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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Targeting civilians is Hamas tactic

Targeting civilians is Hamas tactic

It’s pretty clear that the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine didn’t deliberately target a civilian jetliner; they thought they were shooting at a Ukrainian military plane. It’s crystal clear that Hamas is aiming rockets at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, and a missile hitting an airliner taking off, landing or on the ground would be a deliberate attack on a civilian plane.
Then again, civilians are the targets in Hamas’ war on Israel. Hamas wants to kill Israeli civilians in pursuit of its genocidal goal of eradicating the Jewish state. It wants Palestinian human-shield civilians to be killed by Israelis to foment international pressure on Israel to agree to a cease-fire on terms favorable to the terrorist organization ruling the Gaza Strip.
And it targets civilians of all nationalities by aiming rockets at Ben Gurion airport. The goal would be to shut down the airport and inflict an economic and morale blow to Israel by closing down this vital avenue for the country’s trade and tourism.
A rocket landed about a mile from the airport Tuesday, and as a result, the Federal Aviation Administration and other national aviation agencies or airlines suspended temporarily flights into Ben Gurion.
Those actions paid insufficient regard to the fact that Ben Gurion is, as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put it, “the best-protected airport in the world.” He backed up his words by booking a flight on the Israeli national airline El Al, which is still operating out of the airport. Ben Gurion is protected by, among other measures, the Iron Dome missile defense system that has been so effective in destroying nearly 90 percent of the Hamas rockets it targets.
Ben Gurion is safe — Secretary of State John Kerry landed there Wednesday — but Hamas knows that risk-adverse airlines are extra cautious after the outrage in Ukraine.
Hamas and the airlines have also seen that neither the separatists nor their backer Russia have paid any price for the murder of 298 people aboard Malaysia Flight 17.
President Barack Obama still refuses to provide lethal military weapons to Ukraine to battle the separatists. Nor has he ordered up new sweeping sanctions against Russia and its boss, President Vladimir Putin. Without U.S. leadership, neither have the European nations done anything meaningful to strike back.
After the airliner was shot out of the sky, the separatists, fearing reprisals, secreted the missile launcher across the border back into Russia. But seeing no strong response from the West, they were emboldened Wednesday to fire surface-to-air missiles again, this time felling two Ukrainian fighter jets.
Worse, the failure of the United States and its European allies to respond forcefully and quickly to the jetliner outrage may be interpreted by Hamas and other terrorists as evidence they can target civilian aircraft without worry of retribution.
And they see the Obama administration, citing worry about civilian casualties in Gaza — falling for the Hamas strategy — pushing Israel to agree to a cease-fire before the mission of dealing with the threat of rockets and terrorist tunnels is concluded. As we’ve seen in the past Gaza wars, Hamas uses cease-fires to refresh its arsenal with more and longer-range rockets, construct new tunnels to infiltrate terrorists into Israel and map new attack strategies.
Would Obama and Kerry agree to a cease-fire with al-Qaida so it could rearm and plan new attacks on America? Of course not. Why should we expect Israel to settle for such a dangerous deal? We should never forget that Israel is on the front line of the war on terror.
Email: shuntley.cst@gmail.com

Canadian FM “appalled” by UNRWA schools’ rocket stockpile

Canadian FM “appalled” by UNRWA schools’ rocket stockpile

Photo: Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird receiving
UN Watch human rights award, September 2013
July 22, 2014
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement;
“I was appalled to hear reports, one as recent as today, of stockpiles of rockets in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza.”
“Even more alarming were reports that in the first case, officials with the United Nations returned these weapons to Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, once Israeli officials discovered their location.
“Canada unequivocally calls on the United Nations to launch an immediate independent investigation to determine the facts surrounding these reports.  Canada also calls on the United Nations to ensure that in the second case, no rockets are returned to Hamas.  Anything less than an independent investigation would be absolutely unacceptable.
“If proven true, this would fly in the face of all that the United Nations should stand for as an institution committed to the peace and security of its members.”
Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations states that the UN’s purpose is to:
“…maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

