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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, November 14.
1) Will Hezbollah pay the price?

News stories about Hamas frequently include the disclaimer, "Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel." It's as if Hamas by its own behavior - targeting civilians - isn't the definition of a terrorist organization. However soon, Hezbollah may no longer get a similar benefit of the doubt. Last week Douglas Murray asked Where would Hezbollah be without the EU?

It will be amazing to many Americans – and indeed to many Europeans – that the group remains able to operate, recruit and raise funds within the EU. In America, which like France, felt the full brunt of Hezbollah activities in Beirut in 1983, the organization has long been banned in any and all of its guises. This last August Washington, which already sanctions and classifies Hezbollah as a foreign "terrorist organization," additionally put the group on a list of organizations under sanctions for involvement in the slaughter being carried out in Syria by Bashar al-Assad's regime. As Brennan added, in addition to its involvement with terrorist activities carried out by Iran, Hezbollah "is training militants in Yemen and Syria." Even that does not do justice to the scope, range and history of Hezbollah's ambitions.
In the EU however, the group is able to fundraise unhindered. This appalling fact has come about because of an entirely false distinction which the EU continues to observe. It is a distinction entirely of its own invention.
For the EU claims that there is a difference between the "political"' and the "military" wings of Hezbollah. Therefore as long as the "political" side of their activities is being pursued the EU considers it legitimate activity. Of course there is a striking fact here: nobody outside the EU believes there is any such internal distinction within Hezbollah. The American government does not see it; the Canadian government does not see it. The governments of Iran and Syria do not see it. The people of Lebanon do not see it. And of course Hezbollah itself certainly does not see it.
(This would be a significant turnaround for Brennan.) However it appears that the EU may be considering a change. Benjamin Weinthal reports:
In deciding whether to list Hezbollah as a terrorist group, the EU will consider as a key factor the outcome of the Bulgarian inquiry into the July suicide bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver, French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
“Our British friends would like to put Hezbollah’s military wing on the terror list,” said Bigot, adding that the “main element is what is the outcome of the inquiry in Bulgaria,” he said in a telephone interview with the Post.
He added that Bulgaria has not yet reported the results of the investigation and the EU has had to wait for the process to end.
Why isn't this bigger news?

2) Ridge on Israel

Former Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor of Pennsylvania was recently in Israel for a conference. He made the following observations about Israel:  
As far as Ridge is concerned, the best ally for the US to work with on security matters is Israel. Ridge, in Israel to attend the conference, was heading a 15-company mission organized by the US Chamber of Commerce. Ridge is the chairman of the organization’s National Security Task Force, and he sees increasing cooperation with Israel as a good idea for both countries.
“Both politically and economically, Israel is one of our most significant allies globally and our most important ally in the Middle East,” Ridge said in a statement before the event. “Ensuring an environment of shared information and integrated technologies that have defense and security capabilities is crucial to the economic cohesion between the United States and Israel and between companies that operate in both countries.”
Ridge reiterated his thoughts during the event. “I met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year and he suggested increasing cooperation between the US and Israel in the area of homeland security,” which turned out to be an excellent idea, he said, because of the many innovative technologies Israel has developed for homeland security — many of which were on display at the conference.
More of his remarks are here.

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