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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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Putin To Visit Egypt Ahead of Pence
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Much has been said about US Vice President Mike Pence's upcoming trip to the Middle East. President Trump mentioned it in his speech about
Jerusalem. Some Palestinians have proclaimed that the US VP is not welcome. Some have said that his meetings with Palestinian have been cancelled.

But here is a big surprise --- on Monday Vladimir Putin will visit Egypt for the day. He will meet with Egyptian President al Sisi. This is happening just days before US VP Pence will in Cairo.

Russia and Egypt just signed an agreement. The deal says that Russia will provide new fighter jets to outfit the Egyptian air force.

This agreement is significant in so many ways. Upgrading the Egyptian air force with Russian planes is a watershed. It brings Russia back in to the game. The original Egyptian air force is MiG based. So these new planes will augment the already Russia planes Egypt uses.

Putin and Sisi will discuss all the issues plaguing the Middle East especially ISIS and Syria.

This Putin visit will steal the thunder from Pence's visit.

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Trump on Jerusalem -- Some Agreed
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

He did it. Yesterday US President Trump announced that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Much of media focus immediately following the announcement centered on the negative including the potential negative reaction to the announcement.

They covered the threat of violence, days of rage, an act of war, unilateral steps by the United States that might damage the status of Jerusalem.

But there were also some very positive reactions to the announcement - and not just from Israel and lovers of Israel.

Kudos to the Philippines and the Czech Republic who decided to join the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital city.

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Trump Announces Jerusalem is the Capital
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

President Trump is threading the needle by announcing that the United States sees Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

It is actually not a real change at all. A US law, stating that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, has been around since 1995. It is called the Jerusalem Embassy Act of October 1995 and it passed by a vote of 93-5 in the Senate and 374 - 37 in Congress.

Fear of insulting the Arab and Muslim world has motivated US policy on Jerusalem for decades. It appears that President Trump is the first president in decades not to be afraid of ruffling these feathers.

President Trump is taking a calculated risk. There will be some flairs of displeasure but they will only be blips on the radar.

Trump is merely testing the waters by making the announcement. He is not moving the embassy. He is actually signing the waiver that has been signed every six months by every president before him since Bill Clinton.

If things go well, however, the embassy may indeed be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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Egypt Hitting Back at ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt killed 5 ISIS terrorists in a shootout yesterday. In follow-up raids the Egyptians arrested 6 other terrorists. They also confiscated bomb materials and weapons.

Egypt has increased the pressure on ISIS. The Egyptians are dedicating significant resources, in multiple fronts, to find, capture, try and at times even kill ISIS terrorists. They need the momentum to change in their favor - despite all their efforts, ISIS is winning.

Thus far in Egypt ISIS has had the upper hand. They have successfully been striking, at will, across the country. Egypt recognizes the importance of confronting ISIS. They are one of the few countries taking the threat to their very existence seriously. They are also front and center as targets of ISIS.

Few countries have suffered as much as Egypt.

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PA Editor Says No Difference Btw Israel and DC
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Nasser Laham, the editor-in-chief of Ma'an, one of the most important Palestinian media outlets, said that the Jews control Washington and that there is no difference between Washington and Tel Aviv.

"The Jews rule in Washington and the Jews rule in Tel Aviv. What's the difference?" said Ma'an News Agency editor-in-chief Nasser Laham on Saturday in a television interview on his agency's own channel,

"It's the same if we negotiate with them (i.e. Jews) in Washington or in Tel Aviv. It's the same framework."

In his diatribe Laham actually mentioned Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Tel Aviv, saying that Indyk has more control over Washington now that he is a private citizen than he did when he was ambassador.

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Saudis Attack Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi anti-Iranian rhetoric is on the upswing. This time, Saudi Arabia has taken aim at Hezbollah, the Iranian backed Shiite militia in Lebanon.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said that Hezbollah has hijacked Lebanon and Hezbollah must be disarmed. He said that as long as Hezbollah controls a huge militia Lebanon will be unable to be productive and creative.

"Lebanon will only survive or prosper if you disarm Hezbollah." Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a conference in Italy. "As long as you have an armed militia, you will not have peace in Lebanon."

"Since 1979, the Iranians have literally got away with murder in our region, and this has to stop."

Iran has used its minions to wreak havoc on the region - and one of their very loyal proxies is Hezbollah. Part of the Iranian agenda is to destabilize Sunni areas and then move in and stabilize them and institute Shiite control.

Obviously, Iran's objectives are in direct conflict with the vital interests of Saudi Arabia.

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Iran Sending Ships to Gulf of Mexico
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is sending warships to the Gulf of Mexico. They Iranians have issued this threat before and are bent on being at the doorstep of the US.

Over the past few years Iran has sent 47 flotillas in to international waters. One expedition took place last year when the Iranians successfully launched a fleet of naval ships into the Atlantic by sailing around the Horn of Africa. Now they are trying again.

"Our fleet of warships will be sent to the Atlantic Ocean in the near future and will visit one of the friendly states in South America and the Gulf of Mexico," Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was recently quoted by Iran's semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

The Iranians want to expand their influence across the world and that includes taking a much larger role in sea power.

Naval commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that "sailing in open waters between Europe and the Americas should be the navy's goal, which will be realized in the near future."

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Hamas Delays Gaza Turnover
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

December 1 is the scheduled day for the transition of power in Gaza.

On that day, Hamas is supposed to give over the reins of leadership to Fatah which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the West Bank. That means Fatah will take control of security. Taking responsibility for security involves disarming Hamas.

This is a big bone of contention.

On the one hand, Hamas does not want to disarm and on the other, Fatah cannot permit Hamas to be an independent military force in Gaza.

Early this morning Hamas asked to delay implementation of the agreement. In a message to the press they wrote: "Hamas and Fatah call on Egypt to postpone the transfer of power (in Gaza) from December 1 to December 10 to finalize certain provisions."

We'll see what happens. It's hard to imagine that what could not be accomplished by December 1st can be accomplished only 10 days later.

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Lebanon Claims Gal Gadot Mossad Agent
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This is a story for the history books.

A famous Lebanese actor Zaid Itani was arrested for spying for Israel and being in contact with a Mossad agent named Colette Vianfi. The story has been splashed all over the Lebanese press.

It all sounds like a Ken Follett spy novel.

Itani claims that Vianfi is Gal Gadot. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman - an Israeli model, now actress, whose face and body is known worldwide.

It is hard to tell if the Lebanese media is taking this seriously. They are covering it like they cover all other conspiracy ideas about Israel and the Mossad. But they need to know - especially the editorial leadership, that there is no possible way in the world that Gal Gadot is a spy for the Mossad.

Then again, some people actually might believe that Gal Gadot is a real Wonder Woman.

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Uber Shut Down in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Uber is no longer permitted to operate in Israel.

There are two reasons for that decision.

The first is that in order to take money from a passenger, the driver must have a taxi license - what is sometimes called a hack's license. Uber drivers do not have that license.

The second is that Uber does not insure their drivers and hence, they are endangering their passengers.

The judge hearing the case ruled that Uber may not drive a single passenger one single meter more in Israel. Uber has been irresponsible.

The judge also let the cab drivers association, which brought the suit against Uber, a tongue lashing. He said that change and progress is inevitable and the old taxi system needs to catch up and recognize the new ways.

The old time association will not succeed by simply stopping progress through suing.

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ISIS Warned Egyptian Town
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The town in which ISIS murdered 305 innocent people as they gathered in their Sufi mosque was warned in advance not to commemorate Mohammed's birth in their Sufi tradition.

ISIS views Sufi Muslims as heretics. The Sufi have a different view of Islam than does ISIS. The Sufi embrace a mystical aspect of Islam. In the eyes of ISIS any heretic should be executed - that includes Sufi Muslims.

The very same week of the attack, ISIS warned the Sufi Muslims in the town to stop collaborating with the Egyptian army.

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Arab Anti Terror Alliance
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia hosted an Anti-Terror Alliance in Riyadh. While all the members of the Alliance were not in attendance, 41 members of Muslim and Arab states did attend.

The Alliance was created and chaired by the Saudi Crown Prince who doubles as defense minister.

This was, in essence, a gathering of defense ministers and other intelligence and military leaders from the entire region.

The Saudi Crown Prince made it clear that terror has become a scourge on Islam, that terror is destroying the beauty of Islam. The Crown Prince said that: "The biggest danger of this terrorism and extremism is the tarnishing of the reputation of our beloved religion ... We will not allow this to happen ... Today we start the pursuit of terrorism and we see its defeat in many facets around, the world especially in Muslim countries .. We will continue to fight it until we see its defeat."

He said: "This is indeed a painful event and it is a recurrent and strong reminder [of] the dangers of this terrorism."

It is very important for us all to recognize that Muslim and Arab leadership has begun organizing in order to confront terror both inside the Muslim world and outside.

This Alliance is a significant step forward. Now we need to see if any real concrete coordination and activity emerges.

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ISIS Beheads 15 of their Own
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS beheaded 15 of its own members yesterday in Afghanistan.

A rash of internal fighting and disagreements has been plaguing ISIS and the Taliban. The exact relationship between the two groups is hard to configure. At times they work with each other, at other times they are at each other's throats.

This incident seems not to have been Taliban related, it was pure ISIS on ISIS violence. The area in which the beheading took place is known to be controlled by particularly brutal ISIS leadership.

Infighting with ISIS is frowned upon. Those who dare to question or challenge are often publicly murdered.

Not much is known about the details of the beheadings. We can only speculate.

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Saudi Officials Visit Synagogue
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Here's an exclusive from the Jerusalem Post.

This week two Saudi senior officials visited the Great Synagogue of Paris. One official was the former justice minister, the other the former education minister who is now the Saudi ambassador to France.

This was their first ever trip to a synagogue for both men and the first time an official Saudi personality has ever been welcomed to a great synagogue.

The pictures of the event show the Saudis listening and engaging intently as the Chief Rabbi and Jewish communal leaders spoke.

This could very well be a precursor to better relations between Jews and Saudi Arabia, it might signal a springboard to relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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Important Phone Calls
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

French President Macron spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. Macron also spoke with Iranian President Rouhani.

According to the French president's office, he spoke to both leaders about the same topic. They discussed the region and they especially discussed Lebanon.

It's pretty obvious that Macron discussed Israel with Iran and Iran with Israel. He is clearly trying to calm tensions in the region.

Also yesterday, US President Trump spoke by phone to Russian President Putin. The obvious topics spoken about during their conversation are fighting terror - especially ISIS, and the role of Iran in Syria.

These conversations between heads of state are encouraging. It looks like there is real progress on the world stage.

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Ancient Torah Scroll in Turkey Confiscated
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Ancient torah scrolls are extremely valuable. They fetch huge sums at auctions. More often than not, their "acquisition" is commissioned and the scrolls fall into the hands of collectors. That is a fancy way of saying that rare torahs are often commissioned to be stolen.

The provenance of torah scrolls can be tricky.

Yesterday Turkey confiscated a 700 year old torah scroll which was being auctioned in Mugla Province. The opening bid was supposed to be $1.9 million.

Turkish authorities did the right thing. Rather than letting the ancient scroll go to the highest bidder, they took it to a museum for evaluation.

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Israel's Contacts w Muslim Countries
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's contact with Muslim countries has been an open secret.
Yes, there are many countries that Israeli leaders and diplomats have interactions with. They share strategy and intelligence on terror and they cooperate against common enemies.

But seldom if ever is there any public acknowledgment of the relations and their productivity.

Until now. Israeli Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz spoke on Israeli Army Radio and admitted that the relationships are active. He said: "We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries, and usually (we are) the party that is not ashamed."

"It's the other side that is interested in keeping the ties quiet. With us, usually, there is no problem, but we respect the other side's wish, when ties are developing, whether it's with Saudi Arabia or with other Arab countries or other Muslim countries, and there is much more ... (but) we keep it secret."

So much for keeping it secret. And that is why it is called an open secret.

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Farrakhan: There are Some Good Jews
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Louis Farrakhan, the leader of a group he created and called the Nation of Islam - a personality cult revolving around Farrakhan and based on a combination of Christian and Muslim ideas, gave a speech recently in DC.

In his speech Farrakhan actually said that there are some good Jews.
Farrakhan, born Louis Wolcott, is one of the most boisterous anti-Semites in the US. He regularly preaches pure hatred against Jews.

In the hall, Farrakhan delivered his speech while standing next to a giant poster that appeared to be hawking a new book about how Jews control the world. The poster read, "The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Volume II: How Jews Gained Control of the Black American Economy."

He said "There are righteous Jews, good Jews, Jews that want to practice the teachings of the prophets," ... "But then there are others who don't wish to practice and it is they that hated Reverend Jackson's desire to be president."

This is not a significant change of attitude or doctrine, just a new line by a very gifted and dangerous speaker and entertainer.

Farrakhan is now 84 years old. He spoke for over two hours about his ideas on conspiracy and race. He is still strong and powerful and for his many followers, his ideas still resonate loudly.

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German Court Bans Israelis from Kuwaiti Air
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A federal district court in Frankfurt ruled that Kuwaiti Air was permitted to ban Israelis from their flights.

The case in point centered on an Israeli flying from Frankfurt to Bangkok on Kuwaiti Air. The flight would touch down in Kuwait City and then continue on to Bangkok.

The airline argued that they would be subject to fines and even imprisonment for permitting an Israeli to board. The Israeli argued that it was discrimination based on the fact that he was Israeli.

The court ruled that German law does not recognize discrimination based on nationality only by race, religion and ethnicity.

French, Swiss and US courts disagree. They held that the situation was indeed discriminatory and issued policies to airlines that they cannot fly out of their airports if they practice discrimination - regardless of local laws.

In this case the mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, condemned the ruling saying, "An airline that practices discrimination and anti-Semitism by refusing to fly Israeli passengers should not be allowed to take off or land in Frankfurt."
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Iran & Hezbollah Invent History
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian President Rouhani said on Iranian national TV that Saudi Arabia begged Israel to attack Lebanon.

He said: "It is very reprehensible and shameful for a Muslim country in the region to beg the Zionist regime to bomb the people of Lebanon."

He continued by attacking Crown Prince bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. He said: "It is unprecedented in history for a Muslim country to take such measures, and this indicates the immaturity of the individuals, who have come to power in those countries."

Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah continued on the same theme saying: "Saudi Arabia is inciting Israel to launch a war against Lebanon. I speak here about facts, not analysis. Saudi Arabia is ready to pay tens of billions of dollars to Israel for that." Nasrallah also said that Israel is helping Al Nusra and Al Qaeda in Syria. He claimed that Israel was trying to create a civil war in Lebanon. He said "Israel is trying to incite a civil war."

Iran and Hezbollah are making up facts in order to convince their populations and continue their thesis. That should be obvious to all.

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Russia Says US Protecting ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Tensions between Russia and the US are emerging. In fact, the Russian Ministry of Defense recently attacked the US claiming that the United States is providing cover for ISIS.

As part of their attack against the United States, Russia is claiming that the US is only pretending to fight ISIS. Specifically, they are saying that the US air force stopped Russian strikes against the ISIS town of Albu Kamal in Syria.

The Ministry statement said: "These facts are conclusive evidence that the United States, while imitating an uncompromising fight against international terrorism for the global community, in fact provides cover for Islamic State units."

Obviously, the Russians are exaggerating.

The US is taking a stand and will not permit attacks against innocent civilians. This is the major difference between the United States and Russia.

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Israel Refuses Entry to BDS Politicians
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has accepted the recommendations of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Israel will not permit entry to a group of BDS supporting politicians from the EU parliament and BDS supporting mayors.

The group of 20, all from France, is scheduled to arrive in Israel in just over a week.

BDS is committed to destroying Israel. With this decision, Israel is exercising its right to protect itself. Opening the doors and allowing access to enemies who will use the trip to further their destructive goals is antithetical to the values of Israeli tourism.

These politicians will use media and politics as their bully pulpit and do everything they can to convince all who will listen that Israel is evil.

Good for Israel.

Wise decision.

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Increased Tensions in MIddle East
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Increased tensions in the Middle East can be explained by the division between Saudi Arabia and Iran - in other words, tensions continue to
rise between Sunnis and Shiites.

The Saudis have demanded an Arab League emergency meeting to convene this week. They claim that Iran is intervening, once across, in the region ... this time in Lebanon, in Syria, in Bahrain and in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia claims that, through proxies, Iranians have attacked their interests and are destabilizing the region.

The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is a prime example. Hariri believes his life is in danger and is now living Saudi Arabia. On Sunday he appeared live on Future TV and said he was a free man and will return to Lebanon very soon.

Hariri said he resigned to save the country from imminent danger. He didn't elaborate.

We will see what happens next.

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Bahrain Pipeline hit by Terror
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

An oil pipeline in Bahrain, located just outside the capital, was the target of a terrorist attack yesterday.
Bahraini officials blamed Iran.

That should be no surprise. Bahrain's Minister of Interior Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, said the attack was "the latest example of a terrorist act performed by terrorists in direct contact with and under instruction from Iran."

Iran rejects the insinuation and claims that they had nothing to do the explosion.

About 85% of Bahrain is Shiite and the Iranians have supported their revolt against the minority Sunni leadership.

In 2011 there was an attempt to overthrow the Bahraini government that was sponsored by Iran. Since then, many revolutionary cells have been uncovered and all have been traced back to Iran.

It makes sense that, despite the protestations, Iran is behind the attack.

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Syria Claims Victory Over ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Thursday the Syrian army announced their total victory over ISIS. The announcement is premature - but important.

There is still fighting in the area near the Syrian / Iraqi border, especially near the town of Albu Kamal, one of the first ISIS centers now one of the last.

The Syrian announcement is especially important on two levels. The first is that the Syrian army decidedly chose to release this statement at all. According to the statement about ISIS, or Daesh as the Syrians refers to them, this is "the fall of the terrorist Daesh organization's project in the region."

The second reason this is important is because there are reports, even if they are only rumors, that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is in Albu Kamal.
There are reliable reports of high level ISIS prisoners but no comment or confirmation about Baghdadi.

The Syrian military is both very public and very secretive. They send out exaggerated, hyperbolic, incomplete, announcements that neither relate the obvious nor confirm it.

If Baghdadi is alive, he is on the run or in hiding. If he is holed up near Albu Kamal, or in Syrian custody this is very significant for ISIS. It could mean that ISIS / Daesh, is nearing the end.

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PA Says Hamas Must Disarm
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The nitty gritty of the agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is where it all may fall apart.

Primary among all the issues is that Hamas must disarm and the PA must take complete control over security, safety and police in Gaza. Hamas has said "no way."

PA national police chief Hazem Atallah has said that disarming Hamas is non- negotiable. He said "It is impossible. How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns? Is this possible? It doesn't work."

The agreement is bound to unravel. This is one of many examples of how it is falling apart.

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Morocco Retracts Israel Judo Team's Visas
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Morocco is supposed to host The World Judo Championships on November 9-10, 2017.

Yesterday the Moroccans retracted the visas that were granted to the Israeli team. As a result, Israel was unable to depart from Tel Aviv. When the International Judo Federation discovered what was happening they demanded that Morocco grant the visas or, they said, they will cancel the entire championship.

This debacle follows on the heels of the Abu Dhabi judo championship when Israeli athletes were not permitted to wear their state emblem or play their national anthem.

