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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 Israel.

Ali A., the representative of the Project explained it this way: "Project Bright Future was founded in 2011 to establish relations with Israel on the basis of friendship and common interests, ... Our mission is to prepare the ground for this strategic relationship by establishing channels of communication. We believe that Israel is not our enemy."

If nothing else, Project Blue Future offers hope for the future, hope that there is potential for a great future for Israel and the Middle East.

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Abbas To Squeeze Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is poised for national elections on April 9th. In political terms, that is a lifetime away. There is so much that can alter the election prognosis in these next three months.

Just think about the Palestinian issue and how that can impact the Israeli election.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is set to put the squeeze on Hamas. The Palestinian Authority dumps about $100 million per month into Gaza, most of it to cover electricity and salaries. Abbas wants to put a stop to that aid. He wants Gazans to suffer and come begging to him for help. Abbas has made comments indicating that if Gazans want to self govern, they must assume the responsibility of governing.

Abbas also plans on withdrawing PA officers at the borders. If that happens, it will it will effectively starve Gaza. Egypt negotiated that PA officers patrol the border with Egypt and Israel was happy with that deal. The PA was committed to keeping weapons out of Gaza. If they pull their patrols off the border, Israel will force the border to be closed.

Abbas, a staunch advocate of paying prisoners cum terrorists for their deeds, is going to stop paying Hamas prisoners. And he is going to stop paying Hamas employees.

Most significant of all is that Abbas is going to rescind the Palestinian Authority passports and travel documents of Hamas employees. That will effectively keep Hamas leadership stewing in Gaza.

Responding to press reports of Abbas' plans, senior Hamas official Bassem Naim seemed unfazed and said that there was nothing new here.

He said: "Any type of sanctions such as electricity, preventing medicine, closing the border or cutting the salaries are intended to blackmail residents into rising against Hamas and they fail ... This is the most that Abbas can do."

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Israel Nixed Arms Deal w Croatia
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel just nixed a half billion dollar arms deal with Croatia. The director general of Israel's ministry of defense former general Udi Adam flew to Crotia to inform them personally that the deal would not be realized.

The deal was for 12 F-16's Barak fighter jets that Israel bought from the US 30 years ago.

The US forced Israel to nix the deal.

The US needed to approve Israel's re-sale of a US weapons to a third party ... in this case Croatia. Why does the US care about 30 year old technology?

It was not the US technology that the US was worried about. It was the Israeli upgrades in the radar and sophisticated technology.

The US is worried about the Israeli technology. But the US is most afraid that countries will prefer the superior Israeli version of the F-16 and it will undercut the US weapons sales.

The US is 100%.

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Israel Says 3rd Party Hacking Elections
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The head of Israel's internal Security Service known as the Shin Bet said that a third party country is attempting to influence the Israeli national elections scheduled for April 9.

Nadav Argaman the head of the Shin Bet added that, "[s]hould the need arise, Israel and its community intelligence have the tools and the ability to detect, monitor, and thwart attempts of foreign countries to influence the April elections."

This is important. Israel is constantly the target of cyber attacks. Israel tracks hackers and hacking tools.

Israel is also watching and playing the hacking game with the best hackers in the world. They are playing both sides. They are world class hackers while at the same time they are world class defenders.

Israeli hackers know the weapons that hackers are using and they are on the lookout for the attack and punching back at the hackers.

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Fatah Cancels Gaza Rally in Fear
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Internal tensions are high in the Palestinian world.

A rally march organized to celebrate the 1959 founding of Fatah, the original Palestinian movement, was cancelled. The Fatah supporters living in Gaza wanted to march in Gaza.

The March was cancelled because of internal tensions - Fatah was afraid that Hamas was going to crack down on them. They had reason to be fearful. Leading up to the rally, 500 members of Fatah leadership were arrested.

Gaza is controlled by Hamas and Fatah lives in fear. Not just in Gaza. Hamas is growing in popularity in the West Bank, the once-upon-a-time enclave of the Palestinian Authority.

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Iranian Russian Maneuvers in The Caspian
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:
Iran and Russia are planning their third set of naval exercises. The first took place in 2015 the second in 2017.

This operation will take place soon and they will use the Caspian Sea.

The Caspian Sea is the largest inland lake in the world. It is 640 miles long and 270 miles wide. No surprise - 2 of the countries that abut the Caspian Sea are Iran and Russia. They

The Sea is rich in natural gas and oil and both countries have created many oil and gas rigs there. Both Russia and Iran know that the Caspian is an ideal area for natural resource development.

These naval maneuvers follow a tremendous multi-national deal over control of the Caspian. The final agreement resolves a conflict over the natural resources. Since 1991 the Caspian has been in dispute. Russia take the lion share.

Now matters have been resolved and Russian and Iran are working together.

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Red Dead Water Project
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and Jordan are moving ahead on the Red Sea Dead Sea Project.

The purpose of the Project is to bring water from the Red Sea and desalinate it. The byproduct of the desalination, known as brine, will be sent north about 130 miles, to the Dead Sea.

Salty brine will help refill the shrinking Dead Sea.

The newly desalinated water will then be sent to Jordan, Israel's 50/50 partner in this project and it will help solve Jordan's extreme water shortage. Each country is putting up a mere $40 million each year to solve two huge water problems.

The Red Sea Dead Sea Project is a perfect example of how cooperation can help neighbors and the environment, all at the same time.

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Russia Takes Over MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia decided to make their Middle East presence know to everyone.

So the Russians took center stage by pushing the United States out of the position they had been occupying for a long time.

They did it with very little. They did it via media coverage.

Russia has been driving coverage in the Middle East. They are constantly featured as the centerpiece. And while it may not be true - it is the perception. The perception is driving the reality.

And they did it via the sale of weapons.

Russia is selling weapons to the players in the Middle East. Militant groups and entire countries are grateful for the weapons and the training they are receiving. Russian soldiers and contractors are swarming all over the Middle East.

And they did it going the business route.

Russia is driving contracts and business deals. These deals are essential in developing the Middle East. Coverage of the business deals is plastered in the media. And they are bringing in their own Russian investors.

Each of these four actions by the Russian, in and of themselves, is small. Together, they pack a big wallop and turn into a winning combination.

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Bolton to the Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

President Trump's National Security Adviser, John Bolton, is getting ready to take off on a trip to Israel and Turkey. The visit is schedule for the beginning of January.

The topic of discussion during Bolton's trip will, undoubtedly, be Syria. The Palestinian question, also undoubtedly, will not be raised.

In Turkey Bolton will be joined by Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and by James Jeffrey, the secretary of state's special representative for Syria.

Bolton has a long standing relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Neither one of them will shy away from raising difficult questions. The most important they will discuss is whether or not the United States is really going to pull out of Syria.


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Another US PA Crisis
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

In January 2019 the US Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act will go into effect.

This act forbids the giving of US aid to any group linked to terror and permits US citizens to sue on behalf of victims of terror.

In October the Trump administration suspended $210 million dollars in aid to the Palestinians. Now in question is $61million more that goes to Palestinian security operations.

That money includes all the monies that go to sponsoring joint Israeli/Palestinian security cooperation.

The Palestinian security apparatus has been accused of involvement in terror. And in the end the Palestinians may actually decline the aid. They do not want to be embarrassed in front of the entire world by public lawsuits.

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Kurds Ask Russia for Help
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Kurds in Syria are running around trying to fill the vacuum in their defense shield that was created by President Trump announcing that he was pulling out US troops.

Yes -- there are only 2000 troops but their presence in Syria and their training protected of the Kurds guarded the Kurds from the Turks who see the Kurds as terrorists.

As a result of the US decision, the Kurds have asked the Russians to serve as their new protectors. No word yet on Russia's response. So the Kurds went to Assad with the same request.

Russia could easily simply tell Turkey to keep away. It would be as easy and a simple phone call. But will Russia get involved? Probably not. Russia will need Turkey later -- and they will not risk making this request because the issue of the Kurds is a very low priority to Russia.

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Iran is Selling its Oil
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran released a report making it public that they are having no difficulty selling their crude oil.

Since the United States snapped sanctions back on Iran, we have all been wondering how Iran would manage. Now we know.

Here's how they're doing it.

Private contractors - even some Jewish contractors, are supplying the world with Iranian crude oil. According to the report 3 million barrels of oil could be sold every day on the open market.

Oil is fungible. It is the most fungible item in the world. Once it is no longer underground and it is in the market, it is impossible to track.

And that's how they Iranians are doing it.

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Rocket Shot into Israel from Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Syria, or perhaps Iran, launched a rocket into Israel on Tuesday night.
The rocket was launched in response to Israel striking at Hezbollah and Iranian arms depots southwest of Damascus, Syria. The rocket was launched into Israel as a counter measure.

Israel intercepted the rocket and it exploded in mid-air. By the time it was exploded, the rocket had already reached Hadera. That means that the missile had made its way deep into Israel.

Had it not been intercepted, had it struck a populated area, this could have caused devastating destruction and deaths in Israel.

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White House Won't Announce Plan til After Elections
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

By now almost everyone who cares about the Middle East knows that Israel will have early elections on April 19, 2019.

Early elections have consequences. These elections are 7 months before their original scheduled time.

So far, the most dramatic results of having early elections in Israel came out of the White House. They announced that early elections in April will impact the date of the announcement of their famous peace plan.

The reason should be obvious.

The Trump White house does not want to set back any progress. An announcement from the White House might change the results of the election in Israel.

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Honduras to Move Embassy for a Price
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Honduras has decided to relocate their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But , there's a big "but" there. Honduras has several conditions that need to be met in exchange for the move.

Honduras knows the importance Israel places on embassies moving to their capital. So Honduras is taking advantage of the leverage they now hold.

They are asking that the Israelis upgrade their diplomatic mission in Honduras to a full fledged embassy. In addition, they are asking that Honduras receive Israeli hi-tech initiatives and programs that will help them advance in computer technology across the national spectrum which includes defense and medical capabilities.

The annual cost of an Israeli embassy is $1million. This is a small price for Israel to pay considering the benefits they will receive in return.

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Belgian Soccer Fans Sing "Burn Jews"
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

During a soccer match, a Belgian team sang a pep song glorifying burning Jews.

The team from the city of Brugge, about 40 miles from Brussels, has a history of anti-Semitic acts.

La Derniere Heure, a Belgian newspaper and website, posted video of the game which took place on August 20th. The video shows dozens of fans celebrating their local team’s victory by singing in Flemish: "My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews 'cause Jews burn the best."

These kinds of antics are typical of Europe - especially of the soccer culture.

European Jewish leadership is calling on soccer club owners to step up their game and fight anti-Semitism. They are also calling on political leadership to create a plan to combat anti-Semitism.

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Why US Def Sec Quit
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned. He handed in his letter of resignation soon after President Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing all US troops from Syria and that the war against ISIS was won.

Mattis' letter made no mention of the withdrawal.

But when reading the letter, it seems obvious that the decision was the last straw for a Defense Secretary whose voice and advise was not being seriously considered.

Mattis wrote: "you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours."

He also does mention that his philosophy of keeping American safe includes supporting regional allies. He wrote that America First does not seem to go well with his strategy of protecting allies.

There are definitely winners and losers in the US withdrawal. ISIS is actually one of the winners. They gain a real sense of satisfaction that they - though diminished - are still standing while the United States has left.

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Lebanon Asks UN Sec Council to Condemn Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Lebanon officially asked the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israel and require that Israel respect their international border and their sovereign territory.

Israel is in Southern Lebanon in order to discover and identify terror tunnels.

They have already discovered and are destroying four tunnels.

In addition, they documented the tunnels and learned the strategy and direction of the tunnels and their designers.

It is clear that international law permits a country to cross another's border in order to defend itself.

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Hamas Beats Abbas in New Poll
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

According to the latest Palestinian poll, Hamas will defeat the Palestinian Authority in an election.

The poll encompassed Gaza and the West Bank and involved 1,200 people. It would make sense that Hamas would win in Gaza - but in the West Bank?

The poll was specifically about the leaders of the two governments, it was about Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh versus the PA's Mahmoud Abbas.

Haniyeh trounced Abbas. 49% Haniyeh to 42% Abbas.

The poll was conducted by Khalil Shikaki, a very reputable pollster. Shikaki founded and heads the Palestinian Center for Policy Survey Research. He is also on faculty at Brandeis University in Boston. His methodology and his science are exceptional. My only critique is that his sample is way too large.

The most important take away from this poll is that Abbas is on the wane. His days, as they say, are numbered.

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Russia & Israel on the Mend
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like the relationship between Russia and Israel is on the mend.

This week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Israel's head of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog.

Herzog is said to have an excellent relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. so the information that was exchanged certainly made its way directly to Russian president Putin and Israeli leader Netanyahu.

For the past few months there has been almost no real Russian / Israeli interaction. This was the result of a Russian plane downed by Syrians that Russia claimed happened because of Israel.

Russia and Israel need one another. Tensions between the two make it unsafe for everyone.

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Christians Leaving the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 17,2018

I've Been Thinking:

Christians continue to leave the Middle East.

Christians are feeling threatened and they have the financial capabilities to pull up roots and leave the Middle East and set up new homes elsewhere in the world.

It is a trend that began about 15 or 20 years ago. It's happening in Syria. It's happening in Iraq. It's happening in Bethlehem - and in great numbers.

Thirty years ago Bethlehem had a population with a significant Christian majority. Today the numbers in Bethlehem are so sparse that according to estimates Christians compose a mere 10%-15% of the population. Some say the numbers are even smaller.

This trend is happening across the Arab world.

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Ukraine Honors Jewish Mass Murderer
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Ukrainian government has declared 2019 the Year of Honoring Stepan Bandera. Ukraine will celebrate the 110th year of his birth.

Bandera was a Ukrainian nationalist who lived from 1909 - 1959.

The problem with this celebration is that Bandera was also a notorious mass murderer of Jews during WWII who joined forces with the Nazis.

Under Bandera's leadership and direction Jews were "removed and relocated" which means - murdered. In Ukraine Jews were murdered in mass killing pits.

The Israeli ambassador to Ukraine, Joel Lion, stood up and protested celebrating this murderer as a hero. He was shocked by the government’s decision and said: "I can't understand how the glorification of those directly involved in horrible anti-Semitic crimes helps fight anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Ukraine shouldn't forget those crimes committed against Ukrainian Jews and in no way celebrate them."

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Anti Semitic Books at Int Bk Fair
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The International Book Fair in Doha, Qatar is famous for its sheer size. People and dealers, merchants and publishers come from all over the world to scout new books and products.

This year the Book Fair took place between November 29 and Dec 8, 2018. Over 30 countries participated, featuring over 100,000 titles. The United States was represented, they even had a booth.

Imagine the shock when books with titles like "The Lies Jews Spread" and "The Myth of Nazi Gas Chambers" and "Talmud of Secrets: Exposing The Jewish Schemes to Control the World" were featured at the Fair.

It did not stop there.

Old evil books like Henry Ford's "International Jew" which draws heavily on the infamous "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" were also present at the Book Fair in Doha.

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Muslims the World Over Take Israel Courses on Line
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

This is the age of computer education. Courses of all types are offered for free by leading scholars. Just sign on and learn.
Bar Ilan University, one of Israel’s leading institutions of higher learning, offers a superb selection of courses. One course is on Biblical Archeology.

People from all over the world have signed on - including students from Pakistan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. These students are from countries that do not recognize Israel.

The course is filled with on-location virtual, or video, visits to archeological sites. Students read and watch and even ask questions. There is also a dialogue board where all the participants can get involved and learn from the interaction.

This is the beauty of the internet.

Yes, some websites can be blocked by certain countries. But most servers are not in their host countries and can be ghosted in order to avoid being blocked. That's another one of the beauties of the internet.

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Australia to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

There were reports on Australian media, on Tuesday, broadcasting that Australia will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Recognizing, however, is not the same thing as moving your embassy to Jerusalem.

It seems that there is real pressure on Australia from Muslim countries stopping the actual transfer of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Brazil is moving ahead with their decision to both recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move their embassy to Jerusalem.

The Brazilians, too, have received serious threats from Muslim and Arab countries. The Arab League even made an announcement that Brazil's move will impact relations with all members of the Arab League.

Nonetheless, Brazil is standing firm and proceeding with their move.

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Iran Hit Squads
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Daily Telegraph of Great Britain published a piece announcing that Iran has a series of hit squads assassinating their enemies in Iraq.

The reason for the Iranian attacks on their targets is simple - they are public critics of Iran.

The paper brings a series of examples to prove their point. Quoting a senior British security official, the Telegraph writes: "Iran in intensifying its campaign of intimidation against the Iraqi government by using assassination squads to silence critics of Tehran."

He continues: "This is a blatant attempt to thwart efforts by the new Iraqi government to end Iran's meddling in Iraq."

There should be no doubt. The Iranians are aggressively tamping down on anyone who challenges Iran.

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Iran & OPEC
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

OPEC is asking their members to reduce output.

Iran is saying no. No, they will not reduce their output.

"It's a red line for Iran to reduce its production, to contribute to a new cut in production. Iran hasn't produced any more oil in the previous months and it's not Iran's responsibility to manage the situation," Bijan Zanganeh, Iran's oil minister said on CNBC.

"It's the responsibility of the countries that have produced more and more and have collapsed the market with more oil and extra oil and Iran has no responsibility for this situation," he added.

He repeated, "It's a red line for Iran not to cut one barrel ... Iran should be excluded from any decision."

Did anyone really expect any other response from Iran?

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Collecting $ for Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The US has collected $325 million from allied countries to help rebuild Syria. In the big picture, $325 million is not even close to the sum of money needed to rebuild Syria.

$100 million came from Saudi Arabia.

This funding move refers directly to rebuilding Syria from the destruction caused by battling ISIS. The money will be used to stabilize the northern areas in Syria.

The United States is trying to re-establish the coalition they built to wipe out ISIS. This is one step in the process.

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Chess Fed Stands Up Against Israel Boycotts
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It's finally happening.

The international Chess Federation (FIDE) put their foot down and punished Saudi Arabia for not issuing Israelis visas to compete in a world championship that they were hosting.

The FIDE warned Saudi Arabia to permit Israelis and when the Saudis did not bow to the pressure, FIDE moved the championship to Russia.

It would be wonderful if other international sports organizations followed this example and showed the leadership that FIDE has just shown.

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98 Iranian Fake News Sites
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 2, 2108

I've Been Thinking:

A cyber investigative report was just issued by ClearSky, a cybertech security firm in Tel Aviv.

The results should not surprise you.

The details are very telling.

Iran is operating fake news sites around the world and funneling news and information through those sites to influence opinion. Many of the sites have names that include the words "Times", "Journal" and "News".
ClearSky discovered 98 such Iranian fronts, in 29 languages, in 28 different countries.

They were easy to discover because the registration information and contact information on many of the sites were Iranian. The obvious targets of the Iranian ploy were the Middle East and Asia. But they also have sites that target the US and Europe. They even have a site in Hebrew targeting Israelis. The Israeli site is called the Tel Aviv Times.

The sites often rewrite real news and portray Iran positively. They also include cultural and other sections with less propaganda and spin.
This is taking fake news to an entirely different level. This is propaganda masquerading as news.

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A/S at Columbia
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

A Columbia University professor's office was sprayed with swastikas and other anti-Semitic symbols. At 11:30 in the morning she walked into her office with a group of students about to begin their psych lab and they were stunned and shaken.

The professor, Elizabeth Midlarsky, is a professor at Teachers College at Columbia. She is a psychology professor who also writes about the Holocaust.

The images were sprayed in red spray paint. Two were swastikas and one was the word "Yid" which is a derogatory word for Jew.

Columbia is an Ivy League school. It is on the Upper West Side of Manhattan a haven of Jewish life. Hardly a place where one might expect this. But it is also a bastion of anti-Semitism.

Universities are supposed to be place where ideas are freely debated. However, this kind of vandalism and defacing property as well as writing anti-Semitic graffiti is frightening.

They scrawl this images in order to instill fear.

Hopefully they will find the people who did this and punish them.

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Iranian Hackers Indicted in US
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Two Iranian hackers were indicted in the US yesterday. Two other Iranian hackers were sanctioned.

These four are allegedly responsible for the SamSam Hack. The SamSam Hack attacks a computer system and then encrypts all its files. The hackers then send a message to the computer explaining that if they pay in bitcoin, the files will be unlocked.

As a matter of good faith the hackers unlock one file.

Through this method SamSam hackers have extorted over $6 million and caused over $30 million in damage.

The cities of Newark and Atlanta have been brought to their knees. These hackers have attacked hospitals and universities and cities and courts.

They even caused the Port of San Diego to be ground to a halt.

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US Ambassador Visits the Belzer Rebbe
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, visited the Belzer Rebbe, The Grand Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach.

The US Ambassador told the Grand Rebbe that US President Trump and his advisers all love Israel.

Friedman said: "President Trump and all his advisors are lovers of Israel and want peace in Israel. But it will only happen with the grace of Heaven because the peoples want peace, but the terror leaders are setting fire all the time."

He explained that Trump wants peace but terror leaders are setting the tone.

Friedman also praised the Rebbe for rebuilding his community after the Holocaust.

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Czech President in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Czech President Milos Zeman is on an official trip to Israel. He visited Jerusalem and spoke in the Knesset.

In his address Zeman explained that he will do everything to help move his embassy to Jerusalem. The plan is to move the embassy to the Czech Cultural Center which is right next to the Cinamateque, an unofficial Jerusalem landmark.

In his speech to the Knesset, Czech President Milos Zeman's offered insight into European attitudes towards Israel. He criticized European "fear and doubt in supporting Israel."

Zeman said: "It is important and necessary to express our solidarity with Israel, since betraying Israel means betraying ourselves."

This is another in a series of examples of heroes stepping up and supporting Israel because, well, because it is the right thing to do.

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Chad Pres Visits Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The president of Chad, Idriss Deby, has visited Israel. The visit is newsworthy because Chad broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 1972.

Upon arrival, the president of Chad met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a joint press conference Netanyahu said: "The fact that you, the leader of an important African country, is coming to Israel to renew our friendship and our relationship, I think is a testament of what is going to happen with other such countries in Africa as well."

We are in a new diplomatic era.

African countries, Muslim countries, are reaching out to Israel - in friendship.

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Money From Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has received millions of dollars in aid from Qatar. The exact number, according to media coverage, is $18 million dollars.

Media coverage also says that the money they received was going to directly to pay for fuel.

Musa Abu Marzuq, a senior Hamas leader, was interviewed on Turkish media. When Abu Marzuq spoke about the transfer of Qatari funds to Gaza and said that the money "directly reached 50,000 poor families."

Abu Marzuq added that "most of the Palestinian factions are in agreement regarding a ceasefire arrangement with Israel." He did, however, also add that "the March of Return protests will continue until the blockade is completely lifted."

There is no way to know if Abu Marzuq's assessment is accurate.

Hamas has started to discuss a cease fire with Egypt to bring about a stable new status quo. But even if a cease fire with Israel is called, it is doubtful that it will be successful.

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Explosive Balloons Landing Far From Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

An explosive balloon, with a Palestinian flag attached, fell into a small moshav named M'lea located in the Gilboa region of Israel.

The Gilboa is 100 miles from Gaza. Moshav M'lea is located just a few miles away. It is just outside the northernmost part of Samaria and very close to Afula.

These balloons are becoming, more and more, a common weapon. They are being launched from all over the Palestinian territories. And they are being sent anywhere in Israel where Jews are living.

This time, Israelis sappers were called in and they diffused the explosive balloon.

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Impact of New Iran Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The new sanctions against Iran have been having an impact. Iran is having difficulty importing the materials for their products.

Factories are shutting down companies are firing workers. Reuters ran a series of interviews with small business owners and each and every one bemoaned the current situation.

Unemployment in Iran is officially at 12.3%. But employment among young people 25%. This is particularly devastating because 60 percent of the 80 million people are under 30 years old.

In addition, unemployment among higher educated Iranians is over 50%.

Sanctions are hurting Iran -- but know that they are also hurting Iranians.

The hope is that the pain of the sanctions will urge the Iranian leadership to change their approach to the world. The question is whether or not they care.

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Hezbollah Prepping For War
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Things are looking bad in the south of Israel along the Gaza border.

Israeli communities - towns and cities - wait in fear of the next series of rockets or kites or balloons coming at them from Gaza.

Meanwhile, in the North of Israel, Hezbollah is digging in and preparing to attack.

That, at least, is the evaluation of Israel's IDF Head of the Northern Command Major General Yoel Strik who said: "although Assad is stabilizing, we still face challenges ... Hezbollah is building infrastructure in the Syrian Golan ... We can see Iranian attempts to base themselves around the country."

When the Head of Israel's Northern Command says that the Hezbollah is digging in and that Iran is involved, we should all take notice.

Obviously this is all happening independent of the new relative stability in Syria and independent of Russian involvement.

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Macy's Parade in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On the first night of Chanukah -- December 3, 2018 -- in Jerusalem, the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place. Of course it will still take place in NYC on Thanksgiving.

But this year the famous parade is going on the road. The parade will take place just outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem in the area of Sultan's Pools.

Kong Fu Panda along with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck will attend. Newer balloons like Pokeman and Spiderman will also be there.

The parade is being sponsored by the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs.
The ministry wants to build bridges and especially since the massacre of Jews in their synagogue in Pittsburgh. There are actually plans to bring a delegation from Jewish Pittsburgh to join the parade.

At this point gestures are important.

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Calls to Boycott Sabra Hummus
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is constantly being attacked. Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is constantly trying to needle Israel.

George Mason University(GMU) in Virginia has a BDS student movement that is sending around a petition to ban Sabra Hummus. They want Sabra products off campus because Sabra sppports the IDF.

The students petition says "In accordance with the call issued by
Palestinian civil society for a boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against the benefactors of the illegal occupation, we demand that you cease to stock, offer, and buy the Sabra family of products. Sabra Hummus is co-owned by the Strauss group, which support the Israeli Defense Forces' Golani and Givati Brigades."

GMU is not the first university to attempt to ban Sabra.

Princeton and University of Ottawa has already unsuccessfully attempted to ban Sabra. The call failed for several reasons. Primarily because boycotts are illegal. It also failed because people like Sabra Hummus.

The petition links to specific IDF brigades. That is curious. The reason for the link is that Sabra's parent company Straus and PepsiCo sent care packages to soldiers in those companies.

These boycotts are without real merit. The students from GMU are targeting a company from White Plains, NY. Even if it was an Israeli company -- boycotts are not effective and of course they are illegal.

