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Merkel in Auschwitz
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday morning German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Auschwitz.

This was her first ever trip to Auschwitz and the third time a German head of state has visited. Merkel has visited other camps and has visited Yad VaShem which is Israel's Holocaust Museum located in Jerusalem.

The visit is significant. Auschwitz is the "camp of camps". It was at Auschwitz that the Nazi murder factory was most efficient, it was there that the Nazis murdered 1.1 million people.

That Germany has acknowledging their responsibly for the murder of the Jews of Europe, is an essential act. The Chancellor's visit to Auschwitz clearly broadcasts that message to all those who question the Holocaust.

In addition to her visit, Merkel committed an additional $60 million to maintain and preserve exhibits in the Auschwitz Museum. This brings the total gift of the German government to $120 million, all earmarked for preserving evidence that has been deteriorating over time.

Auschwitz impacts everyone. It is hard to imagine a single place where an industry of death was created in order to murder so many people, in such a short time, for no reason - other than being Jewish.

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Bibi Meets w Pompeo
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Lisbon, Portugal where he met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They spoke about Iran and the role of Iran in the Middle East.

Netanyahu said, "Iran is increasing its aggression as we speak" in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Gaza. The Israeli prime minister thanked US President Trump for applying pressure on Iran.

Pompeo talked about Iranian protesters and how they yearn for freedom. He said, "These are people that are seeking freedom and a reasonable way to live, and they recognize the threat that's posed by the kleptocrats who are running the Islamic Republic of Iran."

It's obvious that the United States and Israel see eye to eye on Iran and the damage that Iran is creating in the region and around the world.

The question is: What now?

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Israelis Help
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

There was an earthquake in Albania. Now 54 people are dead, 2,000 are injured and about 4,000, people have been left homeless.

Most of us canít find Albania on a map. Yet, Israel sent off a team of earthquake specialists to help.

Israel has developed an expertise in helping countries and communities regain their equilibrium following a disaster.

The Israelis send teams across the world wherever there is a natural disaster. The teams include engineers, doctors, social workers, local specialists, master communicators and community organizers. Every team also has a dog or several dogs that have been trained as canine survivor sniffers who help find people who may be trapped as a result of the disaster and destruction.

There are multiple teams like this in Israel that are dispatched to save lives and help those who have survived in the wake of earthquakes.

This is a part of the character the Jewish State of Israel. Israelis help people in need. Official representatives of Israel travel all over the world helping people.

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China Russia Iran - Wargames
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia, China and Iran are planning join war games in the Straits of Hormuz and the Indian Ocean - on land, sea and air. This is an important move by the great powers in the world, countries that set themselves up as a check against the United States and US interests.

The link between Iran, China and Russia is incredibly dangerous.
In November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: "We, the People's Republic of China and Iran are preparing naval drills for fighting terrorists and pirates in this part of the Indian Ocean,"

Iran announced this week that in December: a "joint war game between several countries, whether on land, at sea or in the air, indicates a remarkable expansion of cooperation among them."

Secretary of the National Security Council in Iran, Ali Shamkhani, explained why this is happening. He said that: "The countries that have had the biggest share in creating tensions and insecurity in the region and plunged the region into chaos and destruction by waging multiple wars and spreading terrorism have never been after the Persian Gulf's stability and security, and only seek to fulfill their own interests and plunder the region."

The problem is that Iran has stimulated and sponsored some of these vile elements he describes. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse.

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Trump Talks to Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

US President Trump spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday. The White House released an email statement following the call.

According to the White House email statement: "The leaders discussed the threat from Iran, as well as other critical bilateral and regional issues".

There has been some distance between DC and Jerusalem.
The tension has more to do with Trump's lack of patience with Israeli politics than with actions or statements.

Donald Trump does not understand why Bibi Netanyahu has been unable to secure the premiership despite his two two attempts. The US President thinks of Bibi as a winner and a great leader -- and yet, after two elections, his leadership is in question. A third election is on the horizon in Israel. It will probably be held in March.

In the meantime, Israel has an interim PM Ö but that will not lift the tension or change the perspective of the US President.

Trump likes Netanyahu. More than anything else, Trump like success.
Donald Trump is not a patient man. In this case he is going to have to wait until March, Israeli politics do not march to his drum.

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Disunity among Arabs
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The actions and counter-actions during the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza, when Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched rockets into Israel and Israel responded by targeting Islamic Jihad and not Hamas, was unique.

That Israel did not hold Hamas responsible for the rocket fire and that Hamas did not respond and defend Islamic Jihad, was also unique.

What requires more attention is the response of the Palestinians in the West Bank to the conflict.

West Bank Palestinians were, effectively, silent.

Thirty-four Gazans were killed and one hundred and eleven were wounded. There were no West Banks protests. No uptick in attacks against the army or against Israeli settlers. No increased terror attacks. There was a serious conflict going on in Gaza and no response from fellow Palestinians a few miles away.

This is not unique, in fact, it is very common. Palestinians of the West Bank do not share common goals or even family ties with Palestinians in Gaza.

Throughout the years of conflict, certainly since 2007 when Hamas brutally threw the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza, there has been little or no official or unofficial interaction.

In Arabic this cultural separation is called "Ya Wahdana"- "You are Alone." It comes from a famous poem by Mahmud Darwish describing the Palestinian situation in the larger Arab and Muslim world. In this case, it refers to Gazans and Gazans only.

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