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US Sanctions on Iran Are Working
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

New US sanctions against Iran are already having an impact.

On Thursday the largest international shipping container company in the world, A.P. Moller-Maersk, closed all operations in Iran. Maersk is so large that one cannot drive on a highway without seeing dozens of the containers rolling along on eighteen wheelers on the way to their destinations.

The day before that, on Wednesday, Total Energy shut their shop in Iran. Total Energy is one of the largest energy companies in the world, specifically for oil and gas. They employ over 100,000 people.

These are only two of the many companies that now feel the pressure of US sanctions to abandon Iran.

The sanctions mean that if companies continue doing business with Iran they will not be able to engage in any US economic banking activity.

That could destroy any company.


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50 of 61 Were Hamas Members
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Monday was a bloody day on the Gaza border. 61 Palestinians died.

On Wednesday senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil announced to Baladana TV, an official Hamas network, that 50 of the 61 dead were members of Hamas. In an interview Bardawil said that they were part of the Hamas ranks and that he was proud of their actions and their deaths. He said that they were fighting Israel and died as warriors and martyrs.

If that is correct - and there is no reason to dispute his claim, they were official members of a terror group, not innocents at the border.

That means that these 50 "protesters" were actually part of Hamas operations fighting against Israel. That is significant.

The remaining 11 may be connected to any number of other, anti-Israel, terror groups. Or they may have been simple rioters.

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Israel Delivers Aid to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday Israel sent supplies in to Gaza.

8 trucks filled with 53 tons of medical supplies crossed the border into Gaza.

And a line of gas trucks crossed from Israel into Gaza - but there was no one there to receive the gas, so the trucks turned around and returned to Israel taking with them the gas.

Hamas leadership, which controls Gaza, is actively working to destroy any attempts for aid to enter their domain - especially Israeli aid.

This assistance is from the Israeli army, the same group that the Gazans are fighting. The irony is staggering. The people you are attacking respond by sending you aid. Why? Because you were wounded striking out at them.

This is the Israeli way.

But did you see any international press showing the Israelis shipping humanitarian aid into Gaza the day after the world condemned them for being so brutal? The answer is: No, you didn’t.

That is the way of the world.

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Why More Palestinians Have Not Shown Up
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Some insight into the riots and attacks in Gaza:

During the most recent riots, Hamas organizers did everything they could to pack in the numbers and get as many people out as possible. They were hoping to be at least 100,000 strong.

In addition to busing rioters to the riot points, Hamas cancelled classes in all schools and all universities. They also announced a total shutdown of businesses.

There was no excuse not to have over a million people on the border between Gaza and Israel - but only 40,000 Palestinians showed up.

The reasons are simple:

Kids prefer to play computer games at home than to go out and riot.

Despite the inverted logic of Palestinian leadership, Palestinian parents and children are electing not to attend the organized riots and not to give up their lives for the cause.

Bottom line: The numbers don't lie!

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Hamas Wins on Campus
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Student Council elections at Palestinian Bir Zeit University had a not surprising result. Hamas won.

Hamas garnered 24 out of the 51 seats on the Student Council. The favorite party was the Martyr Party of Yassir Arafat which received 23 seats.

Hamas has claimed a tremendous victory - and they are correct to do so.

University elections are so important because they are a tool for predicting the future.

Winning at the university level empowers Hamas, it allows them to feel that they may very well be the future of the region.

It allows them to believe that they have unseated the establishment. This is not a good sign for the rest of us.

What is even more important than the results of the election at Bir Zeit University is that 75% of all students voted in this election.

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Israel Claims Syrian Strike
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

In a rare move, Israel accepted responsibility for air bombing Syria earlier this week.

The bombing was a response to the Iranian Al Quds Force launching of 20 missiles toward Israel. In the end, Israel struck and destroyed 50 sites, maybe even a few more.

Not all the targets were pre-arranged. According to Israeli Air Force sources, however, every site that launched a rocket was identified and destroyed. The targets included mobile operations like the S-200 rocket systems, command and control HQ's, radar and stocks of weapons.

As in the past, the explosions registered on the Richter Scale. This time they registered 2.6 in magnitude.

It is important to know that the elite Iranian force is embedded in Syrian camps.

Syrian fighters were trained in old Soviet-style strategy. In looking at the targets a specific Soviet-style pattern emerges. There are three lines and the first two lines have three clusters. Classic Russian defense pattern.

Of the 25 soldiers killed in the attack, most were Iranian. Israel has said that they were targeting equipment and not people - that makes sense.

This is now a game of cat and mouse. The game may still escalate.

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Iran Has a Plan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Make no mistake about it, Iran definitely has a plan in place as a response to the Trump move to pull the United States out of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht put it this way:

"The Management and Planning Organization of Iran have drawn up a plan that is proportional to the conditions of America's exit from the nuclear deal."