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Czech FM Visits Western Wall
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek visited the Western Wall. He was escorted by Israel's ambassador to Prague, Daniel Meron.

This visit enraged Palestinian leadership. They assert that it was a violation of tradition and protocol. They said that third parties should not recognize areas that are in dispute - like East Jerusalem.

The official Czech response is that their foreign minister is in Israel for the 6th annual Czech -Israel Forum. He will also visit the Czech House near the Cinemateque movie theatre. The Czech House is the planned space for the Czech embassy when it moves to Jerusalem.

This trip is more than a simple visit. It is paving the way for moving the Czech embassy to Jerusalem. That is what irks Palestinian leadership the most.

All of these are very good signs from the perspective of Israelis and Czechs.

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Hamas Rockets Killed Palestinian
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas launched over 300 rockets, their intention is to to kill as many Israeli Jews as possible.

As fate would have it, one person was killed by the barrage. That one person is Mahmoud Abbash Asba, a 48 year old construction contractor. He was the only victim - and he is not an Israeli at all. Asba lived in Halhul, an Arab village one mile north of Hebron in the West Bank. Mahmoud Abbash Asba was a Palestinian.

The irony is striking.

Hamas terrorists try to murder as many Jews as possible and instead, they murder a Palestinian from Halhul.

Asba would sleep in Ashkelon near his work site during the week and go home on Friday to be with his family. He was in Israel illegally.

Hamas continues to claim that they shot their rockets into Israel to defend Palestinians. What they are is murderers, the murderers of Palestinians.

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Yesterday Was Tough Day for Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

For Israel, yesterday was the worst of days since 2014.
Yesterday, Hamas launched over 300 rockets into Israel. That many rockets in one day were last launched into Israel four years ago.

Israel struck back hitting over 70 Hamas targets.

50 Israelis were hospitalized. Almost all were suffering from shock.
Three of those injured suffered physical injury.

When Israelis are injured and when rocket fire from Gaza increases to new heights, history tells us that Israel will respond with an increase in force.

Israeli special operations forces in Gaza are what began this recent crisis - there is no question or controversy on that. They were discovered mid-operation in Gaza, Hamas responded and continues to respond.

If Israel increases the intensity of their response, it may include more ground operations.
The situation is not good.

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Israel Operating in Gaza Draws Rockets
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel operates in the Gaza strip more often than one would think.
Their last operation resulted in the death of a 43 year old commander, a Lt Colonel in the IDF. Another officer was wounded.
This is a huge loss.

When Israel goes into Gaza, they go with very clear and specific goals for the operations. They go in with small, highly-trained strike forces with a great deal of experience. They work well together and they work efficiently. They go in on the ground and then often take a vehicle or use one that has been arranged for them through local Palestinian assistance.

These small strike forces move quickly.

Their goals, normally, are to confirm information or to sabotage or destroy targets. Sometimes they are there to kidnap or assassinate terrorist leaders.

When something goes wrong there are contingency plans. In this most recent case, the team was discovered. A firefight ensued and that's when the commander was killed and the officer was wounded. Within seconds IDF helicopters came and fired on the Hamas positions giving cover to the IDF team. Other helicopters landed to evacuate the wounded and the rest of the team.

Knowing what to do when things do not go as planned is a critical part of every operation.

Hamas is still responding to the Israeli operation. They are lobbing mortars from Gaza into Israel. Of the 80 mortars lobbed so far today, one mortar resulted in a direct hit on an Israeli bus.

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14 Years Since Arafat
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

14 years ago, on November 11, 2004, Yasser Arafat died in a hospital in France.

Since then, not much has progressed for the Palestinians. Actually, under the current Palestinian leadership, the Palestinian cause has stalled.

Many blame Israel. And yes, there are things Israel could have done to further urge Palestinian leadership and the masses into a mindset amenable to peace agreements. But the lion's share of responsibility sits firmly on the shoulders of Palestinian leadership.

Simply put, Palestinian leadership is afraid to take upon itself the responsibility of compromise. They do not have faith that their leadership will convince the masses that compromise will create a better life and a better future.

Extremists advocate black and white answers only - they refuse to compromise and they threaten anyone who speaks of an agreement with Israel as a traitor and a collaborator. And both leadership and the masses cower in fear and toe the line of the extremists.

Palestinian leadership even mimics extremist ideas in order to save public face which then gives rise to the question whether they actually want peace at all.

Classic examples of capitulation to extremist demands are the official PA policies of paying stipends to arrested terrorist and to the families of killed terrorists, and the offer to those who spend twenty years in Israeli prison for terrorist crimes to purchase car free of tax.

Since Arafat's time, things have really not improved.

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Saudis Say No Palestinians at Hajj
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Saudis are not permitting Palestinian Arabs to attend the Hajj. Since 1978 Palestinians have joined the Hajj. They use temporary Jordanian passports in order to enter Saudi Arabia.

No Israeli is permitted to enter Saudi Arabia and certainly not the holy city of Mecca.

In order to side step that issus Jordan, gave Israelis this temporary status.

There are two interesting issues at stake. 1st is that Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank are included in the ban. 2nd is that this is all happening at a time when Israel and the Saudis are having secret meetings. It was rumored that Israeli PM Netanyahu met the Saudi Crown Prince in Amman Jordan recently.

Israeli press has also reported that they sold the Saudis their Iran Dome.

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Jewish Minister in Tunisia
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Roni Trabelsi is the new tourism minister in Tunisia. This is important news because Roni Tabelsi is Jewish.

Trabelsi is the second Jewish minister in the history of Tunisia. The last Jewish minister was a financial minister to the king of Tunisia in 1860.

Trabelsi is a successful businessman. He actually lives in France, but is also a Tunisian citizen. In the past Trabelsi had been a candidate for this cabinet post but was passed over for the position.

He owns a very large tourism company in Tunisia called Royal First Travel.

Not very long ago Tunisia was home to over 150,000 Jews. Today there may be 1,200 Jews residing there. Not more.

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Another Iranian Hack
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has announced that they have discovered a new attack similar to Stuxnet. They claim that the attack was launched by Israel. General Jalali, the general in charge of defending Iran general said this:

"Recently, we discovered a new generation of Stuxnet which consisted of several parts ... and was trying to enter our systems."

I do not know whether Israel attacked Iran's computers. But I can certainly say that Iran must know that they are perfect targets.

This is the era of computer warfare and it is no surprise that the Iranians were attacked.

I doubt. however, that they successfully cleaned their systems of the infection.

If it is anything like Stuxnet the infection is dormant and cannot be found until it is called back in to action.

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New US Sanctions of Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The newest US sanctions on Iran kicked in today.

These sanctions involve the energy sector.
Countries and companies around the world are biting their nails waiting to see what happens now between the United States and Iran.

For an indication, here's what Iranian President Rouhani said: "We are in a situation of war. We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win."

Iran is assuming the position of victim of an evil aggressor. They are portraying the United States as an enemy and they are speaking in terms of war - economic war as well as real war.

Rouhani cranked up the rhetoric when he compared US President Donald Trump to Saddam Hussein of Iraq, one of world's most vicious dictators and the arch enemy of Iran. He said: "Yesterday, Saddam was in front of us, today Trump is front of us. There is no difference. We must resist and win."

Positions have been set.

The United States made the first move.
How will Iran counter?

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Shortage of Tires in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinians have been burning tires. One of the tools they use to obscure the field of vision of Israeli soldiers is burning tires.

So Israel initiated a ban on bringing tires in to Gaza. Eventually, Israel figured, they would run out of the tires.

And now, a shortage of tires has emerged in Gaza. There is a shortage of tires for burning and there is also a shortage of tires for cars.

With a short supply and a high demand, the price of tires will skyrocket. The price of tires has hit $350 a pair - that is an increase of 300% since the burning of tires began.

An essential good has now become a luxury good in Gaza.

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Still Spinning from The Attack
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The mass murder of 11 Jews while praying in synagogue on a Sabbath morning has stunned America. The reaction is still apparent days later - the story still continues to dominate the headlines.

And not just in the US. Interest in this horrific event perpetrated upon 11 Jews resonates in Europe. Why?

Why is Europe so enthralled with the story? There are two reasons. First, is shock and dismay. Second, is that Europeans need to prove to themselves, to the United States and to Israel that Europe is not the only place where anti- Semitism lurks.

Israel is also spinning from this catastrophe. Israeli media is multi-focused - on the crime, on the victims and on the perpetrator of the crime. They are also asking an all important question.

Israeli media is asking: Is it is still safe for Jews to live in America as Jews?

It is the ultimate question about Zionism.

The original Zionists advocated leaving the Diaspora because of the
dangers in the Diaspora - the exception was the United States where Jews were supposedly safe. This attack calls that assumption into question.

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Iran's Pres Phone was Hacked
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian news media announced that their president's phone was tapped.

President Hassan Rouhani's cell phone was compromised, according to the Iranian Student News Agency the ISNA.

Iran knows that they are vulnerable. Since the Stuxnet virus ran rampant in 2011, Iran has realized the potential risks of technology and hacking.

Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali is the head of a military unit in charge of combating sabotage in Iran. The authorities in Iran are saying that Rouhani's phone was tapped "recently" and would be replaced with a more secure device. Jalali did not provide further details.

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Israel Selling Iron Dome to Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli media reported that the IDF chief of staff met with more than a handful of military chiefs of staff from Arab countries during this last trip to Washington.

The Israeli press also described a $250 million deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal is for highly sophisticated defense weapons - specifically the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

This deal coming to light is a huge issue.

While it is evident that Israel is getting closer and closer to Arab leaders - supplying cutting edge defensive weapons with the best possible computer technology is pushing the envelope.

With all countries, but especially with the actions of Saudi Arabia, Israel needs to be very careful about the sale of weapons.

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Oman Says Time to Recognize Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu returned to Israel from a two-day secret trip to Oman.

The secrecy was lifted after Netanyahu left Oman.
The purpose of this trip is obvious. It was another in a series of steps opening up the Arab and Islamic world to Israel.

After the Israeli prime minister left Oman, Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi released the following statement: "Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same [as other states] and to also bear the same obligations."

The foreign minister made this statement while attending the IISS (International Institute for Security Studies) Conference in Manama, Bahrain.

Omani leadership is taking a big step forward. They are boldly advancing interaction with Israel in the public eye and even suggesting that the rest of the states in the region do the same.
Kudos to Omani leadership.

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Increased Tension Could Lead to Quiet
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Thursday night at almost midnight Israel time the code red alert sounded in southern Israel. Families scrambled to grab their sleeping children and rush them into their safe rooms.
This is not unique. Unfortunately it maybe the new norm.

Now Israel must now evaluate their response.

A rocket was shot from Gaza into Israel - thankfully no was hurt and no damage physical damage occurred.

That is except if you count that this was one of her 40,000 rockets which the Palestinians of Gaza have launched into Israel.

In an Israeli army ceremony earlier in the day marking the transition of leadership in the outgoing IDF officer in charge of the region said that Palestinian terrorists continually attempt to attack Israel from beneath the ground and from the air and on the ground. But thus far Israel has the ability to stop them.

Over the past week Israel has begun to act aggressively against the Palestinian units launching incendiary balloons and rockets against Israel.

That seems to have been the decision by the prime minister's inner cabinet - his security cabinet.

In the meantime despite the recent rocket attack the Palestinians have quieted down because of Israel's more aggressive response.

Significantly fewer Palestinians are rioting at the Gaza border with Israel and the rioters behavior is much more controlled. This is clearly a decision and a response by the organizers to Israel's increased reaction.

All this translates into an intensification of the conflict. Because of last week's rocket which destroyed a family home in Beersheba - Israel changed their reaction. They hit Palestinian launching units. That military response created calmer life on both sides.

Given the current responses of Israel and the intensities - the rocket that was launched near midnight yesterday may force Israel to respond with even greater force.

Translation - increased tensions requires Israel's response.
Question: Will there be an IDF ground attack and an all military invasion into Gaza?:
Answer- neither side wants one.

Israel wants to cap the tension using drones, helicopters and fighter jets. They do not want to risk the cost of Israeli casualties that are inevitable in ground invasion.

The Palestinians want to push Israel and agitate just up to the point of forcing an increase in Israel's response especially avoiding an all out advance.

So far the Palestinians have caused Israel to use more aerial strikes. That response would be considered a moderate increase in activity.

But the Palestinian rockets are extremely unpredictable - an errant rocket will hit an Israeli civilian target. That single rocket could topple the very fragile balance preventing an all out war.

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Jordan & Israel at Odds
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Part of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan was an agreement in which Jordan would lease lands to Israel. Those lands included parts of the Arava Desert and a section of the Jordan River with an island in its center called Naharayim.

The 25 year lease is up and Jordan announced that it will not be renewed.

The Jordanian's official and public decision took Israel by surprise - even though Jordan's King Abdullah had made several earlier announcements indicating that he does not intend to carry on with the leasing arrangement.

Israel did not take the King seriously, they did not make the diplomatic effort necessary to squelch this issue. And now they are in trouble.

For Israel, Naharayim, the Jordan River island, is an essential water source.

Adopting an adolescent-like stance, Israel assumed they would deal with it - that it was no big problem. But it is a big problem. The King of Jordan is promising the return of lands to their rightful, original owners.

Israeli diplomatic leadership made a massive miscalculation.

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The Real Khashoggi & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Saudi journalist murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey was no lover of Israel.

Jamal Khashoggi often wrote disapprovingly about Saudi's relationship with Israel.

He wrote that public diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel will hurt the standing of Saudi Arabia in the rest of the Muslim world. He wrote that it was irresponsible and myopic and shortsighted of Saudi leadership to not to see that.

This puts Israel into a difficult, almost a near impossible, situation.

On the one hand, Israel needs the Saudis to challenge Iran.

On the other hand, Israel cannot be seen as supporting Iran and ignorant of the culture of torture that still goes on Iran.

Saudi Arabia is not as evolved as Western countries forced themselves to believe they were.

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Chinese VP in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Sometimes it is hard to determine what is and is not important among the dozens of events happening in the world.

The Vice President of China, Wang Qishan is in Israel for a three day visit. This is significant and hugely important. A three day visit from the Chinese VP to a tiny country like Israel will shore up relations and transmit a message to those who know -- that Israel and China are working well together and that they are creating new agreements.

The Chinese VP is in Israel officially to co chair a conference on innovation cooperation. It is a joint summit and the other co host is Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Undoubtedly there are and will be tensions between China and Israel. This however shows a warming and it extends a real gesture of diplomatic interactions.

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Selling His Olympic Gold
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Gal Fridman is Israel's only Olympic gold medalist.

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

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

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

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

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

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Teachers Strike in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Teachers are striking in Iran.

That is a very bad sign.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday October 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

If so - Kudos to Pompeo and to Trump!!

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Druze Show Support for Assad
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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


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Israel & UAE Amb Sit Together
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday October 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday October 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

So here are some of the details.

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

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

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

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

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Iran Outlaws Terror
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

The answer is both simple and surprising.

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

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

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Another Tragedy in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Russian Numbers are Fake
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Independent monitors have very different numbers.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday October 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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UN Head Say Hate of Israel is A/S
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke out condemning anti-Semitism. The secretary general spoke at an event sponsored by UNESCO.

Guterres said: "The origins of the United Nations itself are rooted in the need to learn the lessons of the Holocaust. Being true to our Charter means combating anti-Semitism and hatred with all our energy and will."

Guterres also said that anti-Semitism attempts to criticize Israel "itself in attempts to delegitimize the right of Israel to exist, including calls for its destruction, using the pretext of the situation in the Middle East to target Jews and Jewish symbols."

Speaking of related issues Guterres said: "The world is also seeing an alarming proliferation of neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups, and of those seeking religious and ethnic domination ... This is tribalism run amok. Not only are their vile views coming into the mainstream, but the mainstream unfortunately, sometimes, is coming to them."

This speech by the UN Secretary General at a UNESCO event is an attempt to make clear that the UN has experienced a recent history of anti-Semitism.

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Terrorist Take Advantage of Jewish Holidays
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It is now the middle of the holiday of Sukkot. This year, like every year, Israelis are on family vacations all over Israel. Terrorists know about the vacations and, as a result, Israel and Israelis are at a greater than normal risk.

Because of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot - Israelis are targets.
Palestinians are also taking advantage of the holiday and the interruption of day-to-day living and sending more and more burning kites and balloons into Israel.

On Wednesday five fires broke out near the Gaza border, caused by balloons launched from Gaza.

It should be clear to all - the Hamas terrorists are taking advantage of the timing of the Sukkot family. They are attacking Israel during the holiday in order to injure or murder as many people as possible.

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Abbas in France
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron insists that talks resume between Israel and the Palestinians. To that effect, his office released this message: "to resume the thread of dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis and confirmed to President Abbas the willingness of France to mobilize on the diplomatic field, in order to change a situation that is no longer tenable."

Abbas explained that Palestinians are not against talks, it's just that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the reason for the stalled talks.

Abbas was happy to hear that France would like to take the lead in a future dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. One reason for their excitement is that with France taking charge, Israel would, of course, be sidelined.

There is no chance that this will happen. Israel will never let that happen.

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Iran's Drills and Maneuvers
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has been running military drills in the Persian Gulf. They have set off test rockets and they had ground maneuvers.

A country, especially a country like Iran which is feeling more and more isolated and threatened, has only a few options for regaining honor and pride and for sending a message to those poking and provoking them.

Iran's maneuvers are clear statements against the United States, the West and all other countries joining in US-sponsored sanctions against them.

These military exercises are carefully designed by Iran to make certain that their neighbors understand that they are capable of hitting anyone at any time.

Iran's maneuvers are a clear statement and part of that statement is a military threat.

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Iran Feeling the Sanctions Pressure
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is starting to feel the pressure of the US sanctions that are already in place and of future sanctions, those on oil that will on start November 4th.

Iran is responding by saying that the sanctions will not be that effective.

Moayyed Hosseini Sadr, an adviser to Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said, "Considering the high demand and low supply in the market, America's sanctions cannot drop Iran's oil sale to zero ... Other oil producers cannot replace Iran's oil."

Sadr is correct about the demand for oil - it is high.

BUT - here's the big question: is buying from Iran to meet your needs and even possibly undercutting the world market rate worth the potential backlash and wrath of the United States????

That is the question that needs to be answered.

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Syria Down Russia Plane
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Reports abound that Syria accidentally shot down a Russian IL-20 aircraft carrying 14 Russian servicemen.

Some background is required.

The Syrians have beefed up their anti-air defenses with the help of Russia. Yesterday - and the day before, missiles were headed toward the Syrian port of Latakia. According to Israeli sources, Latakia port was storing new weapons that would alter the status quo.

So Israel launched an attack against the weapons cache in Latakia.

On Sunday night Syria successfully struck some of the incoming Israeli rockets. But Monday night, rather than shooting down Israeli planes, they mistakenly shot down the planes of their ally, Russia.

One of the dangers of having hi-tech weapons is that when using them they can cause great damage.

The irony should not be lost. Russia improves the anti-missile defense system of Syria only to be shot down by that very system.

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A Hero Murdered
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Ari Fuld was murdered in cold blood yesterday by a 17 year old Palestinian terrorist.

Ari was a hero, cut down in the prime of his life in the parking lot of a Gush Etzion shopping mall, a spot frequented by both Palestinians and Israelis.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad of Gaza both issued statements supporting the murder of this father of four.

They proclaimed: "We welcome the stabbing attack in Bethlehem, which coincided with the killings of our people during the March of Return."

"The attack makes it clear that our people wish to continue the Jerusalem intifada. To resist the occupation, by using all means necessary, is our legitimate right."

"The attack is a natural response to the aggression and crimes perpetrated by the Zionist terrorists against our people, our land and our holy places. We praise our people in the West Bank and call for a continuation of resistance against Israel and attacks against the settlers."

These comments are official - they not off the cuff.

These terrorists want to stimulate more terror and to murder more innocents. They take pride in the murder of Ari Fuld. They justify the murder of Ari Fuld. They may think of themselves as freedom fighters, but they are nothing more than cold blooded murderers.

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Palestinans Say No Peace Deal!
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinians, has made it very clear that Palestinians will not accept any US peace plan. More than that, he suggested that the United States will never even present the plan.

Erekat explained the reason for the Palestinian rejection by saying that the United States has sided with Israel on every issue.

In a Reuters interview which took place in Jericho, Erekat said: "I don't think they will ever introduce a plan."

He continued: "The whole world is rejecting their ideas. They are already implementing their plan by changing the terms of reference."

Erekat is not a prophet - but he is correct that, at this point, the US sponsored will not succeed. No peace plan will succeed if one of the parties refuses to participate.

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Hezbollah Leader Cries
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The leader of Hezbollah was moved to tears during a speech he delivered yesterday. Not quite what you would expect from Hassan Nasrallah.

Nasrallah was begging his followers not to cut the faces of their children. Mutilation and self-mutilation are part of Shiite tradition, especially on Ashurah. Ashurah is the anniversary of the brutal death of Mohammed's grandson Hussein Ibn Ali during the battle of Karbala.

To reenact this historical event, Shiite Muslims whip themselves and others. They also cut themselves and each other.

Nasrallah said: "The whole world sees what is happening here today and I ask you all to restrain yourselves and to distance yourselves from anyone who seeks to create a negative impression about us." Then he started to cry.

ISIS, Nasrallah said, is the real enemy: "ISIS leaves an impression that causes the most harm to us. Islamic scholars condemn them."

Crocodile tears? Perhaps.

Effective? Time will tell.

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World Jewish Population is Up
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

New numbers are in.

According to the Jewish Agency, the Jewish population increased over the last year by 100,000. The total number of Jews in the world is now 14.7 million people.

There are 6.6 million Jews living in Israel.

8.1 million Jews live in the Diaspora, that means they live outside of Israel.

Of that number, 5.7 million live in the United States.

The second largest population outside of Israel is France where 453,000 Jews currently live.

The third largest Jewish community outside of Israel is Canada with 391,000 Jews.

The lessons gleaned from these numbers are important. But, numbers can be deceptive. The question needs to be asked: What activity do these 14.7 million people actually practice? In other words, what criteria was used in labeling someone Jewish?

The answer is that these 14.7 million people classify themselves as Jewish.

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US Closes Palestinian Mission in DC
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The US State Department announced that the Palestinians must close their mission in Washington.

The mission is the closest thing to a US embassy the Palestinians have.

The announcement came in a statement from Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, during an official press briefing.

Nauert said: "To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise ... As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point ... The United States continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward."

The Palestinians are livid. They are convinced that this is another US move against them.

But the United States has made it clear that actions have consequences - in this case the Palestinians refuse to advance direct talks with Israel or even to speak to US special envoys.

Back in November the United States warned the Palestinians that the price of not talking would be the closing of their Washington mission. They have a month to move out.

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Israel Issues Travel Warnings
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's National Security Anti-Terrorism Bureau has announced travel warnings for the Jewish holidays.

The two most important warnings involve the Sinai and Turkey.

"This is not about posting new travel warnings, but reflecting the current situation," the bureau explained. The announcement said that "the threat in Sinai remains high" in light of the presence of an Islamic State affiliate and efforts by al-Qaeda to establish itself in the region.”

About Turkey, it warned of "high threat potential for Israelis in light of the infrastructure and intention of terror groups to operate" in Turkey.

As always, there is also a high risk for Israeli travelers in the rest of Egypt and Jordan.

Hopefully, it will be an incident-free, safe and healthy New Year for all.

Shana Tova - Happy New Year.

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Greenblatt Says Palestinian Issue Not Central
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Jason Greenblatt is US President Donald J Trump's special envoy to the Middle East. He was quoted in yesterday's JTA saying that the Palestinian issue is not central to the Middle East and that resolving the Palestinian issue will not solve any other problems or impact any other issues. Of course, he added that this does not mean that the Palestinian issue should not be solved,

Greenblatt said "solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not solve other conflicts in the region, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, terrorists in the Sinai Desert in Egypt, a tragic, continuing civil war in Syria, war in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, instability in Libya, and an Iranian regime that oppresses its own people and foments terrorism around the world."

"That does not make resolving this conflict any less important."

Yes, Greenblatt is correct. What a welcome breath of fresh air. It's good to hear this point of view and know that it is reflective of US policy.

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Iran's FM In Syria Shows Unity
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian foreign minister Javid Zarif is in Syria. He arrived on the heels of Iran's Defense Minister Khatami.

Zarif met with Syrian President Assad in order to review international diplomatic responses to their assault on Idlib, one of the last strongholds of Syrian rebels fighting Assad.

The Syria leader said: "the fact that the West has resorted to threats and pressure on Tehran and Damascus attests to its failure to implement the plans it has proposed."

He continued: "the pressures exerted by some Western countries will not deter both countries from continuing to maintain their principles and securing the region."

Iran and Syria are in this for the long term.

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Putin's Rabbi Visits Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Moscow's Chabad rabbi, Berel Lazar, secretly visited Iran as part of a Russian Duma delegation in April - immediately after Passover this year.

The trip was covered in the Times of Israel and in the Hebrew press. Neither Chabad nor the rabbi has confirmed the story.

Iran originally rejected the Rabbi and said that they would not permit him entry. But Rabbi Lazar is not just a Chabad rabbi, he is Vladimir Putin's rabbi. The Russians insisted that Rabbi Lazar be part of the delegation, and so he was.

While in Iran Rabbi Lazar visited a Jewish school and a synagogue and spoke with the Jewish community.

There are rumors that there was an attempt to resolve tensions between Iran and Israel using Putin and Russia and Rabbi Lazar - but there's no chance of that being true.

It was most likely another example need to prove his power over Iran.

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PA Lashing Out At Trump
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian leadership is lashing out at the United States -specifically at US President Donald Trump and those of his attaches who were given the mandate to bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians.

Chief Palestinian adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh, who is also the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said this about US Envoy to the Mideast Jason Greenblatt's comments regarding the PA's handling of the Gaza issue: "The US government is interfering in internal
Palestinian affairs and we will not allow this."

"Greenblatt is part of a scheme to transform the Palestinian issue from one of a nation yearning for independence into a mere humanitarian issue. The nation won't accept this."

This is ridiculous. This is a total exaggeration and Rudeineh is completely wrong.

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Tensions Btw Saudis and Germany
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like tensions are rising between Saudi Arabia and Germany. This conflict emerges in the aftermath of a Saudi / Canadian conflict.

Saudi Arabia's conflict with Canada has been simmering for a while, but the most recent issue of contention came about because Canada spoke out about Saudi Arabian social injustice - especially against women and minorities in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis told Canada to butt out.