This isn't a first time move against Israel by Morocco. In 2015 something similar happened when the Israeli judo team was arrested at the Rabat airport. They were released, finally, after being detained at the airport for 8 hours.

At that point the International Judo Federation intervened and reminded Morocco that a condition for hosting the event was that they host Israel. But here we go again.

We will continue to monitor these events.

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Egypt To West Dips: Out of Our Internal Matters
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

As predicted, Western nations have begun to criticize Egypt and their human rights actions against dissenters.

Egypt is aggressively striking out at ISIS and other anti-government groups. They are identifying people and movements that are working against the establishment.

In response there has been some serious Western blow-black.

So Egypt's foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors from Canada, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and The Netherlands and told them that they are interfering in internal Egyptian politics. He informed them that their actions violate the dictates of foreign policy procedures and diplomacy.

This story isn't over.

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US Strikes Somalia
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

US fighter jets struck an ISIS camp in Somalia on Friday. This is an important shift in policy.

The United States is now going after ISIS in places like Somalia, a place where ISIS fighters are re-organizing and planning their next stage of development as they leave Syria and Iraq.

The US Strategic command in Africa released the following statement: "U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats."

It is possible that the air attack against ISIS was a direct response to the ISIS attack in NYC.

The United States has been upping pressure on ISIS in Syria and Iraq and now they are expanding to other areas.

In May a Navy Seal was killed during an operation against ISIS in Somalia. All total there are about 300 US troops in Somalia functioning as advisors to the Somali army as they try to fight ISIS.

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Dutch Supplied Nuke Tech to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Dutch minister of defense sent a very troubling report to the lower house of parliament yesterday.

He said that their technology was being used by nefarious countries to produce nuclear weapons against their policy and against their laws.

This was, for a long time, an unpublished secret. But now that Dutch intelligence officially disclosed the matter, they must act on it.
The defense minister wrote "Dutch technology was used in programs of weapons of mass destruction and means of delivery in Iran, Pakistan or Syria."

Technology was supplied by Dutch businesses, in violation of Dutch law, who exported the technology to Iran Pakistan and Syria.
The Dutch must investigate, shut down, fine and imprison those business leaders. These businesses made a conscious decision to make money by endangering the world and they should be brought to justice.

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Iran Calls US Their #1 Enemy
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is picking up its rhetoric toward the United States. The Supreme Leader has called the US their number one enemy.

On Thursday in a speech broadcast on Iranian TV the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and said: "America's hostility is towards the Iranian nation ... America is the number one enemy of our nation ... We will never accept their bullying over the nuclear deal."

This is coming on the heels of Iran's President Rouhani meeting with Russian President Putin and their collaborating on how to stymie US activity and operations in the Middle East.

It is never easy when an arch enemy goes public --- but rhetoric can sometime become the foundation of policy. I think that is what is happening right now in Iran.

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Putin Visits Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran yesterday.

Russian TV reported that the objective of the meeting is to discuss regional issues, especially Syria. Russian and Iranian leadership will speak about the nuclear deal and economic issues, even trade between Russia and Iran.

Most importantly, they will speak about the conflict between Iran and the United States.

Russia and Iran have many common interests. They both back Assad of Syria while the US and others in the region, like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, support ousting Assad and groups trying to overthrow the Syrian president.

Putin is once again showing his mastery in the use of power and politics. Going to Iran is a direct poke in the eye of the United States. It means that Russia has control and influence that the US cannot even dream of achieving.

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Terror in NYC
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Terror struck New York City just hundreds of yards away from Ground Zero.

Eight people were murdered and eleven others injured by an Islamic terrorist from Uzbekistan named Sayfullo Saipov.

There should be no doubt that this was terror.

Saipov shouted the Takbir, the Muslim call "Allahu Ahkbar", which means Allah is better or Allah is best.

Saipov followed the exact directions - down to leaving a note in the vehicle - outlined by ISIS in an article published online.

Islamic terrorists are set on murdering as many innocent Americans as possible.

Sayfullo Saipov is not a lone wolf. The expression isolates the terrorist. In this day and age, no terrorist is isolated. They are all connected through the new media.

More details will emerge, but we know a lot already.

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World Court Against Israel's Female Bias
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is being brought before the United Nations Human Rights Council on charges of inequality regarding the status of women.

The focus is on several issues including inequality at the Western Wall and the fact that there are certain buses that are unisex and others that are separate sex.

The Human Rights Council is asking about the treatment of women in hospitals, in clinics and even in cemeteries.

In essence these are attacks on the religious and ultra religious communities of Israel and the internal strictures which define their lives and their lives only.

Israel has dispatched a team from the defense ministry to put forth their defense. It is shocking that Israel is even engaging these claims. Regardless of how the discussions go it will have no impact on Israel or on everyday life.

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Iran Pres Turned Down Meet w Trump
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian press published a story about US President Trump attempting to have a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

According to the story, the invite was rebuffed by the Iranian leader. The Press reported that "an intention was expressed by the American side that was not approved by President Rouhani."

One of the great part of the yearly United Nations General Assembly in New York is the many meetings happen behind closed doors. Most of those meetings are never made public - secret meetings between leaders have real value.

In 2013, as Rouhani was on his way to the airport, President Obama made a call to him in his car on his cell phone. Rouhani accepted the call.

That was the last time any high level conversation took place between the United States and Iran.


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Bubbe Videos Are Funny
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The American Friends of Hebrew University created a series of 90 second videos centered around a traditional Jewish Bubbe, or grandmother, named Judith Cohen.

The videos are hilarious. They advertize a series of fake phone app -- one is about remembering to call your Bubbe, a second is to remind you to put on a jacket when it's cold outside and a third finds a mentsch as a match for your granddaughter.

Watch Bubbe ask you to call.

The video shorts went viral with tens of thousands of views. They are so clever that many people actually thought they were real apps and tried to buy them. In actually, they are a gentle lampooning of apps, Bubbes and grandchildren and a brilliant fundraising gimmick.

How does it help Hebrew University? It brings the name of the university to people's attention. It gets people to see and hear the name and associate the university with high tech and tech innovation.


The videos which are appropriate for all ages, clearly target a younger generation, one that watches Youtube and does not receive traditional, old fashioned, fundraising mass mailing solicitations, letters and brochures in the mail. The younger generation does not give on the same level as their parents, but these videos will make them chuckle and then maybe, reach out and donate in a "thanks for the laugh" moment.

Parents and grandparents will do more than chuckle, they will belly laugh at these videos and, hopefully, be moved to donate on an equivalent basis.

The American Friends of Hebrew University identified an emotional link, one which is real and touching and funny. The message was successful. The question is whether the campaign will raise the needed funds.

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Russia Seals Arms Deal w Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russia has made a big move in the area of arms trade in the Middle East.

Qatar's defense minister signed a defense deal with his Russian counterpart. The deal, which was signed yesterday in Doha, the capital of Qatar, is entitled the Agreement on Military Technical Cooperation. It is based on the promise by Qatar to buy all kinds of Russian weapons.

This deal can be worth billions per year.

What makes this especially critical is the fact that in 2015 Qatar was ranked 1st in the world of any country who bought US weapons.

The rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia has a spill over - and that might just be the reason for the cozy new relationship Qatar is building with Russia.

The United States tried to smooth over the differences, but to no avail. The cost to the United States of this rift can be measured in the billions of dollars in weapons sales they are set to lose.

This is a total shift by Qatar towards Russia and a move away from the US.

Military equipment is not interchangeable. Qatar will be replacing their entire military infrastructure with Russian equipment.


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Pence to Visit Israel & Egypt in Dec
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Vice President Mike Pence announced yesterday that he will visit the Middle East in late December. He will visit Egypt and Israel.

Pence made the announcement at a dinner dedicated to raising money and awareness in order to save and protect Christians in the Middle East.

The vice president also announced that the United States will deliver money to protect Christians and other minorities directly. They US will redirect money that has, in the past, been sent to the United Nations and instead give it directly to the communities in need.

Pence said: "One of the messages that I will bring on the president's behalf to leaders across the region is that now is the time to bring an end to the persecution of Christians and all religious minorities."

He said: "From this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID." "Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly."

It's a welcome move. Christians in the Middle East desperately need help.

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MD Gov Says No to BDS
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland signed an executive order that will not grant any state contracts to businesses which subscribe to boycotting Israel.

Hogan is also asking for state pension investors to move away from any company that supports BDS.

BDS is gaining strength --- but the counter balance - the number of people who realize how wrong and immoral the BDS movement is, has grown.

Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland is a perfect example.

Hogan said: "Boycotts based on religion, national origin, ethnicity or place of residence are discriminatory, and contracting with businesses that practice discrimination would make the state a passive participant in private sector commercial discrimination."

Kudos to Governor Hogan.


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Rouhani Says Iran Expanding Role in Region
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that Iran is stronger than ever and that they are the most important power-house in the Middle East. Rouhani asserted that Iran is more influential today than ever before in their history.

"The greatness of the nation of Iran in the region is more than at any other time." He added that Iran is the most significant player in the entire region. The speech, which was broadcast live, emphasized Iran's role in the Middle East.

Rouhani said: "In Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, northern Africa, in the Persian Gulf region -- where can action be taken without Iran?"

This is just another example of Iran assuming an important role in the region. Iran will continue to step forward. They have a plan and, as of now, it is working.

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Egypt Attacked by ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt was attacked by ISIS over the weekend. It was one of the worst attacks in the history of Egypt.

Fifty-four Egyptian security people were murdered in the south west section of Cairo.

We do not know the details. AP reported that in the course of 48 hours, 54 Egyptian police were killed. Officially, however, the Egyptian government announcement said that only 16 policemen were killed.

Egyptian president al-Sisi said: "Egypt will continue its confrontation against terrorism and those financing and standing behind it, with strength, decisiveness and efficiency, until it's curbed."

We will uncover the details of what happened soon enough.

Know this: Al Sisi will exact revenge. ISIS will soon be the target of Egyptian justice.

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No Israeli Emblems in Judo Match
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel will participate in the Abu Dhabi International Grandslam Judo Championship later this week.

Israel will be sporting a team of 12 athletes in an Arab country.

Sounds like good news? Nope!

For the second time, the organizers of the competition have accepted
Abu Dhabi's demand that Israel not show her flag, emblem or anthem.
There can be no visual symbol that Israeli athletes are present or competing - and Allah forbid if they dare to win.

If the Israeli team does earn a medal, the International Judo Federation flag will be flown.

Israel has protested and continues to protest.
These sporting events are supposed to be above politics, not increase divisiveness, prejudice and hate.

Israeli bronze Olympian Ori Sasson will compete. Sagi Muki who is the European champion will attend as part of the team. Israel's team will also include three additional world bronze medalists. The chances of winning a medal and even taking a gold is very high.

Should that happen it will be an embarrassment not only for the Judo Federation and to Abu Dhabi, as well.

Let Israel compete like everyone else- let Israel compete using her own emblems.

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HAMAS Will Not Disarm
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

The United States and Israel both clearly assert that Hamas must disarm and recognize Israel in this Palestinian unity agreement.

Hamas says, in essence, no way.

In an official statement Yichya Sinwar, head of Hamas, said: "No one in the universe can disarm us. On the contrary, we will continue to have the power to protect our citizens." Sinwar continued: "No one has the ability to extract from us recognition of the occupation."

Israel has put it simply - the Palestinians must choose peace or choose Hamas.

Hamas has stated their intention equally clearly.
I would call this an impasse.

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Israel Will Feed the Birds
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's Ministry of Agriculture recently said that they will feed pelicans migrating from Europe to Africa.

Israel will create a feeding zone for the great white pelican.

The reasons are clear.

If Israelis do not feed these birds, the pelicans will pilfer and destroy entire agricultural regions and fisheries. These birds come in and descend and feed on whatever is available.

Israel is on the migration path of the pelican. Pelicans need food. If Israel does not feed them, they will poach anything and everything else that is available.

Everyone is in favor of Israel providing the food. Environmentalist, agriculturalists, farmers and economists support this idea.

Birds feed when they are hungry ... exactly in the place where they fed when they were migrating in the other direction.

Hopefully, this will work.

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Islamists Attack Church & Rob Bank in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt was hit by another Islamic attack yesterday.

A group of about a dozen Islamists attacked a church in the very center of El Arish. Rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) were fired at the police and the Church. 7 people were killed.

The massive Church has been closed for a few months. The government felt that because of the increased attacks against Christians and churches, it was important to close the church and station police outside.

After the Islamists attacked the church they robbed a bank and cleaned it out. They escaped in a pickup truck and a motorcycle heading south.

The victims include 3 guards, 1 soldier and 3 civilians. Another 15 people were injured in the bank.

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Syria Wants Turkey Out
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Syrian foreign ministry has made it clear that the presence of Turkish forces in north western Syria is an act of aggression.

Turkey's response is that they are in Syria because of a deal they made with Russia and Iran in order to help the Syrian rebels fighting ISIS and al Qaeda.

The official Syrian ministry statement said: "Syria condemns in the strongest terms the incursion of units of the Turkish army in Idlib province, which constitutes a flagrant aggression against the sovereignty and security of Syrian territory."

The Syrian statement continued by responding to Turkey's obvious counter to their claim. It read: "The Turkish aggression is not tied in any way with the understandings that were reached between the guarantor states in the Astana process, but constitutes a violation of these understandings."

It's not over. Let's see what happens over the next few days.

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ISIS Attacking Egyptian Targets
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Despite the agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, Egypt will not be opening its border with Gaza in both directions.

The opening was meant as a reward. The reason the Egyptians are changing their stance is that, on Sunday, ISIS simultaneously attacked six border crossings killing six soldiers and injured 37 other people.

The terrorists opened fire on the crossings with automatic weapons and mortars. Twenty-four of them were killed.

ISIS is picking up the velocity of their attacks against Egyptian targets. They plan is to stop the PA / Hamas / Egyptian deal. For ISIS the deal means a crackdown on their ability to move and to operate.

Egypt needs to shut down ISIS.

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Russia's Def Min To Visit Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russia Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu will be visiting Israel this week.

Israel's obvious agenda for this meeting is to re-enforce their position that Iran cannot have a position of the Golan Heights - not in Syria and not in Lebanon.

Russia understands Israel's position. Israel will hammer the point home with on-site descriptions and details of the security threats Iran's poses for them.

The question is whether or not Israel will be convincing enough. In the end, will Russia will be convinced enough to assure Israel that Iran will not have a real presence in Syria.

Much is at stake.

If Iran establishes a forward position on Israel's border it would potentially create a situation in which every citizen of Israel would be in range of Iranian weapons 24 hours of every day.

That is a situation which Israel views as intolerable. If Russia does not come through for them, Israel will do it on their own and take direct steps to prevent Iran from endangering its citizens and security.

Those steps would also involve making certain that Hezbollah and Iran are not capable of retaliating against Israel.

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Belgium Pulls out f Palestinian Aid Projects
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Belgium government has pulled their support for two Palestinian projects totaling $3.9 million.

Belgium said that they cannot be party to anything connected to terror. The decision to pull back the funds came after the Palestinians renamed a school to honor the notorious female terrorist named Dahlal Mughrabi.

Mughrabi was part of the horrific 1982 terror attack in that resulted in the murder of 38 Israelis, including 13 children, by kidnapped a bus on the Coastal Road. The attack is known as the "Coastal Road Massacre" in English. In Hebrew it is called the "Bloody Bus Massacre."

Dahlal Mughrabi was killed in the attack. Immediately afterward, she became lionized as a great heroine of the Palestinians. Parks are named after her. Schools are named after her. Even sports competitions are named after her. Her biography is taught in elementary schools.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders called Mughrabi a Palestinian terrorist. He said "Belgium will not allow itself to be associated with the names of terrorists in any way."

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Iran Threatens the US Over Terror Designation
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The US is about to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

The Guard and their members are the elite of the elite of Iran. They own major industries and they control significant branches of Iranian society. They are the wealthiest and most successful segment within Iran and they wield more power than any group except the Ayatollah himself.

This designation will cut into the Guard's purse.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is threatening a crushing attack against the United States is they are classified as a terror group.

"We are hopeful that the United States does not make this strategic mistake," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said. "If they do, Iran's reaction would be firm, decisive and crushing."

The Guard will be hurt if they are designated a terror group. That's a given. The big question is - why has it taken so long for this to happen?!

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Hezbollah Says US Suporting ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, said that US activity in Syria is helping ISIS.

Nasrallah made the statement during a TV presentation.

According to Hassan Nasrallah: "The American air force in some areas prevents the Syrian army and its allies from advancing in areas controlled by Islamic State" ... "The Americans are working to hinder the battle against Islamic State."

This is an exaggeration, it is also a mistake

The US is not helping ISIS. But the US is trying to prevent a massacre in Syria.

The only way to do that is to make certain that Syria does not have free reign to murder innocent civilians who are affiliated with ISIS or, more likely, innocents who live in areas that ISIS controls and are terrorized by ISIS.

That is what the US is doing. Nasrallah knows that. He was looking for a sensational headline - and he found it.

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Turkey Cross in to Syria to Clear Idlib
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Turkey has crossed into Syria. They are advancing into the province of Idlib.

The Turkish special-forces convoy, complete with weaponry, were met by pro-Turkish fighters at the border and escorted toward their destination - the city of Idlib.

And then Turkey began bombing Idlib.

Turkish forces are exchanging fire with Islamists groups--- with ISIS and al Qaeda and their affiliates.

The objective is for Turkey to carve out a no-conflict zone in the province of Idlib.

In order to accomplish that goal, the city of Idlib must be cleared of ISIS and be totally in the hands of Turkey.

According to Turkey's forces backed by rebels in Syria, "So far our forces have not entered Idlib."

But that is just a matter of time.

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Iran Bans Woman for Not Wearing Hijab
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

If you were hoping for a new Iran --- forget it.

Here is a perfect example. Dorsa Derakhshani, a female member of the Iranian national chess team was removed from the team for performing an unforgivable violation.

What did she do? In an international competition she refused to wear her hijab- in other words, she refused to wear her head covering during the match.

Since the revolution it is the law in Iran that all women must wear a hijab in public. That is especially the case in situations where the women are symbols of Iran --- in this case, an international chess match.

After being removed from the team Derakhshani left Iran and came to the United States. She has since joined the US women’s chess team and is now competing for the US - without a hijab.

The most interesting part of this story is that it was covered in the ISNA, an official media arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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Iran Squeezes Kurds
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Since the recent vote for Kurdish independence, Iran has begun to squeeze the Kurdish region in Iraq.

Almost immediately after the vote, Iran stopped flights to the Kurdish region and now the Iranians have issued an order to stop all trucks going to and from the Kurdish region. No Iranian drivers may deliver or ship or cross the border.

That means no Iranian diesel to the Kurdish area.

It is diesel that powers electric plants and the transportation industry.

The Kurds produce their own oil, but they do not refine it - they export it. Some of their oil was even exported to Iran-- but not any more.

Iraq is also squeezing the Kurds. So are the Turks who are not permitting Kurdish oil exports to pass over their border.

92% of the Kurdish region voted for independence. In other words, every single Kurd voted for independence. The other 8% were Shiite and Sunnis minorities that live in the area who were also permitted to also in the referendum.

The Kurds were aware of the ramifications this vote would have. They tried to mollify the vote by saying that their independence would not go into effect immediately - that the vote was simply symbolic.

The problem is that at this level of foreign affairs, symbols have significance.


