Monday, June 24, 2024

For Israel, double standards are deadly

For Israel, double standards are deadly


From the beginning of the war Hamas launched with its barbaric Oct. 7 massacre, Israel has been subject to strong pressure and double standards.

According to the United Nations, the expected ratio of non-combatant to combatant casualties in modern warfare is 9 to 1. In Gaza, the ratio has been no more than 1.3 to 1 and has likely been less than 1 to 1 given that Hamas lately admitted it did not have documentation for half the deaths of women and children it had claimed!

According to John Spencer, America's most respected expert on urban warfare and former chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, the IDF has done more than any other army in history, including our American army, to prevent civilian casualties. Despite that, even President Biden has kept insisting too many civilians in Gaza have been killed and Israel must do more.

It's virtually unheard of for a country at war to provide food and other aid to its enemy. Yet almost immediately after Israel was attacked on Oct. 7, President Biden insisted such aid be sent to Gaza, while saying the aid would stop if he found Hamas was stealing any of it. Even though it was quickly determined that Hamas was stealing 60% of the aid, President Biden kept pressing for Israel to help send increasing amounts of aid to Gaza and effectively strengthen Hamas.

By early February, Israel was preparing for the most critical operation of the war, rooting Hamas out of Gaza and cutting off its supply lines from Egypt. It wound up putting that operation off for nearly four months because of heavy pressure from President Biden.

President Biden initially pressured Israel to respect the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and put off any operation there until after the Ramadan holiday, a period during which attacks on Israel traditionally increase dramatically. The most prominent of those attacks was in 1973, on Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day.

The pressure continued after Ramadan, with Administration officials arguing Israel had no credible plan for moving civilians out of Rafah and it would take four months to move civilians out of danger if it was even possible. President Biden even cut off the resupply of some arms.

Finally, in early May, Israeli officials could delay no longer. They warned civilians to move from Rafah to safe areas. Rather than four months, it took a week for Israel to help 800,000 civilians get out of harm's way.

The Israeli army then carefully moved into Rafah, neutralizing numerous terrorists with very few civilian casualties. It quickly found and began destroying numerous rockets, tunnels, and other terror infrastructure, much of it in and below UNRWA facilities, including schools and hospitals.

At least 20 tunnels were discovered underneath the border with Egypt, used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. This explained why Egypt was so adamantly opposed to Israel entering Rafah and taking control of the critical Philadelphi corridor.

Delaying the operation in Rafah nearly four months had a number of negative consequences.

It, minimally, lengthened the war in Gaza by nearly four months, causing four extra months of misery for the people in Gaza.

It meant four months with no pressure on Hamas to release hostages, four extra months of torture for those hostages, four months during which Hamas murdered an unknown number of hostages.

It meant four months during which pressure was put on Israel to stop putting pressure on Hamas, enabling Hamas terrorists to resume operating in areas where Israel had established control, leading to more battles and more deaths of Israeli troops, of Hamas terrorists and of civilians in Gaza.

It meant four months during which Hamas was able to organize itself in Rafah, strengthen itself with additional weapons smuggled in from Egypt through those tunnels underneath the Philadelphi corridor and booby trap buildings and tunnels in Rafah.

While I have been composing this, eight soldiers were killed by an explosive likely smuggled in during those four months.

It meant four more months during which the Houthis effectively kept the Red Sea shipping lanes closed, continually attacking merchant ships and the naval forces sent to protect them with no effective response.

It meant four more months during which Iranian terror proxies escalated their attacks on Israel with rockets, along with Iran itself conducting the largest single day missile and drone attack by one country on another in history. After Israel respected Ramadan by putting off its necessary operation in Rafah, Hezbollah celebrated the Jewish holiday of Shavuot by firing more than 250 rockets at Israel.

It meant four more months during which the world has ignored the way Iran has been installing more centrifuges and greatly increasing its stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons grade levels.

In a gross understatement, the double standard applied to Israel has been devastating for the people in Gaza, deadly for Israelis, a horrendous crime against the hostages being held in Gaza and made the world a far more dangerous place.

The lost lives can never be regained, but our government needs to stop doubling down on its mistakes.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., is a former longtime resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Mass. He is president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Published in the Waterbury Sunday Republican on June 23, 2024.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Iran’s attack: Observations the morning after

The following was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on Wednesday, April 18, 2024. Unfortunately, it already appears the current American government is doubling down on the disastrous strategies that were instrumental in bringing about the various attacks and wars mentioned below, most recently the massive Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel, and has successfully pressured Israel to avoid appropriately responding to that attack. We will all pay a heavy price for that unforced error.

Iran’s attack: Observations the morning after


I am writing this in Netanya right after Iran launched a massive attack of more than 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles overnight, with additional missiles launched by Iran or its terror proxies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. With assistance from America, Britain, France and Jordan, the attack was almost completely thwarted, with just one serious injury, suffered by a seven-year-old girl asleep in her bed.

Growing up and living most of my life in America, I am proud that the United States has been the greatest force for good in the history of the world. Now living much of the year in Israel, I also understand harsh realities about the Middle East which most Westerners, including American leaders, do not.

That lack of understanding led President Jimmy Carter to abandon the Shah of Iran, transforming Iran from a harsh but friendly and relatively progressive dictatorship into a fanatical theocracy that murders young women who allow stray hairs to escape their hijabs and whose leaders chant “Death to America.”

In 1990, that lack of understanding helped give Saddam Hussein the impression he had a green light to occupy Kuwait. During the ensuing war, when Saddam Hussein started launching missiles at Israeli cities, President Bush pressured Israel to not retaliate. It marked the first time Israel was attacked and did not defend itself, dealing a serious blow to Israeli deterrence, an existential necessity in the Middle East.

Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, American pressure forced Israel into a premature ceasefire every time Hamas started another war, inevitably leading to another bloodier and more destructive war.

When Barack Obama was president, we had Iran over a barrel, with its economy in shambles, its foreign currency reserves almost exhausted and barely able to support its terror proxies. Perversely, President Obama negotiated as if Iran was the superpower holding all the cards and we were powerless.

With an estimated $150 billion signing bonus and the elimination of sanctions worth many billions each year, Iran became an evil rags-toriches success, lavishly funding its many terror proxies while never actually adhering to the terms of the nuclear deal. We again had Iran on the ropes after Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement, until President Biden came into office promising to get Iran to agree to a longer and stronger deal and immediately removed the reimposed sanctions. When he couldn’t even get Iran to agree to a much shorter and weaker deal, President Biden kept giving Iran multi-billion-dollar waivers on sanctions.

We inexplicably removed the Houthis from our list of terror organizations.

We perversely declared Qatar — a close friend of Iran, major funder for Hamas, and owner of Al Jazeera — a “major non-NATO ally.”

We barely responded to well over 100 attacks on us and our friends, even when attacks killed American soldiers.

We left billions of dollars worth of sophisticated weapons for the Taliban and abandoned American citizens and allies in Afghanistan.

President Obama stood by helplessly when Russia took Crimea away from Ukraine.

While President Biden coordinated the supply of weapons to help Ukraine when Putin invaded again, responses to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s desperate pleas have often been very slow and the most needed weapons often withheld.

Immediately after Oct. 7, President Biden recognized Israel was fighting an evil enemy that had to be eliminated, and he pledged “rocksolid” and “unwavering” support.

Unfortunately, while Israel and its army proved they deserved that support, Biden’s rock-solid support has turned to jelly. He has even strongly pressured Israel to not enter the last remaining Hamas stronghold, hand Hamas a victory and let them murder the remaining hostages, including several Americans.

Russia’s takeover of Crimea, its recent invasion of Ukraine, the Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, the Hamas massacre on Oct. 7 and the recent Iranian attack are all connected to those errors.

Regardless of President Biden’s position, Israel has no alternative but to retaliate against Hamas. Any other response guarantees future attacks.

We need to recognize America is the free world’s indispensable nation and act like it.

We need to reimpose and enforce all the sanctions on Iran. We need to make clear we actually mean it when we say we will never allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

We need to respond strongly whenever we or any of our friends and allies are attacked, whether or not the attack is successful.

If we don’t, Israel will pay a price, Ukraine will likely lose and China will likely invade Taiwan. America and the entire free world will suffer while Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and their allies of convenience are likely to impose a new Dark Age on this planet.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a longtime resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Mass. He is president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

October 7 provided a brief moment of clarity

An abridged version of the following appeared as an op-ed in the Waterbury Republican-American on February 21, 2024 

How soon we forget
October 7 provided a brief moment of clarity

By Alan Stein

The October 7 Massacre led by Hamas provided a fleeting moment of clarity.

Peace-loving Israelis were disabused of the misconception that it was possible to live next to a de facto terror state ruled by Hamas. They realized providing food, fuel, water and power and transferring massive amounts of goods and providing well-paying jobs for thousands of Gazans would never moderate Hamas.

Israelis realized there is no alternative to rendering Hamas incapable of keeping its leaders' pledge to repeat the October 7 massacre again and again.

Israelis recognized the need for good to prevail over evil.

Most leaders of democratic nations also understood their need for Israel to prevail.

President Biden quickly became the first president ever to travel to Israel during a war, asserted Hamas must be eliminated and pledged to stand with Israel forever.

We have since learned the barbarity of the Gaza terrorists was far worse than initially realized. Unfortunately, memories fade, support has waned and Israel is under increasing pressure to stop short of victory and let Hamas survive.

Early on, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby praised Israel for the lengths it was going to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza, doing more than even America would.

This is borne out by the historically low proportion of civilian casualties. The United Nations expects nine non-combatant deaths for every enemy combatant killed in urban warfare. The ratio in Gaza has been less than a quarter of that norm.

Hamas' network of tunnels is more extensive than the New York City subway system and cost Hamas a billion dollars. The underground labyrinth presents a challenge no other military in history has faced. Military academies will study and learn from the innovative methods Israel developed to deal with it.

Thousands of entrance shafts are deliberately located inside homes, schools, mosques and hospitals in order to make it impossible for Israel to defend against Hamas without Gaza's infrastructure being damaged and civilians getting killed. It's called Hamas' "dead baby strategy." 

Here are two examples.

A woman pushing a baby carriage called out to Israeli soldiers for help. As a soldier came to help, she signaled a terrorist, who emerged from a nearby shaft, shot and killed the soldier, and escaped down the shaft.

A boy asked an Israeli soldier for water. As the soldier approached with the water, the boy detonated the suicide belt he was wearing. The soldier was fortunate. Although seriously injured, he survived. The boy who blew himself up is now counted among those children Hamas claims were killed by Israel.

John Spencer, the Chair of Urban Studies Warfare at the Modern War Institute at West Point and one of the world's leading experts on urban warfare, recently wrote "Israel has taken more measures to avoid needless civilian harm than virtually any other nation that's fought an urban war" and "Israel has taken precautionary measures even the United States did not do during its recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." (Israel Implemented More Measures to Prevent Civilian Casualties Than Any Other Nation in History, Newsweek, January 31, 2024)

Despite those facts, Hamas' "dead baby strategy" has been effective in subverting support for Israel. Secretary of State Antony Blinken now keeps repeating the mantra "far too many Palestinians have died and Israel must do a better job."