Germany spoke up about the conflict, too and they sided with Canada.

On the economic front, as a result of Germany's siding against them, Saudi Arabia has moved to block European pharmaceuticals from entering their country. The massive loss of sales will impact not only Germany but all of Europe and even the United States.

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Iran's Parliament Orders President To Explain
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 29, 2018

I''ve Been Thinking:

Iran's parliament ordered Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to make an appearance and explain his policies.

This is only the second time in history that such a move has taken place. The last time was in 2011 when then-president Ahmadinejad was summoned to the parliament over a similar issue - international sanctions against Iran.

Rouhani was asked to explain why his policies have not been able to counter the sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran.

The parliament is worried, most significantly because the economic crisis in Iran is worsening. And this is just stage one of the sanctions, stage two begins in November.

Iran's parliamentarians want to know what Rouhani's new plans. They want to know if Rouhani's plans will succeed in lifting Iran out of its terrible economic condition.

There is good reason to worry.

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Russian Fleet to Syria
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

13 Russian war ships crossed through the Bosporus Straits en route to Syria. The Bosporus leads from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea to the Aegean Sea and then to the Mediterranean.

The ships listed below are the most sophisticated and advanced attack machines in the Russia war chest. This flotilla is a floating attack base, it is an offensive weapon with express purpose of striking targets on land.

Russian Ships Now in Med Sea:
CG Marshal Ustinov
DG Severomorsk
DDG Yaroslav Mudryy
FFG Admiral Grigorovich
FFG Admiral Essen
FFL Pytlivyy
FSG Vyshniy Volochek
FSG Grad Sviyazhsk
FSG Velikiy Ustyug
LST Orsk
LST Nikolay Fil'chenkov
MS Turbinist
MS Valentin Pikul
SS Kolpino
SS Velikiy Novgorod

This return of the Russian armada to Syria is the result President Trump's announcement threatening that the United States was going to attack Syrian army posts. Russia is sending its fleet to defend Syria, its ally - and to check United States aggression.

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Iranian Defense Minister in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami touched down in Damascus, Syria on a Sunday for a two day visit.

Iran is deeply invested in Syria. Since 2012 over 1,000 Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have been killed in Syria. There is no way of actually knowing how many Iranian soldiers are in Syria.

The Iranians have repeatedly said that they are only in Syria because they were invited to enter and will stay until Syria asks them to leave.

Last week, while in Israel, the US president's national security adviser announced that Iran must get out of Syria.

Iran is very dangerous in Syria. They are a serious threat to Israel and the rest of the Middle East. They prey on Sunni majorities. But because of their presence, after eight years of killing, the Syrian civil war has almost ended.

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Palestinian Leaders are Arming
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

YNET and KAN, 2 Israeli news media sites, published reports that Palestinian leaders are maneuvering in order to gain position and power and get an advantage and in what will be the race to become the successor of Mohammed Abbas.

The reports say that these leaders are hiring not just assistants and campaign managers, they are hiring armed guards and even strike forces.

Whatever happens, it promises to be interesting, very interesting.

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Israeli Anchor Insults Cobryn
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 23, 2018
I've Been Thinking:

The anchor for the Israel public television station KAN, a woman named Geula Even Saar, made several comments that many people consider offensive.

Numerous people have eulogized Uri Avneri, a trailblazing leftist. In response to the tributes heaped on Avneri, Even Saar said: "Today, many people have eulogized him, including President Reuven Rivlin, but also Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen [Abbas], who don't have a problem also eulogizing terrorists."

Geula Even Saar is correct in that Jeremy Corbyn supports Palestinian terror as does Abu Mazen.

She abandoned professionalism and was, instead, expressing her anger at theses leaders.

Avneri was the first Israeli to meet and greet PLO leader Yasser Arafat - who was also a terrorist.

The anchor is unapologetic and stands by her words.

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Iran Says The US is Scared
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech that was televised on Iranian TV. In the speech Rouhani explained why the United States has not attacked Iran.

Rouhani explained that the overall military strength of Iran is a deterrent for the US and that any attack on Iran would be extremely costly for the United States.

He said: "Why the United States does not attack us? Because of our power, because it knows ... its consequences."

There are many reasons why the Unites States has not attacked Iran.

The most important reason of all is that it would bring about war. And no one knows how that would end.

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Hamas Will Not Lay Down Weapons
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The ceasefire, the truce, between Hamas and Israel have serious implications. There is no question that part of the truce will require Hamas to disarm.

Hamas said that: "Our weapons will remain in our hands and there are no conditions regarding Hamas's right to [continue] the resistance. The truce does not require a political price [from Hamas] and it is not part of the deal of the century."

There is, without a doubt, a massive chasm between what Israel expects and what Hamas will do in the truce - but Israel cannot permit Hamas to continue to launch rockets and attacks.

So - Israel will probably look the other way at Hamas' continued weapon flaunting as long as things stay quiet and there are few to nil rockets and terror attacks aimed at them.

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Israeli Won't Compete on Yom Kippur
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Dan Kramer is the lead member of Israel's Equestrian Team. The team has a chance to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Japan. But to qualify, they need to score high ranks in certain international competitions.

The best of the competitions will take place in September in the United States. But there's a problem - the competition takes place on Yom Kippur. Dan Kramer was insistent that he, personally, would not compete on Yom Kippur. He said that, out of respect for Judaism and out of respect for the Israeli people, he would not compete.

Kramer has written an open letter that reads: "I decided not to join the other members of the Israeli national team and not to participate in the upcoming world championships in the United States, because the competition is taking place on Yom Kippur and I want to honor this day as well as the Israeli public and Jewish Diaspora."

"I think that it will be a serious mistake in judgment to compete on this holy day, despite the sporting implications of not participating in such a major and important competition that will hurt my international score and my, and my horse's, chances of reaching the Olympics. As far as I'm concerned, this is not a matter of personal choice. As a Jewish athlete and a proud Israeli, I do not intend to offend the sensitivities of the Israeli public and the Jewish world in general and compete on our holiest day."

"I do not intend to compete 'below the radar,' as has been hinted to me more than once in my conversations with key people in the federation, because I believe that every performance by an Israeli team should be a heart-warming affair that fills every Israeli and Jew with pride."

The rest of the team has decided to compete. They are, however, split in favor of and opposed to the decision of their team captain.

The truth is that without Kramer, Israel's Equestrian Team's chance of reaching the Olympics is greatly diminished.

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Hajj Begins
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

According to many Islamic calendars, the Hajj began at first light this morning.

The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and sometimes Medina. Every able-bodied Muslim male is commanded to make the Hajj once in his lifetime. Some Muslims do it annually. This year Saudi Arabia granted 1.7 million visas and they are expecting over 2 million pilgrims during the 5 day event.

The Arabic word "Hajj" derives from the same root as the Hebrew word "Chag". It means "holiday". The three letter root is H - G - G. In both Arabic and Hebrew, the soft "G" has the "J" sound. That is why I spell Hajj with two Js, not two Gs. And that is why in Hebrew the biblical character is called Hagar and in the Koran she is called Hajar.

The pilgrim enters Mecca and makes his way to the Great Mosque, the largest mosque in the world with the ability to accommodate 2 million pilgrims at one time.

The Great Mosque encompasses the Kabba, the square stone. And that is where the pilgrim performs the Tawaf - the ritual in which the Kabba is circled 7 times in a counterclockwise direction. Pilgrims then walk between the two hills that Hajar, the wife of Ibrahim (Abraham) walked. She walked between Safa and Marwa looking for water for her son Ishmael.

Circling seven times is a common tradition in Judaism, as well. Jews do it during the holidays of Sukkot, Hoshannah Rabbah and Simchat Torah and call it Hakafot. During Jewish wedding ceremonies, brides traditionally circle their grooms 7 times while standing under the chupah, the wedding canopy.

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Syrian 1st Lady Has Cancer
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Syrian First Lady Asma Assad has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is now undergoing treatment. The announcement came in a tweet from the office of her husband, the president.

The tweet was in Arabic, here is a translation: "With strength, trust and faith ... Mrs Asma al-Assad begins her preliminary treatment of a malignant breast tumor that was discovered early."

The tweet included a photo of the first lady, her arm attached to an IV drip, alongside her husband, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Asma Assad is 42 years old. She holds dual citizenship from both England, where she was born and schooled and from Syria. Her family is from the Syrian province of Homs.

The tweet continued: "From the heart, the presidency and the staff wish Mrs. Asma a speedy recovery."

We should all join in those wishes.

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Russia Stepping Up Role in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Russia is now stepping up their role in Syria.

Russia is patrolling the zone between Syria and Israel and report to have 1,000 sappers probing for and deactivating mines in the area.

Russia has promised Israel that they will keep Iran 50 miles from their border.

The role of the Russians will be to make certain that Iran, as well as Hezbollah, stay far away from the Israeli border.

Russia also wants to reinstitute the UN patrols in the area between Israel and Syria.

We often hear about the Russian air force, about their fighter planes and bombers. We don't hear about their army. But it should be obvious that there is much more of a Russian presence than anyone expected or speaks about.

1,000 sappers plus enough army to patrol the buffer zone between Israel and Syria is massive.

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Iranian Leader Says No War w US
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Khamenei said that there is no chance for war between the US and Iran. He also said there is also no chance for talks.

The Iranian leader was responding to Washington rhetoric that has been floating both of these ideas - both that the situation is close to war and also that President Trump has floated a trial balloon to have face-to-face meetings with Iran.

The Iranian leader put the ideas to bed.

In his televised speech the Supreme Leader said that: "along with sanctions, Americans have recently raised two more options, war and talks... War will not happen and we will not enter talks."

He continued on saying that Iran has not attacked anyone and to do so would not be in line with their history. They have not and will not initiate a first strike against the United States - so there is no chance of war. And they have no interest in talking to the United States.

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China Increases Influence in MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

China has a plan to become more and more active and involved in the Middle East. The plan is in the works and China has already become a major player in the region.

The Chinese plan is based on the old "silk road market". Today's version is called the Belt and Road Initiative.

To that end the Chinese hosted 28 Arab and Muslim foreign ministers. These countries are starting to work in sync to help supply China with her needs - especially her energy needs. In return China will supply these countries with important goods.

The route is not just over land, it is also over sea.

The more China is involved in trade the more it will be involved in policy and diplomacy. That is their ulterior motive.

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Bibi Said We'll Have New Elections
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has threatened early elections if there is no resolution on the Conscription Bill.

The Conscription Bill is a compromise that balances the requirements of the democracy that require citizens to do national service and the ultra religious community that asserts learning Torah is a form of national service.

The bone of contention with this bill is that the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that the law as it stands needs to be changed - it is unfair and unclear. Revisions have already been made to the bill. The number of draftees has changed significantly from the original version.
The age of the draftees has been changed. The compromises were made to ensure that Hareidi men will join the army, albeit in small numbers.

Even these changes have not satisfied the Hareidi community. Israel's ultra religious parties want the draft of yeshiva students nixed totally. The Supreme Court on the other hand asserts there must be some parity in national service.

Rabbi Litzman, the deputy health minister and the representative of the Hareidi Achdut HaTorah coalition said: "The approval of an amended draft law is one of the central things that served as a base to the current coalition and government. We have no interest in elections, but we will not be able to compromise on the fundamental and essential thing of safeguarding the status of yeshiva students whose Torah is their work."

Litzman continued. "The different proposals will be brought for discussion to the Council of Torah Sages, which will decide on the matter. We will do as they instruct us."

The Israeli Supreme Court is extending the deadline before the bill is voted on in the hope of achieving some sort of resolution that is satisfactory for all the parties. The original deadline was the first week in September, it has now been moved to December 2nd.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is well aware that, if elections were to take place as early as February, he would be the solid winner. All other parties - with the possible exception of two right wing and one center left party would lose seats.

Netanyahu is not sweating over this bill.

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Saudia Fake Oil Output
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Wall Street Journal Market Watch published a report that Saudi Arabia is faking their output numbers.

The reason the Saudis would fake their figures is to report to OPEC that they are controlling more of the market than they actually are. They would want to do that because the US has increased its output tremendously over the last year.

This fake is a classic example of how perception is more important than reality.

The reality is that the Saudis need to make themselves look bigger than they are.

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Iran Worried About China
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is worried that China is a moving away from support of their country.

China is investing $3 billion in Bangladesh - especially in infrastructure.

The Chinese have plenty of money to invest and they are already heavily invested in Asia. But Iran is worried that this specific investment may be a sign that, because of the new US sanctions on Iran, China is pulling away.

The essential point is that China is a huge economy and exports everywhere - especially to the United States. Truth is, the US cannot function without Chinese products. But China is also a great client of Iran - especially for oil and other energy resources.

China has said that they will not adhere to the US sanctions against Iran - but you never know. So Iran is watching the Bangladesh investment very carefully.

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Iran Sanctions -- Taking Sides
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Now that US sanctions have been snapped back on Iran different countries are lining up in two columns - for and against.

The EU has said that they will not support the US sanctions and will even help companies that may be punished by the United States.

China has said that they will not accept US sanctions.

Iraq, a neighbor and sworn enemy of Iran, said that they disagree with sanctions however they will abide by the US requests.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said:

"As a matter of principle we are against sanctions in the region. Blockade and sanctions destroy societies and do not weaken regimes."

"We consider them (sanctions on Iran) a strategic mistake and incorrect but we will abide by them to protect the interests of our people. We will not interact with them or support them but we will abide by them."

Surprising, not really. Some countries still recognize the power that the United States wields.

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Iran Says US Lies
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

President Trump snapped sanctions back on Iran yesterday. As a lead up to this day, President Trump announced that he is inviting Iran to dialogue - and with no preconditions.

In response, however, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that he has no interest in any dialogue with the United States. Rouhani asserted that the US is simply not trustworthy. He said the US would first need to prove their honesty and that would nearly be impossible. He said that the United States pulled out of a deal and that proves that they do not keep their word.

"We are always in favor of diplomacy and talks ... But talks needs honesty ... The US re-imposes sanctions on Iran and pulls out of the nuclear deal, and then wants to hold talks with us." That's what Rouhani said on state television.

And then he added:"Trump's call for direct talks is only for domestic consumption in America ... and to create chaos in Iran."

Iran is suing the United States in the World Court for damages done since the 19553 coup that was sponsored and coordinated by the CIA. That was the coup that ousted Iran's democratically elected president and replaced him with the Shah.

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Syrian Scientist Get Blown Up
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Syrian scientist Dr Azizi Asber was blown up in his car, together with his driver, on Saturday night. Dr Asber was in charge of Department 4, the department responsible for two very important pro-Syria projects.

Dr. Azizi Asber was developing new chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems. He also worked very closely with Iran's rocket scientists and was helping to develop Iranian weapons.

Anti-Assad forces have claimed responsibility.

A group called Tahrir al Sham sent out a message taking credit for perpetrating the attack. You may already be familiar with the group - they used to be called al Nusra Front and they served as the representatives of al Qaeda in Syria.

An important subgroup of Tahrir al Sham, called Abu Amara Brigades, posted the message on their online Telegram channel saying that they "planted explosives" that assassinated the scientists.

The Assad regime has not yet commented on the successful assassination
of one of their most senior scientists.

This was a huge success for groups that we haven't heard from in a while, groups that we were led to believe no longer exist.

Well, these groups have returned, quite literally, with a bang.

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Israel Blocks Ship
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The captain of a Norwegian ship that attempted to break Israel's blockade of Gaza criticized Israel for stopping his ship which was carrying humanitarian supplies.

After the captain, Herman Reksten, returned to Norway he lashed out at Israel saying that his ship was in international waters and closer to Egypt than to Israel.

He said: "We were arrested in international waters and we were closer to Egypt than Israel."

Let me clarify. International waters are clearly measured and laid down in international law -- 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) from the baseline (usually the mean low-water mark) of a coastal state.

So yes, sometimes, one country's territorial water overlaps with its neighbors.

Israel boarded and towed the Norwegian ship into Israel and interrogated everyone on board.

The ship was breaking a legal port closure. The captain knew that. None the less, he proceeded with his journey.

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Iran's Military Drills
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is planning to conduct military drills in the Straits of Hormuz. The United States military is aware of the plan and they will be watching the Iranian drills very intently.

That suits Iran just fine - they want to US to pay attention.

Iran is making a clear statement by way of their Revolutionary Guard and the 100 boats and thousands of troops taking part in the drills in the Straits of Hormuz. They are in charge.

One of the most effective weapons the Iranian Revolutionary Guards employs is their swift rubber boats. The boats are very small, very fast and extremely maneuverable. They are so low to the water that the boats are difficult to detect on radar.

No surprise, the Iranians are very effective at attacking large ships.

The Straits of Hormuz is a waterway through which 20% of the world's oil travels every single day. Iran knows that if they sink as few as two tankers they will successfully stall the delivery of oil and cripple worldwide oil distribution.

The Iranians also know that they can, and have in the past, attacked US ships in the Straits of Hormuz. Iran knows that they have an advantage - and that advantage includes mini submarines made specifically to hit and run in the Straits of Hormuz.

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Israel is Under Cyber Attack
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is under cyber attack.

There has been a uptick in cyber attacks against Israel, attacks that are different from previous attacks against Israel.

Serious attacks are emanating from Iran. Even more serious attacks are coming from China and from Russia.

These are hacking attacks. The attackers are not simply interested in trying to crash sites and breach security - that is what the huge amateur hacking community normally sets as their goals. This is much, much, more sophisticated than that.

These hackers from Iran, China and Russia are trying to secretly access and monitor the acts and behavior of the Israeli military. They want military secrets and decision making protocols. The hackers, especially those from China and Russia, are particularly sophisticated and very talented.

Israel has it hands full.

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ISIS is Growing Again
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS perpetrated four suicide bombs in southern Syria this week murdering 250 people. In addition to the murder, ISIS kidnapped 36 people - 20 women and 16 children, all Druze.

It all took place as Syria basks in the glory of what they are calling a total victory over ISIS and the rebels who, for the past 8 years, have been trying to oust President Bashar Assad.

That victory is not as clear cut as we have been led to believe.

ISIS is now grabbing land and instilling fear in Southern Syria. They're doing the same thing in Iraq where they have begun kidnapping and murdering. Not many are paying attention to this rekindling and reconstitution of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

But these are developments we cannot ignore.


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Persian Carpets and Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Sanctions against Iran often focus on oil.

But one of the most famous industries in Iran will be totally eviscerated by the new US sanctions. The carpet industry!

Iran's carpet industry, their famous Persian carpets, will lose hundreds of millions of dollars, as much as half a billion dollars, because of US sanctions.

The Iranian carpet industry employs hundreds of thousands of people.

The industry will continue, but it will hobble along with only a fraction of the workers and it will produce only a fraction of their famous Persian rugs because there will be no market to sell them.

After sanctions were lifted in 2016 under the Obama administration and once the market opened almost all Persian carpets were sold to the United States.

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Syrian Refugees Returning Home
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Refugees are returning to Syria.

Recently, 33 bus loads of refugees - complete families, crossed from southern Lebanon back in to Syria.

They were on their way home.

This was a group of several thousand people. Hundreds of thousands more are preparing for their return. It is the Russians setting the stage for this return. That's because Russia wants to repopulate Syria with Syrians.

And Russia has several reasons for fulfilling that plan.

The most important is to rebuild an economy. Syria needs to return to normal and that requires the million plus refugees now in Lebanon and Jordan to restart their lives back home.

Russia also wants to bolster Assad. The return of refugees will not only bolster Assad, it will afford him stability and the ability to challenge the world view of anti-Assad forces. The future status and stability of the country requires regular civilians to live normal lives.

That is the new norm for Syria. That is Russia's objective.

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Rock Falls & Conspiracies Explode
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The conspiracy theory about Israel destroying the mosque on top of the Temple Mount is again spreading throughout the Muslim world.

This time the stimulus for conspiracy theorists was the rock that dislodged from the Western Wall and smashed on the ground.

Osama Qawassmeh, a spokesperson for Fatah, called it a "dangerous sign of what was happening in the al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings."

Yusef Natsheh, director of Islamic Archeology and Tourism at the Haram al-Sharif, claimed that the dislodging of the boulder was "not casual."

"This is a dangerous incident," Natsheh said. "It was most likely pre=-planned. This could have been a balloon test or experiment to determine the direction of the excavation working the thickness of the walls of al-Aqsa Mosque."

Unfortunately, sometimes rocks fall off walls. It happens for many different reasons. Sometimes, as in this case, the rock protruded from an arch, known as Robinson's Arch. The arch suspends a stairway that was destroyed in the year 70CE.

That's a very long time ago.

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ISIS Making Comeback in Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS has made a slow and steady comeback in Iraq. They have increased their operations and are focused on kidnappings and killings.

ISIS now is using guerrilla tactics in an attempt to instill fear and to slowly, slowly, start controlling small sections of Iraq. This is all happening months after Iraq declared a total victory over ISIS. Only a few short months since ISIS was supposed to be totally defeated.

ISIS is now clearly making headway. ISIS is not yet controlling any region, but they are working towards that goal.

ISIS' guerrilla operations need to be stopped. ISIS cannot be permitted to reconstitute itself, not in Iraq, not anyplace.

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Iran Says Don't Block Our Oil
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is responding to US diplomatic pressure. Once again, they have threatened the United States saying that If the US acts against Iranian oil exports, they will counter.

Bahram Qassemi, Iran's spokesman for the foreign ministry, was quoted in IRNA saying: "If America wants to take a serious step in this direction it will definitely be met with a reaction and equal countermeasures from Iran."

Iran is not only referring to blocking the water channels that transport oil. They are also referring to diplomatic pressure.

The United States is now aggressively working to stop countries from importing Iranian oil. Iran has a counter plan on the diplomatic side - they are promising a serious response.

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New Methods Around Iran Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Countries are finding new methods to end around the new United States sanctions being imposed on Iran.

Many of these countries, including India, are afraid that the US might bring sanctions against them as well. But that fear has not stopped them from importing Iranian oil.

Another example is Sri Lanka, which owes Iran $250 million accrued over the past few months. Sri Lanka is planning on paying Iran with tea.

This is just the beginning.

Countries need Iranian oil - and so they will certainly continue to import Iranian oil.

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Iran is Plotting A Cyber Attack
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Cyber terror can bring down a nation.

A properly placed cyber attack can bring a nation to its knees.

NBC news ran a story explaining that Iranian hackers are planning to attack US, European and Middle East countries. The source quoted in the report said that Iranian hackers were developing strikes to target US banks, electricity, water and other infrastructure.

Iran has done this already. In 2010 they attacked a dam in New York. Some analysts claimed that Iranian attack was in response to the Stuxnet virus that had attacked Iran.

Iran is plotting cyber attacks. Any and every country throughout the world should be working on defense and counter measures against an Iranian aggression. Not to do so is foolish and self-destructive.

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Arab Glides into Syria to Join ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

An Israeli Arab is now under arrest and being tried for joining ISIS.

Nidal Salah, along with his friend, used gliders and flew into Syria in October 2015. As he was landing he was shot at - but not shot down. And then, after landing, he was arrested by ISIS and brutally tortured. Finally, Salah convinced ISIS that he wanted to join them. He then fought for ISIS.

Some time later Salah escaped and hired a smuggler to cross the Syrian border into Turkey. There he met family members. He eventually flew back to Israel where he was arrested and now charged.

The gag order was lifted yesterday, after his indictment.

As shocking as it is that an Israeli would join ISIS, it is even more shocking that he would return to Israel. When he was still in Turkey Salah's family brought over an Israel lawyer - he knew he was going to be arrested.

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China Invests in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

China is going to overtake the United States in foreign investments in Israel.

This is very big news.

In the year 2016 alone, China's investments in Israel tripled to $16billion dollars - all in one year alone.

China is set on investing in Israel to get their hands on new technology. Israel is the center of that new tech. China knows that in order to be part of that technology, they need to be close to Israel.

They Chinese can't invent the tech, but they can invest in it. They invest in the ideas and then own part of the tech.

This will put the Chinese in competition with the United States which does the exact same thing.

Of course there are dangers in accepting Chinese investments, but the dangers pale in comparison to the benefits.

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Iran Takes US to World Court
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It's pure Chutzpah - there is no other word for it.

Iran is taking the United States to the World Court, officially known as the United Nations International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Iran is suing the United States over the new sanctions being imposed on them. Their filing asserts that the US is in violation of a 1955 bilateral trade treaty between the two nations.

Sanctions or disrupting the free trade between the two countries is a breach of that treaty.

Iran is actually asking for a provisional ruling so as to lift the sanctions in the meantime and to then set a court date for complete arguments to be heard.

The United States will argue that the World Court does not have jurisdiction.

In fact, the World Court both does and does not have jurisdiction.

They are the go to address for countries when there is a treaty violation. But the 1955 treaty was with a different Iran and the sanctions the United States is instituting are part of a foreign policy of a sovereign nation - and that does not fall within the jurisdiction of the World Court.

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Hamas is Failing in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:


Hamas is claiming that Israel wants to de-stabilize Gaza in the hope of making the situation so intolerable for Gazans, that they will rise up against Hamas leadership.

Hamas leadership is asserting that that is why Israel shut the Kerem Shalom crossing to all goods except for food and medicine, and even those exceptions must receive prearranged permission to cross the border.

Hamas issued a statement saying: "Israeli sanctions demonstrate its desire to increase the siege of Gaza and commit more crimes against its people. The world must end its silence in the face of Israel's crimes against humanity."
Hamas is not entirely wrong.

Israel is using the border closure as a vehicle to try to influence the masses who live in Gaza.

Israel is tightening the screws in order to force Gazans to rise up, to wrest control from their leadership and to act to defend themselves.

Israel wants life to be better for Gazans.

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Iran Must Decide about Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is facing a real dilemma. They must decide what to do in Syria.

The civil war in Syria, is drawing to an end. Bashar Assad is clearly in power and Iran's role in Syria is going to have to change.

Russia does not want the Iranians in Syria, mostly because Iran complicates their role own in Syria. Russia wants every power out of Syria except for Hezbollah and Russia.

Iran needs to calculate whether there is a positive role for them to play in Syria. Most analysts would say Iran is no longer helpful in Syria, so they should leave. But Iran has no interest in giving up any power or influence.

Iran has asserted that the only way they would even consider leaving Syria is if Assad asked them to leave. That would happen only if Russia demands that Assad make the request and make it both publicly and privately.

If Iran retreats from Syria it will draw down tensions and make for a safer region.

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China Wants to Help in the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

China has decided to up its game in the Middle East.

