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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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Passover Threats Against Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office of cyber security has announced that a cyber attack against Israel is expected and will coincide with Passover.

The attack will strike both websites and people affiliated with Israel. The name of the attack is Op-Israel.

There is a Facebook page that is informing people of various plans for the attack. In addition, a more secure Telegram group was created with 12,000 hackers connecting and sharing encrypted messages.

Obviously the hacker group Anonymous is involved in this attack. Also coordinating the hacking operation are groups called AnonGhost and Red Hack.

ISIS has also threatened to launch rockets and attack Israel during the same period.

In light of all the potential threat from ISIS, the Israeli counter-terrorism bureau has issued a travel warning against traveling in Sinai over Passover.

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Imam Apologizes to Rabbi
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This is a first in Islamic Jewish relations. Earlier this morning in Singapore, Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Malik entered the Maghain Aboth Synangoue to meet with Rabbi Mordechai Abergel.

The imam presented the rabbi with a formal letter of apology. Even before the meeting was held, the apology was made public and read at various times and places.

The story begins with a series of sermons the imam gave in January and February. In the sermons, the imam referenced a scathing attack against the Jews and Christians which he took from an old Arabic text which originated in his village in India.

The text read: "Allah help us against the Jews and the Christians."

It should be noted that this is not a verse from the Koran.
Rabbi Abergel accepted the letter and the apology.

Imam Abdul Malik proffered the same apology to the Bishop of Singapore on Friday, two days before he met with the rabbi.

The imam also apologized to all Singaporeans for behaving in a way that is unacceptable and that generates hatred and anger.

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Chinese Pres to Visit Mar-a-Lago
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit President Trump in Mar-a-Lago on April 6th and 7th.

This will be their first meeting between these presidents. It is important to note that while the visit will take place in the United States, not in China, it will be taking place in the president's Florida residence, not at the White House.

During the campaign Trump often made reference to the unfair money manipulation that China engaged in against the US. But campaign rhetoric and promises quickly fade away after the candidate assumes the presidency and faces the priorities of leadership.

No doubt they will discuss North Korea. They will only mention, if not skirt around, trade issues. The need to work with China to stop North Korea is essential for the US. The potential danger that North Korea poses is top priority.

China is right there, China is North Korea's neighbor and North Korea cares what China thinks. They fear China.

The US and China need to be on the same page now, as North Korea tries to flex its muscles.

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Arab Summit Recognizes Israel -- Sort Of
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:
The Arab Summit finished up this week. It was agreed that the only solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict is a two-state solution.

King Abdullah of Jordan said in his Summit address that a Palestinian state cannot be created without a two-state solution.

This is groundbreaking.

The idea that the vast majority of Arab leadership publically recognized two states is noteworthy.

To put it bluntly: Two states means -- Israel and the Palestinian state. This was official recognition of Israel by Arab leadership.

This is nothing short of historical.

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Carlos the Jackel Convicted Again
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Before ISIS and al Qaeda - there was Carlos aka The Jackal.

Carlos was the greatest terrorist of the 70's and 80's. He was a terrorist for hire. His "employers" were mostly Palestinians, Soviets and other communist leaders and their states.

Yesterday Carlos was convicted by a French court and sentenced to life in prison for blowing up a shopping mall in Paris in 1974.

This was Carlos' third life sentence for murder and terror.

Carlos called the entire trial absurd and that is exactly what he shouted after the sentencing. He made fun of the trial convened for a 42 year old crime.

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ISIS Member Arrested in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

An Israeli Arab was indicted yesterday for sending money to an ISIS fighter in Iraq

Fadel Tzaber Knaneh is a 25 year old man whose brother Mohammed joined ISIS in Syria. Fadel's brother Mohammed was killed. Fadel found out about his brother's death via a message which came from a mutual friend named Muhammed Keilani - who is also fighting for ISIS either in Syria or in Iraq.

In early March of 2017, Keilani told Fadel Knaneh that he was injured and needed money. Knaneh went to a money changer in Jenin who transferred 5000 NIS, which equals $1300, to Keilani in Iraq. And for that he was arrested.

This is just one of many examples of Israelis who have been arrested for helping ISIS. It is not a trend, but it is troubling.

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Iran Places Sanctions pro Israel Companies
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is sanctioning companies that are doing business with Israel.

The companies include Bent Tal, United Technologies Products, ITT Corporation, Raytheon, Re/Max Real Estate, Magnum Research Inc, Oshkosh Corporation, Kahr Arms and Elbit System.

Iran is responding to the US sanctions imposed against them after a series of missile tests. Iranian media covered the decision by the foreign ministry to ban these companies from doing business in Iran.

Iran has also threatened to declare the CIA and the US army as terrorist organizations.

The Iranians are barring these companies from doing business in Iran. In truth, it will have very little impact on the targeted companies or on their industries - Iran is making a statement, they are responding. Many of these companies are Israel oreinted with major Israeli sections.

The Iranians are responding in order to make themselves feel relevant. The reality, however, is that in this case, the Iranians are overreaching.

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Egypt Starts Defending Christians
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt has finally started protecting their Christians.

When an anti-Christian incident took place in the ancient city of Luxor, police stepped in to control the mob. Eight of the protesters were arrested and seven protesters were injured. Four police were also injured.

Here's what happened: Muslims were marching on a Christian home and the police found out about it and stepped in to protect the family inside their home. The motivation for the protest was a rumor that a Christian teenager converted to Islam. It was rumored that his parents were holding him and punishing him for the conversion and trying to influence him to change back.

The family denies all of this.

Had police not stepped in, the crowd would have lynched the family.

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Why An Israeli Called in the Threats
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 24, 2017

I've been thinking.

Yes, it's true. The culprit behind the rash of over 120 phone threats against Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions was a Jewish boy living in Israel, a boy with dual Israeli/US citizenship.

The question on everyone's lips is "Why?"

The answer is clear. But first - a caveat. Just like the former journalist aka the first culprit caught for perpetrating crimes against Jewish institutions - this has nothing at all to do with President Donald Trump.

It was an attempt to become powerful. That quest, coupled with a modicum of computer skills is a very dangerous combination.

In order to feel powerful, this 18 year old attacked his community, his own people and threatened his family in Israel and in the United States. He exhibited a hatred of himself and of his community.

Doing his dastardly deeds under the veil of anonymity yielded him even more power. Doing it to his loved ones and doing it right under their noses while they searched for the perpetrator of these hate crimes empowered him. And he just went on and on and on strutting his stuff and exercising his new found power.

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JCC Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 24, 2017

I've been thinking.

Yes, it's true. The culprit behind the rash of over 120 phone threats against Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions was a Jewish boy living in Israel, a boy with dual Israeli/US citizenship.

The question on everyone's lips is "Why?"

The answer is clear. But first - a caveat. Just like the former journalist aka the first culprit caught for perpetrating crimes against Jewish institutions - this has nothing at all to do with President Donald Trump.

It was an attempt to become powerful. That quest, coupled with a modicum of computer skills is a very dangerous combination.

In order to feel powerful, this 18 year old attacked his community, his own people and threatened his family in Israel and in the United States. He exhibited a hatred of himself and of his community.

Doing his dastardly deeds under the veil of anonymity yielded him even more power. Doing it to his loved ones and doing it right under their noses while they searched for the perpetrator of these hate crimes empowered him. And he just went on and on and on strutting his stuff and exercising his new found power.



UKraine Bans RUssian Eurovision Singer
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Ukraine has announced that the Russian contestant in the Eurovision music festival will not be permitted entry into Ukraine. Eurovision is an annual music festival that functions as a creative cultural competition between nations.

According to Eurovision rules, the winning country hosts the next year's competition. Last year Ukraine won. This year the music contest will take place in Kiev on May 11-13.

Ukrainian officials say that Yulia Samoylova, a 27 year old Russian woman who is confined to a wheelchair may not enter their country.

Eurovision is traditionally non-political. This year is different. Why? Because in 2014, after the Russian land grab, Yulia toured Crimea. Ukrainian law does not permit any entry into Crimea except through a Ukrainian border crossing. Anyone who violates that law may be refused entry into Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials take this very seriously.

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Ted Allen Was Wrong
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect is calling on actor Tim Allen to apologize for his comments on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Allen likened the atmosphere in Hollywood to Germany in the 1930's. He paralleled the being a conservative in Hollywood to Jews under Hitler. Allen his audience to imagine that life in LA is as bad as was life in Berlin. He said that "you've got to be real careful around here or you'll get beat up." He added, "If you don't believe what everybody believes, this is like thirties Germany."

Steven Goldstein, the director of the Anne Frank house, said "apologize to the Jewish people." He told Allen that "no one in Hollywood today is subjecting you or anyone else to what the Nazis imposed on Jews in the 1930s."

Goldstein is correct and Allen should apologize. There is no parallel. Allen could have said that it is uncomfortable being a conservative in Hollywood - he did not have to be so melodramatic and theatrical and invoke the Holocaust to make his point.

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Egypt an Palestinians Reconcile
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinians and Egyptians are in talks in an effort to reconcile their tensions.

Palestinian leaders are now meeting in Egypt with their Egyptian counterparts. This is a good sign, for some time now there was almost no interaction between these two parties.

There are several reasons for this division.

The first reason is that Egypt had begun reaching out to the leaders of Gaza and tried to work with them in order to protect their border and stop the back and forth movement of weapons and drugs. Tensions between Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are nearly beyond repair.

The second reason is that Egypt withdrew their anti-Israeli settlement resolution at the United Nations Security Council due to pressure from the US and Israel. Never mind that the resolution passed the next day after being proposed by another country.

Tensions between Egypt and the Palestinian Authority can be resolved. Egypt is a regional power and it is in the best interests of Palestinians to be able to count on al Sisi and his government.

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Israel 8th Most Powerful
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

US News and World Report has published its yearly list of the most powerful nations of the world.

Israel was named number 8 in the most powerful category. Number one was the United States, followed by Russia, China, UK, Germany, France, Japan and then Israel.

Israel was listed as #19 in the movers and shakers category and #25 in entrepreneurship.

Israel's standing is impressive by any standard. Israel, a country with about 8 million people, is competitive in power with countries like China with a billion and half people and the United States with 325 million.