During his generally positive speech in Israel on October 18, Biden announced he had prevailed on Israel to agree to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, even though Hamas has traditionally stolen much of the aid delivered to Gaza. Hamas used stolen aid to build its underground network of tunnels. Recognizing this, President Biden said "Let me be clear: If Hamas diverts or steals the assistance, they will have demonstrated once again that they have no concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people and it will end."

Sixty percent of that aid has been stolen by Hamas. Yet rather than ending the aid, as he said he would if Hamas stole it, President Biden keeps pressuring Israel to allow even more.

The world quickly loses interest in most wars.

Not so when Israel is attacked. The world is losing interest in the 134 innocent Israelis still being held. Many of those not already murdered are being brutalized by Hamas, but many obsesses over the plight of the people in Gaza even though 98% say they're more proud of being Palestinian after the October 7 Massacre!

Kfir Bibas was nine months old when he was kidnapped by Hamas, along with his four year old brother Ariel and their parents, Shiri and Yarden. Shiri's parents were murdered. Kfir is now thirteen months old and nobody has any idea of whether he and his brother and parents are dead or alive.

How many people who obsess about the suffering of Gazans ever think about the Bibas family?

That Israel is fighting against evil hasn't changed, even as memories have faded.

For good to prevail over evil, Israel must render render Hamas and the other terror groups in Gaza incapable of resurrecting themselves and repeating their barbaric slaughter.

This remains a necessity for America as well.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Everyone values some lives more than others

Published in the Waterbury Republican-American on January 24, 2024:

Everyone values some lives more than others


There's a question I've been pondering since Sky News reporter Kay Burley, referring to the impending hostage deal calling for Israel to release 150 terrorists in exchange for 50 of the innocent Israelis kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7, asked a visibly stunned Eylon Levy "Does Israel not think that Palestinian lives are valued as highly as Israeli lives."

It was clearly a trap, meant to elicit an answer that would be used to call Levy a bigot for valuing Palestinian lives less than Israeli lives. He avoided her trap, but in truth everyone values some lives more than others.

Like most Americans, I value American lives more than lives of people in other countries. Most of us pay more attention to a murder in London than one in N'Djamena. A shooting in Waterbury is far more likely to be on the front page of the Republican-American than one in London or even Hartford.

The way that question was posed to Eylon Levy is an example of the double standard routinely applied to Israel. Has anyone heard a similar question ever being asked of a representative of any other country?

It would be abnormal for Israelis to not value the lives of their brethren more than those of others, particularly others dedicated to Israel's destruction.

What's abnormal is how their own demands for that lopsided exchange indicate Palestinians themselves value Israeli lives more than their own.

Rabbi Shmuel Reichman reports hearing a Hamas leader saying "Hamas values death, while Israel value life; that is their greatest weakness."

CNN's Sam Kiley reported that Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, told him "Israelis love life" while "we celebrate the greatest gift of martyrdom for our children. Every mother wants that for her child."

In 2011, Israel released 1,027 terrorists to free a single Israeli, Gilad Shalit.

Israelis rejoiced in the release of Shalit, but many opposed the deal, correctly believing it would lead to more fatal terror attacks. One of the terrorists released in that deal, Yahya Sinwar, was the mastermind of the Oct. 7 massacre.

While he was in custody, Israeli doctors had saved Sinwar's life, curing him of an aggressive strain of brain cancer.

Israel saves the life of a Palestinian terrorist and he masterminds the slaughter of more than a thousand Israelis! Israel's humanity often gets repaid with terror.

The support Israel had on Oct. 7 predictably started ebbing even before Israel began defending its people. The unavoidable casualties in Gaza now get massive attention while the mass murders of Israelis and the plight of the Israelis held hostage are virtually ignored. That the proportion of civilian casualties in Gaza has been far below what the United Nations expects in modern warfare and what our American army considered acceptable in Iraq does nothing to protect Israel from constant criticism.

Mainstream American media rarely reports that Israeli forces find terrorists and weapons in every hospital, along with entrances to terror tunnels below, or that the IDF found weapons hidden behind MRI machines and RPGs in incubators for premature babies.

My wife and I had plane tickets leaving for Israel on Oct. 8. The Oct. 7 massacre changed our plans, but we finally arrived in Israel a few weeks ago.

Superficially, life for us in Netanya is almost normal, but no family in Israel has been unaffected. The hotels are filled with families displaced from their homes thanks to attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Almost everyone is worried about close friends and relatives fighting in Gaza. Almost everyone knows someone who was murdered in the Oct. 7 massacre, after being taken hostage or killed while serving in Gaza.

Nobody wants the war to end more than Israelis, but they also understand it must be ended in a way that ensures Hamas will not be able to carry out its pledge to repeat its Oct. 7 atrocities "again and again." They know each previous war ended with a ceasefire during which Hamas took aid meant to help civilians, used it to enrich its leaders, build its elaborate terror tunnel system and strengthen itself, then broke the ceasefire with more terror, war, death and destruction.

Israelis recognize they have no alternative to what they are doing. They will not be able to live in peace unless they win this war.

In contrast, the terrorists in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority controlled portions of Judea and Samaria do have a choice. They can continue the path of terror and mass murder of Israelis and catastrophe for Gazans. Or they can choose the path of peace, raising their children to grow up and live normal lives rather than die as shahids.

While the Israeli Defense Force is doing what it must, in Netanya we see people trying to live their lives as normally as possible. Every time they enjoy a walk, or sit in a cafe, or visit friends, or play tennis - I've done that a few times since getting to Israel - they deprive the terrorists of a victory and make a small contribution to the victory of good over evil.

