Tuesday, June 14, 2016
TERRORISM-STOP THE MUD SLINGING-FIGHT THE WAR.
I don’t have a panacea to prevent terrorism, but amid all the hand-wringing and mud-slinging in the wake of Sunday’s massacre in Orlando, what’s striking — and unforgivable — is the absence of a strategic, international, coordinated bid to so much as try.We can all spend the next few days and weeks arguing about whether US President Barack Obama should have called the mass killing a case of Islamist terror, or whether that would have been a rush to judgment; and, for that matter, whether Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai should have invoked the occupation when discussing last Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Sarona Market, or whether that risked affording untenable legitimacy to the killings of four Israeli innocents. We can exercise ourselves, dominate the airwaves, and spend fortunes fighting and determining elections over what people are saying about terrorism. But wouldn’t it be smarter — and wouldn’t it be better for our prospects of staying alive — if we expended rather more serious thought, and budget, on the practical task of stopping the death cult extremists? Specifically, that means a great deal more focus on each of three key areas: defending more effectively against the killers; taking the battle to them where necessary and feasible; and preventing the creation of the next waves.Israel, though manifestly imperfect, has much to teach the world about defending against terrorism. As the Sarona attack bitterly underlined we have not halted it completely, but we have gradually improved techniques to make it harder for the killers to achieve their goals. The construction of the West Bank security barrier, relentless intelligence work, military operations to arrest would-be bombers and those who arm and inspire them, security coordination with the Palestinian Authority, the deployment of security guards at places where people gather in large numbers — all these and other steps gradually defeated the Second Intifada in the early years of this century, when our buses and our malls and our restaurants were being blown up on a weekly basis, and prevented a resurgence on a similar scale ever since.Again, we are emphatically imperfect: Better intelligence, more security guards at Sarona, and a completed security fence would likely have averted last Wednesday’s killings. It is beyond scandalous that, more than a decade on, the West Bank barrier is still not finished, and the two Palestinian terrorists were thus able to enter Israel through one of the gaps.But Israel has learned, bloodily, a great deal about keeping terrorists at bay, and when politicians around the Western world wailed, in the wake of last November’s terrorist onslaught in Paris, that they simply could not deploy security guards at every concert arena, soccer stadium, restaurant, et al, we Israelis said to ourselves, Well, actually, you can. And, tragically, you may have to.Get serious about defensive action, allocate the necessary resources, and you self-evidently raise your prospects of thwarting the killers. Reading about how Omar Mateen, the Orlando mass murderer, had twice been questioned by the FBI but then slipped off the radar after those interviews proved inconclusive, I was reminded of what Malcolm Hoenlein, the veteran head of US Jewry’s Conference of Presidents, said to me in an interview in February. The head of a “major security agency” in France, said Hoenlein, had told him that French intelligence had the Charlie Hebdo killers under surveillance until the Friday before that attack, but the agents were then redeployed to what was deemed to be a more pressing case, and thus brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi were not being tracked when, on January 7, they forced their way into the Paris offices of the satirical magazine and gunned down 11 people.If France had budgeted more resources to its security agencies, it might have prevented that attack and the massacres that followed 10 months later. If the overstretched American security agencies are similarly bolstered, maybe the next Omar Mateen will not be able to slide away from the authorities and return with horrifying consequences.When it comes to taking the offensive, again, Israel has more experience than we would have wished, and much of the world has been loath to learn from it. It was the notably Israel-empathetic George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, who told Israel to get out of the West Bank, and do so right away, when prime minister Ariel Sharon was stewarding Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 — destroying the Hamas and Fatah terror networks that were building bombs and training and dispatching suicide bombers. “I expect there to be withdrawal without delay,” Bush said that April, following a dreadful, bloody March in which over 100 Israeli civilians had been killed in terror attacks that culminated in the Netanyahu Passover eve massacre. Had Sharon heeded Bush, let there be no doubt, the bombings would have continued. Had Israel ceased its intermittent incursions into Palestinian cities ever since, Israel would now be in the midst of another full-fledged intifada, rather than what by our standards is a “low-level” terror war.In considering when a more proactive stance might be appropriate, it seems to me that failing to support Iranians’ efforts to stand up to their regime, doing one’s best to ignore an escalating civil war in Syria for years, and now watching unhelpfully from the side as Egypt’s president attempts to marginalize Islamic extremism, are not the smartest approaches. Not when Tehran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, when the Syrian civil war has prompted a vast river of refugees with who knows how many killers hiding among them, and when Egypt could so easily fall again into the grip of the Muslim Brotherhood. The West cannot afford to try to disengage from the Middle East. Its extremists bite back. Sometimes, the enemy has to be tackled at source — prudently, cool-headedly, but tackled, nonetheless. Where is the concerted international effort to ban, defund and marginalize extremist leaders and teachers the world over, using every ounce of diplomatic and economic leverage that can be mustered? Finally, and most importantly, the leaderships of those countries that delight in the gift of being alive need to focus strategic attention, and resources, on fighting extremism at its root — where tomorrow’s killers are being imbued with hatred, and are attaining the skills and means to make that hatred fatally plain. We may hear in the coming days, as we have in the wake of previous attacks, how it was that the Orlando killer was radicalized. Which spiritual leaders he heeded. Which websites he frequented. Where he gained practical information in preparing to carry out his devastating crime.The political leaders, the spiritual leaders, the conventional and social media outlets, the educational frameworks that are breeding tomorrow’s killers continue to disseminate their toxins with near-impunity. Some of this dissemination of hatred can be tackled by the free world in the free world. Where, for instance, are the potent partnerships between politicians, jurists, intelligence agencies and internet platforms to grapple with the spread of murderous expertise online? And where is the concerted international effort to ban, defund and marginalize extremist leaders and teachers the world over, using every ounce of diplomatic and economic leverage that can be mustered? Right now, untold numbers of would-be killers are honing their capabilities, seeking their targets, preparing to strike. Worse still, countless more potential death cult recruits are gradually being wooed to follow them. Shrill and contemptuous mud-slinging might provide a vent for fear and frustration. But it’s not going to win the war against terrorism.
