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A/S on Campus
By Micah Halpern

Thurday October 13, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

We all know that there has been an uptick of anti-Jewish acts on college campuses across America – not just at Stanford.

The Anti-Defamation League published a report citing 359 anti-Israel or antisemitic incidents that occurred on US campuses during this past academic year 2021-2022.

359 is a big number.

According to the report, the incidents range from accusing Israel of committing genocide to banning students from organizations because they support Israel and Zionism.

More – much more, needs to be done in order to force campus administrations to crack down on this plague that is affecting student life across the country.  

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Judo Israeli Style
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 11, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

The Israeli national judo team won the bronze medal at the World Judo Championship. The medal was won in the mixed team event.

The Israeli team faced Judokas from Uzbekistan, Korea and Holland during the final round of the event.

Judo has become the sport that Israel has most shined in, displaying prowess during the Olympics and during international competitions.

The Israeli public has begun to learn more about the sport in order to appropriately cheer on their teams during international competition.

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Stanford Says Sorry
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 10, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Stanford University has apologized for their anti-Jewish policies.

According to a report conducted and then made public by a university task force, this prestigious university, located in Northern California, intentionally excluded Jewish students for years.

The university's president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, issued an extensive apology in which wrote: "This ugly component of Stanford's history, confirmed by this new report, is saddening and deeply troubling."

The task force uncovered a memo from 1953 that reflecting concerns about the number of Jewish students at the university. According to the memo, the university instituted a policy that would limit recruitment and admissions from two particular schools in the Los Angeles area whose student populations were "from 95 to 98% Jewish.”

Stanford did not track the number of Jewish students specifically, but enrollment from these schools dropped precipitously.  And, according to the task force report, "The impact was immediate and striking."

The university has denied allegations of anti-Jewish bias for decades.

Tessier-Lavigne pledged that Stanford would undertake a comprehensive examination of campus life for current Jewish students and embrace "religious and cultural needs."

Representatives from Stanford's Jewish Student Association applauded the president’s statement but emphasized the need for action – not just words. 

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Bridge Named for Jew
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 9, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

A Massachusetts town has renamed a bridge in honor of a pioneering, but little-known Jewish woman writer, who lived there during the 19th century.

Cora Wilburn, whose autobiographical novel entitled “Cosella Wayne” is most likely the first novel published in English by a Jewish woman in America, settled in Duxbury, south of Boston, as an adult and lived there until her death at the age of 82 in the year 1906.

Now, 116 years later, the town of Duxbury has dedicated the Cora Wilburn Bridge in her honor.  They have renamed “Bridge D-14-009(49Q)” in tribute to this trailblazing Jewish woman whose novel and widely published poetry and essays left a mark in religious circles across the country”.

The autobiography “Cosella Wayne” was republished recently alongside a scholarly essay that was written about her by Jonathan Sarna. 

Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, was invited to attend the dedication ceremony of the bridge. He remarked that a bridge was a fitting tribute to a woman who was known for bridging relationships with people different from herself.

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Israel Helping Ukraine
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 8, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

The New York Times reported that Israel is providing Ukraine with basic intelligence about the Iranian drones which Russia has begun to use against Ukraine.  Moscow has been deploying Iranian-made Shahid 136 suicide drones in their move to control Ukraine.

A Ukrainian source told the newspaper that Israel was sharing the intelligence.  The official also said that a private Israeli firm was also giving Ukraine satellite imagery of Russian troop positions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Russia used the drones during a recent bombing of civilian targets in major cities. The United Nations estimated that the simultaneous aerial attacks left at least 11 civilians dead and more than 100 wounded.

According to the president, Ukrainian intelligence believes that Russia ordered 2,400 Shahed 136 drones from Iran.

Despite the help that Jerusalem is providing the Ukrainians – humanitarian aid and military aid - Ukraine continues to be critical of the Jewish state for not providing more "defensive weapons and equipment," a point repeatedly made by Ukraine's ambassador to Israel as well as by President Zelensky.