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ISIS is Marching Back in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:


We have been hearing about the change in ISIS' momentum, about how ISIS is on the run in Syria and how Syria is taking back cities and towns and regions and ISIS is being pushed out.

Early Sunday ISIS took back a city named Al Qaryatayn which is located in the Homs region, 190 miles from Deir al Zor where the main conflict with ISIS in now taking place.

Al Qaryatayn was taken in a surprise attack.

What is important to note is that there are always back and forths - momentum shifts! Clearly the momentum is in the favor of Assad -- but ISIS is not giving up when it comes to Syria.
ISIS still has a lot of fight in them.

This should be a lesson for us. ISIS will not simply stop because they are defeated. ISIS needs to be completely and totally removed. ISIS needs to be wiped out.

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Putin Visits Turkey Agree on Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Putin visited Turkey where he had a series of face to face with Turkish President Erdogan.

The Russian and Turkish leaders agreed to create and to protect no conflict zones. They also confirmed that Russia will help build a gas pipeline in Turkey. Most important is that Russia agreed to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant

In a joint press conference Putin said "We reconfirm readiness to implement final agreements reached in mid-September in Astana about four de-escalation zones, including the biggest one -- in Idlib."

He continued, calling Erdogan "our friend" in Ankara and said "Despite difficulties we have achieved positive result. These agreements are our common extremely important success."

Turkey and Russia are working hard and working together to try to keep Syria safe. They also want to make certain that no new states emerge in the region.

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Understanding Kim Jung and Trump
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un is an enigma to all of us. His character is uncharted, his actions are unpredictable. Both Western and Eastern analysts are mystified by his behavior and stymied by his rhetoric.

US President Donald Trump is also an enigma. His actions, too, cannot be predicted. North Koreans are simply stunned by Trump. They cannot figure him out. And that is why they have actually tried to hire republican insiders. They need people in the know to help translate Trump to Kim Jung Un.

The conflict between NoKo and the US is increasing. The risks are gargantuan. The rhetoric is ratcheting up and up. Both leaders are using words as weapons.

Rhetoric is never the basis for a truthful debate. By definition, rhetoric is exaggerated speech, it is most often non-creative and almost always repeats cliches.

Trump and Un are threatening attacks and moving closer and closer to action. North Korea continues to launch missile tests, and the US continues flying fighter jets and bombers near North Korea.

This kind of saber rattling can be misread. It can be overdone and when that happens, it causes dramatic and dangerous overreaction. That overreaction can lead to counter action which can lead to massive damage and deaths.

We can't tell Kim Jung Un what to do, but we can beseech President Trump. The United States needs to take a deep breath and step back.


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PA Calls Terrorist a Hero
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

When a Palestinian terrorist murders three people in Har Hadar, the natural response should be universal condemnation.

The three Israeli victims were murdered by a 37 year old Palestinian named Nimer Jamal.

Instead of condemnation, the official Palestinian Facebook Fatah page celebrated the murder and the murderer. The Facebook page called Nimer Jamal a hero. It read: "We mourn this heroic martyr."

One has to wonder how interested the Palestinians are in peace. They didn't have to condemn him. All they had to do was remain silent, that would have been sufficient. Instead, they went so far as to proclaim the terrorist a hero.

This is a public relations victory for the Palestinians. They murdered three Israelis and only lost one of their own.

In their eyes the terrorist - a wife beater whose wife escaped to Amman Jordan and sought refuge and safety abandoning her children, is seen as a hero by the Palestinian people.

This is a problem. It is not just a problem for peace --- it is a problem for justice and morality. If there is no agreement about the principles of right and wrong, how can there ever be the possibility of achieving peace.

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Iran Increasing Oil Exports
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has pledged to continue to export oil. Actually, they promised to export even more oil and increase their current production numbers.

This Iranian declaration comes despite the threat US President Donald Trump made if Iran were to do just that during the speech he delivered at the United Nations GA.

Currently Iran exports 2.6 million barrels of oil a day - that is up from 900,000 daily barrels in 2015, before the sanctions were lifted. It is a three-fold increase.

President Trump explained that the deal with Iran was one of the worst deals in history and during the campaign he threatened to rip up the deal. He hinted at that again during his UN speech.

But Iran's oil exports are not a violation of the terms of the famous nuke deal. They are pushing the OPEC quotas. Actually, that is good for the rest of the world as it will force down the price of oil in the world market.

It seems that Iran is making more money, but less per barrel. It is a mistake to cap them. An unintended consequence of Iran continuing to increase their exports is that they may, at the same time, break OPEC's control of the price of oil in world markets.

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Russian Def Min To Visit Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Sergai Shoigu, Russia's Defense Minister, is going to visit Israel in October. The exact date of the trip has not been made public.

This is the first trip to Israel by a Russian defense minister in decades. One topic under discussion during this trip will most definitely be Syria. The Russian and Israeli defense ministers will discuss Iran's role in Syria and Hezbollah. At issue is how involved Iran will be in the future of Syria.

Heavy weapons will also be a very important topic.

Israel has stated their red lines very clearly to Russia. Israel will not permit a long term Iranian presence in Syria. Israel is asking Russia to make certain that Iran not remain there.

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Saudi At UN -No Excuse for Not Resolving Israeli PA Conflict
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The UN General Assembly is most often a tedious waiting game - waiting to listen to speaker after speaker rehash old ideas and make vague, never to be fulfilled threats or promises.

Saturday was different. That's the day Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir made a surprise pubic pronouncement during his speech at the UN.

Al Jubeir said that there is no reason for the Israeli / Palestinian conflict to continue. He did not lay blame. He just said it can and should be resolved.

The Saudi foreign minister said: "The Arab-Israeli conflict is still the longest conflict in the region in current times ... We don't see a justification for its continuation, particularly when there is international consensus about the solution based on two states."

Bottom line is that world pressure should be brought upon the parties to resolve the issue. World powers are already in agreement. Now the conflict must be resolved.

To make that happen, the United States must pressure Israel. Saudi Arabia will take care of pressuring the Palestinians.

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Israel Downs Iranian Drone
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Israel launched a Patriot missile and shot down an Iranian-made drone.

The drone took off from Damascus airport and flew toward Israel. When the drone hit the buffer zone between Israel and Syria, Israel launched a Patriot and shot down the drone.

Drone parts were found scattered in the area of Qunetra.

IDF spokesman Brig General Ronen Maelis said the [t]he drone "took off from the Damascus Airport towards the Golan and operated in the buffer zone, without infiltrating Israel."

The IDF spokesman is clearly suggesting that the drone was sent by Hezbollah, made by Iran and sponsored by Syria.

Israel will always aggressively protect its borders and not permit any drone to collect intelligence along its borders.

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UN Head Against Kurd Vote
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Kurds of Iraq are going to vote for independence on September 25th.

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres just announced his displeasure with the referendum. He said that this vote, at this time, would detract from the immediate need to destroy ISIS.

Guterres' spokesman, Stephane DuJarric, explained that the Secretary General respects the "sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity," of Iraq. He further explained that any differences should be resolved through dialogue and compromise -- and through unilateral moves like a referendum of secession.

The Secretary suggests that the entire situation be approached with "patience and restraint."

Depending on the reaction to the September 25th referendum, there could be a massive genocide of the Kurds.

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Snapchat Shut Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Snapchat shuttered its portal to Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia.

On September 13th Saudi Arabia asked Snapchat to shut down Al Jazeera down and yesterday they did just that.

Al Jazeera is a media group located in Qatar and owned by a very rich businessman who is also a member of the royal family.

For months there has been a huge dispute between Qatar and the other Gulf States - especially Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have led the charge against Qatar mainly because Qatar has reached out to Iran and been brought under their umbrella.

Sunni Qatar did the unthinkable and went over to the Shiites. The Saudis are making them pay for their defection.

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Turkey & ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September, 17,2017

I've Been Thinking:

Turkey arrested 74 people on charges of being ISIS members.

Interestingly the only 1 of the arrested was Turkish, all the others were foreigners. The 73 are being prepared for deportation. The report did not name the countries to where they will be deported and the countries from where they came.

The local Turk was being interrogated.

Turkey intersects with ISIS in 2 ways. Turkey is the easiest point of access for all those who want to join ISIS. From Turkey future ISIS fighters slip over the border into Syria.

ISIS is attacking Turkey within its own borders and has been organizing and perpetrating terror attacks to attempt to destabilize Turkey. Turkey knows that they need to confront ISIS. They must stop any and all ISIS activity.

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Israeli PM & Mexico Agree to Help Central America
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday. This is the first time in the history of Israel that a sitting prime minister visited Mexico.

Netanyahu and Nieto agreed to update their 2000 free trade agreement. To quote Netanyahu: "We have agreed to establish and begin the ... negotiations to look over this agreement so that the commercial relationship between both nations intensifies and grows."

The most significant element of this agreement is that Israel agreed to help Mexico and the United States develop Central America.

This is a very important strategic move for Israel, they have much to contribute in this space. Over the years Israel has developed an expertise in helping African nations develop in the areas of agriculture, electricity, water, health and medicine.

Israel can do for South America what they do for Africa.

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Iran & Turkey to Get Part of Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Ashraq al Awsat is an Arabic language newspaper headquartered in London. It is one of the most influential media outlets in Arabic.

Yesterday the paper covered a story about Iran and Turkey being very close to a coming to terms on a formal agreement pertaining to Syria. The agreement is under the auspices of Russia because Russia is actually the controlling force in Syria.

The main points of this agreement are frighteningly problematic.

Turkey will get a presence in north western Syria called the Idlib region. In exchange for that, Iran will get control over an area in southern Damascus. The area is heavily Shiite and includes a very important Shiite Mosque by the name of Sayyidah Zaynab. In addition, Iran will expand the mosque.

This agreement will guarantee Iran's involvement in Syria. It will be the basis for Iran's involvement on the ground in Syria and in the capital and will allow Iran influence and access to decisions in the Syrian capital.

And Russia will be pulling all the strings.

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Saudis Bust ISIS Terror Cell
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia made an official announcement stating that they have busted a ring of ISIS terrorists.

During the arrest Saudi authorities seized numerous explosives, triggers, grenades and weapons. The group had the materials used to make explosive vests and had practiced using them.

Two of those arrested were Yemini's living in Saudi Arabia under assumed names.

Two native Saudis were also arrested.

ISIS has set its sights on the Saudis. They want to hit Saudi Arabia with terror attacks and they want to unseat the Saudi royal family that runs the government.

The plan that was uncovered during this arrest was a design to blow up the Saudi defense ministry.

If ISIS successfully targets Saudi government symbols and creates a sense of fear among Saudi residents they will successfully weaken the fabric of Saudi life.

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Conference w Israel and Muslims Postponed
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Bad news was announced by Israel's Foreign Ministry. There has been a significant setback in Israel's effort at normalizing relations with Africa, including with many Muslim countries.

From October 23rd to 27th, in a city called Lome, the capital of Togo, there was supposed to be conference of 54 African countries. Israel was counting on participating. The conference has been postponed.

It was cancelled by the president of Togo. He succumbed to pressure and to the fear of violence in his streets if the conference were to go on as planned.

When Israel was informed of the cancellation of the conference, it was agreed that another conference, one between Israel and Togo, would be arranged. The official response was that their conference was moved "to a date to be agreed upon between the two countries."

The Lome conference was originally seen by Israel as a sign of the massive success of their outreach to Africa.

The cancellation did not come out of the blue. Many countries tried to derail the conference. South Africa, for example, was particularly vocal. The Palestinians were working hard to find a way to prevent Israel from participating and that included trying to cancel the conference.

For the Palestinians, their effort paid off. For everyone else, it's an unfortunate loss.

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Russia and Saudis Agree to Safe Zones
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Abdel al Jubeir, and Russia, Sergei Lavrov, met and emphasized that the three de-escalation zones now in Syria are not a framework for dividing up Syria in the future. The de-escalation zones are supposed to be quiet areas that are in the regions where the ceasefires have been in effect and where air force flights are off limits.

There is, however, a plan to create a 4th zone soon.

Lavrov said: "The purpose of the de-escalation zones is to stop the violence." ... "It is not a permanent measure, and nobody who agree those zones has an intention of keeping them for good, thus in fact having long-term enclaves in the Syrian territory."

He continued: "The agreement is their term is six months, and it is clear already the result is evident, the ceasefire is generally observed."It is important to realize that the de-escalation zones are supposed "to begin spreading across Syria the space, where ceasefire is observed, where peaceful life is developing."

People are expecting that this agreement might set the stage for a peaceful end to this conflict in Syria. But for now, we are only talking about baby steps.

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Saudis To Reduce Oil Output
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia announced that as of October, they will be cutting oil output. This Saudi decision is in line with the decision made by OPEC to reduce the amount of oil being sent to refineries.

Saudi Arabia will drop production to all their customers by 380,000 barrels per day. The largest consumer of oil in the world is the Asian market. Japan will most certainly be hurt by this reduction.

Europe normally gets 225,000 barrels per day from the Saudis. In October they will be cut to anywhere from 70,000 to 155,000 barrels. That is nearly a 30% reduction.

Even exports to the United States will be cut.

OPEC needs this to happen. They need to lift the price of oil. In January oil sold at $58 per barrel. Now the price has dropped to $50, sometimes climbing only as high as $54.

OPEC is counting on this reduction in output - especially by the Saudis, to force the price of oil up. They are hoping the price will level out at over $75 per barrel.

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Hitler Bell in Germany
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A small town in Germany still has a Hitler Bell.

What's a Hitler Bell? A Hitler Bell is a bell inscribed with a swastika and a quote from Hitler. This quote reads: "Everything for the Fatherland" - Adolph Hitler.

The small German town is called Herxheim am Berg. The bell is situated in a Protestant Church. It is causing quite a hoopla.

The mayor of the town defended the bell. He was so defensive that he even quoted a 95 year old resident who said that the Nazi period also had some "good things."

Obviously, most Hitler Bells and other Nazi and Hitler structures were destroyed immediately after World War II. No one can explain why this bell remained.

The best answer is that no one thought it necessary to remove it. That, in and of itself, is telling. And as for the mayor, he has since resigned.

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Godiva Becomes Muslim
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

I just read an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz. It was about Godiva Chocolate and its current owner, the Turkish company Yildiz.

In April, Yildiz quietly ended all alcohol infused chocolate production. There are those who believe that the new Godiva has become heavily - maybe even overly, influenced by Islam.

The story of Lady Godiva is about as far from the tenets of Islam as one can get.

Godiva Chocolate was created in 1926 in Brussels. An image of Lady Godiva, after whom the company is quite obviously named, appears on every chocolate wrapper and chocolate and on the label of every box. She appears on horseback and nude, but covered up by her long hair. According to legend and lore, Lady Godiva rode nude through Coventry and the only person to peek at her was Peeping Tom looked.

In 1958 the first store opened in Paris, the chocolate company came to New York in the 1960's. Soon after, Godiva was bought up by the Campbell Soup company. And then, in 2008, It was bought by the Turkish company Yildiz.

The company has grown and few people even know of the Islamic connection. Islam never impacted on the product - until now.


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35,000 Radical Muslims in England
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union's counter-terrorism coordinator, gave his evaluation on the future of terror in Europe. Using England as an example, he said that the "The United Kingdom has identified 20,000 to 35,000 radicals."

Breaking down the radical groups even further, de Kerchove went on to explain that "3,000 are worrying for MI5, and of those, 500 are under constant and special attention."

By comparison, de Kerchove said that "France has 17,000. Spain many less, but more than 5,000 I suppose. In Belgium almost 500 have been to Syria and there are around 2,000 radicals or more."

In short - Europe is infested with potential terrorists. De Kerchove said, "I wouldn't like to put a concrete figure on it, but (in Europe) tens of thousands, more than 50,000."

De Kerchove has a plan for dealing with these potential terrorists. "We must select those who are really worrying and the most dangerous, and they should be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

His conclusion is based on the principle that terrorists need not travel to the Middle East anymore. "The propaganda of the organization no longer requires people to go to the caliphate. They can attack in their places or origin, including on a small scale with home-made weapons."

This is a sobering and welcome evaluation. It means that Europe and European leadership is finally waking up to the threat of terror. Hopefully, this message will be received by those people who can benefit from the evaluation.

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Putin Meets Xi about N Korea
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 3, 2017

I've Been thinking:

Russia and China are worried about the latest North Korean nuclear test.

The two presidents, Putin and Xi Jinping, said that they are working together to "appropriately deal with" the North Korean nuclear saber rattling.

The two are meeting in the Southern Chinese city of Xiamen as part of the BRICS economic group. BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They are a group of five fast growing emerging economies and they meet to compare notes and assist one another with their growth.

China and Russia are clearly untied in their objective to keep North Korea from advancing its nuclear capabilities. The best way to achieve that end is to coordinate their approach and next steps.

This meeting underscores for us just how closely aligned Russia and China are. They are on the same page and they are speaking at the highest of levels.

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IAEA Says Iran Is Following Nuke Deal
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Looks like Iran is following the nuke deal.

Yesterday, the IAEA, the international agency that is the watchdog supervising Iran's nuclear development, delivered its 3rd report on Iran since January.

They concluded that Iranians are following both the spirit and the letter of the famous - or, as some consider it - the infamous, nuke deal of March 2015.

This is important news.

The White House has accused Iran of violating the deal. Congress has asserted that Iran is playing footloose and fancy free with the deal. But the only group qualified to actually determine whether Iran is cooperating is the International Atomic Energy Agency.

And they say that everything is A-OK.

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US Craters ISIS as the Retreat
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS has been ousted from the Lebanese/Syrian border. They have moved east toward their stronghold on the Iraqi/Syrian border.

Making up the ISIS convoy were 308 fighters and 331 others. As the convoy moved, the United States blew up the road and the bridge that ISIS members needed to travel and reunite with their group.

The ISIS ceasefire was created between Hezbollah, the Lebanese army and ISIS. The entire objective was to oust ISIS - and they succeeded. The US, however, is not obligated to uphold that agreement and that is why they blasted the road.

Ryan Dillon, the US spokesman for the coalition, put it clearly and succinctly: "We did crater the road and destroyed a small bridge to prevent this convoy from moving further east ... We're not bound by these (ceasefire deal) agreements ... They're clearly fighters and they're moving to another location to fight yet again. In accordance with the law of armed conflict ... we will strike them if we are able to do so"

There is no rule of war that permits terrorists to relocate.

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ISIS Ousted from Leb/Syria Border
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

After being subjected to a sustained pounding on both sides of the Syrian Lebanese border, ISIS agreed to a ceasefire.

The purpose of the cease fire was to get ISIS out of the region.

According to Hezbollah TV, ISIS really is on its way out. They reported that two dozen buses and eleven ambulances departed the region. No one can confirm how many people were in the vehicles.

ISIS was moving to Boukamal, a town in eastern Syria. Boukamal is on the border with Iraq, far away from the border of Lebanon and Syria.

This is a great success for Hezbollah and the Lebanese army. They ousted ISIS from their borders and moved them to the other side of Syria. Their region now appears to be safe and secure.

But not really. The void will most likely be filled by Iran.

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Saudis Sign $70B Deal w China
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

China and Saudi Arabia just signed a $70 billion deal in which the Saudis will be purchasing goods and services from China.

That is a huge deal. Not only will it be a tremendous boost to China's economy, it also means that the Chinese will now be less dependent on US markets.