Israel truly is extremely powerful. And so are Saudi Arabia, which was rated as #9, the United Arab Emirates which came in at #10 and South Korea and Canada, # 11 and #12, respectively.

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IDF Drills Near Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has called up army reservists for drills in southern Israel.

The drills, which will prepare the IDF for a variety of scenarios that may arise, were stimulated by increased tensions along the border with Gaza.

Over the past few weeks five rockets have been launched into Israel and three other border security incidents have occurred.

This does not mean that a battle is imminent, it means that Israel wants to be as well prepared as possible for potential threats and for an intensification of attacks coming from Gaza.

Bringing the IDF reservists to the Gaza border sends a signal to the leadership in Gaza. It says that Israel is preparing and that an increased number of launched missiles into Israel could result in a series of Israeli operations and strikes against Gaza.

That was not a part of the Gazans plan.

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Strange Sports in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

People have written about the Israeli national baseball team and how the team made it to the world baseball championships beating Cuba, Netherlands South Korea and Taiwan.

In the end they lost to Japan. But their performance was inspirational and certainly impressive. Commentators around the world wrote about how the well the team did, only Israel seemed not to be paying attention. Israel just wasn't paying attention.

Israelis themselves were blase. That's because Israelis don't understand baseball.

They don't understand yo-yo either. Tal Mordoch, a 16 year old 10th grade high schooler from Ramat Hasharon, won second place in the European Yo Yo Championships which took place in Krakow, Poland.

He is now training for the international championships taking place in August in Tokyo. At last year's competition in Prague, Mordoch placed 30th.

Congratulations. Sports is big news.

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Frankurt Wants to Stop BDS
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The mayor of Frankfurt is working hard to squash a Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, known as BDS, group that is planning a conference and protest in his city.

The mayor, Uwe Becker, asserts that BDS is anti-Semitic, even Nazi-styled, and therefore BDS protests would be illegal. He says that the proof of his assertion is BDS slogans, ads and posters.

Their slogans are based on the principles of: "Don't Buy From Israel" and "Don't Buy From Jews."

The event is scheduled for June 9-10 and the speaker list is an all-star team of anti-Semites. An earlier protest is scheduled to take place in Bonn at the end March.

There, too, efforts are underway to squash the protest.

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US Extraditing Palestinian Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The US Department of Justice has asked for Ahlam al Tamimi to be extradited from Jordan to the United States to stand trial for bombing the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem on August 9, 2001. Two of the fifteen people murdered in the attack were US citizens.

122 people were wounded in this terror attack.

Al Tamimi was convicted after pleading guilty. She scouted the pizzeria and she drove the suicide bomber there on the day of the attack.

Al Tamimi was released from prison in an exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Since her release she has been the host of a very popular TV show in Jordan that regularly interviews terrorists. On her shows she often speaks about terrorism and has even admitted to other terrorist activities.

This is the first time the United States has is engaged in prosecuting a terrorist for attacking Americans abroad.

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Iran Expands Oil Exports
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There is big news in the world of oil.

Iran is now the second largest supplier of oil to India. They overtook Iraq over the past few months.

India is the second largest importer of oil in the world. And now Iran is in the very same position they were in before sanctions began.

Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela are the primary exporters of oil to India and not surprisingly the order has been disrupted. The order was not just disrupted by Iran - Nigeria also overtook Venezuela.

What this all means is that that Iran is becoming more and more powerful. With this new market growth comes money and with money comes power .... power and, especially influence.

Welcome to the natural outgrowth of Iran's new status.

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Europe Upset by PA Hate Education
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Europe has a long standing history of siding with the Palestinians against Israel.
It's not that Europeans are anti-Israel, it is just that they believe that there is an injustice at the heart of the conflict.

European leaders as well as the European masses actually embrace Israel and Israelis. In fact, most are repulsed by the anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric of the Palestinians. That is certainly the case for the leaders of Europe.

It sounds counter intuitive. The European psyche rejects any kind of anti-Jewish behavior and thought - but they side with the Palestinians.

A British weekend paper, the Mail on Sunday, ran an investigative story about Palestinian schools which get European funds and still teach hatred and glorify terror.

The paper brought video and photos and interviews that show Palestinian children playing games with the objective of murdering Israeli soldiers. They highlight the Facebook page of a school which posted videos and pictures of these games.

When interviewed, one teacher acknowledged that he would urge students to become suicide bombers if and when students approached him for advice.

The report in the Mail also pointed out that schools are named after terrorists. Sporting events are named after terrorists. Faculty and administration admit to taking European money and not following the conditions of the international aid.

This is deeply troubling for Europeans - as it should be -- it means that their money is going towards teaching hatred.

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Abbas & Trump
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are embarking on a new strategy -they are on the offensive.

The Palestinian Authority is now aggressively pursuing the White House and Jewish communities in the US.

On Friday President Donald Trump spoke to Abbas for the first time since assuming office. Trump spoke about his desire to get a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians. Abbas spoke about two states.

Trump also extended an invitation to Abbas to come to the White House.
Also it appears that Trump might be organizing a Peace Conference.

This week Trump's special negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, will arrive in Israel and meet with Israelis and Palestinians.

In addition, Abbas has opened a new aggressive PR front. He is approaching Jewish communities in the US. He is reaching out to Jewish communities about speaking at temples and synagogues.

This will be very important - it may result in a shift in momentum in US Jewish communities viv a vis the Palestinians.

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Putin Holds Summit with Erdogan Too
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish President Erdogan is in Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Putin.

The Turkish president arrived in Russia on the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu came and met with Putin.

Putin is creating a series of summits. The purpose of the summits is to cement his role in the region.

Both Israel and Turkey are regional players. Russia wants to make certain that everyone is on the same page in dealing with ISIS. He also wants to make certain that there is agreement on Assad of Syria.

Israel said they don't care about Syrian leadership - all they want is stability and Iran as far away as possible. Turkey wants their border to be quiet and the ability to cross when needed in order to pursue and to punish terrorists who seek refuge by crossing the border.

Iran is the elephant in the room. No one wants them in Syria. But they have been and still support Hezbollah and have significant troops and advisers in Syria all to defend Assad and keep him in position.

Putin has power and he knows how to wield it.

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3 Teens Apologize for Swastika
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday three teens in Pennsylvania sprayed a swastika on the parking lot of the parking lot of the Exeter Community Library.

The teens stuck a note and $50 in the book return slot. The apology was found by library workers on Monday. The note said the youths were "three stupid teenagers apologizing for our heinous acts." The note explained that the teens didn't intend to offend or hurt anyone.

The teenagers explained that they "all have religious roots and did not intentionally mean this as any form of hate speech or dislikeness towards any culture."

This act of anti-Semitism is not typical. There is sincere contrition on the part of the teenagers. They had no idea of the magnitude of the their deed and they have since corrected their mistake.

Most of these acts are perpetrated by real hateful people.

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Ahmadinejad Opens Twitter Account
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was leading the country when it banned Twitter in 2009, finally joined the social media platform.

He was President from 2009 - 2013. In 2011 there was a groundswell against him called the Green revolution. The members used twitter to communicate and organize.

Ahmadinejad's first tweet was "In the name of God, Peace be upon all the freedom loving people of the world #Imontwitter".
He then posted a video message, in which he said: "In the name of God, the most merciful and most compassionate. Follow me at Ahmadinejad1956. That's me. Peace and love, and best wishes." The year Ahmadinejad used in his username is his year of birth.

His Twitter bio reads: "Husband, Dad, Grandfather, University Professor, President, Mayor, Proud Iranian."

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US Backpedaling on Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Trump administration is backpedaling on its original positions on Israel. The administration now seems to be adopting a more traditional US point of view on settlements and on the West Bank.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that he has received direct messages from the United States that should Israel annex any part of the West Bank it would trigger an "immediate crisis" between the two nations.

To quote Lieberman: "We received a direct message—not an indirect message and not a hint—from the United States. Imposing Israeli sovereignty on the West Bank would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration."

Israel's defense minister also said that he received dozens of messages from leaders around the world about the traditional US stance which became an international issue after annexation was again raised by a junior member of the ruling Likud party named Miki Zohar.

Lieberman and Netanyahu have tried to calm the bluster and defuse the storm that has erupted. But world leaders are concerned about annexation - and that includes the Trump White House.

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Russia Arrest ISIS Cell
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Associated Press reports that Russian authorities have arrested three terrorists and killed one other. The terrorists were all members of an ISIS cell.

According to the report these four terrorists were part of a sleeper cell in the southern region of Dagestan, in the city of Derbent, which is on the Caspian Sea very close to the Azerbaijan border.

The Russian anti-terrorism unit approached a home where one of the terrorists was hiding out. A shoot out ensued and the terrorist was killed. The other three were arrested afterwards in other locations.

ISIS is expanding their reach and Russia is one of their primary targets - the Russian presence in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, does not please ISIS at all.

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Bahrain Arrests 25 Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Bahrain arrested 25 people suspected of terror. The police say that the 25 were part of a 54 person group. The police seized weapons, explosives, cars, a boat and a drone.

The group is charged with going to Iran and Iraq and receiving training from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Iran has been trying to destabilize Bahrain since 2011.

Bahrain is controlled by Sunnis who compose about 15% of the country - but the majority of Bahrainis, about 85% of the country, are Shiites.

There continues to be a low level, constant movement by Shiites to overthrow Sunni leadership in Bahrain and this group is another example of that endeavor.

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Hamas Israel Tensions Rising
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas is increasing their attacks against Israel.

Tensions along the Gaza- Israeli border are heating up and could continue to escalate.

Numerous rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel. Israeli military units are being targeted as they patrol the Israeli side of the border. Israel is striking back using drones and helicopters.

Hamas has said they will strike back at Israel because Israel has attacked Hamas' nerve centers.

This is not merely a repeating cycle of violence. It is an escalation in the number and intensity of attacks by Hamas against Israel.


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US Takes A Stand
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The new administration is telling the United Nations to change its behavior or they, the United States, will withdraw their support and membership.

United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay told the United Nations Human Rights Council to balance their agenda and stop their obsession with Israel.

Barclay made this statement as she addressed the committee on Wednesday.

She said: "The United States also remains deeply troubled by the Council's consistent, unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country: Israel."

The Trump White House is saying, plain and clear, that the United States will not be party to Israel bashing.

