The Gaza Violence: How Extremism Corrupts

As you know, everybody sees the Middle East through his or her own narrative. Conservatives see it through the “front line in the war on terror” narrative and defend Israel’s actions on the Gaza border fence this week. Progressives see it through the “continued colonialist oppression” narrative and condemn those actions.

.. sometime in the 1990s, a mental shift occurred. Extremism grew on the Israeli side, exemplified by the ultranationalist who murdered Rabin, but it exploded on the Palestinian side. Palestinian extremism took on many of the shapes recognizable in extremism everywhere.

.. First, the question shifted from “What to do?” to “Whom to blame?” The debates were less about how to take steps toward a livable future and more about who is responsible for the sins of the past.

.. Second, the dream of total victory became the only acceptable dream.

.. extremists stop trying to win partial victories, insisting that someday they will get everything they want — that someday the other side will magically disappear.

.. Third, extremists over time replace strategic thinking with theatrical thinking. Strategic thinking is about the relation of means to ends: How do we use what we have to get to where we want to go? Theatrical thinking is both more cynical and more messianic: How do we create a martyrdom performance that will show the world how oppressed we are?

.. If you read the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s April 30 speech or much of the commentary published over the past week, it’s clear that some powerful Palestinians now believe that the creation of the state of Israel is the wrong that needs to be addressed, not the expansion and occupation.

.. They rejected incrementalism. After Israel withdrew from its settlements in Gaza, the Palestinians could have declared a new opening, taking advantage of the influx of humanitarian aid. Instead, they elected Hamas, an organization that lists the extermination of the state of Israel as an existential goal. They expended resources that could have improved infrastructure to fund missiles and terrorist tunnels.

.. Yasir Arafat was once a terrorist, but at least he used terror to win practical concessions. The actions today — the knife attacks, the manipulation of protesters to rush the border fence — are of little military or strategic value. They are ventures in suicidal theater.

.. The shift from the politics of Rabin and Shimon Peres to that of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman is a move from pluralism to ethnocentrism, from relentless engagement to segregation. It’s a shift from tough realism to the magical thinking that Palestinians are somehow going to go away.

.. sometimes Israeli policies seem callously designed to guarantee an extremist response.

.. That’s the problem with extremism: It is a flight from reality. It makes you stupider. Instead of cleverly working to advance your own interest in a changing context, you end up shouting your own moral justifications into a whirlwind.

.. Extremism is naturally contagious. To fight it, whether at home or abroad, you have to answer the angry shout with the respectful offer. It feels unnatural. But it’s the only way.

To Stop North Korea, Act Like Israel

So far, these crime bosses have been masterful at circumventing the sanctions that have primarily hurt the enslaved North Korean population.

That’s why the United States and its allies ought to take a page from an Israeli playbook and wage financial warfare against Mr. Kim and his cabal.

.. The notion behind using money as a weapon against terrorism belonged to Meir Dagan, a legendary soldier and spymaster who developed the idea in the nascent days of Israel’s fight against Hamas and terror groups supported by Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Dagan rightly believed that money was the oxygen that fueled the groups’ suicide bombing campaign against Israel. If Israeli security services could suffocate the funds that paid for the bloodshed, the attacks would stop.

.. Harpoon targeted the banks that held accounts belonging to Palestinian terrorist commanders, and the unit encouraged lawyers — including me — to launch suits in United States federal court seeking monetary damages for victims of state sponsors of terror

.. Harpoon went after Hezbollah’s cocaine business in Venezuela and in Lebanon, as well as its money-laundering activities in West Africa and America.

.. And when the Hezbollah hierarchy was cash strapped, Harpoon targeted the financial institutions that allowed the terrorists to move their cash across continents, ultimately shutting down the Lebanese Canadian Bank

.. Most military commanders acknowledge that there are very few, if any, feasible solutions to today’s standoff with Pyongyang. The only effective path is to unleash an offensive press against Kim’s inner circle.

.. This effort ought to include a full-court press of dirty tricks, coercion, heavy-handed threats and even direct action, all covert and deniable, against Kim’s financial wizards who handle the finances, dispense the narcotics and hijack Bitcoins.

.. Only when the money dries up will the loyalty of the men in Kim’s inner circle be compromised and cut away. The North Korean dictator will then be under enormous pressure to do whatever he can to alleviate the effects of the spies tapping into his cash and control.

Trump’s Shift to ‘Outside-In’ Strategy for Mideast Peace Is a Long Shot

“As a Palestinian, I would not support Qatar if they said they wanted a two-state solution,” said Mr. Gatshan, 44. “I want my human rights. My rights are to live without any limits or restrictions and without occupiers.”

.. The Trump administration plans to focus on an “outside-in” approach, meaning that Israel would first pursue agreements with Arab countries to help solve the conflict with the Palestinians.

.. Supporters of the outside-in approach say that the merging of interests between Israel and Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt could provide an opening.

.. The divisions among Palestinians also undermine support for their cause. “Even if they wanted to do something, they don’t know who they should support now,” Mr. Hellyer said.

.. On Monday, it announced that Yehya Sinwar, a hard-line member of its military wing, had been chosen as its new Gaza leader.

.. Though Hamas has declared a truce, and largely controls other groups who try to continue fighting, some Israelis say a new war in Gaza is the only way to ultimately achieve peace.

.. Israel “cannot be the only country in the world where children cannot walk down the street without worrying that a missile will fall,” Naftali Bennett, a far-right lawmaker and education minister, said on a visit to the fence dividing Gaza and Israel last week. “Our enemies are investing all their resources in developing ways to kill us.”

Only with a complete victory,” he said, “can we put an end to this cycle.”

Terrorism Financing: It’s Time to Take Care of Unfinished Business

The SAAR network is a web of over 100 purported charities, nonprofits, and financial firms, centered in northern Virginia, that were accused of laundering money for terrorism. The SAAR Foundation, the nucleus of the network, was set up in 1983 under the patronage of Sulaiman Abdul Aziz al-Rajhi, a wealthy Saudi banking magnate who is strongly suspected of supporting al-Qaeda.

.. According to the federal affidavit filed by customs investigator David Kane, the SAAR network was funded with millions of dollars in Saudi cash and was then used to funnel money to terror organizations such as that of convicted terror financier Sami al-Arian, the North American representative of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

.. at least $26 million was routed to suspicious accounts in the Bahamas and the Isle of Man that may have been used to fund Hamas. In this way, wealthy Saudi backers of terrorism could use America’s own banking system to escape increasing financial scrutiny from the Saudi government.

.. One-time SAAR executive assistant Abdurahman Alamoudi (later convicted of a plot to assassinate Saudi crown prince Abdullah) boasted of his close ties to Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as to political fixers such as Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist.

.. In Virginia alone, SAAR-network companies have made over $265,000 in political donations, with special distinction going to Reston Investments ($96,550), Mar-Jac Investments ($64,950), and the think tank IIIT ($25,500).

.. the SAAR network bought influence with local Arab-American community groups, and through them gained access to vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine.

.. Now it seems that the SAAR network is interested in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for governor, recently received donations from at least two SAAR-network entities