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A Jewish Hero Dies
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 2, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

A great Jewish hero has died. His name is Mark Dymshitz and he was 88 years old.

Dymshitz was a prisoner of Zion, a "refusenik". He was one of the leaders of the early years of the struggle by Russian Jews to escape persecution under Soviet rule.

Dymshitz drew attention to Soviet Jewry by attempting to hijack a plane in what was then Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, on June 15, 1970. The plan was called Operation Wedding. 16 refuseniks took part in the plan - 14 Jews and 2 non Jews.

Dymshitz was a pilot and along with fellow dissident Edward Kuznetsov, planned to hijack the plane and fly it to Israel. The group bought up all the seats on the 12 seater Antonov An -2 plane.

The plan failed and Mark Dymshitz was sentenced to death. His punishment was commuted because of world outcry and finally, in 1979, he was freed in a swap with the USSR.

The attempted hijacking and the audacity and daring of the plan drew huge attention to the plight of Soviet Jews.

Dymshitz and the 13 others who collaborated with him on Operation Wedding, even though it failed miserably as a plan, were truly heroes.

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A Hassid Fights Against ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 1, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

This is simply a weird story - but so important to tell. I read it in YNETnews.

Timothy Paul Jacobs Wordsworth aka Batn el Ghoul is fighting with the Kurds against ISIS in Iraq.

His grandparents survived Dachau - but his parents converted to Christianity and he was taught to love Israel.

Timothy was raised to fight for good against evil. He joined the British army and he even moved to Israel where he joined the Bratslav Chassidic sect. Timothy could not become a citizen of Israel, he will try again soon.

Interesting, right? But not the most interesting part of the story.
Here comes the most interesting part.

Every place in which Timothy Paul Jacobs Wordsworth fights and defeats ISIS, he tags with graffiti. He writes his graffiti in Hebrew. He writes: Na Na Nachman Me'uman. Rabbi Nachman from the city of Uman, the phrase on the lips of all Bratslav chassidim.

Timoathy aka Batn el Ghoul says that he wants to bring sunlight into an area of darkness. According to the interview he ends practically every sentence with the phrase "Am Yisrael Chai" (the nation of Israel lives on).

Now that is interesting.

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Luxembourg Chain Boycotts Israel Products
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 31, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

The largest supermarket chain in Luxembourg has just joined the boycott against Israeli products.

The chain has said that until it can be proven that a product is not produced in the West Bank, the product from Israel will not be sold in their markets.

The Cactus Supermarket chain said that it was easier to do business in this way than to suffer the inconvenience of protesters and their impact on the shoppers. Cactus management said that they use very few Israeli products anyway.

They also followed up by saying that they would continue to sell Israeli produced Soda-Stream and other equipment that compose a larger percentage of their sales.

Luxembourg is a tiny country of about 500,000 people with a GDP (gross domestic product) of about $53 billion.

The size of the country and the size of the supermarket chain do not matter. This boycott must be stopped not because it will hurt Israel, but because it is the principle that counts. Boycotts are anti- democratic and anti-freedom.

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Rouhani Against the Vote
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 30, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

As I wrote several days ago, Iranian leadership had decided to mimic the US and have a parliamentary debate and vote on the famous Nuclear Deal.

But the other day, President Hassan Rouhani announced that he opposes the vote. The Iranian president told a news conference that the agreement is not a treaty and does not need either a vote or a debate.

Rouhani said that it was an understanding between the parties. If it is voted upon in parliament, he said, that would mean that the agreement would have legal obligations in Iran and that would not be advantageous.

In other words - there would be internal legal issues if the Iranians violated the agreement.

Rouhani said that the deal says that Iran is not obligated by the agreement. He says that the deal very clearly states that Iran will implement the terms of the agreement voluntarily. If, on the other hand, it is voted upon by parliament it is no longer voluntary and instead becomes becomes legally binding in Iran and that is not to their benefit.

Democracy versus realpolitik.

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Swiss Ambassador Calls Iran "Pole of Stability"
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 29, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

The Swiss ambassador to Iran addressed 500 Swiss business people and called on them to run back to Teheran and invest.

Ambassador Guilio Haas said that Iran was "a pole of stability" in the Middle East and now that the sanctions are over it is a perfect and safe place to invest. Haas urged those listening to his message to take advantage of a lucrative market that has been closed for years.

Haas was not just referring to the oil markets. He was referring to the entire Iranian market. And he was urging the heads of business to invest in Iran.

"Iran seems still for a lot of people to be bearded, elderly gentlemen with turbans. You see them, but you see not a lot of them, especially when you're dealing with business," Haas said.

This is the new modus operandi across Europe. European investors are excited about the possibilities that will emerge out of Iran.

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Iran Invites Israeli Conductor
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 27, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is a society that loves culture, especially music.
So it was not a surprise for me to learn that Iran has been working out details so that the Berlin State Opera Orchestra can come to visit Teheran, Iran.

The Iranians love great music. And this is one of the greatest orchestras in the world. The only hitch is that the musical director/conductor is an Israeli named Daniel Barenbiom.

The word is that the orchestra will accompany Angela Merkel when she visits Teheran on an official visit -- the plans for that are also in the works.

The ministry of culture in Iran has confirmed that details are being worked out but would not comment on whether Barenboim will have a problem getting a visa. Barenboim has also conducted a Palestinian youth orchestra in Ramallah amidst protestors there. The original plan was to have a joint Israeli - Palestinian youth band but that failed.

Iran will probably make an exception for Barenboim.
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Saudi King To Visit DC
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 26, 2015

I've Been Thinking:

It is not yet official, but it looks like King Salman, the new king of Saudi Arabia, will visit Washington DC on September 5th and 6th.

This will be his first trip to the United States as king. Salman ascended to the throne in January after the death of King Abdullah.

New heads of state usually rush to DC to meet the president of the United States. But Salman waited, he wanted to play it cool. He wanted to make his own evaluations of the players in Washington. And most importantly, he wanted everyone - especially the United States to know that he was not Abdullah, that he was his own man.

The word is also out that Salman will visit Egypt on his way back from the United States to Saudi Arabia. This, too, is important because the relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia has become strained of late, especially over the tension between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza. Saudi Arabia sides with the Muslim Brotherhood.

He is an interesting character this King Salman of Saudi Arabia. He bears watching.

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