President Xi of China has announced that the Chinese will increase their role in the Palestinian/Israeli peace process and in the rest of the Middle East.

It begins with China's pledge of 100 million yuan to the Palestinians. 100 million yuan is equivalent to only $15 million. For China, that's chump change.

China has also committed to partnering with the Arab League to advance peace.

In the end, this is simply a gesture.
China is not really serious about playing a central role in the Middle East.

If they were serious they would give at least $150 million, ten times their current pledge, to the Palestinians.

The ultimate goal of China is to try to oust the United States from any role in the Middle East. In that, China will fail.

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Bibi Meets Putin in Moscow Before World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin just before the World Cup semi-final which was played in Moscow.

Putin invited many world leaders to the July 15th World Cup finals. Netanyahu countered and asked to meet and watch the semi-finals instead.

It was a perfect maneuver. It gave Netanyahu and Putin time alone without pressure.

The most crucial part of the meeting was Israel telling Russia that they will not tolerate any violation of the Golan Heights buffer zone that separates Israel and Syria.

Israel will attack any force that approaches the area - no matter if they hail from Iran, Syria or Lebanon.

The message was transmitted and it was received.

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Iran Emptying Accounts for Cash
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is emptying accounts in Germany. They are trying to bring back as many dollars and Euros as possible before the US sanctions kick in.

At least 300 million Euros, which is equivalent to $350 million, have been transferred from Germany to Iran over the past few weeks.

On the one hand, Iran is doing everything they can to insulate themselves against US sanctions that kick in August and then in November.

On the other hand, Iran is counting on President Trump to keep on tweeting.
The more the US president tweets, the higher the price of oil soars.

Iran is a nuclear leader. The idea is to try to tamp them down. It's not going so well.

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China Blocking US Oil
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

In an act of defiance, an independent Chinese oil refinery has suspended all US oil imports and replaced them with Iranian oil.

The company, Dongming Petro-Chemical Company, is just one company in what appears to be a pre-emptive Chinese strike against the United States.

The Chinese are also planning to charge a 25% tariff on US oil imports into China.

China currently imports 400,000 barrels of US crude oil per day. The additional tariff coupled with the suspension of importing US crude oil will have a huge impact on the price of US oil and gasoline.

Analysts speculate that China will drop almost all US oil supplies. China will make up the loss in their oil supply by importing from West Africa and the Middle East.

Never forget that China is the largest consumer of oil in the world. The Chinese are the most important oil market in the world. If the United States is frozen out of that market it will have a catastrophic impact on the oil market.

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Israel Strikes Syrian Airbase
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel struck a Syrian airbase named T- 4 yesterday, Sunday. They hit this very same base several months ago.

This airstrike took place two days after Israel attacked a Syrian artillery base from which missiles were launched toward Israel. The missiles, which landed in no man's land, were tracked from that base.

Israel struck the Syrian T- 4 base after discovering that Iran had outfitted the base with a modern, sophisticated, anti-aircraft battery.

Israel has been threatening to make certain that Iran not change the status quo in Syria. They want to stop the buildup of weapons Iran is willing to provide to help their enemy.

These attacks are perfect examples of how Israel is actively preventing a change of balance of military power in Syria.

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World's Largest Shipper Pulls out of Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

One of the world's largest cargo shippers, a French company called CMA CGM, has decided to cease all business involvement with Iran effective ASAP.

This is a massive blow to Iran.

Iran is attempting to rally interested parties to resist US sanctions by appealing to their independent side. They are making the claim that the United States should not and cannot dictate world economic policy. Iran is arguing that each country should be able to make its own decision as to whether they choose to support Iran.

"European countries have the political will to maintain economic ties with Iran based on the JCPOA (the nuclear deal), but they need to take practical measures within the time limit," Rouhani wrote on Saturday on his official website.

That may be true, but it is also true that everyone needs to do business with the United States if they want to expand their markets. And US President Trump seems to be following through with his threats.

Countries realize that they must tread lightly in dealing with the United States - their entire economies are in the balance.

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Iran Doesn't Like the Deal
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Hassan Rouhani was working his magic in Europe this week.

It's all about the Iranian version of the "art the deal." The "deal" is the version of the nuclear package, now that the United States has pulled out.

Today, foreign ministers are meeting to discuss the newly proposed deal. In advance of the meeting Rouhani read the proposal. And then he reached out and called the French and German leaders.

Rouhani told French President Emanuel Macron that "[t]he package proposed by Europe ... does not meet all our demands."

He told German Chancellor Angela Merkel "[u]nfortunately the proposed package lacked an action plan or a clear roadmap for continuation of cooperation. It only included some general promises like previous EU statements."

These quotes come to us from Iranian news coverage. They are very revealing, which is very uncharacteristic of Iranian leadership. They tell us Iran did not get everything they asked for.

That is the nature of negotiation. It remains to be seen if Iran will simply walk away or if they will continue to try to reach a deal.

We will have our answer soon.

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Iran Threatens US
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has threatened to shut all Iranian oil exports and is demanding that all Iranian oil become "toxic" after November 4th.

Iranian President Rouhani posted on his website and then reiterated in a press conference he gave in Bern, Switzerland, that the United States is making a mistake. He said that the United States has not thought through the ramifications of this decision.

In essence, Rouhani said that it will not be possible to have a situation in which Iran is the only country in the region which does not export oil - and mark his words, Iran will make certain of that.

The post on Rouhani's website reads: "The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran's oil exports. They don't understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region's oil is exported."

At the press conference in Bern when he was asked whether those comments constituted a threat to interfere with the shipping of neighboring countries, Rouhani replied: "Assuming that Iran could become the only oil producer unable to export its oil is a wrong assumption ... The United States will never be able to cut Iran's oil revenues."

Rouhani is flat out saying that, if pushed by the United States, Iran will shut the Straits of Hormuz and no one's oil will be shipped. If the Straits are shut it will eliminate 1/3 of the world's oil.

Rouhani is also saying that with the reduction of Iranian oil plus the stoppage of the Straits of Hormuz, the price of oil and all its products including gas will skyrocket.

The United States cannot afford to let that happen.

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Putin Using the World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Putin, as I've said before, is using the World Cup to his advantage. He is using soccer to advance his role as world class mover and shaker. He is playing his own game of Maneuver and Manipulate as the consummate pro.

We already know that Putin invited a long list of world leaders to be his guests at the finals on July 15th. We know, too, that Palestinian President Abbas accepted his invite. The question was whether Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who got the same invite, would attend.

We have our answer. Israel countered and asked if Bibi could, rather than attend the finals, attend the semi-finals in Moscow on Wednesday July 11th.

As of now, that date has been penciled in by both Putin and Netanyahu.
Before the semi-finals these two leaders will sit down and hash out some important issues.

Putin and Netanyahu last met about seven weeks ago. They spoke on the phone last week.

The two leaders meet and speak regularly. It is to the best advantage of both Russia and Israel to make sure that they are both on the same page on a long list of international issues.

This counter move by Bibi assures him a great seat at the World Cup semi-finals, which could be a better match than the finals, and a private meeting with Putin. Bibi will have achieved the dream diplomatic play of so many other world leaders.

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Iran Claims Israel is Stealing their Clouds
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

I'm reminded of Chicken Little shouting "the sky is falling."
Iranian leadership is shouting that Israel is stealing Iranian rain and snow clouds.

Cloud theft, according to Iran, is the result of Western oppression of Iran.
In a press conference Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization, said: "The changing climate in Iran is suspect."

Jalali is quoted as saying: "Foreign interference is suspected to have played a role in climate change," and is insisting that results from an Iranian scientific study "confirm" the claim.eHe said: "Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain."

Jalali continued: "On top of that, we are facing the issue of cloud and snow theft," citing a survey showing that above 2,200 meters all mountainous areas between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean are covered in snow, except Iran.

Iran's meteorological service expert disagrees. The head of Iran's meteorological service, Ahad Vazife, was quoted on ISNA, an official Iranian news service. He said that General Jalali "probably has documents of which I am not aware, but on the basis of meteorological knowledge, it is not possible for a country to steal snow or clouds."

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Syrian Refugees Love Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

As crisis builds in Syria, local Syrians are running toward Israel and toward Jordan.

200,000 Syrians are fleeing to escaping the most awful experience of life in Syria today.

At the Jordanian border Syrian refugees just stood there. And waited. And waited. They got nothing.

On the Israeli border medical teams came to treat the wounded. They brought tents and clothing and food along with medical supplies.

Ynet news interviewed the refugees. Here is one of their comments. "We saw a very noble stance by the Israeli side, both by the aid that it sent and in its treating of the wounded."

In essence, refugees are running away from Syria and gaining safety and medical treatment in Israel. It breaks all the stereotypes.

Israel cares more about Syrian refugees than their Arab neighbors do.

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Water Crisis in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

This is a crisis you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy - and yet, here we are.

Iran is in the midst of a serious water crisis.

According to some predictions, as many as 97% of Iranians will be hit by the crisis. Others put the number at 66% of Iranians who will be seriously affected.

The protests we are seeing in Iran are as much about economics and freedom as they are about poor planning and the massive water shortage.

Just days ago Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke directly to the people of Iran saying that Israel can help with their water crisis. He said that Israel cares about the people of Iran. He said that Israel cares more about Iranian citizens than their own leadership cares about them.

The water crisis touches every aspect of society - food and health as well as defense. Everything is affected by the water crisis.

The situation can be resolved.

It requires using a few methods. The fastest resolution is to import water from Turkey - it's expensive and a short fix. Then comes borrowing technology from Israel - the world leader in water crisis aversion and conservation.

But Iran will not take the help. And Iranians are suffering.

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Trump Putin Summit
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The announcement has been made. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet US President Donald Trump on July 16 in Helsinki. It's all very convenient - NATO is meeting on July 10 & 11th in Helsinki.

The World Cup finals will take place on July 15 in Sochi, Russia. Putin is hosting the events and he will want all of his guests to be personally engaged in his world view. It is still not clear if President Trump will attend. It would be a very wise idea if he accepted Putin's invitations and attended - not because of Putin but because the world will be watching.

The obvious topics for the US / Russia summit are Iran and Syria. The centerpiece of their discussion about Iran will be nuclear activity. About Syria, the discussion will be stabilizing the country and potential solutions, if there are any.

There is little that can be done about either of these two issues without the benefit of time and dispassionate analysis. Israel has already taken that track.

Vis a vis Iran and Syria, Israel's solutions and suggested solutions should become a model for conflict analysis and resolution. Russia and the United States take heed.

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Iran Calls Enemies the Satanic Triangle
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is lashing out at the United States and saying that the new sanctions they are facing will not affect them.

The Supreme Leader of Iran military adviser has called the enemy they face a Satanic Triangle. The three sides of his triangle are Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia.

Within Iran there have been protests stimulated by the country's economic failures. Leaders are saying that anyone who hurts the economy of Iran will be prosecuted.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said: "We will not surrender to the United States. I kiss the hand of every person in the Iranian nation and we say to the world that our regime cannot be undermined."

Rouhani called it a "psychological economic and political war." Trying to calm the uncertainty inside Iran Rouhani said: "Even in the worst case, I promise that the basic needs of Iranians will be provided. We have enough sugar, wheat, and cooking oil. We have enough foreign currency to inject into the market."

The situation in Iran is serious - and Iranian leadership realizes just how serious it is.

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Putin Invites Leaders to World Cup Finals
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Putin is at it again - manipulating and creating a very ripe diplomatic climate.

Putin is using the finals of the World Cup, the world's most watched sporting event which will take place on July 15th, as a lure to bring world leaders together in order to achieve his own goals.

To that end, the Russian leader has invited numerous other world leaders to join him and together, watch the final game. On the list of invites are Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

No surprise, the Palestinian leader said "yes" and the Palestinian ambassador to Moscow, Abdel Hafiz Nofal, is quoted in the Russian media outlet RIA saying that Abbas will meet with Putin on July 23.

Netanyahu has not yet responded, but it would be very difficult to decline a perfect seat to the greatest soccer game - the final of the World Cup.

Putin last met Netanyahu in May. They speak regularly. There is great interest on both sides to make certain that their forces do not butt heads in Syria or over Syria.

Putin has also invited US President Trump, North Korean President Kim Jung Un and the leaders of the EurAsia Economic Union (EAEU).

Putin is doing what he does best - he is using his natural resources to his best advantage.

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US Peace Plan W or W/O Abbas
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

No doubt about it, imagining a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians without the Palestinians is hard to do.

And yet, that seems to be the direction things are going.

US President Trump's special advisor on the deal has made it perfectly clear in almost every way and at almost every opportunity - including in Palestinian media - that the US is headed in that direction. Jared Kushner, son-in-law and Middle East negotiator, told anyone who would listen that the US wants to include Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, but in order to be included, Abbas must agree to sit down and be part of the discussion. If not, then the US will pursue a deal without the Palestinians.

The idea is to take the deal to the masses.

The first step the US is taking is persuading Arab world leaders to become the defenders of the Palestinians. The masses of Palestinians will genuflect to the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

These leaders will urge the Palestinian masses along, convincing them that their local leaders are not acting in their best interests.

If that can be pulled off, it will be a first step in the right direction.

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Yemen Attacks Saudi Capital
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Official Saudi media outlets reported that their air defense systems intercepted a rocket over Riyadh, the capital city, yesterday.

The rocket was shot from Yemen and, had it struck its target on the ground, it could have caused major damage.

The Houthi in Yemen are backed by Shiite Iran. They are attacking the Sunni Saudis.

The missile was the Houthi response to Saudi support of coalition forces and to the numerous aerial attacks on Houthi Iranian troops.
Yemeni Houthi have shot over 100 rockets into Saudi Arabia over the past 3 years. Most of the rockets fall short of their targets, but many have been intercepted.

Yemen has been attacking Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has, in turn, underwritten the Yemeni groups that are trying to defeat the Houthis. The Saudis are using their air force and striking Houthi targets.

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IDF Shoots at Drone from Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 24, 2 018

I've Been Thinking:

Earlier this morning Israel launched a Patriot anti-missile salvo at a drone that was infiltrating northern Israel from Syria.

The trail of the Patriot was filmed by numerous people in the Safed area.

The drone was flying from the Syrian controlled area of the Golan Heights into Israel. These drones are large and are used for two purposes - primarily for reconnaissance but also for attack. This drone, and others like it, is part of a Syrian/Iranian system patrolling the skies and gathering information.

The Patriot is a US weapon that Israel purchased in order to bolster their defense against missiles, just like this drone, entering their airspace.

On Nov 17, 2017 Israel shot down a drone in a similar fashion.

Earlier today the Patriot missed its target, but despite that, the drone changed course and returned to base.

Israel must make certain that their airspace is not breached. The information Iran and Syria could garner from aerial photos could be devastating to Israel’s security.

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Iran Makes 15 Demands of US
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 22, 2 018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran posted 15 demands for the United States. They say that the demands are a list of the 15 things necessary to bring them back to the table. They are basic requirements.

The list was provided to the US by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

These 15 items are a direct response to the actions taken by United States, that is clear and obvious. In May the US set down a series of demands for Iran and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is the person who listed those demands.

It's a case of tit for tat.

Iran's demands include the return of the United States to the P5+1 Nuke Deal. They are also demanding that the US stop providing aid to Yemen invaders. The expression "Yemen invaders," when spoken by the Iranians, means the Saudis. Another demand is that US stop their opposition to Israel's nuclear disarmament.

There is very little chance that this Iranian strategy will succeed. Never the less, Iran is taking it very seriously.

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Gaza Changing The Rules of Engagement
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 21, 2 018

I've Been Thinking:

45 mortars and rockets from Gaza were shot toward Israel yesterday.
Seven were intercepted. At least five fell in Gaza. The others were left alone, they were not en route to populated areas within Israel.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad of Gaza claimed responsibility for the rockets.

In response, Israel struck 25 Hamas targets. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for their part, claim that they are responding to Israeli aggression. They have announced that they will counter every Israeli attack with an attack.

Islamic Jihad said that, as of now, Israel can no longer act freely in Gaza.

These statements - and more importantly, the launching of rockets and mortars as a response to Israel's response - is a new reality and a new strategy for Gaza.

It will not impact Israel's actions but it is, none the less, a significant change in status.

It's real purpose is not to intimidate Israel. It's real purpose is to empower Gazans, to give Gazans a sense that they are not defenseless against Israeli attacks.

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US Team Meets w Jordan King
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 20, 2 018

I've Been Thinking:

US President Donald Trump's Middle East team met with Jordan's King Abdullah II yesterday. The team also plans to meet with leaders from Egypt, Israel, Qatar and Saudi Arabia over the next few days.

The US team leaders are in Jared Kushner, presidential son-in-law and Presidential Special Middle East Envoy and presidential advisor Jason Greenblatt.

The meeting with Abdullah took place in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

It followed one day after the Jordanian King hosted a quiet and surprise visit to Amman by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Everyone is weighing in on the still unknown, new, US peace plan.

We do not know what is in the plan only that the Palestinians do not like it. Once again the Palestinian press was filled with vitriol and rejection of the plan.


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CNN Reporter Tours Gaza Tunnel
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

CNN reporter Ian Lee was blindfolded and brought on a tour of a terror tunnel by Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

The tour was taped and, quite frankly, not at all interesting. However - one question and answer were very insightful.

Lee asked about indiscriminately shooting rockets into Israel. He said that it appears that Islamic Jihad targets children's schools.

Islamic Jihad leadership responded that they do not deliberately target children.

Islamic Jihads wants to wreak as much havoc upon Israel as possible. Targeting children hurts Israel more than any other attack. Children are the most valued jewel in Israeli society. And that's why Jihad definitely wants to target children.

Their tunnels are an attack route into Israel. They are shelters to protect against Israeli air force attacks.

These tunnels are their lifeline, they are Islamic Jihad’s most effective attack weapon against Israel.

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Hateful Sermon in Mosque in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday over 90,000 people attended prayer services at the Al Aqsa mosque atop the temple mount in Jerusalem. They were also treated to a lengthy sermon which was extremely critical of the US and Israel.

Al Aqsa is the place where according to Muslim tradition Muhammad journeyed on in his nighttime mirage. It was a guided tour on his famous steed he saw Al Aqsa and even ascended to heaven.

Friday was special because it was Eid al Fitr the holiday/feast that concludes the month long Muslim fast of Ramadan.

In his sermon, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheik Muhammad Hussein, used the opportunity to lash out at the US and Israel especially US President Donald Trump. The Mufti shouted that the US peace plan which is about to be unveiled is destructive to the Palestinian cause. He said that "this is an unfair plan that aims at the liquidation of the Palestinian cause."

As you can imagine the Mufti also had sharp words about the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

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Miss Iraq in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iraq's Miss Universe 2017 is visiting Israel. She took a selfie with her Israeli counterpart.

Ever since posting the selfie, Miss Universe has been getting death threats. She is being cursed across the Arab world.

Miss Iraq now lives in the United States. She is visiting Israel as part of a program sponsored by the American Jewish Committee. After arriving she explained that she chose to come to Israel "because I want peace for everyone, for Israelis, for Palestinians."

The response Miss Iraq is getting to her visit to Israel underscores how important it is for people and for leaders to step up and embrace forward thinking solutions and engage in real dialogue.

It also demonstrates how petty and hateful people can be.

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Large Numbers of Iranians Support Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

#WeStandWithIsrael is the twitter hashtag that Iranian supporters of Israel are using to show their defiance against Iran's leadership.

On the same day and at the exact same hour that Iranian leadership organized Al Quds Day, a day condemning Israel, tens of thousands of people hashtaged #WeStandWithIsrael. The time was 9PM.

Israel's twitter feed directed at Iran and in Persian has 60,000 followers. The feed reaches as many as 2.5 million readers in a week.

The take away from this is that there are many, many Iranians who support Israel.

These revolutionaries, these young Iranians, are risking their lives to announce on twitter that they support Israel despite their national and religious leaders who rant and rave and proclaim a commandment to destroy the Jewish State.

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Iran Wants More
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

French President Macron called Iranian President Rouhani yesterday with an update on the progress he and the other remaining P5+1 leaders made on the nuke deal.

Macron's office issued a statement saying:

"The President of the Republic recalled the will of France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, to continue to implement the Vienna agreement in all its dimensions."

"The president informed President Rouhani of the progress in the work being done on our side. He hoped that Iran, for its part, will fulfill its obligations without any ambiguity."

Meanwhile, according to Iranian media, President Rouhani of Iran told Macron that Iran cannot stay in the agreement without receiving much better incentives and benefits and compensation.

Rouhani's website posted: "We must not let this great achievement of diplomacy be destroyed by others' unilateral actions, which are unfaithful to their promises."

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Fire Balloons the New Kites
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Incendiary balloons are the newest danger hitting Israel from Gaza. They are a version of the incendiary kite.

The principle is the same.

Gazans launch a helium filled balloon. Attached to the balloon is a lit Molotov cocktail. The balloon is lofted up and into the wind, propelled westward by the strong breeze of the Mediterranean Sea.

When the lit bottle explodes the balloon bursts, dropping a fireball into Israel, igniting whatever it hits.

Israel is knocking the balloons out of the sky with drones - just like they knock out the kites. The drones fly into the balloons while still in Gaza and they fall there.

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Iran is Back in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

There are reports that Iran and Hezbollah have pulled out of southern Syria.

And there are other reports, like the one that ran in the Wall Street Journal on Friday and is now being reported across the Middle East that Iran and Hezbollah have returned to southern Syria.

They left in their uniforms and returned in Syrian army uniforms.

The change is not just a ruse to fool those who asked them to leave - it is an attempt to trick Israel. In Syrian army uniforms, Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not be obvious targets for Israeli strikes.

Hezbollah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah announced on Friday that, "if the whole world comes together to force us to leave Syria, they will not be able to evict us."

This is a typical fake out by Iran. They said they were leaving and then came right back.

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Israel & Sudan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Everyone's eyes are on US President Donald Trump and his historic summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But that's not the only game in town. Other very important international events are taking place and not getting the media coverage they deserve.

Some savvy leaders have actually intentionally taken advantage of the moment and timed their events to coincide with the US/NoKo summit knowing that they will be able to skirt the international limelight.
For example, Kenya is asking Sudan for permission to fly their commercial airliners over their airspace en route to Israel.

Sudan and Israel do not have diplomatic relations -- but one of the documents included in the trove of documents leaked by wikileaks provided a telegram from a senior adviser to the president of Sudan to a senior US official.

The telegram reads: "If things were going well with the US, you might be able to help us with Israel, as they are your closest ally in the region."

The plan is to start with one flight a week. This is a very big step forward in terms of African / European business. Israel can easily be a hopping point en route for travelers and for goods.

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Israel Asks FIFA To Ban Argentina
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Argentina has cancelled their friendly soccer match with Israel, scheduled to take place this Saturday June 9th in Jerusalem at 3:30pm Israel time.

It is clear that the BDS movement was able to successfully influence Argentina to scratch the match.

Now the Israeli branch of the Football (Soccer) Association is asking FIFA, the World Soccer Federation, to ban Argentina from the World Cup which takes place in Russia this summer. Israel is saying that Argentina's cancellation of the match was a case of "religious discrimination."

Comtec, the Israeli company that organized the game, has already paid the Argentina Soccer Association $2 million from the sale of tickets - the game sold out within 20 minutes of going on sale.

Discrimination is against FIFA rules. If FIFA leadership chooses to remove Argentina from the organization it would be an extremely serious punishment and would send a message to everyone else not to discriminate against Israel

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Farrakan Again!
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Louis Farrakan delivered a speech recently in which he attacked Jews and Judaism. It was a speech which was a lot like a medieval canard against Jews.

The founder of the Nation of Islam said:

"Satanic Jews who have infected the whole world with poison and deceit."

He said: "the false Jew will lead you to filth and indecency. That's who runs show business. That's who runs the record industry. That's who runs television." Farrakhan alleged that Jews often force aspiring actors to submit to anal sex. "Do you know that many of us who go to Hollywood seeking a chance have to submit to anal sex and all kind [sic] of debauchery [before] they give you a little part?" ... "It's called the casting couch. See that's Jewish power."

It is hard to imagine that in 2018 people like this still exist and speak out publicly. More amazing is that so many people actually believe these lies.

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Israel Thwarted Numerous Attacks in Europe
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on a European trip trying to convince leaders there to join Israel's global point of view.

One of Netanyahu's talking points is his also assertion that Israel continues to help Europe through sharing intelligence.

Netanyahu said: "Israel is operating against the threat of radical Islam. We prevent awful terror attack, also in France. Israel has thwarted many terror attacks across Europe and will continue doing so."

This is an essential point.

Israel is doing its job to help protect Europe. Now Israel wants a quid pro quo. Netanyahu is asking Europe to join forces with Israel and the United States.

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Putin Tells US -- Reward N Korea
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Vladimir Putin was interviewed in ORF Austrian public broadcasting an media group. newspaper.

Putin told the paper that the US should make certain to reward North Korea if a real deal is worked out.

Putin said that if North Korea agrees to denuclearize, the US must entice them trough aid packages.

In Putin's words, the deal would not be "a one way street."

These statements make it clear to all clear that Putin wants to be a player in this game, too.

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Assad to Visit N Korea
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The web lit up yesterday as North Korean media announced that Syrian President Assad will soon be visiting North Korea.

The reports in Rodong Sinmun, the official media mouthpiece of the North Korean dictator, did not specify when the Assad trip will take place.

The timing of the announcement was not accidental. The new North Korean ambassador to Syria was welcomed by Assad, but that was incidental. The real reason for making the announcement is that it dovetailed into the announcement that the summit between the United States and North Korea was still on for June 12.

The statement from Assad read: "I am going to visit the DPRK and meet His Excellency Kim Jong Un."

"I am sure that he will achieve the final victory and realize the reunification of Korea without fail." Syria "will completely support all the policies and measures" of North Korea and President Assad is certain of their victory.

Now we wait, watch and analyze.

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Dueling Resolutions at UN
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The US proposed a resolution in the UN Security Council to condemn Hamas for their attack on Israel.

Unfortunately, the only vote in favor of the United States resolution was the United States.

The vote came on the heels of a Kuwaiti resolution condemning Israel for excessive force and asking for Palestinians to get international protection. The US vetoed that resolution.

It was a clear back and forth anti Israel - pro Israel set of resolutions.
Yet---

These resolutions illustrate how the UN Security Council has made huge strides. The United States is trying to level the playing field in the Security Council. They are trying to make certain that Israel gets a fair shake and these two resolutions are the proof.