Let's see how the Human Rights Council, one off the most anti-Israel forums in the world, responds.


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A King Travels in Style
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdul Aziz is making a trip to Indonesia. Kings don’t travel the same way you and I do.

Salman bin Abdul Aziz will be travelling with an entourage of between 900 and 1500 people - including 100 security personnel. He will be bringing over 500 tons of luggage - including two Mercedes S600 limousines and two freestanding elevators. Yes, two freestanding elevators

10 ministers and 25 princesses are joining the king on this 9 day trip. In addition to Indonesia, they will visit China, Japan, Maldives and Jordan.

In 2015, when the King of Saudi Arabia visited Washington, DC, the royal entourage took over the entire Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown - all 222 rooms.

When a king travels, he comes complete with an entire crew and all the trappings of the monarchy. The king of Saudi Arabia will sacrifice none of the comforts of home even when hitting the road.

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Iran Launches Missiles from Sub
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has been testing ballistic missiles. They shot two cruise style missiles, called Nasir missile, from a submarine. The missiles hit their targets.

The United States and other Western nations say this behavior violates UN Security Council Resolution 2331 which was passed in the aftermath of the famous nuke deal. The resolution, passed in July of 2015, says that Iran is "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."

Iran says that they are not in violation of any resolution.

Iran claims that they do not have a nuclear program so they cannot be in violation of anything nuclear-related. They say the resolution only deals with issues in connection to nuclear development.

Of course the Iranians want to expand their nuclear technology. They say that they are engaging in energy and research - not in weapon development.

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Clans Conflict in Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas finished a 3 day trip to Lebanon.

As he left Ein el Hilwa, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, which is located near the Southern city of Sidon, erupted in violent fights. Internal clashes between supporters of Abbas and some of the extremist groups in the camp, including al Qaeda, went after each other.

There were numerous injuries. Ein el Hiwa is a lawless center and a hotbed of extremism.

These conflicts are typical in the region. People in the Middle East are tied to clan and area affiliations. They are fiercely loyal to their families. When the family leader establishes an affiliation with a cause - political or otherwise, the entire clan falls into line. That includes defending and fighting for their cause.

We see this happen in camps, in towns and in villages throughout the region. There is far more loyalty to clan than to a national leader.

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3 Die in Gaza Tunnel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Authorities in Gaza announced that three of their workers were killed in a tunnel that the Egyptians blew up the day before.

The three were workers who went into the tunnel to repair the destruction. They were killed from inhaling poisonous gas that was in the tunnel as the result of the blast.

The information was made public by the Hamas interior ministry.

The important element in this story is that Egypt is destroying Hamas' tunnels to make certain that they are not used for terror or to transport illegal weapons.

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Iran Fears Israeli Diplomacy
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani addressed, a conference in Teheran this week. The conference, which was about the Palestinians, was dedicated to finding solutions for the problems besetting Palestinians.

Rouhani said, "The occupying regime, in an attempt to normalize its situation, has for the first time referred to certain Arab countries as its allies against the resistance front, instead of describing them as its enemies."

Iran is feeling the pressure.

Israel is making headway. Serious relationship building between Israel and her Arab neighbors are developing - mostly as an outgrowth of the rise of ISIS and increased tensions with Iran.

Iran is striking back and telling the Arab world to stop. But will they listen?

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IDF Says Hezbollah Has Low Morale
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Gadi Eisenkot, the chief of IDF staff and the head of the entire Israeli defense system said that Hezbollah is suffering from a crisis in morale.

Eisenkot made his point while addressing the Knesset committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense. He said that Hezbollah leaders' statements about shooting rockets and hitting the ammonia plant in Haifa as well as the nuclear power plant in Dimona are an exaggeration. He said that hits of that type are way beyond the capabilities of Hezbollah.

The Israeli top general said that the civil war in Syria has enabled Hezbollah. It has given them important operational experience as fighters and as tactical warriors battling ISIS and others in Syria.

Eisenkot said that Hamas in Gaza has been Israel's largest border threat. He said that the IDF has spent $2.4 billion in creating a response against tunnels and other border threats along the Israeli Gaza border. He said that the new leader of Hamas has changed the public attitude - but not tactical decisions on whether or not to attack Israel.

All in all, Eisenkot delivered a positive message. He is optimistic about the state of Israel's safety and optimistic that Israel's enemies are still a safe distance away.

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Ayatollah Tells Palestinians to Fight Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, announced on his website that the Palestinians should fight to create their state and destroy Israel. He said that by fighting, they will achieve their ends.

But he never called Israel by her name. Instead, the Supreme Leader called Israel a "cancerous tumor."

He said that: "...by Allah's permission, we will see that this intifada will begin a very important chapter in the history of fighting and that it will inflict another defeat on that usurping regime."

About the Palestinians, Khamenei said: "The Palestinian intifada continues to gallop forward in a thunderous manner so that it can achieve its other goals until the complete liberation of Palestine."

Iranians and Palestinians are in very different spheres they disagree on nearly everything. But Iran wants to be the leader of the Muslim world. And that's why Iran must now become the most public defenders, the cheerleaders, of the Palestinians to the outside world.

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London Arrests 5 kids Running Away to ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

As we have seen, over the past few years youth from all over Europe have run away to join ISIS. Conservative numbers put the figures at 4,000 but the real number may be as many as 3 times that.

Recently, London police arrested 5 teenagers between 15 and 19 years old. The teens have been charged with terrorism and with traveling to join a terrorist organization. The plan was to travel to Syria and join ISIS.

Police raided the houses of the teens and seize their computers, phones and other materials as evidence.

The British press is exploding with this story. People are in shock just as they were in 2015 when three girls disappeared to join ISIS.

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ISIS Hit By Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS reports that an Israeli drone struck and killed five ISIS members in Sinai. They were traveling in a car in the very northernmost section of Sinai, almost in Gaza, just outside of the city of Rafah.

This was probably a response to ISIS' launching rockets from Sinai into the southern port city of Eilat just over a week before the drone attack.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the original rockets attack into Israel. They made an official statement and posted and proudly boasting that it was an operation ISIS of the Sinai Peninsula. They said: "A number of rockets were launched at Jewish centers in Eilat, known as Umm Rashrash. The Jews and Crusaders should know that the war of the apostles will not save them in any way."

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Take Bombs Threats Seriously
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Terror threats against the organized Jewish community have risen. These threats do not appear to have activated any serious response on either the part of the media or of the Jewish community.

The events were minimally covered in the press - especially the local press in the cities where the terror threats took place.

National and international press covered the threats, but did not extend their analysis to focusing on the threats, how to approach these threats or how to educate the Jewish and non-Jewish community.

Over three separate days in January - on the 9th, 18th and 31st there were 60 bomb threats called in to 46 JCC's in 26 states (including one in Canada). Some JCC's received several threats. The threats said that C-4 has been placed in your building and "a larger number of Jews are going to be slaughtered."

A national response is essential.

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Hamas Election
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas just held an election. As with everything Hamas related, it was fraught with controversy. Putting that aside – we can now say that Hamas has a new head and his name is Yahya Sinwar.

This is bad news all around - for Israel, for the West, for Gaza and for Hamas.

Sinwar is even more extreme than previous leadership. First and most importantly, he was in an Israeli prison and released only because of the prison swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Yahya Sinwar is a free man because of an exchange and yet, he has put unrealistic and extreme preconditions on any swap with Israel. He is demanding that all 50 prisoners who were released for Shalit in 2014 and then re-arrested after the kidnapping and murder of the 3 Israeli teenagers, be released.

And then he is demanding the release of dozens of other prisoners before he will even begin to talk about returning the bodies of Israelis killed in the most recent Gaza operations and the freeing of two Israelis who accidentally wandered into Gaza.

These are non-starters.

Even more dramatic and more dangerous is that Yahya Sinwar wants to rekindle relations with Iran. Previous Hamas leadership was interested in mending fences with Egypt. But moving towards Iran means Hamas will receive money and weapons that could have a huge impact on the safety of Israelis.

Running to Iran is never a good sign when it comes to power and politics in the Middle East.


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Hate Speech on YouTube
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 16, 2017
I've been thinking.

Many people have never heard of PewDeiPei. His real name is Felix Kjellberg. And he is the most watched person on YouTube - the most watched person ever!

PewDeiPei has 53 million subscribers and his videos have been watched over a billion times.

He is what you would call - hot. And yet - Disney just dropped him.

PewDeiPei was dropped because he had eight videos that were overtly anti-Semitic. One video included two Indians unfurling a banner that read "Kill the Jews." Another video had him saying "Hitler was right."

Kjellberg said that it was all done in humor, but he understands that it could be misunderstood.

That falls far shy of an apology.

Disney did the right thing. There can be no tolerance for hatred, not even in humor.

This artist was self destructive. Disney was worth millions to him per year. But don't feel sorry for him - he ruined his own career.

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Trump Bibi Meet
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Today's White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be, at the same time, both very exciting and very boring.

Exciting because it has been a very long time since an Israeli prime minister - especially Netanyahu, has been a welcome and well received guest at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Boring because there will be no new news to come out of the meeting -no news, no conflict, no new ground. In the end, that 'no news' will turn into "good news" for everyone.

The first meeting between a new US president and a sitting Israeli prime minister is normally a formality. The two leaders review basics and reaffirm the promise made by Bush and Sharon to protect Israel. They get to know one another and make certain that they can pick up a phone and clear things up if and when it becomes necessary.

In this case, Trump and Netanyahu are already friends. They will skip the formalities and get down to brass tacks business, or, as some will call it "tachlis." They will probably speak about Iran, ISIS, Syria, Turkey and the cabal of negativism that swarms around each of them.

They will only briefly discuss Palestinian issues - and only to reaffirm the Two-State Solution and agree that there is at present no Palestinian leader strong enough to broker the compromises necessary for negotiations and meaningful dialogue. They will mention settlements and President Trump will reiterate that it is not helpful to make public pronouncements about such things.

And finally, they will agree that it is a good idea to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, but more time is needed before the move can and should be made.

Not bad for Israel. And not bad for the United States.

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Tillerson to Meet w Russsian FM
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is going to meet with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The potential meeting was reported by the Interfax news service which quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

The report suggests that the two chief diplomats will meet in Germany.