Hamas thinks the Israeli love of life is Israel's weakness, and in a sense they're right, but it's also Israel's great strength.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Mass. He is President Emeritus of PRIMERConnecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

South Africa's genocide allegation against Israel by Yale Zussman

Posted with the permission of the author.

Last evening's program on South Africa's allegation of genocide against Israel left out more issues than it addressed. 

The Palestinians have charged Israel with genocide for decades, whether there was a conflict or not.  I am a retired math professor, and I hope you will agree that if party A is pursuing genocide against party B, the number of people in party B will go down over time.  For example, during the Holocaust, the number of Jews in Europe was reduced by half.  By contrast, there are about eight times as many Palestinians today as when they started claiming Israel was engaged in genocide against them.  Maybe UNRWA-run schools just don't do a good job teaching basic mathematics, but for journalists to be unfamiliar with the difference between "increase" and "decrease" is inexcusable.
Second, the authors of the Genocide Convention never contemplated how the target of an intended genocide could defend itself against a people dedicated to its annihilation.  Since its creation, that has been the sole purpose of the Palestinian movement; in the case of Hamas, genocide against the Jews is written into its Charter.  Unless the option of totally destroying a genocidal movement is permitted, the Convention would enable groups committed to genocide to keep trying until they succeed. That would be self-defeating, and as a matter of policy, makes no sense.  To prevent genocide, the Convention must permit targets of intended genocides to undertake the destruction of any group that pursues genocide.
That begs the question of defining the membership of a genocidal entity, like Hamas, or more broadly the Palestinian movement.  Polls show that Hamas's popularity rose after engaging in the October 7 genocidal atrocity.  There's no evidence that Gazans have ever resisted Hamas's control of them or objected to Hamas turning the entire strip into one vast military base.  Gazan civilians constructed Hamas's tunnels and allowed Hamas to use schools, mosques, hospitals, and homes as entry points and sites from which Hamas routinely fired rockets at Israeli civilians.  Perhaps most telling is that Gazans who were trusted enough to get permits to work in Israel provided much of the intelligence Hamas used to plan the atrocity.  While there are undoubtedly innocent Gazans, Hamas has made a point of obscuring who they are.
That brings us to the question of civilian deaths.  NPR, like much of the media, has been reporting for more than two months that starvation and disease are immanent, but even the Hamas, woops, Palestinian Health Ministry's official numbers don't reflect this.  
Since early in the conflict, the percentage of combatant deaths to total claimed civilian deaths has remained fairly constant.  Using recent numbers, when the Palestinian Health Ministry was reporting total "civilian" deaths as around 22000, the IDF was reporting combatant (Hams plus PIJ) of around 10000.  If the 10000 are included in the 22000, the percentage is about 45%, if not, it is about 31%; these numbers have inched up over the last few weeks.  
Two observations:  1) If there was starvation and or disease killing people in significant numbers, the percentages should go down, possibly precipitously.  They haven't, so there is no basis for the starvation/disease claims.  2) In Afghanistan and Iraq both the United States and Britain considered a 10% combatant death ratio good.  By this standard, the IDF's handling of Gaza should be considered remarkably good.
Considering that South Africa has had more murders in the past year than there have been deaths in the Gaza War, the only way to describe what it is doing is the Israeli word,"Chutzpa."

Monday, December 4, 2023

In the midst of the Gaza nightmare, a light flickers, then dies

This was published as a Viewpoint in the CT Mirror on Monday, December 4, 2023. It is an updated version of an op-ed published a week earlier in the Waterbury Republican-American.

In the midst of the Gaza nightmare, a light flickers, then dies

by Alan Stein, Ph.D.

On Friday morning, Nov. 24, I watched live as 13 Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza were released seven weeks after being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists.

They were the first of four groups to be released during a four-day pause in the war Hamas started on Oct. 7, with an agreement that it could be extended an additional day for every 10 hostages Hamas released, up to five more days. Ultimately it lasted just a week, punctuated each day by drama orchestrated by Hamas. It ended with Hamas crossing too many red lines, refusing to release a group of hostages as agreed and firing 45 rockets when the ceasefire was still in effect.

The deal was a double-edged sword.

On the plus side, a handful of hostages were freed each day.

On the minus side, three terrorists were released for each freed hostage, large amounts of "aid" was sent into Gaza knowing much would stolen by Hamas and used to rearm, lengthen the war and kill more people.

Israel also agreed to stop its aerial surveillance of southern Gaza, by aircraft, drones and balloons, and also stop its surveillance of northern Gaza for six hours each day. One does not need much imagination to figure out why Hamas made that demand: to give it the opportunity to move the hostages around, eliminating the value of any intelligence about their location Israel might have gained from the hostages who got released and making further rescue far more difficult. And, each day, the pressure increased on Israel to agree to another "permanent" ceasefire that would again let Hamas survive, rearm, and perform more atrocities.

Although efforts continue to be made to forge a new hostages-for-terrorists agreement, I think a new agreement is unlikely in the near future. Hamas will be trying for an even more one-sided deal, while Israel will be trying to make sure Hamas can't again violate it with impunity. Israel also can't keep stopping, restarting and dragging out a war while hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens remain displaced (Hamas doesn't care about its citizens) and its economy is stalled because so many workers are on reserve duty.

On that first day, I watched as some children were released with their mothers while their fathers were still being held hostage. Some are now orphans traumatized by seeing their parents slaughtered in front of them; some have just one parent because Hamas murdered their other parent on October 7. In several cases, in violation of the agreement, Hamas released children without their mother. Hila Rotem Shoshani, a 13-year-old girl, was released late that Saturday night - itself a violation of the agreement, since the hostages were supposed to be released around 4 p.m. - without her mother, Raaya. Hamas falsely claimed they did not know where her mother was, even though, as Hila told her relatives, they had been held together until two days earlier.