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Adderall Shortage
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 7, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that there is a shortage of the medication Adderall. 

Adderall is used as a treatment for ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The shortage is due to intermittent manufacturing delays at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd worldwide.

U.S. listed shares of Teva were down as a result of the news.

Adderall is an FDA-approved prescription drug.  It is used by 5%-10% of all youth in the United States and many athletes use it for a competitive edge.  Many students use it to help them take tests and sharpen their attention.

This is a serious supply chain crisis.

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US Iran Tensions
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 6, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

The United States has officially let it be known that reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is "not our focus right now".   

Asked if the United States was interested in pursuing talks to revive the pact under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for economic sanctions relief, State Department spokesman Ned Price replied:

"It is very clear and the Iranians have made very clear that this is not a deal that they have been prepared to make. The deal certainly does not appear imminent".

This is good news and a relief to level-headed people like myself who have been worried that the United States was pushing Iran into a nuclear deal.

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Russian Billionaire Drops Russia
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 5, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Israeli-Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who left Russia in 2014, has announced that he has officially renounced his Russian citizenship.

Milner is the founder of internet investment firm DST Global.  He made his fortune by betting on Chinese tech companies like e-commerce platforms Alibaba and JD.com (9618.HK).

In a tweet, Milner wrote: "My family and I left Russia for good in 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea. And this summer, we officially completed the process of renouncing our Russian citizenship."

Yuri Milner is an Israeli and he is counted amongst Israel’s billionaires.  But now that he is persona non grata in Russia, Milner can no longer help his friends still living in Russia with investments.

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German Leader Celebrates Holocaust
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 4, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

In Germany, a politician named Holger Winterstein, from the far-right Alternative for Germany Party, was filmed dancing on top of a Holocaust memorial in Berlin.  Winterstein was dancing on the stones that were erected as symbolic graves stones. 

The story was reported and the film was broadcast on multiple media sources.

The incident drew outrage from multiple sources.

Israel's ambassador to Gemran, Ron Prosor, decried the incident and said to Winterstein: "enjoy your shameful minute of fame because your name will soon be forgotten. The sanctified souls commemorated at the memorial will never be forgotten."

Prosor said that the German politician brought "shame upon himself and his party."

Winterstein's party will take action against him for his behavior, the report said.

It was an act of total disregard and immaturity.

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Ethiopians To Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 3, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Israel has long wanted to bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to safety in Israel. 

Recently, reports have been published indicating that Israel has begun that process and that flights are bring thousands of the remaining Ethiopian Jews to the Jewish homeland.

Each of the newly-arriving Ethiopians has family already living in Israel.

The timing of these trips is crucial.  The move comes as war escalates, once again, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

This is an important step in saving the lives of thousands of Ethiopian Jewry and in reuniting families that have been separated.

Bruchim HaBaim, welcome, to these new Israelis.

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Mass Grave in Libya
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 2, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Libya's Missing Persons Authority announced that they have discovered 42 bodies buried in a mass grave in the central coastal city of Sirte.

This city was a former stronghold of the ousted ISIS, the Islamic State group.

In a statement, the authority's spokesperson said the 42 bodies had been exhumed from a school site in the city following a "tip" from an investigation conducted with captured ISIS members.

Sirte is the birthplace of former longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.  The city fell under ISIS, Islamic State, control between 2015 and 2016.

In classis ISIS style, they chose to control the city of Sirte in order to profit from the chaos that engulfed the oil-rich nation of Libya following the chaos of their 2011 revolution.

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Spy Charges Dropped
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 1, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

The Jerusalem District Court recently ruled that a young Iranian woman was innocent of any intent to harm Israeli security.  The Iranian woman and three Israelis women of Iranian decent were charged with contact with a Foreign Agent.

The women were approached on social media by a man claiming to be a member of the Iranian Jewish community.  He was, in fact, an agent of Iranian intelligence.

This is an important case.  It highlights the difference between Israeli and other countries regarding security.