The deal involves media, postal services, trade, energy and communications. It is a massive investment on the part of Saudi Arabia. They are investing in China to buoy their future.

This is such an important deal that it actually has its own name - it's called Looking to the Future 2030.

The most important thing to remember is that the Saudis are moving towards the Chinese. China has become a provider, it is no longer only self-oriented and internally focused.

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Iran Imprison Leaders Who Liberalize Islam
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran convicted a Shiite religious leader and sentenced him to death. He was convicted of blaspheme and creating a cult.

In reality, the Shiite leader created a New Age style of Shiite Islam. It is a form of liberalizing of Islam. His lawyer will appeal the decision.

There was a similar case in 2014. After appeal, the death penalty was reduced and the cleric remains in prison for life.

Iranians are looking to control the growth of Shiite Islam. They cannot tolerate and do not understand the growth of religious ideas in the modern world. Ultimately, Iran will not be able to restrict the natural evolution of new ideas that has always influenced Islam.

For centuries external forces improved Islam. Shutting out those forces is a recipe for failure for Iran.

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California Leads US in Anti-Semitism
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Anti-Semitism is up 30% in California in the first quarter of 2017.
California leads the country in anti Semitic incidents. California!!

How is that possible? The stories are hair-raising. Fourth graders are being told by their classmates that Hitler should have burned them all in the ovens. This happened in the context of young Jewish girls describing their trip to Memphis, TN and discussing the rise of the KKK and neo-Nazism.

Alameda, situated just outside of San Francisco and considered by Californians to be a liberal bastion, has been teaming with anti-Semitic attacks. One might think that in this uber liberal environment anti=Semitism would be unacceptable, but it is happening all over - especially in schools.

The numbers and the examples come from the ADL.

This does not bode well.

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The Mid East May Explode on 9-25
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On September 25th the entire Middle East might explode.

That is the day that the Kurds of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq will vote for independence.

5 million people will cast their votes and almost everyone will opt for independence.

The Shiites, who now govern Iraq, have said that they will not recognize an independent Kurdish state. But the truth is that the Iraqi army is preoccupied fighting ISIS and they are no match for the Kurds. In addition, the Kurds already control their border.

The Turks and the Iranians will be very upset with Kurdish independence. 75% of the Kurds are split between these two nations. And that is where war may emerge.

The Turks will do anything to prevent a Kurdish state. Iran does not want to cede any of its land, nor do they want their Kurds running to join the new Iraqi Kurdish state.

If battle breaks the conflict will be between Kurds in Iraq, Turkey and Iran. There will be huge losses. But in the end an independent state might emerge carved out of Turkey and Iran and Iraq.

The other possibility is a massacre in which of millions of Kurds will be murdered at the hands of Turks and Iranians.

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Israel Revokes Citizenship of ISIS Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A new law was activated in Israel this week: Citizens who engage in hostile acts against the state will have their citizenship revoked.

Aryeh Deri, Israel's minister of the interior, listed 20 people who will have their citizenship revoked. The 20 were convicted of joining ISIS.

Aryeh Deri also mentioned that those who use their cars to murder and ram Israelis may also be put on the citizenship chopping block. I would guess that all convicted terrorists might fall into this category.

The hope is that this new legal power will influence terrorists to stop their actions. Israeli citizenship brings with it many benefits.

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Iran Makes Nuke Counter Move
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is striking back at the United States. Iranians are saying that it will only take them five days to ramp up their uranium production to 20% - enough make a nuclear bomb.

Official Iranian media quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's atomic agency, saying: "If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days."

As part of the deal agreed upon in 2015, Iran destroyed or exported almost all of its uranium that was enriched over 20%.

But there's more. Now they say that if the US does not hold up the agreement they will also violate the agreement and they can easily start enriching uranium.

This is Iran's counter move to Trump's assertion that the United States will stop the deal because Iran is violating it. Iran is saying, in essence, whatever you think is a violation will pale in comparison to what we will do if the United States breaks the agreement.

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Russia Strikes ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This will give you a sense of what Russia is doing in Syria.

The Russian ministry of defense announced on Monday that they successfully intercepted an ISIS convoy and destroyed it killing 200 ISIS fighters.

The Russian ministry of defense said that the Russian air force attacked and destroyed a large column of ISIS fighters.

The ISIS fighters were moving from Raqqa to the city of Deir al Zor. They were hoping to secure their move and created a large convoy in the hope of protecting themselves from attack.

But the larger the convoy, the easier it is to hit from the air. And that is exactly what the Russian air force did. In addition to killing the ISIS fighters, Russia emphasized that they also destroyed ISIS' weapons, hardware and equipment.

This was a very impressive strike and is a huge loss for ISIS. Kudos to Russia.

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Israel Prefers Good Terms Won't Critique Trump
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There has been critique of Israeli leadership for not criticizing Donald Trump's comments - or lack of comments, about white nationalists.

It should be abundantly clear that this was an obvious decision, not an oversight. Israel came to the conclusion that preserving their relationship with the Trump White House is more important than calling out anti-Semites.

President Trump is not, I believe, an anti-Semite - but he is giving them cover. When Trump failed to criticize white nationalists he empowered them.

Israel should have explained this to Trump. They should have gone public and clearly explained that these people are evil.

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ISIS Celebrates Terror in Barcelona
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS is celebrating the attacks in Spain. The celebration is taking place not just on official ISIS websites, but also by supporters of ISIS in the Western world.

Amaq, the ISIS news agency, has an explanation for the deadly terror attack that has rocked Barcelona. This is what Amaq had to say: "The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states."

Twitter lit up after the Barcelona attacks. There was an entire group who supported ISIS and the attacks against innocent Spaniards and tourists. They said that this terror was coming to them for being part of the US coalition and intervening in the Middle East to fight ISIS.

"To all Spanish people, the time has now come to pay for everything that your government has done to innocent people in our countries."

Another twitter writer wrote to Christians around the wolrd: "The worshipers of the Cross no longer feel safe and secure in their homes, individual wolves are still watching and waiting for the right time to cover your heads and shed your blood."

The hashtag #thecrucifixionofthecrusaders collected much of these comments. The hashtag itself means "to kill Christians".

This is dangerous stuff.

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ISIS Attack Hamas in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Early Thursday morning at Rafah, the crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Hamas security forces went to arrest two suspicious people.

As the two were being arrested they blew themselves up together with the Hamas border police.

ISIS along with their Salafi affiliates in Gaza took responsibility for the attack against Hamas. The announcement said the attack "was done in response to Hamas activity against Salafist jihadists ... which includes the destruction of mosques belonging to the organization, the arrest of its members, and their persecution."

The terrorists were probably wearing explosive suicide vests.

It should be noted that both ISIS and Hamas are terror groups. They are both on the same side in Syria both, trying to oust Assad. But in Gaza - in Gaza, Hamas and ISIS are arch enemies.

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Hamas Warns Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yahya Sinwar has been the leader of Hamas for the past 6 months. He has not been a very public - until yesterday when he held a press briefing.

Sinwar warned Israel not to escalate tensions or attack Gaza. He asserted that Hamas is much more powerful than they were during the last conflict with Israel.

Sinwar said: "Hamas is not seeking a confrontation, but if such a confrontation should arise, Hamas will pummel Israel."

Sinwar warned Israel against "taking stupid steps against the Gaza Strip" and claimed that "the Palestinian resistance has the ability to respond to that."

There is no doubt that tensions wax and wane between Israel and Hamas.

Tensions will certainly rise to a level that will require a response - and that response may very well lead to an all out conflict, something approaching war war.

Hamas is saying that, should it come to another conflict, they will respond and, in the end, Israel will be hurt.

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Abbas Sends Blessing to Kim Jon Un
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did it again ... only this time with North Korea.

Abbas sent Kim Jong Un a telegram wishing him and the North Korean people congratulations on the celebration of Liberation Day, the day that celebrates their liberation from Japan.

Abbas thanked Kim Jong for his support of the Palestinian people and for North Korea's investment and trade as well as for their close friendship.

WAFA, the official Palestinian media, published a copy of the telegram.

Abbas wrote that Kim Jong Un "sacrificed the most precious sacrifices for its freedom and honor."

He wrote that he hopes that the "historical friendly relations between Palestine and North Korea and their two peoples will continue to develop and grow" and then he wished Kim "all health and happiness."

What is Abbas thinking? How many other countries wished North Korean well on this day? Reaching out to Kim Jong Un is a destructive move that will only further alienate Abbas and Palestinians from the West.

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Convicted For Defrauding ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A German court convicted a Syrian of attempting to defraud several ISIS terrorists.

The Syrian is referred to only as "Hassan A.". He asked the ISIS members for 180,000 Euros which is equivalent to $212,400. In return for the money Hassan agreed to plan and perpetrate a terror attack in Germany.

In the end no money was transferred - but Hassan A. was sentenced to two years of prison for trying to defraud ISIS.

Hassan A., a 39 year old a hairdresser, was found not guilty of planning a terror attack. He never planned on creating an attack - he was just trying to steal money from ISIS.

One has to laugh at the entire story. Should ISIS be protected from fraud and a flimflam? I'm not certain ... Should an illegal enterprise be protected from fraud? What do you think?

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US Kills More ISIS Leaders
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has killed several major ISIS leaders in Afghanistan.
The US targeted the ISIS leaders in an airstrike on Thursday. The top leader killed in the strike is Abdul Rahman, ISIS leader in the Kunar Province. The ISIS group was called ISIS-K.

Three other ISIS leaders were also killed in the strike. US General John Nicholson, senior US commander in Afghanistan, confirmed that the strike and the successful targeting of the SIS leaders.

"The death of Abdul Rahman deals yet another blow to the senior leadership of ISIS-K."

ISIS is on the ropes in the Far East and in the Middle East. Pressure against ISIS is continuing to build. The final destruction of ISIS is in sight.


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Iran May Be Forced Out of World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

International sports are supposed to be above politics. In fact, the rules of international sports competition dictates that no politics be a part of any decisions.

Some participants and organizers even harbor the hope - perhaps, the dream - that during competitions warring states will be seen as parties that can compete even when they disagree.

But hopes and dreams do not always come true. Two Iranian players for the Greek soccer club Panionios decided not to play in their away game against Israel, in Israel, even though they were pressured and fined by the club. When Israel traveled to Greece, however, to play Panionios at home, some same two Iranian players for the Greek club played.

Playing in their "home" stadium was considered a huge act of defiance by Iran. Iranian political leadership saw the player's participation as a betrayal, even a crime.

In the end the two Iranians who played for the Greek team were dropped from the Iranian national soccer team. Social media in Iran overwhelmingly defended the athletes' decision to play. But in this case, politicians had the last word.

Now FIFA, the international soccer body that supervises the soccer worldwide, has stepped in and asked for clarification. FIFA bylaws say there can be no external/political influence in decision making. If it is determined that the political powers exerted any influence Iran would be removed from all international competition.

This would be very costly and painful for Iran. Not simply because they would not be permitted to compete in club games, but because Iran qualified for the World Cup which is a great national honor and they would not be permitted to participate.

This is an example of emotions getting the better of them. The Iranians did not think things through.

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ISIS Threatens Iran w/ More Terror in Tehran
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday ISIS released another video in Farsi, the language of Iran.

The ISIS speaker, holding an AK-47 and sitting between two other ISIS members, called on followers in Iran to resume making bombs and blowing things up in the Iranian capital of Tehran.

They called it Jihad.

In June ISIS successfully carried out simultaneous attacks in Tehran. They struck the burial tomb of the founder of the Islamic state, the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, at the same time as they attacked the Iranian parliament.

The speaker in the video said: "The same way we are cutting the necks of your dogs in Iraq and Syria we will cut your necks in the center of Tehran."

ISIS means business.

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Israel Extradited Jewish Murderer of Arab
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This is a remarkable story.

Yehoshua Elitzur has been extradited from Brazil to Israel.

Elitzur, who lived in the settlement of Itamar, was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Israel for the 2004 murder of Sael Jabara al-Shatiya who lived in the Arab village of Shalem.

To reiterate - Israel has successfully returned a Jewish Israeli murderer who killed a Palestinian Arab in 2004. He is returning to serve his sentence. The process of extradition was long and it was expensive. Elitzur was arrested in Brazil in 2015. The Brazilians did not want to release him to Israel.

Now Yehoshua Elitzur will pay his debt to society in an Israeli prison.

Israeli justice is interested in bringing all people who flaunt the law to justice. The dictate cuts across the board. In the view of Israeli justice, Arab lives are just as important as Jewish lives.

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Pushing ISIS out of Syria & Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Lebanese army, together with Hezbollah, is planning to uproot ISIS from both sides of their borders. Assad's Syrian army will also be involved in rooting out ISIS - but the Lebanese say they are not coordinating directly with Assad.

The United States is supporting Lebanon's army. The US has provided Lebanon with weapons, helicopters and drones.

There are about 400 ISIS fighters in Lebanon - across the border there are probably about another 700 ISIS fighters. Hezbollah's leaders took to the airwaves and warned ISIS fighters that they will either die or be imprisoned.

This will be a coordinated force striking out against ISIS. There will be Lebanese losses, but the Lebanese will succeed.

But that's not all good news. ISIS will be dislodged, and after ISIS is dislodged, the vacuum will be filled by Hezbollah. Hezbollah will be on both sides of the border - they will be on both the Lebanese side and the Syrian side.

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Hamas Drones
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Another Hamas drone fell in Israel. It was not shot down -- it fell from the sky. The IDF found it and they are investigating and evaluating the drone.

There have been numerous Hamas drones that Israel either shot down or tracked down after they fell on Israeli soil. As a rule, Israel permits drones to fly over Gaza = but in principle, they will target a drone when the drone crosses over the Gaza border into Israel.

Hamas uses the drones as a tool to monitor Israeli movements, fortifications and even security features on fences and border crossings.

These drones are very small and inexpensive. They can even be bought on Amazon. They are outfitted with cameras that relay their pictures back to a computer in Gaza. These small drones fly low so they are hard to intercept. Larger drones, on the other hand, are targeted by helicopters or planes.

No doubt about it, Hamas is getting more and more sophisticated in how they collect intel.

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Hamas in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A senior Hamas delegation arrived in Iran on Friday.

This is gigantic step in Iran/Hamas relations. Iran has been supporting President Assad of Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict while Hamas has sided with those Sunnis trying to overthrow Assad.

As a result of this parting of the ways between Iran and Hamas over Syria, monies and the support for Hamas from Iran dwindled these past few years. But last week, during a visit to London, a high ranking Hamas member met the Iranian deputy foreign minister in charge of Arab affairs.

Now, with the push of Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations to isolate Qatar and Iran and create informal and public interaction with Israel, Iran sees how important it is to bring their natural allies - like Hamas, closer to their bosom.

So Hamas is now in Iran. Hamas leaders officially came to Iran to celebrate the inauguration of newly re-elected President Rouhani.

While there, Hamas leaders will have many meetings and extract many promises for support and assistance from Iran. In other words, they will come away with a lot of money.

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Iranian Granted Asylum from Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Neda Amin, an Iranian blogger/journalist for the Times of Israel, has been granted a special circumstances visa to enter Israel.

Amin left Iran in 2015 and has been living in Turkey. Now she is spending her time in a court battle, fighting a demand from Iran to repatriate her and bring her back to Iran - where she will certainly stand trial for the crime of blogging.

Neda Amin received UN refugee status in 2015 and she is appealing to other nations to take her in.

As a rule, Israel does not give visas to Iranians unless they are Jewish. But Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has made an exception. He said that Amin's life is in danger because she writes for Israel. The situation was brought to his attention when the Israel Journalists Federation appealed to Deri on behalf of Amin.

Deri responded immediately saying "This is a journalist whose life is in real danger." He continued --- "Given the clear humanitarian circumstances, I authorized her entry without delay."

We hope that Turkey will permit her to leave. Given that there have already been several Iranian hit squads that have executed Iranian expats in Istanbul, time is of the essence.

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Shin Bet Finds Hamas $ Trail
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, together with Israeli police uncovered evidence that Turkey is helping Hamas launder money through Ramallah, the capital city of the Palestinian Authority.

The investigation has uncovered what is most probably only the tip of a major money laundering scheme.

The Shin Bet found that $200,000 was moved into Ramallah from Hamas headquarters in Turkey and then sent to Gaza.

There is no question that Hamas is getting money into Gaza. It is being smuggled in and schlepped in. Some of the money is coming from Iran and some is coming from Qatar. This method is more direct.

Qatar can deposit money in Hamas' account in Istanbul, Turkey as a way into Gaza. In that way Hamas avoids the international bank restrictions imposed on support for Hamas.

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70% of Israelis Want Death Penalty for Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Israel Democracy Institute recently conducted a survey asking Israelis if they support the death penalty for terrorists who murder Israelis.

70% of Israelis say that they would support executing terrorists found guilty of murdering Israelis.

This week a bill will be brought to the Knesset to change the current law and allow capital punishment for terrorists.

Since Israel's birth in 1948, only one person has been executed - Adolf Eichmann the mastermind behind the transporting of Jews to their deaths during the Nazi Final Solution. And even then the Knesset had to pass a special exception in order to execute Eichmann.

The debate going on now is intense.

Until now terrorists knew that should they remain alive after the attack, they may one day return home as part of a negotiated trade deal. But with the rise of suicide terrorists and ISIS, there are very different options available for Israelis and for the terrorists. Today's terrorists almost always assume that they will die in the operation.

It is too soon to tell what the result of this very heated debate will be. We will, however, soon have our answer.

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There is No Solution
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 2, 2017
I've Been Thinking:

People are up-in-arms that special adviser and lead Mideast point man Jared Kushner said "there may be no solution" the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

Kushner's comments were leaked from an off-the-record briefing on the Middle East with congressional interns. The interns were warned not to leak anything from the briefing.

Actually, Kushner's insight is refreshing.

Most serious analysts have said, at one time or another, that there may not be a solution to the conflict. They have come to the conclusion that the best that can happen is a slow improvement towards a better situation and a better status quo.

The idea that a magic wand can bring the parties together is nothing short of insane.

One of the most important goals must be to improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. And that can be achieved without a real political resolution.


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PA Trying to Cancel Israel Africa Summit
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

In October, Togo is going to host the Africa Israel Summit. 40 of the 48 Sub-Saharan participant countries have diplomatic relations with Israel.
The Palestinian Authority and Morocco are lobbying Togo to cancel the summit.

Togo's president told PA President Abbas to stop telling him how to run his country.

This summit has been in the works for two years. The summit will focus on security, counter terrorism, economic ties, agriculture exchange, health and education and - of course, technology.

The Africa Israel Summit will benefit all those countries in attendance.

This summit is the fruition of Israel's foreign policy vision. It will allow Israel to expand its role and to play a significant part in the development of all the Sub-Saharan countries that partner with her.

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Qatar Says - Internationalize Muslim Sites
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Qatar shot back at the rest of the Arab world yesterday. They suggested that Muslim holy sites be controlled by an international body.

Qatar took a dramatic swipe at Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis control many of the Muslim Holy sites, as do the Iraqis. And the Saudis shot back.

The Saudis said to Qatar that this is a declaration of war. Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said on al Arabiya's website: "Qatar's demands to internationalize the holy sites is aggressive and a declaration of war against the kingdom."

He continued: We reserve the right to respond to anyone who is working on the internationalization of the holy sites."

Qatar accused the Saudis of politicizing the Hajj and of setting obstacles preventing Muslims from participating in the Hajj.