The coverage clearly articulated that the topic of their conversation will be Syria.

This will be an important test for Tillerson in his role as Secretary of State.

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Turkey in Syria Fighting ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Turkey has begun their part in a ground operation to destroy ISIS. Over the weekend Turkish forces crossed over into Syria on their way to liberate the Syrian city of al Bab from ISIS.

The operation was confirmed by Turkish President Erdogan before he departed on a regional trip visiting Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.

Al Bab is about 13 miles over the Turkish border, so it was not too difficult logistically for Turkish forces to get to. But their next stop is Raqa which is 110 miles from al Bab.

Raqa is the capital of ISIS and is its nerve center.

Erdogan said that the objective is to liberate 5000 sq km (about 3000 sq miles) from ISIS. He actually used the word "cleanse" not liberate. He also made it clear that Turkey will not stay in Syria.

This is a major change in the Turkish game plan. Erdogan and Trump spoke earlier in the week and this must have been part of the plan they discussed. Turkey is a very important asset in the battle to defeat ISIS.

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Trump Walks Back US Embassy Move
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This Friday Israel Today (Yisrael HaYom), the largest circulated news paper in Israel, published an interview with President Donald Trump. The interview touched on two important topics, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and settlements.

About settlements, Trump said that building new settlements is not helpful.

And about the embassy move, President Trump said he is rethinking the move and looking at all the different angles. These are his words:

"I am thinking about the embassy, I am studying the embassy [issue], and we will see what happens. The embassy is not an easy decision. It has obviously been out there for many, many years, and nobody has wanted to make that decision. I'm thinking about it very seriously, and we will see what happens."

Right now - that's all we can do. Wait and see.

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US & Turkey to Fight ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

US President Trump spoke with Turkish President Erdogan. The two leaders agreed to form a united front against ISIS.

Trump and Erdogan spoke about specifics and decided to work together to liberate two cities in Syria that are under the control of ISIS - Raqa and al Bab.

I am absolutely certain that they either already have a plan or are preparing a plan and that they will act together to liberate these cities.

Raqa is the capital of ISIS in Syria. If the US and Turkey successfully oust ISIS from Raqa, it may very well be a near death blow to the governing process of ISIS. It will also be major blow to ISIS recruitment and to the reputation of ISIS. If it happens it means that ISIS will not have a capital and will lose the head and heart of their state.

This could be a huge success. It certainly highlights the difference between the Obama administration and the Trump administration.

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Islam in Italy
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Islam is not recognized in Italy. That means, unlike Christianity and Judaism whose congregations and clergy are paid by the state, Islamic congregations and clergy are not paid by the state.

Now there is a move to register all Italian Imams. And Italy's Imams are now required to sermonize in Italian and to sign a good citizenship statement.

There are 1.4 million Muslims in Italy - they are the second largest religious community in the country. Italians are afraid of the trend overtaking Europe where radical Islam is hijacking many countries.

The solution Italian leadership has devised is called the National Pact for an Italian Islam. The idea is to integrate Islam into the modern state of Italy.

It's an ambitious undertaking- but will it be successful?

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Le Pen Wants to Ban Kippot
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front and contender for President of France, said some very controversial things in an interview on Israel Channel 2.

Jewish media around the world have been talking about the interview which was sent from the Jewish Chronicle in England to the JTA in the US.

Le Pen said that Jews of France should stop wearing their kippot. He said they should wear hats. This is part of the battle against Islam. She advocates the removal of all religious symbols.

She said "Honestly, the dangerous situation in which Jews in France live is such that those who walk with a kippah are in any case a minority because they are afraid."

"But I mainly think the struggle against radical Islam should be a joint struggle and everyone should say, 'There, we are sacrificing something.'"

Le Pen also said: "Maybe they will do with just wearing a hat, but it would be a step in the effort to stamp out radical Islam in France."

Marine Le Pen is wrong.

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No Lone Wolves Says the NYT
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A recent front page Sunday NYTimes article proclaimed that there is no such thing as a lone wolf.

Finally!!! Some of us have been saying this for years. We were told we do not understand it was as if we were living in different worlds.

Of course there are still anarchists and private political lone wolves, but not when it comes to Muslim terrorists.

Almost every single Muslim terrorist acts together with ISIS and al Qaeda. The individual terrorist may not be a member of a terror group, but they have all been activated by the terrorist media. Terrorists in the United States and in Europe engage in ISIS social media and watch their videos.

These are motivational videos.

ISIS and al Qaeda also have operational videos and how-to videos. They have videos explaining Islam and videos explaining how to gather supporters as well as how to encrypt your emails and messages to remain safe and off the radar of the police.

These media even allow for communication back to the nerve center of ISIS and al Qaeda to get personal tutoring when needed.

Finally - the NYTimes seems to understand what I've been saying all along.

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Turkey Arrests 400 ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Turkey arrested 400 suspected terrorists yesterday. Turkish military and police conducted raids throughout Turkey in six provinces all around the country.

Add these 400 to 780 suspected terrorists the Turks have already arrested. Of those already arrested, 350 suspected terrorists are foreigners.

Turkey is the latest country to make the decision to intensify their actions against ISIS.

Countries in the region have stepped up their game. This change is important. These actions show a change in local momentum and in attitude. The regional war against ISIS is intensifying.

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Jordan Bombs ISIS in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Jordan has been hit hard by ISIS terror attacks - and now they are ratcheting up their fight against ISIS.

Jordan attacked ISIS basis in Southern Syria. They attacked an ammunition depot. They also attacked a factory that builds car bombs and a building that housed ISIS fighters. The Jordanian army released a statement declaring the success of their mission.

"The operation resulted in killing and wounding a number of members of the terrorist gang in addition to destroying a number of vehicles," said the army statement published by the Petra news agency.

This move is critical. It moves Jordan into the league of countries actively active striking ISIS outside their own country. Most countries have limited their defense against ISIS to within their borders. The fight needs to be broadened. Kudos to Jordan.

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Iran Says US Comments are Useless
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is responding to US President Trump's announcement that Iran has been put on notice. The announcement was actually made by National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after Iran shot two ballistic missiles as a weapons test.

The spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, Bahram Ghasemi, called the United States' stance "repetitive, baseless and provocative."

He continued by suggesting that "instead of thanking Iran for its continued fight against terrorism, the American government is practically helping the terrorists by claims about Iran that are baseless, repetitive and provocative."

Iran continued and said that these US threats against them are useless.

The question is - what will and can the US do if Iran continues along these lines? We need to see what President Trump has up his sleeve.

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Sheik Says US Policy NOT Anti Muslim
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates said that the executive order limiting entrance to the US from seven Arab countries that are centers of terror - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - is not anti-Muslim.

Sheik Abdullah bun Zayed al Nayen issued the statement during a press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. Lavrov was visiting Abu Dhabi to talk about issues related to ISIS, Iran, Syria and other Middle East tensions as well as the new US president.

The Sheik told the press conference that the 90 day policy did not include most Muslims and was not directed at Muslims, but rather, at countries that are filled with terrorism.

The UAE foreign minister said that the United States has the right and the responsibility to behave in this way.

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Israel-Turkey Talking
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and Turkey are mending fences. For the first time in six long years high level talks between Turkey and Israel are taking place.

On Tuesday, Yuval Rotem, Israel's new Director General of the Foreign Ministry, flew to Ankara, the Turkish capital, where he will be in meetings until Thursday. Rotem's main meetings will be with his Turkish counterpart Umit Yalcin.

The objective of these meetings is twofold - to normalize relations through trust and to rebuild security and counter terror communications.

These six years have been a long time during which tensions were high and important opportunities were lost.

Working together is beneficial for both Israel and Turkey and for the region. Turkish-Israeli cooperation was sorely missed. It will take time to get it back up to the level where it once was, but these talks are a good indication and are a big step towards improving the situation.

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UN Sec Gen Says Temple MT Was Jewish
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday morning newly elected UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke on Israeli Radio. He wanted to make perfectly clear that it is clearly understood that the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem on top of the mountain which is today called the Temple Mount.

This is Guterres' quote: "completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish Temple."

Since that very moment Palestinian leadership and media have exploded in condemnation of the UN Secretary General. They are claiming that the Secretary General does not know history.

The entire debate is ridiculous. The Palestinians are trying to rewrite history and erase historical fact.

Historical facts are not open to debate. Those who dare to make up history should be put in their place.

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Israel Happy About Trump's Wall
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

At least one company is very happy about President Trump's declaration to build a wall.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu posted a tweet that wall works and that building a wall is a good idea. He tweeted that it works in Israel and has kept Israel safe.

Magal Security Systems is the main company that built the smart wall in Israel and they are lobbying to help build the wall in America. Magal's American counterpart is called Senstar.

Senstar is scheduled to show off their FiberPatrol system in Alexandria, VA on January 31st at a conference on border security. Homeland Security and other agencies will be present at the conference.

The FiberPatrol system embeds fiber-optic sensors along fences. The system is already in place in airport perimeters across America.

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Terrorists Hacking Police
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Terrorists have begun hacking the police who monitor them.

In a twist of convention - the hunted is now hunting the hunter. Australian anti-terror police have made public that they have discovered a list of their own security forces and details about them on the computers of terrorists.

In the past terrorists and hackers, especially hacktavists, have made public names and details of police and government leaders.

The interesting twist is that ISIS is not known for hacking. This is true despite their highly advanced use of media and encryption in communication. Media and encryption is fairly easy - just follow directions to post and stay safe.

Hacking is far more complex.

Hacking requires skills.

We now know that terrorists in Australia want to hack and are trying to hack - but we do not know how successful they were in actually gaining access and information.

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Gaza Lacks Water & Electric
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Maybe you've heard of the Electricity Intifada. It is the conflict in Gaza being waged between the people and the leadership of Hamas. Youth in Gaza are up in arms that there is not enough electricity. It is the middle of the cold, wet, winter and there is not enough heat or even light for the people living in Gaza.

Many homes are lit with candles.

As if the lack of electricity was not enough, now we are seeing another dangerous crisis emerging. There is not enough fresh water to drink in Gaza.

The aquifer that services Gaza has been contaminated by sewage and the water is not drinkable. Only two of the three desalination stations are functioning and they are not producing enough drinking water.

