Tag Archives: Hezbollah

Time of My Life, Part 33: Hoping it would hit the fan

My career as a print journalist allowed me to do many remarkable things, and to see many remarkable places.

Two of those career elements came together a decade ago. I now will explain.

About two or three weeks after I reported for work at the Amarillo Globe-News, my boss — publisher Garet von Netzer — informed me that someone from the Rotary Club of Amarillo would call me and invite me to join that Rotary club. “We need to have someone in that club,” von Netzer said. Thus, I was slated to join the Rotary Club of Amarillo. When Garet von Netzer said I would join, well, I had no choice.

I got the invitation from the late Basil Walker. I joined and then settled into my membership. I made a lot of new friends. More than that, though, I developed many valuable sources for potential issues I might cover as editorial page editor of the Globe-News.

Some years later, in 2008, I applied for — and received — an appointment to lead a team of young professionals to Israel as part of Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange.

That journey illustrated how my career allowed me to travel abroad. I was able to travel twice to Southeast Asia; I traveled three times to southeastern Europe; as president of the Rotary club, I was allowed to travel to Denmark and Sweden to attend Rotary International’s annual convention in 2006.

Then came this Israel adventure.

I was torn while training with my team members for this event. In late 2008 and early 2009, violence erupted in Gaza. Hamas terrorists lobbed rockets on Israeli communities. The Israelis responded with brute force, inflicting considerable damage at quite a cost in human life.

If the Israeli counteroffensive were to continue, our trip might be canceled. My Rotary mentor — with whom I was working to prepare for the trip –told me that RI was working closely with the State Department monitoring the situation in early 2009.

Israel’s potent armed forces took control. They put down the Hamas uprising. Order — if not peace — eventually was restored.

Our trip commenced in May 2009. We would spend four weeks in Israel. We stood on the doorstep of the Gaza Strip. We looked down onto the valley below the Golan Heights. We stood below a fortified fence along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where another terror outfit, Hezbollah, was capable of doing damage.

For the entire four weeks, I harbored a wish; it wasn’t exactly a secret, although I don’t recall sharing it with our Israeli hosts. I wanted all hell to break loose while we were there.

No, I did not want to put our team in danger. I would have hoped we could get them on the next plane out and headed for home.

However, the reporter in me wanted to be able to cover events unfolding in real time.

It didn’t happen. Our journey was spectacular, even in the absence of violence and mayhem.

Don’t misunderstand me on this. I have never, ever harbored an instant of regret over the peace and tranquility we enjoyed while traveling through one of the world’s most thrilling nations.

If it had gone the other way, though . . . I was ready.

How does a ‘one-state solution’ work?

Let’s revisit for a moment Donald J. Trump’s statement that backs away from a decades-old U.S. policy in support of a two-state solution for lasting peace in the Middle East.

The president, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he could support a “one-state solution” if both sides agree to it.

Hmmm. How would that work?

One side would be the Israelis. The Palestinians are on the other side. A one-state solution, I am going to presume, suggests that Israel would be the sovereign state that would operate under a peace agreement. How do you suppose the Palestinians — who say they want an independent sovereign state — would react to that? My take is that they wouldn’t stand for it.

This is why previous presidents of both parties have supported a two-state solution that would allow Israel and the Palestinians to live side by side.

Yes, there remains a huge hurdle to clear: The Palestinians must accept Israel’s right to exist and they must cease the terrorist attacks — launched by groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah — against Israeli citizens.

If there can be an accord reached, it appears that the only option is for a two-state solution.

Why, then, did the president back away from what all of his predecessors have sought for the embattled Middle East?

As if it could get any crazier in the Middle East


So … you might be asking: How complicated can it get in the Middle East?

Here’s a thought: Al-Qaeda could become something of an “ally” of ours if the terror organization decides to train its guns on another terror organization.

You remember those guys, right? They flew the airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and launched the current Global War on Terror. We hunted down Osama bin Laden and killed his sorry backside in Pakistan. We’ve been fighting al-Qaeda ever since.

Now we have the Islamic State to contend with. We’ve been taking those monstrous terrorists as well.

Now comes word that al-Qaeda might decide to go after the Islamic State in Syria.

Which of these terror cabals poses the greatest threat to the United States and our allies? Do we take sides?


Here’s a thought. Maybe we ought to just let al-Qaeda do what reports indicate it intends to do. The Shiite terror group might have determined that ISIL — the Sunni monsters — pose a grave threat to them.

The report attached to this blog post suggests al-Qaeda might seek to “compete” with ISIL for supremacy in the dark world of Middle East terrorists. What about, oh, Hezbollah and Hamas? Why not “compete” against them as well?

Of course we’re not going to take sides. Nor should we.

My own hope is that “compete” actually means to “fight,” which means one terror group is going to kill members of the other terror group.

