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PA Say Will Talk w Israel thru Russia
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 3, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians have sent a message that they are willing to resume talks with Israel.

The catch is that they want Russia to moderate – not the United States.

This is a major step forward on the part of the Palestinians. It is also a very sly diplomatic move.

This catapults Russia into a central role in the Middle East.

The Palestinians know full well that Israel has never agreed to talks run by Russia instead of the United States. Hopefully, they will not agree this time either.

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said on Tuesday. “We trust President Vladimir Putin and are sure that such a meeting would bear fruit, and succeed in getting us back to the talks, as well as stopping the Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.”

Israel has a desperate need to find world approbation. That might just persuade them to take the bait and engage in a very destructive arrangement.

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How Iran Hacked Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 2, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


How was Iran able to hack into Israel’s water pumping computers?

How was it possible that Iranian hackers were able to get so deep into a secure Israeli system?

The answer is twofold.

First, Israel’s water system was compromised.

Second, Iran worked hard to find the water system’s weakness.

Iran is getting better and better at hacking. They are spending more time searching and finding weaknesses within systems. And they are sharing information with other hackers, especially with anarchist hackers.

All this can and should be expected.

What is surprising is that Israel did not immediately repel their Iranian hackers. And that’s why Iran was able to get in as far as they did, before being expelled.

This cannot happen again. Israel needs to do better. Israel needs to be better.

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How to Stop COVID
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 1, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Israel’s expert on the spread of COVID, Dr. Eli Waxman, has clearly explained how to stop a rise in cases now that the country has opened.

Obviously, when Israel - or for that matter any society, opens after having been shut down for a pandemic, there will be some reinfections. If the reinfections get out of hand, the country will need to shut down again.

To stop Covid-19 from spreading and resulting in a second shut down, Dr. Waxman says that there are three essentials and time is of the essence.

They are: Test - Trace – Isolate.

And, Waxman says, you only have 48 hours to accomplish it all.

Test – immediately, as soon as there are symptoms.
Trace – everyone the patient contacted and test them.
Isolate – immediately.

If it takes 5 days, the country will inevitably go back into lockdown. After 5 days the first patient will have infected the maximum number of people they will infect and all the other patients will follow this pattern quickly.

By day six, thousands of people would have been infected.

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Russia Expands in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 31, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed his defense minister to get approval from Syria for Russia to expand their military foundations there. Truth is, it’s really, simply, a pro forma request.

Russia already has two very large permanent positions in Syria. In Latakia they have an airbase and in Tartus they have a naval base. Putin wants to expand these facilities and probably wants to build new ones.

Russia has been in Syria supporting Assad since 2015. The Russians are committed to stability in Syria and they are securing President Bashar Assad’s position.

Without Russia, Assad would have fallen.

For this reason alone, Russia will get permission to build and expand within Syria.

The rest of us must carefully watch the interplay between Russia and Syria+.
Syria is the best place for Russia to be if they want to monitor the goings-on in the Middle East and to play a pivotal role in the Middle East. It is a perfect place for them to monitor everything that transpires in the region.

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Iran Bill- No Zionist Tech
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 28, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Iran passed a law making it illegal for anyone in Iran to use any Israeli technology.
That includes software and technology.

The law reads “confronting the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security.”

Fars, an official Iranian media outlet, quoted the bill: “Any cooperation or spying for the Zionist is equal to enmity towards Allah and corruption on earth.”

The Iranian bill spoke of Israel’s actions as “warmongering and terrorist moves, siege of Gaza and settlement construction, displacing the Palestinian people, occupation of other countries’ lands including the Golan.”

Interestingly, when the Grand Ayatollah Shirazi was asked recently if it was permissible to use a vaccine against COVID-19 if it was developed in Israel, he answered that “yes” it was permissible if there was no alternative medicine. But he also said that “it is not permissible to buy and sell anything from the Zionists.”

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Mossad Got Millions of Covid Masks
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 27, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s clandestine Mossad – translated as “the agency” - secured miraculous amounts of supplies to fight Coronavirus.

80 million masks, 30 tons of disinfectant, 10,000 respirators, 8 million goggles were procured. 142 million more masks are scheduled to arrive over the next few months.

Many of the supplies were made in China. Some were both made in and came from China.

But most of the supplies were procured from countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. How could this happen? It happened because the Mossad, unlike the foreign ministry, has deep relations and interaction with people in many different positions in these countries.

These contacts were developed in order to unite against Iran. And because of those relationships the Mossad was able to secure all that protective gear for Israel.

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Iran Invested $30 B in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 26, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has been supporting Bashar Assad in Syria from the very start of the Syrian civil war over a decade ago.

Iranian costs for their involvement in Syria comes to $30 billion. That number comes from Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, an outgoing member of the Iranian Parliament's Security and Foreign Policy Committee. He is quoted in Etemad newspaper an official government media outlet.

That number is twice as large as Iran’s annual defense budget and 6.5% of the GDP.

In addition to supporting Assad with military assistance, Iran also helped by providing oil and cash. They also lent advisers and consultants. In exchange for their help in Syria, Iran has built a port in Syria and received a major stake in the Syrian telecom monopoly.

Helping and defending Syria was an investment for Iran. Their biggest return is a land bridge connecting Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. And that’s worth every cent of the ten years and the $30 billion.

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Butterflies Land in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 25, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Butterflies, millions of butterflies, have descended into the butterfly garden in Eilat.
The butterfly garden was created in 2018. It sits in the bird reserve just outside of Israel’s southern most city in the Red Sea.

People come from all over the world to see the stunning colors and the fluttering of butterfly wings.

Every year, butterflies use the garden as a place to rest, just like their bird partners, as they migrate from Africa to Europe.

The butterflies migrate 9000 miles. No single butterfly makes the entire trip. A migration can take six generations of butterflies to complete.

This is another example of how Israel has become a world capital and magnet - not just for technology but also for those interested in studying, watching or admiring the butterfly.

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Argentina Let Rabbis In
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 24, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Coronavirus touches all corners of the world. We tend to focus on where we and our loved ones are located – but there is a whole big world out there and whether we pay attention or not, very often, what happens in other parts of the world has an impact on our lives.

Argentina has closed themselves off from the world. No commercial flights in or out. This has had a huge impact on business.

Argentina is the 5th largest exporter of meat in the world. Israel is their 3rd largest client, buying over $100 million in kosher meat from Argentina per year.

Before Corona, in order to certify that meat as kosher, teams of Israeli rabbis, ritual slaughterers, would travel to Argentina to properly kill the animals according to Jewish law, thereby making them kosher. The rabbis would remain in Argentina for three months to slaughter the cattle and then return home.

Since COVID the rabbis had not been permitted into Argentina.

Until now. This week the government of Argentina said that they will co-sponsor a private jet to bring in the rabbis. They will permit them to prepare the meat for kosher certification.

This will help keep the supply of kosher meat at full capacity – which is good news for Israel. It also means that Argentina will maintain its position in the top 5 of world meat exporters – which is good news for Argentina.

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Palestinians Reject Arab Aid
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 22, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians have refused Coronavirus aid. The aid they have rejected is from the United Arab Emirates.

So why refuse the aid? Why refuse 16 tons of aid that includes 10 ventilators?
It’s simple – if you’re a Palestinian.

The aid was flown from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv on Etihad Air on the first ever commercial flight from UAE to Israel.

The Palestinians rejected the aid saying: “We refused the aid from the UAE because it wasn’t coordinated through us or any of our systems”.

At a press briefing in Bethlehem on Thursday, Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila put it this way: “We are an authority and have our sovereignty and we can’t accept such aid without coordinating with us.”

Palestinians keep making mistake after mistake.

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Iran's Final Solution
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 21, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Iran’s Al Quds Day, which is really a “week of destroying Israel” has taken a new turn. An extreme turn, even for Iran.

The Grand Ayatollah has sent out a poster. The poster is both on-line and plastered all over Iran.

The poster reads: “Palestine will be free. The final solution. Resistance is referendum.”

Final solution is a very clear reference to Hitler and the Holocaust. The Grand Ayatollah clarified the poster’s message saying that he did not mean killing all Jews – just Israeli Jews.

Obviously, Jewish leaders took exception to the use of the term final solution. Remember, Iran regularly promises to destroy Israel and the Jews.

The poster was on the front screen of the Ayatollah’s website. The message was written in Farsi, in Arabic and of course, in English.

There was no misunderstanding. The message is perfectly clear.

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NYers Burying in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 19, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

It costs $200,000 to rent a private plane and fly to Israel.

During Coronavirus extremely wealthy American Jews have been renting planes and bringing loved ones to Israel – for burial.

In some instances, families have shared planes and brought several bodies at one time.

They enter, bury and leave, all under the radar.

And they are all in violation of Israeli law which requires Americans to quarantine for 14 days after arrival in Israel

On Monday a family of seven brought their mother to Israel. They are major philanthropists. The group went from the airport to a synagogue in Holon and met with people. From there they went to a cemetery in Jerusalem where over 100 people were gathered. That, too, is against the law.

After the funeral the family went back to the airport and returned to NYC.

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A/S is on the Rise
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 18, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

There has been a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism in the United States.

In the state of New Jersey, the rise is even higher.

Jewish leaders are now afraid that Jews will be blamed for the spread of COVID-19 and that will spark even more anti-Semitism.

The logic is sound.

The media has been covering numerous violations of social distancing in Hareidi Jewish cities, towns and communities. Almost everyone has seen large scale Jewish celebrations and funerals taking place despite Coronavirus.

Incidents of anti-Semitism in the US increased 12 percent.

Incidents of anti-Semitism in New Jersey jumped 73 percent.

These are numbers from the end of 2019 – they do not even reflect post Coronavirus attacks in 2020.

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Bad Season in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 17, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

I’ve Been Thinking:

Every year, during this season, Iranians dedicate a special day to Israel. The day is called Al Quds Day. It’s other name is Destroy Israel Day.

Iranian Al Quds Day 2020 is scheduled for next week - right in the middle of
Coronavirus restrictions and social distancing. That shows you how badly official Iran hates Israel.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is organizing rallies in hundreds of cities and towns throughout Iran. Rally participants will be in cars - no marches and no one outside of cars. There will be virtual rallies in each town and city.

Iranians showed their hatred of Israel in another way this weekend.

The Tomb of Esther and Mordecai in the city of Hamedan was torched over the weekend. The tomb is a national heritage site in Iran. Fortunately, according to reports, the fire did not destroy the tomb. We hope those reports are correct.

Jewish leadership is calling for authorities in Iran to find and punish the arsonists.

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Iran Sending Oil to Venezuela
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 15, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has sent five oil tankers filled with unrefined oil to Venezuela. The first tanker left Iran in March and made its way through the Suez Canal and into the Atlantic Ocean. Four more have departed and are on their way.

All five tankers are being tracked via GPS and satellite. They are being tracked by oil tracking companies.

The tankers are obviously violating the sanctions imposed upon Iran. And they do not care.

The question begs asking: Why is Iran sending oil to Venezuela, one of the largest producers of oil in the world?

The easy answer is: Sanctions.

There are only a limited few countries that Iran or Venezuela can import from and export to. They are North Korean, Syria and Cuba.

Iran does very little refining of oil. Venezuelan refineries have been slowed down and even shut down because of the sanctions. These shipments will allow Venezuela to start refining again.

The West, especially the United States, is going to increase pressure and call Iran and Venezuela out on this violation.

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Who's Most Evil
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 14, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Which is the most evil country in the world today?

Several nations vie for that distinction. Iran, Russia and China top the list.

Then again, it’s all about perspective.

The Supreme Leader of Iran The Grand Ayatollah Khamenei announced that the most evil country in the world is the United States. His exact words were: “The worst and most evil government.”

The Grand Ayatollah proved his point by saying: “What government do you know which assassinates our military commander during an operation.”

The Supreme Leader was referring to the US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Suleimani on January 3, 2020 just as he was leaving the airport in Baghdad, Iraq.

For Iran, Suleimani was a national hero.

For the United States and the West, he was an evil terrorist.

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Jerry Stiller Dies- The Mighty Have Fallen
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 13, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Jerry Stiller died in his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan less than one month shy of his 93rd birthday.

Stiller was a legend. A true comedic actor and personality.

And yet, he is best known for being a father. Ben Stiller’s father, who announced his death. And George Costanza’s father, his TV son on the hit show Seinfeld where he was part of the ensemble from 1993-1998.

Jerry Stiller, together with his wife Anne Meara who died in 2015 and with whom he regularly performed, had an enormously successful career. The endearing and very funny couple joked that they would end their act before it ended their marriage.

Stiller was a comedian’s comic.

And because Seinfeld is still running in re-runs and on demand, Jerry Stiller is known to younger viewers as the ultimate Jewish father of a neurotic Jewish son.

I will miss seeing this small man with a big personality saunter through our Manhattan neighborhood.

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Yes Christians Want to Convert Jews
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 12, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

GodTV and the Hebrew Christian Channel has been in the news of late. They are clearly looking to attract converts from Israel.

Israelis are livid about the station’s content and their intent to convert Israelis to charismatic Christianity.

But can you really blame them? The station never hid their intentions.

Jews in general and Israeli leadership, in particular, misread their intent. They simply thought that they would be content with the support of Christian Zionists and table their ultimate goal of converting Jews.

They were simply naďve.

Israel should have stipulated that when the Christian media was sanctioned and allowed to broadcast conversion and issues related to conversion not be broadcast.

But Israel didn’t do that.

From the point of view of Christian TV, it’s quite simple. Christians support Israel because they want Jews to convert and because they firmly understand that supporting Israel is doing God’s will.

Christians who support Israel have an agenda that they do not hide. Israelis who nurture Christian support know well what the Christians want.
It is Israeli leadership that didn’t understand.

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Learn From Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 11, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Three Arab Gulf states have asked Israel’s Sheba Hospital for help in treating COVID-19.

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and (probably) Kuwait have reached out to the Israeli hospital in Ramat Gan.

It is important to understand that the contact was made directly to the hospital - not through political agents.

It seems that members of the royal families and their emissaries travelled to Israel to visit the hospital in March. Apparently, they liked what they saw.

There is no doubt that other hospitals around the world have been approached by countries in need of assistance. Over time information about all of these contacts will come to light.

The world is watching Israel. Even traditional enemies of Israel are watching.

They are asking for help and learning from Israel. Finally, a positive comes out of Covid-19.

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Bibi Tells World Leaders About COVID
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 10, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday, via a conference call, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had a conversation with seven other world leaders about COVID-19.

Netanyahu explained how Israel has, thus far, been successful in attacking Coronavirus.

What is not clear is what will happen as Israel partially re-opens and returns to normal. Especially with the re-opening of schools and kindergartens.
Netanyahu spoke to his colleagues about “returning to a safe routine in the shadow of virus” and readying for a potential second outbreak.

In a statement from the Prime Minister’s office describing the call Netanyahu is quoted saying: “In fact, no one knows what will happen we open our economies and schools. We must be ready and prepared for an accordion effect and the possibility we’ll need to close again”.

The world is watching Israel very closely.

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Why Jordan Has No COVID
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 8, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Middle East has been devasted by COVID-19.

Except for Jordan.

Jordan, a country of 10 million people, has had less than 500 people testing positive for COVID-19 and has now lifted all restrictions from coronavirus.

Israel, which has a population of 9.5 million, has had 230 deaths and 15,000 cases of people infected by COVID-19.

Yes, Jordan closed itself to high risk countries like China.

Yes, Jordan shut down all travel. In fact, travel with vehicles was completely banned. 1,000 cars were impounded for travelling and 2,000 people arrested for driving.

Yes, 5,800 people who arrived by air were quarantined in hotels at the Dead Sea.
People were permitted to walk and buy food and necessities - but only on foot.

The shutdown in Jordan started on March 18th.

Whatever they did, until now, Jordanians have been successful in stopping Coronavirus.

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Syria in Crisis
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 7, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Behind the scenes things are worse than one thinks in Syria.

Rami Maklouf is Syria’s richest man and a cousin of President Bashar Assad. But over the past week Maklouf has taped and posted 2 scathing attacks against his cousin on Facebook.

Maklouf is claiming that the Syrian regime is arresting his employees and stifling his business. He asserts that Assad wants to nationalize his businesses.

That would be a rather hefty move for Assad and Syria. Maklouf owns 60% of all of Syria’s production and business. He has amassed a $10 billion net worth.

Maklouf and Assad are more than cousins. They are friends. Maklouf has backed and bankrolled Bashar Assad since his first day in office. He has contributed billions of dollars to support Assad and to fight the rebels trying to oust him.

So why the split? Why the dramatic change?

It all goes back to Russia.

Russia suggested that Assad tax his cousin. Maklouf responded that it was excessive and rejected the tax assessment. So Assad marched in and started arresting his cousin’s employees.

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Facebook Closes Iran Fake Sites
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 6, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Facebook has just shut down 500 accounts.

They are all fake accounts and they are all connected to Iran.

Every month Facebook issues a report about the accounts they have closed due to violations of terms.

In this case the 500 are all Iranian news sites - Iranian fake news sites.

This is not the first time something like this has happened. Two years ago, Reuters uncovered 70 sites created by Iran to spread fake news – total lies about what was happening in Iran.

This time Facebook investigated and easily discovered that these sites were produced by official Iranian government resources - disguised as Western news outlets.

These sites were spreading falsehoods building Iran up and showing the best side of Iran. The sites were all set up for Westerners to read and to learn about Iranian news.

But the news was totally fabricated.

This is just a beginning.

At first glance these sites resemble the Russian sites which Facebook has shut down. They are all similar in structure and style. They are all propaganda sites.

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Iran Changes Currency
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 5, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Iran has changed its currency from the rial to the toman.

Effectively, it means that four zeroes have been lopped off the existing currency.
1 toman is worth 10,000 rials.

The change of a currency happens when a simple re-valuation is not enough.

In this case US and UN sanctions have crippled the Iranian economy. Add to that coronavirus and the impact it has had on both the country and the economy of Iran and one can understand why Iran acted so drastically.

The toman was the official Iranian currency in the1890’s.

Over the years after the rial became the currency, the toman remained a denomination within the rial currency. It was a denomination one level higher than a rial.

Consider this another indication of Iran collapsing under pressure.

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ISIS is Alive
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 4, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS is back and getting stronger and stronger in Iraq.

In one of their attacks in Iraq, ISIS attacked an Iraqi Shiite force called Hashad al Shaabi and killed ten members of the group.

Hashad al Shaabi is also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

ISIS aka ISIL aka Daesh is growing throughout Iraq - especially in Anbar, Kirkuk and Mosul.

Hashad al Shaabi published this assessment of the attacks: “The Popular mobilisation forces and security forces have killed and wounded a number of ISIL [Daesh] fighters after being exposed to significant attacks on Balad and Mekeeshfah south of Tikrit … The Hashad also lost 10 members, while several others were wounded in clashes between the two sides.”

Egypt has announced that their forces, too, are in conflict with ISIS.
Fifty ISIS members were killed by Egyptian forces, many more were arrested.

This must be a wake up call to us all.

ISIS is back and ISIS is striking at their targets across the Middle East.

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Schools Open in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 3, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Schools began in Israel today. Not all schools - but about 1 million students went back to their classrooms.

First through third graders and eleventh and twelfth graders were the students chosen to return to traditional classes. Their classrooms were limited to 17 students each day, with students attending school on alternating days.

The cities of Tel Aviv and Beersheba decided not to follow the national decision. Their decision went back and forth – deciding to open and then not to open.

80,000 special needs students went back to school today, joining the 60,000 who returned to class last week.

127,000 hareidi students, in grades seven through twelve, went back to regular learning today, as well.

The choice of returning grades was not an arbitrary decision.

11th and 12th grade students will start preparing for their very important matriculation exams known as the Bagrut. These tests determine whether they qualify to attend university. In certain course and disciplines the entire year is solely dedicated to preparing for these matriculation exams.

Excluding Pesach, 5 weeks of traditional, classroom instruction have been lost.

Now the big test facing Israel’s Ministry or Education and Ministry of Health is determining how many teachers and school workers test positive for Covid-19 because they have returned to their classrooms.

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Iran Teams w Venezuela
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 1, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

In a press conference at the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo implored countries to prevent Iran from flying over their air space.

More specifically, the United States secretary of state was referring to the way Iran’s Mahan Air has been flying over and delivering support to Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela.

Reports say that Venezuela has paid Iran 6 tons of gold.

Pompeo said: "Over the last few days, multiple aircraft belonging to Mahan Air have transferred unknown support to the Maduro regime …This is the same terrorist airline that Iran used to move weapons and fighters around the Middle East."

Pompeo continued saying that the flights "must stop". He said that countries should prevent Mahan Air overflight rights "just as many have already denied landing rights to this sanctioned airline."

Iran and Venezuela are uniting to help one another. They are both also strongly committed to hurting the United States and her Western allies.

This is just the beginning.

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Israel to have Drive-in Concerts
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 30, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


The entertainment industry has a taken a huge hit from Coronavirus. From Broadway to Fenway they are feeling the pinch.

Two Israeli live concert producers have come up with almost the same solution for producing live concerts while adhering to social distancing.

The solution is a variation on the theme of a “drive-in movie.”

They are proposing using outdoor space large enough to accommodate 1,000 cars, stages, speakers, performers and screens. They would restrict patrons to two people per car.

Food would be available, probably through delivery to the cars.

The organizers have scouted spots in suburban Tel Aviv and in the South of Israel near Beer Sheva. They are investigating sites in the Haifa area, too.

This flashback to the era of the drive-in is a very good idea.

Live performances with the windows down augmented by individual car speakers or phones with apps could provide for the perfect concert during the era of COVID-19. The stage can be used to screen movies when not being used for a concert.

The more things change, as the saying goes, the more they stay the same.

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Happy Birthday Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 29, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Today is Israel’s 72nd birthday.

It behooves us to take a moment and consider just how miraculous it is that Israel exists today.

72 years ago, when Israel was declared, it was doubtful that the Jewish State would last even a week. With the announcement came a war by the Arab states surrounding Israel to annihilate the newly announced Jewish State.

We all know the result of that war. And 72 years later, remarkably, Israel continues to grow and help and influence not just Jews around the world, but the entire world.

Traditionally, on Independence Day, air-force jets fly over the center of the country including bases that are open to the public. Not today.

Today, because of Coronavirus, those jets flew over every hospital throughout the country. A schedule was published. Those patients who could leave their beds went outside to wave.

It is inspiring to watch the videos.

The 72nd birthday of Israel is inspiring. Yom Huledet Sameach. Happy Birthday Israel. May it be a year of health.

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Bombings in Damascus
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 28, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Several Damascus suburbs were bombed this week.

They were more than suburbs, they were the military bases of Iran, Hezbollah and other Iranian backed Syrian militias.

Israel was, most probably, responsible for the attack.

Here’s why:

These sites were hotspots. They were locations from which attacks against Israel were organized and staged.

Iran and Hezbollah, as well as the Syrian militias, are fighting on several fronts.
Their priority is defending Syrian President Bashar Assad. Their goal is attacking Israel.

They move weapons into Hezbollah storage depots in Lebanon. Israel needs to stop the advance of these weapons.

Iran often trains Hezbollah in advanced military strategies against Israel. Israel needs to interrupt this procedure.

The evidence isn’t is, but it is not unreasonable to think that Israel was responsible for the bombing of these suburbs.

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Boys Make Masks From Kippot for Homeless
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 27, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Two brothers from Houston, Matthew and Jeremy Jason, collected kippot and then together with the rest of their family they added elastic loops and created face masks. Masks for COVID-19 social distancing.

The masks were then given to the homeless of Houston.

They called the campaign “Kippahs to the Rescue.”

The boys transformed 160 kippot that they had lying around the house. They were kippot from bar mitzvahs and weddings.

These kippot are all double lined. The double lining makes them perfect for filter masks. The elastics attached on the sides go around the ears.

Matthew, one of the brothers, said: “In less than a week we were able to collect enough of them to make 160 face masks … My parents, brothers and I worked very hard to sew elastic bands on them, and they were ready to be delivered by Friday.”

Good for them!

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Cyber Attack hits Irael's Water
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 26, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Sometime between Friday night and Saturday night terrorists attacked Israel’s water system.

The attack came in the form of a cyberattack and it focused on chlorine and pumping departments.

According to an internal memo between the head of Israel’s water department and the head of Israel’s cyber security, the attack was repelled and Israel successfully defended itself. No damage was done. The memo ordered everyone to change their passwords - especially those in the chlorine control department.

If that was not possible, they were instructed to remove themselves and to take their system offline immediately.

This attack was sophisticated. It penetrated deep into the system. It leads me to infer that the attack came from one of three sources: either Iran, Russia or China.
Iran, Russia and China are the three biggest hacking governments in the world.

Penetrating Israel’s security requires a great deal of computer and hacking power.

This was not a high schooler having a good time or winning a bet.

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Israel Lifts Restrictions
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 24, 20Friday April 24, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Israel has decided to permit the re-opening of certain stores and services.

Stores situated on streets (but not in malls) may open. Barber shops and hair salons may also open.

Gyms, restaurants and cafes may not open yet. Delivery from those establishments will continue.

Each store must position an employee with a digital no-touch thermometer outside the door and everyone who enters must have their temperature taken. That includes employees.

Violating distancing laws could lead to half a year in prison and/or hefty fines.

Social distancing must take place within the stores and barriers must be placed between customers and employees. In barber shops gloves must be replaced after each client.

A store that is 250 sq ft large may only have 6 customers at a time while a store with 325 sq ft may have 8.

The government will discuss opening other business next week.

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Iran Responds to Trump
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 23, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

There is more happening in the spat between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the United States taking place in the Persian Gulf.

Head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hussein Salami, has responded to US President Trump’s tweet threating Iran by telling the US Naval fleet that next time the Iranians threaten them, shoot them down.

The Revolutionary Guards head responded on National Iranian television and said: "I have ordered our naval forces to destroy any American terrorist force in the Persian Gulf that threatens the security of Iran's military or non-military ships. Security of the Persian Gulf is part of Iran's strategic priorities."

General Salami was indignant. He said that whatever happens in the Persian Gulf is under their purview and control of the Gulf is Iran’s strategic goal and interest.

Speaking on National TV is significant. It demonstrates to the people of Iran that Iran is standing up to the United States.

What wasn’t covered in the Iranian press was another message from President Trump, tweeted later in the day on Wednesday. This tweet clarified the earlier aggressive Trump announcement about the US Navy protecting itself. Trump’s message was: “I have not changed the rules of engagement.”

Context and clarity count.

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Trump Says Shoot Down Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 22, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Following up on yesterday’s entry about Iran toying with US Naval forces in the Persian Gulf when 11 Iranian naval boats toyed with the US Navy’s 5th Fleet …

In a tweet, President Trump explained that he gave a direct order to the US Navy to shoot at the Iranians if this were ever to happen again.

The president’s exact tweet was: "I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea."

At the same time, Iranian media announced that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards successfully launched a satellite into orbit.

It’s all happening as Iran confronts the devastating effects of Coronavirus.

Trump is pushing back by ordering not just warning shots but orders “to shoot down and destroy any and all.”

This is not an ambiguous command. It is very clear. Now let’s see if Iran does it again.

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Iran Toys w US
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 21, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The US 5th Fleet protects the Persian Gulf.

For sixty minutes yesterday, that’s one full hour, 11 Iranian Navy small boats dangerously and provocatively danced around the United States fleet. Included in the US fleet are the USS Paul Hamilton, a destroyer ship and the USS Lewis B Puller, a Naval Landing Base, home to a team of Apache attack helicopters.

The US Navy used tried to contact the Iranian vessels using speakers and even loud bursts of warning sirens. Finally, the Iranian boats responded and then left.
FARS, an official Iranian media outlet, mentioned the incident but without giving details.

The US Navy issued a statement that they were in international waters. The statement read: "The dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision ... and were not in accordance with the obligation under international law to act with due regard for the safety of other vessels in the area."

Iran is pushing the envelope. Iran is trying to draw the United States into conflict.

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Russia Intimidates US Navy
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 20, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday, for the second time in 4 days, a Russian fighter jet danced around US reconnaissance planes.

This was not simply a fly by or a fly over.

The Russian SU-35 flew multiple times around the US P-8A, an unarmed craft that only receives and sends information. One of the techs on board the US plane filmed and then tweeted about one of the incidents.

The United States Navy acknowledged the events.

This US plane is attached to the 6th Fleet, the massive US presence in the Mediterranean. Since it began its mission the 6th Fleet’s mission is to check aggression in the area and maintain peace in the region.

On the other hand, Russia’s presence in the region is to gain power and influence.

This was not reckless. This was intimidation. It may have been the actions of officers in the arena and not in Moscow – we do not know. Maybe they were trying to impress Iran. These actions against a US plane are not in Moscow’s best interests.

Games of this sort have the potential to explode.

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3 Scenarios
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 17, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Here is what I see happening in Israeli politics.
There are three scenarios:

One - highly unlikely - Blue and White and Likud will sign an agreement to create a unity government

Two - more likely – efforts to form a unity government will be unsuccessful and the country launches into a fourth election

Three - most likely – Netanyahu successfully cobbles together a government

A Likud government, if successful, will not be the most stable. But then again, most governments in Israel have not been stable. Neither will it be the shortest government in history.

The 16th Israeli government was the shortest government in the history of Israel.

Golda Meir was elected in December of 1973 just after the Yom Kippur War. Her government was formed on March 10 and on April 11th Golda resigned. The government was replaced on June 3rd. The government lasted 85 days if you calculate from March through June. By the shortest standard of measurement, from March to April, Golda’s government lasted 32 days.

Another Bibi government would certainly last longer.

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20 Die in Amsterdam Home
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 14, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Jewish old age home in Amsterdam had 120 residents. Since Purim, only 5 weeks ago, 20 of those patients have died.

There are approximately 15,000 Jews in Amsterdam today. The death of 20 elderly Jews has sent a chilling current of fear and terror through the Jewish community of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a city with a long and rich Jewish history. It was also the home of Anne Frank.

The threat of Coronavirus frightens everyone, for this community it is now even more frightening.

It has been determined that the virus began spreading at the old age home’s Purim party. Twenty deaths already and many more who will probably die.

The virus is particularly deadly to the elderly, they comprise the vast majority of coronavirus fatalities. This is one of many ghastly examples.

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Leaders Shouldn’t violate social distancing
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 13, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Israel is considering - and will probably institute, another total lockdown from Tuesday through Sunday.

In the end, there will probably be a compromise and the lockdown will be in force from Wednesday night through Saturday night.

In the midst of these lockdown discussions Israelis are voicing their distress over the behaviors of their beloved president, Reuven Rivlin, and of Prime Minister Netanyahu over the first day of Passover.

President Rivlin’s daughter Rivi and her children left their home and came to eat with him in his home. And Prime Minister Netanyahu’s son Avner came to visit and eat with his parents.

Rivlin apologized saying since his wife died his children have been helping him around the house and in his presidential tasks.

The problem is — that is exactly what most children do for their parents.
These children, like all others, must stay away.

There are no exceptions.

There is one law for everyone. Not one law for the people and another law for the families of leadership. That would be a classic form of corruption. Even more, leaders should live according to a higher, more demanding, standard.

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Bibi is a Master
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 12 2020

I've Been Thinking:


With Covid-19 taking over the headlines and with our concerns over spending Passover away from family and with matzah all around us tempting us to overeat and indulge in one of the few pleasures still available and permissible, we tend to forget that other events are still occurring. Events that should be, and are, of concern.

The deadline for Benny Gantz to form his government is hours away.
Before Passover Gantz asked Israel’s President, Ruby Rivlin, for an extension of that deadline. The request was denied.

Over the past few weeks Gantz supporters have bolted. Seeing an opportunity to reclaim his position as the sole prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu has requested that the president ask him to form a government.

Netanyahu has 59 of the 60 Knesset seats sewn up and secure. All he needs is one more, two would be better.

More than once over the years an Israeli prime minister has successfully cobbled out a government by swaying parties and people to join his coalition. The modus operandi is to offer sweet treats. The sweetest and most obvious treats are power and positions.

Once upon a time all you had to offer was a Mitsubishi - not even a Volvo - but those days are long gone.

If Netanyahu successfully forms a government he will have done it by pulling Gantz’s Blue and White party apart. The only thing that united them was their hatred for Bibi which, if Netanyahu is successful, makes it all the more ironic.

But when Bibi Netanyahu and Benny Gantz United to fight Covid-19, those who hated Bibi most jumped ship. It was a perfect plan, laid out by Bibi, to lead Blue and White to self destruction.

We will know what happens in a few more days.

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Muslims Suffering from Coronavirus
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 8, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The month of Ramadan starts on or around April 23. (The dating of Ramadan will be the subject of another entry.)

Ramadan is a month long fast during which Muslims fast during the day and break fast with friends and family and night.