These tensions will continue to fester.

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Abbas Refuses to Meet w US Envoy
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Everyone keeping tabs on the tensions in Jerusalem knew that President Trump dispatched Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt to the region to help resolve the problems.

Their dispatch, their meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, - everything they did and spoke about was covered in the press, especially details about settlements.

So why was there no mention of Abbas’ meeting with the dynamic duo? That answer was just released and it will blow your mind. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with the US president's special envoy Jason Greenblatt.

The reason given for the slap in the face to Greenblatt is that Abbas is enraged by Greenblatt's public announcement that the United States will slap sanctions on the PA for paying salaries to terrorists who are arrested by Israel and to the families of terrorists killed in the act.

That announcement was made clear to Abbas in an earlier meeting between the US and PA.

Instead of meeting with Abbas, Greenblatt met with PA chief negotiator Saeb Erakat and PA intelligence chief Majid Faraj.

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Arab League Warn Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Arab League convened an emergency session on Thursday. They met to discuss al Aqsa, Israel's adding and then removing metal detectors on the Temple Mount and the proposed plan to check everyone entering the mosque area.

After the meeting, Secretary of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said:
"Israel's withdrawal from its provocative and illegal actions solves the crisis they themselves created."

He continued:

"Dealing with Islamic sanctities with such imprudence poses a real threat of igniting a religious war, because no Muslim in the world accepts tarnishing al-Aqsa or its closure in the face of the worshipers or placing it under Israeli control."

And then:

"I call on the occupying state to read the lessons of this crisis and the message it carries."

Gheit was underscoring that al Aqsa is the third most holy site in all of Islam. True to form, the secretary of the Arab League could not call Israel by name - in keeping with anti-Israel tradition, he used the term "occupying state."

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PA is Calling for Violent Attacks on Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Wednesday the Tanzim, the Palestinian Authority Fatah military wing, gathered together for a meeting. They called for armed conflict with Israel.

This is a huge divergence from the past. It is a game changer. This declaration outs the Tanzim and puts them squarely in the Hamas and Hezbollah camp.

How do we know that this call was authentic and real? Because the meeting took place in Ramallah and because Abbas’ deputy, Mahmoud al Aloul, was present at he meeting. Also present was Fatah Central Committee member Tawfik Tirawi. Even official Fatah Spokesman Osama Qawasmeh said that this call to arms was in line with established Fatah ideology to fight Israel.

The Tanzim called for violent confrontations and not just demonstration on Fridays.

It now seems clear that Palestinian leadership is intent on taking advantage of the momentum of violence and protest and push it forward,

The sad reality is that Palestinian leadership is not pursuing a path towards peace. Instead, it is pushing for the destruction of Israel. They are in pursuit of an impossible and unattainable goal.

Israel is not going away.

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Tensions Continue Despite Removal of Metal Detectors
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:


We were told that the crisis - the tensions in Jerusalem, was all about the metal detectors. But yesterday all the metal detectors were removed and yet, the violence and the protests and the rhetoric continue.

Here's why.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem has said Palestinians will not rest until all
Israeli police presence and all IDF presence is totally removed from the area around the Temple Mount. The Palestinian agenda is to have all access to and from the Temple Mount totally out of the control of Israel. To that end they are also rejecting the smart cameras which have been suggested as a solution to the problem of security.

This new demand by the Mufti is a clear violation of previous agreements regarding the status quo and even the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.

But that is not the essential point.

The essential point is that Netanyahu, the prime minster of Israel, capitulated. Even though 77% of Israel thought it was a mistake to remove the metal detectors, the Mufti saw that Israel gave in and now they want more.

The principle behind the Mufti's demand is that, in the eyes of Islam, a non-believer - especially a Jew, cannot control a Muslim holy site and cannot tell a Muslim how to behave in what is supposed to be a Muslim controlled region.

And that's the crux of the issue.

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Israel Jordan Rift Resolves
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Resolutions are in the works. Calm may be restored sooner rather than later.

The Israeli guard who shot and killed two Jordanians has returned to Israel.
That resolution came about after conversations between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah.

At the same time, the head of Israel's Shin Bet traveled to Amman to meet with his Jordanian counterpart, the head of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID). In the presence of the two department heads, while in the Israeli embassy in Amman, the Israeli guard re-enacted events and was debriefed/investigated/interrogated.

At the end of the investigation, the guard was permitted to leave Jordan. He and the Israeli ambassador crossed the Allenby Bridge and returned to Israel on Monday.

It is almost 100% certain that in exchange for lifting their ban on Israeli diplomats, Jordan received assurances that Israel will remove the metal detectors from the Temple Mount.

The Israeli cabinet discussed removing the metal detectors and replacing them with smart cameras - very sophisticated cameras that can sense weapons and explosives.

Once all this happens, tensions will melt away.


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Israel Embassy Attacked in Jordan
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There was a shooting inside the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan yesterday.

Israel has not yet issued a statement. So far, all the information we have has come from the Jordanians.

Two terrorists entered the Israeli embassy, presumably, as workers for a furniture company coming to do repairs. Once inside they started to shoot.

The terrorists were killed. An Israeli was wounded.

The Israeli embassy in Jordan is in a very luxurious neighborhood in Amman.
It is built like a fortress and is guarded, on the outside, by Jordanian anti-terror forces. The embassy has been a center for protests against Israel.

Tensions are high in Jordan - about 40% of Jordan's population is of Palestinian descent.

Jordan is very close with the United States and they have a peace treaty with Israel. They are officially in charge of the Temple Mount. The Wafq, which is the religious trust that operates and controls the Temple Mount, is funded by Jordan.

The Jordanians are walking a tightrope.

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Tensions Increasing - Not Yet an Intifada
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A rocket, shot from the northern part of Hamas-controlled Gaza, exploded en-route to Israel.

The rocket was aimed at the southern Israeli port city of Ashkelon. Thankfully, it exploded prematurely, early on during its flight.

This rocket is the latest exchange in the increasingly tense situation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Tensions ratcheted up when three Israeli-Arab terrorists killed two Druze-
Israeli border guards in the Old City of Jerusalem. The murder took place just outside the compound of the Temple Mount. The terrorists ran into the grand plaza for protection after the attack. Two of the three were killed by the Israeli army responding to the attack. The third was injured and arrested. One of the terrorists posted about his need to defend al Aqsa, the mosque atop the Temple Mount.

Israel shut the Temple Mount for 36 hours and then re-opened it up after setting up metal detectors. This past Friday, the Muslim Sabbath day, the day when most Arab worshipers come to pray at the Mount, Palestinian leaders called for protests until the metal detectors were taken down. In response, Palestinians rioted.

Three Palestinian youths were killed during Friday's rioting.

And on Friday night a Palestinian terrorist broke into a Jewish settlement and then into a private home as a family was enjoying their Sabbath evening dinner. Three members of the family were killed, a fourth was seriously injured. This terrorist wrote on his facebook page that he loves people and is peaceful and happy, but he can't sit still, he must defend Al Aqsa.

Palestinian President Abbas has cancelled all interaction with Israel until the metal detectors are taken down.

And now much of the Arab world is echoing the call to defend al Aqsa from the Jews.

Tensions will only continue to escalate.


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Kuwait Expells Iranian Ambassador
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Kuwait has evicted the Iranian ambassador stationed in Kuwait City. The ambassador has 48 days to pack up and leave.

This is all the result of a spy scandal.

Kuwait uncovered a set of spies and tracked them back to Iran. The Kuwaitis are breaking relations with Iran because of the spy ring.

Iran issued a statement through SNA, their official press, the Iranians
Students News Agency. They said:

"Under the pressure of Saudi interventionist policies, and the baseless accusation of Iranian interference ... Kuwait has announced that ... Alireza Enayati, the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait, must leave within 48 days".

Obviously, tensions are rising. The real issues go far deeper than spying.

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Iran Threatens US Over Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

As everyone knows, the US has stepped up sanctions against Iran.
The United States feels that Iran is violating the great deal that was signed between the P-5 plus 1. And Iran is hitting back.

The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammed Ali Jafari, has warned the United States that if they continue to invoke sanctions, they should withdraw troops up to about 700 miles away from Iran.

He said: "If the United States wants to pursue sanctions against Iran's defenses and the Guards, then it has to move its regional bases to a distance of about 1,000 km around Iran and be aware that it would pay a high price for any miscalculations.”

Iran is making a direct threat. Iran will attack US interests.

Here is the deal – Iran does not think that they have violated the deal.
Hitting them with sanctions will almost certainly result in a serious counter response. And the Iranian counter may be military.

More probably, however, it will be political response, perhaps even an economic response, like blocking US firms from bidding on Iranian contract or buying Iranian oil.

Time will tell.


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More Sanctions on Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The US Treasury Department announced a list of Iranians who are skirting the now infamous deal with the Western nations signed in March of 2016.
Sanctions have now been levied on the Iranian firms and individuals on the list.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is part of the elite of the elite of Iran, is on the list. The US Treasury says that Iranian violators have been developing drones, producing and maintaining boats and importing electronic components of defense materials.

According to the report two Iranian individuals are "engaging in activities that have materially contributed to the development of Iran's nuclear and missile programs."

Another group has been involved in stealing US software.

The agreement with Iran covered nuclear development and not conventional weapons development. The Iranian claim is that all this activity is for conventional and not nuclear weapon programs.

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Imam in Montreal Calls to Kill Jews
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Montreal police have issued an arrest warrant for a Jordanian Imam who preached the murder of Jews.

Daral Arqam Mosque, located in the neighborhood of Saint Michel, invited an Imam named Sheik Muhammed bin Musa al Nasr to give a sermon in December of 2016. During his sermon the imam recited a Hadith, a post-Koranic text, about the end of days which proscribes that Muslims murder Jews who hide behind every tree.

"O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
The director of Bnai Brith in Montreal asked the police to investigate and police issued the arrest warrant.

B'nai Brith has committed to tracking down this imam wherever he is and to extradite him for trial. They argue that one cannot preach hatred that calls for the murder of Jews.


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Arab Leaders Condemn Terror: Local Leaders Embrace
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This is essential to understand.

The King of Jordan condemned the terror on the Temple Mount. And yet, the parliament of Jordan proclaimed the terrorists to be great heroes to the people. They actually blessed the terrorists.

This should not surprise anyone.

Most - if not all, of national Arab leadership publicly condemned the al Aqsa terror perpetrated last Friday. They want to make certain that there is no explosion of violence. At the same time, there is a call for revolution and shouts about Israel taking over al Aqsa.

Here is how the problem breaks down: National Arab leaders realize the need to keep calm - but local leaders feel the need to feed the terrorist frenzy. Local leaders want to connect to every local resident.

This tension is dramatic. But - and this is important, it remains clear that national leadership takes priority.


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Arab Leaders Mostly Silent about Al Aqsa
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

After Friday's terror attack on the Temple Mount, Israel closed the mosque --but only temporarily. By Sunday it was already open, albeit with increased security in the outside area. Israel can only secure the inside area because the large inside area, where the mosque and the Dome of the Rock are situated, is under the control of Jordan.

The Muslim world has weighed in on the closure... some silently, some critical and some critical of the silence.

Cartoons are very telling.

The Saudis have been silent, but Saudi newspaper Al Wattan shows a picture of a star of David in the shape of a Devil devouring Al Aqsa.

Al Quds al Arabi, which is published out of London, depicts an ostrich burying its head while al Aqsa is on TV - filled with blood. The ostrich is Arab leadership.

One very telling cartoon from facebook has a Palestinian youth telling Arab leaders that al Aqsa is in danger. The leaders are fat and drinking wine. One asks the other what the kid is talking about. The second answers that al Aqsa is in Qatar.

The commentary is clear.

Arab leaders do not see the danger that other, mostly Palestinians, want to foment. There is a long history of al Aqsa being the catalyst for riots and uprisings and the murder of Israelis. There are some in the Arab world that want to renew and revitalize that chain of events.

It seems that the leaders do not want to go along with this call to incitement and are trying to quell possible explosions.

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Direct Flights form Israel to Saudi Arabia- Maybe
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's Minister of Transportation, a Druze named Ayoub Kara, has suggested direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia exclusively to accommodate Hajj pilgrims.

Ideally, the flights would be direct and nonstop. The next best alternative would be to have the flights touchdown in Jordan before continuing on to Saudi Arabia.

This year the Hajj begins on August 30th and ends on September 4th.
Obviously there are no diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia - but there certainly is exceptional and continued real communication taking place behind closed doors.

About 6,000 Israelis travel to Mecca each year as part of the Hajj. The distance between Mecca and Tel Aviv is about 1,000 miles. These flights would make the pilgrims' trip so much easier. They would be a special set of charter flights to serve a specific population for a specific purpose and a special, limited, goal.

Interestingly, there is precedent for the flights. The first person to make the direct flight from Saudi Arabia to Tel Aviv was US President Donald Trump on his first international trip as president. He flew directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel while all the planes accompanying him had to stop over in Cyprus.

If these flights are approved, it could pave the way for more expanded relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, or, like the flights themselves, it could be a one time, limited run exception.

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Bastille Day & Trump
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

For those who don't know -- President Trump is still in Europe.

On Friday, July 14, 2017 US President Donald Trump will be the featured guest at the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris. President Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected president of France, invited him to be the guest of honor.

While in Paris, Macron and Trump will discuss how they can best work together.

Bastille Day in France is like the 4th of July in the United States. The day memorializes the storming of the Bastille by democratic revolutionaries as they retook France from the aristocracy.

The French Revolution was the beginning of democracy in France and the stimulus for the movement of democratization in the Western world. It was the springboard for the mass transformation of the West into a democracy.
It was the first, it was the model.

While in Paris, Donald Trump will be at the epicenter of European news. In the United States, however, this trip by the US president will probably not even be a blip in the news cycle.

That's a shame, because this visit resonates with symbolism - it heralds US President Donald Trump as the leader of Western democracy.

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Gulf States Continue to Pressure Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE - the four Gulf states that continue to isolate Qatar - have made an announcement: Despite the US / Qatar agreement that was signed by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Emir of Qatar al Thani to stop all monetary support of terror, they - the four nations are going to monitor Qatar very carefully.

They have also called for the ousting of Qatar from the anti-ISIS coalition, the group of countries under US leadership fighting ISIS.

This is what the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said in a meeting of the anti-ISIS coalition in Washington, DC: "It is unacceptable for the coalition to have amongst its members states that support terrorism or advocate for it in their media."

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid, who is heading the Egyptian delegation in Washington, continued to say: "The decision by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain to boycott Qatar-a coalition member-is in accordance with that principle."

The four Gulf states are cranking up the pressure on Qatar. At the same time, the United States is trying to ease the situation.

The four really want Qatar to stop supporting terror and to stop supporting Iran.

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Iran Opens Tenders for Oil Exploration
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is opening 14 new gas and oil exploration tenders.
Iranians are hoping to entice foreign energy companies to foot the bill to discover new gas and oil sources and then partner with Iran in the profits of the new wells.

This is a very important move for Iran.

Iran wants to increase production and make themselves an even larger supplier of natural gas and oil.

Many companies from many nations have expressed interest in bidding for the rights to partner with Iran. Total from France has already signed a deal with Iran this week. Lukoil from Russian is very interested as is Maersk from Denmark.

So are Britain's BP, Austria's OMV and Russia's Gazprom. Italy's Edison and Malaysia's Petronas are also vying for the opportunity to partner with Iran.

There is no doubt that the 14 tenders will be very lucrative for the companies as well as for Iran.

The big question is if how these relationships will develop given the anti-
Western and anti-foreign involvement sentiments within Iran. If their attitude was just a stance Iran adopted in response to Western sanctions, it is all in the past because sanctions have been lifted. But if there really is an anti-Western and anti-foreign bent in Iran, then the investors could very likely lose their investments.


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Sisi Accepts 2 State Solution
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

President al Sisi of Egypt told Palestinian President Abbas yesterday that he accepts the two-state solution.

The two had a meeting in Cairo and the Egyptian president explained that he was in favor of a Palestinian state and an Israeli state based on the '67 borders.

This is a tremendous step forward.

In essence, Egypt is saying that they want a resolution to the Palestinian problem and urging Abbas to move. The important point is that with a resolution other issues in the Middle East can and will fall into place and begin to be resolved.

Of course al Sisi also said that the Palestinian state would have its capital in Jerusalem.

An agreement with Israel mean that the Palestinians would be able to secure their future and that Arab leaders would be able to focus their attention on the other issues within the Arab world that require their time and energy.

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Bibi Takes a Phone Call
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Indian Prime Minister Modi had a very successful trip to Israel. Both Israel and India agree that they have concretized a very strong set of objectives based on shared values.

Before this trip the two nations got along well, but there was an implicit understanding that India needed to accommodate to the Arab world. India needed Arab oil and markets. So India needed to take sides and the side they took was not Israel.

However, during this trip the tone and the spirit was one of mutual and total friendship.

On Thursday, just before the end of his trip, Modi and Netanyahu were walking on the beach near Haifa when Netanyahu interrupted their conversation and took a phone call. Who is so important that one prime minister would take a call and interrupt a meeting with another prime minister? No-it was not Netanyahu's wife Sarah.

The call was from Putin.

Putin called Netanyahu on the eve of his first face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump. I suppose Putin wanted to pick Netanyahu's brain on how to deal with Trump and get updates on the situation in Syria.

Foreign diplomacy at its best!


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ISIS Not a Cyber Threat
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

It has become pretty clear that ISIS does not have a serious hacking branch. They do not have a cyber attack team that can threaten the West in any serious way.

Yes, they communicate with one another using encrypted software like WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal and Wire. But they cannot really hack. The style of hacking used by ISIS is termed "kiddie hack" or "fledgling hack." That is not a compliment. They use preexisting programs and do not create any real threat.

Up until now ISIS' computer hacking success has been "denial of service" attacks. Denial of service is a cyber attack that floods a site and brings it down. Even this is old. They use windows programs and multiple servers and the best of these use bots and botnets.

ISIS does not cover their cyber hacking tracks well. They use proxies and cyber-criminals. Both of these are very simple to crack.

ISIS has been working the cyber angle for three years and after all that time they are successful only their communication.

Individuals around the world might do ISIS a favor and hack for them -- but there is no actual cyber threat from ISIS.

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Misspelled Terrorism on the Memorial
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday, Columbia City, Indiana uncovered their new Vietnam memorial.
Part of the memorial is a bench and at the foot of the bench is written the word Terrorism.

But "terrorism" was misspelled. The word had an addition "i" so it read Terriorism.

Ty Murphy, the designer of the memorial, said that it was a minor and small issue. He said it was a "pretty small thing to worry about" but, never the less, phones have been ringing "off the hook."

The designer said that the mistake would either be fixed or the bench would be replaced. In the meantime, he put a piece of gaffer's tape on the extra "I". He thinks that for now, it looks ok.

The truth is that misspelling a word - especially a word that resonates as much as the word "terrorism" does is not a small or minor thing at all.

It's a big deal, a very big deal.


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Israeli Hospitals Hit by Cyber Attack
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli hospitals were recently hit by a cyber attack. It was originally thought that eight Israeli hospitals were targeted but the prime minister’s office has reported that actually, only two hospitals were affected.

The names of those two hospitals have yet to be made public. Everyone involved has clearly confirmed that there has been no security risk and that the hospitals were only briefly affected. Hospital computers were quickly treated and further protected.