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Iran Tourism Takes a Dive
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Trust me on this, it's true - As a result of the nuke deal Iran was expecting a huge increase in tourism amounting to 3%-4% of their annual income.

Iranians were planning on their tourism expanding every year. Next year they were planning on it being 6%-8% of GNP.

The problem is that new US sanctions are discouraging Iran's potential tourists.

But there are tourist coming to Iran.

There are curious tourists interested in visiting Iran and reporting back to their friends and relatives about their experiences. Most of these tourists are thrill seekers and there are plenty of these thrill seeking tourists.

And among the first of Iran's visitors are tourism writers and photographers, there to document the pristine adventures of uncharted escapes and trails. These are the tourists who blaze the trails for main stream conservative tourists.

What was supposed to be a real economic find for Iran has just had the rug pulled out from underneath it.

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3 Countries to Boycott Israel Hosting Eurovision
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It's a cardinal rule: the winner of the Eurovision, the international song festival, hosts the next year's competition.

This year, Israel won and next year Eurovision will be held in Jerusalem.

But it's not that simple - politics have set in and the situation is getting ugly.

Iceland, Sweden and Ireland have announced that they will not attend next year's competition in Jerusalem. They have chosen to boycott a cultural event whose very purpose - much like international sports, is to bring different people from differ countries together.

Knowledge and interaction promote dialogue and removes bias and hatred. Some nations, like some people, just can't get beyond their own biases.

That's a shame.


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No World Cup For Hamas Prisoners
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Gilad Erdan, Israel's Minister of Public Security, is forbidding Hamas prisoners from watching the World Cup which begins in three weeks and takes place this summer in Russia.

That is real punishment.

Erdan is also investigating whether or not he can strip all TV viewing privileges from Hamas prisoners all year round.

The World Cup takes place every 4 years. This summer, literally 50% of the entire world will be watching.

Four years ago several prisoners were forbidden from watching the Games and in response the prisoners appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court. They won. The Court ruled that the prisoners could watch the World Cup.

For die hard fans, not watching the World Cup is truly cruel and unusual punishment .

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Philip Cross- Wiki Editor Draws Disdain
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Philip Cross, as he is called, is quite simply, impressive. He has edited Wikipedia over 133,000 times over the past 14 years. He has never missed a day and edits, on average, 30 times a day. And nobody knows his identity or real name.

Cross is hated by many because of his accomplishment. Rewards have been offered to discover his true identity. Cross is hated because he is relentless in his pursuit of truth. Those who hate him are on the other side of his quick typing and insight.

Cross has, for example, edited and reedited the Wikipedia entry for George Galloway 1,700 times. Really! Galloway is a British politician who resigned under a cloud. He was such an anti-Semite that he was an embarrassment to his Labour Party especially his dear friend Cobryn the leader of the Labour party. Galloway's people edit his entry and then Cross re-edits it - over and over and over again.

Cross has no sympathy for Russian expansion, for liberal / labour conflict, for socialism, Marxism or anti-Semitism.

Some people guess that Philip Cross is not a person, but a group of British intel officers. Some argue that Cross is a group of former disgruntled journalists.

It doesn't matter. Philip Cross is leveling the playing field. He or they are making certain that we, the reader, are presented with an important and honest point of view.


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Fire Kites
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The fire kite has been Gaza's most effective weapon against Israel since they started using them on April 13, 2018.

The flying fire kite is a kite outfitted with a Molotov cocktail as its stabilizer tail.

The kites are launched into the air just like any regular kite would be. But then the kites burst into flames and turn into balls of fire. When they hit their targets, they land they ignite wheat fields on the Israeli side of the border.

The kite is an extremely low tech - and low cost, weapon. Hundreds of kites have been launched by Hamas and hundreds have landed in Israel and caught fire.

The damage that has been done is tragic. Over 1,000 acres of wheat has been burned. The fires are even more damaging now than when kites were first launched because the heat wave in the area causes the fields to be drier and more flammable.

Israel has now created a defense against Hamas launched Molotov cocktail kites.

Israel is using small multi-propeller drones with cameras and flying them right through the kites while the kites are on the Gaza side of the border. The fire kites fall on Hamas territory and catch fire there.

Over the past week Israel has downed over 120 of these flying fire bombs.

A low tech solution to a low tech weapon.

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Azerbaijan & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Azerbaijan leadership has just concluded a three day trip to Israel.

This trip was groundbreaking - for a number of reasons.

First is that Azerbaijan is a Muslim nation and does not yet have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Second is that Azerbaijan borders not only Iran but also Turkey and Russia.

Third is that Azerbaijan is one of Israel's largest suppliers of oil.

Finally, Israel sells all kinds of sophisticated weapons to Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani delegation to Israel was lead by their minister of taxation and he was joined by several deputy ministers.

A few weeks earlier Azerbaijan's most famous singer released a music video which included footage of the Azeri armed forces. Included were several shots of Israeli weapons.

A big new opportunity is opening up.

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Israel Says US Will Recognize Golan Heights
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's minister of intelligence Israel Katz suggested that the US might be interested in recognizing Israeli control over the Golan Heights.

This is part of the ripple effect begun when the US recognized Jerusalem as the national capital and dedicated the United States embassy there.

The Golan Heights was captured by Israel from Syria in 1967 - and then Israeli law was applied in the area. Israel views the Golan Heights as part of Israel. Before 1967 the Golan Heights was a strategic plateau from which the Syrians launched regular attacks on Israel. The attacks were so aggressive that it was nearly impossible for Israeli farmers in the valley below to plow their fields.

There is no way Israel will ever give up the Golan Heights.

Recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel would further cement another fact on the ground.

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Arab Scholar Says Jews Are Violent It's Their Genes
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Arab culture is rife with conspiracy theories about Jews and the Holocaust. These canards are often spread by leaders and elites, even by professors.

That is what happened recently on Channel 2 Egyptian TV.

Professor Amr Allam, the head of the Hebrew department at Menoufia University said, while on air, that "the Israeli violence or aggressive spirit is embedded in the Jewish genes."

Allam was a guest on "The Blue Line" a weekly show which dwells on depicting Jews and Israel as evil. In this particular episode the topic was the reasons for the "abnormal" Israeli character.

Hazem Abu Saud, the host of the show, said that the Holocaust "was not directed specifically against the Jews, but against all the people suffering from diseases, and so on," and that the Jews "have exploited" and "continue to benefit" from what happened to them in the Holocaust.

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Qatar will Pay Hamas Salaries
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

When it comes to supporting Hamas in Gaza, Qatar has been picking up where many other Arab countries have stopped.

Most of the Arabic world has abandoned Hamas but Qatar has been trying to funnel money and support. Qatar has promised to pay government salaries and inject monies to rebuild water and electricity infrastructure facilities in Gaza.

According to Arabic media sources, the Qatari Ambassador to Palestine, Mohammed al-Ammadi, is scheduled to visit Gaza soon to discuss the proposal.

"The Qatar initiative is moving beyond the humanitarian side this time and is related to fundamental improvements," the sources said.

"Qatar will support projects to improve electricity, water and other things that Ammadi may soon announce."

This is a very bad precedent.

Qatar seems not to care that by sidling up to Hamas they will further alienate themselves in foreign diplomacy.

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US Sanctions on Iran Are Working
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

New US sanctions against Iran are already having an impact.

On Thursday the largest international shipping container company in the world, A.P. Moller-Maersk, closed all operations in Iran. Maersk is so large that one cannot drive on a highway without seeing dozens of the containers rolling along on eighteen wheelers on the way to their destinations.

The day before that, on Wednesday, Total Energy shut their shop in Iran. Total Energy is one of the largest energy companies in the world, specifically for oil and gas. They employ over 100,000 people.

These are only two of the many companies that now feel the pressure of US sanctions to abandon Iran.

The sanctions mean that if companies continue doing business with Iran they will not be able to engage in any US economic banking activity.

That could destroy any company.


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50 of 61 Were Hamas Members
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Monday was a bloody day on the Gaza border. 61 Palestinians died.

On Wednesday senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil announced to Baladana TV, an official Hamas network, that 50 of the 61 dead were members of Hamas. In an interview Bardawil said that they were part of the Hamas ranks and that he was proud of their actions and their deaths. He said that they were fighting Israel and died as warriors and martyrs.

If that is correct - and there is no reason to dispute his claim, they were official members of a terror group, not innocents at the border.

That means that these 50 "protesters" were actually part of Hamas operations fighting against Israel. That is significant.

The remaining 11 may be connected to any number of other, anti-Israel, terror groups. Or they may have been simple rioters.

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Israel Delivers Aid to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday Israel sent supplies in to Gaza.

8 trucks filled with 53 tons of medical supplies crossed the border into Gaza.

And a line of gas trucks crossed from Israel into Gaza - but there was no one there to receive the gas, so the trucks turned around and returned to Israel taking with them the gas.

Hamas leadership, which controls Gaza, is actively working to destroy any attempts for aid to enter their domain - especially Israeli aid.

This assistance is from the Israeli army, the same group that the Gazans are fighting. The irony is staggering. The people you are attacking respond by sending you aid. Why? Because you were wounded striking out at them.

This is the Israeli way.

But did you see any international press showing the Israelis shipping humanitarian aid into Gaza the day after the world condemned them for being so brutal? The answer is: No, you didn’t.

That is the way of the world.

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Why More Palestinians Have Not Shown Up
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Some insight into the riots and attacks in Gaza:

During the most recent riots, Hamas organizers did everything they could to pack in the numbers and get as many people out as possible. They were hoping to be at least 100,000 strong.

In addition to busing rioters to the riot points, Hamas cancelled classes in all schools and all universities. They also announced a total shutdown of businesses.

There was no excuse not to have over a million people on the border between Gaza and Israel - but only 40,000 Palestinians showed up.

The reasons are simple:

Kids prefer to play computer games at home than to go out and riot.

Despite the inverted logic of Palestinian leadership, Palestinian parents and children are electing not to attend the organized riots and not to give up their lives for the cause.

Bottom line: The numbers don't lie!

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Hamas Wins on Campus
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Student Council elections at Palestinian Bir Zeit University had a not surprising result. Hamas won.

Hamas garnered 24 out of the 51 seats on the Student Council. The favorite party was the Martyr Party of Yassir Arafat which received 23 seats.

Hamas has claimed a tremendous victory - and they are correct to do so.

University elections are so important because they are a tool for predicting the future.

Winning at the university level empowers Hamas, it allows them to feel that they may very well be the future of the region.

It allows them to believe that they have unseated the establishment. This is not a good sign for the rest of us.

What is even more important than the results of the election at Bir Zeit University is that 75% of all students voted in this election.

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Israel Claims Syrian Strike
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

In a rare move, Israel accepted responsibility for air bombing Syria earlier this week.

The bombing was a response to the Iranian Al Quds Force launching of 20 missiles toward Israel. In the end, Israel struck and destroyed 50 sites, maybe even a few more.

Not all the targets were pre-arranged. According to Israeli Air Force sources, however, every site that launched a rocket was identified and destroyed. The targets included mobile operations like the S-200 rocket systems, command and control HQ's, radar and stocks of weapons.

As in the past, the explosions registered on the Richter Scale. This time they registered 2.6 in magnitude.

It is important to know that the elite Iranian force is embedded in Syrian camps.

Syrian fighters were trained in old Soviet-style strategy. In looking at the targets a specific Soviet-style pattern emerges. There are three lines and the first two lines have three clusters. Classic Russian defense pattern.

Of the 25 soldiers killed in the attack, most were Iranian. Israel has said that they were targeting equipment and not people - that makes sense.

This is now a game of cat and mouse. The game may still escalate.

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Iran Has a Plan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Make no mistake about it, Iran definitely has a plan in place as a response to the Trump move to pull the United States out of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht put it this way:

"The Management and Planning Organization of Iran have drawn up a plan that is proportional to the conditions of America's exit from the nuclear deal."

Piecing the plan together, it appears that Iran is making demands of the European nations. Iran is saying that, in order for them to stay in the agreement, they want more concessions. Iran will want more money and a shorter timetable to the sunset clauses. They will also permit more IAEA inspections.

It's all part of the game. And Europe may just agree to play by Iran's rules.

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Israel Strikes Iran Missiles Again
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

All educational trips to northern Israel were cancelled until further notice by order of the Education Ministry.

The reason is clear.

Iran has bolstered its missiles located in Syria and trained them on Israeli targets. And Israel once again struck a Syrian base with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iranian missiles. According to reports 15 people on the base were killed -- 8 were Iranian.

Israel is preemptively striking the Iranian missiles while they are still on the ground.

Israel expects that Iran will use those missiles to strike them.

Israel will continue to seek out and destroy all Syrian centers for Iranian weapons because those weapons threaten innocent Israeli citizens.

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Palestinian Foundations Are Crumbling
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians are up in arms at Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Bahrain and UAE participated in the first leg of an Italian bike race. That first leg took place in Israel - hence the reason for Palestinian ire.

Palestinians thought their boycott against Israel was ironclad - until it was smashed by these two Arab countries which have now officially competed in an international bike race hosted in part by the Jewish State.

The Palestinians are watching their foundations crumble. The bedrock upon which Palestinians stood in the Arab world was their position as victim. Now that the Arab boycott against Israel has been broken, their place in the Arab world is diminished, almost obliterated.

Now Israel and the Arab world are sharing interests.

This is very upsetting for the Palestinians.

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Oil Hits $75 -- Saudis Are Happy
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Strange things are happening in the oil markets - especially between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

For years Saudi Arabia has tried to push prices of oil down and tried to make certain that Iran was not able to benefit from sales of higher priced crude. But this week oil hit a high of $75/barrel and the Saudis announced that they want oil prices to rise higher - even to $80/barrel.

Oil today is already 50% higher than it was last year.

Meanwhile, Iran wants to sell as much oil as possible.

This change in attitude about the price of oil is part of a plan - a plan to hurt Iran.

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Bibi To Meet Putin
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will, once again, visit Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bibi will fly to Moscow where he will be an official guest at the Victory Day parade and celebrations.

Victory Day is held every year on May 9th. It celebrates the Russian (actually the Soviet) defeat of the Nazis. It is a huge celebration in Russia.

This will be the 8th face-to-face meeting between the Russian and Israeli leaders in two years. They have much to discuss.

Tensions between the two leaders surrounding Syria and Iran are certainly a high priority agenda item.

Putin's invitation to Netanyahu to join him at the Victory Day celebration and parade is a grand gesture signifying that the Russian leader wants to get relations between the two countries back on track.

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Jack Ma in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Jack Ma, the richest man in China and the founder and head of Alibaba, is in Israel receiving an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University.

During his presentation Jack Ma announced that he will continue to invest in Israel. He and his company have already invested in five companies in Israel. The results have been successful and Ma is very pleased. Now he will be investing in many more Israeli companies.

Ma said that Israel is one of only three places in the world where he would even consider investing.

That is a tremendous compliment - especially from Jack Ma.

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Israel Builds Alternative Airport
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Tourism in Israel is up.

This first quarter of 2018 was up 30% over the same period in 2017.

That is very impressive by any standard, especially so while Israel is under the threat of war from Iran and Hezbollah.

Recognizing that Ben Gurion Airport is a high profile target - and that there is a real threat of an attack on the airport from Hezbollah and from terrorists coming from closer to the airport in the West Bank - Israel is re-outfitting and expanding an air force base deep in the Negev desert.

The base is far away from a Hezbollah threat or a West Bank attack. But it is an alternative and, if needed, if there is a crisis, it will be there.

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Abbas Spouts Anti-Semitism
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Abbas launched into an anti-Semitic tirade during his two hour long speech at the Palestinian National Council meeting. This was the first meeting of the Council since December 1998.

Here is some of what Abbas said:

"From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, the Jews - who moved to Western and Eastern Europe - were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen?"

He continued: "The Jewish issue that was widespread in all European countries ... was not because of their religion, but rather their social behavior related to usury and banks."

Abbas often reverts to his anti-Semitic wheel-well to gain wall-to-wall support from his followers. The Arabic world is filled with conspiracy theories and people all too often believe these canards.

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What a Press Conference
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

WOW. That is the best response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's press conference in which he unveiled, for all the world to see, an Iranian nuclear archive.

The European response is that the information is not new. In essence, Europe is saying that no proof will alter their mindset vis a vis the nuclear deal.

Iran denies all the allegations and claims that Netanyahu made it all up.

IRNA, Iran's official news agency, asserted that the Israeli prime minister is "famous for ridiculous shows."

Fars a semi official state news agency, believed to be close to the Revolutionary Guard, dismissed Netanyahu's speech as a "propaganda show."

All Iranian media has joined together in issuing a public proclamation stating that Iran has never sought nuclear weapons and they are not seeking nuclear weapons now.

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Gazans Rush the Border
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Israel arrested two Palestinians who crossed from Gaza into Israel. They were carrying knives and wire cutters. Now they are being interrogated.

Also yesterday, Israel shot and killed two Palestinians who rushed the border and threw explosives at IDF soldiers. They were attempting to cross the border.

On Friday there were numerous attempts to strike through the fence between Israel and Gaza, even ripping down the fence in certain places.

When looking at the Palestinian demonstration, one can see their technique. They burn tires in such a way to as to create double plumes of smoke. That way, the terrorists can advance between the plumes in order to attack the fence.

There is a lot happening. There is a lot of activity that needs to be monitored.

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Oliver Stone in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The great Oliver Stone, director of Born on The 4th of July, Platoon and JFK, visited Iran. While there, he lashed out at the United States. He called the United States "outlaws." When speaking, his words were received with a loud ovation.

"We are outlaws, we're doing something that is outlawed internationally, we had no permission to invade Iraq from the UN, we did it, and we continue to do this."

Stone went on to say that "national security has trumped artistic freedom," claiming "you cannot make a film critical of the United States' foreign policy."

Artists produce messages all the time. Many artists, like Oliver Stone, feel that the US government obstructs them. At the same time, many people in the US feel that artists - like Stone, push their own agenda on America through their artistry, like movies.

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Iran Says No to New Deal
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

As French leader Emmanuel Macron was lobbying US President Trump on fixing the Iranian deal, Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani was drawing his line in the sand.

Iran has made their stance on the deal public.

Iran likes the deal and will not accept any change in the nuke deal. Rouhani said that he has spoken to Macron and he: "told him explicitly that we will not add anything to the deal or remove anything from it, even one sentence. The nuclear deal is the nuclear deal."

In other words, it looks like the new deal is a no deal - even before we know what actually is in that new deal.

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German Leader: Don't Wear Kippa
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Violence against Jews of Germany has reached a highpoint. And it may get even worse.

The Berlin Kippa March is a proud show of solidarity, it is a rejection of anti-Semitism and violence against Jews.

But the Jews of Germany are afraid.

Joseph Schuster, head of Germany's Central Council of Jews, suggested that Jews stop wearing their kippot and instead start wearing baseball caps. He said that he was "against showing themselves openly with a kippa in a big-city setting in Germany, and wear a baseball cap or something else to cover their head instead."

At the same time Israeli Chief Rabbi Lau, who has said that his office was flooded by requests for help sent him by German Jewry, proclaimed that the Jews of Germany should continue wearing their kippot with pride.

This is a classic divide between Israel and the Diaspora. Nothing can bridge this chasm.

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A Good Assassination
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The assassination of Fadi Albatsh in Malaysia by two men driving motorcycles was a massive blow to Hamas.

Israel hit Hamas very hard by assassinating Albatsh.

Here is how the game card is calculated: Over the past few months Israel has successfully closed down Hamas' secret and all important weapon - "the tunnel."

Israel has figured out how to detect and shut down Hamas terror tunnels.

Hamas saw what was happening and started investing in an alternative weapon - the drone.

That is where Albatsh fit in. Albatsh was designing and training Hamas drone operators and designing Hamas drones.

Albatsh was a huge asset to Hamas, they were banking on him. That is exactly why it was so important for Israel to remove him. This assassination saved countless lives.

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Iran is Fiilled w Contradictions
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is a complicated place. In Iran, there are competing forces each pushing their own agenda - some for more openness and some for more tradition.

So when Iranian TV reported that Iran's President Hassan Rouhani chastised the famous morality police, that was a big deal.

Iran's morality police enforce the dress code and they have been very physical against violators. One such incident was caught on video. The video went viral and was broadcast on numerous TV outlets and on social media.

Last year the head of the police, the person responsible for the morality division, made it publicly clear that they would no longer arrest violators.

Rouhani said that it is impractical to promote virtue through violence "by grabbing people's collars." He said it will not work.

The interior minister has announced that the incident will be investigated.

This is one small glimpse into the internal struggles of Iran.

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Israeli Police Arrest Settler Youth
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli undercover police dressed as settlers arrested a youth from Yitzhar who was the subject of an arrest warrant.

The police entered in disguise so as not to cause a scene or endanger themselves.

Yitzhar is a hotbed of Jewish anti-Palestinian attacks. It is the HQ of "price tag" reprisals where Israelis strike out at Palestinians and their property in what they consider to be acts of reprisal.

The police have been cracking down on vigilantism and concentrating on arresting Jewish groups involved in illegal acts of violence.

The Od Yosef Chai Yeshivah in Yitzhar is run by Rabbi Ginsburg. He is the author of the book about Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein entitled "Baruch HaGever" which means "Baruch the Heroic Man." Rabbi Ginsburg has been at the heart of much of the vigilantism.

Several years ago Rabbi Ginsburg was charged with inciting violence, all charges against him were dropped when he retracted his calls to violence.

Israel is a state of law and justice. Citizens may not take the law into their own hands and the police must arrest those who do.

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Palestinians Consumed w Hate
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Israel celebrated her 70th anniversary of independence. But actually, the anniversary is today.

The anniversary is the 5th day of Iyar. When the 5th of Iyar falls on a Friday (as it did this year), the anniversary is officially celebrated on Thursday. This is Israeli law. It is a way to prevent a national desecration of the Sabbath.

So Thursday was the day before the anniversary. But yesterday was the day Palestinians mourned their Nakba, their catastrophe. What is interesting is that even the Palestinian catastrophe is artificial.

Palestinians chose to protest on a day that really is not the anniversary. In addition, Israel independence day is actually celebrated on the Hebrew date not the Gregorian date. That date should mean nothing to the Palestinians.

But the Palestinians are simply obsessed with their hatred. Listen to what Palestinian leader Ahmed Tibi, who is also a member of Israel's Knesset, said:

"What happened then was a Nakba - a human and national disaster on any scale ... Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens live to this very day close to the villages they were uprooted from. What's more natural, humanitarian and just than returning them to their homes in their abandoned villages and restoring their stolen property?"

"We must recognize our national identity as Palestinians, with empathy to the suffering and loss we've experienced since 1948, which continues to this very day in different ways," he went on to say. "Empathy to another's suffering is an important aspect in narrowing gaps and bridging disagreements, including national conflicts. This is the time to recognize our Palestinian narrative."

Even the hatred was misplaced.
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70 Years is a Long Time
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

70 years ago today Israel declared its independence - and at that very same moment all her neighbors intensified their efforts to drive the Jews into the sea.

Our parents and grandparents could not imagine that Israel would thrive and live to celebrate a single year - and certainly not 70.
70 years later Israel is still struggling and fending off hostile neighbors.

In those 70 years Israel has transformed the Jewish people and the Jewish world. Then as it is now, a strong Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust is a sign of stability and safety for all Jews, all around the world.

The world is a better place better place because Israel exists.
Israel has changed and touched almost every field and discipline. Art, music, literature, food, wine, economics, chemistry, biotech, computers and so much more.

That is powerful. That is something we can all hold on to.
Happy Birthday Israel. Yom HaAtzmaut Sameach.

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Gazans Fly Terror Kites
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:


Palestinians in Gaza have begun using an old weapon to terrorize Israel.

They are moving close to the border fence and flying kites - kites that have been lit aflame.

The wind often blows from east to west and when that happens, the kites quickly fly into Israel where they fall on the fields. The fields catch fire and the crops burn.

This is a particularly nefarious form of terror.

Palestinian terrorists are burning the fields of the very land they claim to love and say they will die for.

The terrorists believe that they are untraceable because they lift the kites high up in the air and light them far away from IDF view. They are mistaken.

These aren't ordinary store bought kites. Each kite is homemade and very large. Each kite needs to be taken out and lifted. It several takes people to launch each kite.

Israel is not yet preempting the kites. They will soon. For now, they are sending fighters to douse the flames.

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Iran Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

People have been talking about the US strike against Syrian gas and chemical weapons.

Most have forgotten that, only days earlier, Israel bombed a Syrian base and killed 7 Iranians - all of them the creme de la creme of Iran's drone operators. Included among them was Colonel Mehdi Dehghan, the head of the Iranian clone unit.

Iran has not forgotten.

The Iranians have been announcing that they will exact revenge on Israel for the strike that killed 7 of their best men.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bassam Ghassemi has said: "Tel Aviv will be punished for its aggressive action." He added: "The occupying Zionist regime will, sooner or later, receive an appropriate response to its actions."

The response from Iran will come according to their timetable.

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Israel Discovers aTunnel & Shows Secret Weapon
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel discovered another terror tunnel this weekend. It was the longest and the widest and most modern tunnel yet discovered.

This newly discovered tunnel emptied out just on the Israel side of the fence - literally right next to a location of the weekly protests held on the Gaza border.

When Israel announced that they uncovered and destroyed the tunnel they also unveiled that their new secret weapon - a multi dimensional unit of engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, geologists and military experts.

Their faces were blurred but we saw them at work in a 54 second clip.

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US Strike on Syrian Gas & Chemicals
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Now that the US, Great Britain and France have bombed Syrian chemical and gas weapons factories, Assad can breathe a sigh of relief. He was bracing for the inevitable, and now it's over.

The multinational raid on Syria was a gesture - nothing more.

As they promised, the US sent a message. But other than that, they probably did nothing more, certainly not prevent another gas or chemical attack.

Nothing changed on the ground. No difference was created by US action.

Hezbollah, Syria and Russia have not been touched or impacted in any way.

Israel is no safer and neither is the Middle East.

Most important, neither are the innocent people of Syria.

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No Direct Conflict w Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Is a conflict between Iran and Israel inevitable at this stage?

No - it is not.

There is certainly the possibility of conflict, but it is doubtful that the conflict will be direct. Iran will probably permit - or perhaps order - Hezbollah, its proxy, to strike Israel.

As of last count Hezbollah had amassed 130,000 rockets and missiles, a large percentage of which can hit deep into Israel.

Israel knows that Iran and Hezbollah are operating on a hair trigger.

