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US Sanctions Iran For using Child Soldiers
By Micah Halpern

Thursesday October 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:
Iran trains 12 year old soldiers to go to fight in Syria.

The US Treasury Department is now imposing sanctions on the network that sponsors this activity.

The Bonyad Taavon Basij network is the organization that supports the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary force that works for Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Treasury said in a statement.


This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij's efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC's direction," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

A Treasury Department statement said: "Normal governments don't have revolutionary arms that support revolution and wreak havoc with their neighbors. They don't recruit indoctrinate and use child soldiers."

This is a significant step. It is trying to protect children and at the same time stating the importance of human life.

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Selling His Olympic Gold
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Gal Fridman is Israel's only Olympic gold medalist.

Israel's gold medalist is having a difficult time making ends meet, so he is selling his medal.

Fridman won the gold in 2004 in windsurfing. In 1966 he won a bronze medal in the Olympics in Atlanta. Today, he coaches windsurfers and world competitors. He makes a living as a wedding and bar/bat mitzvah photographer.

In an ironic twist, the home of Fridman's parents was robbed in 2005. Their safe was cracked and, among other items, their son's two Olympic medals were taken. The medals were later found, discarded, on the Tel Aviv beach.

After they were found, Gal Fridman said: "no amount of money could replace this medal."

Times change and situations change. Now Fridman needs to sell his prized possessions.

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Teachers Strike in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Teachers are striking in Iran.

That is a very bad sign.

Teachers are striking in over 12 cities - especially Iran's largest cities. They are striking because, they say, their pay is too low. Iranian teachers make 4million rials per month. That large number converts to only $100 on the black market exchange rate. It is the black market rate that represents the real value of the dollar, not the official rate which is artificially determined.

Teachers in Iran, like everywhere, dedicate themselves to creating an exciting future for their students. Across the world they are abysmally underpaid … in Iran even more so.

The Coordinated Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran asked teachers not to strike. Instead, they said, come to your schools and simply do not teach. The teachers chose to ignore that option.

Iran has underestimated the importance of their own teachers and, in so doing, is putting their future at risk.

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US: No To Syrian Help If Iran is Still There
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced yesterday that if any scintilla of an Iranian presence remains in Syria, the United States will not pay one single dollar toward reconstructing the country.

Pompeo made his point very clearly while delivering an address to members of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

He said: "The onus for expelling Iran from the country falls on the Syrian government, which bears responsibility for its presence there."

And then Pompeo continued: "If Syria doesn't ensure the total withdrawal of Iranian-backed troops, it will not receive one single dollar from the United States for reconstruction."

This is a sine qua non for US involvement. That means Syria has to make a decision. Iran does not have the money to rebuild Syria and the Iranians have aggressive intentions there.

This move by the United States may successfully oust Iran from Syria.

If so - Kudos to Pompeo and to Trump!!

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Druze Show Support for Assad
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

A small group of Druze living in the Israeli Golan Heights went to the border with Syria. Once at the border the used their megaphones to call to their relatives on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

The Druze contingent brought pictures of Syrian President Assad and posters showing their support for the Assad regime.

This village the Druze chose for their demonstration is named Majd Al Shams. It is the shouting mountain on the border, the place where Druze come and speak to relatives on the other side of the border.

Druze, by religious doctrine, are loyal to their local state. It is very unusual to have a Druze community in Israel showing support for a leader from another country.


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Israel & UAE Amb Sit Together
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

According to the Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz a remarkable event happened recently in Washington DC.

At a dinner for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs the Israeli and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassadors were seated together. Also there was the Egyptian ambassador.

Yousef al Otaiba of the UAE and Ron Dermer of Israel spoke to each other at the event.

It should be clear that the thaw between Israel and some Arab countries is real. A year ago this meeting would have happened - but it would have happened behind closed doors. Now it is done in public.

This is a major step forward.
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Syria Celebrates Victory over Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Syrian media spent the entire day broadcasting the 45th anniversary of their victory over Israel in 1973 in what Israel calls the Yom Kippur War.

In Syria they call the war the "October War of Independence" or Harb Tishreen al-Tahrir Yar.

The media was filled with interviews of witnesses who shot down Israeli F-15's and captured hundreds of Israeli soldiers. The "witnesses" made up story after story. They described shooting down 250 Israeli fighter jets.