That break fast is called Iftar.

In addition to massive family gatherings, most communities host public Iftar for the general public - especially the poor.

Egypt has just announced the cancellation of Iftar celebrations. They are asking that Muslims break fast in private and do not engage in large celebrations.

Under normal circumstances the fast ends with prayers in Mosques. People return home with friends and extended family. This Ramadan, that must not happen.

The last ten days of month of Ramadan taken on even more intensity. They are called Itikaf. Muslims spend more time in Mosque, repenting and the final fast days have even more significance.

Egypt and hopefully, other leaders in the Arab and Muslim world, will step up and enforce social distancing—not permitting either Iftar or Itkaf.

We are monitoring Muslim leadership. Hopefully, they will react with a strong united voice, standing up against this silent mass murderer named COVID-19.

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BDS Will Take Vaccine from Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 7, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Omar Barghouti is the founder of BDS.

Barghouti recently gave a webinar on the Arabic Facebook page discussing how Palestinians need to continue to fight “Normalization with Israel.” Normalization is code for accepting Israel’s right to exist. It is a term used constantly in Arabic and in translation.

While addressing this issue, the founder of BDS said that if Israel develops a vaccine against COVID -19 there is no problem with Palestinians getting that vaccine. He explained that there would be no issues of hypocrisy and no conflict with the goals and values of BDS.

He said: “if you use medical equipment from Israel – it’s not a problem. Cooperating with Israel against the virus – to begin with, we didn’t consider it normalization…

The BDS announced normalization criteria long ago. If Israel finds a cure for cancer, for example, or any other virus, then there is no problem in cooperating with Israel to save millions of lives.”

However, Barghout did add, “up until now, we have not been in a situation where we need Israel urgently and no one else can save us but Israel. If that will happen, saving lives is more important than anything else.”

The webinar was created because Palestinian leadership foresees a massive humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza and they are blaming Israel for that crisis in advance.

Ideology only goes so deep for BDS.

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New Masks for Beards
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 6, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel, like the United States and many other countries, is now requiring that facial cover be worn when going outside.

But masks do not properly fit bearded men. So now Israel is certifying the safety and production of masks that properly fit men with beards. This will be useful.

There is also discussion in the Chief Rabbinate, as well as in Israel’s Ministry of Health, about asking men - or even permitting men - not to shave so that they can properly wear masks.

The same discussions took place back in the Gulf War when everyone was required to wear a gas mask and beards prevented a proper fit. Then, too, there were special masks for bearded men but they were limited in number and were also heavier and less comfortable.

These masks are not N-95’s. They are surgical style masks that properly and more completely cover the nose and mouths of those with beards so that there is no seepage or spillage when exhaling.

Remember, in this case the mask protects others from you – not you from others.

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COVID Tests Slow- Chemical Shortage
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 5, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

COVID-19 testing should be at its peak – and yet it is slowing down.

Why? How can that be? The increased availability of test kits and the institution of self testing has resulted in a dramatic shift, allowing hospitals and doctors to test many more people than they could several weeks ago.

BUT there is now a shortage of reagents. In other words, labs that run the tests do not have the chemicals needed to stabilize the virus and evaluate the test.
That’s why. That’s how.

The reagent in this case is Guanidine Thiocynate. The compound is known as GITC - it renders the virus safe and allows the tester to focus on the RNA and run the coronavirus test.

Weeks ago, when Israel saw that they were running low, a lab at the Rabin Medical Center started to find an alternative. After all, they reckoned, GITC is a chemical – maybe they could they make a facsimile. They now think that they have succeeded.

This past week, as Israel ran low of the reagent, testing in Israel has been dropping. Hopefully, if the facsimile reagent is successful, those testing numbers will once again be able to rise.

This alternative could be critical in the continued fight against COVID-19.

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Health Minister - Irresponsible
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 3, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s Minister of Health and his wife have tested positive for coronavirus. He is 71 years old.

After the news broke it forced the prime minister back into isolation until he could be tested. Prime Minister Netanyahu had just come out of isolation because his adviser on the Hareidi community had tested positive.

Other cabinet ministers and advisers are in isolation until their tests return.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is under attack for having spurned his own regulations against group prayer. Witnesses say that on Monday Litzman prayed in a Ger community prayer house.

Considering that nearly 30% of positive cases have been contracted in synagogues, it is likely he picked it up there.

If the story about Litzman engaging in group prayer is true, it was an extremely irresponsible act. If true, the prime minister should immediately relieve him of his duties and remove him from his post.

Even better, Litzman should resign. This would send a message of how very important social distancing is for the safety of the country.

Unfortunately, these scenarios are extremely unlikely.

While it is true that prayer in public is important in Judaism and Jewish law, saving a life in undoubtedly more important than public prayer. And killing is forbidden. When people flaunt social distancing regulations and go to synagogues the likelihood of someone dying because of that act is great. It is a simple and proven chain reaction.

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Cabinet Breifed on Mini Series
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 2, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

I’ve Been Thinking:

Israel’s cabinet has been meeting regularly to update and decide how to confront the pandemic called COVID-19.

The cabinet is also briefed on how others are handling this crisis.

During one meeting the prime minister showed a clip of how Iran is dumping and burying hundreds of bodies in pits with bulldozers.

Or at least, that’s what he thought he was seeing. In truth, it was actually a movie clip from the Hallmark Network’s 2007 miniseries called Pandemic and starring Dustin Hoffman.

Obviously, Netanyahu did not know this. But neither was this clip vetted. The country with one of the greatest intel systems in the world made a big error. And so have lots of other people who have seen this video.

Iranians in the Diaspora have been circulating the clip. They want to paint the current leadership in Iran as evil. They are correct, they are evil. But there is enough real evidence of the bad acts of Iranian leadership - one need not spread untruths.

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Exit Strategy for COVID-19
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 1, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


The crisis of COVID-19 continues.

We should not yet begin to think that an end is in sight or to develop an exit strategy. Before that can happen, several other things must happen.

The growth of new cases needs to top out. When that happens, we will see it in the bell curve. The bell curve will show that in local studies, over a sustained period, fewer and fewer people have been infected.

The number of critical care patients needs to drop. Fewer and fewer people need to be on respirators. The key word here is “fewer” not “few” as in total numbers.

It is percentages, rather than numbers, that are the essential figure.
When that happens, when hospitals and their ICU’s are not backed up, we can begin an exit strategy. That strategy will probably come stage by stage, step by step, location by location – from community to county to city to state to country.

And it will also be determined by health status. Healthy with low risk communities will be the first to be able to ease up – not eliminate, merely ease up, on restrictions.

Monitoring of numbers is essential throughout the process.

If we are not cautious and very careful, we can create a revolving door situation. That is not what we want. It will only delay, dangerously delay, our eventual return to normalcy – or at least to what will be our new normal.

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Animals in the City
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 31, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Reports from around the world identify a natural yet startling and bizarre phenomenon directly resulting from COVID-19.

Animals are taking back the cities they were banished from when cities were built!

I have seen videos and still pictures of ibex walking down the streets of Eilat, Israel’s southerner most city, nestled between the Red Sea and the Arava Desert on the north and beautiful mountains to the east and west.

Malabar, an endangered animal that was thought extinct until seen again for the first time in 1990, is photographed walking down a street in India. A cobra jumps out of a moped’s steering wheel looking dangerously venomous.

Dolphins are swimming in places they have not been seen in centuries. 3,000 pound bison are pictured wandering around cities, many in the middle of the street just looking for food.

With humans and cars no longer creating a natural fence, wildlife is retaking their land.

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PA Spreads Blood Libel
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 30, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


For decades Palestinian leadership has blamed Israel for their dismal conditions. They have consistently accused Israel of Blood Libel – deliberately poisoning and murdering innocent Palestinians.

COVID-19 is just another excuse and another example of the Palestinian conspiracy theory that Israel is murdering Palestinians.

On Sunday Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shatayeh was the latest to add his voice to the conspiracy.

Shatayeh, who has a history of perpetuating this canard, said that Israeli soldiers are spreading the virus by putting it on car door handles of Palestinian cars. He said: "We were exposed to testimonies that some of the (Israeli) soldiers are trying to spread the virus on car handles."

He also said that Israel will be held accountable for their racist actions: "This is racism and hatred of people who long for the death of the other. We will record this in the list of crimes.” Shatayeh demanded that Israel pay 90,000 Palestinian workers for their missed work.

In the past Shatayeh has accused Israel of "waging war on the Palestinian narrative" and attempting to "Judaize the history of the Holy Land."

Thus far coronavirus numbers among the Palestinians, in Gaza and the West Bank combined, are at 100 cases and 2 deaths. Relatively speaking, those are low numbers for this deadly virus. Had Palestinians been exposed the way their prime minister claims, the numbers would have skyrocketed.

They will never admit it, but the best thing that happened for Palestinians was that Israel shuttered the crossings between Israel and Palestinian areas preventing Palestinians from being infected.

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Parrot Says "It's Corona!"
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 25, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Luca is a 22 month old parrot who lives in Kiryat Shmona in the very northernmost part of Israel, bordering Lebanon.

This parrot has become a celebrity in Israel.

Like all other Israelis, her owner, Zahava Shabbat, has been sheltered in her apartment since the arrival of COVID-19 in Israel. Zahava took advantage of the time and taught Luca to say “It’s Corona! Stay Inside.”

Little children have found this to be particularly fun and helpful. Reuters News Service picked up the story. In searching I found the video published on news websites as far away as Malaysia.

Luca is one example of so many ways in which people, around the world, hunkered down at home, find positive ways to occupy their time. It’s a nice alternative to playing video games, binge watching and noshing on snacks.

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Big Brother is Watching - Corona
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 24, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Hundreds of Israelis were startled Wednesday by an unsolicited text message.

"Hello. According to an epidemiological investigation ______ (fill in your name). You were near someone sick with the coronavirus. You must immediately isolate at home [14 days] to protect your relatives and the public. ... This information will be used only for this purpose and will be erased when no longer needed. Sincerely, Public Health Services."

Tens of thousands of Israelis are in self isolation, many because they received this message, as they confront coronavirus.

With this text message, Prime Minister Netanyahu pushed the envelope on violating personal liberties and freedom. He instructed Israel’s Internal Security Services, aka the Shin Bet, to use their highly advanced and sophisticated tools to help bring the virus under control.

These are the tools that are normally used to protect against terror. Now they are being used to fight a virus that has the potential to kill many more people than would be killed through acts of terror.

Cell phones identify the locations of people and are cross referenced with the locations of people who tested positive for the virus.

It’s a Big Brother tactic – but it is a tactic that will save lives.

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Getting Worse
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 23, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The US Surgeon General warned this morning that this is going to be a very difficult week. The reason is obvious - the number of Americans infected with COVID-19 is going to increase.

The Surgeon General knows what we all know, but he knows to take it seriously. He knows and, more importantly, he accepts what many of us have not been able to fully accept.

Many people than we know have contracted the virus. We do not know who they are for several reasons. Some have not been tested. Some do not show symptoms. Some have symptoms that are mild. All of these people can possibly transmit the virus to the people around them – and those people will get sick.

One doctor from New York sent a plea to President Trump laying out the details of the community he treats and suggesting an early treatment and even a prophylactic treatment.

He said that he has treated hundreds of people with the virus. Based on his practice, this physician estimates that 60% of his community has the virus. That alone equals 20,000 people.

Truly frightening.

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Punishment for VIolators
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 22, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

This is current Israeli policy:

If you violate self-quarantine you will be arrested, spend six months in prison and fined 5,000 NIS, which is about $1,800.

There are exceptions:
You are permitted to go shopping for food, to an essential job, help someone in need.

There are rules:

Only 2 people are permitted in a car, prayers are permitted but only with a maximum of 10, sports are only permitted 2 players only. You are permitted to go outside and stand very close to your home.

This is a very stern set of laws and a major limit on citizens’ rights and freedoms. But Israeli leadership has to clamp down in order to stop the spread of the virus. People especially older people, will die if they contract the virus.

Many people still do not understand that they are required to sublimate their personal, selfish, needs for the greater good by staying inside.
Selfishness is blind in another way, too:

By venturing outside, that very person pursuing their selfish acts may contract the virus endangering themselves and endangering their family.

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ISrael & Corona
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 20, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

As of 11am, which is 5pm just before Shabbat began in Israel, these are the most recent numbers of Coronavirus cases in Israel.

The numbers need to be divided into categories:
Most important is that as of Wednesday there are twenty testing labs, that’s eighteen more than Israel had until now.

Also since Wednesday, the Mossad successfully procured thousands of tests kits.
705 people have tested positive.

10 are in serious condition, 18 moderate condition, 271 light condition and in hospitals. 149 people are being treated at home, 58 in hotels transformed into Coronavirus facilities. 212 are awaiting decisions as to they should be treated.
15 people have been released from the hospital and are free of the virus and totally recovered – that’s an important figure.

Israel has been extremely aggressive in their approach. They are using GPS tracking on the phones of people who tested positive. They are fining and even arresting those who violate their restrictions.

The Coronavirus numbers in Israel are going up and up. The new labs and the availability of the testing kits will automatically increase the numbers. Many, many people have the virus and are asymptomatic.

The higher numbers should not serve as a source of alarm and panic. They are a more realistic assessment of reality.

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Iran is Suffering from the Virus
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 17, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is suffering from Coronavirus. That much we know.

We also know that the Iranians do not report the truth.

For two days in a row they have been reporting over 100 deaths each day.
There were113 deaths on Sunday and 129 on Monday. Total Coronavirus deaths in Iran, so far, is 853.

On Monday the Iranians said that new infections for the day hit 1,053 putting total infections in Iran at 14, 991.

There is no doubt that the numbers in Iran are far higher. How much greater is a serious unknown.

The one good thing is that Iran has been isolated for some time now, so few people have been in and out of the country. There is one major exception to that – and it is China. That does not bode for either of those nations, both of them centers of the virus.

If China has topped out and is now having fewer and fewer infections – which is the way it appears to be - it is because they closed down a city of 23 million people. That move localized the contamination to one region.
It was a good move by China.

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Israeli Poilce Arrest Violators of the Isolation
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 16, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

I watched two videos on twitter that shocked me.

In both clips Israeli police were arresting people who broke their Covid-19 isolation. In one clip, all the police were in total hazmat garb.

It was right out of a spy movie.

Several days ago Israel announced that it was using tracking software on the cell phones of people required to be in quarantine to insure that they were not violating the procedures.

Isolation is not a suggestion - it is a requirement.

In both cases on the videos the violators were arrested and put into isolation.
They will have hearings and a judge will determine whether more punishment is needed.

Quarantine and isolation are in place not for the safety of the entire community. Coming out of isolation early could endanger thousands of other people.
Sometimes we need to put our personal needs on the side for the good of the larger community especially because people’s lives are at stake.

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Nothing But the Virus
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 13, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Television, radio, newspapers, internet, social media - almost all news is news about Covid-19, aka, Corornavirus. It’s blanket coverage relating to everything – sports, medicine, art, entertainment, business and of course, hard news.

Broadway shows are dark. Disney, the happiest place on earth is closed for the rest of March. March Madness is shut down.

There are important lessons to be learned. Most importantly is that epidemics are real. Epidemics, and certainly pandemics, do not follow a set prescription. Economic lines are crossed, international boundaries are ignored, race and religion play no role.

The risks are great.

This is not rocket science. We, the public, must follow the advice we are given and the guidelines that are set out. We can’t outsmart this virus. But we can do our best to limit its destructive power and the havoc it plays with our lives and with our health.

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Minority Gov in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 10, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Finally, there is talk about the possibility of a minority government in Israel.

I have been discussing this for months, so I say, it’s about time!
Let me explain.

A minority government is not a very stable government, but neither is a government with a majority of 61. Either way, the government can fall at any time. The principle of a minority government is that the ruling coalition has less than the 61 majority – but it comes with the promise of other members of Knesset that they will not vote against the coalition in the case of a vote of ‘no confidence’.

The life expectancy of such a government is short, but at least it can begin to function.

At this point, both large parties have the ability to create a minority government.

To do so, the Blue/White coalition will depend on 15 members of the Joint Arab list. Several members of that list reject Israel’s right to exist so they are not dependable. Two members of the Blue/White party are against an agreement with the Joint Arab List. They may bolt bringing the Blue/White number to 60.
And if they bolt, that also brings the Likud coalition to 60.

Not enough to fell a government, but enough to swear in a government.

Minority governments have successfully existed in the past in Israel. But they had a purpose. In European parliaments they have also been successful - in the short run. Again, with a purpose.

If the two Blue/White members leave, they will have to create their own, new party. They cannot switch parties – if they do they will not be able to run in the next election cycle.

If nobody switches, or if no agreement for a minority government is reached, Israel is in for a fourth election.

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Coronavirus & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 9, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is responding to Coronavirus very aggressively. 150,000 people are in isolation - most in self isolation. Many borders with neighboring countries, specifically Egypt, are closed. Flights from many other countries, in Europe and Asia, are not permitted in.

Now they are seriously considering isolating every single person who arrives in Israel from any destination - Israelis, tourists and business people.

All this may backfire. The virus has already arrived. As of late Sunday 39 Israelis have tested positive. That is more than most other counties in the world. Actually, Israel ranks 33 in the world out of 196 countries with numbers of people with coronavirus.

Israel’s response probably has a political side to it.

Netanyahu needs to be seen as a capable leader handling - and or protecting - his country from a huge danger. No one else can do this. But the more leadership responds and comments, the bigger the crisis becomes. And by extension, the better a leader Netanyahu becomes.

On all levels, Netanyahu can do things and make decisions that his counterpart, Benny Gantz, cannot do, especially because his counterpart is embracing the Joint Arab List which is anti-Zionist and some membrane even preach the destruction of Israel.

If the virus spins out of control Netanyahu's plan could backfire. It could also backfire if Gantz can show that Netanyahu is causing more damage than good.

The tourism industry, a major source of revenue in Israel, had ground to a halt.
The virus is not just a medical headache. It’s tendrils reach all segments of society and government.

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Saudi Internal Tensions
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 8, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The youngest brother of the Saudi king was arrested by his nephew over the weekend in Saudi Arabia.

He was not the only person arrested - several other members of the royal family were also arrested including a nephew of the king.

Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince, is the son of the King. Since 2017 he has been the de-facto total leader of the kingdom. And since 2017 the Crown Prince has periodically arrested high ranking members of the royal family in an attempt to consolidate power and eliminate challenges to authority.

He has also been clamping down on corruption and kickbacks. It is a system rife with kickbacks - the family controls everything. Corruption is an easy tool to apply against political rivals.
We will watch and see

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Pundit Wrong about Israel's Elections
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 5, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

There are several essential takeaways from Israel’s election.

#1: Rather than exhibiting voter fatigue during their third election in the course of one year, Israeli were energized with more people voting in this election than in any election since 1999.

#2: Predictions about Netanyahu being punished by voters and about voters being unable to overlook the legal issues he is entangled with, proved false.

#3: Labor and Gesher have truly imploaded, Israel’s founding political party is now barely breathing.

#4: The Joint Arab List leached voters from Labor and are now the real left in Israeli politics, steadily increasing with each election and has become, as they are about to receive 14 or 15 Parliamentary seats, the third largest political party in Israel.

#5: Israelis have long believed that, because there are 120 seats in the Knesset, 61 was the magic number for coalition building, yet governments have been built and functioned with as small a coalition as 53 seats. A coalition of 61, or even of 59, is very difficult to keep together and is not a stable government, it works for a short time, but Israeli governments do not last.

Not a single Israeli government has ever survived its entire term.

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Super Tuesday
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 4, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

With Super Tuesday behind us, it seems clear that there are two leading candidates within the Democratic party.

Elizabeth Warren will most certainly drop out.

Michael Bloomberg, just pulled out despite his desire to stay in the game and walk into the Democratic Convention with over 100 - maybe even 200 delegates - out of the 1991 delegates needed to nominate the candidate who will lead the Democratic ticket against President Donal Trump.

A week ago it was unthinkable that Joe Biden would be a competitor, let alone a leader, for that nomination. A week ago it appeared as if Bernie Sanders was the presumptive candidate and nothing could stop him.

But the exits of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar and the throwing of their support behind Biden served to unify the party and bring it back to its home.

Biden embodies the traditional, old time, Democratic party. Sanders is not a Democrat. He is an independent and describes himself as a Social Democrat.

The people will decide.

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Tourism in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 1, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Azerbaijan has shut its borders to Iran. No Iranians or Iranian products can cross the border and no one from Azerbaijan may enter Iran – all because of coronavirus.

The tourism industry in Iran has already been decimated by US sanctions and now, because of this virus, Iranians are taking another economic hit.

This is the season of the Iranian New Year, called Nowruz. The Nowruz Holiday stretches over a two-week period.

Reports are that 80% of hotel reservations in Iran have been cancelled. One media report said that in the northern holy city of Mashad 90% of the hotels have no guests. No one is visiting the city.

These are devastating numbers.

Iran will not be having a happy New Year.

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Drones
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 28, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is a leader in drone and anti-drone production and defense. There are many Israeli companies in this segment of the market.

One company, Bluebird, just concluded a deal to provide 150 drones to a certain unnamed European country. Elbit, a much larger company in this niche, has sold over 1000 drones to an Asian country.

Israel needed to develop a defense system against drones coming from Gaza and Lebanon. And they have. They developed drones that can carry weapons and cameras. Some are tiny and some are huge.

Israel has also developed an anti-drone weapon that shoots drones down with lasers. The laser dissipates after several hundred meters so it will not damage anything beyond the target.

Before this new technology was developed the best way to strike a drone was with another drone.

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A/S in Europe
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 27, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

A new study about Europe’s attitudes concerning Jews and Israel has just been released. Be prepared, your worst nightmares are about to be confirmed.

The study was conducted in sixteen European countries. One thousand representative samples were culled with a degree of error from each country of only 0.8%.

Here’s what they found:

20% of Europe believes that Jews control the world.

20% believe that Jews exploit the Holocuast for their own interests.

25% of respondents said that Israel’s policies explain why people hate Israel.

25% disagree with the statement that Israel is acting in its own defense.

33% agreed with the statement that during World War II people from their country suffered as much as the Jews.

The numbers are baffling. But they must be believed. Given the representative sampling in this study, those surveyed accurately reflect the attitudes of their nation.

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Confilct w/in Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 26, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has announced that they have completed their attack against Israel. That’s not an easy thing for Hamas to say.

Hamas is stuck between the proverbial rock and the hard place. They are stuck between two very different points of view and approaches.

On the one hand, Hamas defines itself as being about defense and fighting Israel. Hamas’ message has always been that they are non-stop fighters against Israel.

On the other hand, Hamas governs Gaza and they need to maintain calm. Calm is defined by a society that can function. Hamas knows that as a government, they cannot tolerate ongoing regular targeting by the Israeli air-force.

That means that a cease fire and quiet becomes an essential objective. Even though a cease fire and quiet with Israel is in direct conflict with Hamas’ role as fighters and defenders of Gaza.

Hamas needs to embrace the ceasefire. They might just do it. Their self-preservation is at stake.

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Rabbi in Saudi Royal Palace
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 25, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Times are changing. I've said it before and I know I'll be saying it again - and again.

An Israeli rabbi was invited, as part of a group of interfaith leaders, to meet the King of Saudi Arabia in his palace.

Rabbi David Rosen spent 2 1/2 days in Saudi Arabia.

The group is called the King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue. Rabbi Rosen is a member of the board.

Quoted in the Times of Israel, Rabbi Rosen said: “would not have contemplated inviting us, and primarily me as a rabbi. This would have been too much for them”. He went on to explain that, in this sense, the reception at the royal palace was a “revolutionary moment.”

Rosen, is American Jewish Committee’s director of interreligious affairs, was one of nine KAICIID board members who attended the meeting with King Salman, and the only interfaith leader representing Judaism. The other eight attendees represented Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.

According to the official statement of the organization: “The Custodian of the
Two Holy Mosques welcomed the board members, who were holding their first meeting in Riyadh, and stressed the importance of KAICIID’s role in consolidating the principles of dialogue and coexistence among different religions and cultures, promoting the values of moderation and tolerance, and combating all forms of extremism and terrorism.”

Other rabbis have visited Saudi Arabia, most notably Rabbi Marc Schneier, who met with the foreign minister earlier in February.

This is real change and real progress. But remember, these changes must be taken step by step, the process must go slowly.

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Iran's Elections & Caronavirus
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 24, 2020
I've Been Thinking:


Iran just conducted their national elections. The result proved to be and it was a dismal failure for the leadership.

42% voter turnout. This was the lowest turnout in history - lowest since the 1979 Revolution.

"The turnout across the country was 42.57 percent," Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told a televised news conference on Sunday. "In [the capital] Tehran, it was around 25 percent. Across Iran, over 24 million people voted.

Only 25% turnout in Teheran. And not for lack of trying. The president had urged people to vote. The Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah, pronounced that it was a religious obligation to vote.

National elections happen every four years in Iran. In 2012 there was a 66% turnout. In 2016 a 62%. This is the first dip below 50% - significantly below 50% and 20% off the last election.

The election was a referendum on the government. People are expressing their displeasure with the religious leadership. 1000’s of candidates were disqualified by religious leadership including 84 sitting members of parliament.

The government and the Grand Ayatollah have a different reason, however, for the lackluster turnout. Coronavirus.

Iranian leadership is claiming that enemies of Iran and enemies of Islam spread terrible rumors of the virus.

In truth, until now, 50 Iranians have died from the virus. That is more than any other country outside of China.

Yes, there is a fear in being in crowded places like polling stations. But that’s not why voters didn’t out.

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Tensions in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 23, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Tensions are high. A potential escalation is obvious.

I'm talking about Gaza and the Israeli towns and farms situated near the Gaza border.

Over the past 48 hours over 400 rockets have been shot from Gaza toward Israel. And Hamas in Gaza has said that if Israel targets any of its leaders they will unleash their new advanced rockets. These rockets, they said, have fire power that can and will target Tel Aviv and threaten the economic foundation of Israel.

The situation was covered by the Hebrew press in Israel. It quoted Hamas leaders from the Hezbollah paper Al Akhbar which is published in Lebanon. It also quoted London based Al Jadida which wrote that Egypt’s head of security visited Gaza to try to tamp down tensions. He was probably the person who leaked information to the Arabic press.

Hamas governs Gaza. They ousted the Palestinian Authority in a bloody murderous coup in 2007.

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Bahrain Punishes Man For Burning Israel FLag
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 20, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

A Bahrain appeals court refused to allow the appeal of a Bahraini who was convicted of burning an Israeli flag at a protest in defense of Palestinians in May.

The Supreme Court of Appeals did not even entertain reducing the three year sentence of the leader of the group of about ten people who were part of an illegal demonstration.

There has been some backlash on social media against the decision. These critics claim that the Bahrain court of appeal’s decision was based on cozying up to Israel.

Relations have, indeed, warmed between Israel and the Gulf States, including Bahrain.

So much so, that the Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Israel visited Bahrain in December. And there are public photos of the ministers of foreign affairs from both Bahrain and Israel together in Washington DC at the State Department.

The world - including the Middle East - is changing. And not everybody is happy about that.

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Ballots for the Quarantined
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 18, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

On March 2nd Israel will have their third national election. That's less than two weeks away.

The election is facing some unexpected complications.

One such complication is the Coronavirus. So, how does the Coronavirus impact the Israeli election? Israelis love to travel. And now, because of the virus, all travelers on flights coming from China, Thailand and other Far East countries must be quarantined for 14 days.

That means that those Israeli citizens would not be allowed out of quarantine in time to vote on March 2nd.

To solve this issue the government has decided to deliver Israel’s famous blue ballot boxes to the quarantine centers. This way everyone who wants to vote, can vote.

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Historic Flight
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 17, 2020
I've Been Thinking:


Earlier this week an Israeli commercial airliner flew over Sudan en route to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. This was historic. Never before had an Israeli commercial aircraft crossed into Sudanese airspace.

It was all the result of a face-to-face meeting, earlier in February, between the leader of Sudan Abed al-Fattah al-Burhan and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The meeting took place in Uganda.

The historic flight took off from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city, Kinshasa.

This is another example of change happening in the Middle East. Another example of Israel’s integration into daily activities and operations in the Middle East.

It is hard to conceive of the significance of this simple flight. Fundamentally, it means that Israel is no longer at war with Sudan. It means that Israel need not fear that Sudan will down an Israeli aircraft crossing through their territory.

This is a transformative moment in the history of the Middle East.

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Syria Shoots at Airline Again
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 14, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Syrian anti-air batteries shot and missed a civilian Airbus A320 with 170 people on board. The plane was fired upon while making its final approach into Damascus when it was targeted.

This flight, which shuttles between Najif, Iraq and Damascus, made an emergency landing at a Russian airbase in Syria.

Just last month, in mid-January, a civilian airliner was on its way to Canada and was also shot upon by the Syrian air defense system.

There are several issues at play here. One glaring issue is that the Syrians are aiming at - and missing, huge lumbering airliners after shooting at them multiple times. Another major issue is that the Syrian Air Force cannot differentiate between a civilian Airbus and a military F-15.

That is ineptitude at its best.

The Russians are blaming Israel for Syria’s actions, just as they did in September of 2018, when Syrian anti-air batteries shot and hit a Russian plane. That time, they did not miss and Syria’s error resulted in the killing of all fifteen people on board.

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Voter Fatigue in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 13, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Voter fatigue in Israel has set in.

On March 2nd Israel will have its third national election within twelve months.
And despite its importance, voter fatigue means people will not come out to vote.

When fatigue sets in, the political right is most often the winner.

Why is political fatigue better for the right than for the left? Because traditionally, rightists are a more passionate group than leftists.

That passion forces people on the right to vote - despite their fatigue.

In a few days we will know if that general rule holds true for Israelis.

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Irans Marks 41 Years of Revolution
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 12, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

The anniversary went almost unnoticed in the United States because it was not covered in the press. But it was a date to remember.

Tuesday February 11th was the 41st anniversary of the Iranian Islamic Revolution.

The Iranians remembered.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Teheran’s central Azadi Square to mark the day. Most of the speeches and most of the shouting and chanting called for condemnation of the United States and tirades against Israel.

Iranian citizens are restless and troubled. There is an upcoming election in Iran and thousands of candidates have already been disqualified by the Supreme Leader. Included in that group are ninety current members of parliament.

The awful reality for Iranians is that US led sanctions against Iran has taken a very serious toll on the people. It can be seen across the country.

41 years ago Iran overthrew the Shah and created an Islamic country that has been impacting the Muslim world ever since. I would argue that most of that impact has been negative - but it was their desired goal. Iranian Leadership wants to influence the Muslim world and guide that world in their direction. They want to be the head of the non-Western world.

Had the Nuke Deal continued and had the sanctions not kicked in, that would most probably have been the reality today.

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Al Jazeera Host Says Israel is Great
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 11, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

An Al Jazeera host named Faisal al Qassem, host of a program called The Opposite Direction, tweeted that Israel is the most successful project of the past two centuries.

This is what he wrote: “For most Arabs, if they want to curse you, they will describe you as a ‘Zionist,’ even though they know that the most successful project in the current and last century is the Zionist project”.

There was, as expected, blow back on twitter. So Qassem decided to ask his 5.5 million followers what they thought.

About 6,000 responses came in and well over 80% of them agreed that Israel was more modern, more democratic and more technological than Arab countries.

Qassem also hosted the IDF Arabic spokesman on his show via skype. And of course, there were people who condemned him. Qassem’s response was that people just do not understand history.

He said that in Arabic calling someone a Zionist is considered a curse while it should be considered a compliment because Israel has achieved what every Arab state merely promised.

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Iran Fails 4x to Launch Satellite
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 9, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


After four attempts in a row Iran has failed, yet again, to successfully get their satellite into orbit.

The Zafar, which means victory in Farsi, was launched. But the rocket on which it piggy backed did not reach a fast enough speed or the altitude necessary to keep the satellite in orbit.

Iran has been launching satellites into orbit since 2009 and many of them have been successful. Most of them have been spy and communications satellites. The Iranians would also contract with the Russians and use their rockets.

Recently, however, the Iranians have wanted to do it on their own. This requires more than knowledge - it requires better technology. Most of the hardware must be imported and, given the sanctions and restrictions placed on Iran, that is not an easy task.

Almost every element connected to a successful satellite launch can and will be utilized in a ballistic (conventional and non conventional) strike. That’s knowledge that is important for us to have.

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PA Boycotts Israeli Produce
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 7, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority has issued a ban on importing fruits and vegetables and carbonated drinks, mineral water and juices from Israel.

This is a very bad idea.

The PA is responding to a decision by Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett to boycott certain PA produce. But Bennett was responding to the PA boycotting Israei livestock. It’s a vicious cycle of boycotts.