In a complicated procedure, Hamas gathered the hostages and brought them to International Red Cross ambulances on the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing into Egypt. The Red Cross brought them into Egypt and drove to the border with Israel, where they were transferred to the Israeli military and brought into Israel and then to Israeli hospitals.

That first transfer to the Rafah crossing into Egypt was delayed because the Red Cross needed to provide urgent care that couldn't wait for the short ambulance ride to the Rafah crossing. On November 24, 84-year-old Elma Avraham was hours from death when she was released. She'd been in good health when taken hostage, but needed medications that were withheld from her by Hamas. Upon her release, she had a weak pulse, low blood pressure, a body temperature in the 80's and had to be rushed by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center, where she fell into a coma.

The children were not immediately told whether their parents were alive or dead; that waited until they were in the care of trained professionals, and then only if it was known whether their parents were alive or dead.

Those traumatized children are the "lucky" ones.

They are not among those who were beheaded on Oct. 7, or burned alive, or had their limbs torn off so their Hamas torturers could enjoy watching them bleed to death.

Similar scenes, with cruel variations forced by Hamas, were repeated six more times. Each day relatives were still wondering whether their children, wives, sisters or mothers would be returned and in what condition. Hamas was required to provide a list each day of who would be released the next day. Each time, Hamas delayed providing the list, or provided one violating the agreed upon criteria. On the second day, hours after the transfer to the Red Cross was supposed to take place, Hamas still hadn't provided an acceptable list, at which point Israel announced that unless the hostages reached Israel by midnight - itself eight hours after they were supposed to be transferred to the Red Cross - it would resume the war. Hamas cruelly kept the suspense going for hours more, with the hostages reaching Israel just two minutes to midnight.

The only concession by Hamas in the agreement besides the release of some of the hostages it kidnapped in violation of international law was to permit the International Red Cross to visit the hostages, give them emergency medical care and give Israel a list of their names and conditions. This is all also required under international law. Not surprisingly, Hamas reneged on that commitment. When the pause was extended, Hamas again committed to allowing Red Cross access and again reneged.

The most problematic parts of the deal were the cease fire and its timing, coming when Israel was days away from clearing the terrorists from northern Gaza.

Pausing operations halted Israel's momentum and, as noted, predictably led to increased pressure on Israel to agree to a permanent cease fire, leaving Hamas intact and able to rebuild. The prime ministers of Belgium and Spain came to the Rafah crossing before any hostages crossed, bizarrely criticized Israel and called for a permanent cease fire while uttering neither a single word of criticism of Hamas nor welcome for the release of hostages.

The freed hostages have revealed some of the cruel treatment by their terrorist captors and accomplices.

When 12-year-old Eitan Yahalomi was dragged into Gaza, residents - often referred to as innocent civilians living in Gaza - beat him. Hamas forced him, at gunpoint, to watch videos of the atrocities they committed on 10/7.

Women were held in cages.

When 9-year-old Emily Hand was in captivity, she was conditioned to not speak above a whisper, so much so that upon her release her father could not hear what she said without putting his ear right next to her lips. Emily's mother had died from cancer when she was 2 years old and her stepmother was murdered on October 7.

Kfir Bibas was 9-months-old and in diapers when he was kidnapped, along with his 4-year-old brother Ariel, mother Shiri and father Yarden. At one time, Hamas has said it couldn't release him because it didn't know where he was. On November 28, Israeli officials revealed Hamas previously claimed it had given the entire family to another terror group. On November 29, Hamas claimed that Kfir, Ariel and Shiri had been killed by an Israeli airstrike. Three cruel assertions by Hamas, each contradicting the other two. If he's still alive, he's now 11 months old and has spent a fifth of his life underground without seeing a single ray of natural light.

Early on, Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed Hannah Katzi had been killed by an Israeli airstrike. She turned out to be alive, being among the first group of hostages released.

The cruelty extends to the ordinary, innocent "civilians" in Gaza for which so much "humanitarian aid" is being provided.

Roni Kriboy, released as a favor by Hamas to Vladimir Putin and the only adult male released, managed to escape when the building he was in collapsed. After spending four days trying to avoid recapture and find his way back to Israel, a group of ordinary Gaza civilians captured him and promptly brought him to Hamas.

One hostage was held for nearly 50 days by a teacher from UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, while another was held hostage by a physician!

When Hamas ended the ceasefire with its barrage of rockets on December 1, the terrorists were still holding nearly 140 hostages, underground, not knowing the fate of their children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents.

There can be no doubt but that we must stand with Israel and, for the good of Israel, for the good of America, for the good of the democratic world and for the good of the Gazans themselves, ensure Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah and allies can terrorize no more.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel. A version of this commentary was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on November 29, before Hamas ended the hostage-for-terrorists deal.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

A flickering light in the middle of a nightmare

 This was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on November 29, 2023. I have updated it with a few comments placed in parentheses.

A flickering light in the middle of a nightmare


I am writing this on Friday morning, Nov. 24, while watching live the apparent release of 13 Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza for seven weeks after being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. They are the first of four groups scheduled to be released during a four day pause in the war Hamas started on Oct. 7. (There have now been seven groups released, each time with some drama orchestrated by Hamas, and efforts are being made to extend the pause even more. Each day it is extended is a double-edged sword, with more terrorists being released, more aid sent into Gaza to be stolen by Hamas and used to extend the war and kill more people, more pressure being exerted on Israel for a permanent ceasefire that would let Hamas survive, rearm, and perform more atrocities.)