Israel must finish the job it started in Gaza

For its own security, Israel must finish the job it started in Gaza

For years, Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, imported tons of concrete into Gaza, material that could have been used to build desperately needed schools and houses.
But what did Hamas do? It sold out its own people, doing nothing to better their lives while secretly using all that concrete to reinforce dozens of tunnels from which to wage endless war. Hamas has used the tunnels to infiltrate Israel and hide weapons.
Now, in the continuation of a brutal war that began two weeks ago, the Israeli military is systematically finding and destroying those tunnels, and it is obligated to finish the job. Nothing short of this is likely to end, now and well into the future, a constant raining of Hamas missiles on Israel.
The roots and causes of the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict are a moral tangle, one in which Israel is by no means blameless. We believe that Israel, especially under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has shown little courage in trying to reach agreement on a two-state solution. We also believe that an alternative approach gaining traction in Israel — for Israel to unilaterally draw new permanent borders, post troops everywhere and declare the matter over — likely would settle nothing. But in this moment — in the here and now when Israel is confronted by an implacable foe that has rejected a ceasefire — we see only moral clarity: Israel must defend itself. What nation would do otherwise?
As of late Wednesday, more than 650 Palestinians, including more than 100 children, have been killed in the present conflict, and each death is a horror to contemplate. The image, in particular, of four Palestinian children at play being shot down on a Gaza beach will and should haunt Israelis forever. It is impossible to understand how an Israeli gunboat mistook four little boys for Hamas gunmen.
But let’s also understand this: Hamas uses children and all Gaza civilians as human shields. They set up shop with their weaponry among bakers and carpenters and clerks and housewives. They fire off missiles from the heart of intensely populated neighborhoods. Civilian deaths are inevitable in every war, but all the more so when the enemy treats every school, house and hospital as a combat bunker. They store their rockets there.
Hamas continues to fight because apparently it believes it has nothing to lose, even if the people of Gaza have much to lose. Hamas has lost its Syrian and Egyptian sponsors. Its popular support at home is weak. Unemployment in Gaza, debilitated by Israeli and Egyptian partial blockades, is around 50 percent. Hamas is isolated and failing and hoping to regain support by taking on Israel.
All the more reason, then, for Israel to stand firm. If the tunnels are not destroyed, Hamas fighters will crawl through them again. If Israel agrees to link major concessions to a Hamas cease-fire, Hamas will have been rewarded for its violence.
This is no long-term strategy, only a short-term tactic. In the long run, peace will come only when conditions in Gaza improve and the people there believe they have much more to lose and much less to gain by choosing war over peace. In the long run, an Israeli and international effort to build up Gaza’s economy, not impose a blockade, makes far more sense.
But Israel has clashed with Hamas three times in six years. It is entirely reasonable that Israel would now do all within its powers, while taking greater care to minimize civilian casualties, to destroy Hamas’ military capabilities.
If nothing else, Israel hopes to push the next cycle of deadly violence further into the future.

In this sad war story, Israel is in the right

In this sad war story, Israel is in the right
Those who are even slightly forgiving of Hamas are cooperating with a fanatically religious tyrannical dictator. Hamas are Palestinian neo-Nazis.

By Ari Shavit    | Jul. 24, 2014 |4:09 AM
When the fighting ends, they’ll start to ask difficult questions. Did Israel do everything in its power to utilize the many years of relative calm to advance the peace process? Was the United States careful not to leave a vacuum in place when the Kerry initiative failed? Did Israel’s security establishment accurately estimate the raw threat presented by Hamas, and the possibility that it would resort to conflict? Did Israeli society provide the Israel Defense Forces with the backing that it needed in order to sufficiently prepare for war? Did the bug of political correctness drive the far-left crazy? Did the blood and suffering of the last few weeks make Israeli democracy closed-minded and intolerant?

When the time comes, all of these questions will require not-so-simple answers.

But now, as soldiers are being attacked from all directions, there are other, more basic questions that must be asked. Who are we fighting? What are we fighting for, and are we justified?

Who are we fighting? A fascist organization that terrorizes the people of Gaza, oppresses women and gays, and shuns all democratic values of freedom and progress.

Those who are even slightly forgiving of Hamas are cooperating with a fanatically religious tyrannical dictator. Amos Oz spoke about Israeli neo-Nazis? Hamas are Palestinian neo-Nazis. They’ve turned the first strip of Palestinian land that was granted (relative) freedom into a bastion of totalitarianism. They’ve incessantly attacked Israel for roughly a decade. They staunchly rejected every Israeli attempt to prevent the current escalation. They stubbornly fired thousands of rockets at civilians.

They’ve employed a sophisticated yet malicious strategy, which has two goals: to kill innocent Jews and force the IDF to kill innocent Palestinians. The murderous terrorist organization that took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, while executing many of its own people, is an organization of war criminals. By no means can they be allowed to win this difficult conflict, and by no means can we show any empathy for the evil they represent.