Contamination sewage needs to be filtered before it can be released into the water system and Gazans are still waiting for at least two large desalination facilities that are being built by the EU and the UN to be completed.

Life in Gaza was never good, now it's even worse.

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Obama Jabs At Bibi Again
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

No doubt about it - Obama was giving a parting jab to Netanyahu.

On Friday morning, as everyone prepared for the inauguration of the 45th president, literally seconds before Donald Trump was sworn into office, Obama sent $221 million to the Palestinians.

Two Congressmen intervened and stopped the money, at least for now.

What possessed Barack Obama to do this at a time when almost every single person in DC would be occupied by the pomp circumstance of the inauguration? Did he think nobody would pay attention? Thankfully two Congressmen, Ed Royce (D-CA) and Kay Granger (R-TX) were paying attention. And someone else, in the State Department, noticed it as well.

The Congressmen had no legal means with which to stop the payment - but tradition has permitted them the power to stop these payments. Obama's people have justified his action, the last minute move, the secrecy, saying that the money was already approved by Congress in 2015 and 2016.

Any way you look at it, this move was Obama's last minute attempt to hurt Israel and Netanyahu.

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Leader of Protest Sympathizes w Terror
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Most of us have never heard of Linda Sarsour.

She was one of the chief organizers of the massive rallies that took place the day after the Presidential inauguration. Sarsour is, without a doubt, a supporter of terror. She has tweeted about both a friend and her brother who are serving long prison sentences in Israel for recruiting mass murderers/terrorists.

Sarsour tweeted "nothing is creepier than Zionism."
Linda Sarsour is the executive director of the Arab America Association of New York. The mission statement of the organization states, "the heightened sense of fear and the acts of blatant discrimination aimed at [the Muslim] community."

On May 12, 2015 she tweeted her support for Islamic law: "You'll know when you're living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans & credit cards become interest free. Sound [sic] nice, doesn't it?"

Does nobody find it unusual that someone with such strong anti-
establishment feeling would be a central figure in a movement that professes to speak for mainstream America.

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Computer Virus Hits Saudi Oil
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Shamoon 2 has hit Saudi Arabia and its oil industry.

Shamoon 2 is a variant of the original Shamoon virus of 2012. The original virus shut down 35,000 Saudi computers within the Saudi oil industry, including Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia.
The virus literally brought Saudi oil production to a halt.
Speculation was that the virus was created and run out of Iran. That speculation makes sense.

And now again, from November 2016 thru December and into January of this year, an almost identical virus has been found in Saudi oil computers.

The virus strikes the host computer and quickly spreads throughout the entire network. Shamoon then relays all information and all documents back to the attacker and then destroys them on the host's own network.
Finally the virus overwrites the master boot record of the infected computer. Once the overwrite is completed, the infected computer cannot be turned on. The entire system is defunct and the files are no longer there.

This is a very powerful and very destructive virus. Anti-virus companies are all working overtime to isolate, counter and protect against this virus.

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Russia's Pivot In Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Over the past month Russia has moved from being an actor in Syria, securing Assad's position and control, to being a mediator in Syria, trying to establish a ceasefire.

It's a hard shift, but it can be done. However - the Assad regime and the Iranians are not happy with this new role Russia has assumed. They want Russia to stay firmly on the side of Assad.

The rebels fighting Assad have no delusions that Russia is on their side. They also know that Russia has the power to influence Iran and Assad which means that a ceasefire could be in everyone's best interest.

Syria and Iran do not understand Russia. Russia is not turning its back on them, rather, the Russians are advancing their vision. In order to confront Russia, Iran and Syria need to first understand why Russia is interested in changing their established role and becoming, at the same time, a mediator and a bomber of ISIS and al Qaeda.

When they find that answer, they can try to confront Russia and influence their policy. But not before they have found the answer.

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Hamas Thinking
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas member of Parliament Marwan Abu Ras gave a sermon in a mosque recently that illustrates just how radical Hamas beliefs are.

Abu Ras said that Jews recruited prostitutes into the army "in order to lure Arabs into their traps," and further added that Jewish leaders sent "AIDS-infected girls to fornicate with Muslim youths."

He said: "My brothers, have patience. Victory is coming soon, Allah willing". He continued: "Their state is about to disappear. We do not know exactly how this will happen, but we know what our Lord and our Prophet have told us. The time for miracles is almost upon us".

"My brothers, know that people, stones, and trees all hate [the Jews]. Everyone on Earth hates this filthy nation, a nation extrinsic to Mankind. This fact was elucidated by the Quran and the Sunna."

"Oh Allah, destroy the criminal Jews and those who help and support them, as well as those who engage in security coordination with them! Oh Allah, strike them with a resounding blow, for they are no match for You. Shake their entity and bring them down. Oh Allah, drive them out of our lands in submission and humiliation! Oh Allah, enable us to kill them!"

This is the true voice of Hamas. This is what Hamas is preaching to the masses.


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ISIS Using Social Media Headhunters
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The head of Germany's domestic terror unit said that ISIS has been utilizing social media headhunters for recruiting purposes and that they have signed up children as young as 13 and 14 years old.

Social media recruiters use Facebook, Instagram and other new media. They use an algorithm to identify people who might be prime for ISIS. The next step is to send the potential recruits to ISIS recruiters to snap up the kids and send them off to join ISIS.

This is one of the most serious dangers of social media and the algorithm. Information in the wrong hands becomes a danger for all others.

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Russia & Turkey Unite to Bomb ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russia and Turkey coordinated air strikes against ISIS yesterday. Their attack was on the town of al Bab about 30 miles northeast of Aleppo.

This is the first time that there has been a coordinated air-force effort between these two nations.

It seems that the Russians have also provided air support for Assad's forces in Dir el Zor.

Russian fighter jets also bombed outside of Palmyra. The Russians were defending the Assad forces who were squaring off against ISIS. The fear was that ISIS will once again loot and blow up the remains of the ancient city.

Russia has trimmed its air fleet, so working together with Turkey bolsters the Russians air-force presence.

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Pole Pres Put Warsaw Stone on Grave in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, is visiting Israel. This is an important trip for both countries.

The Polish president asked to include a visit to Mt Herzl, Israel's national cemetery, on his official itinerary.

While at Mt. Herzl, Duda placed a stone on the grave of Yoni Netanyahu, the brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was killed in the famous July 4, 1976 operation saving Jews who were hijacked, kidnapped and brought to Uganda.

The Polish president knew of Yoni's story and brought a stone from the Warsaw ghetto to place on his gravesite. The symbolism is powerful - bravery and fighting against all odds.

The Warsaw ghetto uprising and the Uganda rescue are two of the most significant, elevating and mythic stories for Israelis - as a nation, as a people and as individual Jews and Israelis.

This was a very thoughtful and positive move on the part of President Duda and the people of Poland.

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Russia Understand's Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Ever since Russia entered Syria in 2015 Israel and Russia, more specifically Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin, are in regular contact about Syria and other issues in the Middle East.

The essence of the dialogue is the shoring up of mutual interests. In this case that means that both sides stay away from each other and not fire upon each other.

Russia's allies in Syria include President Bashar Assad and his supporters Hezbollah and Iran. They are not happy that Russia not only understands but even supports Israel's actions and bombings in Syria.

Israel does not want Assad or Hezbollah or Iran or ISIS or al Qaeda in the Golan Heights. Russia respects Israel's need to protect itself.

Open lines of communication between Putin and Netanyahu are Russia's way of de-escalating potential conflict between Israel and Russia in the air or on the ground in Syria. That is very wise.

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Iran & Its New Planes
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Passenger jets is the perfect symbol of Iran's move out of the doghouse and finding a place among the community of nations.

Both Airbus and Boeing have been competing for the huge prize of well over $130 billion in deals with Iran. Airbus represents one of the largest companies in France while Boeing symbolizes American corporations.

So far, the score is nearly even with Airbus just nosing out Boeing. Airbus now has a contract for 731 planes with Iran while Boeing has a deal for 668. This includes the 100 Airbus sold to Iran just after the sanctions were lifted.

These planes will open the doors for Iran. Tourism, trade, global interaction and much more will happen as these planes arrive in Iran and take their place in the new Iranian fleet.

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Paris Conference
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A conference on the future of peace in the Middle East is taking place in Paris today. It is said to be the only hope to save the two state solution.

The biggest problem with this conference is that the two major players - the Israelis and the Palestinians - are not there.

The sponsors of the conference want to develop a plan acceptable to both sides. This is the second meeting of the groups in the Paris Conference. The first meeting was earlier last year, this meeting was originally scheduled for December but was postponed because the Israelis and the Palestinians were not talking.

They're still not talking. So why now?

Because it is just days before Obama leaves the White House.

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US Sends Troops to Poland
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The US sent troops into Poland. This is a direct check against Russia.

Soldiers and tanks crossed over into Poland from Germany. They crossed in the south western part of Poland and are now headquartered in the south western Polish city of Zagan.

Since the fall of communism in Poland in 1989 the Russians have been trying to influence and intimidate Poland. The Russians have never been happy about Poland's independence.

In addition, the Russians want to make certain that the US not become the main influencer in Poland. The Russians went ballistic when the Poles permitted the US to set up anti-missile batteries in Poland.

Poland fears the influence of Russia. They do not want to be another Ukraine or Crimea.

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Hamas & Israel in Talks
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

An Arab Israeli newspaper has reported that Qatar is mediating between
Israel and Hamas in an effort to get back the bodies of two Israeli soldiers and the two Israelis (believed to still be alive) who were kidnapped after wandering over the border into Hamas controlled Gaza while walking on the beach.

The Qatari ambassador to the Palestinian Authority has been travelling back and forth to Gaza and is the conduit passing along messages.

The negotiations are slow to start. Hamas demanded the release of 60 prisoners who were released in the Gilad Shalit exchange - and then re-arrested on various terror charges.

Israel agreed - but only with the stipulation that the 60 to be expelled from Gaza or sent to Qatar.

Hamas rejected that condition.

According to the Arabic report, that is where the situation now languishes.


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Jordan Fires Imams
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Jordan's Ministry of Religious Affairs has fired fifteen Imams from their roles as leaders of mosques. Seven additional Imams are being disciplined.

