occasions – about discussions with the Israelis regarding the situation in Lebanon.

As a result, both officials told Hassan that the Israelis do not look on him favourably and that he should be careful, even in Europe.

Hassan knew that the Israelis were after his neck. On several occasions, he reportedly said that he did not feel safe in Europe anymore.

He was aware of the damage done to Israel through the unraveling of its spy networks in Lebanon, starting in 2007 when the Intelligence Branch commenced its counter-intelligence operations.

Hassan also received a clear message from the US Congress, which cut back on some of the joint programs between his branch and its American counterparts. On one occasion, several US Senators explicitly informed Hassan that were facing Israeli pressure to stop their assistance to Lebanon.

But the clearest message came from the Jordanian intelligence officer he met with almost a year ago and whose warnings he took seriously.

Earlier this year, Hassan got another warning. In January 2012, he received a letter from the United Arab Emirates’ intelligence body saying they had credible information that a high ranking officer from the ISF would be targeted with a car bomb in Achrafieh on the road between the ISF headquarters and the officer’s safe house.

The information came as a surprise to Hassan, since he believed his safe house in Achrafieh was a secret. Even his closest aides were not informed of its location. He knew that the information from the UAE concerned him personally, the Achrafieh safe house being his own.

All he could do was leak the information to the press, to tell those who wanted to assassinate him that their plot had been discovered.

Urgent investigations conducted by the Information Branch did not show any suspicious activities in the area. But the precision of the information from the UAE led Hassan to treat it seriously.

The information was leaked to the press and treated, as usual, as fodder for internal Lebanese politicking. The Information Branch was accused of fabricating the information to use it to pry communications data from telecom operators.

But for the security officers concerned with the investigation, the issue was critical. Hassan did not know who was behind the plot discovered by UAE intelligence.

He assumed it was related to Syrian intelligence operations. He remained convinced of this until he met a UAE intelligence official who told him that their information points to al-Qaeda, specifically one of their groups operating out of the Ain al-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp.

Wissam al-Hassan knew he had to stay a step ahead of his adversaries, some of whom remained a mystery even to him. He knew his enemies were many and that the last seven years of his life as a top intelligence chief only made him more of a target.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.