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Bibi Meets Saudi Crown Prince
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 24, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

With lightening-speed the media covered yesterday’s story of a secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news. And then The New York Times followed up and reported that the Saudis denied the meeting.

Then the Israeli press confirmed that the meeting did happen and the Saudis finally offered confirmation.

Yes, Israel’s prime minster and the head of Israel’s Mossad flew to Riyad, Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi leadership.

So, who leaked the meeting to the press?

In Israel, many people are pointing their fingers at the Office of the Prime Minister.

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23 November 2020 11:28 PM in Thoughts   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)



Iran's New Naval Ship
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 23, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has unveiled a brand-new naval ship that is 170 yards long. The ship is a “naval city capable of carrying ocean missions.” It can carry aircraft and drones and missiles.

Iranian State television reported that a "heavy, multi-purpose, and long-range warship capable of carrying all types of aircrafts, drones, missiles and radar systems" had been added to the Revolutionary Guards fleet. The Shahid Rudaki warship is a “mobile naval city capable of carrying ocean missions," state TV added.

The Revolutionary Guards navy commander, Ali Reza Tangsiri, told state TV that the warship would provide security for "maritime transportation lines, oil tankers, commercial and fishing fleets on the high seas."

The name given to this ship, the Shahid Rudaki, is profound. A shahid is a person who dies for a cause, a shahid is a martyr. Rudaki was the founder of modern Persian poetry and literature. He died in 941.

This Iranian naval vessel is the size of an aircraft carrier. Its purpose is to check the US aircraft carrier fleet stationed in the Persian Gulf.

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23 November 2020 11:28 PM in Thoughts   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (2)



Bibi Tells Biden About Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 22, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minster Netanyahu spoke at the memorial for David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

He used the opportunity to explain and plead his case before US president-elect Joe Biden.

Netanyahu said “Do not return to the previous [Iran] nuclear deal. We must keep to an uncompromising policy to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.”

Israel’s view of Iran’s nuclear program is no secret. And way before Trump assumed the US presidency, Israel was pushing the United States to step up pressure on Iran and to stop their nuclear program.

In fact, in great part, the tension between Obama and Netanyahu was on this very issue. During Obama’s tenure in office, Bibi Netanyahu took his argument directly to the US Congress and to the American people. He convinced them that the Iranian deal was dangerous.

David Ben Gurion would have approved of Netanyahu’s action then, just as he would have approved of what he did today. “Speaking truth to power!”

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Iran Planted
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 20, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel dismantled three IEDs, Improvised Explosive Devices, on the Israeli side of “No Man’s Land on the border with Syria.
In other words, it was on the Israeli side of the border.

It should be absolutely clear that the purpose of the bombs was to kill as many Israeli soldiers as possible. They were certainly placed there by locals who know the area. Locals who were taught, advised and coached by Iranian elite forces.

Israel has announced that they have evidence that the Iranian Al Quds Force was responsible for the bombs. Actually, the IDF was even more specific.

The IDF said that unit 840 of the Al Quds Force was the group that made the bombs and helped the locals plant them along the border.

This is very important information.

Iranians positioned that close to Israel’s border is very dangerous.

Iranian involvement in local Syrian activity so close to Israel is causing Israel to consider new options to better protect their border.

Thankfully, for so many reasons, these IEDs were discovered and thankfully, safely dismantled.

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New Age US Foreign Policy
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 19, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Remember how happy you were when you discovered the words Product of Israel on Jaffa Oranges in the supermarket.

It was a great thrill to see Dead Sea products, Ahava products. Even when sick and picking up medicine from the pharmacy seeing Teva pharmaceuticals made me feel a little better.

History was made when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visit Psagot, a winery which is situated just north of Jerusalem and near the Arab city of Ramallah. The area known as the West Bank.

It was a first. A first time ever visit by a US secretary of state and, more importantly, a first time declaration by the United States that products from the West Bank that enter the United States will be labeled “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel”.

Pompeo said that this policy is “consistent with reality based foreign policy approach” of the US.

Palestinian leader Hanan Ashwari clearly rejected the move telling Reuters: "Pompeo is intoxicated by apartheid wine stolen from Palestinian land. It is opportunistic and self-serving, and it damages the chances for peace."

This is a last-minute change in policy which some might think can be easily reversed by a new administration. True, but not true.

Reversing this policy would be a big step and would cause huge blowback. It will cost a new administration a lot of political chits and will certainly create tension between the White House and Congress, not to mention with whichever government is in Jerusalem at the time.