What are we fighting for? Our home. The Jewish people was a people without a home, who managed the impossible, and created a home for itself. The State of Israel is a miracle. We must not give up this miracle. We must not endanger it, and we must not take its existence for granted. When dark forces try to annihilate it, we must defend it. When hypocritical, self-righteous forces try to weaken it, we must make it stronger. We are surrounded by a new threat of Muslim Arab chaos. Enemies seeking our blood amass at our walls.

What the Israel Air Force pilots are doing right now is allowing the only Jewish state to exist. What Golani, Paratroopers, and Nahal soldiers are doing right now is ensuring that the only democracy in the Middle East will survive. Israelis living in the south are currently facing a diabolical effort to bring our house down over our heads. Even as the images coming out of Gaza are extremely difficult, we cannot forget this. We are not Goliath. We were David, we remain David, and as David, we defend ourselves.

Are we justified? Clearly. We’ve made terrible mistakes – politically, strategically and militarily. We were complacent and arrogant, and walked into traps with open eyes. But don’t get confused, friends. Don’t cross the lines, friends. We must stand strong against the evil tunnels and the wicked rockets that threaten us. We’ve forgotten how to say it, and sometimes it’s difficult to whisper it, but we’re right. In this sad, terrible story, we’re in the right. What we must do over the coming days is be smart, as well.

Israel's critics don't want any response

Israel's critics don't want any response 

Over the past couple of days, as the debate over Israel’s military intervention in Gaza has raged, I’ve noticed the same phrase being repeated. It’s basically a variation on the following: “Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself. But the response must be proportionate. And what we’re seeing is anything but proportionate.” 

Nick Clegg has joined this chorus, accusing Israel of imposing a "disproportionate form of collective punishment" on the Palestinian people. His words were echoed on Monday by the United Nations Relief and Works agency, which warned that “Maximum restraint must be exercised and measures of distinction, proportionality and precaution must be respected.” During Monday’s House of Commons debate, a succession of MPs rose to make a similar point. 

And who can argue with it? Who would want to see a disproportionate response to a crisis such as this? 

But if we are calling for “proportionality” from Israel, then I’d like to ask a question: what would a proportionate response actually look like? If everyone accepts the principle of Israel defending itself, how should that defence operate in practice? 

One way Israel is able to defend itself from the ongoing Hamas missile strikes is, of course, to send in ground troops to locate and destroy them and the terrorists who operate them. But as we’ve seen, according to Israel’s critics, this represents a terrible escalation of the conflict. 

An alternative is air strikes. But again, Israeli air strikes have resulted in global condemnation. Cruise missile strikes are also an option. But I can’t quite to imagine the Stop the War coalition issuing a press release welcoming Israel’s use of precision munitions in central Gaza. 

What about a more surgical approach? Perhaps Israel could send in assassination teams to target the Hamas leadership and other key operatives? “Today the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon welcomed the news that Israeli hit squads had been deployed to the Palestinian territories. 'This represents a timely de-escalation of the conflict,' he said.” 

What about no offensive action at all? What if Israel simply attempts to contain Hamas within Gaza? No, sorry, that won’t work, because then Israel will be accused of turning Gaza into “the world’s largest prison camp”. A blockade of Hamas? No, the world is demanding that the blockade be lifted. Targeted sanctions on the Palestinian authority? Are you being serious? That will just penalise innocent Palestinians. And anyway, the world should be standing in solidarity with them in their hour of need. 

When people say Israel’s response to Hamas aggression must be “proportionate”, they don’t mean it. What they actually mean is that Israel shouldn’t respond at all. 

Which is fine: everyone’s entitled to their view. But Israel’s critics should at least be honest about what they’re really proposing. And what they’re proposing is that while Israel has a right to defend itself in principle, it shouldn’t do so in practice. It should just turn the other cheek. 

Which is why I’d like to ask those who claim that Israel’s response is disproportionate another question. What do you think the death toll would be if Hamas had Israel’s military capability – including its nuclear capability? Because I think in those circumstances we would see with horrifying clarity what a disproportionate use of military force really looks like. 

I appreciate that many – if not a majority – of those criticising Israel do so from positions of morality, rather than ideology. But it is not enough to simply scream about what Israel shouldn’t be doing. As the rockets continue to rain down, people also need to explain precisely what they think Israel is entitled to do to protect itself. 