Israel knows that if Hezbollah launches an attack it will inflict harm on Israel. Israel also knows that she needs to protect herself. And that means targeting sites that warehouse weapons that can be used against Israel and their command and control systems.

In the end, rather than full blown conflict, there will probably be a skirmish between Israel and Hezbollah.

If necessary, Israel will hit Hezbollah hard enough to knock them out of the game for a period of time. Israel will want to do this from the air. The IDF does not want to commit forces on the ground.

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Bibi & Putin Talk
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell him that Israel should not act in Syria. Do not, he said, destabilize Syria.

Netanyahu reiterated that Israel could not tolerate an Iranian base in Syria.

Israel's Sunday airstrike against T-4 that killed 14 people including 7 Iranian military advisers should not be an excuse for Iran to attack Israel.

Israeli advisers are in unanimous agreement that if Iran acts in any way against Israel they will topple Assad and destroy all Iranians positions in Syria.

Putin got the message loud and clear that Israel is not playing a game with Iran.

So whatever game Russia is playing with the US, Israel is engaged in a battle to keep Iranian military bases as far from its borders as possible.

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Israel Not Interetsed in Conflict w Russia
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is not interested in directly engaging in conflict with Russia - especially with Russian military soldiers and advisors on the ground in Syria.

Israel wants to reduce the tension that already exists - and is rapidly increasing, between Israel and the Russia.

Israel also does not want a direct conflict with Iran - but that conflict may be inevitable

Israel has a dilemma - the need to keep their country and citizens safe may involve strikes against Syria and Iran and Russians may be in the area.

There is little doubt that this conflict is potentially explosive and can spiral completely out of control.

Here's a warning: Russia and certainly Iran may be baiting Israel to act in order to accelerate the conflict.

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Israel Tells Russia & Iran Beware
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

There is little doubt that Israel was behind the attack on the T-4 military base in Syria. Four Iranian military advisers, including an expert drone operator, were killed during the attack which also took out at least one of their drones.

Israel struck the base from Lebanese airspace.

The Russians witnessed the attack and were quick to point the finger at and condemn Israel.

There could have also been Russian advisers in T-4 and Russia would have wanted to warn their people - but this time Israel did not give them advance notice of their planned attack.

The airstrike was a warning. Israel is sending a message to Russia and Iran that they are not shying away from using force. Israel is saying that despite the international attention, they are not afraid to strike and engage in actions against Russian and Iranian troops.

That is an important statement.

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England Opens Naval Base in Bahrain
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Thursday England's Prince Andrew was in Bahrain and he, together with the Crown Prince of Bahrain, officially opened a permanent British naval base.

This is a very large step and the culmination of a series of diplomatic efforts dating back to 2014.

Bahrain is a critical location for the West.

Bahrain is host to the US 5th Fleet. It is perfectly pitched to guard the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow stretch of water through which 1/3 of the world's oil travels every single day.

Bahrain has close ties with Saudi Arabia and the US and Great Britain.

Most important, Bahrain is in place to check Iran. 85% of Bahrainians are Shiite Muslims and obviously close to Iran. The ruling family is a branch of the Saud family.

Bahrain wants to make certain that Iran's power and influence is checked in order to maintain order on their island.

The British navy will use this new base to help secure the region and keep it stable and friendly to Western interests.

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Saudi To Prosecute Princes for Terror
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Saudi public prosecutor has announced that he is investigating and will be charging several of the Saudi princes who were arrested last year.

The Saudi deputy attorney general was quoted in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat which is published in England.

According to the paper Saud al Hamad, the deputy attorney general, will be charging the princes for involvement in money laundering and terror sponsorship.

This is the move we have been waiting for.

This is not a power play, it is a move wresting people with enormous power and influence who consider themselves above the law away from committing illegal and immoral acts like terror.

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Gaza Plans Friday Protests
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Beginning Friday, Palestinians are planning a second week of protests at the Gaza-Israel border.

Last Friday Palestinians gathered at several points along the border. The total numbers were in question. Palestinians said 100,000 protesters turned out, Israel said the numbers were closer to 15,000. Looking at YouTube videos there were probably 30,000 protesters at the peak of the protest.

This Friday the Palestinians have called for 12,000 tires to be brought to the sites and set aflame. They also asked Palestinians participants to come with large mirrors.

The purpose of both these maneuvers is to make it harder for Israeli snipers to identify targets. Palestinians will also position their own snipers to shoot Israeli snipers.

The mirrors will reflect the sun and the tires will create a cloud of black smoke.

The danger of burning so many tires is devastating to the environment and to all the people around. The heat generated from the fire will be excessive.

According to weather predictions, the wind will blow west which means the smoke will blow back on the Palestinians and, in the end, not screen the protesters.

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Iran Says US & Israel Interfere in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani convened a press conference as he boarded his plane at Mahrabab airport in Tehran on Tuesday. Rouhani was en route to Ankara, Turkey to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

According to Rouhani, the problems of Syria are caused by Israel and the United States - they are interfering and that they do not respect Syria.

"There's interference from Zionist forces in Syria which has increased problems. They don't respect Syrian national sovereignty. They bomb areas in Syria. They support terrorists. These are all issues which have increased Syria's problems."

"The Americans are against the Syrian government establishing its authority throughout the whole country and are even thinking of a breakup (of the country)."

Two important notes: First, Rouhani will never refer to Israel by name, he refers to them only as the Zionists. Second, we must wonder why it is that the US and Israel are interfering in Syria and not Russia and Iran.

It's all about perspective. Iran and Russia see their actions as correct because that's what supports their point of view.

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Saudi Crown Prince Recognized Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed ibn Salman sat down for an extensive interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor and chief of the Atlantic. The most important points in their discussion were Saudi recognition of Israel's right to exist in peace in her own land and the need for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Crown Prince said: "I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land." ... "But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations."

He also described his reservations: "We have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people. This is what we have. We don't have any objection against any other people."

And he explained that there were great mutual benefits to be had in bringing Israel into the region's sphere of economic engagement: "Israel is a big economy compared to their size and it's a growing economy, and of course there are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and countries like Egypt and Jordan."


About anti-Semitism the Crown Prince said: "Our country doesn't have a problem with Jews. Our Prophet Muhammad married a Jewish woman. Not just a friend—he married her." ... "Our prophet, his neighbors were Jewish. You will find a lot of Jews in Saudi Arabia coming from America, coming from Europe. There are no problems between Christian and Muslims and Jews. We have problems like you would find anywhere in the world, among some people. But the normal sort of problems."

Speaking about Iran the Crown Prince paralleled the Iranian Grand Ayatollah to Hitler, calling him worse than Hitler: "I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good. Hitler didn't do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. ... The supreme leader is trying to conquer the world."

These on the record comments represent a watershed.
Now we watch and see what comes next.

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Putin T0 Visit Turkey & Meet Iran PRres
By Micah Halpern

Monday April, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday and Wednesday Russia's President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey.

Putin will have talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and will participate in the opening of the first stage celebrating the completion of the first unit of the Russian built nuclear energy station in Turkey.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani will also visit Turkey. Putin and Rouhani will meet face-to-face and the three leaders will have quality time together.

The most critical issue on Turkey's agenda will be a discussion about the Kurds - especially US support of the Kurds.

Iran deep concern about the May deadline of the infamous "nuke deal" is also on the agenda.

Russia is Iran's advocate. The voices of Iran and Turkey are magnified exponentially because Russia is on the ground and in direct head-to-head competition with the US in the region.

Of course, Israel and the Palestinians will also come up. On that subject, Russia will be silent.

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Drought in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:


Iran is suffering a drought that is endangering the central area around the city of Isfahan.

Analysts say that conditions have worsened, in part, due to incompetence and mismanagement on the part of government. And Iranians are rising up in protest.

These protests have sprung up over the past month. Some of the protests have been squashed by authorities.

One of the chants shouted out during protests is "Death to the farmers - long live the oppressors." This is obviously a humorous critique of the situation. A drought can destroy the heart and soul of a region and impact a country on a national scale.

Water in the Middle East, even more so than in many other places in the world, needs to be properly managed so that people and populations can both earn a living and feed the masses without the need to import basic food needs.

The drought is not getting worse, it is only getting worse.

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Abbas Now to Openly Pay Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:


The Palestinian Authority is once again lashing out hoping to hurt the United States. But once again, in the end, the only party to be hurt - will be the Palestinian Authority. Their actions just reinforce the momentum in US halls of power that the Palestinians are not helping themselves.

For years the US has been frustrated that the PA continues to pay terrorists who are in Israeli prisons and to the families of terrorists killed while perpetrating murderous acts against Israelis. For four years the PA indirectly paid their terrorists through the Palestinian Ministry of Prison of Affairs, a ministry which deals only and exclusively with prisoners in Israeli jails and terrorists killed while perpetrating terror.

Now Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his government have decided to fund the terrorists and their families directly. The PA officially announced that they are no longer hiding their sponsorship of terrorists.

Why - and why now? Because last week the US Congress passed the Taylor Force Act which prohibits the United States from sending funds to the Palestinian Authority if they pay/ reward terrorists. US aid was being used to sponsor terror against Israelis and even against Americans like Taylor Force who was murdered last year. Force was a decorated US veteran on a graduate school study trip to Israel and was stabbed and murdered in a terror attack in the city of Jaffa.

The numbers and the sums are numbing. According to Palestinian budget figures, 550 million NIS is budgeted annually for stipends to Palestinians in Israeli prisons and another 687 million NIS for the families of terrorists. That equals 1.2 billion NIS to terrorists and families.

The entire health budget of the Palestinian Authority is 1.8 billion NIS.

The total PA budget is 15.5 billion NIS. The budget for terrorists and their families (not terrorism) is about 10% of the entire Palestinian budget and just a tiny bit smaller than the health budget for the entire PA.

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Problems w the US Embassy Move
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The US is moving it's embassy to Jerusalem - that's a foregone conclusion, but even a healthy desire to make the change requires Herculean strength and great skill.

A consulate just can't become an embassy by tacking up a sign. US security procedures require a series of upgrades.

Before a US embassy compound can open, it requires a wall around the compound that is at least 8 feet high. It requires access roads with proper width and distance from the main gate. It requires anti truck ramming defense and a gate which will withstand a frontal assault. And finally the embassy requires alternative emergency exits including underground tunnels.

That all takes time to build.

In Israel in order to build any building with those requirements permits must be issued by the National Planning and Building Committee

That takes time. The Committee requires plans and the plans require approval.

Only 6 times in its history has the Committer fastracked approval. Each time the exception was predicated on saving a life or a situation of national crisis and importance.

Is moving the US embassy to Jerusalem an emergency? It is if you want it opened in time for the 70th anniversary of Israel's independence.

The Committee voted in favor of the exception.

A mini miracle.

There is still one other obstacle to be overcome. The former and now shuttered Diplomat Hotel sits within the expanded US compound. In the 1990's the hotel was converted into a facility to house new immigrants.

To this day some 450 new immigrants inhabit the facility. They must all relocated. If that happens before the 70th anniversary which will be celebrated on the 5th of Iyar, it will be another miracle.

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German FM Tells PA- Change Directions
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Heiko Mass is the new foreign minister of Germany.

Mass is on his first official trip to the Middle East in his new role. He was particularly profound when he spoke to Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

Mass told the Palestinians not to tear down bridges.

He was referring to the position that Palestinian leadership has taken against the United States ever since President Trump announced that he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would soon relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Mass was trying to help move the Palestinians back onto a path of acceptance. It is a commendable move but it is also an uphill battle.

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3 Iron Dome Alerts in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 26. 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's Iron Dome was activated yesterday.

The Code Red alarm sounded in three different regions in Israel: Sderot, Hof Ashkelon, Shaar Hanegev.

The Iron Dome detected projectiles incoming to all three regions and responded by launching missiles to intercept them.

Everything worked perfectly - except that the incoming rockets were not rockets, they were bullets from gunfire.

The sensors on the Iron Dome are very sensitive. In fact, too sensitive. The sensors caused the Iron Dome to launch. This is a serious flaw in the Iron Dome.

Now Hamas knows that they can send small projectiles and draw Iron Dome fire. After that, they can launch real rockets at Israeli targets.

This massive flaw has been very publicly uncovered.

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IDF Warns Hamas & Lebanon About Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The take of Israel's Military Intelligence Directorate is always worth hearing. Major General Herzi Halevi offered several observations today.

The Israeli general warned Hamas and Lebanon that Iran was not a friend of theirs and would only hurt them.

Halevi said "Iran has launched a Shiite arrow that has split the region asunder. Hamas must understand running to (Iran) will only worsen its condition."

He said that Hezbollah is "continuing to grow in strength under Iran's tutelage." And added "Israel has no belligerent intentions towards Lebanon, the gaps between us are small and can be bridged." And that: "Lebanon must consider its economy, one of the largest in the region, and not Iran and Hezbollah's interests."

These were words of advice and warning for Hamas and Lebanon will probably not be heeded.

The inverse message in Halevi's comments is essential for us to hear.
Iran is making serious inroads into Hamas in Gaza and promising them essential funds. And, in Lebanon, Iran is expanding beyond Hezbollah and luring Lebanese leadership with promises of aid.

None of this bodes well for the region.

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UAE Flies with Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Middle East is changing - just look around and see the signs of transformation.

This week the air forces of Israel, the United States, Italy, the UK, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates were all hosted by Greece.

During the course of the week the various air forces flew together and carried out joint exercises. The most significant of all joint exercises was when the United Arab Emirates flew together with Israel.

The UAE and Israel do not have diplomatic relations, and yet, this week, high above the Mediterranean two F-16's - one flown by an Israeli and the other by a pilot from the UAE, flew in tandem to accomplish a goal at mach speed.

A perfect example of how the Middle East is changing- for the better.

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ISIS Takes Part of Damascus
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Damascus area of Al Qadam has been taken over by ISIS.

The battle for Al Qadam lasted over 24 hours - and during that time at least 36 Syrian soldiers were killed. Do not misunderstand, do not think that ISIS is taking all of Syria back. But this area is back in the hands of ISIS.

ISIS has lost it momentum and has lost most of Syria, but Syria is still a tinder box that can explode at any moment.

Even the area around Damascus and its suburbs, which is one of the bastions of Assad's power, can be wrestled away by ISIS.

In the eyes of ISIS, as long as one fighter is still fighting they are still a threat.

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Russia Tables Talks On Human Rights in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Russians tabled a discussion on human rights abuses in Syria at the United Nations Security Council.

They asserted that human rights was not on the agenda and therefore should not be discussed. "We do not see any justification for this meeting since human rights is not a subject on the agenda of the Security Council," said Gennady Kuzmin, Russia's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations.

This is a typical Russian move.

Everyone knows about the rampant human rights abuses in Syria. Tabling a discussion on the obvious was a continuation of Russia's role in Syria. The Russians have been witness and even party to some of the abuses.

This is something they certainly do not want to discuss at the Security Council.

Eventually the subject will be placed on the agenda and it will be discussed.

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Abbas Curses the US Ambassador
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

US Ambassador to Israel David Freidman tweeted that the murder of 3 young Israelis was tragic and that the PA has been silent and has not even denounced the acts of terror.

That tweet led to a response from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in which he called the US Ambassador "a son of a dog - a settler - and father of settlers." He also attacked the US and mentioned the decision to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

During that same speech Abbas called out Hamas for a failed assassination attempt against his prime minister. Hamas, which tried to murder Abbas' #2 was not called any of the awful things thrown at Friedman. Instead, Hamas was asked to keep Abbas in the loop in the investigation.

This rant by Abbas is typical of him. He is a very emotional person.

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Warsaw March Against Anti Semitism
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday 1000 people marched in Warsaw to protest the new rise of Anti-semitism in Poland.

Protest marches also took place in other cities throughout Poland. The marchers shouted "Freedom Equality, Tolerance."

This is the first public response, in Poland, to the wave of public intolerance that has become so commonplace.

The Jewish community in Poland is extremely worried about the rise of freely expressed anti-Semitism expressed on TV, radio, the internet and in public life.

Hopefully, these marches will be a wake-up call people up and force anti-Semitism in Poland back into the bottle.

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Iran is Making Oil Deals
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has just signed a huge foreign deal.

Dana Energy, the Iranian state oil company, signed a ten year, $740 billion deal, to collectively produce oil from two oil fields near the Iraqi border.

Their agreement is with the Russian state owned oil company Zarubezhneft. Together, both fields will pump 84,000 barrels of oil a day.

Last year China and France's oil company SA came to agreement with Iran. That agreement is worth $5 billion dollars to develop an offshore natural gas field.

Iran is running to expand their role in the world of energy. They are competing big and they are scoring big.

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US Likes Israel in Record Numbers
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Gallop published a new poll on their website that turned conventional wisdom on its head.

The Gallop poll showed that Americans support Israel more - or at least as well, as they have ever supported her for decades, ever since Gallop first polled the question.

64% of Americans have a positive feeling towards Israel. Only 19% feel positively towards the Palestinians.

Americans feel 45% more favorably toward Israel than toward the Palestinians.

This result tied with the 1991 gallop poll which was taken during the 1st Gulf War and the poll taken in 2013 when Barack Obama was the president of the United States.

Contrary to what the media tells us, Israel is well liked and respected by Americans.

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Russia Threatens US in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Tensions between Russia and the United States are spiking in the Syria.

Russia's chief of staff and the head of the US joint chiefs of staff spoke yesterday about the tensions.

The Russians have held press conferences and have said that they have information that the US is going to strike Assad fortifications in Damascus. Russia said that they will retaliate if Russians were hurt in the strike. Russia also said that the US will create a pretext for the attack.

The US has been speaking about Syria's use of non-conventional weapons against civilians. They have said that they will respond if that proves true.

Russia is suggesting that the US will stage a gas incident in order to attack.

Words are ugly, but it is potential action that could destabilize the entire region.

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Saudi Prince to Visit White House March 3/20
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The White House announced that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office on March 20, 2018.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that that the crown prince and the president will discuss economics and security.

They will also discuss ISIS and Islamic extremism.

And Syria, Lebanon, and Iran.

They will focus on Qatar.

And they will spend time on the Palestinians.

The most important subject they talk about will be nuclear technology.

The Saudis want nuclear technology in order to have parity with the Iranians. And so the United States needs to figure out how to empower the Saudis without having the Middle East spiral into a nuclear arms race.

Easier said than done.

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Iranian Hackers
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has been hacking. Iranians have improved their hacking skills and are successfully spying and disrupting computers all over the world.

An Iranian hacker group called Chafer has attacked Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. Chafer has disrupted telecommunication systems and networks.

Another Iranian hacker group, this one named Advanced Persistent Threat APT -33, is very active. APT -33 has been attacking the United States, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

And these are just a few of the Iranian hacks.

Suffice it to say that Iran's interest in hacking systems is to do more than merely disrupt and make life uncomfortable. The Iranians want access, they want to control the hacked systems. They want the information in the systems and they want to bring their victims to their knees.

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Palestinian Council To Meet- 1st Time in 10 Yrs
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On April 30th the 700 strong Palestinian National Council will meet in Ramallah.

The PNC, the most important legislative body in the Palestinian government, has not met in over ten years.

The ostensible reason for this meeting is to fill those positions on the Palestinian Executive Committee that have been vacated because of deaths, illnesses, old age or a simple inability to function and carry on with the duties of the positions.

But there is another reason for the meeting.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' health is not as stable as it was. Abbas is 82 years old and no successor has been tapped, no one is even on the horizon.

This PNC meeting is an opportunity to see who might emerge as potential leader. Should several potential leaders emerge, there might even be an election to choose candidates. There might even be a primary and then a run off. All that is doubtful, but who know what might happen.

The important part is that the Palestinian National Council is meeting.

It's a first step, an important step.

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Indonesian University Bans Burqa
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

An Islamic University in Indonesia has outlawed wearing a full veil burqa.

Indonesia is the most populated Muslim country in the world. The State Islamic University in Yogyakarta City on Java Island instituted a policy forbidding women from covering their entire faces.

The purpose of the policy is to curb radical Islamic activity on campus.

There has been some blow back claiming that this prohibition is a violation of freedom of speech. The irony cannot be lost - those demanding freedom of speech would curtail the speech of anyone who disagrees with them.

This university is trying to "put forth the modern face of Islam." What they are really trying to do, in other words, is to curtail extremism.

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Iran Responds to Bibi in a Tweet
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at Iran. And Iran responded to Netanyahu.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Iran is actually an honest player seeking justice and advocating for Palestinian victims of Israeli occupation and oppression.

It all always comes down to the Israeli occupation.

Zarif tweeted: "Despite Netanyahu's claims, the fact is that illegal occupation lies at the heart of most of the calamities in our region."

He continued: "Historically, occupying another's land has never been sustainable. This occupation, too - and the apartheid system that perpetuates it- will not last long."

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Nuclear Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

One of the dangers with Iranian nuclear development is the ripple effect. There is regional competition in the Middle East, so if Iran has nukes, Saudi Arabia needs them. The pressure to get nukes should not be underestimated.

It's like keeping up with the Jones', Middle East style.

As a result of the 2015 nuke deal with Iran, the international community is on their way to full nuclear capability. Saudis will not accept a situation where the Shiites, i.e. Iran, have weapon superiority over them.

Should the United States and Israel side with the Saudis or try to preserve fewer nukes in the Middle East?

It's a conundrum - more nukes or parity between Sunnis and Shiites.

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Pole Sue Paper over Holocaust Mistake
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The New Polish Law about the Holocaust has begun to make an impact. A Polish group called the Polish League Against Defamation is suing an Argentinian newspaper that Poland claims violated the new law by suggesting that Poland was complicit in the Holocaust.

The claim is that the paper Pagina 12, an Argentinian daily, misrepresented Poland in December 2017. The paper published a picture of "Doomed Soldiers" also called "Cursed Soldiers" or "Damned Soldiers" who fought against the communists during WWII. Pagina 12 ran their picture along with an article about a 1941 massacre of the Jews of Jedwabne during which local Poles murdered 340 Jews. The Germans were complicit in the murder.

The picture is clearly a mistake. The Polish group is hoping to slap down any mistakes that are made and to set an example for others.

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Bibi Not in Crisis
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the US for 5 days. A large part of his agenda for this visit will be addressing the AIPAC Policy Conference and meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Many people are worried about the latest investigation into Bibi over yet another legal issue. This time investigators are looking into bribery in exchange for better press coverage plus favors to streamline the bureaucratic web for Bezek in the communications ministry. It also involves efforts to drop the case against Netanyahu's wife Sara in exchange for promises to make the judge the attorney general.

This is not a crisis. These will amount to nothing against Bibi.

The real danger is the budget.

The ultra religious parties want a change in the bill regarding compulsory draft into the IDF. They want students in their yeshivot to have the same legal and economic status as soldiers in the army, without participation in the military. If that can be accomplished, yeshiva students would be permitted to legally work and get national insurance as they study. There would be no difference between a yeshivah student and a soldier.

The Shas party and the United Torah Judaism party have both said they will bolt from the coalition and not vote for the upcoming budget unless the current draft bill is amended.

That is a real crisis.


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Russia's New Weapons
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Putin gave his State of the Union Address yesterday. The speech was filled with pride and power.

It is the eve of an election campaign for Putin. He will most certainly win another 6 year term.

During his speech Putin claimed that despite the US, Russia is winning the arms race.

"I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country's development: all what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened" ... "You have failed to contain Russia."

Putin also announced that Russia now has a nuclear powered underwater drone and a hypersonic missile. This hypersonic nuclear powered missile can travel Mach 5 which is five times the speed of sound. It has practically unlimited range.

"No one in the world has anything like that," he said. "It may appear someday, but by that time we will develop something new."

Sounding much like a cartoon character he said: "No one has listened to us." ..."You listen to us now."

Finally, Putin asserted that Russian weapons will preserve world peace when he said: "We aren't threatening anyone, we aren't going to attack anyone, we aren't going to take anything from anyone," ... "The growing Russian military might will guarantee global peace."


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US Peace Plan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

A London paper, Asharq Al-Awsat, described in detail the US peace plan to resolve the Palestinian Israeli conflict.

The paper cites unnamed French diplomats as its source.

The details are no surprise. Arab leaders that have been looped in seem to not be too negative. That is a huge vote of support.

The main points published suggest:
East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
No right of return for Palestinian families.
Financial Compensation for families. $40 billion dollars in building infrastructure.
Limited sovereignty which includes expanded governing responsibility in areas A and B.
The Jordan valley will remain under Israeli control and the large settlement blocks will remain in place. The the smaller settlements will be relocated into the larger settlement blocs.
Israel to control the borders. Egypt will control the Gaza border which abuts their border.

Interestingly, it was French diplomats that leaked the U.S. plan to a London-based popular Arab paper. Why not a US or Palestinian diplomat? Why an Arab paper and not the New York Times or the Washington Post? In Arabic Asharq Al-Awsat means "The Middle East." It is owned by a private company - but it is actually owned by the Saudi Royal Family. The Saudi family has a stake in this deal. This U.S. deal is very similar to the Saudi Peace Plan.

One must note that there is no way that a peace plan will be implemented without Saudi approval and Saudi support.

Understanding the credibility and viability of the peace plan will depend on answering the above questions.

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Elections in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Egyptian campaign for presidency officially opened this week, the vote will take place from March 26th to 28th.

The incumbent Abdel Fattah al Sisi is the overwhelming favorite. Al Sisi came to power in 2013 when, as head of the army, he ousted the first ever duly elected president of Egypt - Mohammed Morsi, who was from the Muslim Brotherhood. A year later elections cemented al Sisi's position.

Now it is time for new elections. All the opposition candidates have either withdrawn or been arrested, except for one candidate and he is a relative unknown who backed al Sisi in the previous vote. One of the arrested candidates was the head of the army who announced his candidacy while still officially in the army - a clear violation of the law but ironic at the same time.

Sisi has been criticized for being too harsh on terror and on his political enemies. He has hit back hard against the press and there have been warnings and even arrests about "false news" that maligns Egypt. The chief prosecutor has called for vigilance in the media and charged his team to scour the media against "forces of evil" trying to influence the vote.

All members of government have been warned against trying to influence the election in any way.


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Oil Hits 3 Week High B/C of Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Oil hit a three week high - settling at about $64 a barrel.

The Saudis are most pleased with this rise in oil prices. But they needed to increase the price of oil. So to counter the huge influx of US oil into the market, especially from US shale which has effectively decreased the price of oil over the past few months, the Saudis severely limited production.