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Iran & A New Arms Race
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 18, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Now that the administration in the United States is changing, Iran is now laying out options for arms acquisitions.

In Iran’s eyes, the arms embargo is over.

Three countries are anxiously waiting to provide arms to Iran.
First is Russia, second is China and the third is Iran. Yes, Iran.

Iran is an arms manufacturer and with the opening of the embargo they will be able to build and even export weapons.

Because of Russia and China’s interests in supplying Iran with weapons, there is little doubt that an arms race will break out in the Middle East. Iran is going to expand vis a vis all forms of weapons – tanks, planes, boats, helicopters. That means that their Sunni competitors will also want to expand to keep their quantitative and qualitative edge.

While arms will be supplied to Iran by Russia and Iran, arms to the Sunni countries will be supplied by the US and other Western nations.

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PA to Resume Talks w Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 17, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday November 17, the Palestinian Authority announced that they will resume interaction with Israel.

The announcement came after PA leadership received assurances from the Biden Administration that things will be different under the Biden Administration from what they were under the Trump Administration.

A Palestinian Authority official is quoted in the Jerusalem Post saying: “We have received many positive messages from the Biden team in the past few days ... We are looking forward to opening a new page with the Biden administration after the damage caused by the Trump administration.”

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, had an official response to that statement:

“Israel has previously stated that the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian agreements continue to form the applicable legal framework governing the conduct of the parties. On financial and other matters.

“Therefore, in accordance with these agreements Israel continues to collect taxes for the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, it was the Palestinian Authority which decided not to receive those collected funds from Israel.”

Time will tell.

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Iran Should Not Assume Biden Will Roll Over
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 15, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is waiting and watching, very curious to see what will happen in the Biden administration.

Iranian leadership is hoping for a total change of direction - back to the Iranian deal and diplomatic paths that will reopen the embargo on Iranian business. Their ideal scenario would be to lift sanctions on Iranian oil and to permit COVID medications to enter the country.

At this stage, I think Iran is too hopeful.

They should continue to wait and test the waters and then they should wait a little longer because things may not go their direction.

The US is well aware that Iran have been cheating, ending around the system.
And the US knows, too, that the Saudis and other Gulf states are wary of and advances toward Iran.

Many things have changed in the four years since Obama left office. The Trump Administration successfully highlighted the problems with the Iranian deal. The imperfections need to be resolved. And Biden’s advisers are well aware of this as well.

Iran is hurting economically and COVID-wise, that should be clear. They need the assistance of the United States. And that is an important tool that can and should be used as leverage to get more from Iran than what was in the original Accords.

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WHO Condemns Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 13, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The World Health Organization (WHO), a sub-unit of the United Nations, spent their most recent meeting condemning Israel for health abuses against Palestinians and the Druze of the Golan Heights.

One would think they would address the crisis of COVID-19 as a pandemic.
Instead they attacked Israel for mistreating Palestinians by restricting treatment and access to treatment.

Representative after representative, speaker after speaker, stood and condemned Israel - repeating the exact same words. It was a four hour session that resulted in a resolution condemning Israel.

The vote was 78 in favor, 14 opposed with 32 abstentions and 56 countries absent.
Countries that voted against Israel, that condemned Israel, know better. France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Japan, India, New Zealand, Luxembourg and Monaco, shame on you.

The entire notion is a total lie, a total fabrication. Israel has tried to help keep COVID contagion down in the Palestinian Authority. This sounds strange, but the best way to do that was by keeping many people from travelling. It helped.

Palestinians with COVID are in Israeli hospitals. It is the PA that shuns and even prevents their residents from going to Israeli hospitals. But a procedure is in place through which Palestinians enter Israeli hospitals.

Druze of the Golan are Israeli citizens. They are entitled to – and receive the same care every other citizen receives.

These are most of the countries that voted against the resolution: the United States, Britain, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Slovenia, Cameroon, Swaziland and Micronesia.

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Saudi King Speaks Against Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 12, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz seldom speaks publicly these days. The running of the kingdom is firmly in the hands of Crown Prince Salman.

On Thursday, the king addressed the Shura Council. This is the first time he has spoken since addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September. Both presentations were given with a safe video uplink.

The Shura Council is a consulting body that advises all branches of government in Saudi Arabia.

In this presentation the king addressed the issue of Iran. The Saudi leader views Iran as the threat. It was also his topic when speaking before the GA. He said that everyone needed to stand up to Iran.