This attack was not connected to the massive attack which took place the day before. The GoldenEye virus, aka Petya, hit ports all around the world including Mumbai and Los Angeles. The virus attacked and disabled thousands of computers even hitting a chocolate factory in Australia.

GoldenEye is a ransomware improvement of the Petya ransomware virus. It originated in Ukraine.

The virus that hit Israel was not a ransomware which is when the computer is taken over and you need to pay to get control back of your own computers.
This was an invasion to see and disrupt.

Israel says that no damage was done and all the computers that were attacked are now protected and back up and running.

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Iran Anti Trump Cartoon Competition
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Remember Iran's cartoon competition about the Holocaust?

The same people are organizing a cartoon competition about Donald Trump.

The competition opened in Teheran on Monday. Some of the 1,600 cartoons submitted to the competition used Nazi and Hitler images to depict the US president.

First prize is $1500.

Iran is making fun of Trump. That's good news.

It means that Donald Trump and America are doing something right. Iranians are feeling the pressure of the United States upon them and they are responding by turning America and the American president into a target of ridicule and of humor.

With both the Holocaust cartoon competition and this competition lampooning President Trump, Iranians are trying to change history by challenging world leadership and the role of the United States - especially the role of President Trump, in world affairs.

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Assad on New Bank Note
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Syria is printing a 2,000 pound bank note.

Until now their largest denomination was a 1,000 pound note.

This new note has --- you guessed it --- a picture of Bashar Assad on it. The 1,000 note has a picture of father, Hafez Assad.

The banknote went into circulation on Sunday.

The release of this new note transmits a very important message from the president of Syria. Assad is feeling very secure. Even those trying to oust him in Syria still use Syrian bank notes. They are using notes with his father's face printed on them, and now they will be using notes with his face.

Assad clearly and firmly believes that he is in Syria to stay.

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Indian PM To Visit Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Next week Prime Minister Modi of India will make history when he arrives in Israel on the first trip ever of an Indian prime minister to Israel. Modi will spend three days in meetings in Israel.

India has historically been very quiet about their good relations with Israel and very public about their ties with the Palestinians and the Arab world. Arafat was a regular guest in India. Abbas just made a trip there.
India may have pledged and delivered generous support to the Palestinians - but when all is said and done, India is a partner with Israel. They buy $1 billion a year of military equipment and training from Israel.

Even more important right now is an Israeli program to help alleviate food shortages in India.

Israeli has created 26 agricultural centers in 15 Indian states to help improve the growth of staples by efficiently providing food. This will aid by boosting the production of vegetables, mangos and pomegranates.

This $100 billion program will benefit both Israel and India.

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Iran is the Hottest Spot on Earth
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

When I say "things are heating up," I am usually speaking metaphorically.
But not this time.

Things are really heating up in Iran - not figuratively but quite literally. It is really hot.

Yesterday the temperature in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz reached 128.7 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 53.7 Centigrade. That is one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded - anywhere in the world.

The hottest temperature ever recorded was in July of 1913 in Death Valley, California where the temperature reached 134 F. While that's the recorded temperature, it's doubtful that it was a true reading. When you take into account the other heat and the real feel, the temperature was probably more 142 F.

Ahvaz is so hot one might think it was a ghost town - but it is home to 1.3 million Iranians.

The name of the town, Ahvaz, means the market of the Khuzis, a local Iranian tribe.


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Hamas Creating Buffer w Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas leadership in Gaza is creating a buffer zone between them and Egypt. The Hamas Interior Ministry has begun construction on the zone.

The objective of the buffer zone is to make certain that no one and nothing is smuggled from Gaza into Egypt or from Egypt into Gaza.

The buffer zone is going to be 100 meters wide. Anything that might possibly obscure someone or something from being seen or allow something or someone to hide is being bulldozed. Everything is being knocked down.

The decision to build this buffer zone came about as a result of a meeting between Hamas leaders and Egyptian intelligence chiefs. It is part of an agreement. Leadership in Gaza needs to control its border and prevent ISIS and weapons from coming into Egypt.

In return for securing the border and keeping ISIS out of Egypt, Gaza will get relief. Egypt will provide electricity to the strip which has been having difficulty providing electricity - Gazans receive only three hours of electricity a day.

Egypt has also promised to open their border crossings on a more scheduled and regular basis.

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Iran Now Selling Gas to Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is now exporting natural gas to Iraq. The Iranians are moving 7 million cubic meters of natural gas to Iraq per day. They hope to slowly increase to 35 million over the next few months.

Iran began sending the gas on Wednesday. It travels through a pipeline that goes directly through Basra, in southern Iraq on the border of Iran, to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Iraq really needs the gas because their electric grid has been so devastated by the years of conflict.

"The long-awaited project finally went on stream after four years of delay due to the challenging security situation in war-torn Iraq" explained Amir Hussein Zamaninia, the deputy at the National Iranian oil company. The quote was reported in the Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA, which is the official news agency of Iran.

Until yesterday, Turkey was the only country receiving natural gas from Iran. Now Iran has two important clients.

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Israel US Cyber Terror Pact
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and the US have signed a cyber security pact. The pact was signed during a cyber security conference.

Present at the conference was Tom Bossert, President Trump's adviser on Homeland Security. Bossert explained the importance of partnering in order to curb cyber terror. He said their intention was "stopping adversaries in networks and identifying ways to hold bad actors responsible for [their cyber terror activity]."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the conference saying that one fifth of the world's investment in cyber security is invested in Israel. He said that Israel is home to tens of companies that deal with cyber security.

Everyday Israel is attacked by 10's of thousands of cyber threats. The country is well equipped to repel those attacks.

Participation in this conference signals a serious step forward in global coordination against cyber terror.

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Iran Defends Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a public defense of Qatar.

Rouhani explained that Qatar has unfairly been isolated. He said the "siege of Qatar is unacceptable." This was reported on IRNA, an official media arm of the Iranian establishment.

This is what he said: "Tehran stands with the Qatari nation and government ... We believe that if there is a conflict between regional countries, pressure, threats or sanctions are not the right way to resolve differences." IRNA quoted Rouhani as giving over this message to Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in a telephone call.

The president also told the emir, "The siege of Qatar is unacceptable to us ... The airspace, land and sea of our country will always be open to Qatar as a brotherly and neighboring country."

This should not be a surprise. Qatar has upset the apple cart. They have come out in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Hamas and are suggesting that Iran be taken seriously as a regional power.

Now Iran is now coming to their defense.

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Assad Visits Leaves Enclave for Hama
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

President Bashar Assad of Syria has been ensconced in his capital stronghold for years.

Assad seldom leaves his palace. Since 2011 when the civil conflict erupted, the Syrian dictator has wisely remained in the most secure and safe haven he has to avoid assassination.

But today Assad ventured to Hama, a large city in South West of Syria.
Hama was host to some of the largest protests against Assad at the beginning of conflict that has embroiled Syria for the past 6 years.

The Syrian president ventured to Hama for the final prayers of Ramadan and the beginning of the three day festival of Eid al Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan.

This is a telling and important move.

The choice of Hama, above all other Syrian cities, illustrates that Assad feels he is in control of the symbol of the revolt. The decision to leave his enclave means that Bashar Assad believes that the tide of the conflict has shifted enough for him to be safe in the focal point of the rebellion against him.

This may indeed be the beginning of the end of the conflict and the return of Assad to the undisputed leader of Syria.

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PA Justifies Paying Terrrorists
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority continues to pay families of terrorists. They pay more to the families of those killed in the act than those in prison, but everyone gets paid.

This is a major bone of contention for the United States. President Trump has told the PA to put a stop to the payments and Abbas said that they had stopped - but they really haven't.

Now spokespeople of the PA are claiming that they cannot stop. Yesterday, Nabil Shaat, the official PA spokesman of PA President Abbas said that Palestinians have a "social responsibility" to pay the families of prisoners in Israeli jails because they are "political prisoners," and that the payouts are the PA's way of "look(ing) after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones as a result of the military occupation."

We have reached an impasse.

According to Palestinian logic, the PA must pay terrorists and the terror is to be blamed on Israel. The rest of us know that this is ridiculous. It's Israel's fault that Palestinians blow themselves up? It's Israel's fault that they try to blow up, or stab, or ram into and run down Israelis? Come on now.

There is no excuse for murder.

It seems clear that the PA is excusing and justifying their payments to terrorists by justifying the mass murder of innocent Israelis.

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Israel to Evacuate 100,000's of Lebanese
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is gearing up for a new conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

We have already heard that that Israel will now be able to accomplish in only two days what they accomplished in 34 days during the last conflict with Hezbollah.

Israeli generals are saying that they have great surprises for Hezbollah.

Israel's IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said that, in the event of conflict, Israel will need to evacuate hundreds of thousands of civilians. He said, "The moment we know the enemy goes into urban terrain, it becomes a matter of morals and values. There are hundreds of thousands in the civilian population. We'll need to evacuate them ... and we'll have to do that as quickly as possible. We need to preserve legitimacy while fighting."

Each time an Israeli IDF general talks about the conflict, I am struck by two things - improved Israeli technology and the conviction that evacuating innocents in order to avoid as much "collateral damage" as possible holds a priority position in Israel's plan.

Israel already has the evacuation plan in place. It is a practical plan based on the moral conviction that civilians not become "collateral damage" in a conflict with Hezbollah.

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Why Israel Saves Syrians
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Since the conflict began in Syria, at least 3000 if not 10,000 Syrians have been brought into Israeli hospitals for treatment.

Why would Israel accept Syrians and why would Syrians want to go to Israel. After all, Israel is their sworn enemy.

This is how a fighter for the Free Syrian Army, a fighter named Ramadan, who was shot and badly wounded and went to Israel for help describes the situation:

"All the world is killing us, all the world." "All my life I was told Israel is my enemy. I grew up like that, to believe that Israel is the devil. But all the world is against us, and only Israel is our friend. The world is killing us. Israel is saving us."

"One of my team had a friend from a village near the Israeli border, so they took me there right away. They put me on a donkey. The donkey carried me up to the Israeli border. And then the Israeli soldiers brought me here."

Imagine the situation. Sworn enemies - and yet Israel is saving their lives.


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Iran Explains Missiles & Warns Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has explained their missile attack into Syria. Missile were launched from Iran they flew over Iraq and hit Syria.

The adviser to the Iranian foreign minister explained the attack by saying that "the presence of Americans in the region is illegal; the US should leave Syria sooner or later."

He continued, "The Saudis and Americans are the main recipients of this message."

The adviser explained that Israel "is the main enemy" of Iran, despite the attack targeting militant groups who Iran blames for the Tehran attacks, and adding that Israel now "has to worry about (its actions)."

He further explained that Israel must understand that Iran can - and actually will, hit Israel. He said. "I think (Israel) understood rockets' messages well." He added, "We are targeting terrorists only, and the countries that support them must know what it means when we use these missiles."

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Iran & China Conduct War Games
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

It is commonplace for countries to perform joint military exercises. It is a way of demonstrating that allies can operate together and work together to achieve military goals.

It is also a way of signaling alliances. Sometimes, rather than being reassuring, that becomes an alarming event.

China and Iran are now involved in joint naval exercises. I learned about their war games from the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), an official Iranian news agency.

This is a very dramatic military move. It is no secret that tensions are very high between the United States and Iran and that there are heightened tensions with China.

I monitor the war games of nations very carefully. These games are telling us that the links between China and Iran are very strong.

From Iran's point of view, China is an important friend to have. On the international stage, having China in your corner brings about a huge power boost.

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BBC False Headline Doesn't Say Terror
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The BBC publicly issued a statement of regret -- regret, not apology -- for a horrific headline that neglected to mention 'terror by Palestinians' or the 'murder of an Israeli border patrolwoman' in East Jerusalem.

The false headline read: "Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem."

The BBC responded to outrage and outcry from around the world, including a tweet from Donald Trump Jr. about how false the news was, by issuing the following statement: "We accept that our original headline did not appropriately reflect the nature of the events and subsequently changed it. Whilst there was no intention to mislead our audiences, we regret any offense caused."

The story line is upside down.

According to the BBC headline, the most important element in the story is that three Palestinians were killed. Missing is the fact that the three Palestinians were terrorists and they were killed in the midst of a terror attack perpetrated by them during which they murdered a young female Israeli soldier.

Donald Trump Jr. Tweeted, "You mean after they stabbed a female Israeli police officer to death... right? This is as close to being misleading as possible."

The BBC merely accepted the critique and regretted an offense. They did not deem it appropriate or necessary to issue an apology. As unacceptable as that is, the worst part of their non-apologetic statement is the assertion that they did not intend to mislead. There is no other possible motivation for the false headline than to be misleading.

The BBC intended to reshape the story and deflect responsibility from the murdering terrorist Palestinians and lay it at the foot of Israelis.

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ISIS on Israel's Border
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS is losing their strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Israel sees these ISIS losses as a significant threat to their borders. ISIS fighters are being forced to flee and are relocating in areas closer and closer to Israel - like the Golan Heights.

Israel is running cross border exercises into Syria. As they run their exercises, Israel is gathering more information and active intel on ISIS and the several dozen other fighters that are now gathering in the South eastern part of the Syrian Golan Heights.

This area is the nexus of the border between Jordan, Israel and Syria. It is at the Yabuk River which is where the Biblical patriarch Jacob wrestled with the angel.

An elite unit of the Israeli Givati Brigade is in the Golan. The Givati unit is involved in the cross border activity. Normally, Givati is headquartered in the south and specializes in the Gaza Strip. But they also train up north in the Golan to help out in the event that they may be needed there.

In an unusual move, the IDF invited a journalist to observe Givati in the Golan and report on their activity.

Israel is preparing for infiltration or attacks by ISIS. Israel knows that they must be prepared.

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Remember Tora Bora
By Micah Halpern

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Remember Tora Bora?

Tora Bora was Osama bin Laden's hideout, located in the mountains of Afghanistan. It sits nestled in a labyrinth of caves and tunnels.

ISIS is now attempting to conquer Tora Bora and turn it into their own headquarters.

But the location is not up for grabs. Actually, for certain nefarious groups it is the equivalent of prime real estate.
ISIS is locked in a fierce and deadly battle with the Taliban in the area of Tora Bora.

If ISIS successfully wrestles the bastion from the Taliban, they will not only have a nearly impervious hideaway - just as bin Laden had, but they will have scored a colossal symbolic victory - because bin laden was ensconced there.

ISIS will have out al Qaedad al Qaeda.
Even in the world of terrorists, it's all about location, location, location.

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Indonesia Admits ISIS is All Over
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Indonesia is the country with more Muslims that any other country in the world. Over 240 million Muslims live in Indonesia.

The head of Indonesia's defense said that ISIS has sleeper cells in every single province. General Gatot Nurmantyo gave a press conference yesterday in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.

He said: "After observation, we see that in almost every province ... there are already ISIS cells, but they are sleeper cells." Nurmantyo also said that "These sleeper cells can easily join up with other radical cells."

Indonesia is joining forces with Malaysia and the Philippines to fight ISIS. They have come to the realization that they must stand up and root out ISIS. If they do not stop them, ISIS will continue to attack their home-front.

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Hamas in Egypt Mending Ties
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas sent a delegation to Egypt to discuss security in Gaza and Egypt.

The delegation was lead by the new head of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar. The group met with intelligence leaders in Cairo.

Hamas is trying to mend fences with Egypt. Egypt has closed the border with Gaza and clamped down on the smuggling of people and goods in and out of Gaza into Egypt.

Egypt has traced the arrival of weapons and terrorists from Gaza into the Sinai Desert where they attacked Egyptian civilians and soldiers and made their way to Cairo where they targeted civilians.

Hamas leadership also met with Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan was one of Arafat's strongmen in Gaza. Today he is a rival of PA President Abbas and has been convicted, in absentia, of offending Abbas.

Not too very long ago, Hamas also saw Dahlan as an arch enemy and he had to run for his life after Hamas took power in Gaza in a coup.

This meeting is an attempt to bridge that gap too.

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Hamas is Pushing For Escalation
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A special series of circumstances is stimulating Hamas and other Gaza leaders to go all out in an effort to escalate acts of terror against Israel.

The leadership is pushing hard, sparing no cost to stimulate terror attacks primarily in the West Bank but also in the entirety of Israel.

And it is happening right now.

The situation in Gaza - especially issues with electricity and fresh water and joblessness is reaching a peak. As the summer heat increases, the sense of defeat, frustration and desperation increases.

Now, add Qatar to the equation. Qatar, the most significant of all of Gaza's sponsors, is under pressure. The Qataris have been given notice to stop their support of terror by other Gulf nations as well as by the Sunni and Western world .

And then finally, Israel has begun to build an underground security wall in order to put a final end to the tunneling from Gaza into Israel.

A new leader has assumed leadership of Hamas, His name is Yahyah Sanwar. This is the first real test of his leadership abilities. Sanwar's rhetoric is more radical than the rhetoric of his predecessors. He is known as a firebrand and he is pushing for big, bold, game changing terror attacks against Israel.

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Confilcting Messages from Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Mahmoud Habash is the adviser on religious affairs for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In his Friday sermon Habash made it very clear that the Western Wall must always remain in Muslim control.

Habash said "It is an Islamic endowment that absolutely cannot belong to non-Muslims." "It is our property and endowment. It is impossible to concede one millimeter of it."

This is a huge issue.

These statements contradict statements made just last week by another Abbas adviser, Jabril Rajoub who spoke on Channel 2 Israel News. Rajoub said that the Western Wall will stay under Jewish control in any agreement with Israel.

This is a classic move by the Palestinians.

Leaders and advisers often say whatever they need to say. It all depends on the audience they are addressing. To the mosque it is one message, to Israelis it is a very different message.

The big question remains. Which one will it be?
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Cobryn Justifes Terror
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Jeremy Cobryn, leader of the Labour Party, who scored a huge victory in yesterday's election, has justified the actions of terrorists who create websites to raise money for terror acts.

Two terrorists admitted to creating websites with the purpose of raising money for the exclusive purpose terror attacks. They were extradited to the United States and were convicted of terror.

In October of 2012 Cobryn said on the Islam Channel that the two terrorists had "done nothing wrong." Cobryn asserted that these two were protected under the concept of freedom of speech. That it was wrong to arrest, extradite and convict them.

Watching him defend the terrorists is simply shocking. It is no wonder that the Labour party is failing and that so many Jews have left the party.

The party must throw Cobryn out... and then they must rebuild.

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Kurds To Vote on Statehood in Sept
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Kurds of Iraq have announced that in September they will vote on seceding from Iraq and creating an independent Kurdish state in the current independent Kurdish region.

This is a huge move.

Marsoud Barzini, president of the Kurdish regional government, made the announcement on his twitter feed.

About 5 million Kurds live in the region. They have been relatively autonomous since the establishment of the new Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. They are very productive and they have great oil reserves.

Tensions emerged when the national government tried to lay claim to the oil revenues. But since the rise of ISIS, the national government has been hands-off the Kurdish region, freeing them to fight ISIS and allowing them to use their oil profits to fight ISIS.

The tide might be turning.

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Israeli Police Raid Bomb Factory
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Just in case you thought that a real sense of calm had settled over Jerusalem and that terror was a thing of the past - here's a reality check.

Israeli Border Police arrested two bomb makers in a midnight raid.

The raid took place in a home located in an Arab village that abuts Jerusalem.