The problem for Palestinians is that the Palestinians need Israel much more than Israel needs them. The PA economy is dependent on Israel. Israel imports $55 million in fruits and vegetables per year from the Palestinians. The Palestinians import $300 million from Israel.

The Palestinians could never produce and provide that amount. Besides that is not what and how your economy should work. Buy what you can't produce - that is the principle. Don't waste money on things that can be made much better and more cheaply elsewhere.

Palestinians purchase over $100 million in bottled water from Israel alone.
This was a very bad decision.

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Who's on Which Side
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 5, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

When analyzing foreign affairs you can tell much about a situation by looking at who supports and who rejects policies and initiatives.

Sometimes, even without knowing all the details, you can get a good sense of a situation based on who is on whose side.

Much like the adage our parents often used about tell a person by their friends.

The Deal of the Century has gotten some very interesting supporters and some very typical detractors.

Arab leaders of the Gulf states are supporters of the deal. Iran rejects the deal.

The Supreme Leaders of Iran has dedicated several speeches to how the deal “is no real deal at all.” He has said that “Palestine is for the Palestinians.”

These are not significant critiques. However, there has been a very significant statement echoed in all of his addresses. The Supreme Leader of Iran has issued a call for “mass resistance”.

Mass resistance is a euphemism for Intifada.

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Israel Moves to Normal Relations w Muslims
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 4, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has embarked on a diplomatic tour. He is meeting with the Muslim leaders of Uganda and Sudan. The most significant Muslim leader on Netanyahu’s roster is Abdel Fattah al Burhan of Sudan.

This is a dramatic move.

Netanyahu’s tour is the continuation of the momentum that Israel has been developing over the past few years. It is also extremely troubling - at least for the Palestinians and especially in the aftermath of the Trump plan.

Just as Natanyahu is on a tour of Muslim countries, President Mahmoud Abbas is on a tour. His mission is to garner support for Palestinian opposition to the plan.

Netanyahu’s success does not please the Palestinians.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erakat articulated just how damaging the meeting between the Sudanese leader and Netanyahu was to the Paelstinians. He said the Monday meeting between Netanyahu and Sudan's leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is a knife in the back of the Palestinian people.

That was a very powerful statement from a very articulate spokesperson for the Palestinians.

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Abbas Threatens Intifada
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 3, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Abbas literally told Israel that they will have to live with the consequences of Trump’s Deal of the Century. The statement by Abbas was his way of giving a blessing to Palestinians to start a new Intifada.

They were fighting words.

Abbas departed Ramallah and went to Cairo to meet with the Arab League. From Cairo Abbas will visit much of the Middle East and then parts of Europe. He has an agenda.

The Palestinian president is drumming up support for his rejection of the Trump deal.

The only real tools that the Palestinians have are violence and the threat of violence. But calling for an Intifada and having one actually emerge are two different things. This is not the first time Abbas has called for an Intifada.

The threat of violence and terror is a serious one.

The problem with these threats of violence and of an actual Intifada is the youth. Youth need to be activated. They need to take to the streets. But at this stage it is very unlikely that West Bank youth will come swarming out to the streets.

The reason is simple - they are not very excitable. Like youth the world over, simulated electronic war games are more intriguing than the real thing. Safer, too.

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Abbas Rejects Deal
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 2, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Arab League met on Sunday in an emergency meeting in Cairo.
The purpose was to show support for the Palestinians and for PA President Mahmoud Abbas as he presented his rejection of US President Trump's Deal of the Century.

Abbas repeated the message he delivered before. He would not accept any message from Trump, not by phone and not by letter. He did not want Donald Trump to say that the Palestinian president was consulted on the plan.

In addition, Abbas cut all ties with Israel and the United States. Diplomatic ties had already been severed. This time he severed security interaction. Until now both the CIA and Israel have had very close security links with Palestinian security. Those links have now been cut.

I am willing, however, to speculate that those contacts will resume - very quietly resume next week because it is an essential need on all three sides. They all need to share information to stay safe. And the PA needs it more than the United States and Israel.

Abbas is thinking about his legacy. He has repeated time and again this past week, before and after the unveiling of The Deal, that he will to be remembered as the person who betrayed Jerusalem.

The other issue he discussed was demilitarization. Abbas said it is simply unacceptable.

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Israel Strikes Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 31, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's air-force struck six targets in Gaza. They were all military sites. Many were lookout and observation posts.

Since The Deal of the Century was announced Hamas has increased its launching of rockets and balloons against Israel.
Hamas' objective is to show their anger at the deal.

Many of the Hamas launched rockets were intercepted or fell in remote locations. One rocket did, however, land and a child and mother were hospitalized for trauma.

That is really the objective of Hamas: Inflict as much terror and trauma as possible.

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Locust Plague in MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 28, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Over a billion locust are devouring 200 tons of food everyday as they make their way through Africa and the Middle East.

The locust swarm is so dense that it looks black. It is impossible to see outside and it is impossible to walk outside. It is the largest swarm in 25 years.

A locust plague will destroy crops and trees and almost every herb and tree, everything green.

This locust swarm can travel 4,000 miles in 10 days. Locust can fly 200 miles without setting down to rest and eat.

Using the word plague is deliberate.

Locust destruction is Biblical.

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Russian US Tensions in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 27, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

There is increased tension on the ground in Syria between the United States and Russia.

US troops are in Syria to secure the oil fields and keep them safe from ISIS and other terrorist groups.

And now - four times in eight days the United States has intercepted and blocked a Russian convoy going into the oil region.

On Sunday, when the US stopped them, the Russians turned back. Then the Russians sent a helicopter. In response to the Russian helicopter the United States dispatched two helicopters - and they brought the Russian chopper down.

These tensions are fierce. They could easily escalate, at any moment, into a full-blown attack if any step is exaggerated or mistaken.

These events are not covered in the Western press. That’s a mistake. We need to monitor this situation very closely.

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Perception of the Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 25, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Trump Peace Plan, labeled the Deal of the Century, is back in the news.
The Israelis have been invited to Washington, DC to hear the plan.

The Palestinians have not received an invitation.

Since December of 2017 the Palestinians have been officially boycotting the United States. The last high level discussion between the US and Palestinians took place under the presidency of President Obama. Those talks were conducted with John Kerry, Obama's secretary of state.

To get a good sense of the status of the Palestinians in world diplomatic affairs it is helpful to look at who visits Ramallah and where Palestinian President Abbas goes to visit.

This week 46 world leaders came to Jerusalem to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. There were kings, prime ministers and presidents. Only five leaders went to Ramallah to visit Palestinian President Abbas.

They were: Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Governor-General David Hurley and Britain's Prince Charles.
By my count, they are the only world leaders who took the time to make the twenty minute drive from Jerusalem to Ramallah.

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Putin Changing History
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 23, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Rule # 1: Whoever owns the history, possess the power.
That is why history is so often in dispute, why it is so often fought over. And that explains why people, especially those with leadership roles, create history.

Rule # 2: At all costs, avoid the role of perpetrator.
That is why history is so often re-written, often by perpetrators. It is better to be a victim than a perpetrator. It is better to be a bystander than a perpetrator.
This week commemorates the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz - Birkenau.

And with that we must remember these rules as we listen to leaders who are trying to transform themselves into victims or bystanders. When in reality they were mostly bystanders and perpetrators.

It is easier to explain to your children and grandchildren that you were a victim than explain that you participated in the evil murderous policies of the Nazis. It is easier to say that you were simply silent.

We are seeing a revision of history by certain leaders as they distant themselves from the Nazis. Most blatantly is President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Putin is continuing a historical rewrite that has been part of the Russian narrative since the end of WWII.

They assert that they were victims. Victims of the Nazis. At the Auschwitz Memorial in Jerusalem, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that 40% of the Jewish victims of the Nazis were Soviets. There is no doubt that between 26 and 50 million Soviets were killed in the War - many froze or starved to death. But Putin's statistic does not hold.

The Holocaust happened under the veil of WWII. It was a policy of the Nazis. One cannot conflate the two. The purpose of the Nazi Holocaust was to murder all the Jews first of Europe and then, all the Jews in the world.

Russia is deliberating forgetting important parts of history. They were not victims. They had an alliance with the Nazis. On August 23, 1939 Russia and Germany signed a treaty called the Molotov - Ribbentrop Pact named after the foreign ministers of both countries, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov.

They agreed to simultaneously invade Poland from opposite sides. Germany invaded on September 1st and Russia on September 17th.

For decades, first as Soviets and now as Russians, they have conveniently forgotten this essential fact. Russiaian leadership has chosen, instead, to emphasize Operation Barbarosa when, on Sunday June 22,194,1 Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

I will never forget the first time I heard this. I was in the then USSR and a tour guide explained that the Soviets entered WWII in June of 1941. I tried to correct her. She did not believe me. She thought it was I who was creating history.

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India Drops Oil Imports From MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 22, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

I've Ben Thinking:

India is the third largest consumer of oil in the world.
India needs oil. They realize they need oil and they have been implementing a plan to insure that they continue to receive a regular stream of imported oil.

For three years in a row India has reduced the amount of oil they import from the Middle East. To give you a sense of the numbers, in 2018 they imported 65% of their oil from the Middle East while last year, in 2019, that number dropped to 60%.

India understands the need to reduce their dependence on Middle East oil. The political situation is too volatile. Iran has made the region unpredictable. And so India and other countries are responding.

During the same period that India has been cutting back on their Middle East oil imports, the United States has become energy sufficient. The US is now producing enough oil that there is no need to import oil. The US still does import, but they are now significant exporters as well.

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46 Leaders Visit Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 21, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Forty-six presidents, kings and prime ministers will visit Israel this week.
That number is truly impressive.

The United States is being represented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The last time so many leaders converged in Israel was in 2017 and the occasion was the funeral of Shimon Peres who served the country as both prime minister and president.

Actually, fewer high level dignitaries came for the Peres funeral than are coming this week.

Israel is marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. The official ceremony will take place on Thursday at Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial and educational center in Jerusalem.
The central theme of this memorial event will be confronting anti-Semitism.

No other country in the world could successfully invite that many leaders to attend a memorial and receive so many positive responses. It shows how important and well respected Israel is and it shows how important the fight against anti-Semitism is.

Again, truly impressive.

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Jordan Says No to Israeli Gas
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 20, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


Media in the Middle East has been covering details of the new gas deals developed between Jordan and Israel and between Egypt and Israel.

According to the deals, Israel will soon begin providing natural gas for both Jordan and Egypt.

Jordanian and Egyptian leadership are pleased with the arrangements - otherwise, they would never have signed on to the deals.

The Jordanian Parliament, however, just passed a bill forbidding the deal.

The bill is symbolic. The parliament has no real role in the decision making, all control rests in hands of the King. The King can, and in this case certainly will, disregard the parliament’s new bill.

But the move by the Jordanian Parliament should not be totally discounted. And that's because this parliament passed bill represents the masses in Jordan who do not want a deal with Israel.

The bill was passed on to the government for approval. According to the Speaker of the Parliament the bill "answers the calls of the people who refuse an agreement with Israel. Governments recognize Israel, but the peoples do not recognize Palestine's occupying entity."

And so it goes.

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Tunnel Tech on Border w Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 19, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The IDF recently announced that they are installing their new seismic and acoustic anti-tunnel defenses on the northern border with Lebanon and Syria.
They devices are called tunnel buster sensors.

This is a very new cutting edge technology that can detect tunnels that are being built and tunnels that have already been dug.

This new technology marks the first effective weapon in history to defend against tunnel. Tunnel warfare has puzzled defense strategists for millennia.
As for the installation of the tunnel busters on Israel's northern border, the IDF says this is just a preventative measure.

They say that there is no immediate threat. However, one must note that Israel has already detected a number of tunnels dug deep into the rock.

So - while there may not be an immediate alert, there is an ongoing threat. And that ongoing threat is now being partially neutralized because Israel is taking the steps to install this new technology.

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2 Defections in 1 Week
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 16, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Another defection from Iran. That makes it number two just this week. Both are women.

Shohreh Bayat, 32 years old, is a chess hero famous all around the world - and especially in Iran. This week she was the referee of the Women's World Chess Championship.

During one of the matches there was a picture of Bayat refereeing and it appeared that she was not wearing her head scarf, her Hijab.

Iranian media picked up the picture and it went viral.

In response, Bayat said that she was in fact wearing her Hijab, but that it was not visible from that particular camera angle. None-the-less, she received death threats.

It is against the law in Iran not to wear the Hijab and all female competitors, even in active sports, are required to wear a Hijab.

Bayat is afraid. At best, she fears that she will be arrested if she returns to Iran. At worst, she fears for her life. There are many Iranian women in prison for violating the Hijab law.

No word yet on where Shohreh Bayat will go.

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Another Hero Defect from Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 13, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Another dramatic defection from Iran by a national hero.

Kimia Alizadeh is the only Iranian to have won a medal in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Her sport is Taekwondo. And now she has defected.

In her Instagram post Alizadeh wrote that she defected of her own volition, that she was not tricked or wooed into defecting, that no country offered her asylum or refuge. It is a chilling message that highlights what is now happening in Iran.
She wrote: “No one has invited me to Europe and I haven’t been given a tempting offer. But I accept the pain and hardship of homesickness because I didn’t want to be part of hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery."

Alizadeh continues: “I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran whom they’ve been playing for years ... I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated."

And there's more: “None of us matter for them, we are just tools.”

The young athlete is referring to herself and to her sports colleagues. She is indicating that the Iranian regime uses them as propaganda tools for both the outside world and inside Iran.

Alizadeh concludes her message on a sad and sorrowful note: “Should I start with hello, goodbye or condolences? Hello oppressed people of Iran, goodbye noble people of Iran, my condolences to you people who are always mourning."

Kimia Alizadeh is the second athlete to defect from Iran in the past few months. A male judo wrestler defected after he refused to throw a match to avoid the possibility of competing against an Israeli athlete.

Iranian citizens, young and old, are bringing about change in Iran. They are standing up and taking a stance.

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Iran Lies
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 12, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

At the Israeli cabinet meeting this Sunday morning Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made an opening statement just as he does every Sunday morning. In today's statement Bibi spoke about Iran. He explained that: "Iran lied; just as she lied about the nuclear deal, now she lies about the Ukrainian airliner."

We have all witnessed Iran's denials, and then witnessed the reversals and changes they make. This time, they came clean - well, nearly clean. This time the Iranians have acknowledged that, indeed, the Ukrainian airline was shot down by an Iranian missile fired by the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Iran now asserts that the shooting was human error and unintentional.
That part of the confession is the highly unlikely part.

Anyone who knows anything about anti-aircraft systems knows all anti-aircraft systems can distinguish between every kind of aircraft if only by the pitch and speed of the plane's engine. An F-15's engine is nothing like the engine of a civilian 737 jetliner.

For Persian Muslims, just like for other Arabs in the Middle East, any Westerner is considered an outsider and a foreigner. They are all lumped into the same group and they are all infidels. A Ukrainian airliner could have as easily been a US airliner or an airliner from British Air. They are all the same - interlopers and invaders treading on Muslim land - and, most importantly, they do not belong.

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Putin is Not Worried
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 9, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Vladimir Putin is not disturbed by the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani. Neither does the Iranian rocket strike faze him.
How do we know this?

On Tuesday, Putin landed in Syria to meet with President Assad and visit Russian bases. He spoke to his soldiers and inspected his bases.

Then on Wednesday Putin travelled to Turkey. Actually, Putin’s trip to Turkey was planned long before the Syrian trip. The Syrian visit was an add-on to the Turkey trip.

Putin was not afraid and not worried about being in the region. He was not afraid for himself nor for the Russia mission. He was not expecting any surprise Iranian generated surprises or moves.

Maybe he knew in advance that Iran was not going to escalate – that they would modestly respond by sending missiles to hit Iraqi bases. If Iran and Russia are that close, in this instance it's good news. It means that with Putin's influence, tensions would be shorter live and reduced.

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Iran Warned Iraq of Airstrike
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 8, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Things are heating up in the Middle East.

It has been reported that Iran warned Iraq in advance of the airstrike which took place early Wednesday.

Iran was aware that they were striking Iraqi air bases - true, that was where US soldiers could be stationed, but nonetheless, they were still Iraqi bases.

France also has several thousand troops in Iraq. The French have made it clear that there is no plan to withdraw them.

For the Middle East Arab and Persian mind, there is no difference between France and the United States. They are both Westerners and foreigners on Arab soil.

So the French are certainly a target for Iranian revenge.


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Iran's Possible Response to Suleimani
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 7, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The US assassination of Iranian al Quds head, General Qassem Suleimani, continues to be big news. Politicians, talking heads, anyone who has an opinion on the subject is spouting off about why the assassination was right or wrong and if the situation will or will not cascade into an all out war.

Israel and Israelis are justifiably worried. They are a convenient target for Iran if only because Israel is the biggest symbol and the most effective unifying tool in the entire Middle East.

My best analysis says that if Iran chooses to respond, they will use their proxies to attack US interests in the region and not engage directly with either the United States or with Israel. This was actually the role of Suleimani. He was tasked with the planning and execution of missions outside Iran using their proxies to strike at enemies of Iranian interests. He bolstered and trained the very groups and people who will now be called on to strike.

A full scale frontal war between Iran and the US is very doubtful. A direct strike from Iran and even from Iranian soil into Israel or to US bases is also unlikely.
Iran's most likely response will be calculated strikes by Hezbollah and by pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq - all, of course, with the assistance of Iranian advisers and weapons. The most likely target being US bases in Iraq.

Israel will not be entirely forgotten. Israel will likely be on the receiving end of a barrage of rockets, maybe even drone attacks, from across their northern border - but not from Gaza. (Gaza is a powder keg that even Iran will not be able to control.) The important calculation vis a vis Iranian proxies is which action will make the biggest statement. But the action cannot be so larges as to tilt the momentum so that Israel or the United States respond with even greater force.

Israel's counter response to Iran's proxy response to the US assassination of Suleimani will be based on damage assessment. If missiles land in areas without significant damage but still big enough to make PR splash in the Arabic and Persian press, escalated tensions will recede and revert to normal tensions.

However, should there any real damage - especially to human life, Israel will be forced to respond by ratcheting up the tensions. The United States will probably use the same calculus in deciding on their counter response.

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Targeting Suleimani
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 3, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Targeting Iranian General Qassem Suleimani was a game changer in confronting world terror.

Morally and ethically this was a justified attack, not simply because of all that Suleimani perpetrated in the past but also because he was certainly planning more attacks and the murder of innocents.

General Suleimani was not the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as so many have reported. That distinction goes to Hossein Salami. Qassem
Suleimani was the commander of the al Quds Brigade. The Revolutionary Guard is an elite division of the Iranian army. The al Quds Brigade is the most elite group within the elite Guard.

Suleimani was responsible for ALL operations outside of Iran. His great strength was his strategic and tactical planning. He was responsible for literally hundreds of operations as well as Iranian activities in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza. General Qassem Suleimani cannot be easily replaced.

This is a sampling of his diabolical achievements: He armed Hezbollah and brought them to their current strength. He did the same with Islamic Jihad in Gaza. He bombed the Saudi oil fields. He planned every operation against Israeli and Jewish targets tied to Iran. He masterminded the most recent storming of the US embassy in Baghdad.

It was no coincidence that Suleimani was in Iraq when he was targeted.

Over the past decade there have been numerous, erroneous, reports of his death. In 2006 he walked away from a plane crash that killed almost everyone else on board. In 2012 a bombing in Damascus killed his aides as well as aides to Syrian President Assad. In 2015 his death was reported during a battle in Aleppo. Then he was said to be badly injured. All of them untrue.
Today, he is dead.

The United States and Israel have both been waiting for the perfect time to try again. This time the US succeeded-- almost certainly with a little help from Israel.

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Iran Responds
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 2, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is responding to the United States.
The United States hit six Iranian targets in Iraq. Western media clumped them all into one attack, but they were six individual attacks.
Iran is responding with rhetoric.
And not the kind of rhetoric that most of the Western world would expect. The Iranian response is atypically calm, calculated and clear.
The more one learns about Iran, the more one realizes how skillfully they use the media how artfully they compose their responses. They responses are not emotional at all. It is all about strategy. It is akin to a long term game of chess.
Look at the response of the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Brigadier General Hossein Salami. This response is quoted by Tasnim, an official media outlet in Iran. It was picked up across the international world and was read by everyone monitoring the situation.
“We are not leading the country to war, but we are not afraid of any war and we tell America to speak correctly with the Iranian nation. We have the power to break them several times over and are not worried.”
In addition Iran’s Army Chief of Staff Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi also quoted in Iranian official radio announced on Thursday that Iranian forces were ready to confront the “enemy”.
“Our armed forces ... monitor all moves, and if anyone makes the slightest mistake, they will decisively react, and if the situation heats up, we will show our abilities to the enemy."

As if that was not enough, on Wednesday Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the U.S. attacks on Iranian-allied militias in Iraq, blaming the United States for violence in Iran’s neighbor Iraq.

Iran is dialing down the tensions just as the United States is dialing them up.

There is a possibility of all out war - but more likely is a scenario in which the next few weeks will be tense. We will witness a series of tit for tat, of actions and reactions.

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Israel Exports Natural Gas To Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 31, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Middle East is such a traditional region and yet, it's changing.
Israel is the cause of the change -- and it is very positive change.

Traditional ideas about energy sources were that the Arabs have it and Israel does not. For decades there were even jokes about it.

That's changing. As of mid-January, Israel will begin exporting natural gas to Egypt.

The agreement between Israel and Egypt was leaked to the media in October.

According to the details of the deal Israel will eventually provide 9 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to Egypt. That process will begin in January of 2020.

Jordan has also signed natural gas contracts with Israel.

Our parents would never have imagined a day when Israeli companies would be providing fossil fuel energy to an Arab country.
Never would have imagined!

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Optics & PA Pay to Slay
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

“Optics” is a concept in politics and PR. The principle is that public perception of an action or inaction reflects directly on the cause or candidate. Leaders in democratic societies always want to optimize good optics and reduce the impact of bad optics.

Even dictatorships embrace the concept of optics. They, too, are concerned about international perceptions and pressure despite not preserving the rights of their residents.

Israel recently announced and now passed a new policy. They will close bank accounts used to pay terrorists and their families. Israel also announced that they will deduct $150 million from the tax money they collect on behalf of the Palestinian Authority at Israeli ports. The $150 million is the amount annually given to terrorist and their families. It is a concept known as “pay to slay.” The more you murder the more you get paid. A failed attempt to murder Israelis is rewarded less than a successful mass murder.

In response to Israel’s new policies, the PA has said that they will continue to pay those wounded, arrested or killed. They will find ways to pay their murderers – whom they call martyrs. It is their right to pay and they will not adhere to an Israeli blockade.

Palestinian Minister of Coordination of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh said that this, “is another step of escalation meant to impose a financial blockade on us … "We will continue to pay stipends to the families of the martyrs and the wounded - no matter what's the cost."

Several Palestinian ministries are responsible for this “pay to slay” policy. The Ministry of Prisoner Affairs, for example, is dedicated to work on behalf of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

There is very little that Israel can do to successfully incentivize Palestinians to stop their policy of mass murdering Israelis. The pay scale for terrorists is one of the highest pay scales within the PA.

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New Anti-Semitism
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

We are witnessing new anti-Semitism. It is spreading and spreading quickly.

Never would I have envisioned so many blatant attacks against Jews. Never would I have imagined that Jews would physically be attacked for simply being Jewish. Verbal and physical attacks have reached new heights and I do not see them diminishing, I see them increasing.

Last night’s terror attack in Monsey, when a machete wielding African American attacked a Hanukkah celebration wounding five people is another example of this new anti-Semitism.

Of course politicians decried the attack. But it is is silence from leaders – role models who need to speak out and really condemn these acts, that is deafening.

These attackers are no longer outliers, they are not marginal people. They are attacking every day and often in broad daylight.

Where are the religious leaders? Where are the African American religious leaders? Why are Jews standing all alone confronting this scourge? Why has the community at large not stood up and said these ideas and actions are not acceptable?

Could it be that these leaders are silent because it is they who stimulate the hatred and tolerate the hatred?

Religious leadership of America step forward! Jewish America needs you to step forward. If not for our sake, do it for your own sake. If you do not stand with the Jews of America, you are, in essence, telegraphing the message that you are complicit in this growing scourge of anti-Semitic attacks.

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Israel Prepping for War
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

When Israel’s IDF chief of staff speaks, it is important to listen.

Aviv Kochavi recently spoke at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herziliya. His address had a far larger audience that simply those in the room - and he knew it.

The IDF chief of staff was speaking to Israel and to Israelis. He was speaking to Iran. He was speaking to Hezbollah and to Hamas. Believe me, everyone was listening. He was taking about the next war.

Kochavi said that Israel’s pre-emptive strikes in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza could push the enemy to attack and even tip the response to a full blown war.

To Israel and to Israelis, the chief of staff said that he was prepared for the next war. He said the next war will be costly to the home-front and to the soldiers.
He explained that to win, it will require boots on the ground. He said that Hezbollah’s storage piles have at least 150,000 rockets. He said that Israel must destroy Hezbollah’s ability to strike.

To Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, Kochavi said that Israel is prepared way beyond air strikes. He emphasized that Israel’s reputation for not having the fortitude to take losses is incorrect. He said that a real win requires Israel to use more than missiles and air force jets.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said that Israel will do what needs to be done to win.

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More Protests in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is blocking mobile internet - again. They are doing it for the same reason they always do it – to make it more difficult for protestors to communicate and organize.

In certain Iranian provinces, the internet is totally shut down.

Iran is expecting huge demonstrations starting Thursday. Protestors are hoping for 250,000 people. One of the motivational tools protest organizers use to get people out to the protests is video clips of others protesting. The obvious messaging and announcements of the protests are important but they only go so far in penetrating the intimidation and fear factor that Iranian leadership has perfected.

On the flip side, Iranian TV is broadcasting clips of protestors being beaten and shot while protesting. Their message, too, is obvious. If you protest this will happen to you!

Now we wait and see. Will the Iranian masses swarm to the streets? Will Iranian leadership authorize the killing of masses of innocent protestors in order maintain their power?

By tomorrow we should have answers.

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Message App Spies on US
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Spying, by way of a communications app, means that someone can see and hear everything and everyplace you go.

The UAE has literally forced everyone to use the messaging app To Tok. They have outlawed and blocked Skype, Facetime and other similar apps. That means that anyone in the UAE who communicates with anyone outside the UAE is being closely watched. It also means that all those outside the UAE who were
communicated with, are now also being watched.

Even if you delete the app you are still being watched.

The UAE company behind the To Tok app is called Breej Holding. They are directly linked to and quite possibly the sponsor of the hacking group Dark Matter.

Dark Matter is responsible for numerous disruptions and hacks around the world. They are probably all connected to PAX-AI, a nefarious hacker company headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

This is very bad. This is an app sent out to hack and downloaded in the open market that lends government the ability to watch your every move. The kicker is the app was developed by evil hackers and put right onto the phones and tablets of unsuspecting people.

The NYTimes has uncovered this story. They ran an excellent piece explaining just how deep spying goes. The hacker and cyber security communities are buzzing and reeling from this discovery.

The app was removed from the App Store and the Play Store. That is a small consolation. The damage is done.

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Iran Cracking down Killing 1500
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is experiencing a phenomenon not typically seen in that country - huge protests.

According to Reuters Media which quoted three separate Iranian Interior Ministry sources, 1500 Iranian protestors and security officers have been killed since December 16th.

That would make this the bloodiest two weeks in Iran since the 1979 Revolution.

The sources say that orders came from the highest level of leadership to shut down the protests and the anti-government movement fueling the protests. In Iran, “shutting down” often mean kill.

The Supreme Leader has demanded that the protests stop now – if not he will hold the leaders of the protest responsible. According to a source in the inner circle of the government, the Grand Ayatollah said: “The Islamic Republic is in danger. Do whatever it takes to end it. You have my order.”

At first, Amnesty International and other groups originally estimated 300 deaths.
Then the US State Department upped that to 1000 deaths. Now the Iranians are giving even higher numbers. These numbers include 17 teens and 400 women.
Iranians are saying that over 200,000 people are taking part in the demonstrations against the government.

We don’t know how this will end, but we do know that, for Iran, this is transformative. Iranian leadership is running scared.

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Athens Burned Israeli Flag at B-Ball Game
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On Wednesday Israeli Basketball team Hapoel Yerushalim played in Athens against AEK Athens. It was part of a GameDay 9 Match.

400 Hapoel fans accompanied their team to cheer them on. The Israelis were met by and totally surrounded by security. The Israelis were not welcome in Athens.

The Athens fans burned the Israeli flag. They held up Hamas flags and pictures of convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti, now serving time in sn Israeli prison. The Israeli's were stunned.

On one twitter post an Israeli can be heard saying how painful it was to watch her country's flag burn, but there was nothing that could be done.

At one point a large group of Athens fans converged on Israelis, chanting and shouting. Security stepped up and the crowd retreated.

The Israeli team made an appeal to the International Basketball Federation arguing that this kind of behavior does not belong in sports. Several investigations have begun. I hope that the Athens fans who behaved in this way are disciplined and that these kinds of fans are banned.

Basketball cannot fall victim to the violence and politics of European football and hooliganism.

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Christmas in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Christmas was celebrated in Israeli schools this year.
Arutz 7 reported that in a school in Herziliya, Christmas was given preferred treatment. I was stunned

A parent explained that: "Our son, who is in eighth grade, told us he doesn't understand why the school's staff is working to provide preferential treatment of Christian holidays at the expense of Jewish holidays. It seems that the school made a concerted effort to make the Christian holiday attractive, while neglecting and marginalizing Hanukkah."

The parent described school exhibits about Hanukkah and Christmas commenting that the Christmas display was well thought out while the Hanukkah display was drab and rundown.

Israel is the Jewish state. Israeli culture is Jewish.
While 2% of Israel is Christian and minority rights are very important, schools should teach about other traditions - celebrating them is a different story.

Interestingly, at 2% of the population, Christians are a smaller group than "other", which numbers at 4% of Israel's population in response to the question of religion. There are more "other" than Christians in Israel.

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More A/S in NYC
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Anti-Semitism is much more prevalent than we even imagined. People now feel free to shout and say and even physically hit Jews.

I'm not certain how it happened - but everything has changed in the span of a few years. What was deemed unacceptable just a few years ago in the United States has transitioned from an isolated incident into a common occurrence.

I just watched a Facebook video of Lihi Aharon, an Israeli who defended a Jew on a NYC subway and was attacked in the process. The video shows a black woman shouting anti-Semitic vitriol, vile statements about Jews and at the Jew - unaware that Lihi was also Jewish. She continues to shout even after police come and subsequently arrest her.

Included in the woman's tirade was that more Jews should have been murdered in Jersey City. She called out to the obviously Jewish looking man that he was not Jewish because he is white. That particular phrase is from the standard script of many Jew haters. They believe that Jews are not Jews, they believe that blacks are the true Jews. That is what the Jersey City terrorist/murderers believed.

This movement is gaining in strength. It has become much stronger and leaders, especially responsible Christian Black leaders, must stand up and work hard to set the record straight. This hatred must be stopped.

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Israel's Numbers
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A new study from Israel's Census Bureau has posted a remarkable figure: 3.3 million people in Israel are immigrants.

That is a remarkable number, given the total numbers of Israel's population.

Israel's total population is just over 9 million and the Jewish population is just over 7 million. From the years 1990 to the present, 43.7% of Israel's immigrants made their way to Israel.

In real numbers, that means that nearly half the Jewish population and 1/3 of the total population came to Israel from elsewhere.

What a remarkable set of statistics.

Israel always saw herself as a refuge for Jews in trouble. Over the years the Jewish State has also become a magnet - a place where Jews do not just run in times of crisis, but as a place they move to in order to replace their home elsewhere in the Diaspora.

It is the Diaspora that is a temporary home - Israel is their permanent home.

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UK Blowout Election
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The British blowout election has many lessons to teach us.
Yes, it was a vote for Boris Johnson and especially his plan to exit the European Union - aka Brexit.

It was also a vote against Jeremy Corbyn and his new Labour Party.
Corbyn has not just embraced anti-Semitic rhetoric, not just articulated anti-Israel stances, the wannabe prime minister literally paid honor to a mass murderer - to the planner of the Munich Olympic massacre.

British electorate went to the polls not only to oust the EU, they went to oust Jeremy Corbyn. This was a clear disciplinary move.

Reading the results of the election the message was clear: Labour was informed that the new direction heralded by Cobryn did not bring votes. Cobryn failed.

This was about a vote against Corbyn’s new Labour Party.

Voters wanted to bring back the moderates - their message was loud and clear.

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Trump's Order Against A/S
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

President Trump signed an executive order that will withhold federal money from colleges and universities that do not stand up against anti-Semitism.