"The kingdom stresses the dangers of Iran's regional project, its interference in other countries, its fostering of terrorism, its fanning the flames of sectarianism ... in its efforts to possess weapons of mass destruction.”

Expect that this issue will drive a wedge between the new US administration and the Sunni Gulf states. The promised policy of the incoming Biden Administration is to reach out to Iran. This is the opposite of the Saudi and Israeli objective which is to isolate Iran.

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Saeb Erekat Buried in Jericho
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 11, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Saeb Erekat was buried in Jericho. I know the cemetery, it is a fitting resting place for this illustrious Palestinian, lined with desert date palms - an oasis.

Erekat was one of the most recognized figures in the Palestinian media world. He was 65 years old when he succumbed to COVID. His burial coincided with the 16th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death. Also fitting.

Erekat was Arafat’s most trusted English spokesman and chief negotiator. More than simply an insider, 16 years ago he was thought to be a potential successor to Arafat. But the position went to Mahmud Abbas and once again he was in the successor position, to one day take over the Palestinian reins, this time from Abbas.

I had many interactions with Erekat, mostly on air, at times in person. Erekat was a propagandist for Arafat and the PA, a propogandist par excellence.
Unfortunately, that led to some ridiculous comments, speculation and accusations.
Some were honest most were forced. He fought to justify the Palestinian cause - including terror attacks against Jews.

Erekat understood the media. He understood the role of the media and its importance, even if it meant engaging in total falsehoods, as long as the Palestinian story would be told. He knew that when you fall off the “front page” you become irrelevant.

And that is the misfortunate of the end of his life. These past few years the Palestinian issue has become less central. The once great legacy of Saeb Erekat was lost. His death is not headline news.

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Iran is Emboldened
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 9, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is now flexing its muscles.

Iranian leadership knows that US President Elect Biden wants to return to making deals with Iran.

Should that happen, it would mean a significant weakening for the Sunni Gulf States. That’s because Donald Trump will no longer be there to protect them from Iran or to lend assistance, which was the plan.

So, Iran is now telling the Gulf States that now they are vulnerable and advising them that the best plan for them is to unite and join with Iran.

Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted: A sincere message to our neighbors: Trump's gone in 70 days But we'll remain here forever Betting on outsiders to provide security is never a good gamble We extend our hand to our neighbors for dialog to resolve differences

He wrote his tweet in English and Arabic. The tweet was announced on websites and broadcast on all their media outlets. It was like a Mafia family offering peace. Or else.

Iran has become emboldened by the Biden victory. It’s a new diplomatic chess game. Now we wait and watch to see what counter moves are in the works.

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Biden Mid East Policy
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 8, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


What will Joe Biden’s Middle East policy look like? – that is the question I am being asked non-stop.

There are certain givens. And there are many question marks.

The most obvious given is that Biden will, as he has said over and over again, return to the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or in lay terms, the “Iran Deal.”

It was no secret that the Saudis favored Trump over Biden. The Iran Deal was a
direct threat to Sunni hegemony. Expect tensions on that front.

Expect Biden’s administration to reopen the Palestinian Embassy in Washington, DC.

Expect them to restart aid to the Palestinian Authority - Kamala Harris has already made that promise.

Expect them to reach out and bring the PA back to the table based on the two-state solution.

Do not expect the US Embassy in Jerusalem to return to its former home in Tel Aviv. However, there will almost certainly be discussion about the United States withdrawing recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel is in for a series of roller coaster rides.

Biden has a long and very positive history with Israel. There were several low points during the eight years of the Obama presidency, but in general (“B’Gadol” as Israelis like to say), Joe Biden is a friend of Israel.

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Lessons From Israel -Tight elections
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 6, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel learned some important lessons from tight elections. The United States can learn from Israel’s experience.

Over the 15-month period between December 2018 and March 2020, Israel held three very close elections.

The most important lessons learned from these close elections are: First, be patient and second, do not pay attention to either sides claim of victory.

Next, there are always mistakes and problems in counting. These blunders are usually few and the exception. But when they become systemic, that’s when it is important to watch. Pay attention only when the mistakes sway the election.

In the end, true numbers will emerge and the legitimate winner will be officially declared. Do not rush the announcement.

Respect the process. For the sake of democracy, it is worth the wait.

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Not in US Interest to Push Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 5, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

I’ve mentioned this before – Saudi Arabia is not going to be the next country in the Middle East to normalize relations with Israel. Saudi Arabia is in line but certainly not at the front of the line.