Some children are being released with their mothers while their fathers are still being held hostage. Some children are now orphans who saw their parents slaughtered in front of them; some still have one or both parents still held hostage by Hamas, perhaps one parent murdered and the other held hostage. (In  several cases, in violation of the agreement, Hamas has released children without their mother. In at least one case, they claimed they didn't know where the mother was, but it was determined the mother and daughter had been held together until they were separated two days before the daughter's release, meaning the mother had been separated AFTER the ceasefire agreement.)

This first transfer to the Rafah crossing into Egypt was apparently delayed because when they were transferred to the Red Cross some were in such need of urgent care that it couldn’t wait for the short ambulance ride to the Rafah crossing. (In a later release, one elderly woman was released in critical condition because she wasn't given medication she needed to stay alive and lapsed into a coma soon after being hospitalized in Israel.)

At this moment, they have just passed the into Egypt and are receiving additional urgent care before being transferred Israel, where they will be evaluated and transferred to hospitals.

The children are not yet being told whether their parents are alive or dead; that will not happen until they are in the care of trained professionals, and then only if it is known whether their parents are alive or dead.

And they are the “lucky” ones.

They are not among those who were beheaded on Oct. 7, or burned alive, or had their limbs torn off so their Hamas torturers could enjoy watching them bleed to death.

They are in the first group, with the scene to be repeated on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, while their relatives are still living wondering whether their children will be returned and in what condition.

They are not among the nearly 200 innocents who will remain held hostage in Gaza, underground, not knowing the fate of their children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents.

If the lopsided deal doesn’t fall apart, 50 Israelis will be released over four days — along with a handful of Thai and Filipino citizens whose release was arranged separately through agreements between their governments and Hamas, but at a very heavy price even without the inevitable violations by Hamas, which started immediately. (Hamas has at least once attacked Israeli troops during the ceasefire and exploded at least two IEDs.)

All Israel was supposed to get according to the agreement was the release of 50 women and children and the International Red Cross being allowed to visit the remaining 190 or so hostages, give them emergency medical care and give Israel a list of their names and conditions. Not surprisingly, Hamas is not allowing that access to the International Red Cross. (When the ceasefire was extended, Hamas again committed to allowing Red Cross access and again reneged.)

Besides a temporary cease fire, which Hamas quickly violated with a volley of rocket fire for the first 15 minutes, Israel agreed to allow massive amounts of “humanitarian aid” into Gaza, including fuel. We can be sure much, if not most, of that “aid” will be stolen by Hamas and used to regroup, rearm and keep firing rockets at Israeli cities and towns, just as the massive terror tunnel complex used by Hamas was built using cement transferred to Gaza for humanitarian purposes.

Israel also agreed to stop its aerial surveillance, by aircraft, drones and balloons, of southern Gaza and also stop its surveillance of northern Gaza for six hours each day. One does not need much imagination to figure out why Hamas made that demand: it will give Hamas the opportunity to move the hostages around, eliminating the value of any intelligence about their location Israel might gain from the hostages who get released and making their rescue far more difficult.

Plus Israel will be releasing 150 terrorists, three terrorists for every innocent Israeli released. One of the terrorists to be released stabbed her next door neighbor; that Israeli woman survived but will now live in the fear that she try again, or go after her children. One must pray the Israeli security forces will keep a very close eye on all the released terrorists.

Perhaps the most problematic part of the deal is the cease fire and its timing, coming when Israel was days away from taking complete control of northern Gaza and being in a position to completely destroy the terror infrastructure there.

Pausing operations halts Israel’s momentum and will undoubtedly lead to pressure on Israel to agree to a permanent cease fire, leaving Hamas intact and able to rebuild. Already, the prime ministers of Belgium and Spain came to the Rafah crossing not to welcome today’s release of a handful of hostages but bizarrely to criticize Israel and call for a permanent cease fire.

There is also the provision that if Hamas releases more hostages, Israel will release 30 more terrorists and extend the cease fire another day for every ten additional hostages released by Hamas. As Yogi Berra observed, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future, but it would be surprising if Hamas didn’t decide to drag out the release of more terrorists in order to extend the cease fire and attempt to make irresistible the pressure on Israel to not destroy Hamas. (This has actually happened, with dramatics orchestrated by Hamas each time.)

We must stand with Israel and, for the good of Israel, for the good of America, for the good of the democratic world and for the good of the Gazans themselves, make sure Israel resists that pressure and help it put an end to the rule of Gaza by terror groups.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Massachusetts. He is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

More Information from Yale Zussman on the Eve of Thanksgiving

 Hi Folks,

With the announcement of a "pause" in the news this morning, it is becoming increasingly clear that the critical battlefield has moved from Gaza to global public opinion.  I present several items that will help you if you choose to become engaged in this front:
REVEALED: The U.S. Charitable Network That Subsidizes Hamas, and the Donors Behind It
by Sam Westrop
November 14, 2023
Outlines how entities presented as charities are actually structures that raise money to finance Hamas and similar Islamist groups.  
Ten Myths to be Busted about Israel's War Against Hamas
David M. Weinberg
Oct. 27, 2023
Guidance for addressing the Western domestic front of Hamas's, and generically the Islamist, war against Israel, and again generically, Western Civilization.
Jihadi Journalism
Richard Landes
Nov., 20203
Thoughtful and extensive assessment of the role Palestinian "journalists" play in promoting Hamas propaganda in the main-stream media.
Jewish students unimpressed with universities’ response to rising antisemitism
November 22, 2023
One of the principal fronts in the Islamist war against Western Civilization is on college campuses. Few university administrations have mustered the moral integrity to defend Jewish students against attacks, so, for now, the Islamists are winning. Please contact your college or university administration and tell them they have to get their act together on this.
No Surrender: Lacking Other Options, Israel Needs to Finish the Job
Jeff Robbins
Nov 23, 2023
Robbins rips apart the various "experts" who recognize that Hamas must be destroyed but insist that Israel not do what is necessary to achieve this end.
Let me close with:
Hamas delenda est, and 
Have a Happy Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 13, 2023

I have seen the faces of evil, and they’re smiling

I have seen the faces of evil, and they’re smiling


A version of this was published November 12, 2023 in the Waterbury Republican-American.