The US cannot either sanction or condone anti-Semitism or, for that matter, any form of hatred. The government certainly cannot financially subsidize that behavior – and that behavior is running rampant on campuses across the country, campuses that take money from the federal government.

For too long, anti-Semitism has run unchecked on campus.

This is not an issue of freedom of speech. This is not a first amendment issue. People’s hatred and their ability to spout that vitriol is, was and will continue to be protected.

This is something else.

This is about the United States government giving money to agencies that support hatred. And this practice will now be stopped. Obviously, it includes public colleges and universities, but private institutions of higher learning are also the recipients of significant sums of federal money and they, too, fall under this executive order.

This executive order could have huge implications. The president signed the order, now there must be follow up.


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Rhouhani To Visit Japan
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It looks official. Iran’s President Rouhani will visit Japan on December 19th where he will have talks with his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

These are important talks.

Japan is a perfect country for Iran to use as a conduit to the West. They are a world force and yet small. They are pro US, but are Asian and their interests are in keeping Asia safe.

Iran trusts Japan. And at the same time Abe has a direct line in to the White House.

The meeting is an opportunity for Abe and Rouhani to speak frankly.

Very seldom is there a situation in which we can witness the behavior and eavesdrop on the conversation of Iran. The Iranians are, typically, either extremely defensive or simply creating a veneer.

This meeting may give us insight into the method and madness of the Iranian thought process.

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Erdogan Again Spews A/S Lies
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:


Turkey’s President Erdogan is once again fabricating anti-Semitic lies about Israel.

Literally, right out of the Middle Ages, Erdogan is spreading evil canards about how Jews attack non-Jews.

He said, for example, that Israelis are just “mercilessly” murdering Palestinians on the streets.

These are statements from the official translated Turkish president’s website:

“We today face a Palestine on the streets of which innocent girls, fathers, mothers, elderly people, children and young people are openly executed and mercilessly murdered by Israel … What is more, Western countries and — I regret to say — some Arab states practically encourage this brutality of Israel. We, as Turkey, most of the time feel ourselves left alone in our objections to the oppression in Al-Quds and Palestine.”

True to form, Erdogan is fomenting anti-Semitism.

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Israel is Not A Banana Republic
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is scheduling a third election in one year.

Israel is not a banana republic, it is a strong democracy, and Israel is still in the laboratory stages.

Think about it. The United States is going through crazy political gyrations and no one is questioning its democratic foundations.

There are many who draw parallels between the leadership of Israel and the United States, between Netanyahu and Trump. There are some similarities but the differences are tremendous. What most critics are latching on to is that both Trump and Netanyahu face public hearings. Impeachment in the United States, trial in Israel.

Ahmed Tibi, Arab member of Knesset, said that his constituency will come out to vote in force this next election in order to oust Netanyahu. He said: "The Joint List will be strengthened and will gain more seats in the upcoming elections."

Tibi then added his opinion offering that both Trump and Netanyahu will removed from office and the world will be better. He said: "2020 will be the year of impeachment of two people without whom the world will be better - Trump and Netanyahu. We will replace Netanyahu with the election where some Arab voters will cast more votes than the last election."

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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 can’t 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 … 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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Hamas Cancels Riots
By Micah Halpern

Thursday 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For the third week in a row the leaders of Hamas in Gaza have cancelled Friday’s March of Return.

The March is a massive weekly riot on the border between Israel and Gaza. Every Friday, for well over a year, Palestinians organized a violent set of attacks against Israeli soldiers. They rushed the border, threw firebombs, shot guns and slingshots at Israelis and launched balloons and drones with bombs.

Until now.

Now, for the third week, Hamas has called it off. The reason for the cancelations is clear. Hamas is holding up their end of a ceasefire, part of which included reducing tensions with Israel.

Let’s see if it lasts.

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Arab Journalists Tour Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A group of Arab Journalist toured Israel last week as guests of the Foreign Ministry. The journalists came from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Egypt. They spent five days in Israel.

This was the second trip of its type in six months. Unlike the last trip, none of the journalists in this group wanted to go public and make people aware that they were visiting Israel.

If you remember, in the last group a famous Saudi blogger went public and was subsequently assaulted on the Temple Mount went he went to pray at the Mosque of al Aqsa.

Ironically, this visit coincided with the London Conference, a meeting of forward thinking Arab leaders that endorsed a call for Arabs to stop boycotting Israel.

Two steps forward, one step backward - change is slow but it seems to be on the way.

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Pompeo Tells Arabs to Recognize Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Monday that the Arab world should stop boycotting Israel. He said that if they would just talk to Israel, the Arab world would gain so much.

Pompeo tweeted: “It’s time for Arab countries to abandon boycotts and engage #Israel,”

Pompeo tweeted. “#MiddleEast divisions = instability.”

Pompeo tweeted: “Arab thinkers who risk their lives to bravely advocate a regional vision of peace and coexistence shouldn’t face retribution. We need dialogue.”

Secretary of State Pompeo was referencing the Conference of Arab Thinkers in London that called on the Arab world to accept Israel. Leading, forward thinking, unafraid Arab thinkers from fifteen countries bravely gathered to assert that the time has come for Arabs and Muslims to embrace Israel.

Kudos to those who attended the conference. Kudos to Mike Pompeo.

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US Chiefs of Staff Visits ISrael
By Micah Halpern

Monday 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, visited Israel on Sunday. He met with his Israeli counterpart, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi.

The IDF released a statement about the meeting. The official statement read that Milley’s visit was a sign of “the depth of the partnership between the forces and its importance in promoting regional stability.”

This is no small event. Tensions in the region are high. Iran is flexing its muscles all over. Their support for Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon and in Syria is two examples of Iran’s involvement very lose to Israel’s borders.

Iran has forces and advisers on the ground in Syria. That is way too close for Israel’s and the United States’ comfort.

Add to that Iran’s nuclear expansion activities and their moves against the US drone and against Saudi oil sites. Iran is feeling very secure.

Israel and the United States need to be on the same page to be able to check Iran when necessary.

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Arabs Against BDS
By Micah Halpern

Sunday 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The New York Times ran a piece recently about the Arab Council for Regional Integration, a conference that took place in London.

The conference consisted of a group of Arabs who came to the conclusion that rejection of Israel has failed and actually hurt the Arab cause. They determined that the time has come to not just recognize Israel, but to cooperate with Israel.

The conference was sponsored by the Center for Peace Communications, a US group and it featured Arabs from business, academia, the media and even from political families.

It is essential to realize that there are Arab leaders who understand that dealing with Israel can be mutually beneficial. That, even when the parties disagree, there are still benefits to meeting and creating deals that will help grow the region.

This is a major step forward.

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Russian Tourists to Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Two Russian tour agencies are offering excursions to Syria.
The itineraries include Damascus, Aleppo and Roman remains of Palmyra, also known as the “Bride of the Desert.”

The cost of the 8-day trip is $1950, US dollars. This does not include flights, visa fees and insurance. Pricey -- but people are signing up.

According to the website of the Russian foreign ministry, they strongly advise against traveling to Syria.

So far in 2019, 334 Russian tourists visited Syria. That was three times the number of Russian visitors in 2018. It looks like Syria will host even more Russian tourists in 2020.

It is hard to imagine why any Russian, or anyone at all, would want to visit Syria. Then again, there are people who are actually excited going into war zones. There is a niche market for tourist who want to be the first or for those who want to explore dangerous areas.

These Russian tour agencies have tapped into that culture.

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Iran Shuts the Internet
By Micah Halpern

Thursday 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iranians have been protesting over huge hikes in the price of gasoline.
There was a real chance that these protests were going to grow and expand and maybe even topple the Iranian regime. So Iranian leadership jumped in and reacted.
They sent in brutal police to intimidate the protestors. And the Iranian Revolutionary Guards announced that if the protests do not stop, they will step in. The threat was well understood.
I addition, on Saturday Iranian leadership shut off the internet. It was off for four days and when turned back on – only 4% of the internet actually resumed.
When the internet is turned off in Iran real communication is effectively squashed.
Iranian leadership had never before choked the internet to this extent. They liked what they saw. They saw how effective this method was.

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US Carrier Thru Hormuz
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The USS Abraham Lincoln, a US aircraft carrier, passed through the Strait of Hormuz yesterday along with accompanying ships.

The carrier group went through the Strait very slowly. The entire passage was tense.

On one side of the Strait is Iran.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have been very high.
The United States blames Iran for hijacking oil tankers and for shooting down a US drone. The United States is also claiming that Iran attacked oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Iran has threatened to attack a US military ship in the region.

The USS Abraham Lincoln and the carrier group are in the region to try to protect oil, shipping and other interests of the United States in the region.
Iran is monitoring every move.

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Russia Poaching US Clients
By Micah Halpern

Monday 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia is expanding their weapons program.
The Russians are on the prowl for new clients interested in buying their fighter jets and missiles. Egypt has been enticed and they are in talks with Russia about augmenting their air force.
If the sale goes through, it would a violation of US contracts. Until now, ever since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been supplying Egypt with weaponry.
R. Clarke Cooper, Assistant Secretary of State in the US Bureau of Political- Military Affairs, issued a very bold and direct statement at the Dubai Air Show. The assistant secretary said that if Egypt buys Russian hardware: "It puts them at risk of sanctions and it puts them at risk of loss of future acquisition."
There are other sanctions that the US would apply. These would include spare parts and technology and anything that is connected even remotely to military assistance.
It would Egypt in the long run. But Russia really wants to break the US hold on countries like Egypt and is making their offers sound very attractive.

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Iran:"We're Not Anti-Semitic"
By Micah Halpern

Sunday 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Supreme Leader of Iran, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, announced that he is not anti-Jewish at all.

At an Islamic conference in Tehran The Supreme Leader told the participants: “Calling for the elimination of the state of Israel does not mean the elimination of the Jewish people.” The comments were posted to his official website.

He continued “It means that the people of Palestine - be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish - should choose their own government.”

Iran is responding to the claims that they are planning to destroy Israel. The Supreme Leader wants it to be clear that his attitude toward Israel is political and theological.

It is certain that The Supreme Leader does not really think that there should be an election to determine the political leadership of the area. He is making a gesture to rebut his vehement threats to destroy Israel.

When you plan to wipe out a nation of 7 million Jews that is called anti-Semitism. Most of those 7 million people are not religious - they are simply Jews and they will be targeted because they are Jews.


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Cease Fire In Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Thursday 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A cease fire between Islamic Jihad and Israel went into effect at 5:30am.
As has become the custom, air raid sirens and rockets attacks persisted even after the cut off time.

The military exchange started on Tuesday and ended on Thursday. Thirty-two Palestinians were killed. Israel maintains that almost all were terrorists.
Islamic Jihad launched well over 450 rockets into Israel in a 48 hour period. That averages out to nearly 10 per hour - one rocket every 360 seconds on average.

Islamic Jihad threatened the international diplomats who were delivering messages from Israel. The threats were that intermediaries could get hurt because they are in the way and they are delivering messages from Israel.
It's over, technically, but it's never really over between Islamic Jihad and Israel.

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New Gaza Conflict
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The conflict out of Gaza is unique in many ways:
It pits Islamic Jihad against Israel - Hamas has stood on the sidelines
No one wants an escalation
Hamas is pleased with the ceasefire that has been in place since May

Israel's first strike was extremely surgical as have been their subsequent strikes. They are now taking out many above ground Islamic Jihad rockets.
Hamas does not control Islamic Jihad. They will watch, and smile, while Israel takes Islamic Jihad down a few notches.

In an effort to display unity, Hamas and Islamic Jihad released a joint statement saying that they are united. But it is not true. Their statement read: "We will not accept efforts by the occupation to resume their cowardly policy of targeted killings."

Islamic Jihad is unpredictable. Targeting their leader saved Israeli lives - never doubt that. The aftermath was predictable. But after a serious operation in which Israel depletes or destroys much of their weapons caches, the status quo and quiet will resume.

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Russian Sub in Israel's Waters
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A Russian submarine was spotted in Israeli territorial waters. The sub ventured eight nautical miles in. That's a lot, given that the area spans only twelve nautical miles.

The story was broken by YNet news, the Yediot website. The incident took place three months ago.

Once Israel discovered the Russian sub, they contacted Russian leadership.

Russia and Israel have a mechanism in place to avoid conflict. They have a direct line of communication. Within minutes of activating the mechanism, the
Russian submarine returned to the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Luckily, this did not become an international incident.

Russia did not mistakenly wander into waters so close to Israel. There was a definite agenda. The closer the submarine got to Israel, the easier it would be to latch onto Israel’s computers and other electronic resources.

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Iran Discovers New Oil
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran’s president announced that the Iranians have discovered a huge new oil reserve.

President Rouhani said that they discovered a source containing 53 billion barrels of oil about 100 yards below the ground.

If true, this treasure trove would be only slightly smaller than the largest Iranian oil system which contains 63 billion barrels.

If true, this would move Iran into the # 3 slot in the list of countries with the greatest oil reserves.

If true, this discovery is so large that it would increase total OPEC reserves by 34%.

Add that to the announcement Iran made last month about a new discovery of natural gas. Something very big is happening in Iran.

The announcements are made publicly in an effort to reposition Iran in the eyes of supporters. The message Iran is sending out is that they are not down in the dumps – rather they are major players in the sphere of oil and natural gas.

The most important, albeit unspoken, point in these messages is that the United States is preventing Iran from tapping these resources. The United States will not permit Iran to extract and sell their badly needed natural resources.

The resources are badly needed by the world, the revenue is badly needed by Iran. These announcements help resuscitate Iran’s image.

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Israel Gives Land back to Jordan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty on October 26, 1994.
The signing took place "somewhere: in the Arava Desert. I was there. It was historic and it was emotional.

Now, twenty-five years later, Jordan is walking back two elements in the treaty. The Jordanians are not breaking the treaty, provisions to reclaim certain areas were included in the original document and the Jordanians have decided to exercise that option.

# 1: Naharayim
Naharayim is an island, it is where the Yarmuk and Jordan rivers merge. The spot is a very important fresh water pumping and control station for the entire Jordan valley. Parenthetically, it is also the site where in 1997, a terrible massacre took place and seven Israeli high school girls were gunned down by a Jordanian soldier.

# 2: Tzofar
Tzofar is a plot of land in the Arava. Once dry and barren, thanks to Israeli care and agricultural science, it is now cultivated and flourishing.
Both areas are reverting back to Jordan. The government of Jordan put forth the requests a year ago as clearly articulated in the 1994 peace agreement.

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Pompeo At Shul
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the synagogue in Halle, Germany where last month a man threw bombs and shot people outside their synagogue. A Jewish massacre in the synagogue was averted only because those already inside the synagogue for prayers locked themselves in.

Secretary Pompeo wanted to take a stand against anti-Semitism. He also urged others to fight against anti-Semitism.

The secretary of state said, "Anti-Semitism is not just limited to certain places. We can find it everywhere… like in Pittsburgh. We must work together against this vicious attack on religious freedom.”

Pompeo is more than correct to fight anti-Semitism. Where he misses the point, however, is that hatred is not about religion and the practice of Judaism – the problem anti-Semites have is not universal hatred against religion, their problem is with Jews.

Anti-Semites have no problem with Judaism.

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Saudis Spy Using Twitter
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

According to charges filed in San Francisco, Saudi Arabia is directly connected to spying on Twitter users in America between May 21, 2015 and November 18, 2018. Two dual citizens of the United States and Saudi Arabia and one Saudi national were charged with accessing Twitter details and delivering the data to the Saudis.

The case is shocking.

Two Twitter employees and one handler were responsible for collecting the data of 6,000 critics of the Saudi regime. Not just their names, and usernames - they also accessed the meta data, the material that can show the geographic location of the user.

They did it In exchange for money and gifts.

Ahmad Abouammo, one of the dual citizens, was a media partnership manager at Twitter. He received $300,000 and a $20,000 Hubolt watch, paid by an unnamed person referred to as Saudi National -1.

Ali Alzabarah, the second Saudi/US dual citizen worked at Twitter as a site reliability engineer. He was confronted for accessing private Twitter info which was outside his job responsibilities. The next day he resigned by sending an email from a plane. He was on his way back to Saudi Arabia with his handler.
With the info gained from these spies the Saudi government boldly put in a request to Twitter for information on 33 Twitter usernames in what they called an "emergency disclosure".

Twitter admits that the nature of the industry creates "bad actors" who will try to undermine its service and that the company "limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees."

The company statement read: "We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable ... We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work."

This entire episode is very troubling. The redeeming point is that the Saudis were charged and that the government was named.

If you remember, the 9-11 hijackers were Saudis. Mysteriously, despite the fact that all flights in the US were grounded, private Saudi planes flew returning many Saudi nationals to the kingdom. The United States has and continues to block any move to investigate how the Saudis were involved.

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Putin Invests in Libya
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

You probably don't know this, most people don't, but Libya has been enveloped by a civil war. As a land mass, Libya is enormous, it is three times the size of Texas. It is the Tobruk aka the House of Representatives versus the General National Congress. It may sound purely political, but this is true military warfare.

Who does know about it? Vladimir Putin, for sure.

For years the Russians have been investing money and weapons in order to sway the outcome of the conflict. They are rooting for and supporting the Tobruk. Now -- and I mean right now -- Russia has put specialists with experience on the ground in Libya.

The numbers are, of course, unclear. This is Russia we are dealing with. But we do know that there are dozens of Russian snipers, Russian hardware and at least 200 Russian soldiers. Russian weaponry includes guided missiles and fighter jets. And there are many, many Russian mercenaries. These mercenaries function as a private Russian army and they are extremely useful. Because they are not soldiers, the mercenaries are unshackled and can do things an army cannot do.

Hundreds of drones are being used and they are all operated by people with great experience in civil wars. The Russian soldiers and the mercenaries all came to this war with vast experience gained in Syria.

What is the reason for Russia's interest in Libya? The answer has three letters. O-I-L.

The reserves are immense. Despite the internal conflict, Libya is still pumping 1.3 million barrels of oil per day.

Libya is so close to Europe that it is very important to secure those oil fields.
Moving the oil via pipeline or tanker is simple. Libya sits only 300 miles off the coast of Italy. That means that Libya is a valuable asset to acquire.

Russia knows it. Putin has his eye on the money and the oil. In Libya he can get both for a very tiny investment.

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Iran Breaks Nuke Ceiling
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has announced the third stage of their reaction to the pullout by the United States from the - now infamous - Nuke Deal of 2015.
In September the Iranians declared that stage three was in the works and on Monday, as promised, the announcement was made.
Iran is now producing more than the 5,000 rods of uranium way beyond what was agreed upon in the Deal. Until now, the Iranians were using old IR centrifuges, now they are using newer and better IR-6 centrifuges. They are enriching their uranium ten times faster than stipulated in the agreement and ten times faster than what they were enriching in September.
The announcement was made on Iranian TV.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice President of the Islamic Republic and Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency made the announcement. Salehi also said that Iran was working on IR-9 centrifuges which will be able to enrich fifty times faster than the IR-1.
The Iranians are public relations whizzes. They chose to release their information on TV, rather than at a press conference, to show the Iranian masses that Iran is snubbing its nose at the West, in particular, at the United States.

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Iran To Re-Build Syrian Electricity
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Syria and Iran just signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

Iran agrees to rebuild Syria’s electricity infrastructure. Iran agrees to rebuild Syria’s power plant transmission line. Most importantly, Iran agrees to link their electric grid with Syria’s electric grid.

Syria has been isolated by the Western world. Russia and China have not come forward to rebuild the Syrian electricity infrastructure – Iran has.

This link between Syria and Iran demonstrates a deep interaction between the two states. They are linked by mutual interests and by mutual gains and more than that, they are linked because they share mutual enemies.

Iran and Syria need one another.

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They Still Blame Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

President Bashar Assad claims that the protests in Lebanon and in Iraq as well the civil war that has ripped his country apart for the last eight years are all the fault of Israel and the United States. The Syrian president said that all these events are “tools serving Israel directly or through the Americans”.

He said “this is self-evident. Even if we do not discuss it, it is one of our national givens in Syria.”

Iran has joined the chorus. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif is also claiming that the protests in Lebanon and Iraq are sponsored by Israel.

Of course, this is totally absurd.

The blame Israel game is an old story. Blaming Israel for all things gone wrong is a historic tradition that has enveloped the Middle East.

These voices are becoming stronger. But so are the voices of other Middle East countries willing to break down traditional views of Israel and move closer and closer towards normalization.

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Is It A New Arab Spring
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 31, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Given the prolonged protests in Lebanon and Iraq, there is talk about another Arab Spring.

In Egypt, in Gaza, in Iran and in other countries across the Middle East there have been massive police crackdowns in response to protests and rallies against dictatorships, authoritarian leaders and monarchies.

Protests of this sort can shake a society to its core.

In Syria, the protests which started far away from the capital grew and spread and have now enveloped almost the entire country, including the capital city Damascus. It is those protests which resulted in the Syrian civil war responsible for the bedlam we are seeing today.

The situation in the Middle East is explosive. Protests can spread as quickly as wildfire. Middle East leaders know this well. They are acting to protect their power and their positions.

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New Poll on A/S
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A new poll about Anti-Semitism was published recently.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) sponsored the study of 1,283 people over a period of a month.

The most telling or even shocking result of the poll is that 1/3 of the Jews are afraid to wear Jewish identifying marks in public. They were referring to wearing Stars of David and other Jewish symbols and jewelry. The exact wording of the questions was "avoided publicly wearing, carrying or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jews."

1/4 of the respondents said that they avoided public Jewish events for fear for their safety. 9 out of 10 Jews asked say that Anti-Semitism is a real issue today.

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Wrong Headlines- Shame
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Why should any of this surprise me. The headline in the Washington Post called one of the most brutal murderers in the modern era an “austere religious scholar.” The headline continued "Dies at 48."

Remarkably, this was the second headline the rework. The first called Baghdadi "Terrorist in Chief."

Finally on Monday morning, a new headline emerged on the website. "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48." No doubt this third headline is much better - but it is still far from a true depiction of the magnitude of the news.

I am an equal opportunity critic. Everything President Trump does as president is not perfect. When I disagree, I explain where he is off base in my analysis. I think he would appreciate the honesty and the analysis. It is how we play the game. All thinkers can and should be able to disagree about ideas.

But when Trump does the correct thing and scores a huge victory for freedom and democracy and the US. Everyone should applaud.

Everyone should applaud even if you dislike Trump. This no different than when your arch rival team makes a great play -- a one in a million perfect triple play. Honesty, intellectual honesty and ethics demands that you acknowledge the greatness of the moment. Enjoy it and compliment the other team.

Shame on those who did not see how significant this moment is.

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Killing Al Baghdadi
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Al Baghdadi, arch terrorist, founder and head of ISIS, was killed in a US Special Ops mission in Syria.

Now that Baghdadi has been killed, will that put the nail in the coffin of ISIS?

Unfortunately, Baghdadi’s death will probably not make a big difference.

Killing Baghdadi was important for the United States. It spoke to our sense of justice, but it has very little to do with ISIS.

Many of Baghdadi’s underlings have already been targeted by the United States. There are still many more senior ISIS members and an internal power struggle will emerge for the new ISIS leader. While Baghdadi was the terrorist organization’s figurehead while alive, in death his position could be even more powerful.

ISIS is as strong as ever and still growing. 11,000 ISIS prisoners have walked out of Syria’s Kurdish jails. They are now regrouping, organizing and readying to fight under their original mandate.

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Protests Ripple Effect in MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:


The protests in Lebanon are having a ripple effect in the Middle East. People in
Lebanon have been taking to the streets to protest against government corruption and mismanagement.

Hamas in Gaza is afraid that the residents will learn form Lebanon and swarm to the streets and protest in Gaza.

So Hamas has arrested dozens of political leaders from groups and parties and organizations that might want to challenge Hamas especially those who have the potential to gather protesters.

This is another great example of the inter-connectedness of the issues across the Middle East. Even the small internal politics of Lebanon impact Gaza and probably many other places in the Middle East.

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Palestinian Converts to Judaism
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A 50 year-old Palestinian man from Hebron converted to Judaism on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

His name has not been made public. But we do know that on the eve of Yom Kippur the new convert paid a visit to Hebron, his home town.

And then, as he was visiting his children, Palestinian police came, dragged him out and beat and arrested him. He is still in prison. All because he converted to Judaism.

The convert is proud of his status. His grandfather saved 26 Jews during the horrific massacre in Hebron in 1929.

There is an important lesson here: Palestinians are not open to any alternative to established, Islamic, Palestinian lifestyle.

How narrow minded. How sad.

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Israel to Attend to Summit in Bahrain
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:


Israel’s Channel 13 reported that an Israeli delegation will attend a two-day summit in Manama, Bahrain starting on Sunday.

This is part two of a meeting that was sponsored by the United States and originally held in Poland in February.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman will attend the conference and they have made it clear that they will certainly address the "Iranian threat in the Persian Gulf.”

This conference is another example of how relations with Israel are being normalized.

The normalization has caused others to be upset. Like Hamas, for example, which has condemned the meeting.

Now Hamas will probably target those countries that are publicly working with Israel against another Muslim country.


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Arabs Warn Against Trips to Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have issued travel warning against visiting Lebanon.
The warning also urged those in Lebanon to stay inside or even leave.

Over the past few days protests have enveloped Lebanon. Thousands have rushed to the streets and caused traffic jams. The military has cracked down. The protests continue.

It is all about economic reforms and the changes people are demanding from
Lebanese the government. Prime Minister Saad Hariri has promised reforms.
And Hezbollah, the powerful terror group that controls southern Lebanon, is the de facto king maker in the country and has thrown their support behind Hariri.

Until recently, Lebanon, especially the capital city Beirut, was returning to its old cultural self - a city of cafes and international appeal with a vibrant night life.

These protests are unique. Never before has here been such civil engagement in Lebanon about policy.

For decades the conflict and the protests were always about Christian/Muslim and Shiite/Sunni divisions. Now the protesters are demanding that the government, especially the cabinet, work together to solve the economic crisis and free up $11 billion to go towards infrastructure.

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China Buying Iran's Oil
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

China is the by far the country importing more Iranian oil than any other country in the world. The Chinese are doing so in direct opposition to US President Trump’s demand that they sanction Iran.

The Chinese have been turning off their GPS transponders making it impossible to know the exact location of their ships. That means that Chinese ships are not trackable when they go to Iranian ports. Then, after picking up their oil load, they turn their GPS back on and go on their way.

US sanctions have been successful. Before Trump imposed these sanctions Iran was exporting 2.5 million barrels of oil each day. Now their oil output has been cut to 400,000 barrels a day.

The White House is not happy with this situation. They are contacting Chinese shipping companies and warning them not to play games when it comes to sanctions.

It does not appear that China is taking the White House’s message to heart.

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UAE Luring Israeli Techies
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

DarkMatter is a cyber company headquartered in Cyprus. In reality, DarkMatter is actually a company that is run and controlled by the United Arab Emirates.

What makes this interesting fact even more interesting is DarkMatter is recruiting ex Israeli intel officers. They are luring them with annual salaries of nearly $1 million.

The Israelis were part of 8200, an elite cyber command unit that is responsible for the defense of Israel as well as creating offensive strategies to attack Israel’s enemies.

DarkMatter’s official goal is supposed to limit their work to defense but that is highly unlikely. They have already been accused of threatening and attacking activists and journalists.

Israeli leadership is concerned. Is Israeli know-how being used to attack innocent people? Is it helping an Arab dictatorship?

There is little doubt that people act in their best interest and $1 million is a huge incentive.

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Tensions Btw Israel and PA
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian leadership is preventing Palestinians from buying Israeli sheep and calves.

This is now a serious bone of contention.

Israel responded that if Palestinians continue with this policy, Israel will no longer buy Palestinian agricultural products.

Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Kamil Abu Rukun, said: “Israel will not allow boycotts of any kind against Israeli produce." He continued: “Because of the Palestinian Authority's unilateral decision, which is hurting the economies of both sides, and after several inquiries to resolve the issue on various levels, I have warned that if the situation does not return to normal, we will not allow much of the Palestinian agricultural produce to enter Israel."

Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem responded that Palestinians have the right to diversity in the items in its markets, including replacing Israeli products with Arab products.

This kind of economic gaming will hurt and even destroy the local economies. There is no doubt that it is much more efficient to trade locally.

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Gaza Arrests ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Can you imagine a situation where one terrorist group arrests a group of terrorists?

The leadership of Gaza arrested four ISIS members. They were planning attacks against Hamas leadership. All this was reported in the daily paper Al Akhbar a daily newspaper publishing in Beirut. The paper also said that these same four assassins were also involved in launching rockets against Israel.

This is where the story gets interesting. Hamas in Gaza has handed down a directive to stop firing rockets into Israel. The reason for this policy is purely practical. They want to stop Israel from countering or even invading. The cost is too high.

ISIS on the other hand is livid that Hamas is not attacking Israel at every possible moment. So, they have recruited Gazans to join their terrorist cause to not just attack Israel but to attack Hamas too.

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Putin Does it Again
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia is always finding ways to step up their game on the international stage. They are constantly pushing the buttons of the United States.

Vladimir Putin is a master of strategy. Russia's president never misses an opportunity to stick it to the US. He does that most effectively by challenging the authority and power of the United States and its role as leader of the free world.

At a conference held recently on the topic of International Politics held in the famous Russian resort city of Sochi, Putin announced that Russians are helping China build a warning system against missiles. That's big news. Until now, only the United States and Russia have had this exclusive kind of advanced technology.

Putin acknowledged the magnitude of this endeavor when he said: "This is a serious thing that will drastically increase the defense capabilities of the People's Republic of China.”

By helping China build this defense system Russia masterfully both advanced their own position and aided China - all of which further diminishes the position of the United States.

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Iran's Oil Exports
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday Iran's oil ministry website posted a statement by Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh. The Iranian oil minister said that Iran will go to any length to export its oil and that it is their right do so.

Zanganeh said: "We will use every possible way to export our oil and we will not succumb to America's pressure because exporting oil is Iran's legitimate right."

He is correct on both counts.

Iran is going to great lengths to export their oil. And exporting their oil is their legitimate right.

US sanctions are on buying Iranian oil - not on Iran exporting their most significant natural resource, which happens to be oil.

Iran is not violating either international law or US sanctions by finding ways to export oil. Rather, it is the purchasers of that oil and the middle-men facilitating the purchases who are violating sanctions.

The most powerful and influential countries helping Iran are China and Russia. India is also getting oil from Iran -- but far less than China and Russia.

To get the oil, ships are turning off the tracking devices on their oil tankers and using pipelines to avoid being monitored by the United States. The problem with turning off transponders is that pirates have not lowered their profile since these tensions with Iran have surfaced and the tankers are making their job of boarding and taking over ships easier.

Turning off tracking devices can be extremely dangerous.

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Ships Waiting in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

20 ships with over 10,000 tons of grain are just sitting outside Iranian ports.
They are waiting to be off loaded.

The ships just sit and sit and wait.
The grain is badly needed by the people of Iran.
The grain has not been brought into port for several reasons.

Most significantly, Iran does not have the money to pay.

US sanctions have made it nearly impossible for Iran to purchase basic
necessities. But it's not just the cash crunch. Ships want to make certain that their delivery will not be seen by the watchful eyes of the United States.
Ship owners fear US economic retaliation. And rightfully so.

The United States is utilizing all forms of intelligence, satellites, drones, computers and human intel to monitor the situation. The US can find out whatever it needs to know.

Nonetheless, despite the pressure and the intel, two ships managed to unload their cargo over the past two weeks. But that is almost nothing relative to the tremendous needs of Iran.

US sanctions against Iran are having a significant effect, that seems obvious.

What seems equally as obvious is that the sanctions are, quite literally, starving Iranians.

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Russia: No Proof Against Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:


The situation emerging in the oil and energy world is anything but simple.
Russia has proclaimed that Iran is not responsible for the bombing of Saudi oil infrastructure fields and refineries. Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani personally assured him that Iran had nothing to do with the bombing.

This interaction took place at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Yerevan, Armenia on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

Putin said: "We condemn these (attacks) but we are against shifting the blame to Iran because there is no proof of that.” He went on to says that the US has provided not proof that it was Iran who launched the missiles and the drones.

This creates a sticky issue for the US and Saudi Arabia. How can they retaliate when Russia strongly and publicly asserts that Iran was not responsible?

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Saudi Pro Israel Blogger
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:


Remember Mohammed Saud, the Saudi Blogger who speaks Hebrew, loves Israel and visited in July?

Saud has a following of hundreds of thousands of Muslims. And in honor of Rosh HaShanna he tweeted a New Year’s message in Hebrew.

On Friday Saud sang a beautiful sang called Achila Le’ayl, a prayer from the High Holiday services and addressed the prayer to his Ashkenazi brothers. He also tweeted a blessing to his Sephardi brothers.