Piecing the plan together, it appears that Iran is making demands of the European nations. Iran is saying that, in order for them to stay in the agreement, they want more concessions. Iran will want more money and a shorter timetable to the sunset clauses. They will also permit more IAEA inspections.

It's all part of the game. And Europe may just agree to play by Iran's rules.

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Israel Strikes Iran Missiles Again
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

All educational trips to northern Israel were cancelled until further notice by order of the Education Ministry.

The reason is clear.

Iran has bolstered its missiles located in Syria and trained them on Israeli targets. And Israel once again struck a Syrian base with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iranian missiles. According to reports 15 people on the base were killed -- 8 were Iranian.

Israel is preemptively striking the Iranian missiles while they are still on the ground.

Israel expects that Iran will use those missiles to strike them.

Israel will continue to seek out and destroy all Syrian centers for Iranian weapons because those weapons threaten innocent Israeli citizens.

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Palestinian Foundations Are Crumbling
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians are up in arms at Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Bahrain and UAE participated in the first leg of an Italian bike race. That first leg took place in Israel - hence the reason for Palestinian ire.

Palestinians thought their boycott against Israel was ironclad - until it was smashed by these two Arab countries which have now officially competed in an international bike race hosted in part by the Jewish State.

The Palestinians are watching their foundations crumble. The bedrock upon which Palestinians stood in the Arab world was their position as victim. Now that the Arab boycott against Israel has been broken, their place in the Arab world is diminished, almost obliterated.

Now Israel and the Arab world are sharing interests.

This is very upsetting for the Palestinians.

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Oil Hits $75 -- Saudis Are Happy
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Strange things are happening in the oil markets - especially between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

For years Saudi Arabia has tried to push prices of oil down and tried to make certain that Iran was not able to benefit from sales of higher priced crude. But this week oil hit a high of $75/barrel and the Saudis announced that they want oil prices to rise higher - even to $80/barrel.

Oil today is already 50% higher than it was last year.

Meanwhile, Iran wants to sell as much oil as possible.

This change in attitude about the price of oil is part of a plan - a plan to hurt Iran.

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Bibi To Meet Putin
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will, once again, visit Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bibi will fly to Moscow where he will be an official guest at the Victory Day parade and celebrations.

Victory Day is held every year on May 9th. It celebrates the Russian (actually the Soviet) defeat of the Nazis. It is a huge celebration in Russia.

This will be the 8th face-to-face meeting between the Russian and Israeli leaders in two years. They have much to discuss.

Tensions between the two leaders surrounding Syria and Iran are certainly a high priority agenda item.

Putin's invitation to Netanyahu to join him at the Victory Day celebration and parade is a grand gesture signifying that the Russian leader wants to get relations between the two countries back on track.

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Jack Ma in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Jack Ma, the richest man in China and the founder and head of Alibaba, is in Israel receiving an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University.

During his presentation Jack Ma announced that he will continue to invest in Israel. He and his company have already invested in five companies in Israel. The results have been successful and Ma is very pleased. Now he will be investing in many more Israeli companies.

Ma said that Israel is one of only three places in the world where he would even consider investing.

That is a tremendous compliment - especially from Jack Ma.

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Israel Builds Alternative Airport
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Tourism in Israel is up.

This first quarter of 2018 was up 30% over the same period in 2017.

That is very impressive by any standard, especially so while Israel is under the threat of war from Iran and Hezbollah.

Recognizing that Ben Gurion Airport is a high profile target - and that there is a real threat of an attack on the airport from Hezbollah and from terrorists coming from closer to the airport in the West Bank - Israel is re-outfitting and expanding an air force base deep in the Negev desert.

The base is far away from a Hezbollah threat or a West Bank attack. But it is an alternative and, if needed, if there is a crisis, it will be there.

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Abbas Spouts Anti-Semitism
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Abbas launched into an anti-Semitic tirade during his two hour long speech at the Palestinian National Council meeting. This was the first meeting of the Council since December 1998.

Here is some of what Abbas said:

"From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, the Jews - who moved to Western and Eastern Europe - were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen?"

He continued: "The Jewish issue that was widespread in all European countries ... was not because of their religion, but rather their social behavior related to usury and banks."

Abbas often reverts to his anti-Semitic wheel-well to gain wall-to-wall support from his followers. The Arabic world is filled with conspiracy theories and people all too often believe these canards.

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What a Press Conference
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

WOW. That is the best response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's press conference in which he unveiled, for all the world to see, an Iranian nuclear archive.

The European response is that the information is not new. In essence, Europe is saying that no proof will alter their mindset vis a vis the nuclear deal.

Iran denies all the allegations and claims that Netanyahu made it all up.

IRNA, Iran's official news agency, asserted that the Israeli prime minister is "famous for ridiculous shows."

Fars a semi official state news agency, believed to be close to the Revolutionary Guard, dismissed Netanyahu's speech as a "propaganda show."

All Iranian media has joined together in issuing a public proclamation stating that Iran has never sought nuclear weapons and they are not seeking nuclear weapons now.

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