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Jewish Athletes Compete in Berlin
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 30, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

The Jewish Olympics, the European Maccabi Games, are being played in Berlin. Hard to imagine - but true.

Not just are the games being played in Berlin, the games are being played in the same stadium that Adolf Hitler built for the 1936 Olympics. 2,100 proud and strong Jews playing Olympic games in Hitler's Germany.

This is a powerful image. Hitler used the stadium to propagandize his vision. It was there in that stadium that that Hitler created pageants and huge pyrotechnical performances all in order to glorify the racist message of the superiority of their Teutonic Aryan philosophy.

Today Europe is undergoing a resurgence of anti-Semitism. But because of these Jewish Olympic games, because of the Maccabi games, European leaders are coming out to join in a celebration of Jewish life and Jewish creativity.

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Pollard Release
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 29, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

Jonathan Pollard's lawyers announced yesterday that the parole board decided to free Pollard on November 21 of this year, the 30th anniversary of his imprisonment.

The US Department of Justice has not challenged the decision - so without resistance Pollard may see his freedom in just a few short months.

Pollard told the parole board on July 7 that he had a job lined up and a place to live in New York City. The job and NYC seem to be terms of his parole. Israel and others are hoping that they can convince the board to permit him to leave the United States and go to Israel.

As of now that does not seem to be in the cards.

The announcement by lawyers representing Jonathan Pollard, closely followed by comments from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, are all signs that seem to imply that this is a done deal.

However, I must point out that there were times in the past when Pollard was nearly set free and then, at the last minute, the deal was cancelled.

I am hopeful that this time will be different, but I will be convinced only when I see Jonathan Pollard leave prison as a free man.

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Russia & Turkey Talk About the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 28, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

The Kremlin held a press conference yesterday to summarize an important conversation that took place on Sunday between Putin of Russia and Erdogan of Turkey.

According to the statement released by the Kremlin, the two leaders had an important telephone conversation. The topics under discussion included the situation in the Middle East. They spoke about Iraq and Syria and most especially, they spoke ISIS.

They also discussed the spread of terror and the need to fight
terrorism.

The most important component of their discussion was Russia's interest in uniting the various countries in the region to confront ISIS and to fight extremism.

The Kremlin spokesman said that in the Sunday conversation the leaders "exchanged opinions on the situation in the Middle East, first of all in Syria and Iraq, in the framework of stepping up multilateral and bilateral coordination with the aim of increasing efficiency of countering threats from the Islamic State."

"It was stressed that consolidation of efforts of all interested countries is necessary on the basis of international law to successfully fight the spread of terrorism and extremism."

This is important stuff - especially coming, in unison, from Russia and Turkey.

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The Mullahs of Iran Are Against the Deal
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 27, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian religious leadership has a very interesting "take" on the nuclear agreement.

It seems that religious leadership in Iran believes that the agreement is a trap. They think it is a lure with promises of great economic rewards. And they think that what the United States, Israel and all the other nations who were forcing the agreement really want - is a change of leadership in Iran.

The religious leaders think that the entire purpose of the agreement is to entice Iran into understanding Western ways so that they will view the world outside of Iran as beneficial to the masses in Iran.

They fear that those Iranians who yearn for improved economic and cultural exchanges with the outside world will - because of the nuclear agreement, immediately see and understand the new status Iran has achieved.

Iranian religious leadership may not be so far off.
And Iranian religious leadership is petrified that their assessment will come true.

If their fears are realized, it means that they, the religious leadership of Iran, would be ousted and their values and their stranglehold on the youth, the culture and the economy of Iran would be vaporized.

So, why did Rouhani receive permission from the Supreme Leader of Iran to sign off on the deal, and why has the rest of Iranian religious leadership remained quiet until now? The answer is that the religious leaders in Iran understood how important it was to lift the sanctions and improve their economy. Now that it is a done deal, they will clamp down on the hopes and dreams of reformers and youth attempting to use this agreement as a springboard to freedom.

Iranian religious leadership is telling the United States -- "We see your games and understand you moves."

This is the only way we can interpret the numerous comment made by the Supreme Leader immediately before and since the announcement of the nuclear agreement.

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Israel Gives Jordan 16 Cobra Helicopters
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 26, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

Israel gave Jordan 16 Cobra helicopters.

The helicopters are all originally US made and were part of a US arms deal. But these Cobras have since been retired. The United States needed to sign off on the transfer of these Cobras to Jordan.

The purpose of the gift from Israel to Jordan is to help Jordan patrol its borders with Syria and Iraq. For that purpose, these helicopters are perfectly adequate.

These borders are porous and ISIS and al Qaeda have used the holes to penetrate into Jordan. Without a doubt ISIS and Al Qaeda want to destabilize Jordan.

It is in the best interest of Israel to secure those borders and to make certain that Jordan remains stable.

With this arms deal everyone win. The United States is happy that there is real cooperation between Jordan and Israel on regional matters. Israel is happy because it adds to their credibility and stability. Jordan is happy because it is seriously protecting itself from ISIS and al Qaeda.

This is what you call a no brainer.


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Turkey & ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 25, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

The Syrian border with Turkey has become very hot lately. There have been serious skirmishes and exchanges of fire between ISIS on the Syrian side and Turkey firing back from their side.

A Turkish soldier was killed and another wounded in the exchange of fire.

Turkey also scrambled their air force and sent fighter jets to the area. The jets fired and struck ISIS targets.

Finally, there are unconfirmed reports that the Turks have given a green light to the United States, saying that they will host US fighter jets that will attack ISIS in Syria.

Until now the Turks have said that they will not host the US military and their fighter jets. But things have changed. Turkey is clearly an SIS target. ISIS wants to destabilize the entire region - and that includes Turkey.

The United States does not need to take off from Turkey. The mission was not hampered or limited in any way because of the reluctance of Turkey up until now. This is as much about diplomacy as it is about military maneuvering.

The area is very small. But this new ability to take off and land in Turkey will improve some angles and allow for better dexterity with the air strikes.

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Anti Semitism in Soccer
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 24, 2015

I've Been Thinking

The world of soccer is starting to take the scourge of anti- Semitism seriously.

The UEFA, which stands for the United European Football (Soccer) Association, has punished Croatia for anti-Semitic and racists acts.

A swastika was painted on the playing field of Croatia before a game against Italy.

The Football Association punished Croatia in several different ways:
# 1: Croatia was docked a point
# 2: the next two qualifying matches Croatia plays at home will be played without fans in an empty stadium
# 3: Croatia may not play in the city of Split
# 4: the Croatian team was fined 100,000 Euros ($110,000)

These penalties might seem small, but they actually touch the fans and the owners much more than the players. The players were not responsible for the swastika. The fans were responsible and the fans will not be able to watch their team play.

The penalties are a lesson for everyone. They were put in place to teach everyone that these kinds of expression cannot be tolerated in civilized society - and that includes football.

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