When Mohammed Saud visited the Temple Mount back in July, some of the Muslim worshippers threw plastic chairs and plastic bottles at him. He is a lightning rod for and against him.

It should not surprise anyone that there is a negative response to a Muslim who loves Israel.

What is a surprise is that despite his love for Israel, Mohammed Saud has such a large and positive following. His popularity is growing daily.


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Abbas @ UN
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. He took advantage of the opportunity to lambast the United States and Israel.

Abbas used the term “aggressive” numerous times. That is in and of itself telling.

Of the subject of US and President Trump this is what Abbas said: "The United States has taken illegal and aggressive measures.”

No surprise there. Abbas is very upset that the Trump administration has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Speaking about Israel Abbas used the same term “aggression” but this time around he a very different tone and said: “The international community must put an end to Israeli aggression and arrogance."

“Aggression and arrogance”. Abbas is not even dealing with the legal aspect of aggression, but with arrogance -- the attitude. In this speech Abbas invoked the arrogant and aggressive stereotype of the Jew. It is a classic anti-Semitic canard. The Jew is pushy. The Jew is demanding. The Jew is haughty. The Jews is out of his place.

The speech delivered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly was vitriolic and anti-Semitic. Not surprisingly when Abbas spoke the words “Israeli aggression and arrogance,” he was met with great applause.

Welcome to the United Nations GA, circa 2019.

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Accidental Mtgs @ The UN
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Many very positive and often unpublicized developments take place during the annual UN General Assembly in NYC.

The GA is the perfect place for world leaders to unofficially meet or even plan to “accidently meet”. It is the place where aides meet and lay the ground work for future quiet dialogue. These meetings can be extremely successful and helpful, far away from the judgmental eyes of the public and the media.

It’s happening already. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz had an unofficial meeting late last night with his Russia counterpart Sergey Lavrov. They obviously discussed Syria and Iran.

And now the official statement of the Israeli Foreign Ministry mentions that Katz invited Lavrov to visit Israel.

This is a classic Jewish initiative – it is also very effective. Hospitality works. Seeing Israel and the issues facing Israelis first hand is a very useful way of convincing Russia that Israel’s concerns about Iran are very real and justified.


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Iran Says Israel Supports ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Just watched the Mike Wallace interview on Fox News with Iranian President Rouhani.

Rouhani said that Israel supports ISIS. He said that Iran actually destroyed ISIS.

He said that Trump destroyed the mutual trust by pulling out of the nuclear deal.

WOW -- talk about spin!!!!

A senior Iranian foreign ministry source added:
"We will never renegotiate a deal that took us years to reach ... Iran's leadership supports diplomacy but if Americans want to ease tension, they should lift sanctions and end pressure on Tehran."

These comments from the Rouhani and from the Iranian source show the true stance of Iran. Iran seems to see things only through their eyes. Rouhani says that they support those who are defending themselves and that Israel is the greatest terrorist in the world. Iran helps protect people against that Israel's terror. He asserted that Iran gives aid to help those oppressed and that they help defend the defenseless against Israeli aggression.

They certainly live in a different world.

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Iran is Hurting
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

US is acting against Iran. This is a direct response to Iran’s attacks on Saudi oil facilities. US has concluded that Iran perpetrated the attacks on September 14. England, France and Germany have also concluded that Iran attacked the Saudi oil fields and refineries.

So, the US is tightening sanctions on Iran. Brian Hook the US Special Envoy for Iran says that the US must move "prudently". The US does not want to move too quickly or to make a drastic mistake by attacking or acting too aggressively.

Hook spoke at the Asia Society in NYC he said: "It is that Iran has crossed the line by this attack on another country's sovereignty."

This kind of calculated, slow response to Iran is very unlikely to intimidate Iran.

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Iran's Game
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is waiting for an American response to their attack on Saudi oilfields and refineries. The Iranian strike resulted in collapsing Saudi oil production by 50% and reducing world oil by 5%.

A combination of 30 drones and cruise missiles launched from Iran into Saudi Arabia was the cause. It was an Iranian response to the west’s sanctions. Now Iran is awaiting the counter by the US and Saudi Arabia.

The verbal US response was not very intimidating. Both the US President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo both spoke strongly but then couched and trimmed their anger. This tamed response will not be interpreted as a threat by Iran – actually the opposite.

If sanctions are all that the US is intending to enact against Iran – then the Supreme Leader will undoubtedly release another military strike. He is playing a game by pushing the envelope. That is exactly what he did by downing the US drone earlier this summer. The lack of response or a limited response by simply imposing more sanctions led the Supreme Leader to consider and then embark on this attack on Saudi oil infrastructure. The Supreme Leader loves these games and he gets a perverse pleasure out of making the US squirm.

He will continue to play until he is put in his place. He knows that the Saudis cannot do it alone, so he is challenging the US. It seems that he believes that US President Trump cannot or does not have the personal strength to take to blowback from Iran and the rest of the world. The US is taking the easy way out through sanctions.

But know, Iran is going to continue to push the envelope. They will once again strike at a US ally. Maybe they will strike another Saudi refinery or maybe one in the UAE instead.

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China Invests in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 20, 2019
I’ve Been Thinking:

Things got much more complicated between the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

China just entered the scene in a gargantuan way. They recently signed a $400 billion deal with Iran. It is an investment in the form of a capital investment into the Iranian economy.

China is doing exactly the opposite of what the US is asking countries to do. China is providing the badly needed US dollars Iran needs in order to provide for basic necessities for the economy.

Now the US must confront China but will they.

If they do not it will signal to everyone else including Iran that the US has no bite behind their roar.

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Iran's Judo Champ
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Saeid Mollaei the Iranian Judoka who followed country's leaders’ orders and threw a match so as not to compete against an Israeli has been in hiding in Germany for fear of his life since the end of the competition.

He cannot contact his family in Iran for fear that they will be punished for his actions.

The fly in the ointment is that he really wants to compete in the upcoming Olympics in Japan but certainly cannot and will not compete for Iran. He now has no country.

Now there is a solution for Mollaei and others. The International Olympic Committee has created a special team for refugees for this very purpose.

But there is another problem --- an athlete of the level of Mollaei needs to practice and needs to internationally. That draws attention. He will not be able to stay underground for long.

Mollaei is in Germany under a sports visa he did not request asylum.

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Israeli Election Results
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel just finished their second election in 5 months and the results are important. Very important.

It does not matter who got more votes. What matters is -- who can carve out a coalition of 61 of the 120 members of Knesset to govern.

Many pundits are saying the best bet is a broad-based coalition of the two largest parties Likud and Blue and White. This is doubtful. A broad based coalition may not be stable.

There is a very important point to be made. The Joint Arab List will not and
cannot join any Israeli government coalition Blue and White or any other one.

So counting them as part of the center left block is dishonest and wrong.

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More Oil Disruptions By Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I’ve Been Thinking:

Iran has made it clear. There will be no meeting between US President Trump and Iranian President Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City at the end of September.

President Trump is saying the same thing. In speaking about “fake news” which, he says, is claiming that he wants to meet with Iran without conditions: “That is an incorrect statement as usual.”

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi called the possibility of a Trump/Rouhani meeting “speculation” and said “this meeting will not happen.”

Those statements come as a major relief for Israel. Hearing that Trump is not running to Iran means that Israel and the United States are still on the same page regarding Iran.

Iran is expanding plans to destabilize the West. Their attack on Saudi Arabia oil which reduced world output by 5% was intended as a crippling blow to the West.

Expect to see more of these disruptions.

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Israel's Elections
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It is the eve of elections in Israel and we need to go over some ground rules.

Do not trust polls.

Elections in Israel - as in the United States, are not easy for pollsters to predict.

When polling results are as close as they now are, polls cannot be a good indicator. Yes, there are two larger parties and yes, there are several moderate size parties and yes, there are many smaller parties that are just on the cusp of getting Parlimentary seats. But does anyone needs polls for that information?

The real strength in Israel's elections is not with the party that wins the most seats. The real strength - and the power, sits with the party that joins the ruling coalition and holds out and gets what it wants.

The follow-up to the election is where the action is.

That is where we will, once again, witness the trading and the negotiating and the manipulation. And eventually, hopefully, we will see a government emerge.
If that doesn't happen - and I'm not sure it will, prepare for another election come January or February.

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Bolton Fired or Quit
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It does not matter whether John Bolton was fired or whether Bolton resigned.

The question is what kind of impact his departure will have on policy.
Bolton was a hawk on issues like North Korea and Iran. He did not believe that the US should run towards dialogue.

On the issue of Israel there is no doubt that the Netanyahu administration has lost a very close friend in the White House. Bolton was an unconditional ally and friend of Israel.

The difference between Bolton and the US president were obvious to everyone who monitored the White House. There is an important role for advisors who disagree with the president. But the National Security Advisor and the President need to step in tandem.

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Shiite Holy Day
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Today is the Shiite holy day of Ashura. Ahsura means 10 in Arabic. Ashurah is the 10th day of the first month in the Muslim calendar, the month of Muharram.
It commemorates the battle of Karbala when the Husein ibn Ali the grandson of Mohammed was killed in 1060.

Shiites which means most Iranians and Hezbollah mourn on this day.

Speaking to all Shiites, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he and his allies, including Iran, were in the middle of a "major campaign." He used military terminology to invoke a connection to the Battle of Karbala.

"We are in the midst of a major campaign, (and) the United States and Israel are trying to outflank us," he says in a speech to mark the Muslim holiday of Ashura.

"The leader of this camp is (Iranian Supreme Leader Ali) Khamenei and its center is Iran," he said.

He added that "tonight and tomorrow we will tell (Benjamin) Netanyahu and (Donald) Trump that we are a people not affected by blockades, sanctions, poverty and hunger."

We will wait and see. It looks like they have a plan.

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More Rockets From Gaza
By Micah Halpern

September 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It’s been a weekend full of rockets in Israel.

On Sunday night sirens blared in the region that abuts the Gaza Strip. More rockets were being fired at Israel from Gaza.

One of the rockets fell short and it actually landed in Gaza. Several others, we don’t know exactly how many, landed in the Israel.

The situation has reached such a pitch that Egypt dispatched an emergency team of military and diplomatic advisers to Gaza. They will shuttle between Egypt, Gaza and Israel. The Egyptians want to become major players in the area. Keeping peace between Israel and Gaza would serve both to position them as influencers and to keep their own country safe.

To risk stating the obvious, this is a dangerous situation and could easily spiral into a larger and larger conflict. The situation needs to be controlled. It needs to be contained.


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MidEast Food Battle
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Another battle is being waged in the Middle East. The intensity keeps rising. This battle - is over food.

For years, Arabs have accused Israel of appropriating their food and making it "Israeli". They claim that falafel is not Israeli food, it is Arab food. They claim that humus is not Israeli, it is Arab food. The assertion is that just about any of the foods created by Israeli chefs, is in fact a rip off of Arab food.

Now labeneh, or laben, a goat cheese yogurt is on the proverbial chopping block.

Enemies of Israel say that Zionists should create their own culture, not expropriate it from the Arab culture that surrounds them. They are claiming that appropriating their foods is another example of Israeli occupation. Israelis, they say, are not only stealing Arab land and Arab culture, Israeli is stealing Arab - or Palestinian, food too.

Israeli chefs and Israel's culinary creativity have become world famous. And while many of the dishes borrow from the region, to suggest that Israeli Jews stole the culture is preposterous.

These attackers want Israel to be seen by the world as interlopers, replanted into the Middle East from Europe. But in reality, most Israelis are descendants of Jews from Arab lands - not from Europe.

Part of Israel's culture comes from Europe, but much more of Israeli culture, including food, originates in the Arab world.
Blending those traditions is what makes Israel so interesting and so very Israeli.

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Israel Worried about US/Iran Dialogue
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The G-7 meeting was very worrisome for Israel.

Let me explain. President Trump publicly announced that he would gladly meet with his Iranian counterpart President Rouhani.

Here is the worry.

If the United States advances toward Iran in a path similar to the paths the US has taken with North Korea, it will mean that dialoguing with Iran will become a priority. It will weaken Israel's ability to influence the US.

More importantly, Israel has a series of priorities for their country's security. There are certain red lines in the sand that Israel wants to make certain the US does not cross with Iran.

This situation, this diplomatic warming between the United States and Iran, is not good news for Israel.

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Tensions Btw Israel & Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 27, 2019
I've Been Thinking:

Tensions are rising between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Add into the mix the terror group The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, also known as PFLP - GC and the tensions are pulsing even higher.

There are obvious reasons for these tensions. Hezbollah and the PFLP are sworn enemies of Israel and their raison-d'ĂŞtre is the destruction of Israel.

But of late there has been serious Israeli engagement in Lebanon and Syria. The groups are shouting about it. They are saber rattling.

Several important points of clarification - These groups do not awaken one day and hate Israel more than they did the day before.

Hezbollah has at least150,000 rockets. That is a conservative estimate. They have more rockets than 95% of the militaries in the world. Many of those are short range unguided rockets but a significant number are guided missiles with long range capabilities.

Another important point to make is that the Israeli elections are upon us. The will take place on September 17. Prime Minster is being portrayed as weak in Gaza by other contenders because he has not acted in Gaza. There is no magic solution to Gaza. So, Netanyahu has to show strength. He is attacking in Lebanon and Syria where it is easier to strike.

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Muslim Edict Against US Soldiers
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A fatwah is an Islamic edict declared by a leading authority.

Shiite theologian Grand Ayatollah Kazi al Haeri is held in very high regard by Iraqi Shiites. And he has declared a fatwah forbidding US troops to step foot in Iraq.

Grand Ayatollah Kazi al Haeri called on Iraqi forces to attack and stop all US forces.

The edict comes after media from all over the world covered stories that described Israel's attack on Shiite bases in Iraq - bases that are affiliated with Iran. Two Israeli officials confirmed that Israel was responsible for the attacks.

Many locals in the Middle East do not countenance any non-believers anywhere in the Middle East - not in any Arab lands.

The US brings out vicious animus in some people.

Over the years there have been numerous fatwahs involving the United States. This Grand Ayatollah is not alone.

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Saudis Track Hajj Pilgrims w Chip
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia has announced that they are instituting a smart chip for everyone joining the Hajj - the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Over 2.5 people, or pilgrims, travel to Mecca every year.

For many pilgrims, the chip will certainly be considered an invasion of their privacy. It will allow the organizers to monitor all movements of all participants. The chip can detect mass movements. It can rearrange and reorganize transportation.

The chip can and will also direct and redirect people and police to provide a more efficient movement.

It will also track where people are sleeping and what they are doing. Every person who enters will be tracked.

There is a positive side for the 2.5 million people who will now be tracked - the chip can help in health emergencies and get immediate aid to people in distress.

The Saudis know this chip works. They quietly tested it out this year and it was a great success.

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How to Tell an Anti- Semite
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A nonsensical school of thought has been making its way into all sorts of forums and discussions. It goes like this: Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. Don't label every criticism and critic of Israel an anti-Semite. As an example, proponents of this erroneous thinking will point to former President Barack Obama and say that Obama was a great lover of Israel, but he was also a vocal critic. He would say "friends need to call friends out when they make mistakes."

That may be true, but - and it's a big and important but - some people couch their anti- Semitism as criticism of Israel.

There are two factors that determine if the person criticizing Israel is an anti-Semite.

#1: does the critique allow for Israel to exist or does it suggest that if Israel were not there the problem would be solved

#2: the tone of the critique

Tone is everything. Critique is done with respect and love and is immediately identifiable. That kind of critique does not seek to harm or destroy but rather to help and assist.

Much of the recent and very vocal public criticism of Israel does not stand up to these factors. Certainly, US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib fits into the category of anti-Semite.

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Is Israel Bombing Iraq- Maybe!
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday, an arms depot north of Baghdad was blown up. The depot was hit by an aerial strike. It belonged to an Iraqi, pro-Iranian militia. Last week, an arms depot south of Baghdad, also belonging to pro-Iranian fighters, was also destroyed by an airstrike.

Sounds like someone is targeting Iranian fighters in Iraq.

The finger is pointing toward Israel.

Israel has, over the past few years, publicly warned of the Iranian influence in Iraq and has insisted that Iran is becoming a major military force inside Iraq.

Israel now has stealth capabilities. They operate F-35s which can travel without being detected. So it is certainly possible, if not probable, that Israel is testing out its efficiency and abilities by hitting Iranian bases in Iraq.

This is not a new front for Israel, it is an experiment. And while perfecting their capabilities, they are also effectively clipping and trimming Iranian influence and Iranian weapons caches.

Iran is an arch enemy of Israel. At this stage Israel will not strike Iran directly. However, pro-Iranian militias in Iraq are fair game.

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Iran Made Mistake Signing Deal
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Ali Shamkhani is a very close and trusted adviser of Iran's Supreme Leader. He is an official in the inner circle of Iran.

Lester Holt of NBC News sat down for a face-to-face with someone who almost never addresses the West and is as close as you can get to the Grand Ayatollah.

In the course of the interview Shamkhani said that Iran should never have signed the famous JCPOA, simply known as the Iranian nuke deal.

He said that it was not good for Iran. He also explained that, at the time, there were people who believed that a moderate approach was the best avenue to pursue.

He said that most of Iran, and certainly Iranian leadership, fervently believes that the entire strategy was a mistake and that Iran has suffered because of that moderate approach.

What Shamkhani is actually doing is telegraphing is the ouster of the current leadership, the President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif who were the architects of the agreement.

Shamkhani agreed to the interview only after he received the okay from the Supreme Leader, who also crafted the message he wanted to have presented and provided Shamkhani with his talking points.

There are big political changes on the horizon in Iran.

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ISIS is Alive & Well
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan which murdered 63 people and wounded 183 others is rock solid proof that ISIS is alive and well.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Shiite wedding celebration.

This is what they do best.

They are mass murderers of Muslims.

That might sounds strange because we, in the West, think of ISIS as targeting the West. While that is true, their main objective of ISIS is to intimidate and influence Muslims in the Muslim world.

ISIS announced the reason for their attack in Kabul. They said they attacked because the United States was negotiating a deal with the
Taliban and establishing an end to the 18 year old conflict in Afghanistan.

This bombing was a message to Muslims.

ISIS is back and alive and well and if you dare to stand up and oppose ISIS, you will be targeted - beware, you’ve been warned.

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UK Strips Jihadi Jack's Citizenship
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jack Letts is best known as Jihadi Jack, a dual UK / Canadian citizen who joined ISIS in 2014. Two years before joining, Jack had converted to Islam. In 2014 he changed his name to Abu Mohammed, married an Iraqi woman had a child.

Abu Mohammed has been interviewed on the BBC, pledging his allegiance to ISIS and promising to fight for the cause.

His parents sent him $300 and were subsequently tried and convicted of sponsoring terror. He claims he bought falafel and a pair of glasses with the money - not nuclear weapons.

Now Jack Letts cum Abu Mohammed cum Jihadi Jack wants to return to the UK.

The British Home Office not only said no - they stripped Jack of his UK citizenship and said he is Canada's problem now.

Meanwhile, Canada says that Jihadi Jack has no real contact with Canada and is a Canadian citizen only by virtue of his father, an organic farmer, who holds a Canadian passport.

The UK is correct to reject him.

Jihadi Jack must live with his decision.

Joining the enemy and fighting against your home country is treasonous and an act of sedition. It is easier to pull citizenship than to try someone as a traitor. Let Jack live in the community he selected when he abandoned his home and chose instead to take up arms against the country that nurtured him.

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Israel Denies Entry to US Congresswomen
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I usually touch on subjects before they become headline news, but today I am making an exception. Today I must weigh in on the news of the day.

Israel deciding not to permit entry to two United States Congresswomen.

As everyone knows, the two members of Congress in question are Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim females in Congress.

On their trip to Israel the Congresswomen wanted to focus only on Palestinian sites and interests. They scheduled no visits with
Israeli officials or, for that matter, any Israelis. Actually, in their invite to other members of Congress they explained that they were only entering Israel in order to pass into Palestine.

Both these members of Congress have proposed a bill to support BDS.

Israel has passed a law permitting leadership to prevent entry to those people who are known supporters of BDS.

I do not think it was wise of Israel to prevent entry to the Congresswomen - BUT, Israel was certainly justified in blocking them from entering the country.

All those who claim that Israel was violating freedom of speech are totally incorrect.

There is a limit to freedom of speech. That freedom stops when people are trying to destroy a state. The state - any state has the right and the responsibility, to protect itself against those advancing against it and attacking it.

BDS is not an idea. BDS is not an issue of speech. BDSers intend to galvanize supporters to unite and destroy Israel.

About that there is no question.

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Israel's Anti Drone Drones
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Drones are extremely difficult to defend against and now, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries named ELTA Systems has improved on their already very effective Drone Guard.

This improvement is called the Bird. One of the many advances the Bird has over the Drone Guard is a suicide mission that attacks incoming drones.

The new system identifies the drone or set of drones from take off.
It even predicts the direction the enemy drone will take. This system differentiates the incoming drone from other aircraft. Even if the other drone tries to deceive it with balloons, kites, hot air, even if it uses live ammo and shoots. The Bird knows it is a drone.

The Bird also employs the Drone guard technology of zapping enemy drones with electronic beams and rays that will cause the enemy system to implode.

Best of all is technology that enables the Bird to hijack enemy drones.

A new cyber war is taking place. ELTA's Bird is a major player in that war.

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Hamas Claims
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Speaking at an Eid al Adha ceremony, the head of Hamas, Yihya Sinwar, said that Hamas will teach Israel a lesson if it invades Gaza again.
Sinwar emphasized that Hamas will launch hundreds of rockets into Israel simultaneously. Israel, he said, will be broken.

"If Israel launches a campaign in Gaza, hundreds of rockets will be fired at Israeli cities in one go ... Hamas will break the IDF if it enters the Gaza Strip."

This is bravado, it is hyperbole.

Hamas really believes that they will strike and seriously hurt Israel - but it is pure bravado, hyperbole.

In Israel, any loss is a huge loss.

It is Hamas and Gaza who will suffer if Israel is forced to attack Gaza again.

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Caspian Oil Battle
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The five nations that surround the oil rich Caspian Sea (or Lake) met on Monday to figure out how to divide the great natural wealth - oil, that lies there.

Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan all have a stake. Russia and Iran are most insecure about what might happen.

Because of that insecurity they have not ratified an agreement that was drawn up last year. The other three countries are waiting for Russia and Iran to make the first moves and sign.

Both Iran and Russia are afraid that this newly found oil will change the supply of oil on the world market. They are particularly worried about Western countries that are urging the construction of a Caspian natural gas pipeline that will bring that oil over land to the West, especially Western Europe.

Iran and Russia need to preserve their reserves, keep the supply down and make certain the prices of oil and gas stay high.

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Muslim Holiday
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday was the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha. It is the Festival of the Sacrifice, also called Eid al Qurban.

Eid al Adha is one of two big Muslim holidays, the other is Eid al Fitr.

This holiday commemorates the story in the Koran of Ibrahim taking his son Ishmael and offering him as a sacrifice to God. At the last minute God stops Ibrahim and provides a lamb that is sacrificed instead of Ishmael.

If this sounds eerily similar to the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis chapter 21, that's because they are, indeed, the same story.

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Iran Claims Military Greatness
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is masterful at propping themselves up as undefeatable.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Naval Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi spoke to FARS, the official Iranian news agency, and said that: "Americans have always been the ultimate and full-scale losers in all their encounters with the IRGCN [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy], and the most notable cases of their defeats were on April 14, 1988, and January 12, 2016 before their drone was shot down on June 20."

Fadavi was referring to three incidents:
#1: the April 1988 incident when an Iranian mine badly damaged the U.S. frigate Samuel B. Roberts
#2: Iran's kidnapping in January 2016 of two American riverine boats and ten sailors after the boats mistakenly strayed into Iranian waters
#3: the downing in June 2019 of the US Triton drone

Fadavi continued and said: "that all failures and defeats of the U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf are illustrative of the Americans' desperation, frustration, and agony in the face of the Iranian nation in the past 40 years."

This is simply - and not surprisingly, not what happened at all.
In 1988 the US responded, launching Operation Praying Mantis and crippling Iran's navy. Luckily the situation deescalated and did not turn into a full blown war.

As far as Fadavi's other two examples, the United States wisely chose to neither react nor overreact.

It's all about the spin.

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ISIS Re Booting in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Here's a surprise. ISIS is re-establishing itself in Syria. Don't just take my word for it, a report released this week by the US Department of Defense Inspector General's office spells it out very clearly.

"Despite losing its territorial 'caliphate,' the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was resurging in Syria" from April through June.

The report begins with Principal Deputy Inspector General Glenn A.
Fine writing that from April through June, U.S. forces in Syria fulfilled the Trump administration's directive to partly withdraw from the country. Military officials told the inspector general's office that "the reduction of U.S. forces has decreased the support available for Syrian partner forces at a time when their foces [sic] need more training and equipping to respond to the ISIS resurgence."

Officials told the inspector general's office that ISIS continues to function as an insurgency in both Iraq and Syria partly because forces there "remain unable to sustain long-term operations against ISIS militants." ISIS is also "likely reestablishing financial networks in both countries."

Beyond that, military officials warned, ISIS "maintains an extensive worldwide social media effort to recruit fighters."

This means that ISIS is bouncing back.

It also means that ISIS is waging war against US allies and others who targeted them. Are you surprised?

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Iran is Jamming Ships' GPS
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is playing dirty tricks in and around the Strait of Hormuz. For one, they are jamming the GPS of tankers, causing ships to wander off course - and in to their waters. They are also spoofing and radioing as if they are friendly and US navy ships.

US Central Command in the area, known as CENTCOM, said in a statement that Iran "spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be US or coalition warships."

"Due to the heightened regional tensions, the potential for miscalculation or misidentification could lead to aggressive actions against vessels belonging to US, allied and coalition partners operating in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman ... GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning."

Bridge-to-bridge communication is when ships speak to one another.

Jamming and spoofing by Iran explains quite a lot of what has been happening in the Strait. Iran is not playing a fun game. And as always, the Iranians are playing by their own rules.

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Amazon Coming to Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Amazon is going to open operations in Israel in September - before the September 17th elections which falls a few days before the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

Amazon wants the site to be all in Hebrew.

Amazon has very stringent demands on writing, pictures and clarity of message. They are also very precise about handling and delivery. If it cannot happen in Hebrew, they will launch in English and then switch over to Hebrew. If everything is not in place and ready by September, Amazon will wait until after Sukkot and launch in November in time for the busy shopping period called Black Friday.

Amazon has already gobbled up several Israeli tech companies including a huge cloud service.

This is huge for Israel.

Having Amazon will be a huge boon in the local markets of delivery and move Israel's markets to an entirely new level. It will also devastate brick and mortar store fronts and ma and pa stores in Israel as it has done around the world. The competition will force Israel's big retailers and chain stores, including food stores, to up their game and move into internet sales.

Change can be great, change can also be very scary.

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Palestinian GPS Around Check Points
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A Palestinian tech company named Doroob created and app that can be downloaded through Google that will avoid Israeli check points and the long lines and waits that are involved.

The root D Ra Ba is found 58 times in the Koran. It's mentioned as Yadriba or as the noun Doroob and it means "to set forth."

Doroob Navigation uses crowd sourcing so people use their phones and the GPS to show where traffic in building up and to offer get updates and preferred routes.

Doroob operates much like Waze and Google Maps. But those systems were not very effective in the Palestinian areas - and this one is.

This company made their own maps and their own program.

Many check points are permanent, others change all the time. The IDF does that for security reasons. Although not its primary purpose, this program helps terrorists avoid the check points.

The IDF will have to work hard to stay out in front of this new software.

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Left Can't Oust Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The media is spending much energy showing how Israel's left and center left parties are trying to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

They are offering up a valiant set of descriptions - but their cause is hopeless.

All studies show that fewer and fewer Israelis connect with the left -- 12%.
In fact, in Israel, more and more voters lean right than left -- 59%.

Actually, the left numbers are almost as low as the numbers for those who simply do not care.

That does not mean that Bibi cannot be ousted ... Just unlikely.

Avigdor Lieberman is convinced that he can oust Netanyahu by creating a swing party. He thinks that his party will be big enough to make them essential to any coalition and that they will then decide if they want to take the government left or right.

Lieberman decided that Likud, Netanyahu's party, should select a number two. That way Netanyahu can step down when Lieberman - once again - refuses to join with Likud under Bibi Netanyahu.

Lieberman is also threatening to go to join the left. That is an empty threat. His voters are hardcore right and hard core secular. Lieberman's supporters would never countenance the moderate points of view of the Blue and White party.

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J.Lo in Tel Aviv
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

J.LO - Jennifer Lopez, performed in Tel Aviv on Thursday to a crowd of 50,000 admirers.

The performer, her fiance A Rod and her twin daughters spent five days in Israel. The performance was part of J.Lo's "It's My Party Tour" that they turned into a family vacation.

While in Israel, they visited the Western Wall, took in Tel Aviv culture and generally enjoyed their time. There were great shots of her on the Tel Aviv Beach.

Tremendous pressure was put on the world famous dancer-actress-performer not to accept the invitation to bring her show to Israel and then later, to cancel her trip. The BDS movement has been successful in intimidating many performers - but not this time.

J.LO is only one of two A-list performers who have come to Israel - the second is Bon Jovi.

J.LO posted dozens of selfies and family pictures. She declared how wonderful Israel and Israelis are. She said that she would be back.

JLO has 100 million followers on social media. She is more than a star, just like her fiance is more than a former baseball player.
They are icons. They are idolized. J.LO and A Rod's trip and their posts reinforced for Israelis that they are part of world culture.

This past year Israel has felt beaten up and abused on the international scene. BDS has been very effective. JLO helped invigorate Israel. She accomplished more for the case for Israel than any diplomatic initiative or PR campaign could have achieved.

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Japan Won't Help in the Strait
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has been working on creating a coalition of countries to patrol the Strait of Hormuz.

It should seem like the obvious thing to do - the Strait of Hormuz is now the most dangerous maritime region in the world. And responsibility for that lies totally and completely on Iran's aggressive maneuvers in trying to exert influence on Western policy and force the United States and other countries to reconsider the sanctions that have been crippling the country.

Without a broad based world coalition, a true defense strategy to protect the oil tankers using the waterway will fail. A broad coalition is both a practical and public relations necessity. It is the only way to condemn Iran effectively.

And yet, there is opposition. Japan has said that they will not join.
They are afraid that it may trigger a war. Japan has said that they may escort their own ships (highly unlikely) and that they will provide airplanes to assist in monitoring the Strait.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said that they: "... are closely monitoring the situation and continue to collect information while working closely with the United States and other countries."

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Iran's Economy
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The currency of Iran is the rial.

The most recent US sanctions against Iran have hurt Iran badly.

The economy of Iran is suffering.

In order to survive the tremendous inflation they are suffering, Iranian leadership has decided to lop off four zeroes from the rial.

Iran's inflation is so high, we have no idea how high it really is. There are official inflation numbers of 30%, but we know those numbers aren't true. Unofficial numbers put Iran's inflation at 1,000% - that's one thousand percent.

The announcement about the rial was made by the Iranian government spokesman after a government meeting.

To get a sense of what has happened to the rial and the economy of Iran let's look at the rial over the past 4 years. In 2015 $1 was worth 32,000 rials. Today the official exchange rate is 120,000 to $1.

Wow!

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Lieberman's Demands
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 31, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Avigdor Lieberman, the head of Yisrael Beitaynu, declared that the only way for his party to join the next coalition would be that will demand three points.

#1: There must be a mandatory draft for the ultra -orthodox.

#2: Public transport must be accessible on Shabbat.

#3: Civil marriages must be permitted and instituted.

These demands signify that, almost certainly, Yisrael Beitaynu will not be part of the next government.

It also means that the right needs to gather the required 60 members of government without Lieberman's party which is one of the right-wing parties.

We do not know how many seats Yisrael Beitaynu will earn in the September election. But we do know that the reason there is a second election taking place in September is because Lieberman refused to join the Netanyahu coalition in April, thereby torpedoing the possibility for Netanyahu to form a government.

In the end - what did he really gain?

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Turkey Lashes Out Against Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The president of Turkey is once again lashing out against Israel.

Erdogan never misses an opportunity to attack Israel. This time he went out of his way to attack Israel without any reason or provocation.

At a meeting with provincial officials, as reported on Press TV in Turkey, Erdogan went on his rant.

He said: "Whoever is on the side of Israel, let everyone know that we are against them ... We do not approve of silence on the state terror that Israel blatantly carries out in Palestine."

This is more than a policy dispute. This is Erdogan drawing up teams and threatening discipline for those who break ranks with him.

While many barriers have broken down between Israel and other countries over the past two years, Turkey wants to turn back the clock.

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Iranian Youth Search www
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian youth works very hard to break through their government's block on the internet.