“Withdraw from Gaza” is one frequently proffered solution. But Israel did withdraw from Gaza. They withdrew, demolished the settlements and forcibly evicted almost 10,000 Jewish settlers. Then Hamas moved in, started firing rockets and launching terrorist attacks. 

“They should introduce an immediate ceasefire” is another demand. Israel did. And the rockets kept on coming. 

“They should sit down and talk, like we did with the IRA in Northern Ireland.” Yes, we did sit down and talk. But before we sat down we asked the IRA to stop blowing things up first. And they agreed. 

Let’s say for the sake of argument that Benjamin Netanyahu suddenly has an epiphany. “My God,” he says to himself, “our critics are right. Our response is disproportionate.” So he goes on TV, and tells the Israeli people: “I have told our armed forces to disengage. The rockets will keep exploding. The kidnappings will keep happening. The suicide attacks will keep coming. But we will not lift a finger in response.” 

How long do Israel’s critics think Netanyahu would remain Prime Minister of Israel in those circumstances? A week? An hour? 

Like it or not, Israel is a sovereign, democratic state. Not only does it have the right to defend itself, its people expect it to defend itself. And when you’re sitting huddled in a bomb shelter, and then emerge to see the charred remnants of a Qassam rocket sticking out of the roof of your child’s school, I suspect it shapes your perception of what a “proportionate” response actually is. 

So what is it that we want? Do we want the troops, the bombs, the cruise missiles, the drones, the artillery, the death squads, the blockades or the sanctions? Because if we say Israel has a right to defend itself, and mean it then, then we’re going to have stop handwringing and start choosing. And if we don’t, then we’re going to have to be honest and admit we don’t want Israel to defend itself at all.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If You Want to Learn About Creating Great Company Culture, Come to Ethos 3.0

If You Want to Learn About Creating Great Company Culture, Come to Ethos 3.0


When attempting to build a great company culture, it’s important to recognize that the work environment – the actual space in which people perform (or, at least, attempt to perform) their  jobs – can have a significant effect on the success or failure of creating that culture. Max Chopovsky is cognizant of these effects and he wants to help companies in Chicago learn about this relationship between culture and environment, as well as help provide them with the resources to create that environment. On Thursday, July 31st, Chicago Creative Space – founded by Chopovsky – will hold Ethos 3.0, an event dedicated to doing precisely that: to educate the community on the importance of workspace on company culture.
“[Ethos 3.0] will highlight the companies that are doing innovative things to their environments…to paint stories for what their company cultures are like,” said Chopovsky. “It’s for anybody that wants to understand how to create a great environment and a great company culture, and how to hire the best talent to support that culture.”
Chicago Creative Space is an online video community that features comprehensive, inside tours of Chicago’s most innovative work spaces. The organization serves as a resource for companies to help them build their culture and space. Ethos 3.0 is aimed at highlighting these various work spaces, as well as spotlighting each of the companies that have leveraged these spaces to create strong company cultures, including 1871, Coyote Logistics, and Leo Burnett.
At Ethos, a panel of prominent Chicago entrepreneurs (from the likes of Sprout Social founder and CEO, Justyn Howard, and SteelBrick/G2 Crowd CEO Godard Abel) will discuss the relationship between work space, creativity, and company culture. The event is also offering a 20-person workshop with 1871 CEO Howard Tullman, who will help participants learn the fundamental strategies for creating a strong company culture.
“There’s a symbiotic relationship between company culture and the workplace: the workplace supports the culture and the culture supports the workplace. But, also, the culture comes from the people, and the workplace is a platform for supporting the people that enable that culture…the work space supports the culture and amplifies the culture.”
According to Chopovsky, the culture of a company is very much a result as well as the cause of the physical work environment. If you create an open, innovative space for your people, then you create a culture that is more conducive to open collaboration; if your company relies on open collaboration, then you need to create a space that allows for such collaboration to take place. “You have to understand who your employees are, and provide them with the kind of environment to help support them to do that work.” For many companies in the tech space in Chicago, the open office layouts highlighted through Chicago Creative Space’s video series serve as ideal models for those cultures.
At Chicago Creative Spaces’s Ethos 3.0, attendees will get the opportunity to connect with other business leaders, entrepreneurs, creatives, engineers, and freelancers, to talk about the ways through which great company culture could be created or replicated, and how that plays into the overall Chicago tech and creative community.
Tickets to the event are available now for $45 (subject to increase on the day-of), while tickets for the culture workshop with Howard Tullman are available separately for $150.


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