The Saudis have restricted their output. They have been producing less oil daily than even the official cap which is placed on them by OPEC. Their objective was to artificially decrease the supply and increase the demand.

Most oil experts are saying that oil will remain between $55 and $75 per barrel over the next 6 months. There is no chance of either a drop or increase in price unless supply changes.

The US is flooding the market with as much oil as possible to drive the price of oil down. Who knows what the Saudis have in mind.

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Egypt Trying to Unite Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Egyptian leadership is in Gaza trying to convince the Palestinians from Gaza to unite with the Palestinians from the West Bank.

Two intelligence leaders from Egypt, along with a senior diplomat, went to Gaza to urge a Palestinian reconciliation. They were joined by several Fatah ministers from Abbas’ ruling cabinet.

As this is happening, a group of Hamas leaders is in Cairo. They have been there for several weeks and are part of a group that Egypt is trying to influence in the same way.

Egypt thinks that bringing Palestinians together will make for a more secure region. They may be correct. But it is highly unlikely that any agreement will last - there have already been several agreements and all have shattered apart. Never the less, Egypt thinks that they can control Hamas and keep the border with Israel quiet.

The downside of any agreement is that it will be almost impossible to rein in Hamas and enforce any commitments made with Fatah and Egypt.

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Arab Leaders To Visit White House
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will visit the White House and meet, face-to-face, with US President Donald Trump in March and April.

There is no doubt about the agenda for these meetings. The White House wants to try to smooth over tensions between Sunni states and bring some calm back to the region. Qatar has been rocking the boat and aligning with Iran and that has caused a serious backlash in relations.

The White House also wants to enlist these leaders' assistance in hammering out a Middle East peace plan with the Palestinians. The strategy is part of a larger plan to widen the influence and the participation of nations involved in the peace effort and leverage pressure on Palestinian leadership to accept a deal.

More important than the leverage is the looping in of major Sunni states and their leaders. This will lend credibility to an agreement and obviate any direct responsibility for a peace plan, a significant factor hindering progress, that so frightens Palestinian leaders like Abbas.

If the White House can bring everyone together, an agreement can be cobbled out, supported and underwritten by the major Sunni states. Ideally, that plan will make a deal with Israel easier for the Palestinians to swallow - and ultimately sign.

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Abbas Hospitalized in Baltimore
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday and Wednesday websites were chattering away about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' health. Rumors spread about his weak heart. Some concluded that a health crisis was related to decades of heavy smoking.

The Palestinians were mum - but their president did not look good or sound healthy when he spoke at the United Nations.

The most convincing evidence that something was wrong with Abbas was that, since his presentation to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, there was no media coverage of him. After such an important event, Mahmoud Abbas fell off the radar.

Suddenly, he was spotted in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University Hospital -- but according to his travel schedule, Abbas was supposed to be in South America.

Official Abbas spokesmen said that the Palestinian president was in the hospital for routine checks.

Finally, Abbas spoke to Wafa, the official Palestinian media outlet, and said, "Our presence here was a suitable chance for us to make some medical checks." "We actually made those checks and we are out now and, thank God, all results are positive and are assuring. This is God's blessing on us."

Abbas is 82 years old. He has had cardiac catheterization to unblock clogged arteries. Abbas has a worrisome health history - and no one is speaking about succession. No one is discussing the democratic process of transition in Palestine.

This is a crisis waiting to happen.

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Iran in Syria to Attack Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The New York Times published a report which has been rewritten - with interesting additions, in the Israeli press.

The article in the NYT explained that Iran is not simply advising in Syria, but rather Iran is entrenched in permanent bases in Syria. One can count 28 fixed Iranian camps running north to South in Syria. There are also a handful of temporary Iranian bases that have been established.

These bases are proof of Iran's real agenda in Syria.

Iran is not in Syria as advisers for the short term to help fight ISIS and anti-Assad rebels.

Iran is getting into position to best strike Israel and to best help others strike Israel.


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Abbas is Too Weak
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday and called for an International Conference to solve the issue of Palestinian Statehood. Abbas wants to sideline the US and place power into the hands of more Palestinian friendly allies.

A conference is a good idea for the Palestinians.

Also on Tuesday, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokeswoman, gave a hint of what might be part of the US peace plan for the Palestinians. She said that other regional countries might be called upon to take a role in the peace process.

"If at some point we believe that other countries could be helpful to the peace process, we would certainly be willing to bring them in." ... "Is the time right for that right now? I'm not sure we've decided that, but that is certainly something that could happen in the future."

For a significant time smart analysts have said that one of the best ways to obviate Abbas' weak position would be to have regional countries support or accept the peace process so it does not appear as if Abbas is abandoning the cause by creating a deal with Israel.

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Israel Signs Deal to Sell Gas to Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli energy company Delek, which is owned by Nobel Energy, signed a $15 billion deal with Egypt to provide the Egyptians with natural gas over the next 10 years.

This is the largest contract yet for the off shore, natural gas fields that the Israelis tapped and have been operating since 2016.

Jordan also has an agreement with Israel. Israel will deliver natural gas in exchange for $10 billion over a 15 year period.

Israel is becoming a regional provider of natural gas. Arab nations are signing up for their natural gas. It is another one of those counter intuitive situations. Israel is now supplying the Arab world with energy.

Arab countries are already importing Israeli energy - other countries and other products are sure to follow.

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Iran's FM Says Myth Of Israell Shattered
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that when Hezbollah downed an Israeli F-16, it shattered the myth of Israel's invincibility. He said that now when Israel attacks its Arab neighbors the neighbors can attack and defeat them.

"Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors," Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference. He also accused Israel of "mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon."

According to Zarif, "Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes it's as if a disaster has happened."

In response to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's remarks after the Feb. 10 downing of the Israeli F-16 jet, Zarif had this to say: "What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility (of Israel) has crumbled."

Iran is stoking tensions with Israel in order to provoke responses in the Middle East. Israel needs to watch Iran very carefully.

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Bibi to Visit White House March 5
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The White House announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the Oval Office on Monday March 5. Netanyahu will be in DC for the Annual AIPAC Policy Conference.

This will be their 5th meeting since President Trump took office and the third meeting held in the White House. Netanyahu was one of the first foreign leaders to visit newly-elected President Trump. Their first meeting was in February, the second in May.

There was speculation that the White House was creating distance with Netanyahu because of the corruption investigations against him being conducted in Israel. Clearly, the speculation is inaccurate.

The White House said the meeting has nothing to do with internal Israeli issues. The White House does not alter its plans for such things. According to a White House Statement, "no impact on the content or timing of our plan that is currently being drafted."

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Oman FM Visits Al-Aqsa
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

I read with fascination about Foreign Minister of Oman Yusuf Bin Alawi's rare visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque (also known as the Dome of the Rock) and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The visit occurred while the Foreign Minister was visiting Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Abbas. Oman does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Both the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are within Israel.

Under normal circumstances this kind of trip would be coordinated through the Israeli Foreign Ministry. It was not the case with this visit.

Last week diplomats from Qatar and Kuwait visited the Mosque and last September a Qatari minister visited the mosque.

The head of the mosque, Omar al-Kiswani, told Reuters that the Omani's visit was "important, especially after Trump's decision, to support the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and to prove to the world that Arabs and Muslims stand with the Palestinians in the face of this decision."

Visits to the Mosque by Arab and Muslim leaders will be worth monitoring.

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Rouhani to India
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's President Rouhani has arrived in New Deli for a very unique diplomatic visit.

Iran wants India to invest in them - they are seeking billions of money from India.

Iranian Prime Minister Modi just returned from a trip to the Middle East and he did not visit Iran - instead Iran is visiting him.

The US is pushing hard to further isolate Iran and cut back on the now infamous nuke deal. They are lobbying India to back off any Iranian deal.

As soon as sanctions against Iran were lifted in 2015, India jumped in. They have invested over $20 billion in an Iranian sea port close to India. India has also invested in perto-industries and in infrastructure like trains and rails.

India is importing about $12 billion in oil from Iran and exporting only about $2 billion in goods to Iran.

India sees a real future with Iran - and they really need the oil.

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Tillerson in the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in the Middle East. The conflict between Israel and Syria which involved Iran and Russia is not making his trip any easier.

Tillerson kicked off his trip in Egypt. He will also visit Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The US has an uphill fight in the Middle East. The unusual dimension of this trip is that Tillerson will not visit Israel. He will be all around Israel, to the south and to the east. He will probably fly over Israel twice, but will not be stopping.

Bypassing Israel on this trip is probably in the best interest of the US diplomatic effort. But there is no way to uncouple Israel and the US, their friendship and links - especially after the announcement by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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Syria. Iran, Russia Proud they Downed Israeli F-16
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is planning to stay in Syria. They have been invigorated by the downing of an Israeli F-16.

Senior advisor to the Grand Ayatollah in Iran, Ali Akbar Velayati, said on Monday that the "Iranian presence in Syria will continue."

He continued: "The downing of the Israeli F-16 planes is an important milestone in the conflict with Israel," ... "Israel must know that every attack will get the same response, it is Syria's right. The axis of resistance will protect its sovereignty, and we will not remain silent to Israeli aggression."

Iran, Russia and especially Syria were shown that Israel is no longer untouchable. That will benefit all of them. The victory is mostly psychological.

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Poles Miscalculated
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

One of the results of the new Polish law restricting speech and prohibiting the use of the term "Polish Death Camp" is a backlash of anti-Semitism.

For example: A Polish radio journalist named Bogdan Zalewski posted on his facebook page: "Poles, we are at war! We are at war with the Jews! Not for the first time in our history." ... "We can find ourselves in a state of absolute isolation that completely exhausts us down to annihilation. In my opinion, it is necessary for Poles to be aware and to work on the development of the national spirit."

At war with the Jews!

Another TV host and guest called the Nazi camps Jewish Death Camps.

The anti-Semitism is becoming pervasive. Piotr Kadlick, a leader of the Jewish community, was quoted in JTA saying "In my worst nightmares I never expected to hear jokes about Auschwitz, Jews and gas chambers on state-owned television."

Much damage has been done as a result of this law. Poland did not anticipate the harsh worldwide response their law has received. Neither did they expect that Israel would have reacted so dramatically.

Poland miscalculated.

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Israel Iran in Conflict in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel was attacked - Israel struck back. That is the best way to begin to understand what happened on the morning of Saturday, February 10th. Two incidents occurred on that morning.

Here are details about those incidents.

Incident #1: In the early hours of the morning an Iranian drone (UAV) crossed into Israel and was shot down by an Israeli Apache helicopter.
Incident #2: The IDF dispatched four F-16s to strike the fourteen targets in Syria responsible for the launch.

Israel needed to thread the needle and make certain not to hit Russian forces headquartered in the same locations as the Syrians. After
accomplishing the mission the four F-16s returned to Israeli airspace.

Back over Israeli airspace and flying high in altitude in relaxed mode, one F-16 was hit by an S-5 missile. The S-5 was fired by a Syrian anti-air battery operating Russian equipment. The two Israelis in the F-16 ejected and landed in Israel. The plane crashed in the Western Galilee near Shfaram.

The plane would never have been hit had it been flying lower and at a greater speed.

The Iranian drone was a re-engineered version of the US drone that was hijacked in 2011 and brought to Iran. Iran renamed it the US RQ-170. It was intended to be Iran's secret weapon.

It is a stealth UAV that was supposed to be undetectable to defense systems - especially radar. But Israel immediately discovered the UAV. They traced it back to its source which was Camp T-4, an Iranian and Russian military base in Syria.

The US version of the drone was an RQ-170 Sentinel by Lockheed Martin. Its wingspan is 65 ft and it stands 6 feet high and is about 15 feet from front to back. To be operated, the drone requires three people from its base.

There has been extensive coverage of the F-16 crash, the collection of remaining plane parts and the status of the crew.

There has been no information on the drone.

The drone will be examined and the United States and Israel will share intel about the differences between the original RQ-170 Sentinel and the US RQ-170 Sentinel.

Putin and Netanyahu spoke immediately afterward the incidents. They seem to be on the same page.

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Russia Explains US Motives
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Russian defense ministry released a statement yesterday that gave insight into the way Russia views the US and their role in Syria. According to the statement Russia is convinced that the real goal of the United States is to gain economic assets in Syria.

These statements are being released as tensions in Syria rise. Airstrikes on both sides are escalating. Syrian forces are hitting US allies and US allies are hitting Assad allies affiliated with Russia.

The US attacked Assad strongholds yesterday. At the same time Russia hit ISIS and other rebels challenging Assad's control in Syria.

The situation in Syria is safer and more in control than they were before - there are bigger issues at stake. Russia and the US are vying for control.

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Iran Guards Divest From Oil Holdings
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is demanding that all government agencies divest from all oil holdings. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are major shareholders in Iranian oil as are other Iranian groups.

"Not only the Social Security Organization but all government sectors, including banks, have to divest their business holdings, and this is the only way to rescue the country's economy," Rouhani said. "Government officials, non=government institutions and the armed forces and others -- everyone has to divest their commercial businesses."

There has been popular blowback against Iranian leadership. The major complaint is that the economy has not improved over the past 5 years, ever since the more liberal Rhouhani has been in power. Frustration has grown even more intense since the famous Nuke Deal was signed in March of 2016.

After the deal, sanctions were lifted on Iranian oil exports - but the Iranian economy was unaffected because the money was kept internally.

This policy should open the Iranian oil market to outside investment. And that may just dramatically improve the economy.
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Abbas Says Only We can Sign a Treaty
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is continuing his opposition to US policy. Abbas continues to attack the United States by saying that the US cannot force them into an agreement and that the US is not to be trusted as an honest mediator.

While delivering a speech Abbas said that the US cannot force the Palestinians to sign a peace deal. That they cannot impose a peace treaty.

Abbas held up his pen as a prop and said "this is our pen and we are the only ones who can sign."

It was an effective metaphor and strong symbolic gesture.

Abbas continued on saying that the Palestinians will only sign a deal if it includes a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and with East Jerusalem as the capital. It should include all the areas within in the pre-'67 borders.

Abbas is also facing charges that he wire tapped his opponents and allies in order to keep tabs on them. The surveillance was done by the CIA and the intelligence was handed over to Abbas.

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ISIS Attacking Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS is on the run - but they are still extremely lethal.

ISIS has moved out of Syria and Iraq and now has a stronghold in the mountain area along the Iranian-Iraq border. This is Kurdish area.

The area is very difficult to access. It is extremely secure because of numerous caves. Locals have actually renamed the area Tora Bora after Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Afghanistan.

From this secure location ISIS has been regularly striking against Iranian forces using raids and suicide bombers.

Lethal, extremely lethal.

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Abbas Will Ask UN for Recognition
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Word is that Palestinian President Abbas is going to ask the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly to recognize the State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.

This is another Palestinian mistake. There is no possible way this will pass in the Security Council.

The General Assembly, however, is another game entirely.

The General Assembly will almost certainly support the Palestinian proposal. Even so, that decision will have no legal status. It will be a public relations victory for the Palestinians, nothing more.

Abbas' request will isolate other critical parties when it comes to other resolutions. Israel, the United States and every country that believes that a resolution between Palestinians and Israelis requires negotiation - not a proclamation, will be enraged by this move within the UN.

Consider this to be another in a series of Palestinian diplomatic errors.

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Hamas Smuggles Explosive into Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Kerem Shalom is the commercial border crossing between Israel and Gaza.
Kerem Shalom is the path through which thousands of trucks travel from Israel into Gaza delivering essential goods - including medicine clothes and food.

And it is through that crossing that Hamas continually attempts to smuggle in contraband. All kinds of contraband - including building materials that can be used to make tunnels and even explosive materials - as they attempted to do this morning.

Early Sunday, at the Kerem Shalom border, Israel discovered explosive supplies hidden in a medical supplies shipment.
Unfortunately this is typical.

Using supplies whose purpose is to heal civilians as cover for material that will murder innocents is a tactic often utilized by Hamas.

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Iran Expanding Influence
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian leadership has made it clear that they are regional leaders and they do not plan on backing down because of international pressure.

The advisor to the Grand Ayatollah Khamenai, Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted in the official news agency Fars saying: "Iran's influence in the region is inevitable and to remain a key player in the region, this influence will continue ..."

He continued: "Iran has no intention to abandon the oppressed nations in the region ... Our presence in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon is in coordination with the governments of these countries."

Iran is bringing it's A game to the region. They are expanding their influence.

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Jewish 8 yr Old Attacked in France
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

An eight year old Jewish boy in France was beaten up and kicked by a gang. He was wearing a kippah. It was a hate crime.

The French president, Emanuel Marcon, tweeted: "Each time a citizen is attacked because of his age, appearance or religion, it is the whole nation that is attacked."

There has been a worrisome rash of anti-Semitism in Europe. Combine that with threats of terror in France and attacks against the Jewish community and individual Jews and the situation is extremely dangerous.

French political leadership always says the right things. The police are starting to take all that is happening more seriously. There is a real risk that this targeting of Jews is on the upswing.

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Louvre Displaying Nazi Looted Art
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Louvre, that famous museum in France, has hung 31 paintings in their main exhibit that were all looted by the Nazis between 1940 -1945, when they controlled France.

Of the 45,000 pieces of art that were looted by the Nazis, some 2,000 pieces remain unclaimed. Most of the artwork was looted from Jewish families.

Over the years there has been a negative - almost evil, narrative in which renowned museums were thought to have profited from looted art. They displayed them and had them as part of their collections knowing that the provenance of Nazi looted art was questionable.

In some cases museums even argued in court against Jewish families and claimed that they were the true owners.

This is a very real and genuine move by the Louvre to help resuscitate the reputations of museums that have looted art in their collections.

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IDF Publishes Column in Arab Press
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The IDF spokesman, Brigadier General Ronen Menalis, wrote a column that was published and then broadcast in multiple Arabic media outlets in Lebanon and Israel - including Al Masdar, Sputnik, The Voice of Lebanon and Israeli Arabic radio.

In the column Menalis wrote that Lebanon has become a launching pad for Iran and Hezbollah and that Israel will not let that continue.

"Through the actions and inaction of the Lebanese authorities, Lebanon is turning into one big missile factory while much of the international community looks the other way. It's no longer about transfers of arms, money or advice. De facto, Iran has opened a new branch, the Lebanon branch -- Iran is here ... Iran and Hezbollah are currently trying to build a precision missile factory."

The IDF spokesman continued.

"One of every three or four homes in southern Lebanon is a command post, position, weapons warehouse or hiding place for Hezbollah. We know these assets and will know how to attack them accurately if necessary. The future of the people of Lebanon is to be pawns in the hands of the dictator from Tehran. Those same heads of villages, towns, cities and government institutions who see what is going on and say nothing are also to blame."

The response from Hezbollah was expected. They called the premise of the column arrogant and said that Hezbollah would be able to defeat the Israeli Army.

Menalis is convinced that Southern Lebanon is a powder keg about to explode and responsibility for the explosion lies with those who let it happen.

The message was heard - but it will not be heeded.

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Jordan's King Says East Jerusalem to Be Palestinian Capital
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

As promised, the United States delivered the last batch of 12 black hawk helicopters to Jordan as part of a plan to bolster Jordanian troops and security and help them better defend themselves against Islamic extremists like al Qaeda and ISIS.

It was no surprise that Jordan's King Abdullah announced that he affirms his support for the only peace solution possible in his eyes... a two state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State.

"I think our views on Palestine and Jerusalem are well known to you," the Jordanian king told the German president on Sunday. "We do believe in a two-state solution, with (East) Jerusalem as a capital for the Palestinians."

The king of Jordan has made himself perfectly clear. It is his belief that the best solution to the Palestinian / Israeli problem is for East Jerusalem to become the capital of the Palestinian State and West Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Most Israelis would agree with this plan - so would the United States.

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Israel to Give Electricity to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel Water Authority just agreed to supply Gaza with electricity to run their two sewage treatment plants.

The agreement between the Water Authority and the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company is in stages. First, three megawatts for the sewage treatment center in Northern Gaza and then, later on, a treatment center in Southern Gaza will get fueled.

The new centers are part of a $75 million project funded by the World Bank and other donor countries. It should be completed in March.

Israel is also providing 1.5 mega watts of electricity for a $40 million desalination plant that is being built by the EU.

Israel is in a pickle. Despite Hamas' constant state of war, it is in Israel's best interest to clean up the sewage of Gaza. Gaza sewage has been dumping into the Mediterranean Sea polluting Israel's beaches and contaminating the water sources. It's a serious problem and has been going on for way too long.

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Lorde Heckled by Pro Israel Fan
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Several weeks ago, New Zealand pop star Lorde canceled a concert scheduled to take place in Israel. The BDS inspired cancellation caused quite an uproar.

Yesterday Lorde was in NYC at a benefit for Ally Coalition, an organization that defends and supports the LGBTQ community. Lorde told the crowd how nice they were for gathering together in support of such a great cause.

A heckler shouted out that there are nice people in Israel, too. The heckler was shouted down with obscenities and finally with "F---- the negativity."

According to Variety, Lorde then added: "I'm sure the Israeli people are very nice and I can't wait to meet them one day."

The BDS movement convinced Lorde to cancel her Israeli concert. It was a big deal in the entertainment world and a big victory for BDS.

Lovers of Israel will not forget that Lorde buckled under BDS pressure.

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Iran - Woman Uses Headscarf as Flag
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

During the protests in Iran a young woman jumped up on a telephone box and slowly took off her white head dress, her hijab. She tied the hajib on a black stick and started waving it like a flag. This was a massive move of defiance against a regime that has, since 1979, required women to cover their hair.

Twitter and social media lit. The incident was first tweeted by Armin Navabi, he posted the video of the woman and wrote: "This woman in #Iran took off her #Hijab to protest the mandatory Islamic dress code imposed on Iranian women. #IStandWithHer #IranProtests #Islam."

The woman seen waving her scarf has disappeared. A new hastag, #Where_Is_She, is dedicated to finding her. Through social media it has been determined that the woman was 31 years old and the mother of a 19 month old child.

According to another tweet she was reportedly arrested on Dec 27, released and then rearrested.

For many, this woman has become the symbol of Iran's protests.

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Al Qaeda - Use Cars to Murder Jews
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Al Qaeda leadership is calling on Muslims around the world to attack Jews with knives and cars and all other weapons, including burning their homes. That should come as no surprise.

The number two in Al Qaeda of the Arabia Penninsula (AQPA), Khaled Batarfi, went on TV and delivered an 18 minute appeal to every Muslim.

"The Muslims inside the occupied land must kill every Jew, by running him over, or stabbing him, or by using against him any weapon, or by burning their homes." "Our duty towards our Jerusalem."

He said: "Every Muslim must know that the Americans and the disbeliever West, and on top of them Britain and France, are the original reason behind the existence of the Jews in Palestine."

This is a classic example of extremist Islamic leadership stoking flames of anger and murder. Unfortunately, this leadership is predictable. The real impact of Batarfi's message is on impressionable masses.

The masses are not hearing alternative voices or even condemnations of Batarfi.

That is the real problem.

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Drug Smuggling inIsrael
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Drugs are an epidemic in Israel.

Most of the drugs in Israel are either created there, grown there or smuggled in over the borders of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or Egypt.

Yesterday a drug smuggler was shot to death on the Egyptian Israeli border. The 25 year old Israeli was shot by other drug smugglers - Egyptians across the border.

Israel is clamping down on cross border drug smuggling. These smugglers are highly sophisticated and efficient. They are also deadly and like drug dealers everywhere, they are ruthless.

There is cooperation between Egyptians and Israelis when it comes to drug smuggling. Bottom line is this - drug smuggling is a business transaction.

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Abbas Asks EU to Recognize Paelstinian State
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in Brussels at the monthly meeting of the European Union.

Abbas is asking the EU to support and recognize the Palestinian State. It is his response to US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Neither the EU nor any of the foreign ministers present at the meeting will support such a drastic move. While EU members already recognize Palestine, each and every one of them knows that a state requires borders and that those borders must be established, set and coordinated through direct negotiations with Israel.

Otherwise, it is simply rhetoric.

The Palestinian Authority is overreaching in every step they take. It is a pitiful play. If they continue on at this rate, the PA will move themselves out of the game as players.

Immature moves have repercussions. More mature minds and more mature leadership need to step in to make decisions and represent the PA. If that happens, they may be able to save the PA from themselves.

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Turks March on Kurds
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish tanks have crossed the border into Syria. Turkish forces are marching on Kurdish enclaves in Syria. The Turkish air force reports that they struck 153 Kurdish targets.

These are the same Kurds that have just received US support and weapons.

The Turks went ballistic when the Kurds received the US aid. Now they are claiming that the United States is supporting terrorists. They have announced to the Kurds that they cannot depend on US assistance to help them.

The French have asked Turkey to withdraw their forces. Even the Iranians issued a statement on Sunday asking the Turks to quickly conclude their operation explaining that the Turkish presence may stimulate more terror and extremism in Syria.

Turkey sees the Kurds as enemies and terrorists and are insulted that the United States has lent them assistance. The Turks want to squash the Kurds.

Turkish President Erdogan has promised to expand operations in Kurdish controlled areas in Syria. He will probably finish this operation, withdraw and then attack again soon.

The conflict is increasing in intensity. This flash point is not going to disappear in the near future.

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When Will The US Move the Embassy
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Prime Minister Netanyahu committed a faux pas when he made a public statement claiming that the United States will complete the transition and move their embassy to Jerusalem within the year.

President Trump responded that it will take time and that it will not be within the year.

The prime minister's office has now back peddled and released the following statement:

"Obviously the building of a new embassy takes years, but the prime minister believes that the US is considering construction steps which will likely to see the opening of the embassy in a short timeframe."

According to reports by The New York Times and i24News, the United States embassy in Israel will open in Jerusalem in 2019. That was also confirmed by sources in the State Department and the White House.

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Israel Pursues Justice
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is working hard to clamp down on violent, criminal and racist attacks against Palestinians.

Some of these attacks are known as "price tag" attacks against Arabs. The term is a Hebrew expression for a retaliatory strike. These attacks are payback for attacks against Israeli Jews. Most recently there has been graffiti on cars and the slashing of tires in Arab villages. The graffiti reads "Arabs out."

Police are investigating the incidents and will catch and charge those responsible for the crimes.

On that point, this week Israel finally successfully extradited Yehoshua Elitzur from Brazil. Elitzur was found guilty of murdering a Palestinian and fled the country before his sentencing in 2004. He will now serve his sentence in Israel.

These are important illustrations of how Israel is trying to tamp down on extremists, including Israeli extremists. Israel really is a society of law where Arabs are equal citizens.