The police confiscated bomb making materials. They assert that, since January, these bomb makers built thirty bombs that were used in acts of terror. Most of the bombs were thrown at Israelis.

The two bomb makers were arrested for making bombs and for exploding them.

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Oil Prices Slip
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The price of oil dropped 39 cents by the end of the day yesterday. Those watching the market are expecting the price to continue to fall.

This happened on the same day that OPEC decided to continue to drop output.

Conventional wisdom would say - when OPEC reduces output, the price of oil should shoot up.

So why has it dropped?

Two reasons.

First, there has been a surge of output from elsewhere in the world filling the gap that is created by OPEC. The US, for example, has increased production by over 10% over the last year. Second, instability in the Middle East is telling the market that OPEC members will not hold to the restrictions on output.

Both of these reasons telegraph a message to the market. This is how we predict markets.

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Russia & Saudis Agree on Oil deal
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A very special meeting took place recently in Saudi Arabia. Head of the Russia oil company Rosneft Igor, Sechin met with his counterpart Amin Nasser, the head of Saudi oil company Aramco.

This was their very first official meeting. In the past these two powerhouses of oil have spoken - because they were often at the conferences and meetings together, but this was different.

They met in order to develop a working plan to provide oil to Asian markets, especially Indonesia and India.

The idea is that these two mega oil producers work together and not compete to deliver energy to an area of the world in dire need of oil.

It will be a very good investment for them and, because the demand is so high in that part of the world, it will insulate them both from damage should the price of oil drop.

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ISIS Calls for Terror During Ramadan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS has been calling for vehicle attacks for several years. They are not alone.

Terrorist leaders across the globe - especially in Gaza and the West Bank, have called for using vehicles as a weapon for a long time.

Even Imams preach about the use of cars, trucks and knives to attack innocent people.

Now that Ramadan has begun ISIS has picked up their messaging.
ISIS has posted videos and other messages - including a poster sized message posted across the internet, imploring people to "kill the citizens of the Crusaders."

The message written in black, also reads "run over them with vehicles." In yellow, in parenthesis, they added (Gain Benefit from Ramadan).

Under that slogan there are pictures of a gun, a knife and a truck with the English words, written in red, next to each item.

At the very bottom of the poster is a translation of all the slogans into Arabic.

ISIS is calling for more terror - take them at their word and expect more, especially in Western Europe.

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A/S in Mt Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The pine cones spelled out words "KILL THE JEWS". And then there was a swastika for added emphasis.

This hateful message was laid out on the retaining wall at a school crosswalk for everyone to see in the beautiful, picturesque, affluent, Pittsburgh suburb of Mt Lebanon.

It was not the first or the second incident of this nature in that neighborhood. A few months ago the girls' bathroom in a local high school was defaced with a similar graffiti message and swastika and the same thing happened at a local playground.

The corner on which the pine cones were arranged is a popular spot for messages. The school crossing often arranges pleasant messages for the children going to school. "HAVE A NICE DAY" is the most common message --- not one of hate.

The house on the corner is up for sale and, for now, no one is living there. The message was discovered at 6:30 AM. After snapping a picture and calling the police, someone transformed the word KILL to LOVE.

This anti-Semitic sentiment is certainly not shared by everyone in the neighborhood. The vast majority of the residents do not, in any way, subscribe to it. The problem is that some hateful person or group of teens in Mt Lebanon is scrawling messages of hate for all to see.

The culprit or culprits need to be apprehended and punished.

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Kuwaiti Arab Anti Terror Vieo Goes Viral
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

An anti-terror YouTube video has gone viral. This is the first time anything like this has happened - the 3 minute and 11 second video was made by a Kuwaiti telecom company named Zain.

In just a few days 2.4 million people had watched the video.
Zain, the telecommunication company is actually a regional mobile operator with more than 45 million customers.

Through the voice of a young girl, the video proclaims: "You've filled the cemeteries with our children and emptied our school desks."

The video is an ad that takes a stand against terror.

The song sung in the video contains the following lines: "Worship your God with love, with love not terror." And, "Be tender in your faith, gentle not harsh. Confront your enemy, with peace not war."

This video depicts victims of terror. It implores a terrorist, who made a suicide bombers belt which he wears throughout the video, to stop the murder and embrace a different understanding of Islam.

This video ad is very impressive. So is the response it has received.

Watch the video:


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Trump Yelled at Abbas
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Channel 2 News in Israel is reporting that US President Trump yelled at Palestinian President Abbas when they met in Bethlehem.

The quote, as reported in the original Hebrew, went like this: "You lied to me in Washington when you talked about commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me you were personally responsible for incitement."

The Palestinians deny that there was any shouting and maintain that the conversation was peaceful and productive.

I would venture to say that Trump really did say those words, but in a civil - not loud and lecturing - tone. Both versions are correct and both are incorrect. One version is exaggerating the issue, the other is minimizing it.

Suffice it to say that President Trump is not happy that official PA media sites and networks are still inciting terror and that the PA is still paying regular salaries to the families of suicide bomber and the families of terrorists in Israeli prisons.

Just this weekend Norway went ballistic when they discovered that money they gave for a women's center in the West Bank town of Burka, located north of Nablus, was being named for Dalal Mughrabi, a female terrorist who participated in the massacre of 37 Israelis on the Coastal Road in 1978.

Norway has asked the PA to give their money back.

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Iran Leader Attacks Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lashed out at Saudi Arabia. The Ayatollah said that the Saudis are being used and exploited by the Americans and hurting the Muslim people and all of Islam.

The exact expression he used was that the Saudis are "being cow milked" by the infidel Americans.

The Supreme Leader delivered these rebukes to Saudi Arabia as he marked the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

He said: "These people [the Saudis] appear to believe in the Holy Quran... but in practice they act against its teachings."

"They are close with the infidels and offer the enemy the money they should be using to improve the lives of their own people." He said "The stupid Saudi government thinks it can attract the friendship of enemies by giving them money."

"But in reality there is no closeness and, as the Americans have said, they are just there to pump them for money like a milking cow, and later slaughter them." Khamenei added that host of Islam holy sites is Saudi Arabia and they are "cruel toward believers and kind toward pagans."

The critique is not surprising - but with these remarks, the Supreme Leader raised the level of tension and hatred and that in itself very powerful, significant and certainly noteworthy.


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Iran's Plan
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is extremely hopeful that their recent election will bring in new investments.

Iranians feel that the election signaled that Iran as a whole - and reelected President Hassan Rouhani in particular, will ramp up the moves that will open Iran and allow for interaction with the West.

Iran is working hard to improve oil production to 5 million barrels a day. With their expanded output Iran has become the third largest oil producer in OPEC.

Iran is actively courting industry and corporations and sweetening the pot for those interested in investments and trade.

Iran's real hope is that the increased output will provide the much needed money that will enable them to buy whatever they need and build whatever they want.

Iran is moving closer to their goal - and that means there is real danger on the horizon.

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What To Do About those Who Celebrate Terror
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday's lead editorial in The New York Times condemned the terror in Manchester.

The conclusion they came to is that worldwide unity needs to be the main strategy for confronting terror.

Quoting the editorial: "That spirit should bring together all citizens, all countries, who---whatever their faith or birthplace---grieve for the innocents cut down Monday night in Manchester."

This is a valiant idea. Uniting those around the world who condemn attacks and mourn victims is a major step.

But there's a problem. What about those who celebrate the deaths. What do you do about the serious percentage of the population who applaud acts of terror.

Until we come up with a real plan to confront the threat of terror, terror will continue for years to come.


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PA Media Calls Israeli Reception was Immature
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian media is taking pride in their high class behavior and in the way in which they received President Trump in Bethlehem.

In contrast to their behavior, on Palestinian TV the press spoke about how the Israelis were childish and immature in the way they received Trump at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israeli member of Knesset Oren Hassan took a selfie with the president. Then Israel's minister of security, Gilad Erdan, told the president that the terror attack which had just been perpetrated was actually a traffic accident. Erdan wanted to show off - but did not have all the information. The truth became clear a few minutes later.

The Palestinians explained that their reception for the US president in Bethlehem was dignified and classy and showcased the great tradition of Palestinian Arab culture of hospitality.

The Israelis, they said, were childish.

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No Direct Flight From Saudi Arabia to Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The maiden Trump Presidential Trip has, so far, been a success.

Here's an interesting tidbit that has not been covered.

On Monday morning, when the US president departed Riyadh, his plane traveled directly to Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.

However, everyone accompanying the president in planes that would normally follow the president, did not make that same direct, non-stop flight, from Saudi Arabia to Israel.

That's because no planes - other than the US president's plane - can travel directly between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Everyone else made a short stop in Cyprus. They just touched down and took off.

Progress, when it comes to diplomacy, can be slow moving.

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Trump's Trip-- A Deal is Coming
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

President Trump's trip to Israel and visit with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is already a success.

Abbas has declared that he is interested in talks with Israel and will return to the table.

Trump's meeting in Saudi Arabia with Arab and Muslim leaders also gave the US president - and by extension all of us, as well - new reason for hope in two very important fields. President Trump saw the Arab world's willingness to accept Israel and their motivation to destroy ISIS and other extremist groups.

Now the real challenge emerges.

How does the transition from the idea to a reality get under way?
How do you get the parties to actually work together and create a deal.

Previous US leaders have gotten the parties to talk, but getting them to move beyond talking has always been where it all broke down.


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Iran Votes in Liberal
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has voted - and voted with gusto.

Incumbent Rouhani defeated all other candidates with a resounding victory, garnering a significant 57% of the vote, leaving the other four candidates in the dust.

Ebrahim Raisi, the most serious of all contenders for the position of president of Iran, was far more conservative and representative of a point of view more in line with the style of past president Ahmadinejad than of Rouhani.

Clearly, hands down, Iranian masses rejected that direction. The people of Iran signified that they want to continue down the path of reaching out and embracing the world as opposed to snubbing and spiting on the world.

Rouhani tweeted a message to Iranians - even though twitter is outlawed in Iran. Many, many people, especially young Iranians, follow twitter by getting around the block.

His tweet read: "Great nation of Iran, you are the winner of the election. I humbly bow down before you. I will remain loyal to my promises to you."

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Saudis Say They Don't Mind Sharing Intel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Thursday, the same day that the Justice Department announced that a special counsel would investigate the "Russian Connection" to the Trump campaign, a very interesting - and supportive, comment was made by a very surprising individual.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir defended Trump with regard to sharing intelligence with Russia.

Jubeir, who will be meeting with Trump next week when the US president visits Saudi Arabia, said that President Trump can certainly discuss intelligence with Russia during a White House meeting last week. He said that the US president had an "absolute right" to share "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety."

He said: "We share a very, very large amount of intelligence with the United States and vice versa," "We have had no hesitation about doing so and we will not have any hesitation about continuing to do so."

Appointing former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate action taken by the Trump team during the campaign has little - and yet everything - to do with the Saudi statement.

The Saudis are saying: let's get serious and let's act like adults. They are saying: enough already, there is serious business at hand, let's get to the real problems we face and not waste time on games and name calling.

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Elections in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:


Presidential elections in Iran take place tomorrow - Friday. While there are six candidates running for office, only two of them count.

The two contenders to watch in this election are:

#1: the incumbent, current moderate president of Iran, 68 year old Hassan Rouhani

#2: his arch rival, 56 year old staunch conservative Ebrahim Raisi

Terms like "moderate" and "conservative" are relative and not very helpful when they are attached to Iran, but the terms do, at least, put the two candidates on a continuum.

Rouhani's party is actually called the Moderation Party. Raisi seems to be more in line with the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Grand Ayatollah. To date, the Supreme Leader has not endorsed either candidate.

Iran is not really a democracy. The Grand Ayatollah holds all the power, but he cedes much authority to the president who seems to be elected by a popular vote.

So the real question is whether Rouhani's openness to the West - which is what brought down the sanctions -- is more powerful than the conservative Raisi’s point of view which is to spit in the eye of the West and have Iran do whatever Iran must do.

Has the relief caused by lifting the sanctions been good enough? Or has Iran suffered because of the openness?

History is on Rouhani's side. No incumbent has ever lost an election in modern Iran since 1981. But you never know.


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Al-Bashir Invited to Trump Meeting
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia has thrown a monkey wrench into the Trump visit.

It seems that Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has been invited to the meeting with Trump and 50 Muslim leaders from the Middle East, Africa and Asia scheduled for this coming Sunday.

Al Bashir is wanted by the International Court for Human Rights in the Hague for war crimes, mass murder and massacres in Darfur during the civil war there.

It will be a major problem for US President Trump to speak to and be greeted by a group that includes a war criminal.

Trump cannot be present in the same room as al Bashir. I look forward to seeing how this plays out. Will the Saudis un-invite al Bashir or will President Trump demure and back out of the meeting? My money is on dumping al Bashir.

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US Officials Say Western Wall Not In Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There are reports of tensions being high - even explosive, between Israel and the Trump team, all revolving around the upcoming Trump trip to Israel. There are many issues to be resolved. Included among them are protocols and what is required of every visiting head of state.

Most troubling of all is that during a preparation meeting for the US President's trip to Jerusalem, the Israelis were unceremoniously told to leave during the Trump team's field trip to the Western Wall.

According to the reports the team from the US embassy told the Israelis that they must leave the Western Wall area which, they explained, is not in Israel - it's the West Bank.

The two American embassy diplomats said "We're asking you to leave, and we need to be left alone. Israeli officials cannot be here; this is not your territory, it's the West Bank. This is a private visit by the President and has nothing to do with you. It's none of your business."

To make it clear this was all about planning President Trump's trip to the Wall. Which these US officials say is not "Israeli territory."

And that's not all.

The US team gave Israel an ultimatum - either Trump visits the Holocaust Memorial called Yad Vashem or he has a visit with President Rivlin at the presidential residence. In the end Trump will do both, but it looks like the visit to Yad Vashem will be just 15 minutes long.

There is also a dispute over Masada. Netanyahu wants to speak on the mountain top for seven minutes and make the visit to Masada the center piece of the Trump visit. That was not part of the original Trump plan.

In the end, it will all be resolved. Even planning a trip requires diplomacy.

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$300 Bill Weapons Deal for Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Trump foreign policy is moving so quickly it is hard to keep track.

The US and Saudi Arabia are finalizing an arms deal worth over a $100 billion, a deal that could be worth over $300 billion during the course of the next 10 years.

The deal includes fighter jets, naval ships and much more.

This deal will be inked on the eve of President Trump's May 19th arrival in Saudi Arabia. It will be his first, official, foreign, state visit of his presidency.

A White House official has assured everyone that this deal will not challenge Israel's qualitative edge in the region. He said: "It's good for the American economy but it will also be good in terms of building a capability that is appropriate for the challenges of the region. Israel would still maintain an edge."

Israel will be the second stop on the president's trip.

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Eurovision & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Eurovision is an international song competition. Different countries send one representative each, all vying for the title of Eurovision Winner. Finals were held in Kiev, Ukraine. The winner was Portugal.

Nearly 300 million people watched this event.

Israel made it to the finals. Of the 26 finalists, in the end Israel came out 23rd.

Imri Ziv, a 25 year old performer from Hod Hasharon, represented Israel singing a song in English called "I Feel Alive".

Over the years Israel has won the Eurovision three times. They won with performers singing the songs entitled "Halleluya," "Abani Bi", and "Diva". One British paper wrongly reported that Israel was pulling out of the competition.

Once upon a time the music was the centerpiece of the competition. Now it is about the performance and that means glitz, videos and tech.

As that old favorite goes, "The Times They Are A'Changing".

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Hezbollah Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hezbollah is making serious threats.

Yesterday Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said that in the next conflict between Israel and Hezbollah the conflict will be, not just in Lebanon, but also be in Israel.

According to Nasrallah, Israel "is scared and worried of any future confrontation ... and knows that it could be inside the occupied Palestinian territories." He continued saying "There will be no place that is out of reach of the rockets of the resistance or the boots of the resistance fighters."

The implication is that Hezbollah's rockets will strike Israel at the most populated regions in Israel. According to intelligence sources Hezbollah has amassed hundreds of thousands of rockets. Some say over 100,000, others say 200,000.

With that kind of an arsenal Hezbollah can shoot at Israel non-stop and Israel will be hard put to defend herself.

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Cyber Terrorist, Librarian Arrested in England
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Great Britain arrested a cyber terrorist named Samata Ullah, he is 34 years old.

Ullah was the cyber librarian- one stop shopping for everything you need as a terrorist. He taught anyone and everyone about missiles, bombs encryption and whatever terrorists need to know. He even hid h
is material in cuff-links.

Head of the counter terrorism squad in England Commander Dean Haydon said this about Samata Ullah:

"He was an internet terrorist. He had set up a self-help library for terrorists around the world and they were using his library.

"There was guidance on encryption, ways to avoid detection from police and security services, expert tuition around missile systems and a vast amount of propaganda.

"He was self-taught. He has accessed it online himself and compiled a lot of material and put it into his own library.

"He has created a one-stop shop for terrorists.

"In my view he was a very dangerous individual although he was operating from his bedroom.

Mr Haydon added: "Just because Ullah's activity was in the virtual world, we never underestimated how dangerous his activity was.

"He sat in his bedroom in Wales and created online content with the sole intention of aiding people who wanted to actively support Isis and avoid getting caught by the authorities.

"This is just the sort of information that may have helped people involved in planning devastating, low technical level attacks on crowded places as we have seen in other cities across the world."

Samata Ullah was arrested in September with the help of the Kenyan police who told British police about him. The information has only been released now.

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Israel's New Cyber Unit to Protect Children
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel introduced a new police bureau yesterday. It is a special investigation and response unit for cyber crimes against minors. This unit will focus on cyber bullying and sexual abuse.

The stats on cyber crime in Israel are devastating.

One out of every four Israeli children has been subjected to humiliation, shaming and online bullying.

One in every five children Israeli children has been sexually solicited on line.

As if that was not bad enough - one in every ten children Israeli child has been sexually harassed, blackmailed or had their identities stolen while on line.

The new unit will have 100 investigators and will have a 24 hour hot line. Minors will be able to dial 105 and report an attack, an abuse, or any form of cyber bullying.

This unit has been in the planning stages for several years. Now it will be a reality.

It is essential that this cyber crime wave against minors in Israel be brought to an end. It is essential that Israeli police crack down and stop this cyber abuse. The children of Israel must be protected.

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Iran Tests Torpedo in Straits of Hormuz
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday Iran tested a new torpedo - a high speed torpedo.

The Iranian missile was tested in the Straits of Hormuz, totally within Iranian water. No international protocols were violated.

The missile is called the Hoot, it travels 250 miles per hour with a range of 6 miles.

The West, understandably worried, is watching the Hoot very closely. Remember, one third of the world's oil travels through the Straits of Hormuz every day.

This torpedo test is another example of Iran flexing its muscles in the Straits. The West knows well that they are held captive by Iran in this enormously strategic and essential waterway.

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US Weapons in Kurdish Hands
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday the Military Times reported that US weapons are being used by Kurdish fighters in Syria to fight ISIS and al Qaeda.

The Kurds are using US manufactured night-vision goggles, rifles and advanced optics.

The journal also said that Kurdish fighters are using advanced combat helmets, digital camouflage uniforms, Patagonia cold-weather attire, chest rigs that hold ammunition, body armor and first-aid kits, plus M4 rifles with various modifications, including infrared lasers used for targeting during nighttime raids.