I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t want to accept it; my wife asked whether I was sure I wanted to go and told me to try not to throw up if I went; my daughter bluntly said, “Don’t go.”

The offer was to screen the footage compiled by Israel from GoPros worn by the terrorist perpetrators of the Oct. 7 Simchat Torah Massacre, videos from dashcams and cell phones of the terrorists, rescuers and victims and videos from drones.

It wasn’t something I wanted to see, but I owed it to the memory of the victims, those who were murdered, those who were maimed, those who were dragged into Gaza and are being held hostage there by Hamas.

So I went. Security was strict at the Israeli Consulate in Boston. We had to leave behind all electronics. We were to respect the privacy of the victims and not say or write anything that would reveal their identities or in any way compromise their privacy and dignity.

I sat in a room with the only five journalists who had accepted their invitations. Maybe those who declined had other commitments they couldn’t change; maybe they were too squeamish; maybe they didn’t want to see atrocities that would force them to question their biases and prejudices.

The others present were the executive director of Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council, and Israel’s Consul General and Assistant Consul General for New England.

Meron Reuben, the consul general, gave a brief introduction, but his most important remarks came after we viewed the video, when he noted it’s “very difficult for someone who lives in a tranquil neighborhood in Greater Boston to understand what went on.”

The 43-minute long video started. I saw. I cringed. I felt drops forming in my eyes.

Here’s a snippet of what we saw and heard.

Near the start, we saw evidence of the depravity and the cruelty of the terrorists, most apparently from Hamas but some from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and even from Fatah, the group led by Mahmoud Abbas, who’s supposed to be Israel’s “peace partner.”

The terrorists see an empty, parked ambulance. They shoot out the tires, lest Israeli medics later use the ambulance to bring mortally injured civilians to a hospital.

They see a lone dog in a field. No humans in sight. They shoot the dog. At least three times to make sure it’s dead.

We hear a recording of conversation between one of the terrorists and his parents. The call is made using a phone taken from one of the Israelis he murdered. He tells his father to be proud, that he’d killed ten Israelis with his bare hands. And now he’s going to find more Israelis to murder.

A phone call is made to a Hamas official in Gaza, who tells the terrorists to play with the heads on the ground. One of the terrorists then took a hoe and repeatedly struck a corpse on the ground in order to separate head from body while shouting Allahu Akbar. This was the one part where I looked away; I don’t know if he succeeded.

We saw a trail of blood in a video that must have been taken by one of the rescuers, since the trail continues from one room to another, getting bloodier and bloodier, until it reaches the spot where the murder must have been executed. Where did the terrorists drag the body? Did they add it to a collection in the kibbutz? Did they drag it to Gaza?

We saw hoards of burned and charred corpses. Some were without heads. We saw videos of bodies still aflame.

We heard another call, with the Hamas official in Gaza giving the order to “bring him” and “hang him” and “let the people play with his body.”

We see a body — maybe the same body, maybe a different body — being dragged out of a car in Gaza while a crowd, some terrorists, some ordinary civilians who are now being provided with “humanitarian aid,” joyously celebrates.

Most chilling was the similarity between the joy on the faces of Israelis as they sung and danced at Nova music festival just before Hamas turned it into a killing field and the joy on the faces of the terrorists as they reveled in glorious atrocities.

I have seen the faces of evil and, without the brutalized corpses of their victims scattered around them, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from ordinary teenagers.

Which brings me back to the observation made by Meron Reuben, that it’s difficult for someone living a normal life in a country like the United States to understand the nature of many in the Middle East, including enemies of the West. Since in Western democracies we would never behave the way they do, some imagine the terrorists must have horrendous grievances and blame the United States for 9/11 and Israel for 10/7.

This has led to decades of misguided policies that have strengthened the forces of evil and led to numerous wars, terror attacks and other disasters.

These horrors will continue until we stop fooling ourselves and recognize terrorists’ values are not our values. We must stay united with Israel and others who are on the front line of the war, not only for their survival, but for the survival of our values and our civilization.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Massachusetts. He is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Editors’ note: As a companion to this op-ed, we suggest readers view the 1956 film “Night and Fog,” available on several streaming services, which documents similar atrocities committed in Nazi Germany.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

What is Genocide?

 What is Genocide?

By Daniel Hart

What is genocide? Are the actions of Hamas against Israeli Jews genocidal? Is Israel, in its war against Hamas, actually committing a genocide of the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza? This may seem like a confusing scenario  and concept for many to understand but the answer should be very clear for any thoughtful person once they have been presented with the facts. 

First, what is Genocide? Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group. Let’s review past and present actions of the parties to this longtime conflict. 

Part I - Is Hamas (as well as other Palestinian Arab groups) committing genocide of Israel’s Jews? The short answer is YES. There is indisputable proof that Hamas and other Palestinian Arab groups have been waging a decades long genocide of Israel’s Jews. It’s not merely the events of October 7th, Black Shabbat. There is a long history of these terror groups murdering Jewish Israelis because they are Jewish. Hamas’s charter literally calls for the genocide of all of Israel’s Jews. 