There are many reasons. One reason is that the United States has been pressuring the Saudi Kingdom to normalize their power in the region.

Saudi power is based on their wealth and on the way they spread influence. They are contributors and sponsors. Even more significant is that they are the guardians of the Islamic holy sites in Mecca and Medina.

The Saudis have sway.

As open to the West as they appear to be, there is a significant group of leaders in Saudi Arabia – especially religious leadership, that is extremely conservative. They would have great difficulty with normalization with the Jewish State, especially public celebrations of the normalization with Israel.

The Saudi Kingdom functions by maintaining balance between Wahabi religious leadership and the royal family.

The Wahabis are a fiercely, fervently, religious subgroup of Sunni Islam. It is they who are responsible for religious life and education in Saudi Arabia. Normalization would wreck that balance.

We are not even going to discuss the Saudi human rights record and their attitude towards women.

While on the surface it would appear that Saudi Arabia is the prefect partner for normalization. That is simply incorrect at this stage. It is not in their interest or the interest of the US to push it.

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They Target & Murder Jews
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 4, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS claimed responsibility for the terror attack in Vienna, in the Jewish area, near the synagogue. 4 people were murdered, 14 were wounded and 7 of those wounded remain in serious and life-threatening conditions.

One of the terrorists, wearing a fake suicide vest, was killed on the spot.

With this attack ISIS struck at two of their highest value targets. Western Europe and Jews.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that there are people - individuals and groups - who target Jews in order to murder them. These are not accidental attacks. These are not spontaneous strikes. They are planned, murderous operations to kill as many Jews and Europeans as possible.

What is so eerie is that this particular terror attack was perpetrated in November of 2020. Kristallnacht took place in November, 1938. Vienna is the city in which Hitler matured and galvanized his ideology of hatred and murder.

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Bio-Convergence From Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 3, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is investing $100 million in “Bio-Convergence”.

That’s a big investment. And I bet that most people have no idea what it is.
Bio-Convergence is the overlap of biology, physics, computer science, mathematics, engineering, materials science and nanotechnology.

BC is a new form of Bio Tech. It is the marriage of all forms of science, engineering and math with medicine.

It uses all that knowledge and all those creative energies to find solutions to difficult issues that until now were not even close to being solved.

Utilizing collective wisdom from multiple disciplines is “Bio-Convergence”. It is the wave of the future for inventions and it is the future for investments.

Israel is on the cutting edge of this new phenomenon. And Israel is on both sides, on both teams - the development side and the investment side.

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Russia Escorting Iranian Oil Tanker
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 2, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Samah is a 900 ft long Iranian oil tanker. The tanker entered the Mediterranean Sea by crossing through the Suez Canal. It was heavy, laden with oil coming from Iran.

After passing through the Suez Canal and starting to make its way into the Mediterranean Sea, the Samah turned off its transponder. For all intents and purposes, the location of the tanker became a mystery.

Satellite photos, however, show that the Samah was met and then escorted by two Russian navy ships. One of the ships was a destroyer. The ships made their way to Syria. Iran has a history of delivering oil to Syria – despite the international embargo on Syria and on Iranian oil exports.

In this case, Russia is not turning a blind eye. The Russians are aiding Iran’s delivery of badly needed fuel to Syria.

Russia has an entire naval base as well as two full air-force bases in Tatus, Syria.

They also have a squadron of submarines there.

Russia is putting the world on alert, announcing that they will protect Iranian oil tankers. Protect them from whom? From countries thinking of enforcing the embargo.

This is a move of intimidation.

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Saudi Media Change of Tone
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 1, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

In countries like Saudi Arabia official media offers a clue to understanding how the leadership us thinking and the direction in which the kingdom is moving.

Recently, official Saudi media has changed its tone about Israel and the normalization agreements.

Here is a quote from Saudi official Faisal Abbas that ran in the largest Saudi English language paper. Scolding Palestinian leadership he asks: “When will they learn that every time they turn away from the negotiating table, the pie only gets smaller?”

Faisal continues saying that the fault was “not all on one side” and that Israel also makes it difficult to reach a deal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That was one example of a changing Saudi attitude, here’s another.

For Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, the Saudi Arab News Twitter site changed its logo to “Shannah Tovah”.

And another: official State media ran a three day special, an hour each day, interviewing Prince Bandar in which he criticized Palestinians and all those who have been critical of the Kingdom’s advances with Israel and other Gulf State’s normalization agreements.

All this would have been unheard of just months ago.

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