The government has shut down almost all forms of contact and any access to the West through the internet - the World Wide Web, aka the www. The Iranian web is a cheap facsimile of the www.

Iranians who want to jump on the West's www have gone to great lengths. They spend hours attempting to bypass governmental blocks.

The youth use VPNs, or Virtual Personal Networks. VPN artificially makes it appear as if the user were located someone else.

Here's how: Let's say you live in Teheran. When you go online, you click onto a VPN and it shows that you are in Los Angeles. The Iranian can now surf the net, and no one will know.

The bigger problem is that VPNs are overloaded. So many people want to get on that it can take an hour before you get on and that many users causes the server to be slow and users to be regularly bounced off.

Iranian leadership does not have the same restrictions. Iran's president and foreign minister tweet constantly - even the Supreme Leader, or at least the Supreme Leader's office, tweets regularly.

Iranians use the internet because they want to learn what is happening in the West. That's a good sign.

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Iran is Petrified of Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is petrified of Israel's new stealth F-35. Israel has already flown the planes over Iran.

A Kuwaiti newspaper reported about it.

According to an "informed source" quoted by the newspaper Al-Jarida: "The fighters crossed Syrian airspace into Iraqi airspace, including to Iran, where they carried out reconnaissance missions and targets in the areas of Bandar Abbas, Isfahan and Shiraz, flying at a high altitude over other sites suspected of a relationship with Iran's nuclear program".

Iran did not detect the F-35. Neither did the Russians. This F-35 is a secret weapon. This worries Iran, but it is not their only worry.

Israel's character worries Iranian leadership even more than the weapon. The Israeli military is bold and tends toward quick and decisive action. That, combined with the F-35, is a real threat to Iran.

Israel can and will strike Iran if necessary - and Iran knows it.

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Barak Merge with Meretz
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli elections are coming up and the final lists for each party are due in two weeks.

The most curious of all lists will be the result of a speculated merger between Israel Democratic Party leader Ehud Barak and Meretz chair Nitzan Horowitz.

Meretz is the most left Jewish party on the electoral spectrum. Barak is a former prime minister and former leader of the Labor Party.

This potential merger will take voters away from both the Blue and White Party and the Labor Party.

Israel Democratic Party and Meretz are trying to create a genuine left. The problem is that the Israeli electorate is center right - not center left or left anymore. And that will almost certainly translate into failure for this merger at the ballot box.

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Israel Keeps The Lid on The MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

As I mentioned yesterday, Israel's Foreign Ministry invited Arab bloggers to Israel. In the end, six bloggers visited Israel.

They guests of the foreign ministry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During their meeting the PM told them that actually, Israel is keeping the region safer.

Netanyahu said: "but within the region, Israel is the irreplaceable power, because there is no other power in the region that without its presence and activity here, I would say the region would collapse ... Without Israel, without the things we do, the things we stand for and the things we protect, I think the entire Middle East would collapse by the forces of Islamic radicalism, whether Shiites led by Iran, or Sunni radicalism led by the Islamic State."

The prime minister continued, saying that Israel "is the one indigenous force in the Middle East that prevents the collapse of the Middle East."

I have not thought about it until now. Prime Minister Netanyahu is correct.

Israel keeps the lid on so many issues. Without Israel, Islamic extremism would have taken over major swaths of the Middle East. And then the world.

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Saudi Blogger in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Foreign Ministry of Israel is hosting a group of bloggers from Arab and Muslim countries. We do not know how many bloggers came on the trip - but we do know that one of them is Muhammad Saud from Saudi Arabia.

Saud is a very popular blogger. Saud is also fluent in Hebrew.

Like any good Muslim, Saud wanted to visit the Dome of the Rock. He dressed in traditional Saudi religious garb and ascended the Mount.

Locals were not pleased. Some people threw chairs at him. Video shows Saud standing at the Dome of the Rock when one youngster ran up to him, grabbed his arm and spit in his face.

This was not part of the Foreign Ministry's objective in bringing the bloggers to Israel.

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Shaked Can Unite the Right
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Former Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and her political colleague and party member Naftali Bennett had a meeting. It was agreed upon that Shaked will become the head of their party, The New Right Party, and that they will work to unite the entire right wing community behind her.

In Israel, many religious parties fall under the right wing umbrella. And some rabbinic voices are suggesting that a woman - certainly a non-religious woman, cannot lead the religious parties.

The problem with that point of view is that Ayelet Shaked is, by far, the best and most significant force in the right wing world and probably the only person capable of bringing the right together.

Shaked has national presence. She has experience. She has been successful in maneuvering and navigating around Bibi and his government. She is the best shot they have. The question is - will they give her the chance?

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Iran Takes Another UK Tanker
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I just watched the video of Iranian commando rappelling from a helicopter onto the Stena Imperio owned by Stena Bulk, a British oil tanker.

The 90 second video was spliced together from several cameras. At least two of the videos were taken by the small Iranian boats that surrounded the oil tanker and one from inside the helicopter as the five commandos jumped out.

It was impressive. The operation took only a few seconds.

Iran has stepped up their game. This is the second UK ship they have taken. And just as Iran is stepping up their game, an Iranian ship that was in the Port of Jedda was released. The ship, which suffered from engine trouble, was being held by the Saudis. After its release the Iranians publically thanked the Saudis.

It is the long game here that is important.

Iran is becoming more and more brazen. But with each move they push Europe and others closer to US President Donald Trump. They are effectively unifying the world around Trump - a leader they would normally reject.

Right now the game is on. Iran is playing very seriously. The West's counter move may or may not be commensurate with Iran's moves. We should know soon.

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Iran Proposes a Compromise
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has offered a very nice deal to the US. It goes in both directions.

In New York Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said that Iran will permanently permit enhanced inspections. While at the same time the US will permanently lit all sanctions against Iran.

Zarif said that the Iranian offer was a good deal it was "a substantial move."

Zarif continued that "It's not about photo ops. We are interested in substance," he told reporters at the Iranian mission to the UN in New York on Thursday. "There are other substantial moves that can be made."

He said: "If they [the Trump administration] are putting their money where their mouth is, they are going to do it. They don't need a photo op. They don't need a two-page document with a big signature."

Zarif is calling Trumps bluff.


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Shelly Leaves Labor
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The politician who has been the back bone of Israel's Labor Party for the past 15 years announced that she is taking time out from politics.

Her name is Shelly Yachimovitich and she has been the most successful of all Labor politicians for the past 15 years.

Not only has Shelly been the backbone of Labor, she has also been Labor's heart and their soul.

The April election proved that the fire that once fueled Labor has dimmed and is about to be extinguished. The party is a shell of what it once was and Yachimovitich, who almost single-handedly kept the party alive and relevant, no longer has the burning desire to fight for change the way she once did.

Shelly as she was known - her first name was all she needed, came to politics after a long and successful career in media. She was the most popular radio talk show host in the country. Shelly affected change through her media platform. Then she left the media and joined Labor in order to better bring change to Israel.

Shelly's departure is another example of the death of the once great Labor party.

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Hezbollah & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 17, 2019
I've Been Thinking:

Last week Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah issued a warning to Israel and a description of what was to come.

With the warning Nasrallah informed Israel that Hezbollah rockets could hit anywhere in Israel. And then he went on to describe, more or less, where the attacks would take place.
In response, Israel bolstered 20 strategic targets.

Certainly Israel has the ability to respond to Hezbollah attacks, but that is not enough. They must secure their important sites again missiles. With the passage of time missiles become more powerful, their range becomes longer and their accuracy increases.

It would be irresponsible of Israel not to take the threat by Hezbollah seriously. Back in 2016, after an official assessment, Israel allocated 150 million shekel ($43 million) to improve the security on these 20 strategic sites. Attacks on these sites could cause serious damage and certainly inconvenience to Israelis.

It would also be irresponsible of Hezbollah to attack Israel's sensitive sites because Israel would counter attack - and counter attack very seriously.

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Hamas: Murder the Jews Everywhere
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

In the middle of his recent Friday sermon, a fiery charismatic Hamas Sheik named Fathi Hamad shouted that Arabs should murder Jews all over the world. He demanded that followers murder Jews in Israel and everywhere else.

A few days later Ahmed Yosef, who has a direct line to Hamas leader
Ismail Haniyeh, publicly condemned Hamad for calling for the murder of all Jews.

Yosef said: "The language of knives and explosive belts is not suitable for statesmen ... And the talk of killing Jews using this kind of language contradicts religion and morality."

Yosef continued: "Hamas is not against world Jewry, and not even against Judaism as a religion."

This exchange is illustrative of an important issue.

Traditionally, Palestinians terrorists struck out against Western targets, and, of course, against Jewish targets. Particularly in Europe. Then they changed course, turned inward, and focused on Israel only.

Today we are witnessing a conflict between the two perspectives and focus of Palestinian terror. There are those who still believe that Jews around the world should be murdered and those who believe in targeting only Israeli Jews.

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Why is Russia so Involved?
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Ever wonder why Russia is so involved in the Middle East and so committed to Iran?

I'll explain:

First and foremost, there is a significant Muslim population in Russia. And Russia needs to placate their citizens. There has been some Russian / Muslim tension and it is important to tamp it down.

Next is that the United States has significant influence in the region. And for Russia, it is very important to keep US interests in check. It is that attitude alone that informs large swaths of Russian foreign policy.

Third comes proximity. Russia itself, is actually located in the region. Their former states are even closer, extremely close, to Iran and to the entire Middle East.

Finally, Russia and Iran are linked economically. They are enormous oil producers. Russia is also a huge provider of much of what Iran needs.


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Hezbollah Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah went public today outlining the next conflict with Israel.

Nasrallah announced: "In the next war with Israel we will have surprises in land, air and sea." He went on and explained that "the resistance" which means perpetrators of terror and his own forces can reach "the whole of Israel until Eilat." Eilat is the southern-most part of Israel.

There was more. Nasrallah said he is "confident of victory" and confident that "Israel is weaker than a spider web ... Life and death are in the hands of God, yet logic points to me praying in al-Aqsa mosque."

Nasrallah described how Hezbollah could strike "sensitive targets" in the southern and northern Israel. 'In a next war with us, Israel will be fighting for its existence ... and I will be praying in Jerusalem".
The comments were made during an interview on Al-Manar TV, the Hezbollah TV cable station.

Explaining that Hezbollah is not afraid even though Israel has previously killed many Hezbollah members and will target them, he said: "Hezbollah is an organization that doesn’t depend on anyone ... There were those who died and those who left the organization, and it didn't affect us."

Nasrallah cautioned that Hezbollah will target the city centers: "There's no need for us to harm soldiers. Instead of wasting missiles on the north, we will attack the south ... "We'll bring Israel back to the Stone Age."

Explaining one of his targets Nasrallah explained that: "Israel tried to get rid of the ammonia tanks in Haifa and did not succeed. We only need a couple of rockets to hit these tanks, and the number of fatalities will be very large, even Israelis themselves say that."

The leader of Hezbollah emphasized that: "Everything I've presented is the minimum of our abilities. It's important to me that Israelis understand that."

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded very quickly to Nasrallah's remarks by saying: "Over the weekend we heard Nasrallah's remarks on his attack plans. It should be clear that if Hezbollah dares to do some nonsense and attacks Israel, we will hit him and Lebanon with a crushing military blow."

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Make Israel Normal Again
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The election in Israel will be held on September 17th.
After the April election, Avigdor Lieberman was the man responsible for preventing Benjamin Netanyahu from creating the coalition government he needed to cinch the position of prime minister - thereby forcing the new election.

On Thursday Lieberman and his party, Y'Israel Beitenu (Israel is Our Home), released a campaign ad that unveils a new slogan.
The 30 second video which was released via Twitter runs under the phrase "This is not Las Vegas." The ad cuts to a slot machine with photos of Netanyahu's potential coalition partners and labels them all as extremists. Next comes a derogatory comment about potential coalition members if the Blue and White party were to win.

The ad finishes with a flourish. In white letters, against a blue background, with a blood red exclamation point for added emphasis - and in English - is the phrase "Make Israel Normal Again!"

The allusion to Donald Trump's "Make American Great Again" slogan is obvious. The substitution of the word "normal" is critical. Normalcy is a political and defense condition Israelis yearn for.

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Israeli Arab High Jumper Represents Israel- Called a Traitor
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Hanin Nasser is an Israel Arab, she is also Israel's best female high jumper. Nasser will represent Israel in the European Athletic U23 Championships.

And that upsets some Arabs.

Hirak Haifa, a group of Israeli Arab activists, is pressuring Hanin Nasser to back out of the competition. They went public with a statement. This is how it read:

"We condemn her representation of the Zionist entity that uprooted our people and is using her as a fig leaf to cover up the racism and crimes of Israel."

The group also sent a personal note to Nasser asking her not to represent Israel.

What frightens haters more than anything else is normalization. In their narrow world, freedom and democracy are treated as treason.

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Israel Stopped 50 Terror Attacks Worldwide
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Jerusalem Post published a report yesterday informing us that the Mossad has announced that Israel prevented and intercepted 50 terror attacks by Iran and ISIS over the past 3 years.

Twelve of those attacks were planned for Turkey. Some were halted at the very last minute.

Turkey's relations with Israel have been very rough since 2010. That's when a Turkish aid ship, part of a flotilla, was boarded by Israeli commandos.

Turkish President Erdogan has been a vocal critic of Israel at almost every turn.

And yet, despite the vitriol being spewed against them, Israel is convinced that helping stop terror everywhere is the right thing to do. Israel's leadership also believes that these connections will help Israel further improve relations with countries all around the world.

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Israeli Plans For Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's moves to increase the enrichment of their uranium has upset the countries who signed on to the now infamous deal with Iran.

It appears that the deal has no teeth. That there is no way to force Iran to comply with the deal.

Additionally, this deal leaves Israel in a very precarious situation.

Questions arise. How will Israel respond to the new threats?

It should be perfectly clear to everyone that this assertive move by Iran is, first and foremost, a direct threat against Israel. And then it is a threat to the rest of the Western world. But location is everything and Israel is in the neighborhood - in the target zone, in the cross hairs, of Iran.

Israel has a history of interceding when it perceives threats to be developing. In 1981 Israel attacked and destroyed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. In 2007 Israel attacked and destroyed the nuclear center in Syria.

If Iran pushes too hard, Israel may very likely strike Iran's nuclear system.

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Why Generals Are Running Against Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Have you ever wondered why so many generals are vying for political leadership in Israel?

One former general cum present contender was the most decorated Israeli general ever. Another was the head of the Mossad, another the head of internal security and another was chief of staff of the IDF.

Ostensibly the argument is that these former generals want to protect Israel and disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu's point of view on safety and security. But that's not really true.

The truth is that these generals want to trade in their name recognition for political power and ultimate control.

They may disagree with Netanyahu about a two-state solution or about how harsh to be with Iran, but on most of these topics they are on the same pages with only nuanced difference.

They all worked for Bibi and now they want to oust him. They think that their IDF experience will win over the Israeli masses and lure them away from a leader they perceive to be a demagogue and a danger to Israel.

They want to save Israel from Bibi Netanyahu. And each of these generals wants to be the person who replaces him.

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J.Lo in Tel Aviv Aug 1
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jennifer Lopez, J. Lo to her fans, will perform in Tel Aviv on August 1st. The Tel Aviv concert is part of a sold out, 30 concert tour, entitled "It's My Party." The tour began in Las Vegas.

Accompanying Lopez on her trip to Israel will be her fiance, New York Yankee legend Alex Rodriguez, aka A Rod.

BDS supporters are applying tremendous pressure. Their goal is to prevent the concert by forcing force J Lo to cancel.

In a letter BDS supporters wrote: "Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within".

The letter described the Israeli "government's policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people."

"To understand why we are writing you, we would like to start off by saying that, much like Sun City in South Africa under the apartheid regime, the city of Tel Aviv, where you are about to perform, is used as a tool for marketing the State of Israel as a 'cool' and 'cultured' democracy, while hiding a brutal history of colonization, even that of the city itself".

A Rod's responded to the letter by saying in an interview: "I'm going to Israel, so I am so excited, it's my first time."

So far the performer and her celebrity fiance are standing strong against the BDS pressure. If they do not succumb, J Lo and A Rod will witness - with their own eyes, the wonders of Israel. They will understand the lies BDS is spreading. And this concert and their trip will be an inspiration for those who are curious about Israel and for the many lovers of Israel constantly libeled by BDS canards.

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Erdogan Offers to Mediate
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to mediate the conflict between the United States and Iran. He said that he wanted to help ease the tensions that continue to ratchet up between the two countries.

Erdogan made his suggestion at the G-20 meeting in a conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Surprising as it may seem, it is actually a very good idea.

Erdogan is perfectly positioned to mediate. He is distrusted by both parties - and yet, he is also close with both parties. Erdogan shares strategic economic objectives with both the United States and Iran.

I look forward to hearing the responses - if any, of both the United States and Iran to Erdogan's gesture.

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UN:Miss Iraq Says She Loves Irsrael
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan and former Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman are friends. Their relationship began in 2017 at the Miss Universe competition.

Ms. Idan posted a picture of herself with Ms. Gandelsman and wrote: "Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel." Yesterday Idan was at the United Nations Human Rights Commission speaking about anti-Semitism in the Arab world and about the hatred towards Israel that is taught in the Arab world.

In 2018 Sarah Idan visited Israel.

While in Israel Idan said: "The issue between Arabs and Israelis goes beyond policy disagreements. It's deeply rooted in the belief systems taught in Muslim countries, which are anti-Semitic."

Yesterday, at the UN she said: "Two years ago, I represented Iraq at Miss Universe. I posted a photo with Miss Israel on social media. I was told to remove it and forced to denounce Israeli policies. I received death threats. Since then, I can no longer return to my homeland," she further recalled in Geneva,

While in Geneva, home of the UN Human Rights Commission, Idan made a point of mentioning that the Iraqi government did not condemn the threats, nor did they protect her freedom of expression.

She also spoke out denouncing Hamas:
"When I watched the news last month, why did they never report that the Hamas terrorist organization fired nearly 700 rockets at Israeli civilians in one weekend or that Hamas used Palestinians in Gaza as human shields? Why do they never condemn Hamas for initiating the attacks? Instead, they only show those killed by the response, in self-defense, and blame Israel."

Idan concluded her remarks by saying:
"For advocating peace, I'm called a traitor ... negotiating peace for both states isn't betraying the Arab cause but a vital step to end conflict and suffering for all. Thank you."

Thank you, Sarah Idan. The world needs more spokespeople with your courage and commitment to righting wrongs.

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Russia is Striking Hospitals
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Since April, when Russia launched an offensive to recapture the area of Idlb in Syria, the Russians have bombed more than 23 hospitals in the region.

Mark Lowcock is the UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs. He reported to the Security Council about the attacks on the hospitals.

Lowcock told the Security Council that he sent a letter to Russia asking for an explanation about the clear targeting of hospitals. He said that he was "not sure" why Russia would act in this way.

Last week, on June 20th, an ambulance with a pregnant woman being rushed to the hospital was targeted by Russia.

Lowcock has tried to find out how and why that happened. "I have written to the Russian Federation to request information as to how the details provided through the de-confliction mechanism are used."

Russia has not yet responded.

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Bank Leumi Appoints Arab Chair
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel once again proved itself a wonderful democracy. The largest investment bank in Israel, Bank Leumi just named an Israeli Arab as their new chairman of their board.

On Sunday Dr. Samer Haj-Yehia was selected by the bank's board of governors.

Haj-Yehia earned a PhD in macroeconomics from MIT. He earned an MBA in finance, a master's degree in accounting and economics and a law degree.

His resume is very impressive. As the new chairman of the board I am certain that the bank will continue to grow financially.

The most important lesson here is that his election was not a token appointment. Haj-Yehia is the perfect candidate for the position.

Israel is a democracy with equal opportunity.

Unfortunately, like any democracy, there are some very vocal racists.

A tiny minority -- and also unfortunately that minority attract the limelight. These racists often catch the attention of the media and they are paraded across headlines.

But they do not represent Israel.

More typical of Israel is this appointment.

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Syria S-300s are Operational
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Israeli intel satellite company ImagSat International released pictures of Russia's four S-300 surface-to-air anti-missile batteries in Syria.

The fourth and final S-300 photographs were made public this weekend.

This information means that it will be much harder for Israel to attack Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

This Russian S-300 weapon is one of the newest and most sophisticated anti-missile systems - and it will most probably be manned by the Iranians.

The four batteries are positioned strategically throughout Syria and will significantly bolster their defense against Israelis airstrikes.

With the S-300 protecting them, Israel will have to work much harder to keep Iran and Hezbollah from amassing weapons and transferring them.

This is a major obstacle for Israel to overcome.

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PA Arrest Attendees of Bahrain
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

15 Palestinians attended the Bahrain conference.
And on Friday, Palestinian police raided their homes to arrest all 15 of them.

The police confiscated computers and security cameras. Only one person was arrested the others escaped or went in to hiding before their homes were raided.

Hebron businessman Saleh abu Mayaleh was the person arrested. He spent two days in jail and was released after the US embassy sent a very strong letter to the PA.
Jason Greenblatt, White House Special Envoy tweeted a response after abu Mayaleh's release:

"We are pleased the PA has released the Palestinian they arrested after attending the Peace to Prosperity workshop. We look fwd to continuing our conversation w all who attended the workshop & anyone else who wants a better future for the Palestinians."

Before the Peace to Prosperity Conference the Palestinian press published the names and pictures of those planning to attend the workshop and called them all traitors.

The charge against them was treason.

Talk about an extreme reaction.


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Bahrain Not Really in the Media
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The workshop in Bahrain is over.

Palestinians are calling it a big nothing.
The United States is optimistic - after all, it is the first stage in
their "Deal of the Century."

There was very little coverage of the Bahrain workshop in mainstream US media. There was very little coverage in the Israeli media.

Actually, the most covered news items in the Israel news cycle at the time that the workshop was taking place were the US presidential debates and the Iranian threat.

On the whole, there was more media coverage to the lead up to the workshop than there was of the workshop itself.

One can never really predict how a news cycle will develop. In many ways modest coverage is helpful - but, then again, it proves the point for the Palestinians,

Bahrain was in the media, but on the sidelines.

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Russia Says US Drone in Iranian Airspace
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia announced yesterday that they have information that the US drone that was shot down by Iran was over Iranian airspace.

Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia's Security Council, made it clear that their information indicates that the US encroached on Iranian air space and hence, Iran was justified in shooting down the US drone.

He followed up and said that the pictures, video and information that the US provided was fuzzy and very unprofessional and therefore unconvincing. He clearly said that he does not believe the US argument.

This is a devastating statement by Russia. They are siding with Iran over the United States. The Russian statement also raised doubts about whether the US is telling the truth - and that plays right into the Iranian playbook which repeats over and over that the United States has fabricated facts about Iran.

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US UK Israel Joint F-35s Train
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The British Royal Air Force Defense Ops tweeted about and confirmed a three country joint training operation with US, British and Israeli participants.

This was not just any training operation. This was a joint training exercise for the Lightning F-35B - the most advanced fighter jet in the world. One of the specifications of the F-35B is that it is a stealth jet.

The British released a picture of 6 jets - 2 British, 2 US and 2 Israeli - in arrowhead formation. Each of the countries was flying two F-35s.

The F-35 has already flown many missions for Israel, especially over Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. There are also rumblings about the F-35 flying several missions over Iran.

Making this information public is very important. It is a clear statement to Iran. It tells Iran that these three countries, Great Britain, the United States and Israel, each have the ability to enter Iran and then leave without even being seen.

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New Parties in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The new elections in Israel on September 17, will certainly have new parties. Two new ones are in the works.

One new party to emerge is headed by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak the only person who actually defeated Bibi in an election. He was the leader of the Labor Party. Labor has since imploded.

Ehud Barak is putting together a great new team. The names include former foreign minister and head of the Kadima Party Tzipi Livni.
Also, Dan Meridor a former Likud minister. Yair Golan former deputy chief of staff of the IDF is also part of the team. The final person to round out the top of this all-star team is Adina Bar Shalom. Bar Shalom is the extremely talented and well known daughter of Rav Ovadia Yosef, former Chief Rabbi and founder of Shas.

The emergence of this party will leach from the New Blue and White coalition. Barak has been rumored to have also spoken to Yair Lapid one of the heads of the Blue and White.

The second new party is far less nationally or internationally enticing. The mayor of Tiberias Ron Kobi is its head. The name of his party is the "Secular Right."

Many more parties will emerge some with better chances than others.


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The Deal of the Century
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The whole world knows that the Palestinians are not pleased with the Trump administration's Deal of the Century, but the truth is that there are Israelis who are not happy with it, as well. And not simply the prime minister. Many leaders of parties that will become part of the next coalition government will find parts of the deal highly objectionable.

Yet, despite those problematic areas, Israel must say "yes" in principle to the Deal of the Century.

Saying "yes" is how one gets a great deal.

The deal is a framework, a text upon which to work. It is a draft. Some items stay in, some are changed or modified and improved, others come out.

From Israel's point of view some issues - like questions of security, will need to be re- referenced and re-evaluated. The best example we have from what has, so far, been made public is linking Gaza with the West Bank via a train and highway.

Israel has rejected this idea for decades, ever since it was first proposed. It was always nixed for security purposes. Any route connecting Gaza and the West Bank would serve as an easy route of transport for terrorists and weapons.

Israel needs to think seriously about how they are going to deal with each proposal.

The Palestinians should have said yes and should be doing the same thinking.

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US Hits Iran - a Cyber Strike
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

USCC is the United States Cyber Command.

The USCC launched a retaliatory strike against Iran this weekend.
This has been a very busy week, cyber speaking. The big news was that Iran attacked US interests, striking tankers in The Sea of Oman. Lesser known news is that Iranian cyber teams were also kept busy attacking many other interests in the region and beyond.

In addition to the United States, Iranians attacked Saudi, Bahraini, UAE and other US computer systems.

In response to the tanker attacks, probably exacerbated by tensions resulting from the computer systems attacks -- or maybe the opposite -- The USCC launched a barrage of attacks against the Iranians.
It's important to note that Iran's cyber aggression team is directly connected to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Many questions have been left unanswered. It is not clear if this USCC cyber response is the response President Trump was referring to when he referred to striking Iran or if there is more of a response to come. It is also not clear who was hit by the US and how large the attack was. And we do not know if the US hit the Guard's naval force, the military body that has been wreaking havoc in the region.

What is clear is that a cyber attack can be far more destructive than any missile strike.

We learned that lesson from the Stuxnet cyber virus attack against Iran. Stuxnet and follow-up cyber strikes were enormously effective. Effective cyber attacks can set Iran back by months, even years.
The down side is that with each US-led attack, Iran improves its cyber defense capabilities.

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Iran May Strike Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is aware that Iran is feeling frustrated because the United States has not responded to their traps. The Iranians are also disappointed that the US has not al changed their policy toward them.

So, Israel thinks that Iran may decide to elevate tensions with the United States and take them up a notch, up them to a higher level.

That may mean attacking Israel - especially a border area in Israel. Iran would not make the move themselves, they would probably use Hezbollah, their proxy, or utilize their forces in Syria wearing Syrian uniforms and attacking from Syrian positions.

It is unrealistic for Iran to think that taunting the United States or US allies will result in a changing in US policy toward Iran. And yet, that is exactly what Iran is hoping for.

Israel will do its best to intercept an attack or preemptive strike coming from Hezbollah or Syria. Remember, Israel is not limited to the restraints that constrain the United States.

Should Iran conduct an attack against them, Israel will almost certainly respond and strike at the heart of the bases that perpetrated the attack.

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Israel Fixing Gaza Sewage & Electric
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Strange but positive things are going on between Israel and Gaza.

One of those things is related to sewage, the other is related to electricity.

The Gaza sewage system is in a state of total collapse. Gaza's sewage system sends its waste overflowing into Israel causing a real environmental and health hazard. Thousands of cubic meters of waste from Gaza flow into Israel every day.

Israel has been intercepting the waste and piping it to Kibbutz Erez for treatment, but the kibbutz pipes are small and the plant is tiny.
So Israel came up with a different solution.

There will be a new, heavy duty pipeline that will carry waste directly from Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia in Gaza to the Sderot sewage treatment plant. This re-routing of Gaza's sewage waste will save both the Western Negev and Gaza.

Israel needs to handle the sewage issue because, if ignored or mishandled, it could contaminate drinking water and the soil. Israel's drinking water comes from the aquifer which is a natural purifier in the ground.

There's more. It also looks like Israel will build a new electric line to Gaza, paid for by Qatar. Qatar has met with Israel and they have come to an agreement. The cost and the actual amount of money that Qatar will pay has not been made public, but Qatar has already made several payments to Gaza for other projects and they total hundreds of millions of dollars.

Things are looking up for Gaza.

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Trump - Don't Respond to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is luring the United States into a trap.
All these attacks against oil tankers and other US interests are Iran's way of trying to have US President Donald J. Trump respond.

And should Trump respond - any response will be deemed excessive and disproportionate and will play right into the hands of Iran and their public relations campaign. Iran's bottom line remains unvaried, the United States is unfairly targeting Iran.

My advice to the White House and the president is do not take the bait! Even when Iran escalates their targeting - do not take the bait. The only action I would recommend is interception.

Interception is when the United States sees an attack happening, intervenes and stops it before it reaches its target. In doing so the evidence will be clear that Iran was responsible and the Iranians will be publicly humiliated.

The situation is, quite obviously, problematic and extremely explosive. The potential for a larger conflict is certainly there.
And the lesson to be gleaned by Russia, China and North Korea should the United States let US interests be attacked without responding would have serious future ramifications for the US .

Israel is one of the United State's greatest strategic interests. Shared enemies may decide that the US and Israel will not respond to minor attacks so as not to escalate tensions with Iran and then go ahead and pepper them with small attacks.

None the less - and I can't stress this enough, it is essential that the United States hold firm and not respond to Iranian taunts and teases right now.

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Iran & Tensions Rise
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Tensions with Iran are spiraling out of control.

A spokesperson for China went on record yesterday explaining that the situation must calm down and that no one wants war in the Gulf.

The attack on two Saudi oil tankers and the subsequent pointing of fingers at Iran by the United States and the release of a video showing Iranian Revolutionary Guards, only served to ratchet up tensions.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe was in Teheran when this all happened. His purpose was to deliver a message from US President Trump to the Grand Ayatollah urging them to sit down and talk.

The Ayatollah said: "Trump is not worthy." In response Trump tweeted: "They are not ready, and neither are we!"

We need to closely monitor the situation.

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New Terror Balloon Trick
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Balloon terrorism has entered a new stage.

Terrorists lofting balloons into Israel are now using slow burning wicks.

They have found a more powerful, yet still simple, way to terrorize Israelis. A six inch burning wick falling from the sky.

Slow burning wicks break off and continue to burn. That means one balloon which used to have only one attack point, now has three or four attack points. There is the final point - where the balloon drops, and the three other points where the wick breaks off and remains lit as it hits the ground and starts a fire.

This is a major advance for the Palestinians. It is an inexpensive and effective improvement.

Israel discovered this new terror devise after a series of balloon fires were doused and no remains of balloons were found. Israeli authorities watched the video tracking and they saw how that had happened.

This is very difficult weapon to defend against it. There is no way to stop it.

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PA Full Court Press
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinians are putting together a full court press to influence their natural partners and supporters to boycott or even back out of the US economic workshop in Bahrain.

Today the PA went on Facebook with an appeal to the greater world to influence Jordan and Egypt to change their minds and not attend the workshop. Their hope is that public humiliation will impact decisions.

"The Palestinian Authority urges Egypt and Jordan not to attend the Bahrain conference," Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesman for the Palestinians wrote on Facebook after it was announced the two Arab countries and Morocco would participate.

Melhem continued, "all brotherly and friendly countries to withdraw," adding that participation "would carry wrong messages about the unity of the Arab position" on rejecting Trump's plan.

Lebanon said they would not attend because they have not been consulted. Now really - why would the US consult Lebanon?

One of the biggest problems emerging out of this entire episode is that countries and leaders, including the Palestinians, have an unrealistic understanding of their true import and role in the larger picture - not just of the Middle East region, but of the world in general.

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Iran Mock Bombs White House
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

In Northern Iran, in the small village of Kiasar, an enactment of a mock attack on Israel, the White House and a US Naval ship was staged.

Fake rockets were emblazoned with the famous quote from the former leader and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini reading, "Israel must be erased from the annals of history."

The staged presentation was broadcast on Iranian TV. Present were heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Commander General Ali Fazli remarked: "This symbolic missile demonstrates their willpower and their faith. In fact, if there is a need one day, this place will be transformed into a real base for the defense of the religion of God."

In the video presentation of the strike a narrator is heard saying: "Prepare to erase Israel from the annals of history. This mark of shame will quickly and permanently be erased from the annals of the world. This base of global Zionism, England, and America - we shall raze it to the ground, and we shall erase it from the annals of history."