The reason behind these disciplinary actions is the decision by these religious figures to refuse to pray for the recovery of the Jordanians and tourists who were wounded in terror attacks by ISIS on December 18th and 20th. In addition to those who were wounded, eleven Jordanian soldiers, two Jordanian civilians and a Canadian civilian were killed in the attacks.

The five ISIS terrorist perpetrators were also killed.

This incident illustrates just how fragile the situation is in Jordan. Jordanian leadership is fighting ISIS, but it seems that some of the rank and file - even Imam employees of the Ministry of Religion, side with the terrorist.

Jordan sees the threat of ISIS very clearly and senior leadership is working hard to buttress the country against terror and stymie the development of ISIS within Jordan.

But Jordan borders both Iraq and Syria and therein rests the problem.

Tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of refugees from both countries have fled to Jordan. Independent of that reality is the fact that there are many people in Jordan who lean toward religious extremism in the guise of ISIS or al Qaeda.

Despite it all, Jordanian leadership is stepping up their battle against terror. They must stop the trend of terror threatening to overrun their country and the region. They know what needs to be done. We all hope they can do it.

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Terror Uptick
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There has been an uptick in terror of late.

Terror has risen in the USA and around the world. In Arab countries and in Western countries. Almost all recent acts of terror have been perpetrated by Muslim terrorists.

There have also been enormous strides in fighting terror.

In Israel this week a terrorist used a semi-tractor trailer truck to run over soldiers. After the attack, ISIS called for more truck attacks.

Also last week Israel announced that they had intercepted hundreds upon hundreds of terrorists en route to perpetrate attacks on Israelis.

Had even a few of these attacks been successful, dozens more Israelis would have died. Israel's defense establishment, along with their intel and clandestine services, is working overtime to discover and uncover terror cells before they act or to intercept the terrorists during their missions.

Kudos to Israel's defense establishment.

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Russians Are Not Pulling Out of Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

News reports have been proclaiming that Russia is pulling out of Syria.

The headlines are exciting and entertaining - but not true. All that seems to be happening is that Russia is sending its only aircraft carrier back to port in Severomorsk. That is hardly a pullout.

The Admiral Kuznetzov only arrived in the region in mid October to the region where it dropped anchor just outside the port of Tartus. It was sent to accomplish a task.

They've finished their task and now the carrier is on its way, either to home or to its next mission. The Admiral Kuznetzov is Russia's only aircraft carrier.

Russia uses its carrier as an offensive weapon as opposed to the United States which uses their carriers as defensive weapons and to preserve peace.

The Russians have played the withdrawal card before. In March they also announced they were withdrawing. All that it really means is reorganization.

Over the past few years Russia has invested billions of dollars into their infrastructure within Syria. They are not folding up. They are reorganizing.

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Taiwan Pres to Pass Thru US
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The president of Taiwan is on her way to four Central American countries. She will travel through the United States to get there and on her return to Taiwan.

The four counties are Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The Chinese are already livid about last month's conversation between the Taiwanese president and US president-elect Trump. This trip only adds fuel to the fire.

Since 1979 there have been no official diplomatic relations between the US and Taiwan - ever since China gave the United States an ultimatum: us or them. That was when the US decided to shut down relations with little Taiwan.

Taiwanese presidents have in the past, however, met with US officials when they travel through the United States.

We assume this will be the case this trip, as well. The exact dates for those meetings is still unknown.

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Israeli Investment
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is the "start up nation." That means that Israel is the high tech and biotech Mecca of the world.

During the first 9 months of 2016 Israeli venture capital companies raised $4 billion of investment. That is a 27% increase over 2015 numbers.

Others say that the increase in investment was closer to 50%.

These numbers are humbling and telling at the same time.

Israel continues to be the center stage of ideas in medicine and bio tech and tech. At the same time that Israel is the center of the world, Israel is being raked over the coals in the UN and elsewhere around the world.

Israel is on the cutting edge of music, literature, film, food and wine. There is almost nothing on the creative side of any field that is without Israeli influence.

Proof of all that is in the investments - the money to Israel keeps on flowing in.

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Iran Gets $1Billion Loan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This news was just made public in a Reuters piece.

Vitol, the largest energy group in the world, signed a deal with Iran in exchange for oil. The deal is a loan of one billion euros which is about a billion dollars in exchange for oil, plus 8% of the oil.

This is a huge boon for Iran. It is a direct injection of money into their economy at an essential time and they are trading against their oil production - the only commodity of value they have.

Since the lifting of sanctions in March 2016 Iran has been clawing their way up to be a major force in the oil world.

This Vitol deal will help Iran emerge from their economic crisis.

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Arab Countries Learning Hebrew
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

An interesting conference was recently held in Jordan. Participants included Egyptians, Iraqis and Saudis.

The conference was about teaching Hebrew at universities in the Arabic world.

The study of Hebrew in the Arab world is summed up in the comments of the conference:

"Of course in times of war one must know the language of the enemy. Here at the conference the participants said "know thy neighbor?" Or, are they only learning Hebrew in an effort to collect intelligence, to "know thine enemy?"

The answer was given very eloquently at the workshop:
"(Hebrew) is very important to understand the 'other.' as it is only through language that we can understand the culture of the society and its way of thinking. The language can bring our nations closer."

Studying Hebrew has been part of university studies in Egypt and Iraq since the 60's. The Saudis began offering Hebrew courses in 1994. And in 2000 Jordanians began to learn Hebrew.

Learning language is a very important step in understanding culture.
The study of Arabic is not only a major staple of the Israeli educational system, it is also an official language in Israel.

This conference is a step in the right direction.

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Hamas Calls Israel Barbaric
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Imagine - Hamas calling Israel barbaric.

That is what did they did, explaining that Israel's policy of not returning terrorists bodies to Hamas for burial is "evidence of criminality and barbaric occupation."

This policy is clearly stated by the office of the Prime Minister in order to pressure Hamas into returning the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza during the summer of 2014.

Their names are Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin.

Hamas is also believed to be holding two more Israelis who inadvertently wandered over the border. Their names are Avraham Mengistu and Juma Ibraham Abu Anima. Mengistu, who is emotionally challenged, is of Ethiopian extraction.

This policy of the prime minister's office is the newest of several attempts to provide the Shaul and Goldin families a sense of closure. Israel has a policy of doing nearly everything to bring back the bodies of their soldiers.

Even in battle, Israel leaves no one - dead or alive - behind.

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Iranian Currency Falling Fast
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The rial, Iranian currency, has hit an all time low against the dollar.

There are several reasons for this massive drop in value. The most obvious explanation is that, just like almost every other currency in the world, since November, the rial has dropped against the dollar.

Yes - the dollar has strengthened since the election of Donald Trump. This hurts Iran very seriously. The rial is now exchanging at nearly 43,000 to a dollar when, only a week ago, it was at 39,000 to the dollar.

This is the weakest the rial has been. In 2012 it hit its previous low of 40,000.

President Rouhani of Iran has pledged to strengthen the rial much in the same way that he brought down inflation. When he entered office Rouhani brought down Iran's inflation to single digits from over 40% inflation which is where it was before he took office.

Strengthening the rial will prove more difficult than controlling inflation. A weaker rial is going to make it harder for Iran to buy products from abroad and to import essential and luxury goods.

The Iranians have a plan. They are going to inject $5.8 billion into the Iranian economy to boost the rial and keep it all in Iran. This is a dangerous step but it may be enough to counter the downward spiral.

If the rial continues to fall, Iran will spin into hyper-inflation which will make it impossible to compete in the international market.

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Israel Arrests Tunnel Hamas Head
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 30, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

On November 27th a senior Hamas commander, the brother of the head of internal security for Hamas, crossed into Israel. He was promptly arrested.
Bilal Razineh, 24, was indicted in a Beersheba court on Wednesday.

During the month-long interrogation Razineh proved to be a treasure trove of information offering intel about his brother and Hamas leadership. In addition to that, he gave over the locations of centers of command and control HQs. Most importantly, Razineh identified the exact position of many terror tunnels.
Razineh was a major player in the tunnel development. He described a labyrinth of tunnels that emanated from his family's home and then split off in many directions.

Razineh also confirmed that Hamas and Islamic Jihad used hospitals and other civilian centers as hiding places and command HQs during the conflict with Israel. He explained that he was a messenger running messages from his brother to other Hamas leaders while his brother was commanded operations out of Kamal Adwan Hospital.

That Bilal Razineh believed that he would not be arrested when he crossed into Israel is mind boggling and frankly, unbelievable.

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Kerry's Just Wrong
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 29, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry took to the media to defend his policy and the US abstention at the UN Security Council last Friday.

No doubt, his words were heartfelt and passionate. And just as certainly, what he said was deluded and wrong.

Kerry defended the Obama Middle East policy by suggesting that the only direction to take is a two-state solution. Hanging Israel out to dry at the UN was a lesson from the Obama administration intended to teach Israel a lesson and to let them know that the two state solution is the only path toward peace.

He invoked the memory of Shimon Peres as a leader and visionary of peace. And yet, Peres was never actually elected Prime Minister. He shared the position with Yitzhak Rabin in a swap to placate the party. His entire life in politics was one of second place, his policies were never voted in. Peres was a nice model for those outside Israel but not internally.

The Kerry and Obama point of view is flawed. They placed almost total responsibility for the failure of the peace process on Israel. And then they taught Israel a lesson in front of the entire world - by abandoning them. The Obama administration, according to Kerry, behaves in a fair and balanced manner.
And yet the Palestinians received no reprimand, and are exempt from accountability.

And worst of all --- Kerry forgot that Israel already withdrew from all of Gaza and relocated Jewish settlers. And what did Israel get in return? International applause... NO! They got thousand of Palestinian missiles from Gaza.

So given this experience the US should understand Israel's hesitation and demand for direct talks without preconditions. The US should be support Israel not embarrass her.

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Iran's Newest War Games
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 28, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Once again Iran is in the middle of a 5 day set of war games, conducted in the south of Iran.

The name of the war games is Defenders of Velayat Skies #7. The games include air defense drills, missile drills, artillery and radar drills and, of course, cyber and electronic war games. The games include 17,000 Iranian forces.

Included in the games are the US F-4 Phantom jet fighter and the new Russian S-300 anti air missile system.