If that’s what transpires, then let ’em fight.


Hezbollah leader killed … good! Let there be more


Mustafa Badreddine was a bad actor.

He’s now dead. Who killed this terrorist? Hezbollah, the terror organization he helped lead, thinks the Israelis are responsible for the bomb blast that killed Badreddine in Syria.

Israel isn’t commenting. Officials there usually stay mum about these incidents.


If the Israelis indeed are responsible for the death of Hezbollah’s top military leader, my initial reaction is this: Good deal … now let’s go after the rest of them!

I am one who strongly backs Israel’s effort to defend itself against the terror threat the nation’s existence every day.

I’ve had the honor and the pleasure to travel throughout the country. It was seven years ago this week, in fact, that I ventured to Israel for a month with four dear friends as part of a Rotary International Group Study Exchange.

One of the places we visited was in Nahariyah, on the country’s northern border with Lebanon. We could see the fortified border — complete with barbed wire and watch towers — along the ridgeline where we toured. Just on the other side of that border is a nation where Hezbollah runs wild.

Just as Hamas has launched rockets into Israel from Gaza, Hezbollah has done the same from Lebanon and Syria. They send their missiles into neighborhoods, targeting civilians. The Israelis are forced into a constant state of alert against these terrorist organizations.

Do the Israelis make any apologies for the measures they take to eradicate terrorist leaders? Absolutely not … nor should they.

As Reuters reports: “Israel deems Hezbollah its most potent enemy and worries that it is becoming entrenched on its Syrian front and acquiring more advanced weaponry.”

It wouldn’t surprise any observer of this ongoing conflict to learn that Israeli agents detonated the bomb that killed Badreddine.

Will the Israelis own up to it? Probably not.

That’s all right with me.


Why the masks, terrorists?

The thought keeps occurring to me: Why do terrorists keep covering their faces when they make these videos intended for international distribution?

Have you ever wondered?


The picture on the link here shows an Islamic State goon waving a knife at the camera. All you see are this fellow’s eyes. Why don’t they show themselves to the public? Why don’t they reveal their identity?

Is it because:

* They believe what they’re doing is wrong?

* They don’t want international cops, spooks, commandos, anti-terror analysts to identify them?

* They’re cowards?

Maybe it’s all of the above. I’m going with the coward angle, kind of like the way the Ku Klux Klan goons cover their faces under hoods.

Terrorists don’t comprehend that they commit criminal acts when they behead innocent victims. They don’t seem to have any understanding of “right” and “wrong” the way you and I do. They’ve perverted every single principle, concept and tenet under which civilized human beings live.

They’re surely hiding from the good guys, which might imply they know what they’re doing is wrong. I believe it’s more akin to the last part. They don’t want to get caught because they’re afraid of the consequence they’ll face.

Fear. Cowardice. Get it?

Some of them have deserted from military organizations in their home country, usually somewhere in the Middle East, to join forces with ISIL, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda … whatever. They’re hiding their faces from their former military commanders.

In the end, though, it all seems to smack of cowardly acts. Just as lynchings were the acts of cowards in the United States a century ago, these terrorists have zero sense of honor and courage.


'Islamic terrorism' off the table at summit

The White House is going to play host to a summit discussion on international terrorism.

You won’t hear the words “Islamic terrorism,” though, used in that context.

How come?


Conservatives have been critical of President Obama for declining to refer to Islamist terrorism. He’s been parsing his language carefully to call them simply “terrorists,” even though we’re bombing Islamic State targets, seeking out al-Qaeda terrorist cells and killing its leaders, and enlisting the aid of other allies to find terrorists linked to other Islamic groups, such as Hezbollah, Boko Haram and Hamas.

Don’t mention the words “Islamic terrorist,” though at this summit.

It’s an interesting and at times troubling quibble over the use of language.

I get where the critics are coming from, but at the risk of doing something that annoys me at times — such as trying to read the minds of political leaders — I think I’m going to offer one simple hypothesis for the linguistic omission: Barack Obama doesn’t want the Islamic extremists to use any additional pretext for suggesting that the West is waging a religious war against Islam.

Obama’s immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, made the point time and again that the United States is not doing battle against Islam. Obama has carried that message forward as he has continued taking the fight to the terrorists.

Yet, the Islamic terrorists — I’ll call them such here — keep trying to recruit fighters by suggesting that our side is fighting a religious war. President Obama says “no!,” just as President Bush said “no!” before him.

To use such language at the White House summit, I’m guessing, would enflame the passions further among those who continue to believe the lie that we’re waging war against one of the world’s great religions.


'Terrorist' requires a nuanced definition? No

The Taliban is a terrorist organization.

That’s my view and I’m sticking to it — no matter how finely the White House press flack tries to parse the definition of the term “terrorist.”