And the crowd applauded.


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Yiddish in the Spelling Bee
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For people who follow The Scripps National Spelling Bee this year's competition was more exciting than the Super Bowl.

Many people were amazed because the judges ruled that the competition was over and named eight national champions.

I found it amazing because three of the words in the competition were Yiddish.

Two of the Yiddish words were given to a 7th grader, contestant No. 5, Rishik Gandshari from San Jose, California.

The first Yiddish word he was given was "Yiddishkeit". He spelled it correctly. A little bit later he was given the Yiddish-Hebrew word "Keriah". The judges told Rishik that the word derives from Yiddish. Actually, "Keriah" really comes from the Hebrew. It means rending clothes during Jewish mourning. The judges defined it as tearing clothes in Jewish mourning ritual.

Finally, the last Yiddish word was "Lekach" the honey cake eaten by Ashkenazi Jews on and around Rosh Hashanah.

Wow.

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PA Religious Intolerance
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

At the end of Ramadan, the month of daily fasting, Muslims around the world celebrate. The celebration is called Eid el Fitr.

Because the Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar, based on the moon, and because that calendar has not been fixed or standardized like the Hebrew calendar, the celebration of Ramadan and Eid el Fitr varies from year to year.

Most of the Muslim world celebrates on June 5, but some celebrated on June 4. The cause of the disagreement centers on the question of how they calculate and see the new moon. So the date of the Eid depends on local leadership and their declaration of when the Eid begins.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE started Eid on Tuesday June 4, whereas Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan and Australia and others start today, Wednesday. The Palestinians, also, celebrate on June 5.

That brings me to the photo I saw of Palestinian police beating a Muslim Arab. The victim chose to celebrate the Eid on Tuesday, June 4 instead of Wednesday, June 5. They beat him with heavy four-foot wooden batons. The victim was on the ground.

This is a horrific act - and not simply because of the beating. It demonstrates just how intolerant the Palestinian system is for people who disagree. Where is religious freedom? Where is the protection of this man's rights? Whom did he hurt? Who will be held accountable for this gross violation of human rights?

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Crazy POV of the PA
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Saeb Erekat the Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee announced on Sunday that Israel is a security threat to the region.

On Twitter Erekat wrote:
"The Israeli occupation's aggression and provocations inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound." He continued "will be responsible for a new wave of violence to hit the whole region."

Erekat is repeating the very same tropes from 20 years ago. That the Middle East is about to explode because of Israel and their relationship with the Palestinians.

It should be clear that most of the leaders in the Middle East have lost patience with the Palestinians. And over the past year Palestinian leadership has once again tried to provoke the Arab masses into a frenzy because of some Israeli policy or another - even policies of safety and security at the Temple Mt did not cause mayhem. (Remember the Metal detectors).

Pundits thought that the Friday protests at the Gaza border would trigger mass riots around the Arab world. They did not. Many worried that every Friday during the month of Ramadan that there would be huge riots in Jerusalem which would cascade to violence around the world.

But these events were practically irrelevant and even if a small ripple was felt after some event - each blow back was temporary.

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US Tells Russia Israel May Strike Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Numerous times over the past few months the White House and the State
Department have told the Russians that they support Israel attacking Syrian targets.

Those targets include Hezbollah, pro-Iranian militias, Iranian advisers, weapons depots, transfers of weapons, command and control centers and launch and radar facilities.

The US explained that as-long-as Iran is present in Syria, Israel will consider it to be a direct threat and Israel will be justified in targeting Syrian military and all the other potential threats.

Israel, in the meantime, is planning a tri-lateral summit - Russia, the United States and Israel. The obvious topics of discussion will be Syria and Iran.

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Secret Behind New Elections in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I'm certain that every single reader knows that Israel is heading to snap elections on September 17.

This new election is anything but predictable at this stage. There is no knowing who will win or even how many parties will run.

The most important lesson learned from the earlier election is the simple rule of coalition politics.

The party that gains the plurality -- the most seats -- is not always the party with most power. As we saw -- the breakdown of the coalition negotiations proved this point and catapulted Israel into another national vote.

The smaller parties which are courted by the election winner almost always have significant and power in negotiations. Even small parties exert strength and try to get as much as they can when they join the coalition.

This is coalition politics. This is parliamentary democracy.

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Iran's Midget Subs are a Secret Weapon
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

National Interest magazine and website rated Iran's navy as the fourth most powerful in the world.

Iran's is a non-conventional navy. It hardly has 10 active large ships. It does have 34 mini submarines. And that is a huge number. These subs are officially termed midget subs or "littoral" subs. About 24 were locally built in Iran and the rest were built and bought from North Korea.

These electric and diesel subs are extremely useful in the shallow and narrow straits and water ways in the region near Iran. Larger nuclear subs and Western subs cannot maneuver well in the Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. These subs are the perfect attack given the terrain.

And that is why Iran's navy is ranked 4th in the world.

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Reading Trump's Rhetoric
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It is very important to sort the rhetoric from the objectives in understanding President Donald J. Trump.

At a press conference held in Tokyo as part of his visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump explained that he wants Iran to be non-nuclear. He explained that he does not want a war and he certainly does not want a change in regime.

Trump said: "I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that's very smart of them, and I think that's a possibility to happen."

"It has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership ... We aren't looking for regime change - I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons."

That was not rhetoric.

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Living w Anti-Semitism
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Felix Klein, Germany's Government Commissioner on anti-Semitism, announced that Jews should not wear a kippa in public. Klein said: "I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany."

In response to Klein's remark Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said: "The statement of the German government's anti-Semitism commissioner that it would be preferable for Jews not wear a kippa in Germany out of fear for their safety, shocked me deeply".

This is not the first time German leadership has warned Jews to be careful and not wear a kippa. Last year the head of the German Jewish community said something similar, but he was more specific and said not to wear a kippa in public especially in large municipalities.

Israelis do not understand what it means to live with anti-Semitism.

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PA Arrests ISIS Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority has arrested a would-be ISIS terrorist. She - yes she, is a 23 year old teacher named Alaa Bashir.
Bashir's plan was to murder as many Israeli Jews as possible. Under interrogation Alaa admitted to her plan and to who trained her. She said that she began life as a potential terrorist by affiliating with al Qaeda and moved on to ISIS. She said that she was recruited via a Telegram group which is highly encrypted.

Alaa Bashir told her arresters that ISIS leaders from Syria and Gaza taught her how to assemble explosive devices.

The PA has been watching Bashir for some time, but because she is the niece of a general in the PA's internal security division, until she had a real plan in place she was left alone.

Now - the incongruity with this arrest by the PA needs to be explained.

Despite tensions in the political sphere, security interaction between Israel and the PA works very well. Security teams are in constant contact and work together towards preventing terror. It's a two-way street. Israel has thwarted attacks against Palestinians, and now the PA has thwarted an attack against Israelis.

And yet, PA political leadership continues to support and even pay terrorists to attack Jewish Israelis. So why stop an ISIS terrorist?

After all, what's the difference - dead Israelis are dead Israelis, no matter if they are killed by PA terrorists or ISIS terrorists. Both groups are united in the desire to murder as many Israelis as possible.

The difference is cause and motivation. Palestinian Authority leadership does not profess the same ideals as ISIS. (Gaza leadership, however, does share some of the ISIS ideology - emphasis on some).

Unlike ISIS, Palestinians do not want an Islamic caliphate.

So despite similar desires to murder Jews and to strike terror in
Israel, ISIS and the PA are not in agreement about fundamental issues. And that's why Alaa Bashir was arrested by the PA before perpetrating acts of terror against Israelis.

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Ayatollah Withdraws Support for President
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Supreme Leader of Iran The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted a major critique of the president and foreign minister of Iran on his official website Wednesday May 22.

This is a serious public and direct attack against President Hassan Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Khamenei said: "In some extent, I did not believe in the way that the nuclear deal was implemented. Many times I reminded both the president and the foreign minister."

This announcement on his website is an official withdrawal of support. That means the Supreme leader is leaning elsewhere and to the right.
The president and foreign minister serve at the pleasure of the Supreme leader.

The president and the foreign minister made it very clear that they represented a more liberal Iran and the nuke deal was in the best interest of all of Iran.

The Ayatollah was skeptical at the time but went along and gave the deal and the president a chance. We are now seeing the Ayatollah remind us of his pov in 2015. That is his way of saying your days in office are numbered.

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Hamas Mails Weapons to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has, twice in one week intercepted weapons, components and other tools of war headed for Gaza.

The materials were confiscated at Erez Crossing going into Gaza. All the items were being delivered through the mail. They were all ordered online for delivery to Gaza - and then they were stopped.

In total 372 packages were intercepted. On Tuesday 200 packages were intercepted and on Thursday 172 were intercepted.

Look at this list, this is what the Israelis found and confiscated: multi-rotors, tasers, weapons, balaclavas (ski masks), lasers, air-bag mechanisms, field phones, laser-making lathes, navigation equipment, telescopic sights and military-issue shoes.

Hamas and other extremist groups in Gaza are trying very hard to arm themselves.

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Israeli Lands in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

An Israeli backpacker named Bar Azoulay spent over four hours in Teheran.

Azoulay was flying from India to Bucharest, Romania for his brother's prenuptial celebration. On the way, someone on his plane had a heart attack and the plane was forced to land at the nearest airport - and that meant Tehran, Iran.

Azoulay was lucky. Throughout the four plus hour emergency delay he was on the ground. The Israeli fully expected Iranian authorities to demand that he deplane and that would be the end.

Instead, in the end, more than four tense hours later, the plane took off for Istanbul.

Speaking about the medical emergency and the plane's diversion to Teheran, Azoulay said: "After we landed, a medical crew boarded the plane, and I just sat there hoping they won't take us off. I promised myself that if I have to leave, it definitely won't be alone."

Once the medical crew stabilized the patient and he was removed from the plane, "we waited another four hours - and that's it."

Wow!


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US Has Low Expectations for the Peace Deal
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Deal of the Century is getting a huge amount of press coverage lately.

President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said the "challenge of reaching a peace deal is extraordinary". He predicted that the great deal will be greeted with criticism. Well of course.

"What we hope is a full, comprehensive peace agreement," Greenblatt said while addressing the World Jewish Congress' annual meeting on Wednesday in Ottawa. "If that can't be achieved, then positive steps forward to help both Palestinians and Israelis and the region would be very good as well."

There should be no doubt that the peace deal will be met with mixed feelings from sides. But the Palestinians have an automatic "no". And that will be what stops the deal in its tracks.

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Tensions Btw US and Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Rhetoric is extremely high between Iran and the US. US President Trump says the Iran will "face its end" if it attacks the US. This comes after a missile lands too close to the US embassy in Baghdad.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said over the past few days that they do not want war but - "there is no power that can confront us."

Israel added that it will not enter any conflict unless it is attacked.
Of course there is a fear that a skirmish might be sparked by accident.

There is a long history of this in war.

The possibility that some underling somewhere, manning a weapons position will take the rhetoric seriously and push the wrong button in response to something is very possible

But discipline is very important. Middle level military leadership is essential. This is where training is so important.

Rhetoric is simply rhetoric. Neither Iran nor the US want to engage they not should escalate based on rhetoric. They need to walk back the tensions.

We need to watch this carefully over the next few days.

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Jordan is in Trouble
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jordan's King Abdullah II is in a very precarious situation. Abdullah, who was never a very strong leader, is in a more weakened position than ever. He is in danger of becoming even weaker and he is certainly in danger of being overthrown.

Countries in the region see Jordan's king as irrelevant. They have no interest and no need for Jordan. Abdullah is not looped into any talks, strategy conversations or meetings. Washington barely speaks to him and even when he travels to DC he gets little respect and even less information.

King Abdullah II of Jordan has gotten no details of the famous peace plan.

Israel barely bothers to speak to the Jordanian king. And yet, Jordan needs Israel just like it needs backing from Washington and regional leaders like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Jordan needs their economic aid and needs a commitment to protect and defend the monarchy - his monarchy. But that aid has been dwindling. Leaders do not see the value of Jordan.

Jordan is petrified of neighboring country Syria, petrified by Assad, ISIS, Hezbollah and Iran. On Jordan's other border, Iraq is teaming up with Iran. Jordan has been the magnet for refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq. With those refugees come extremists from ISIS and al Qaeda as well as Iranian agents.

But Israel has not forsaken Jordan, not throwing Abdullah to his neighboring wolves. Israel is helping secure Jordan and it is probably Israel that leaked intelligence to an Arabic media outlet that there was a plot to assassinate key players in the Jordanian government.

Once upon a time Jordan was an important ally to Israel and in the region. Today the Hashemite Kingdom is no longer essential. The problem is that the alternative to Jordan is far worse. Despite their current status, for the sake of a stable region, Jordan and King Abdullah II must be reinvigorated and revitalized.

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Understanding Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Understanding Qatar requires clear insight and a watchful eye.
Qatar is emerging as a significant player in the Middle East, especially with regard to the Palestinians. Of late, Qatar is even exerting influence on Hamas and on Islamic Jihad.

At the same time - Qatar is siding with Iran against other Sunni nations. So much so that Saudi Arabia and their minions are united against Qatar.

The best example of their influence in the Middle East is the $480 million that Qatar gave to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to solidify a ceasefire with Israel. Egypt was not able to broker the agreement. The PA was not even in the room. The UN was irrelevant. Islamic Jihad, despite recently seeming to emerge as a force, was non-existent.

Qatar procured a ceasefire.

There's more. Turkey and Qatar have developed a very good relationship and that relationship, too, will be leveraged exponentially to propel Qatar into the role of regional influencer.

We need to keep a better watch on the Qataris.
Qatar may be isolated from their fellow Sunnis, but they have become remarkably successful at relationship building and power broking and have even begun to encroach on the role of Saudi Arabia as the region's great influencer.

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The Griffons Were Poisoned
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Eight griffon vultures were found dead in the Golan Heights. They were poisoned. Two others were poisoned and have been taken to an Israeli wildlife clinic. This was not terror -- it was the dastardly act of selfish people.

The Israeli authorities are investigating.

These birds of prey are huge - 9 feet wingspan 4 feet in length. They are so strong that they can literally pick up a baby calf or goat. The primary suspects are cattle owners who have poisoned griffons in the past.

These 10 birds are more than half of the entire griffon population in the region. What makes the timing of the mass killing even worse is that this is nesting season. Nesting is when the eggs are laid and they sit in the nest. The eggs need to be protected in order to hatch.

The eggs will probably not survive, creating yet another blow to the griffon population.

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Nakba is Today
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Nakba is the Palestinian Day of Catastrophe. It is May 15, 1948. The Day is remembered every May 15 since 1948.

Nakba, of course, corresponds to the Gregorian date of Israel's independence. It sounds strange -- Israel's creation is a Palestinian catastrophe -- but this is part of Palestinian culture.

This year there were Palestinian rallies throughout the region. One particular rally was at the Gaza border at the site of the Friday weekly rallies which are called the "March of Return." They gather and try to march through the border fence separating Gaza and Israel and then the purpose is to take Israel from the Israelis.

They attempt to breach the fence and the IDF uses various methods to stop them.

Hamas launches balloons and kites with bombs they roll burning truck tires.

It is hardly a peaceful protest. People often get hurt and some even die. So far today there have been no fatalities and injuries. Today, Hamas created a series of points where people should gather near the border fence. Hamas is clamping down and trying to control any violence to prove that they are in charge and to preserve the fragile cease fire with Israel.

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Iran Will Compete Against Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's Olympic Committee has officially announced that they concluded meetings with the International Judo Federation.

Iranian Judokas will now compete against Israelis.

Of course, the announcement did not mention Israel. It specifically referred to the Tokyo Olympics which will take place in the summer of 2020.

Over the years Iranian athletes have missed weigh-ins, faked injuries or found other excuses to get out and even forfeit their matches when they were scheduled to compete against Israelis.

The head of the Iranian Basiji Athletes Organization, General Daoud Azarnoush, had a different take on the announcement of Iran's new policy. He said that he hopes Israel will be wiped out before the next summer Olympic games in Tokyo when Israel and Iran will likely compete.

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Eurovision Starts in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Eurovision song competition began Sunday in Tel Aviv. While not a very popular music competition in the United States, Eurovision is the biggest musical event of the year worldwide.

As expected, there were calls for boycotts and threats of terror. More than 20,000 Israeli police are on hand - just in case. 250 million people around the world are expected to watch and Madonna, we are told, is scheduled to take the stage in a show of solidarity with Israel.

Each year, the previous winner's home country hosts Eurovision. Israel is hosting this year because last year's Israeli contestant, a woman named Netta Barzilai, won the competition with the song Toy. The Israelis created a huge statue of Netta in downtown Tel Aviv.

Israel has won Eurovision four previous times, once with the iconic song Halleluyah.

Two semi-final rounds will take place in Tel Aviv on May 14th and May 16th. The grand finale will be held on May 18th.

For Israel, winning and then hosting Eurovision, an international event based on merit and creativity, engenders a renewed sense of pride and validation. It is perfectly timed after Israel Independence Day and Jerusalem Day.

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US Condemns UN
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I do not like to write about the United Nations but sometimes what happens is so outrageous I cannot remain silent.

The United Nations Security Council met to condemn Israel. They did not condemn Hamas for launching 700 rockets into Israel.

President Trump's Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt appeared at was is called and Arria Formula meeting. He condemned the UNSC for their present act and their history.

"Where is the urgent condemnation from this room for that unconscionable, sustained attack? Where is the sympathy and the solidarity for the people of Israel? All I hear is silence," Greenblatt said.

"It is baffling and disappointing to see the obvious, continual anti=Israel bias here. Here we are in an Arria session to condemn Israel, in the same halls where just a few months ago, Member States failed to condemn Hamas, a known terrorist organization that just a few days ago fired close to 700 rockets at Israel - including at hospitals and schools," Greenblatt said.

"It is truly shameful that in these halls there have been nearly 700 resolutions condemning actions of Israel - the region's only real democracy - yet not one condemning Hamas' attacks on Israelis or its abuse and neglect of the very people it purports to govern," Greenblatt said.

Looking beyond Gaza, he said, the UNSC has never held an "Arria or session of any kind focused on Palestinian terrorism or incitement."

"Let's stop pretending that settlements are what is keeping the sides from a negotiated peaceful solution. This farce and obsessive focus on one aspect of this complicated conflict helps no one," Greenblatt said.

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Israel: Happy B-Day
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It is Israel's 71 birthday!

This is no small fete. Israel has transformed the world during those 71 years. Not just the Jewish world --- the entire world. The world is a better place because Israel exists.

During the first few years after Israel was established -- it was not at all clear that Israel would survive. That was the second miracle -- the first being the creation of the state itself. At any moment the young fledgling state could be over run by her hostile neighbors.

And yet Israel survived and grew now to over 9 million citizens (9,021,000 to be exact).

The creation of Israel and its continued strength and success illustrate several important points in history. The first is that the destiny of the Jewish people is not victimhood but creativity and productive contributions. Despite the horrors of Holocaust, Israel emerged as fulfillment of the age old dream of building the promised land, the holyland.

Being connected to the land of Israel is transformative. That connection is called Zionism. It changed the Jews as individuals and as a community. There is a stark contrast in Jewish life between pre and post 1948, the year Israel was established.

It was a watershed. It was one of the greatest most drastic distinctions in history. Within a period of 15 years (1941-1956) Jews went from horror to rebirth to builders. Ask any Jew who lived before and after.

Never take this miracle for granted. And remember that the miracle continues today and every day.

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The Cost of Gaza Rockets
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

There are several interesting pieces of information to be noted about the barrage of nearly 700 rockets that were just launched toward and into Israel.

90 of those rockets never made it into Israel. 240 were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Most of the others landed in empty areas.

It is estimated that between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Gaza is in possession of between 5,000 and 20,000 rockets and missiles. Most of the rockets are short range but some, especially those missiles smuggled in from Iran, have the ability to reach far into Israel.

The Iranian supplied missiles aside, most of the rockets in Gaza are locally built in work-sheds and industrial parks. They are made from materials smuggled into Gaza.

The price is the most remarkable aspect of these locally made rockets. They cost anywhere between one hundred dollars and a few hundred dollars. The price depends on what goes into the rocket, especially the propellant.

Gaza's terrorists can develop a powerful weapon for a fraction of the cost of the Iranian-made rockets. The Iron Dome, which intercepts rockets and missiles shot from Gaza into Israel, costs up to tens of thousands of dollars for each intercept.

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Israel's New Population Numbers
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Every year, on the eve of Israel's anniversary, they release the country's population numbers. The numbers are humbling given Israel's short, 71 year history, and the realization that just a few years ago Jews suffered a Holocaust.

Today, the total population of Israel is 9,021,000 people. That's the official number given by the annual report released by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. The report was made public on Sunday.

The report divides the population into different demographics.
6,697,000 of Israelis are Jews (74.2%).
1,890,000 are Arabs (20.9%).
434,000 belong to other religions (4.8%).

Israel is just a little larger than Papua, New Guinea and just a little smaller than Switzerland and Austria. It is miraculous that Israel has accomplished so much and is on track to accomplish so much more.


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They Defend Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted a defense of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. She tweeted after Palestinians launched more than 600 rockets into Israel and Israel struck back at launch sites and command and control centers.

She wrote: "How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends? The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace." in a tweet Sunday night.

This is stunning. But even more stunning was this response to a NYTimes headline. The headline read "Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets and Israel Responds with Airstrikes."

Rashida Tlaib Democrat from Michigan and a Palestinian American tweeted: "When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free? Headlines like this & framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families. #FreePalestine"


WOW! Simply warped

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Gaza Could Become A Major Crisis
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Gaza launched 430 rockets into Israel on Saturday morning thru Sunday morning. 180 of the rockets were fired overnight.

Israel retaliated by striking 130 sites in Gaza.

Early on Saturday morning Gaza began the barrage by sending 50 rockets toward heavily populated cities and towns. Israel's Iron dome was launched and intercepted some of the rockets.

Over the course of the day Gaza continued to loft rockets into Israel. Israel struck back at what appears to have been a predetermined set of locations. but there was some collateral damage. In Gaza a pregnant mother and her fourteen-month old child were killed. And in Israel a sixty year old man was injured and then died from his wounds.

We must monitor this very carefully. The response and the counter response between Gaza and Israel will determine whether or not this barrage escalates into a much larger set of events or even into a military operation.

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Escalation on Gaza Border
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt takes its role as mediator between Israel and Gaza very seriously. Tensions are rising and the conflict might escalate.

In response Egypt has invited or rather summoned the leaders of Hamas specifically Yahya Sinwar and the leaders of Islamic Jihad to Cairo.
They are not simply concerned about the tensions at the Gaza border with Israel.

This week numerous balloons and kites were launched in to Israel was well as a rocket which missed its target and landed in the Mediterranean Sea. The rocket was launched by Islamic Jihad - they accepted responsibility for the attack.

In response Israel struck Hamas and Jihad positions from the air.
Israeli leadership has threatened that if things do not come under control in Gaza and if things are not become calmer they will re-institute their policy targeting Hamas and Jihad leadership. Targeting is a euphemism for saying assassinate.

Hamas in turn announced that if assassinations resume then they will start launching rockets at major cities in Israel.

The threat is real and escalation seems very possible.

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Middle East is Buying Weapons
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Countries in the Middle East spend more on defense than anywhere else in the rest of the world. And now the United States is urging NATO to reduce its defense spending to 2% from about 5% of their GDP.

Most countries in the Middle East spend 10% or more of their GDP on defense - especially on purchasing weapons. Oman spends 11% and Saudi Arabia spends 10.8%. Afghanistan spends 10.1% of its budget on defense.

Seven out of the top ten defense spenders are Middle East countries and ten out of the fifteen largest spenders are from the Middle East and North Africa.

There are several essential points to be learned from this information. First is that both the United States and Russia benefit from supplying these weapons. Next is that it means that the Middle East is being armed way beyond their need.

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An ISIS Resurgence
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has surfaced. He took responsibility for the deadly terror attack, the mass murder in Sri Lanka. Baghdadi also outlined the role of the Islamic State - IS without a state.

French Intel said that: "The video of al-Baghdadi - the Caliph without a caliphate - is to be considered with caution at this stage. French services are analyzing it."

French Intel continued: "If this video is authentic, it confirms what we have repeated: Daesh (Islamic State) has no territory, but Daesh has not disappeared."

The important point is that IS is still very much alive with or without Baghdadi. If Baghdadi is alive then IS is not just alive but will certainly have an explosive resurgence in the near future.

Be aware and be alert!

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Poland To Import Gas from Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like Poland is going to import gas from Israel.
Poland wants - or rather needs, to disconnect from its Russian gas dependence.

Relying on Russia for just about anything almost always lead to problems. Poland knows this. According to Piotr Wozniak, CEO of PGNiG, the Polish state-controlled oil and gas company, Poland is "interested" in importing gas from Israel.

He told Reuters: "We are looking at all those places to the south of Poland ... So yes, we are interested in Israel ... We want to be the company at the crossroads of North-South and East-West ... we need something to the south. Something reliable. So we are looking at all those places to the south of Poland very carefully... So yes, we are interested in Israel."

This is very good news and a very important show of independence by Poland.

Russia has spent decades forcing countries into submission by using energy as a way to exert influence. Now Poland is finding a way to remove that threat and to forge an independent policy without Russia hanging over their shoulder.

Kudos to Poland.

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Iran Responds to US Threats
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is responding to US threats.

Yesterday they threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz through which 20% - 30% of the world's oil travels every day.

They are also threatening Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Iran is saying you think you can replace us and promise Donald Trump that you will fill the supply gap - don't count on it.

According to Iran's President Rouhani: "You whose existence is in the shadow of the Islamic Republic of Iran, how can you tell Trump that if you bring Iran's oil exports to zero we will make up for it? ... Do you understand the consequences of this statement and that it means you are a definite enemy of the Iranian people?"

Rouhani went on to say that if the United States wants to negotiate, all sanctions need to be lifted and an apology must be issued, referring to a prisoner exchange. This is Rouhani's phraseology: "Negotiation is only possible if all the pressures are lifted, they apologize for their illegal actions and there is mutual respect."

The Grand Ayatollah Khamenei has also chimed in. The Supreme Leader of Iran said: "America's efforts in sanctioning the sale of Iranian oil won't get anywhere ... We can export as much of our oil as we need and want."

This is very serious. The world oil market will feel the effects of
this standoff. Oil is now at its highest price since November.

The battle of oil on the world market has begun and Iran is not forfeiting.

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Abbas Calling Trump's Bluff
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jared Kushner, in conjunction with the the Trump White House, is starting a campaign to prop up and promote their deal of the century.

But at the same time Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, has embarked on his own campaign.

Abbas has called a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council to be held on May 15th in Ramallah.

The Council will discuss rescinding recognition of Israel and no longer engaging in security or any other interactions and exchanges with Israel.

They will discuss separating from Israel and the US and putting forth all requests to Europe. The most important appeal they will make will be for statehood and recognition.

Abbas is telling the US and Kushner and Trump we do not want your deal, we want a state. And Europe will recognize us. They are saying we the Palestinians do not need your support or your signing off on what we are getting form Russia the EU and even from Iran. Gone are the days that the United States can dictate to us.

We will soon know if the Palestinians emerge successful in their campaign and if they have outsmarted the United States.

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Trump Cracks Down on Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The pressure is mounting.

The United States has cancelled all 8 waivers that permitted certain countries to import oil from Iran.

Now, President Trump has announced that anyone importing anything -- especially oil - from Iran will be sanctioned by the US. President
Trump is giving allies a choice: do business with Iran or do business with the United States. It is a simple choice. You can't do both.

Iran is responding. Iranian leadership has announced that they will close the Straits of Hormuz if they are not permitted to export their oil.

This is a game of rhetoric and power.
Who knows what the next move will be.

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Iran's HomeMade Fighter Jet
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran flew its first totally, locally, manufactured fighter jet yesterday.

I watched the videos and it showed nothing exceptional.
The Jet is called the Kowsar or Thunderbolt. It is also the name of a section in the Koran.

The Kowsar is based on the US made Northrop F-5. Iran claims that their jet is 4th generation in its technology and that it is capable of jamming all electronic attacks.

It was said that Iran manufactured at least 5 Kowsar jets. They claim 7 but I saw a picture of 5 of them in the factory. Iran is now ready not simply to test, but also to sell them.

The question now is how well this Iranian-made jet stands up against the best US and Russian fighter jets and computer technology.

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What Happened in Bahrain
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For the past three days I have been reading how the Israeli delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress hosted in Bahrain cancelled their visit due to security concerns.

The story was posted all over the Hebrew and Israeli press.
Surprise! Then I discovered that the Israeli delegation went to the Congress, returned home from the Congress and called it a successful trip.

Okay, so there were protests and members of the Bahraini parliament shouted that Israelis have no place in Bahrain. But in Bahrain decisions are made by the Emir, not the members of parliament and the Emir wanted the Israelis at the Congress. In fact, they were under his protection.

The president and founder of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Jonathan Ortmans, was the source for the story that, while the Israelis were welcome , they did not attend for security reasons.

In the end, both versions of the story are probably accurate. Here is what probably happened. The Israeli went to Bahrain and met with several officials, maybe even the Emir. They probably did not attend the Congress.

That is why we have conflicting stories.

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Saudis Raise Their Price of Gas
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:


Saudi Arabia is raising its price of gasoline. The price of 95 Octane gas was originally .50 cents a liter and 91 Octane gas was .37 cent per liter. The new price is .56 cents and .38 cents.

There are 3.78 liters per liquid gallon -- that means the price per gallon in Saudi Arabia is $2.11 for 95 Octane and $1.43 for 91 Octane.

The Saudis say that the price of oil is determined by world market price of oil per barrel. Since the cost of oil has hit $70 per barrel they claim that the internal price of oil had to reflect that increase.

There has always been a myth that the price of gasoline in Saudi Arabia was nearly free -- almost like the price of water. That is simply incorrect. The Saudis are the largest producer of oil in the world and the 3rd largest exporter.

All this is true but gasoline still costs money.

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White House Keeps a Secret
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

This White House is all about tweeting and telling the most ridiculous and minute details of the happenings in the Oval Office.

The Trump White House leaks and tweets about almost everything.
Everything that is, except their Middle East peace plan.

The one thing that the White House has kept completely secret is the peace plan. We hear learned a few details, but nothing that has been confirmed. Supposedly the plan is tens of pages long. And we are told that it stops way shy of Palestinian statehood.

It stuns me that the White House has been able to keep the plan a secret. And it stuns me even more that so many people in the media are so ready to comment about a plan they have never read and a plan they know so little about.


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IMF Downgrades Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The International Monetary Fund, the IMF has revised their estimates for growth in the Middle East. They cut the predictions in half from 2.5% to 1.3% growth.

That is a major failure for the Middle East economy and the a statement
of lack of faith by the investor countries.

It all has to do with 2 factors oil and stability.

As for oil ... It seems that their forecast expected much more oil and sadly that is not the case. On the issue of security ... it has not been a calm period in the Middle East.

Investors were very hopeful for the Middle East but there has been no sense that success is around the corner.

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Biggest Winners in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The big winners in the Israeli elections were the religious parties.

The United Torah party increased their seats to 7. In addition, Shas the religious party, known as the party of the sefardim, of the Israelis who have roots in Arab North Africa also gained seats and now they have 8 in the upcoming Knesset.

Also the Right Wing Union party also received 5 seats.

The biggest losers are Labor with 6 and Meretz with 4. The second big loser was the Arabs. The Arab voter turnout was low. There are 2 Arab parties and both together they yielded 10 votes.

If you were to read Haaretz you would think that it is the end of democracy.

But hands down the biggest loser was the New Right Party. After the final counting of the ballots the New Right has failed to reach the threshold and make it in to the Knesset. They broke away from their party counting on right of center votes and they failed.

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Israel's Election
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Yes, there was an election in Israel yesterday.

And yes Bibi Netanyahu, will, without a doubt form the next government.

Israel is a rich and vital democracy - but it is not a democracy like the United States. Israel is a parliamentary democracy like Canada and the United Kingdom.

In Israel no candidate runs for prime minister and no Israeli casts their vote for a candidate.

Israelis vote for parties and the leader of the party with the most realistic chance of forming a coalition (of over half of the 120 seats in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament) is asked to form a government and then, that party leader becomes prime minister.

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Election Roll May be Hacked
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A hacker posted lists of Israeli voters on Saturday. The hacker claimed to have hacked 6,000,000 people and their details from what they claimed are current voter rolls.

The hacker was part of a larger, annual, mass hack attack against Israel called OpIsrael. It takes place ever year on April 7th and has been an annual event since 2011. Just coincidentally, tis is an election year and the election is today.

The name of the hacker is DarkCoder.

The timing of the hack is telling.