Article 8 of Hamas’ charter, originally published in 1988, following the year it was founded states “Allah is Hamas’s goal, the Prophet is the model, the Qur’an its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” For those who aren’t aware, jihad is an Arabic word which literally means “striving” or “struggling” especially with a praiseworthy aim. It is most frequently associated with war and armed struggle against unbelievers (infidels, aka non-Muslims). 

Another article from its charter, Article 13, states that “one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders” and references a hadith (a statement or endorsement of Muhammad) which states that the Day of Judgment would not come until the Muslims fight and kill the Jews. And that “There is no negotiated settlement possible. Jihad is the only answer.” 

Hamas is obviously a sadistic genocidal antisemitic terror organization. The message in the Hamas charter comes from the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. This is not merely the individual words of Gazans. It is the stated national ambition of the government in power in Gaza. 

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on innocent civilian Israeli women, men and children are also acts of genocide. You might think that because these triple war crime rockets haven’t resulted in high Israeli casualty rates therefore couldn’t constitute genocide, however, Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide states acts committed with INTENT to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as 1. Killing members of the group; 2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; 3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, all constitute genocide. As the convention considers intention rather than success, the Palestinian Arabs are guilty of genocide against the people of Israel. 

And don’t think it’s just Hamas. It’s also the Palestinian Authority and all the other incorrigible Palestinian terror groups. 

The PA, for example, spends $400,000,000 per year to directly incentivize the terror murder of Jews. The more Jews the terrorists kill, the more money they and/or their families receive for life. (Don’t believe me? Google “Palestinian Martyr Fund”.)

As I have already clarified, the international crime of genocide does not require that you be successful in mass killings. It merely requires that you have only the purpose and intention of wiping out the people you are targeting and that you carry out even a single killing in furtherance of that purpose. The PA violates this every time a Palestinian terrorist murders a Jew. And Hamas has obviously violated the genocide convention in the case of each of the 1400 plus Israelis killed on October 7th, Black Shabbat. That’s 1400 individual acts of genocide alone!

Part II - Is Israel carrying out a genocide of the Palestinian Arabs? 

It’s easy to see why some very moral people believe this is true. They see Palestinian suffering and thoughtlessly accuse Israel of genocide without taking into consideration the international rules of war and the nature of the purpose of Israel carrying out defensive strikes against Hamas terrorists. But when one carefully examines the facts of the conflict and the justification for Israel’s retaliatory actions, it is obvious that those accusations are not based on reasonable judgement about the facts of history and present day events. 

Israel literally invented moral warfare and uses well thought out moral-as-possible responses to Palestinian terrorism. Israel even requires a judge advocate general be present during military operations who oversees retaliations against Hamas and PIJ terrorists, making sure that they are proportionate and therefore legal under international law. The judge advocate general has the power and authority to override a decision to attack a terrorist made even by the Israeli prime minister.

Israel’s precision strikes on Hamas and PIJ military targets in Gaza are a good example of Israel keeping civilian casualties to a minimum in carrying its mission to eliminate top Hamas and PIJ commanders and their terrorist network of Hamas and PIJ fighters and their support network. Those that are quick to criticize Israel for those strikes point to the high civilian casualty figures reported by the Gaza Health Ministry. But the Gaza Health Ministry is run by Hamas and clearly Hamas has a record of telling all-out lies about its casualty rates. It fails to point out casualties that result from Hamas and PIJ rockets falling short in Gaza (approximately 30% of all rockets they fire) and killing Palestinian Arab civilians. It also fails to properly discern between terrorist lives and civilian lives. It also fails to properly discern between adult and child casualties and consistently exaggerates the child casualty rates, as well as overall/total casualty figures. 

Also, Israel has no charter or laws that call for the deaths of any ethnic people. In fact, 20% of Israeli civilians are Arab. And under Israeli law, all Israeli civilians regardless of sex, religion, ethnicity have equal rights. Clearly Israel isn’t genociding 20% its own population. 

Some accuse Israel of genocide based on Israel’s strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. But these accusations simply don’t hold water. For example, the recent bombings of the so-called refugee camp in Gaza are also where Hamas has tremendous support and contributors and where Hamas terrorists reside. Israel bombed this camp knowing the value of the Hamas targets at the camp and killed Gaza’s Hamas leader in doing to. 

The targeting rule in international law says that you CAN target enemy combatants and also those that contribute to and support Hamas even if they are civilians. The refugee camp in Gaza is filled with both. 

Also under international law, the collateral damage rule is referred to as "proportionality" and says that you can target your enemy, in this case Hamas, a sadistic, genocidal terror organization, under the targeting rule even if there is collateral damage, and even extensive collateral damage to civilians so long as the collateral damage is not clearly excessive in relation to the military necessity. Obviously, the military necessity in this circumstance is HIGH. The necessity of Israel in this war is to destroy the sadistic, genocidal terror organization of Hamas that committed the atrocities on October 7th. Because Hamas committed these atrocities and is still committing war crimes by attacking Israeli civilians and by holding Israeli hostages and is still attempting to invade Israeli territory to carry out more attacks, it is essential that Israel carry out a successful attack on Hamas as quickly as possible. Collateral damage is obviously warranted in this scenario. 

The only conclusion from this analysis of the accusation of genocide will be crystal clear to almost everyone. Some people, however, have a deep seated hatred of Israel and regardless of the facts will continue to accuse Israel of genocide when Israel is genuinely acting in its own self defense and waging a war against the government and military forces in Gaza.