Press secretary Josh Earnest sought Thursday to say that the Taliban carries out “acts that are akin to terrorism,” but stopped short of calling the brutal killers and kidnappers “terrorists.” He said the Taliban falls into a “different category.”


I guess Earnest, speaking on behalf of the president, is saying the Obama administration believes it’s OK to negotiate with the Taliban, whereas the White House refuses to negotiate with, say, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hezbollah or Hamas.

I’m beginning to sense that the famed nuanced foreign policy apparatus that the Obama White House is conducting might be getting a little too cute.

The Taliban are taking credit almost weekly for attacks against civilians in Afghanistan. They’ve brought considerable havoc as well to innocent victims in neighboring Pakistan. Good grief! The Taliban send in suicide bombers, they set off explosive on roadways traveled by villagers going to market, they kidnap and disfigure girls and young women who have the gall to stand up for their rights.

You’re more than welcome to correct me on any of this, but doesn’t any of that fit the classic description of a terrorist organization?

Yep. That’s the Taliban.


Boko Haram is as dangerous as ever

While most of the world focuses on the Middle East brand of international terrorism — al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian mullahs — another group of goons needs our attention as well.

The Boston Globe points out in an editorial that Boko Haram, the kidnappers of those young girls and the murderers recently of as many as 2,000 innocent victims, needs as much of the world’s attention as we can muster.


The murder of journalists and others in Paris in recent days has sucked much of the attention away from Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria, the Globe writes. The Paris shootings are “leaving little media attention for equally detestable atrocities by Boko Haram in Nigeria this month. The world ignores the Islamic extremist group at great risk both to Nigeria and the broader region. Boko Haram must be stopped in its tracks before it engages in mass murder again.”

When those girls and young women were kidnapped this past year, first lady Michelle Obama sought to lead an international outcry against atrocities against women. It had resonance for, what, perhaps a month or two? Then the world’s attention was pulled away to another international crisis. I cannot even remember which one it was, but we’ve stopped talking collectively about the fate of those girls.

The Boston Globe editorialized: “In a horrific new low, the militants have reportedly been using little girls as human bombs to inflict terror.”

And the world isn’t rising up in massive outrage over this?

President Obama once declared mistakenly — perhaps even foolishly — that the “war on terror is over.”

It is not, Mr. President. Even if we set aside the murderers running rampant in the Middle East — and we cannot do that — the Islamist monsters rampaging through Nigeria are causing untold grief and misery on thousands of innocent victims.

Once again, it is fair to ask: What about those girls?



Syria, Iran criticize Israel? Well, duh

Who knew? Syria and Iran have criticized Israel for reportedly launching an air strike near Damascus.

The Israelis aren’t confirming the strike, but some reports indicate the Israelis were striking Hezbollah targets in the strife-ravaged country.

And to think such an attack would anger the Syrians … and the Iranians.


Why, the nerve of those Israelis. I’m tellin’ ya.

Do the Israelis have some “skin” in the Syrian conflict? Yes they do. Hezbollah has been a key player in that struggle. Hezbollah also is up to its eyeballs in running government affairs in Lebanon, which borders Israel on the north — and which also is committed, along with Hamas and the Islamic Republic of Iran, of eradicating Israel.

This is precisely the kind of threat the Israelis face every single day. All day. Year round. For centuries.

Does anyone expect the Israelis to stand still while a notorious terrorist organization plots their destruction? How foolish can one be to think such a thing?

Israel is facing some internal political strife of its own. Elections will take place soon to elect a new Knesset and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure might be coming to an end.

Are the air strikes a “distraction?” I have no clue.

I do know that Israel spares no effort — nor should it — in protecting itself from enemies who are breathing down its neck.


Hamas inviting disaster

Try putting yourself into the heart and mind of an Israeli citizen.

Imagine living in a country surrounded by people who at one time or another have sworn to eradicate your country from the face of the planet. Imagine that those neighboring countries are so close to each other — let alone to your neighborhood — that a supersonic jet can go from point to point in a matter of a few minutes.

Think also of how you might react if one of your neighbors, governed by a known terrorist group that retains your country’s destruction as its main objective, begins firing missiles into your community. The missiles are targeting civilians, children and their parents.

How in the world would you react if you had the means to respond aggressively? You would use whatever force you had at your disposal to put down the attacks.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. Why? Because Hamas — the governing authority in the Palestinian Authority — has launched attacks on his country.

Netanyahu has made no apology for the ferocity of his country’s response.

I do not blame him one single bit.

Hamas needs to end its campaign to eliminate Israel. Same for Hezbollah, which operates in Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border. How about ISIS, which is waging a civil war in Syria, yet another neighboring country?

They’re all deadly serious about their intent to eradicate Israel.

Should the Israeli government do nothing when its people are being threatened with ordnance falling from the sky from multiple directions?

Not for an instant.