DarkCoder tweeted about the attack on Saturday, just days before Israelis go to the polls. Included in the tweet was a screenshot of a list of many, many names and ID numbers.

But really, it is doubtful that the system was hacked. More likely the list was copied from a previous hack. That information is on line and accessible.

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Flooding in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

70 Iranians have died in floods over these past few weeks. The devastation has caused thousands of people to be relocated.

The numbers say everything.

1900 cites have been flooded. 140 rivers have burst their banks. 409 landslides. 78 roads destroyed. 84 bridges failed.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement: "These floods once again show the level of Iranian regime mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness. The regime blames outside entities when, in fact, it is their mismanagement that has led to this disaster ... The United States stands ready to assist and contribute to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would then direct the money through the Iranian Red Crescent for relief."

Pompeo is correct. Iranians are suffering and their leadership is standing idly by and letting it happen.

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China & Russia Selling Arms in MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

China and Russia are moving to encroach on the US in the arms market in the Middle East.

The United States has always dominated the Middle East arms market and now that is changing. Both Russia and China and pitching to Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

To get a sense of just how lucrative and enormous this market it, in 2018 Saudi Arabia bought $7.7 billion of weapons from the US.

The US is losing market share in the Middle East. Russia and China are all too aware of that fact. The US is no longer the most influential force in the region. China and Russia are laughing, as the saying goes, all the way to the bank.

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Story Behind Baumel's Return
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Details of how Zachariah Baumel's remains were finally returned to his family and buried after 37 years are just now coming out.

The remains of a total of 20 bodies ended up in Israel's Abu Karbi forensic lab in Jaffa. Only one of them matched the remains of a missing Israeli soldiers. That was Baumel.

The entire operation of retrieving the bodies took 2 years and was managed by Russia. There were of course some snags along the way as tensions between Israel and Russia increased and decreased. The entire operation was put on hold after the Russia military transport was shot down by the Syrians and Russia blamed Israel.

The remains were found in the Yarmuq refugee camp which until recently was controlled by ISIS. After ISIS was removed Russia could go in.

Then the bodies were transferred to Israel.

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Superbugs Taking Over the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Superbugs are endangering the Middle East.

A Superbug is type of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. Superbugs are the result of overuse of antibiotics in a society.

Iraq and Egypt seem to have the worst case of Superbugs. They are popping up elsewhere in almost every part of the Middle East.

As far as we can see these areas have not controlled their use of antibiotics. Some have said that antibiotics are distributed like candy. And what is worse is that these societies also give them freely to their livestock.

Because of overexposure and over use of the medicine the antibiotics are simply not effective against these Superbugs. The medicine is simply not stopping the bacteria.

This problem has endangered the public health of the entire region. Unfortunately, there is nothing for them to do to change the situation. Stronger antibiotics would work but only if their use was limited and only prescribed in extreme situations.

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Bibi to Moscow
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 3, 2019
I've Been Thinking:

Netanyahu is flying off to Moscow on Thursday to meet face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It must be very important for the Israeli PM to take a day and make this trip especially because it is 5 days prior to an Israeli national election where he is not necessarily a shoe in winner.

What is so important? Only one thing ... Security!!!!

The announcement came on Tuesday and the trip is Thursday so the subject is time sensitive and cannot wait until after the elections.

It must have to do either with Syria or Iran or both.

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Most Expensive Painting Missing
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The most expensive painting ever sold was auctioned by Christies in November of 2017. It was a painting by DaVinci named Salvator Mundi.

The record breaking painting was sold for $450.3 million and was purchased by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamud bin Salman.

The painting was supposed to go on display in September of 2018 in the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre. But that never happened. It seems that the painting has disappeared.

No one is answering questions about the whereabouts of the famous painting.


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Arabs Are Not Voting in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's upcoming April 9 election is raising some important questions.
One very interesting factoid is that a recent study shows that large percentage of Arabs who are citizens of Israel not planning on voting.

The joint Arab List is the third largest party in this outgoing Knesset. They currently hold 13 seats. It is worth pondering that important point.

The study shows that 19% fewer Arabs will go out and vote in the next election. That means a drop from their already dropping number. In the most recent Israeli election only 63% of the Arab citizens of Israel voted.

Ironically the motto of the joint Arab List is "flocking to the polls."
This is actually a play on the Netanyahu's fear mongering during the last vote when he said that the "Arabs are rushing to the polls."

Arab citizens of Israel really are not rushing out to vote.

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Brazil Will Move Its Embassy Slowly
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

In order to succeed in diplomacy one needs both patience and realism. Sometimes huge bold pronouncements are simply election slogans. On a practical scale it is difficult to snap your finger and accomplish big changes.

So I was not surprised when I saw that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro changed his tune about moving his country's embassy to Jerusalem.

The Israeli press covered the announcement as a walk back of the decision. The Arabic press covered it as a decision reversal.
They got it wrong.

Just like Honduras, Brazil will open an office - not an official embassy - in Jerusalem. The message sent by the Brazilian foreign ministry was that they will be opening a business office in Jerusalem. It is the first step in the process that will ultimately lead to an embassy in Jerusalem.

The date, Guatemala has moved their embassy to Jerusalem. Last week, Hungary opened a diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem. Romania announced that they will be moving their embassy. Prime Minister Viorica Dancila of Romania made that announcement at the AIPAC conference.

Others, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Australia are all discussing it.

It will happen, it will happen in stages and it will take time.

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Israeli Mayor Writes His Gazan Counterpart
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Mayor Alon Davidi, the mayor of Sderot, wrote a note to Ismail Haniyah, the leader of Hamas in Gaza.

Davidi wrote the note in Arabic and posted it on Twitter.

"Good morning, ya Haniyeh ... I wanted to send you an email or a fax, but it seems your offices no longer exist."

"Ismail Haniyeh - can you not see that you’re losing? You take all the money you get from the Arab world and instead of using it for food, a functioning economy and a future for Gaza's residents, you waste it on your image and attempts to beat us."

"It's true Haniyeh, things aren't easy (here). Sometimes it's rough and I'll go as far as to say we're suffering. But look at the results of your behavior... How does Gaza look in comparison to Sderot?"

"You've been launching rockets at us for 18 years ... But it seems you don't know what goes on in this city - it's booming! Hundreds of new residents join us every year, new homes are being built. We're growing and growing stronger."

Davidi attached 2 pictures one of the destruction of Gaza the other of the development of Sderot.

Pretty powerful.

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Tehran is Under Water
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Parts of Tehran are under water. Actually 31 provinces in Iran have experienced torrential floods mudslides and sink holes.

As of the last count 32 people are dead and the death toll will certainly rise.

The forecast is for more rain -- more disaster.

There have been landslides of 25 feet. That means that a 25 feet high wave of mud and debrit including rock and everything else surges destroying everything it is wake. When a force that powerful hits its destructive power is devastating.

Roads have been destroyed, bridges wrecked and home washed away.

Iran is in a terrible crisis.

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Honduras Recognizes Jersualem as Capital
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Most people do not know that Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras. But it's an important fact that we all should know.

The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, announced that his country now recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Honduras will not be moving their embassy just yet, but they will be opening an office for trade and other official activities in Jerusalem. It is the first few steps in the process of moving the embassy

Hernandez said: "Today I have announced the first step, which is to open a trade office in Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel, and this will be an extension of our embassy in Tel Aviv."

Hernandez continued: "I've said that a second step will draw a lot of attacks from the enemies of Israel and the United States, but we will continue along this path."

This move by Honduras is significant and will impact others to act the same way - recognizing Jerusalem as the capital first, moving their embassy to Jerusalem later.

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Abbas Suggests US Force for PA
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed students at American University in Ramallah on Saturday. He described his fourth and last meeting with US President Donald Trump.

The meeting he spoke of took place in September of 2017 in New York City on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

During that meeting Abbas proposed a US peace keeping force to serve in the Palestinian state, supplemented by NATO troops. He said that Trump liked the idea.

"I told him that if Israel is worried about its security, I propose bringing US-led NATO troops to Palestine to protect Israel's and our security."

Abbas said that Trump then asked an aide "How many soldiers do we have?"

The official said that the United States has 6,000 soldiers who could be part of the planned NATO force.

"Trump told his aide that this number was not enough, but the soldiers should anyway be ready,” Abbas added. "I told Trump: Mr. President, I don't like war and I don’t believe in war. I believe that if we get our state, I would prefer to build a school than buy a tank, or build a hospital than purchase a warplane. I don’t want weapons. I just want to build my country."

After this exchange Abbas told the students. Trump looked at him and said: "How come they say you’re a terrorist? You are a man of peace."

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Israel Ranked 13th in World Happiness
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The results of the 2019 World Happiness Report are in - and Israel is ranked 13th in the world.

Actually, Israel slipped two positions since last year when they were ranked eleventh.

Topping the list are Finland, Norway and Sweden. The United States is ranked 19.

The World Happiness Report is generated by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and comes out annually in conjunction with the Ernest Illy Foundations and with the Gallup Polling Company.

The study is very telling specifically because it is based on how citizens define their own happiness. There is no standard variable or scientific standard and there is no way of equalizing the happiness quotient except to ask each person to rank how they feel on a scale of 1 - 10.

Interestingly, despite falling two places in world ranking, Israel's own happiness rating increased by 0.5 from last year.

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Model Planes and Balloons From Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The threats Israel is facing from Gaza continue to grow.

A few hours ago, a Styrofoam model airplane landed in the Eshkol region. A hand grenade was attached. The toy was found on Highway 234 near Gaza.

Of course, police sappers were called in and the devise was defused.

In addition to the model airplane, a bundle of balloons was found on Highway 40 in the northern Negev late on Sunday. This was the fourth set of balloon bombs sent from Gaza into Israel on Sunday. And again, police sappers were called to examine the explosives and defuse them.

These small devises are significant threats to the calm and well being of normal life in the region.

They are weapons of terror and they continue to threaten the lives and the wellbeing of Israeli citizens.

The end of this terror tactic is not yet in sight.

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Polish Paper- How to Identify a Jew
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A weekly news magazine in Poland called Totally Poland had a frontpage story telling readers how to identify a Jew.

This is the magazine's formula for finding a Jew --- look at "[N]ames, anthropological features, expressions, appearances, character traits, methods of operation" and "disinformation activities."

This type of media is blatant anti-Semitism.

Poland has neither apologized nor have they tried to explain this magazine's agenda.

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Kurds Run to Russians
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For anyone who does not know -- The Kurds were the backbone in the battle against ISIS. They were the front line. Without the Kurds ISIS could never have been defeated.

And now the US has once again abandoned the Kurds.

When the US pulls out of Syria they will effectively be leaving the Kurds all alone.

The Turks are poised to seek revenge on the Kurds for a long history of hate ... and they have already begun to attack them.

In order to defend themselves the Kurds are moving toward the Russians. The Kurds will ask the Russians to protect them from the Turks.

This is a very shrewd move on the part of the Kurds. The Turks have true respect for the Russians. In the end it may keep the Kurds safe.

This will work only for as long as Russia needs the Kurds.

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Iran's Pres in Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently visited Iraq.

The purpose of the trip was to sign a series of agreements that mutually benefit both countries. One of the agreements deals with building a train that will link the two countries.

Iraq made the agreements and the meeting public.

To make this relationship work, Iran needs to push aside decades of tensions with Iraq. If that happens, Iraq can help Iran ease the pain of US sanctions.

It won't be easy - Iran and Iraq have had much tension and even fought a war. And Iranian troops are in Iraq to help protect the minority Shiites who live there. But the motivation on both sides is strong.

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Jordan's King in DC
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

King Abdullah of Jordan is in Washington, D.C.

In the residence of the Jordanian ambassador to the United States, the king met privately with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Also participating in the meeting was Special Envoy for the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and, of course, President Trump's son in-law Jared Kushner.

The meeting was significant.

The sheer presence of all the powerful men tasked with making decisions and advising the president on Middle East policy and potential peace plans for the region were gathered in the same room.

These are the architects of the plan of the century - the plan that President Trump has promised to deliver.

Jordan's support for the plan - whatever it is, is essential. The King of Jordan's support will be used as a tool to convince Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people to accept the Trump Plan.

But don't think it was all a one way street. They talked about the plan, but odds are they also devoted time and energy to talking about what and how much Jordan is asking for in order to support the Trump Plan.

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Iceland Group Challenge Bibi to a Fight
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

This is the kind of story that makes those who read it laugh but is totally under covered.

Iceland's Eurovision entry which is scheduled to compete in Tel Aviv this year has challenged Israeli PM to Glima.

That is a test of strategy and physical strength. Strategy wins hand down in the national sport of Iceland.

The Icelandic group chosen to represent Iceland in Eurovsion is a techno band called Hatari. They originally said they would not attend. But now they are challenging Israeli PM to a duel of Glima.

Hatari defines themselves as "an anti-capitalist techno performance art group." Now they published an invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Glima, a Nordic folk wrestling match.

This is a major step in the right direction.

Who cares who wins. There will never be an actual Glima --- but there is an opening to talk.

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Fmr Pakistani PM Calls for talks w Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf announced in late February that Pakistan should consider establishing ties with Israel.

"There is no harm to establish a relationship with Israel," Musharraf said, adding that "it will help Pakistan counter India" by accessing an "elite club" of "influential" nations.

There have been talks between Israel and Pakistan. In 2005 business man Jack Rosen facilitated a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers. So the idea is not new ... but it is interesting.

Musharraf made the announcement in Qatar. He is living in Qatar in a self-imposed exile. Musharraf fears a kangaroo court at home in Pakistan. He has made his new home Qatar.

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US Gives Israel THAAD Missile Defense
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Over the past few days the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system has been deployed in Israel for the first time.

The United States is showing its support of Israel by deploying this new weapon in Israel. These 200 US soldiers will, without a doubt, enhance and supplement Israel's security.

This weapon will add to Israel's already extensive anti-missile defense shield system and protect against attacks from Iran and Syria.

The THAAD anti-rocket land-to-air defense system is made by Lockheed Martin. Its rocket travels at Mach 8.24 - that translates to 2.8 kilometers per second.

In October of 2017 the US provided Saudi Arabia with the THAAD. The obvious reason, at that time, was to protect the Saudia from an Iranian threat.

The THAAD system costs about $15 billion. It is an investment well worth it when it comes to protecting US allies.

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3Torahs Stolen from Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, Israeli news reported that last Thursday three ancient Torah scrolls were stolen from a synagogue in Teheran.

There is no doubt - the synagogue was burgled and the Torahs were taken.

The synagogue is only one of many Jewish buildings in a compound. There are two Jewish schools, ritual baths and a lab used to check for shatnez - the forbidden blend of wool and linen in clothing.

The scrolls were several hundred years old.

It is still not clear why the Torahs were stolen. The immediate assumption is an act of anti-Semitism. But the real and most probable reason for the theft would be money. Burglars probably stole the three Torahs in order to sell them to a fence who will then sell them to collectors.

Sometimes a burglary, even in a synagogue, is only a burglary.

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Iran helps Hamas transform Missiles
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It has been reported that Israeli intelligence has issued 2 reports describing how Iran smuggled special systems to retrofit Hamas' rockets and make them more accurate with GPS satellite guidance systems.

The reports describe that the new guidance system is brought in small suitcases the size of airplane carry on bags commonly called wheel-ees.

Hamas smuggled in this new technology which literally transforms the status quo on the ground. A simple rocket is now a computerized smart bomb.

This is a game changer.

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Locust Swarm Approaches Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is preparing for a swarm of locust that is capable of devastating plant growth and agriculture.

The locust have begun making their way towards Israel as a result of the heavy rains that recently fell in eastern Yemen and on the Sudan-Eritrea border.

The Israeli Ministry of Agricultural explained that huge swarms of locust have begun migrating from Saudi Arabia. They will make their way to southern Israel via a small stretch of Jordan and the Red Sea.

Israel has prepared a series of pesticides to stop the locust. A similar swarm was stopped by Israel in 2013. While most of the locust were destroyed, several hundred thousand still got through and caused plant damage.

Locust do not pose a danger to humans but they have the ability to destroy the entire agriculture produce of Israel.

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Islamic Jihad Power Play
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian Islamic Jihad has come out strong making statements about their prowess and capabilities especially their ability to fire rockets that can hit places north of Israel.

Why - and why now?

Islamic Jihad is making a play for power on the streets of Gaza. Their goal is to wrestle power from Hamas which currently controls Gaza.

Islamic Jihad is a relatively small group in Gaza - significantly smaller than Hamas. In order for Islamic Jihad to get more supporters, Islamic Jihad must show that Hamas is no different from Abbas and his Fatah party and the Palestinian Authority.

Islamic Jihad must show Palestinians that the true protectors of Gaza's Palestinians is Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And that’s why we have started to see rallies and protests and hear public statements filled with bravado, telling people on the streets of Gaza how powerful Palestinian Islamic Jihad is.

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Jihad Missiles directed at Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is headquartered in Gaza, has as its goal the total destruction of Israel. They made the announcement on Iranian TV.

Islamic Jihad said that they have missiles that they can launch from Gaza and hit as far as Netanya, an Israeli city north of Tel Aviv.
The threat is serious, very serious.

The vast majority of Israelis, two thirds of Israelis, live in a very small stretch of land reaching from just south of Tel Aviv to just north of Tel Aviv.

It is very important to understand that just because a news item was broadcast on Iranian tv does not mean that it is true.

What is true is that Iran has those rockets. The question is whether Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been able to smuggle the rockets into Gaza.

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Sink Holes in Teheran
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Teheran is suffering from a terrible problem - sink holes. The ground simply opens up and whatever is underneath, falls into the earth.

These sink holes are being caused by a thirty-year drought. The excessive water shortages cause the ground to be very weak and to shift. In addition, because of their water shortages, Iran has been pumping more and more from their underground water sources which are called aquafers.

The water they pump is saltier than their regular water and the pumping process reduces the amount of water which, in turn, dries up the foundation under the surface of the ground.

Over 8 million people live in Teheran. The risk to buildings, roads, infrastructure are enormous. It could all be solved by improving the water situation. But given the sanctions imposed against Iran, that isn't impossible.

Iranian leadership will, hopefully, wake up and see the crisis. Hopefully, before it is too late.

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Arab MK: Israel Experiments on Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

We need to be kept abreast of the happenings on campus and the state of anti- Israel anti-Semitic activity.

This morning Galei Tzahal, also known as Israeli Army Radio, posted an audio recording of a Hebrew University professor speaking at Columbia University an Ivy League college in Manhattan.

Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian said that Israel experiments on Palestinians. That Israel tests all kinds of weapons on Palestinian towns.

The title of her talk was "Disturbing Spaces - Violent Technologies in Palestinian Jerusalem".

The idea that Israel uses Palestinian neighbors and villages as field to testing sites for new weapons is way off the charts. In addition to weapons she asserted that the IDF experiment with tactics.

"They check for which bombs to use, gas bombs or stink bombs. Whether to put plastic sacks or cloth sacks. To beat us with their rifles or to kick us with boots."

The IDF evaluates and critiques every single action. The post op after a military operation is written and discussed at every level and lessons are gleaned from successes and failures. From successes they look to see how to improve and the same is true for failures.

This is hardly experimenting.

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She Took Off Her Hijab & Now Where
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Remember the woman in Iran who stood up on a transformer, took off her white hijab and waved it like a flag. The woman who was then arrested, fired from her job and convicted of indecency and willingly violating the law. The woman who was sentenced to 3 years in prison and was threatened with taking her child, Viana, away.

Before her prison term began the woman, Azam Jangavi escaped Iran with her daughter and is now awaiting asylum. She sat down for a recent interview with Reuters and described her situation and why she took a stand.

This is what she said: "I was telling myself: 'Viana should not grow up in the same conditions in this country that you grew up in' ... I found a human smuggler with a lot of difficulty. It all happened very quickly, I left my life, my house, my car behind."

This woman is a hero. She, and her daughter, are also in danger. Her message is very important.

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Russia Responding to Trump Plan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia is on the offensive and trying to undercut the US. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called several meetings over the past few days and given press conferences.

In his terms --- he laments. He really means Russia is very upset that Palestinian Statehood is not part of the Trump Peace Plan making its way around the Middle East.

"Ending the split will strengthen the position of Russia and the international community, supporting a diplomatic solution based on decisions of the international community," Lavrov said. "There are countries that don't see an end to the division and therefore conclude that without it, the two-state solution has become mission impossible."

To combat the Trump plan Abbas is also traveling to Arab capitals especially Riyadh. His secretary general Saeb Erekat sent a letters to foreign ministers protesting the Trump Plan.

Everyone is running. Everyone is shouting. No one has seen the plan. We need to see the plan to make an honest evaluation.

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Official Saudi Recognition of Israeli Contact
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For years it has been known that Israel and the Saudi Arabia have had discussions and communications. There are established lines of communication.

But what is new is that the Saudis have now admitted that a relationship does exist. This admission officially sanctions the dialogue.

It became official through Turki al Faisal the former ex chief of Saudi Intelligence. He said that Israel and the Saudis have been talking for 25 years.

This was all made public in an interview in Israeli media and Qatari media.

Light is shining and many things like this are coming out of the dark and into the light.

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Nasrallah in Humor Ad in Tel Aviv
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Humor is one of the coping mechanisms that Israelis use to deal with the constant threat presented by their enemies.

An ad promoting recycling, for example, pokes fun at the head of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

On Thursday a huge ad with Nasrallah's image was put up on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv. It beckons Israelis to recycle their plastic bottles.

Above the top on Nasrallah's head the caption reads: "I don't recycle bottles." Under the image of Nasrallah the caption reads: "Nasrallah has been stuck in a bunker for 12 years. What's your excuse?"

The humor is biting.

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Kushner to 5 Arab Countries
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are off to the Middle East for week long trip. They will be visiting five Arab countries. The objective of their trip is to brief leaders on the details of the still secret Trump peace plan. The focus will be on the economic aspects of the plan.

Kushner and Greenblatt will stop in Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

We are only able to speculate about the Trump plan. Uncharacteristic of DC politics - there have been almost no leaks about the real content of the plan.

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Iran Wants US Out
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian leadership is threatening the United States, telling them that they must leave Syria.

This is no surprise. At one time or another almost every Muslim and Arab country has issued the same warning and made it clear that the United States should not be in any Muslim country. They have said that no non-believer should tread on Muslim soil.

Syria is one of the centers of Muslim tradition and culture and so, they claim, the United States has no place being on Syrian soil.

Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to the Ayatollah Khamenei recently said: "Whether they want to or not, the Americans must leave Syria."

It just so happens that the United States wants to leave Syria as was announced by US President Donald J. Trump. The question is when.

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Europe Not Buying Oil from Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is trying to understand why European nations have not started to buy their oil.

In November, eight European nations received an official waver from the United States permitting them to buy oil from Iran. None of them have taken advantage of their waivers.

Fars, an official Iranian news agency, posted the comments of Bijan Zanganeh, Iran's Oil Minister. He said that they have been in contact with the Europeans and there has been no movement or interest. "[W]e have called them many times, but they do not return our calls." He was probably referring to Greece and Italy.

There are several interesting lessons that we must learn from this.

First, US sanctions are hurting Iran. Second, the countries that get permission to trade with Iran are still reluctant to do so because of feared backlash from the United States.

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Dogs Outlawed in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has prohibited walking dogs in public. Dogs are considered to be evil in Iran. And according to Iranians, the fact that the West embraces dogs is a sign of their backward nature.

Hossein Rahimi, Teheran's chief of police said: "Certain people who bring their dogs to public places cause panic and anxiety among the public." He added that local police have obtained permission from the judiciary to confront dog owners who walk their pets in public.

"People who walk their dogs in public places shall be dealt with severely."

Dogs will also be banned from cars, Rahimi said, underlining that "police will seriously confront dog owners who let their dogs ride in their cars."

Iran wants to discourage all dog ownership.

In 2010, A senior Iranian religious leader issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, that dogs were "unclean" and not to be kept as pets. "Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West," Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi said. "There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children."

Despite it all, especially among Tehran's middle class, dog lovers persist and they continue to own pets.

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Russia to Host Iran and Turkey Summit
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On February 14th Russia will host a summit with Iran and Turkey in their Back Sea resort.

The objective of the summit is to devise solutions to the problem called Syria.

Russia and Iran want the Syrian regime to continue under the leadership of Bashar Assad.

Turkey wants to oust Assad.

Turkey is not alone. NATO and the United States are working to remove Assad from power.

Is there any real hope that a possible resolution will emerge from the Summit? Highly doubtful.

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IDF Admits Hezbollah Poised to Attack
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The head the IDF commented on Hezbollah and he gave an important threat assessment.

Major General Aviv Kochavi explained that: "Only several dozens of kilometers from here, beyond our northern border, there is a terror organization that is set to harm Israel and its resilience, an organization that strives to use precision-guided weapons against us and aims to invade our territory and launch rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians, all the while blatantly violating international agreements and the rules of warfare."

There is no surprise that Hezbollah wants to attack Israel. What is new is that the head of the IDF is talking about it.

Israel is preparing to defending itself against border crossings where the terror group is planning to strike Israel.

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Olymipics Punish Malaysia for Banning Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 31, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Malaysia has said that they will not permit any Israelis to entire their country to compete in the International Paralympics swimming championships which they were supposed to host and were to take place from July 29 thru August 4.

The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has now announced that they are pulling the events out of Malaysia. Other countries have until February 9 to propose hosting the events in place of Malaysia.

"Politics and sport are never a good mix," said IPC President Andrew Parsons in a statement. "We are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia."

"All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination," said Parsons. "When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host."

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Russian Leaders Meet Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

One way to understand the important directions and strategies of a government is to look at their guest logs. Knowing who visited with the leadership and when they visited offers up a treasure trove of information.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a delegation of senior Russian officials yesterday in order to discuss the situation in Syria. Details about the meeting were supplied by Netanyahu's office.

The Israeli prime minister met with Russia's Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, and Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin. The prime minister's office announced that the talks focused on Iran, Syria and "strengthening the security coordination mechanism between the militaries."

There has been a significant amount of tension between Israel and Russia over the past few months. The tensions increased after Israel took credit for carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets and Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah.

Israel and Russia maintain a hotline to prevent their air forces from conflicting, especially over Syrian skies. While, for the most part, the hotline has worked, a Syrian anti=aircraft missile aimed at an Israeli plane last September instead shot down a Russian transport plane and Russia blames Israel for the debacle.

This meeting was important. It bodes well for the relationship between Israel and Russia.

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Iran Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Brigadier General Hussein Salami, second in command of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threatened Israel and warned not to attack in Syria again. The comments were made in the aftermath of last week's Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria.

As quoted by Syrian state television, Salami said: "We announce that if Israel takes any action to wage a war against us, it will definitely lead to its own elimination and the freeing of occupied (Palestinian) territories."

Speaking at a ceremony inducting Aviv Kochavi, the new head of the IDF, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Salami. The prime minister said: "I heard the statement made by Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman that they have no military presence in Syria, only advisors ... so I advise them to get out of there quickly, because we will continue our aggressive policy in the region as we've promised."

Most of this is rhetoric - but threats can have a real impact.

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Israel Sends Rescue Team to Brazil
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday a dam collapsed in the southern region of Brazil leaving at least 40 dead and more than 200 people missing. The dam was not just holding back water, it was holding back mining waste and was highly poisonous.

Almost immediately, Israel sent a team of rescue specialists to help find the victims. The Israeli crew is 130 strong and includes a highly trained team of rescue dogs.

Brazil's President Bolsonaro spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday to inform him of the magnitude of the disaster and within 24 hours an emergency team boarded an El Al Charter flight for Brazil.

Bolsonaro's son Eduardo, also a politician, tweeted about Israel coming to Brazil's aid. He wrote: "thanks during this difficult time ... Israel does this because it is a friendly country. It was always around, but was always mistreated by former governments ... Excuse me, but for all the bad guys on duty, you just have keep quiet and look how much good comes of this approach."

Brazil and Israel have a very good relationship.

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France End Arounds Iranian Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

We knew it was happening - now France has made it official.
France has put into place a system to circumvent US sanctions against Iran.

The basic principle is simple. France is creating a non dollar base trade exchange with Iran. This trade with Iran is totally outside the realm of US regulators.

The US system is based on dollars that move through world markets. So if the French/EU system is independent of dollars - then it will be free of the heavy US restrictions.

This new system was announced by the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday and it is totally backed by the Europeans.
Le Drian said that it "should be implemented in the coming days."

This end around US sanctions could have huge implications for US sanctions.
It could be the template for many others to follow and a way to avoid the wrath of the United States by those who insist on dealing with Iran.

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Iran Discovers More Oil
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Surprise - Iran has discovered oil on an island named Abandan. The island is located on a river 35 miles north of the Persian Gulf, just at the nexus where Iran meets Iraq.

The oil was discovered about 4000 yards below the surface. According to the Iranian oil minister, it is the first time they have found oil in this region. There was no public statement as to how large the newly discovered oil reserve is.

The news was reported in Mehr, an official Iranian news site. Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh called the oil discovery "very light and sweet."
Of course now Iran has to try to sell the oil.

President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, posted a message on his official website. He wrote: "With regard to oil issues, luckily we are pursuing various paths and roads for selling oil and we bypass American sanctions with pride."

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Germany Bans Iranian Airline
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Germany has discovered a spy in their military and as a result the Germans have banned an Iranian airline from entry into Germany.

The airline is called Mahan Air and Germany asserts that Mahan air has shuttled spies and other tools and equipment back and forth into and out of Germany.

They specifically say that the airline is connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Guard has direct connection to terror that has taken place in Europe.

In addition over the past year there have been several plots by Iranians to assassinate people in France and Denmark. These included a bomb plot to mass murder people in an anti Iranian rally in France.

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Israeli Elections-Ganz
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli elections are kicking off and it is spending some time looking at a political newcomer.

Benny Ganz, former head of the IDF, has launched his campaign.

Ganz's party is called "Y'Israel Lifnei HaKol". The simple translation is "Israel Before Everything". The translation that better conveys the sentiment behind the simple words would be "Israel is Our Priority".

Ganz sent out a very short video clip in which he says: "For me, Israel comes before everything. Join me and we will launch on a new path because we need something different and we will create something different. The screen then flashes the slogan Y'Israel Lifnei HaKol.

The video closes with Ganz saying he thinks he has "already said too much."

I disagree. In fact, Ganz has said too little. No plan. No ideas. No anything. Just a slogan.

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ISIS Kidnaps a Christian
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS strikes in Egypt again. This time in the Northern part of Sinai where they are free to do as they wish.

The standard targets in ISSI attacks in Egypt are Christians. In addition to kidnapping Christians ISIS attacks churches.

In this case ISIS kidnapped a Christian adult male. He was in a share a ride taxi.

The police were on site in seconds and the police chased the terrorists. One terrorist was killed and 3 wounded. Two police were also wounded in the crossfire.

For ISIS and all extremists Muslims killing a Christian is a goal.

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Malaysia Bans Israeli Athletes
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Malaysia has decided to both uninvite and not invite Israelis to every sporting event they host.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the cabinet affirmed last week that no Israeli athletes will be permitted to enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with Palestinians.

"The Cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government's firm stance over the Israeli issue."

"Even if we have already committed to hosting an event, they (Israeli athletes) will not be allowed (into the country)," Saifuddin said in a recording of a press conference heard by Reuters.

"It's about fighting on behalf of the oppressed,"he said.

The next sporting event taking place in Malaysia is the world para-swimming competition. It takes place July 29 to August 4 and 70 countries will compete. Israel will not be there. Israel has been uninvited.

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Israel is Growing
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It's January 2019.

It is important to show a few important numbers that help us understand Israel.

There are nearly 9 million people living in Israel. 74.3% of the population is Jewish while 20.9% is Arab.

185,000 babies were born in 2018 and 40,000 people came to live in Israel.

The country population increased by 174,000 or 2% during 2018.

There were 45,000 deaths in Israel and 7,000 Israelis left Israel to live elsewhere.

Overall the numbers are impressive.

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China Arms Sales to MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

China has increased its sales of weapons to the Middle East. This past year they sold 13 billion in arms sales.

That is an increase from 1.4 billion in the 2010. That means that China is one of the most significant arms dealers in the region.

This worries Israel for many reasons. Other than the sheer quantity of the weapons - most worrisome is that China has no limits when it comes to weapons sales. There are no checks and balances on their sales.

Another major worry is that this influx of weapons to the region including to Iran will alter the status quo and lend support to parties and governments that are true enemies of Israel.

This new Chinese weapons position ultimately confirms the reality that China is not trustworthy in the region.

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Iraq Opens A Virtual Israeli Embassy
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Attitudes toward Israel are changing in the Arab world. It's not news, it's the reality.

Here is the latest example: Iraq has opened a virtual Israeli embassy. The embassy was created by a movement called Project Blue Future, it is one of the very many ways the Arab world is interested in reaching out to Isra