These women were not complicit in any wrongdoing.  They were duped.  They had no intent to harm Israel and they provided no real information to the Iranian agent.

They had no information or intel to share. 

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Soccer is Dangerous
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 30, 2022 em
I've Been Thinking:

As popular as it is, soccer can be a very dangerous sport. 

In the past there have been horrific stories of mass deaths because of stampedes at soccer stadiums. And it happened again.

In Indonesia panic and a chaos ensued as people rushed for the exits after police fired tear gas during an Indonesian soccer game.  The police were trying to control the unruly crowd, spurred on by the fans of the defeated team, but their efforts backfired.

At least 174 people died, most of whom were trampled upon or suffocated, making it one of the deadliest sports events in the world.

Attention immediately focused on the police’s use of tear gas, which is banned at soccer stadiums by FIFA – the international football (or soccer) federation. The president of the world soccer body called the deaths at the stadium "a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension."

Joko Widodo, president of the Republic of Indonesia, ordered an investigation of security procedures.

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Kurds in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 12, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

I have been writing about and explaining growing internal tensions in Iran.

The Kurdish underground is very tight and well organized.  And they are attacking Iranian targets.

Iranian state-linked media has reported that up to 19 people, including a commander in the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, were killed in an attack by armed separatists on a police base in the eastern city of Zahedan.

The reports did not explain if the attack was conducted by the Kurdish underground or if they were part of the anti-government protests sparked after the death of a woman who was not properly wearing her hijab, her head covering.

This deadly attack took place early in the day as crowds gathered at a nearby mosque for Friday prayers.

Iran claims to have arrested nine foreigners linked to the anti-government protests, which authorities have blamed on hostile foreign entities, without providing evidence.

The state-run IRNA news agency cited witnesses as saying that 19 people were killed and 15 were wounded, but there was no official confirmation.

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US Clamps down on Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 29, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

The United States continues to clamp down on Iran.  The US is now imposing sanctions on companies that are helping Iran.

The US imposed sanctions on several Chinese and Indian companies accused of involvement in Iran's petrochemical and petroleum trade.  By way of these sanctions, the United States is putting pressure on Tehran as it seeks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

In a statement released by his office, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained that Washington designated two China-based companies, Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co Ltd and WS Shipping Co Ltd, for their roles in a scheme that attempts to thwart sanction evasion on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products.

Blinken accused Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co Ltd of operating a commercial crude oil storage facility for Iranian petroleum.  He accused WS Shipping Co Ltd of being a ship manager for a vessel that has transported Iranian petroleum products.

We will see what happens next.

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Elections in Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 28, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

The Lebanese parliament failed to elect a new head of state.  Their objective was to replace President Michel Aoun whose term of office ends on Oct. 31.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told the people of Lebanon that, when a consensus emerges on a candidate, he will call for another Parliamentary session.

Unless consensus emerges on a candidate, the presidency looks set to fall vacant when Aoun's term ends.  The timing couldn’t be worse as Lebanon is in the throes of a deep financial crisis.

This is bad news for Lebanon. They need a stable and honest government.

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Israel & Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 27, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

In another incident of an attempt to enter Israel, IDF forces arrested two Lebanese suspects who illegally crossed into Israel via the Israel/Lebanon border.  The two were taken for questioning.

The IDF reported that it will “continue to act in order to prevent any attempt to illegally cross the border and harm Israel’s sovereignty”.

Most cross-border incidents form Lebanon into Israel involve smuggling.  Most of the contraband that is smuggled is drug related.   It involves criminal elements on both sides of the border.

The real security risk is that the smugglers are often paying off and bribing people on the ground.

Terrorists and drug smugglers alike will use any method they can to ply their nefarious trades.

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Elections
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 26, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

As Israel’s election campaign heats up, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has spoken out forcefully against the rise of violence that surrounds the campaigns.