One Syrian pilot claimed to have single-handedly downed four Israeli planes.

One person attributed the great stories of success to Syria"s sophisticated weapons. He said "[w]e can use complex technology."

In reality - Syria lost 109 fighter jets and 3,500 Syrian soldiers died.

Israel was attacked on the holiest day of the year in a multi-front coordinated strike. The Syrians attacked at the same time as the Egyptians. After three days of fighting, Israel pushed the Syrians back to pr-war lines. By the fourth day the Israelis were deep into Syria. By day seven Israel was parked outside of Damascus and surrounding the Syrian capital.

How Syria turned that loss into a victory and celebratory event is truly a mystery.


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Russia's Syria's S-300
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

People have been asking question after question about the Russian delivery of new S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria.

So here are some of the details.

Russia has delivered three sets of the S-300 with eight launchers each. They have also provided Syria with one hundred missiles. According to TASS, a Russian news agency, the cost to Syria for all of this was - nothing, zip, zero. The Russians threw in, at no cost, an entire staff of people to operate the S-300.

Syria will need the assistance. The Russians have not yet instructed them on how to operate these weapons. It will take at least a year to learn enough to be competent on the system.

And that is why it is almost certain that the operators who shot down the Russian military plane that killed 15 Russian soldiers - were Russia technicians.

One last point. The S-300's now in Syria came from a location that has since been restocked with newer and better S-400s.

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Iran Outlaws Terror
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Iranian Parliament just passed a law that outlaws the funding and sponsoring of terror.

It makes no sense. Iran is one of the world's biggest supporters of terror. Why are they passing this law?

The answer is both simple and surprising.

Iran is trying to conform to international norms and to accept the International Convention on Fighting Terror (The CFT). Iranian leadership is hoping that by passing laws like this Iran will join the community of nations.

In the end, the plan might just work. These machinations may do the trick and Iran may be making headway with countries who want to continue their relationship with Iran after the full US sanctions kick in.

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Another Tragedy in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The brutal murder of two Israelis by a Palestinian terrorist this morning is another tragedy enveloping Israel.

Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, from Rosh HaAyin and Ziv Hagbi, 35, from Rishon LeZion were shot to death by a 23 year old Palestinian terrorist using an M-16 assault rifle. It is very unusual for a Palestinian to procure that type of weapon and to have the ability to transport it.
And it is very critical to understand how he planned and then executed this murderous terror attack.

The attack took place in the Barkan Industrial Park which is just off the Cross Samarian Highway, known as Route 5, situated close to Ariel.

The Barkan Industrial Park houses about 150 businesses and about 6,500 employees working there. Not surprisingly there are about 3,300 Palestinians working there and about the same amount of Jewish Israelis. The terrorist and his victims - the two who were killed and a third who is injured - all worked in the Alon Recycling Plant.

These are places and business where Palestinians and Israelis work together. The 23 year old terrorist, as yet unnamed, was there legally - he had working papers. The authorities know who he is and where he lives.

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Russian Numbers are Fake
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Business Week wrote an insightful piece about the implausibility and total fabrication of Russian numbers - specifically, about the numbers of deaths in Syria.

Russia claims to have killed 85,000 terrorists and not a single civilian. Not one. They also say that they lost 112 Russian lives.

Independent monitors have very different numbers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a London based group, has been the eyes and ears of the West within Syria. Everything we know about the happenings inside Syria is because of these brave people.

According to SOHR reports, Russian air strikes have killed 18,000 people - and of those, 8,000 have been civilians.

How does SOHR count? They use local witnesses and contacts. Sometimes they have staff in place. And, after the fact, they always go to the area and interview survivors.

SOHR might not be completely accurate, but at the least they provide us with a good and educated guess.

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It's Anti-Semitism Not Anti-Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday, September 30th, sometime between 12 midnight and 8 AM in Carl Schurz Park which sits just outside Gracie Mansion, the home of the mayor of New York City, some one or several people scrawled Free Gaza several times on the Sukkah located there.

The graffiti was scrawled on this clearly Jewish structure right under the noses of the police and protection division of the mayor's office.

What is critical to understand is that a Sukkah is a Jewish symbol - but the graffiti scrawled on the Sukkah was anti-Israel.

It should be clear that to all who read this - those who hate Israel are anti-Semites. It's as simple as that.

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