According to the journal "American-made rifle optics and visible lasers have been provided to other Syrian rebel groups. While no particular organizations were specified, Lt. Cmdr. Lara Bollinger told Military Times that those products include a scoped optic that special operators commonly call an ELCAN, an EOTech holographic sight and the AN/PEQ 5 visible laser."

These weapons will help Kurdish fighters as they attack Raqqa. The weapons raise the quality of Kurdish fighters to the equipment level of US Army Rangers. That having been said, it is against the law to simply give sophisticated US weapons to non-US groups.

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Watch ISIS in Sinai
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

When it comes to ISIS, the Sinai Peninsula is the place to watch.

ISIS has expanded in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. They are now training there and operating against locals as well as launching attacks against other Egyptian targets. ISIS has shot missiles from the Sinai into Israel and even launched cross border attacks into Israel.

ISIS fighters attacked a family in Yamit, a village in Sinai. They murdered the mother on the spot and kidnapped her husband and two sons.

On Saturday the heads of the father and his two children were left on the street in Rafah, in Sinai. Their bodies were also found and taken to a hospital to be identified.

ISIS has been on the attack - Egypt is now fighting back.

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Went Into Labor at Justin Bieber Concert
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Justin Bieber performed in Tel Aviv to a sellout crowd. It was the talk of Israel. Not just the performance - but also, maybe even especially, the traffic jams it generated throughout Tel Aviv.

A 23 year old ultra-Orthodox woman name Reut Ziskind, from Bnei Brak, was one of the concert attendees. Of all the people in the Ganei Yehudah stadium - even though she had to leave the performance after hearing only the back-up performers - Reut probably had the most memorable experience of all.

And that's because, in the middle of the concert, Reut went into labor.

"I wasn't having contractions, so I didn't think I needed to be resting," said Ziskind.

"At first I was disappointed that I didn't get to see the show because I was going into labor, but now I am happy because I have an amazing daughter," she said.

"I'm a modern Haredi woman, so [ don't ] be surprised, there are a lot of Haredi women who like Justin Bieber. When I bought the tickets I was sure I would give birth before the concert or after it, but I never believed I would give birth during the concert. If I had had a son, I would have named him Justin, but I had a girl and we named her Hadar," said Ziskind.

This entire story illustrates an important point. Haredim do not fit easily into one stereotypical group. They are not all what they appear to be. Classic stereotypes no longer apply.

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Trump Tell Abbas Enough
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

US President Trump hosted Palestinian President Abbas yesterday. They held a press conference after their meeting. The message was hopeful.

Donald Trump believes he can bring Israel and the Palestinians together and create a deal.

The most important part of the meeting was that Trump insisted that Abbas stop inciting hatred and paying terrorists and the families of terrorists. The US president said no more naming of parks, events, schools and stadiums after terrorists. He said change the names of venues already named after terrorists.

The best paying job in all the Palestinian Authority is being a terrorist or a family member of a terrorist. They get monthly stipends and - in a macabre and evil way, there is a calculus determining how much they get. The more Jews killed the more money received. For injuring Jews, they also receive money, but less money.

Families of suicide bombers get $5,300 a year - that's four times the average salary in the PA. A wounded terrorist collects $2,655 yearly. Families of terrorists in prison receive $1,325.

Trump said enough - stop this behavior.

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Erdogan to Visit Putin Then Trump
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish President Erdogan is off on an official trip to Moscow to meet with Russia's President Putin.

The two leaders will discuss plans for dealing with Syria and for attacking terrorists. They will discuss America involvement in world affairs and especially President Trump.

Erdogan has a busy travel schedule. In addition to Putin, he is scheduled to meet with Trump in Washington next month.

Yesterday Putin and Trump spoke by phone. They spoke about Syria and North Korea. And today Palestinian President Abbas is meeting with Trump in the White House.

There are a number of important meetings and phone calls happening.

Most of the dialogue - no matter which leaders are in the conversation - focuses on the same topics.

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Israel's Big Riddle
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Today is Israel's 69th birthday.

Part of the fun and celebrations this year was a riddle.

The riddle, which was was online with multiple layers, had 90,000 people attempt to solve it in the first 48 hours. Six people have so far solved the riddle.

The riddle was created by the Israel National Security Agency, known in Hebrew simply as Shin Bet. It is a form of recruitment. Those who solve the riddle will be invited in for an interview.

It was a tool to help recruit candidates who can bolster and build the Shin Bet's high tech security and defense apparatus.

Last year Israel's Mossad provided a riddle and 20,000 people attempted to solve their problem.

Israel is using great games to attract gamers. Computer games are the foundation of the tech security world. Those who excel in gaming are good at real world games of defense.

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Iran Assassinates Media Mogul
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

An Iranian expatriate was assassinated in Istanbul Turkey recently.

Saeed Karimian was the founder and head of a satellite television network that broadcast in Persian all over the world and was even viewed in Iran through satellite dishes and the internet.

Karimian was murdered, along with a colleague, as they drove down a street in Istanbul. A jeep pulled up and blocked their path. Then two assassins with ski masks got out and murdered Karimian and his associate.

The jeep was later found abandoned and burned.

Earlier this year Karimian was convicted in Iran in absentia and sentenced to 6 years in prison. He was convicted for "acting against national security of the Islamic Republic" and "spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic."

The prime suspect in the death of Saeed Karimian is, of course, the Iranians. We will follow the investigation.


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Abbas Preps to Meet Trump
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday April 3rd, in the White House.

In preparation for the meeting Abbas met with Egypt's President al Sisi on Saturday and then on Sunday met with Jordanian King Abdullah.

Abbas hope to gain insight into Trump. He is prepping himself so that he can create a strategy to engage the American president and as well as benefit from the meeting and the relationship. Abbas feels that he is at a distinct disadvantage.

President Trump, he realizes, is clearly pro-Israel.

What Abbas does not realize is that being pro-Israel does not de facto make President Donald Trump anti-Palestinian.

Trump wants progress - not talk.

When he shut off the electricity to Hamas in Gaza, Abbas took action that will resonate with Trump. It means that Abbas has no illusions of unifying the PA with Hamas and Gaza.

That might be what Trump needs to push Israel into dialogue.

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Abbas Shuts Electricity to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas aka Abu Mazan has informed Hamas and Israel that the PA will no longer foot the bill for electricity in Gaza.

Israel provides about 30% of the electricity for Gaza - and Abbas pays for it. The payment is actually taken out of the import taxes that Israel collects at the ports of Ashdod and Haifa.

If it was Israel that decided to shut down electricity to Gaza, the world would declare them war criminals and label Israel a huge abuser of human right and would even take Israel to the Hague.

Aside from the Palestinian on Palestinian cruelty - which the world seems not to care about --- the real reasons for initiating this action is that Abbas is creating distance between the PA and Hamas. Sure, there have been stabs at unity between the PA and Hamas, but they have always failed and will continue to fail.

So why now? Why is Abbas cutting off electricity to Gaza now? Because of Donald Trump's upcoming and imminent trip to the Middle East during which the American president will push Bibi Netanyahu to begin talks with Abbas.

By lashing out against Hamas, Abbas is signaling that he might be ready talk to Israel.

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Pope to Visit Egypt on Friday
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Pope Francis will visit Egypt on Friday, he will depart on Saturday.

This is a very important visit. In Egypt Pope Francis will meet with the Coptic Pope. The two clerics have developed a relationship - they are both called Pope.

Pope Francis will also meet with other Christian leaders.

More importantly, the Pope will meet with the Islamic leader the Grand Imam and president of Azhar University, arguably the most prestigious Muslim institution in the world.

Everyone in the Middle East is aware of the symbiotic relationship between Muslims and Christians over the centuries in the region. But of late, there has been a rejection of Christians spearheaded by Muslim extremists like ISIS and al Qaeda.

These extremists have called for no meetings with Christians and even for the killing of the Christians.

Friday will be a very interesting day.

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Israel May Attack
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian press has warned Arab leadership to beware that Israel may attack them.

Specifically, Al Hayyat media has issued a warning, in the name of Jordanian monarch Abdullah, that there is a real risk. King Abdullah warned the Lebanese president and prime minister that there is a strong possibility that Israel will strike Lebanon.

Hezbollah has been on edge - waiting and preparing to make certain that if Israel attacks, they are ready with a response.

There needs to be a serious rethinking of what is happening.

Clearly, strikes are one option. But now, at this stage, other options need to be put on the table.

There is dialogue. There are negotiations. There are thoughtful resolutions. But all that is predicated on thoughtful discussion.

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Pope Should Never Speak off the Cuff
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There is a reason why the Pope does NOT traditionally speak off the cuff. But Pope Francis is different - he often speaks off the cuff and speaks from his heart --- and sometimes he mis-speaks. That can be a problem.

Most Popes in the recent past spoke only by reading prepared, vetted notes. They do not repeat themselves for fear that there may be a difference between the messages that can cause confusion.

An example of what can happen - did happen, when the Pope said that refugees today are living in concentration camps.

His exact words were: "I don't know if he managed to leave that concentration camp, because refugee camps, many of them, are of concentration because of the great number of people left there inside them."

The parallel is absurd. Nazis created work camps and death camps. They created murder camps where technology was created specifically in order to murder Jews.

Illegal immigrants and refugees cannot be portrayed as Jews in murder camps.

The Vatican is simply saying that the Pope spoke off the cuff. That is not an apology. That remark requires a real mea culpa. The Pope's comments must be explained in a proper moral and historical context.

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Iran's New Misssile
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is now outfitted with a cruise missile designed to strike ships. The new missile is called the Nassir.

The Iranian Defense Ministry tested the missile in February and the Nassir is now being sent to both ship and land batteries to augment defense against naval attacks.

What makes the Nassir unique and gives it value is neither range nor speed - it is the pride Iranian generals are feeling in their new weapon. The Nassir has counter jamming capabilities that will render it impervious to the counter defenses of the US fifth fleet.

When a missile is shot at a sophisticated target like an air craft carrier or a destroyer US counter measures are usually deployed, causing the smart bomb to miss its target and go off course or self destruct.

In the case of the Nassir - there is a counter to the counter -- and so the missile continues towards its target.

Until now it was just a question of how to better protect or hack the computer of the enemy. This missile re-codes after being hacked. It adjusts to the hack and overrides the override.

The technology of warfare has changed.

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Iranian Election
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Six candidates will be pitted against each other in the Iranian presidential election scheduled for May 19th.

The biggest news so far is that former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been barred from running for the presidency by the Council of Elders, the committee that vets - and then either approves or disapproves, each potential candidate.

The leading candidate in the race is now the incumbent, 68 year old Hassan Rouhani, the liberal leader who brought Iran out of the international doghouse.

Rouhani's biggest competition is Ibrahim Raisi who is 56 years old and a personal friend of the Grand Ayatollah. Raisi is a member of the Assembly of Experts which is the body that will select the next Grand Ayatollah.

Rounding out the list are are two reform candidates and two more conservative candidates.

But remember - this is Iran. Reform and conservative Iranians are a far cry from reform and conservative candidates of the Western world.

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Trump May Visit Saudi Arabia
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There is talk that President Trump will visit Saudi Arabia at the end of May.

With so many world leaders coming to visit President Trump in Washington, DC, this stop in Saudi Arabia will signify a very important step in cementing a partnership capable of taking on and confronting Iran, ISIS and al Qaeda.

The visit to Saudi Arabia will be an added stop in Trump's first international trip.

First stop will be Brussels for the NATO Summit on May 25th. May 26th through May 28th the president will be in Sicily for the Group of Seven Conference.

Because this is his first international diplomatic trip, Trump will be especially motivated to solve big international issues - like the diplomatic and security dilemmas he is now confronting.

Syria, Russia, Iran, ISIS and al Qaeda will be the essential questions. Trump will be sizing up his colleagues and deciding who to partner with in order to confront the huge issues that will define his presidency.

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Iran's Parade of the S-300
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian leadership just staged a huge military parade.

A highlight of the parade was a display of Iran’s new weapons - including their new S-300 Russian made anti-aircraft missile system.

The S-300 is a very capable weapon. It is a vast improvement over the Russian S-200 system that Iran has, up until now, relied on.

One of the purposes of the parade, in addition to reviving national pride, was to send out a message to Israel. The message was that Islam, and Iran in particular, intends to destroy Israel. There were floats that had pictures of Israeli flags being hit and destroyed by Muslim fists.

Israelis don't seem too concerned about the S-300s. That tells me that they already have a defense against the S-300 in place and ready to go.

That is a good sign.

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Iranian Pres Elections on May 19
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has submitted his name to run as a candidate in the Iranian presidential election scheduled to take place May 19.

There is a five day period during which candidates submit themselves and are vetted.

Submitting his name is a major power play on the part of Ahmadinejad. The Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, has already publicly forbidden Ahmadinejad from running for the position.

Ahmadinehad is staging a significant challenge to the supreme leader.

The polls put Ahmadinejad ahead of all the other potential candidates. The question is whether the vetting committee will permit him to run. The committee will need to decide if they should follow the Ayatollah or move to the even more conservative candidate Ahmadinejad.

This kind of challenge has never happened in Iran. It is pitting the extremely conservative against the even more conservative. Until now it was just assumed that the president will always be tapped by the Grand Ayatollah.

Things are changing in Iran. In a short while we will know just how much they are changing.



IDF Destroys Monument to Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The IDF destroyed has destroyed a monument erected in memory of the sixteen year old female terrorist named Bian Asila.

Asila was killed by the border patrol soldier whom she had stabbed but failed to murder at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in October 2015.

The teenager was turned into a folk hero locally and throughout Palestinian culture. Asila became a symbol of defiance. Asila represented a girl who could make a difference.

And so some people, we don't know exactly who, erected a monument to her memory.

Inscribed on the monument is a quote from the Koran that reads: "In the name of the merciful Allah, do not think that those who were killed for the sake of Allah die, but live in the midst of Allah."

This quote is one of the most important verses in the Koran. It is the Koranic line that justifies suicide terror attacks. Theses terrorists see themselves as being martyred in the name of Allah. They see their deaths not as suicide - which is forbidden in Islam, but instead as a way to elevate Allah.

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Sisi Declares State of Emergency to Defend Christians
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

After a horrific day of terror in Egypt, a day in which two Christian churches were attacked and over forty-four Christians were murdered by ISIS, Egypt has declared a state of emergency for the next three months.

President al Sisi understands just how important it is to clamp down on ISIS as they continue on their murderous rage against the Christians of Egypt. A significant change has taken place over the past month and Egypt is officially and actively working to stem the tide of violence and the murder of Christians.

In the eyes of ISIS they are perpetrating these attacks against Christians in order to galvanize Muslim support for their cause. Al Sisi realizes that he needs to step up his efforts against al Qaeda, too, in order to save Egypt from ISIS.

This is a very difficult move,

Most Muslims in the Arab world recognize the importance and the history of Christians in the Middle East. But there is also a resentment of Christians that has built up and festered over the years.

It has taken this horrific spate of mass murderous attacks against Christians in Egypt for al Sisi to begin the fight to destroy ISIS.

Hopefully, with the right effort and a lot of determination, al Sisi will, over these next three months, effectively destroy ISIS in Egypt.

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Reaction to US Strike
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

One of Newton's famous laws of gravity goes like this: For every action there is an opposite and reaction.

Apply that law to the sphere of international affairs and the equation changes a bit: For very action there is an opposite, though not always equal, reaction.

I'm referring, of course, to the US strike on Syria. We can certainly expect not one, but several responses.

Russia will pull back on cooperation with the United States - that should be clear.

The air-forces of 13 countries fly over Syrian air space. Russia is a powerful force in that air space as is the United States. It is inevitable that planes brush shoulders or even bump against another. Usually, it happens inadvertently. But then again, mid-air bumps are one certain way of reducing cooperation.

Rebel forces will be bombed by Syrian forces and by Russia forces.
Syria and Russia will use rockets and jets in order to prove to the world that the US strike did not impact the strength and power of their air force and weapons. Syria will aggressively attack their enemies and Russia will help.

They need to stem any momentum that rebel forcess may have picked up from the US strike.

This is not just tit-for tat. It is more like tit-for-tat-for-tat-for tat.

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Risks of Striking Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

We all know why President Trump sent about 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike the airbase in Syria from which Assad sent the chemical weapons that caused such death and carnage.

In US politics both sides of the aisle have come out in favor of the action.

The US action is supposed to be a message to Assad that the US will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians. This is truly a red line.

The biggest question is whether this strike will, in turn, stimulate a response that will then spiral out of control.

At this point it was a risk worth taking. The United States is isolating Syria and Iran and Hezbollah.

Other Arab states are in favor of boxing Assad in and making certain that Syria not use chemical weapons ever again.

Russian military on the ground must have known that this was going to happen. They made certain to get their advisers out of harm's way if any were present at the Syrian airbase. There is no reason to think that Russia will respond if none of their people and none of their weapons were injured in the strike.

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High Warning on Cyber Security in UK
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

England's nuclear facilities and airports have been put on high cyber security alert.

Along with other public transport networks they have been told to bolster their cyber defenses because of immediate threats.

The Telegraph media website asserted that these facilities need to improve their computer defenses because, if they don't - the entire nation will be endangered.

The obvious danger should be clear to the reader. Weaknesses in their computer systems could compromise the running of the nuclear systems. If computer security is lax in the airports and in the other transport systems, thousands of people are put at risk should there be a hack.

There is no reason for computers in these agencies to be susceptible. Too many lives are at risk. Excuses just don't cut it.

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Theresa May Didn't Cover Head in Saudi Arabia
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May visited Saudi Arabia on an official visit. The agenda of the talks has not driven the news cycle in Great Britain - a sidebar item has captured the country's attention instead.

The focus of the attention centers on May's decided not to cover her hair while on the visit. Saudi Arabia has very specific diplomatic protocols for women. Modest dress and head covering is par for the course.

May was taking a stand but she was not the first woman to abstain from covering her hair.

In 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Saudi Arabia with her husband the president. Not only was her head uncovered, she also shook hands with Saudi leadership. The shaking of hands is a real no-no in Islamic protocol. Men and women do not touch in public.

In 2012 Hillary Clinton was US secretary of state and her head was not covered. Condi Rice the Bush secretary of state did the same.

In 2007 first lady Barbara Bush was in Saudi Arabia and her head was uncovered during the first part of the trip. Later, she did cover her hair.

Finally, when Angela Merkel of Germany visited Saudi Arabia in 2010, she, too, did not cover her hair.

My suggestion is that British press spend time on the talks between their prime minister and the Saudi leadership. Some very important progress is happening on trade - and most importantly, on the fight against ISIS and other Muslim terrorist groups.

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Father of Kid who called Bomb Threats Says Sorry
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The father of the Israeli-American who called in many of the bomb threats that terrorized American - and parts of world - Jewry, apologized for his son's actions. His son called in bomb threats to US, Canadian, Australian and even New Zealand schools and Jewish community centers.

The father said that his son did not mean to hurt or harm anyone or make anyone afraid. The father said the son had no idea of the impact his calls were having. He, like his wife, the boy's mother, blamed the behavior on their son's brain tumor and his autism.

We know the name of the young man - it is Michael Kedar, but Israeli police has put a gag order on publishing his name.

Israeli police has also forbidden publishing an image of his face, so for now all the coverage only mentions him as M and his face is shaded. The decision by the censor is only good until the details are published by an international agency. The moment after that happens, the Israeli press should be free to use both his name and face.


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