Shas insists on dismissal of Channel 10 chairman-Deri tells Netanyahu his party will not allow Rami Sadan’s disparaging alleged comments to go unpunished-By Times of Israel staff June 13, 2016, 8:33 pm
The Shas party said Monday it would continue to seek the dismissal of Channel 10’s new board chairman, Rami Sadan, who is accused of making racist statements.In a meeting earlier in the day between Shas chairman Aryeh Deri and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Deri demanded that Sadan be fired “due to his racist comments against Shas and against the movement’s voters.”Sadan is accused of making disparaging remarks about Deri, who heads the Sephardi Orthodox party, as well about Mizrahi Israelis of African and Middle Eastern descent, initially reported by the Haaretz daily on June 2.The Knesset hearing to discuss Sadan’s fate was canceled on Monday because the staff of the news station did not show up.The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee was meant to discuss Sadan’s appointment as well as the protection of press freedom in Israel’s commercial news channels. Representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Communications Ministry and Channel 10 board members and workers were slated to attend.Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) made the decision to cancel the hearing.“I take this issue very seriously and I do not intend to ignore the fact that the management of Channel 10 decided not to attend this hearing,” Cabel said.“It is not right for a media organization to behave like this. Rami Sadan informed me that he was sick, and the management told me it was inconvenient.”Sadan, a political lobbyist and former close associate of the Netanyahu family, was quoted by Haaretz as having told the Channel 10 News board of directors: “Let’s tell the truth: I, like you, part of the elite, hate the Shas movement and that thief Aryeh Deri. But we, as the elite, have to broaden the channel’s circles and appeal to the audience of Shas, to Massouda from Sderot,” using a stereotype referring to a person of Mizrahi descent living on Israel’s periphery.Deri served a prison sentence between 2000 and 2002 for graft, before resuming his political career ahead of the 2015 Knesset elections. The interior minister is currently under investigation on new graft suspicions.Immediately after the comments were published, Shas called on Netanyahu — who is also communications minister — to fire Sadan, threatening to break coalition discipline and skip Knesset votes until he did. Shas MKs have stayed away from the plenum, entering only to vote against an opposition bill on conversion.Without Shas’s seven Knesset members, the coalition will have just 59 votes out of the 120-seat plenum-Though Sadan has denied making the controversial statement, two officials from the TV station have come forward saying he had in fact made the remarks, though their versions differed slightly from Haaretz’s.
Jerusalem bus terrorist convicted of murdering three-Bilal Abi Ghanem, who carried out shooting and stabbing attack in Armon Hanatziv, to be sentenced at later date-By Times of Israel staff June 13, 2016, 9:04 pm
An East Jerusalem terrorist who killed three people on a bus in the capital in October was convicted by Jerusalem’s District Court Monday on three counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder and aiding the enemy in wartime.The conviction came after the court in March rejected a plea bargain struck between the prosecution and the defense when defendant Bilal Abu Ghanem refused to recognize the authority of the court.Abu Ghanem, a Jabel Mukaber resident and Hamas supporter, will be sentenced at a later date. The prosecution is seeking three consecutive life sentences for the killings and another 70 years for the attempted murders.As part of the nixed plea bargain, which would seen have seen seven counts of attempted murder dropped from his charge sheet, Abu Ghanem was to state his confession to the court. Then the judge was expected to convict him on three counts of murder.But when the moment came, Abu Ghanem refused to stand and make his confession to the court, even at the explicit request of presiding Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman. She then called for a short recess and instructed Abu Ghanem’s legal counsel to explain court procedures to the defendant.After the break, Abu Ghanem’s attorney told the court that his client had doubled down on his refusal to comply with procedure, prompting the judge to rescind the plea bargain.“In light of the circumstances, in which the defendant has refused to stand or address this court, the court does not recognize any deal reached between the two parties,” it said in a statement.According to the indictment handed down by the court in November, Abu Ghanem and another man, Baha Alyan, boarded Egged bus 78 in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood on the morning of October 13 of last year, and began shooting and stabbing passengers.The two men were motivated to carry out the attack in retaliation for Israeli “intrusions in Al-Aqsa” on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, and the “settlers who murder small children,” the charge sheet said.The attack claimed the lives of Haviv Haim, 78, and Alon Govberg, 51. Richard Lakin, 76, who was critically wounded, died some two weeks later. Over a dozen people were injured in the attack.Police who arrived at the scene shot and killed Alyan. Abu Ghanem was shot and injured, and police took him into custody.In January, Alyan’s and Abu Ghanem’s family homes in Jabel Mukaber were demolished by Israeli security forces.
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