Iranian air force chief Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili warned that any foreign aircraft over Iran's air space, including drones, will be shot down. He announced: "We are witnessing the presence of a number of trans-regional planes outside the air and sea borders of the country but we emphasize that these planes should know their limits and know that we will take action in less than one second."

This entire set of war games is also a propaganda tool, about that there is no doubt - Iran wants to send a message to Israel and the West especially the US.

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Oil Prices in Flux
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 27, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Let's talk about oil prices.

The price of oil per barrel hit a 17 month high on Friday and settled down at about $53 per barrel.

The big question is how the OPEC oil production cut will impact the price of oil. As of January 1, 2017 OPEC will reduce production by 1.8 million barrels per day.

At the same time, over the past few weeks Libya has increased their production by 22,000 barrels per day. And most importantly, Russia has increased production by 5%.

One can only expect that Russia will try to increase their profits by increasing their production to fill the need created by the OPEC reductions.
If that is what happens, OPEC will have misplayed the entire situation.

OPEC originally went to Russia to explain their production cut. Everyone thought Russia was on board, but it doesn't look that way at all right now. Russia is ready to pounce.

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More Secret Deals w Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 26, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The story of the Iranian deal continues to haunt us.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has discovered that the famous nuke deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), permits Iran to keep enriched uranium above the 300 kilogram limit. The additional enriched uranium above the amount permitted was "deemed unrecoverable" by the US.

According to the IAEA, the US gave Iran an exception on uranium and would "permit the country to stockpile uranium in excess of the 300 kilogram limit set by the nuclear deal."

The US State Department could not adequately answer why this exception was never made public and how it is even possible when it directly contradicts the public agreement that was confirmed by the P5+1 and Iran.

This Iranian deal is a perfect example of Iran getting what it wants in international affairs. The most essential point is that when the international sanctions against Iran were lifted and in return, Iran was supposed to fulfill expectations and act within certain guidelines.

Clearly Iran has not held up their end of the bargain and just as clearly, the United States has sponsored Iran as Teheran skirts around their commitments.

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Why Obama Abandoned Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 25, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Still perplexed and spinning form the UN vote condemning Israel. I thought I had analyzed the possibilities from every angle and figured out every which way it would go. But it never occurred to me that the US decision would be based on childish silly character issues - not substance and history.

I was not alone.

Even the Arabic press and the Islamic press covered the US abstention as a watershed. They, too, were taken aback by the US abstention, it was seen by them also as a first -- the first time the United States did not defend Israel in the Security Council.

Sometimes it is important to investigate who was in favor of a resolution or a historical incident and who lent public support - and who did not. Then you can get a sense of which is the correct side.

Obviously, there were 14 countries who voted for the resolution.

Turkey supported the resolution. Iran supported the resolution. Hamas and Hezbollah supported the resolution. The Arab League and Syria supported the resolution. ISIS and al Qaeda supported the resolution.

Normally, when ISIS and Iran come together to support anything it is not good for the freedom and the lovers of democracy.

How and why did the United States choose to crawl into bed with these deeply nefarious and problematic groups and nations? Trust me, it was not because Obama was insulted by Netanyahu.

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Israel Busts Hamas Cell
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 23, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israel uncovered a Hamas terror cell and arrested the cell members. The information was cleared for publication yesterday.

Some twenty terrorists were arrested in Shechem aka Nablus.

The group had constructed numerous bombs and procured M16s over the summer. They have been planning to perpetrate numerous shooting and bombing attacks against Israelis.

Under interrogation some of the terrorists confessed their plans to perpetrate attacks on the major cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa as well as other cities. Their targets would be city centers and bus stops.

Apprehending these terrorists utilized great intelligence resources and analysis. Had the terrorists succeeded the attacks would have been devastating.

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Iran Will Get 1st Airbus in a few Weeks
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 22, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

In a few weeks Iran will be receiving their first Airbus commercial plane. It will upgrade their antiquated fleet. The plane is scheduled arrive in Teheran just after the New Year.
A journalist witnessed the Iran Air logo being painted on the Airbus.

The initial plan is for Iran to purchase 100 Airbus planes for about $1 billion. In the final stages Iran will get twice as many Airbus planes - about 200 planes. And it seems that on top of all that, Iran just signed another deal for another 80 Airbus planes.

There is also talk about the planes being leased by several leasing company. Word is that the leases would be in Euros and not in dollars.

Normally Airbus requires payment in dollars.

Sanctions have been lifted and Iran is off and running. With the new planes they can expand their tourism market and they will, once again, be permitted to fly over and get landing rights in airports around the world. Given the condition of the old planes Iran was not permitted to fly over many European countries or land in many airports.
The Airbus deal is very important for Iran.


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Israel Offers to Help Aleppo
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 21, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has invited Aleppo survivors to come to Israel and to provide medical care for those in need.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement: --- "We see the tragedy of terrible suffering of civilians and I've asked the Foreign Ministry to seek ways to expand our medical assistance to the civilian casualties of the Syrian tragedy, specifically in Aleppo," said Netanyahu.

The statement continued "We're prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also men if they're not combatants. We'd like to do that: bring them to Israel, take care of them on our hospitals as we've done with thousands of Syrian civilians. We're looking into ways of doing this; it's being explored as we speak."


Israel has the ability to help. The real question is whether those in need will allow Israel to provide the aid they are ready to offer in order to save thousands of lives.

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Putin & Rouhani Speak about Syria
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 20, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Hassan Rouhani. The conversation came at the initiative of Iran.

Putin told Rouhani that he hopes to get a resolution in Syria as soon as possible.

This came to us via a Kremlin statement declaring that Putin wants to put this Syrian issue to bed.

A summit is scheduled for Wednesday in Moscow. Russia, Turkey, Iran and even Syria will sit down and discuss how to quickly bring the situation to an end.

Russia has an influence on Iran. Putin knows that he has that power. And there will be important instances when Russia's influence will prove essential in bringing about a resolution between Iran and the world community of nations.

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Iran Promises to Uphold Nuke Deal
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 19, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yukiya Amano, head of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the UN's nuclear watchdog, just visited Iran and met with Iranian leadership.

Iran convinced Amano that they are committed to fulfilling and living up to the terms of the now infamous nuke deal. The meeting was covered by media across the world.

At the same time, Iran also asserted that when the US Congress resumed sanctions against them, even without President Obama's signature it was "inconsistent" - meaning it was a violation of the nuke deal.

It is hard to take what Iran says seriously. All I can say is that the Iranians are very good at playing the game of nuclear chess.

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Mossad Assassinates Hamas Engineer in Tunisia
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 18, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Rumors, many spurred on by media outlets, about a Mossad assassination in Tunisia of a Hamas operative, abound.

Piecing together the pieces this is probably what happened - and why.
Mohammed al Zawahiri, also known as Murad, was on his way home at 1:50am when his car was overtaken by several other cars. He was shot in the throat and the heart, literally, while speaking on the phone.

Zwaharia was working on a doctorate in engineering. But the motivation for the assassination was his work for Hamas. He is the man who developed automated spy drones for Hamas and was in Tunisia working on an automated submarine. This information comes from his brother Radwan.

There is no connection to the Mossad.

The people so far arrested include the car rental agents who supplied the assassins with their cars. Weapons and silencers were found in one of the cars. A Hungarian female journalist was also arrested as was a camera man.

The assassins dismantled all the cameras in the area redirecting the video feed elsewhere in the city to cover the time and details of the assassination.

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Tech Companies Join to Fight Terror
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 16, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Microsoft are collaborating to fight extremism.

Yesterday a message went out saying that they will all share information through a central database of sites and material that they have hashed as problematic. Hashing is the term used to describe the computer additive that the tech companies attach to problematic sites, videos, images and activities and discussions.

They will all go into a shared industry data base so that once caught, extremists cannot reinvent themselves on another platform.

This is a major step forward. These tech gurus have all been seriously criticized for not doing enough in combating extremism and sometimes, for not even acting against terror and extremism at all.

This collaborative effort will really help. This is an important and very positive step.

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Assad Says Putin & Trump See Eye to Eye
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 15, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Assad of Syria was interviewed by Portugal RTP Television. The president of Syria explained that he is hopeful about Trump's presidency and his Middle East policy. He also suggested that Putin and Trump will be great allies.

Assad said that if Trump is committed to fighting terror, he will be great for Syria.

"We cannot tell anything about what he's going to do, but if... he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be ally, natural ally in that regard with the Russian, with the Iranian, with many other countries," he told Portugal's RTP state television.

"Trump's statements were clear during his campaign in relation to fighting terrorism, non-intervention against states in order to depose governments, as the United States has been doing for decades."

"This is good, but this depends on Trump's will to carry on with this approach, and his ability to do that."

Assad commenting on Trump and Putin has no foundation in reality value except that it shows what Assad is thinking.

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Mass Murder Of Christians
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 14, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday a suicide bomber murdered 24 Christians and wounded almost another 50 people in attendance at Marks Christian Cathedral in Egypt. The suicide bomber was a 22 year old named Mahmoud Shafik Mohammed Mostafa.

ISIS claims responsibility for the terror attack.

This was a terrible attack. Thankfully, this time the Western world paid attention and the Western press covered the terror attack against Egypt's Coptic Christians.

The plight of Christians, who were repeatedly attacked by Muslims in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East, has been ignored for way too long. They tragedies were, at best, simply ignored. Other times they were even justified.

Christians are being targeted by ISIS and other Islamic extremists.

Not to see this is not to understand ISIS or the Middle East.

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Iran's War Games
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 13, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is conducting war games. The games began on Sunday and will continue through Wednesday.

Patting their own back, Iranians are calling it a demonstration of Iran's "superiority" in the region.

These war games include all the various branches of the Iranian military - land, sea and air. Particularly new in these war games is the use of Iran's newest unmanned drones.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran's military forces enjoy supremacy over the Persian Gulf region more than any other time," Brigadier General Massoud Jazzayeri, the deputy chief of staff of Iran's Armed Forces, was quoted as saying over the weekend. "The military and security conditions of the Persian Gulf are in a way that the enemy's forces and equipment are fully within the range of the Iranian military men."

The other very special weapon Iran claims to be testing is their new jammers - a system that will block and bring down enemy drones. They also are showing off their newest missiles, helicopters and ammunition.