Speaking at the traditional High Holiday services held at Jerusalem’s President’s Synagogue, President Herzog said: “Violence is on the rise. Verbal violence—accusations of treason, comparisons to the Nazis, threats and curses—in the public sphere and on social media. Verbal violence never remains that way. Concerningly, we see insults turning into physical violence. Into curled fists, into assaults, into bloodshed."

“One cannot avoid the disturbing thought: what’s next? Knives? Gunfire? Fatalities, God forbid? After all, we have already been through this story before, and this time—we must not hold back or bite our tongues. I forcefully condemn these violent phenomena. And I say to everyone, before your next nasty post, before your next hate-filled tweet or reply, before fighting, attacking, and hitting—stop! Don’t come along later seeking forgiveness or apologizing—stop now! Before it’s too late.”

The political rhetoric has gotten very ugly and violence has erupted.  It is time to tamp that down.

Kudos to President Herzog for stepping up and addressing the issue.

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Labor is Dead in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 25, 2022
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On October 29th Israel’s Labor Party is planning to hold a rally in memory of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.  That date, October 29th, is only three days prior Israel’s elections.

The rally will take place in Jerusalem's Zion Square.

The Labor Party announced that leading public figures would attend and deliver speeches at the event.

Israel’s Labor party was once the leading political force in the country.  Until he was brutally assassinated on November 4, 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was the party’s leader.

The assassination of the prime minister was a watershed event for Israel and for Israeli politics.  Much has changed since 1995.  The Labor Party is hoping that this memorial will inject new life into a party that, today, is barely breathing.

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Fires in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 24, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Fires have been raging in Israel.  The destruction is horrific.

Over 19 firefighting teams from the Israeli National Fire and Rescue Authority and eight firefighting planes, which also included first responders from JNF, the Jewish National Fund, battled a large fire spreading in northern Israel.

These fires endanger Israel’s forests and wildlife. 

They also endanger communities and crops. Because of the wind and the dry climate, fires often move very quickly.  Within a few short minutes a raging fire will destroy what it took years to build.

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Riots in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 23, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Iranian riot police deployed in Tehran's main squares.  Their mission was to confront people chanting "death to the dictator" as part of nationwide protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman who died while in police custody. 

Across Iran pressure has been increasing on authorities.  There has been a groundswell of pressure and not just in Iran. Internationally, more and more attention is being given to Amini’s death while in custody.

Amini, 22 years old, from the northwestern Kurdish city of Saqez, was arrested on Sept. 13th in Tehran for "unsuitable attire".  The arrest was made by Iran’s morality police who enforce the Islamic Republic's strict dress code.

The young woman died three days later, in a hospital, after falling into a coma.  Her death sparked the first wave of protests and brought about a show of opposition against the government.

These were the first set of street protests in Iran since police brutally crushed protests against a rise in gas prices in 2019.

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Gazans Cross To Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 22, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

According to the IDF spokesperson, Israeli troops stopped a Gaza resident, a Palestinian, who was attempting to cross into Israel by way of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Palestinian was questioned by security forces.

There are many reasons for Gazans to secretly cross into Israel.  The most obvious is, of course, terror.  There are, however, a growing number who cross into Israel to find work.

It is normally very easy for the security forces to determine the reasons behind the attempts.  One is the tools the person brought with them through the crossing.  Next is that person’s history and record.

The situation in Gaza is harsh and getting worse.  Israel is an attractive lure for many people.

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Iran's Guards Shoot Missiles
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 21, 2022
I've Been Thinking:

Iran's Revolutionary Guards launched missile and drone attacks on "terrorists" in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Iranian State News Agency, INRA, a very reliable source in these matters, has been reporting on Kurdish tensions and Iranian government responses.

Iran blamed armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents for ongoing attacks and unrest in the northwest section of Iran.  That is the area where most of Iran's Kurds live. There are up to 10 million Kurds living in Iran.

The essential point to note is that tension between the Iranian government and the Kurds has been going on for decades.  What we are now witnessing is just one of many very public internal disputes plaguing Iran.

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