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US Says 73% Terrorists Are Foreigners
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:


The US Department of Homeland Security released a series of frightening numbers about terrorists.

The most shocking number is that of all those convicted of terrorism in the US, 73% are foreigners.

Over the past year (2017), 2,500 people on the terror watch list were stopped at airports across the US. That averages out to about 7 per day.

The DHS said that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The 10 page report showed that over the past 6 years more than 370,000 people who were deported from the US had felony convictions and 2 had two non-felony convictions.

The report also disclosed that some of the worst traditions from elsewhere in the world are taking hold in the United States. These traditions violate US law and are anathema to the freedoms enshrined in US culture, society and law. Here's an example: there have been 27 honor killings in the US and 1,500 forced marriages.


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Palestinians Renege on Israel Recognition
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:


The Palestinian Central Committee is the arm which creates policy for the PLO. The Committee has voted to renege on the 1993 Oslo Accords, the agreement that recognizes Israel and advances the proposition of a two-state solution. The vote was 74 in favor, 2 opposed and 12 abstentions.

The Palestinians are breaking off all interaction and relationships with Israel - including security cooperation.

The resolution, which is binding, "mandates the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee to suspend recognition of Israel until it recognizes the state of Palestine, cancels the decision to annex east Jerusalem and stops settlement activity."

The resolution also demands that Israel return to the 1967 borders and pursues the Arab peace initiative.

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Abbas Slaps Trump Hard
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

One of the ugliest, yet non-crude Arabic curses, is "may your house come to ruin."

That is what Palestinian President Abbas wished upon US President Donald Trump yesterday at the two day conference about Jerusalem taking place in Ramallah.

Abbas said that he found out about the US pulling their United Nations aid to the Palestinians from a tweet. Abbas said: "I see a tweet on Twitter." He said the tweet read: "'We will not give the Palestinians money because they refuse to negotiate." And then, referring to Trump, Abbas continued by saying: "May your house come to ruin. Where did you offer that to me? On the phone? On television?"

Abbas then explained why Jerusalem is important to Islam by saying it was the first direction of prayer. That is true. But what Abbas did not explain is that the prophet Mohammed turned his back on Jerusalem when the Jews rejected his prophecy.

Abbas said "True, Jerusalem does not have the Kaaba (a structure in Mecca considered the holiest site to Islam), but it is the first direction for prayer and the third holiest site to Muslims."

"Jerusalem is our eternal capital," Abbas declared, "come what may. It is for this reason that we are gathered here - to defend it. We're in a sensitive position. What can we comprise on later? The state itself? Abu Dis as capital? We're done. Here we stay. We will not make the mistakes of the past - of 1948 and 1967 - again. Jerusalem and al-Aqsa, of which Mohammad spoke, are one of the holiest sites after Mecca and Medina."

The Palestinians are trying to stoke the flames of conflict. They want people to get excited. They are rejecting past agreements and past proposals. Abbas is r-writing the playbook on peaceful negotiations and diplomacy.


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Rouhani & Trump on the Nuke Deal
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

There's been a back and forth volley going on about the Iranian nuclear deal lately.

US President Trump has called on the major powers who signed the deal to "fix the terrible flaws" in the agreement. He even gave them an ultimatum, saying that they need to fix it or the United States will withdraw from the agreement.

Iranian President Mohamed Rouhani shot back on Iranian TV. He said that the United States was unsuccessful at torpedoing the agreement which he called a "long lasting victory" for Iran.

Rouhani said: "The American administration has failed to undermine the nuclear deal ... Trump, despite his repeated efforts, has failed to undermine the accord ... The deal is a long-lasting victory for Iran."

This is just the beginning of tensions.

President Trump is committed to improving the agreement. The other powers and Iran are satisfied with the agreement.

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Putin Complements Kim Jong Un
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Russia's President Vladimir Putin complemented North Korea's Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un. He called Kim Jung competent and mature and added that Kim Jong was handling a complex global situation in a calm and mature manner.

These are Putin's exact words: Kim Jong Un "is an absolutely competent and already mature politician" who has "solved his strategic task - he has a nuclear warhead and a global-range missile." Putin continued on, saying that Kim Jong is "cleaning up the situation, smoothing it, calming it."

This is a perfect Putin moment. What Russia's leader is really doing is complementing the North Korean leader on how he is handling Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America. It is also a direct attack against Trump.

Trump and Kim Jung have been flamboyantly bickering ever since Trump assumed the presidency. The exchange got so wild that there were those who thought it may lead to military, perhaps even nuclear, attacks or even war.

And in the end who is the calming force? In Putin's eyes the responsible, mature leader is Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

This is not just an attack on Trump, it is also a way of buttering up Kim Jong for something important in the very near future.


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Iran FM Visits Moscow
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

No surprise - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif traveled to Moscow to meet with his counterpart, Sergey Levrov.

The obvious reason for the meeting was to discuss the now infamous Iran nuke agreement, from the spring of 2015, between Iran and the P-5 + 1.
Both Iran and Russia support Assad and want him in place, so they certainly discussed that, too. But it's the nuke deal that was primary on the Iranian agenda.

Since the US presidential election a year ago, the White House has been saying that they want to scrap the agreement. It was part and parcel of the Trump Platform. Candidate Trump called it "the worst deal ever" and "the worst deal in history."

Iran received assurances from Moscow that they would defend the agreement and they would fight against the "destructive policies" of the United States. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov praised the now infamous agreement calling it the "key contribution to the regional stability and nuclear non-proliferation."

So again, it's no surprise that Iran and Russia are in cahoots when it comes to Syria and when it comes to boxing in the United States in the Middle East.

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Mossad Head Says They're Watching Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The head of the Israeli Mossad, Yossi Cohen, addressed a finance ministry conference the other day.

Cohen spoke about Iran and the political protests there. He said: "We have eyes and ears and more than that in Iran." He continued to say that while the protest movements are welcome, we should not expect to see real change in Iran.

Obviously Israel is monitoring the happenings in Iran from the outside and the inside. They have assets, not agents, there. Agents in Iran would be too risky. But more important than assets, Israel has computer technology that spies on almost everything in Iran.

Remember the Stuxnet virus that invaded Iran? There were at least four other viruses like Stuxnet that have invaded Iran. Those viruses give Israel real insight into what is happening.

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Elections in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Egyptian Election Authority announced that the presidential election will take place March 26 - 28. If no candidate garners 50% of the votes there will be a runoff April 19 - 21.

Egyptian President al Sisi was elected 4 years ago. Even though elected, al Sisi took office by ousting the duly elected President Morsi who was part of the Muslim Brotherhood. A cloud has been hanging over al Sisi's presidency, he was originally elected with nearly no opposition.

All Sisi has yet to declare for the upcoming election, but it seems clear that other potentially viable candidates are feeling pressured to stay out of the election.

Egypt is a pseudo-democracy and the obvious question now is how free the election will be. Not whether people will be able to vote - but will candidates be able to stand for election.

The most important rule in fledgling democracies is that all democratic parties and all people who represent democratic ideas be permitted the chance to stand for election. Non-democratic voices and parties must be sidelined.

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Iran To Stop Teaching English
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has banned teaching English in elementary schools. The decision was made by the Supreme Leader the Grand Ayatollah Khamenai.

Iranian leadership sees English as a jumping board to assimilation and as an open invitation for Western culture to enter Iran. The response is to shut down what the Grand Ayatollah terms the "cultural invasion."

Mehdi Navid Adham, speaking for the ministry of education, described the logic behind the policy of rejecting the teaching of English in Iran this way: "Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations."

Iranian leadership may be correct regarding cultural assimilation. But from the technological, scientific and medical vantage point, it will thrust Iran backwards. In as little as 15 years Iranians will not be able to compete on the world stage in any science, computer or technology related field.

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Rift in Gaza Over Prayer
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

A massive rift is emerging in Gaza - and it is had nothing to do with politics. This rift is over morning prayer.

Muslims pray 5 times a day. The first prayer is said at dawn. It is called "fajr" which means dawn. A committee of religious leaders thinks that the fajr has not been well attended and have decided to start a Gaza-wide campaign to change the situation. They are waking up all of Gaza for dawn prayers.

For the daily wakeup call they are not only using loudspeakers from the mosque as is traditionally done, but they are making them even louder and they are adding drums to the call to prayer.

There has been serious blowback, even from several Islamic scholars, who say that it is against Islamic law to annoy people.

Abdel-Bari Khela, a mufti, an imam and a very influential scholar of Islam, explained that while the fajr is very important, so is protecting people's sleep and not annoying them and this intrusion into their daily lives could backfire. He said, "The banging will awaken children and it will cause confusion."

Khela issued an Islamic ruling about the importance of prayer and going to the mosque at dawn. He also said that it is against Islam''s instructions to "annoy" people. He said that there are two traditional calls of prayer issued from the mosque, known as "azans," according to the instruction of Islam and you are not to add to them and disturb people.

"Replacing them with illegitimate means such as drums, music and loud sound that makes noise is illegal. If it leads to harm like annoying people or disturbing them, this is forbidden."

Filling the mosques at dawn is now a policy of the government. The ministry of religious affairs in Gaza has chosen to become involved and is sponsoring the early wakeup, so it has now become political. More people will be coming to dawn prayers but the inevitable outcome is that even more people will be angered.

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Texas Imam Calls to Kill Jews
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

An Imam from Houston named Raed Saleh Al-Rousan used his radio show as a forum to call on Muslims to kill Jews - and did not realize it was offensive. Al-Rousan is the founder of an Islamic institute in Houston. He did not think it was issuing a a call for violence until some of his colleagues explained it to him.

Al-Rousan said, "[Judgement Day] will not come until Muslims fight the Jews there, in Palestine"in a Dec. 8 sermon titled "Our duties towards Al-Quds [Jerusalem]."

The he quoted from the Koran saying: "The Muslims will kill the Jews, and the Jews will hide behind the stones and the trees, and the stones and the trees will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'" He then added that "this is the promise of Allah."

The Imam continued: "The Muslims will have victory. [Jews] know these facts, brothers and sisters, but they are trying to delay it...because they don't want for us to be religious."

It is hard to imagine that anyone would not see this as a call to violence.

The Imam was mistaken in his words and in his sentiment. I would hope that the federal prosecutor investigates the Imam for hate speech and as a threat to murder Jews.

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Iranian Terror Cell in West Bank
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli internal security, the Shin Bet, uncovered an Iranian terror cell.

The Israeli daily Haaretz published a groundbreaking piece that describes how Iran recruited Palestinians through contacts in South Africa.

In South Africa, the Palestinian recruit would meet Iranian agents and get their orders. The recruit would then go back to the Palestinian Authority and organize a cell with the money and the information received from their recruiters and handlers in South Africa. The cells included suicide bombers, snipers and general shooters.

Recruits were responsible for two important missions. The first is intelligence. The recruits were clearly delivering important data to Iran. Second, they were responsible for activating real terrorists to act and attack Israelis.

This is just one of many Iranian ventures that, we’re sure, are out there.

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England Wants Iran to Debate their Differences
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

In response to the demonstrations against the leadership in Iran, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said, through her spokesman, that Iran should talk these issues through.

"We believe there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues that the protesters are raising, and we're looking to the Iranian authorities to permit that."

The logic behind the British call for debate is - laughable.

There is no way that any of the sides in Iran want to discuss anything. The protesters want change and the supporters of the Theocratic regime want everyone to conform.

There really are no grounds for compromise here.

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Iran Has Tradition of Protests
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has a great tradition of protests and rallies. These protests do not often make it into Western the news cycle. But when it comes to Iranian anti-government protests, the Western media is on top of the story.

Protests have continued popping up in dozens of cities and towns. Some of the protests have tens of thousands of people. So far Iranian leadership has not clamped down on the protest.

Iranian leadership needs to figure out how and when to quell the protests. Will their actions stimulate more protests and more protesters? If they crush the rallies, what backfire might they expect?

Iran is a society that is hard to track. While there are a significant number of people who want to oust the religious theocracy, there are also those who participate in counter protests supporting the government and the theocratic regime.

How is the population split? Is it 60%40%? 50%-50%? 55%-45%? Iran would like us to think that it is 90%-10%.

We really do not know.

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Putin Tells Assad Russia will Protect Him
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Putin sent a New Year message to Syrian President Assad. The content of the message was delivered by the Kremlin.

The Kremlin promised Assad that they will "continue to render every assistance to Syria in the protection of state sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, in the promotion of a political settlement process, as well as in efforts to restore the national economy."

This note, now made public, is an essential tool to understanding Russia's future interest and directions in Syria.

Russia is investing in Syria for the long haul.

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Revolution May be Starting in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There are signs of revolution in Iran.

Every year since 2009, a series of rallies take place in various cities throughout the Islamic Republic. The rallies commemorate the Green Revolution that almost ousted the theocracy.
This year is different.

The rallies are becoming protests. They pop up with more and more people, thousands and sometimes even tens of thousands, in attendance. They pop up simultaneously in dozens of cities and towns, big and small, across Iran.

Watching videos of the rallies is impressive. Throngs of mostly young Iranian males are gathering and Iranian leadership is not pleased. Iran is attempting to stop the social media that promotes and then proudly showcases the events.

An interesting twist is that Iranian President Rhouhani spoke and said that Iran needs to focus on economics and internal issues, not Syria and Palestine. The president said that the real enemy of Iran is not the U.S. or Israel but is economics and the local issues surrounding Iran. By that he means Saudi Arabia.

This move away from tradition, propelled by the Iranian masses, may be just the opportunity Rhouhani needs. If he can grab on and ride the wave he may be able to move Iran in the direction he promised to take.

In the meantime, however, thousands of rally attendees have been arrested. Police are showing some restraint and not attacking the protesters, just arresting them. The demonstrators are shouting for economic opportunity.

Women in burkas have taken to the streets, as well. In their own separate, rallies, they too are asking for economic change.
In the next few days we will be able to determine if this is a massive movement or a passing fad.

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Protests in Iran - 1000 Arrested
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There were protests in Mashad, Iran yesterday. The protestors shouted "Death to the dictator", "Death to [Hassan] Rouhani", "Don't be afraid, we are together", "Not Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran." They also shouted "long live Reza." That is a shout for the Shah.

There are reports that Iran arrested 1000 protestors.

Mashad is the second largest city in Iran located in north east Iran.

The protests illustrate a real crack in the Iranian system, it proves that people are willing to go to jail in order to express their dissent against tyranny and religious dictatorship.

People who live in Iran and are willing to chant "Don't be afraid, we are together," "Not Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran" are not afraid of the consequences.

Even more and more people will attend the next protests - but there are only so many prisons in Iran.

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Russia to Sell Turkey S-400 Missiles
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russia and Turkey have come to an agreement. Russia will provide Turkey with 4 S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

The missile batteries will cost Turkey $2.5 billion. They will be delivered by 2020. Upfront, Turkey will have to pay 45% of the cost. The other 55% will be a loan repaid to Russia over time.

The West is not happy with this arms deal.

The S-400 is not on the NATO weapons list and so it does not fit into the NATO system. Turkey is a member of NATO and weapons lists are there in order to provide smooth transitions and an understanding between members.

Turkey is the first NATO nation to acquire the S-400. This might be a game shifter. The S-400 is Russias most highly developed surface-to-air missile system.

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PA Arrests Famous Arafat Crony
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

If you criticize Palestinian President Abbas or his government you can get arrested. If you are a public person who commands a following, your arrest is more than likely.

Mohammed al-Dayya, a retired Brigadier General in the Palestinian National Security, Service was arrested for his critique of Abbas.

Not only was he a general, al-Dayya was also Yasser Arafat's person security guard. Arafat went nowhere without al-Dayya.

The al-Dayya family was stunned by the arrest and issued the following statement: "we were surprised by the unfair and illegal arrest of our militant son, Brigadier General Mohammed al-Dayya, by the Palestinian military Intelligence Service four days ago."

There are serious doubts about whether the Palestinian Authority is a democracy.

This arrest once again proves that personal rights and democracy are not a foundation of the PA.

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Wall to Wall Support for Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Jerusalem is a hot button international issue these days.

In Israel, however, there is no debate about the status of the nation's capital. In Israel, there is wall to wall consensus item.

The leader of the Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, made the point clearly and succinctly. He said: "I will not negotiate over Jerusalem. We're better off with no peace agreement than with an agreement that divides Jerusalem."

Yesh Atid is a center left party that has marketed itself as the conscious of Israel. If Yair Lapid is so clear about Jerusalem, rest assured that most of Israel is of the same mind.

Right and left in Israel are all in favor of maintaining Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They all agree that Jerusalem should be the seat of all foreign diplomatic representations.

It is - simply put -- a no brainer.

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Guatemala to Move Embassy to Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Guatemala has announced that it is going to follow US President Trump's decision and move their embassy to Jerusalem.

Costa Rica and El Salvador once had their embassies in Jerusalem. Paraguay, Honduras and Guatemala had their embassies just outside Jerusalem in the city of Mivaseret Zion. By 2006, all of these countries had moved their embassies from the Jerusalem area to Tel Aviv to placate Yasser Arafat and the PLO.

At the time their move was a major blow to Jerusalem. But now it looks like some of those countries are starting to return.

Here is the Guatemalan announcement: "We spoke about the great relationships we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel. One of the most relevant topics was the return of the Embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem."

"I inform you that I have given instructions to the Chancellor [Foreign Minister] to initiate the process to make it possible. God bless you.:

Kudos to Guatemala for refusing to be intimidated by the PA, by the UN, by the overwhelming number of other countries, large and small, too scared to stand up for Israel and Jerusalem.

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Russia in Syria for Another 49Yrs
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Duma is the Russian parliament. Yesterday Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a resolution to the Duma and it passed hands down.

The Duma extended the Russian lease on their naval base in Syria for another 49 years.

The ramifications of that resolution are far reaching. Russia will be permitted to remain in Syria as a military force for decades. The resolution even enumerated the types of vessels that could be in port. It permits nuclear powered ships and subs.

The agreement was hammered out between Putin and Syrian president Bashar Assad.

In the end, it just needed to be ratified by the Duma.

All this is important. But even more importantly, this agreement shows that Putin and, by extension, Russia believe the person who makes decisions for the present and the future in Syria is Putin.

And it seems that Assad agrees.

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UN General Assembly Votes
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The UN is an institution that provides some essential services to needy people all over the world. It is also an institution fraught with problems.

The goings on in the General Assembly is a classic example. There are 193 member nations and 2 permanent observers in the GA. Of those, there are only about 15 real democracies and another 50 flawed democracies. The rest are authoritarian, autocratic regimes that include monarchies and dictatorships.

The decision by the General Assembly to vote on acknowledging Israel as the capital of Israel is a direct attack against the United States.

The US is correct to be insulted and it is understandable to want to "take names." There is no reason for the US to support countries that choose to publicly teach the United States a lesson.

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Abbas Visits Saudi King
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with the King and the Crown Prince.

Abbas was summoned by the Saudis to discuss President Trump's Jerusalem announcement. There is no way to know what went on in the meeting. But it is safe to say that the Saudis were there to give support and guidance. Most importantly, the Saudis probably spoke of their own proposal - the one which discusses Jerusalem.

The Saudi proposal suggests that Abu Dis, a village next to Jerusalem, become the capital of the Palestinian State.

Abu Dis is in Area B which is under Palestinian political control and Israeli military control. It is both in Jerusalem and not in Jerusalem at the same time. It is in Abu Dis that Arafat began building his parliament building.

The Saudis are going to give Abbas the coverage and protection he needs to start accepting these proposals and so as not to lose face with his own people back home in the West Bank.

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Miss Iraq & Miss Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 20,2017

I've Been Thinking:

It all started with a selfie at a Miss Universe competition. Miss Israel and Miss Iraq took a selfie during the pageant. The caption under their photo was about peace.

The picture went viral. And then Arabs around the world - especially in Iraq, went crazy. Miss Iraq's family has been threatened and they have escaped to the United States.

Miss Iraq tried to explain that she was not condoning Israel's actions or in any way abandoning the Palestinians.

Miss Iraq also posed in a bikini - that was another major problem.

Miss Israel and Miss Iraq continue to interact with each other.

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Turkey to Open East Jerusalem Embassy for Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, while delivering a speech, Turkish President Erdogan announced that he wants to open his embassy in East Jerusalem as a way to emphasize that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.

Erdogan's comments are a direct response to US President Trump's announcement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The announcement comes only days after Erdogan hosted a summit of 58 Muslim nations who condemned the Trump announcement.

So what does it really mean? Erdogan said that East Jerusalem already has a Turkish consulate general in East Jerusalem that is staffed by an ambassador. It should be easy to transition the office from a consulate to an embassy.

Erdogan said: "God willing, the day is close when officially, with God's
permission, we will open our embassy there."

Also yesterday, Iran issued a statement announcing that they have invited Palestinian President Abbas to visit later this week. Abbas' office denies that he received an invitation. Iran is trying hard to be a uniting force for Islam. At this point, Abbas is queasy about getting involved with Iran.


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Church Bombing in Pakistan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Earlier today a double suicide attack in a church in Pakistan killed 8 people and wounded 42. The numbers will continue to climb.

The BethEl Memorial Methodist Church was packed with nearly 400 people as services began. 2 suicide bombers entered the church and began shooting indiscriminately.

No one has yet to claim responsibility. Given the situation, the perpetrators were probably a branch of the Taliban in Pakistan called Jamaat ul Ahrar. But it could also be an ISIS group.

Pakistan is home to 3.5 - 4 million Christians of the total 200 million citizen population. They compose about 1.6 percent of the population.

Attacks against Christians are becoming more and more common - not just in Pakistan but throughout the world, especially the Islamic world.

More attention needs to be focused on these attacks. World leaders need to be influenced, even forces, to take the proper and necessary steps to protect their Christian populations.


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US Shoots Flares at 2 Russian SU-35s
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Two Russian fighter jet SU-25's crossed the de-confliction line - they crossed over into the section of the Euphrates River in Syria that has been designated the US side. They crossed back and forth several times.

The US warned the Russians to stop what they were doing, but they were ignored. Finally, the US launched F-22's to escort the Russian planes back over the Euphrates. The US fighter jets also shot flares at the Russian jets.

The incident was confirmed by US military leadership. The source also confirmed that a Russia SU -35 was also present. The entire episode only took a few minutes.

These conflicts provide important back-stories to the interplay between Russia and the United States in the political arena.

Tensions between Russia and the United States continue to ebb and flow.

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Muslim States Try to Take a Stand
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, in Istanbul, Turkish President Erdogan hosted a conference of the Organization of Islamic Countries.

57 Muslims countries came to the conference that was hailed as the "Extraordinary Session of the OIC." The purpose of the summit was to counter US President Donald Trump's announcement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

This summit denounced the Trump announcement as: "irresponsible, illegal and unilateral." The group said that the announcement was "null and void legally" and an attack on the rights of the Palestinians.

They participants said that President Trump actions are: "deliberate sabotage of all efforts to achieve peace, feeds extremism and terrorism and threatens global peace and security."

Sounds like pretty ominous responses - but in the end, all these statements by the OIC will amount to a big nothing.


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Muslim States Try to Take a Stand
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, in Istanbul, Turkish President Erdogan hosted a conference of the Organization of Islamic Countries.

57 Muslims countries came to the conference that was hailed as the "Extraordinary Session of the OIC." The purpose of the summit was to counter US President Donald Trump's announcement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

This summit denounced the Trump announcement as: "irresponsible, illegal and unilateral." The group said that the announcement was "null and void legally" and an attack on the rights of the Palestinians.

They participants said that President Trump actions are: "deliberate sabotage of all efforts to achieve peace, feeds extremism and terrorism and threatens global peace and security."

Sounds like pretty ominous responses - but in the end, all these statements by the OIC will amount to a big nothing.


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Israel Has New Tech to Discover Tunnels
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Ever wonder how Israel discovered not one but two terror tunnels crossing from Gaza into their sovereign land? The tunnels opened up well within Israel and were designed to enable Hamas and Islamic Jihad access in attacking Israelis and kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

Israel discovered the tunnels by using their new very unique technology. The system is called "the lab."

The lab harnesses human intelligence, scientific brain power, computers and other machinery and guides users to uncover tunnels. The lab uses an algorithm that literally takes all the guess work out of finding tunnels.

This is the first time In history that a mechanism has been developed to discover tunnels. It is pure math and science. In other words, the lab actually has done the impossible - it finds something that until now was undetectable.

Hamas is dumbfounded. . The lab is top secret. But it is certainly working. This new defense, when applied in full operation, will effectively protect Israel and destroy one of Hamas' most effective and aggressive weapons. There is no reason it cannot be used to discover Hezbollah's tunnels, too.

Hamas may be forced to prematurely use their incomplete tunnels to attack Israel before the tunnels are discovered. It is a risk Israel faces, but an unlikely one. Hamas does not want to escalate tensions with Israel at this time. But neither can they afford to just loose their investment in their tunnels. It is an issue of pride as well as money.

Given the effectiveness of the lab, Hamas will have to either ratchet up their tunnel use or throw in the towel and abandon it totally.

I predict Hamas will try one more time with their tunnels and then scrap tunnel warfare completely.

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Putin Spent the Day in the Mideast
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Putin spent yesterday in the Middle East. His first stop was Syria where he met with Assad and proclaimed victory over ISIS.

Then he flew to Cairo for important meetings with al Sisi. Along with their discussions, they signed an agreement to resume commercial flights between Russia and Egypt. Russia had cancelled all flights to Egypt after ISIS blew up a Russian charter plane as it reached altitude after taking off from a Sinai airport.

Putin ended the day in Turkey. There, he lashed out at Trump and the United States for the decision to recognize Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Putin said that this decision will derail any chance of a mutual Israel Palestinian agreement.

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Israel Destroys Another Terror Tunnel
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel destroyed a terror tunnel this weekend. The tunnel started in Gaza, crossed under the Israeli border and ended up several hundred yards into an Israeli agricultural area.

The tunnel was discovered almost two weeks ago and Israel has been monitoring all activities until they destroyed it. There was no one inside.

This tunnel is the second tunnel in a month that was destroyed. The previous tunnel was built by Islamic Jihad.

There were no weapons in the tunnel and it was destroyed very differently than others. It was not hit by missiles from the air but collapsed by ground equipment.

It appears that Hamas was aware that the tunnel was discovered because there was no real usage of the tunnel during the time that it was being monitored.

Only minutes before Israel destroyed the tunnel, Hamas made an announcement that Israel would pay a heavy price for their actions. The Hamas message said that Israel will soon be taught a lesson.

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