Iran is showcasing their great weapons and saying that they will defend themselves against attacks from Western forces. And quite honestly, Iran really does have an impressive array of advanced defensive weapons.

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ISIS ReTakes Palmyra
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 12, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The pendulum is swinging back again and this time Palmyra is squarely in the hands of ISIS.

The battle for Palmyra began in March of 2015 and then, in May of 2016, Russia took charge. Russia withdrew in early December and ISIS has taken over total control of Palmyra and the entire region.

Now Russia is bombing Palmyra in an attempt to take back the city and the province.

Many people have been killed on both sides.

As a result of the bombing ISIS fled the center of the city. Now, the bombing has stopped, and reporting on all sides says that over the past few hours ISIS has returned and once again established control of the city Palmyra.

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Company That Builds Israel's Subs Hacked
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 9, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The company that is making Israel's top secret submarines and patrol boats was hacked.

ThyssenKrupp, arguably the largest steel manufacture in the world, was hacked sometime in February. The attack was discovered only two months ago. According to the company report, the marine division was not hacked.

But that might not be so. Upon further analysis it is unclear what was or wasn't hacked and what was taken. ThyssenKrupp's own computer defense unit detected the hack. They assert that, as of now, the material hacked and stolen was from the unit of Industrial Solutions.

This is very troubling - also expected.

It appears that the hackers came from Asia. That, too, is par for the course.

The hackers want info and intel and they want to sell it to the highest bidder.

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Israel Bombs Near Damascus 2Xs
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Official Syrian News Agency (SANA) reported that Israel bombed a Damascus suburb for the second time this week. According to the report Israel fired surface missiles at an airbase outside Damascus.

Israel is typically silent about these issues, they do not respond when questioned. This time, however, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said "We are trying to prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military hardware and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah."

Liberman's statement was a message for both Syria and Hezbollah.

Liberman's statement left out some essential components that all the parties who needed to know, clearly knew.

Israel was preventing weapons of mass destruction (WMD's) from being transferred by Syria to Hezbollah.

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MiGs Crash in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

For the second time in only a few weeks, a Russian MiG fighter jet has crashed in Syria near their only aircraft carrier.

Two MiG crashes near their aircraft carrier is causing people to conclude that the problem has less to do with the MiGs and probably more to do with the carrier.

The Russian carrier is ancient, it is named the Admiral Kuznetsov. It does not have a catapult system which is what helps the jets land and takeoff. Without a catapult, landing and taking off is very difficult.

The ship is over 30 years old and it is simply not up to standards.

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Islamic Terrorist Sentenced in Ohio
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 6, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

In January of 2015, twenty-two year old Christopher Lee Cornell planned to assassinate President Obama in the Capitol Building as he delivered his State of the Union address.

Yesterday, Cornell was sentenced to 30 years in a federal court in Cincinnati. The judge also added a life sentence of probation after the 30 years end. Cornell was convicted of "attempted murder of US officials and employees."

As he was convicted Cornell called out "Allah is in control, not the judge."

This is just another example of Islamic terrorism. Thankfully, this time the plot was uncovered and the terrorist, Cornell, was caught.

There are many others like Cornell out there, plotting to do harm to the United States.

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Australia Rejects 2500 Refugees- US Takes them
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 5, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

2,465 refugees were rejected from Australia. They have been accepted to enter the United States.

The refugees were being held in temporary camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru as they tried to get into Australia. They are from Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and Sudan. The story has been reported in the Australian press and on FoxNews.

Some in Congress are livid. Two Congressmen sent a scathing letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson who agreed to accept these refugees from dangerous countries. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) condemn the situation as "concerning for many reasons" foremost because:

"...your departments negotiated an international agreement regarding refugees without consulting or notifying Congress."

They said that Congress only learned of this deal "through the media". These two legislators maintain that even they have been unable to learn how many of the 2,465 refugees will, in the end, actually be transferred to the U.S.

The entire situation is unacceptable. We will see how it is resolved.

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Egypt Floods Tunnels and Kills 4
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 4, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas radio reported that the bodies of three Palestinians were recovered in a smuggling tunnel this morning, they are still searching for a fourth.

The smuggling tunnel ran from Gaza into Egypt. The Egyptians flooded the tunnel with sea water and the tunnel collapsed with the 4 smugglers inside.

Flooding the tunnels was one of Egypt's most effective methods of confronting the tunnel threat. All kinds of people and goods came and went through the tunnels and the Egyptians were powerless to stop them or even monitor what and who was coming in and going out.

The issue came to a head in 2015 when it was clear that terror groups were shuttling people and weapons in to and out of Egypt and that they were attacking Egyptian targets in major cities. At that point, the Egyptians started flooding the tunnels.

Throughout most of this year, however, Egypt has turned a blind eye to the tunnels.

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Huge Raid On Cyber Mafia
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 2, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Ten countries from around the globe worked together, coordinating their efforts, utilizing their counter cyber resources, and arresting and shutting down one of the largest cyber crime syndicates in history.

Germany was the focal point of the raid. In the end, 16 people were arrested in 10 countries, but the group carried out their investigation in 40 countries.

Here are some impressive numbers. 39 servers and 50,000 computers were confiscated. It is the biggest botnet ever, actually a zombie army infecting over 900,000 routers.

The routers were all infected with malicious software, each of them sending out notes that asked recipients to click or open an email. If they clicked, their system became part of the botnet. Deutsche Telekom was attacked. They repelled the attack but it brought the entire German internet to a freeze for a few minutes.

Over a million emails were sent each week. The objectives were numerous. The cyber terrorists were gathering and selling information and intel as well as gaining access to many high value targets.

And now, it's over. Mission accomplished.

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The Trump Bump
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 1, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday Austrians will go to the polls and vote for a president.

Ever since the US presidential results came in, pundits in Austria and throughout Europe have been talking about The Trump Effect and the Trump Bounce.

One Austrian candidate is a populist named Norbert Hofer. He is pit against liberal, left leaning, Alexander Van der Bellen. As of now, Hofer is up in the polls.

Elections everywhere across the world are trying to tap into the phenomenon of Trump Energy. Elections are often more about the candidates than about issues, this election broke even those barriers.

In order to duplicate Trump-like effects you can't just be like Trump, you have to be Donald Trump himself.

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Russia Setting Up Hospital in Aleppo
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 30, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Russia has decided to send a field hospital into Aleppo, Syria. This hospital will provide 100 beds and will be able to serve 420 people daily in outpatient services.

So many Syrians have been displaced and so many need medical help. Now Russia is bringing in medical care with trained medical professionals.

It is not pure altruism. Aleppo is in crisis and Russia sees that it is in their interests to help avert more civilian crises.

Russia only acts when it is in their best interests. They know how dangerous and how problematic the situation in Syria is, especially in Aleppo. But they need to secure the support of the masses against ISIS and al Nusra, a branch of al Qaeda.

With the help of the masses Russia can re-establish power and provide Syria with the stability that the Syrians so badly need.

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Mosul- Not Over Yet
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 29, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iraqi forces have killed as many as 1000 ISIS fighters in Mosul.

Only one Iraqi unit actually entered into Mosul from the East where the massive fighting was - this group is called the Golden Division and they are an elite, highly trained, unit.

The advance on Mosul has taken 6 weeks. The momentum is now squarely on the side of the Allies and the Iraqi establishment.

But ISIS has constantly been surprising the allies. I predict that they have other surprises up their sleeves in Mosul.

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Iran Wants Navel Bases in Syria & Yemen
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 28, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is planning to open distant naval bases - in Syria and in Yemen.

This is a very aggressive and telling move for Iran. It should be extremely worrying to the Sunni Muslims in the region. But they are not the only country which should worry, this move is also a threat against the rest of the world.

The plan was made public in a news piece published in the Shargh daily newspaper, an official news outlet. It quoted an important general.

"We need distant bases, and it may become possible one day to have bases on the shores of Yemen or Syria, or bases on islands or floating (bases)," said General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, quoted by the Shargh daily newspaper. "Is having distant bases less than nuclear technology? I say it is worth dozens of times more."

To even suggest that these bases are more important than the nuclear deal is huge. These new bases will be asserting a new power and putting Shiite Iran in close range of almost every regional center in the Middle East.

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Fires in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 27, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The fires ravaging Israel are acts of terror.

Several people have been arrested. Police have videos of people lighting fires. Entire communities have been evacuated - hundreds of thousands of people.

Thankfully, there have been no arson-related deaths, but many have been hospitalized for smoke-related injuries.

Minister Naftali Bennett said the terrorists "tried to kill an entire town". Bennett and Minister Avigdor Lieberman say that the answer to this type of terrorism is rebuilding and then building even more.
The cost of the fires will easily top $2 billion, maybe even $3 billion.

Terrorists have struck at the heart of the every single Israel. Israeli education stresses the beauty and the importance of nature and the value of land - especially the land of Israel.

Even those whose homes have not been threatened, or those who live out of the danger zone, are in pain about the loss and the damage.
Why would terrorists destroy the very same land that they want and claim to love?

Because, Palestinian terrorists gladly cut off their own arms when it results in Israelis losing a finger.

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Terrible Fires in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 25, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Tens of thousands of Israeli's have been evacuated from their homes.
The University of Haifa was evacuated. The major prison in Haifa was evacuated. It is a devastating situation. It is a catastrophe.
Every Israeli is wrenched and pained by the fires ravaging the land and the lives of their fellow citizens.

It was undoubtedly arsonists who set the first four fires. The wind has helped to spread the circle of destruction. The police have made arrests. They say that the arson was nationally/politically motivated. That means terror.

Who would burn the land they supposedly love? Who would want to throw Jews out of their homes?

Cyprus and Greece sent four planes to help fight the fire. Russia, UK, Turkey, and Italy have also sent fire fighting planes. Prime Minister Netanyahu called on Evergreen, a US based company that has a 747 filled with water and was used to help fight the Carmel fires in 2010, and asked for their assistance. The plane drops 94,850 liters of water. Even the Palestinians sent four teams of firefighters.

Israel is usually front page news, but not this time. The devastation, the national pain, the fires burning through Israel have hardly made a blip on the international news cycle. The reason should be obvious. No deaths. No abuse of Palestinians. This story does not have any of the requisite elements needed to make international headlines.

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Mosul Close to Liberation
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 24, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Since the assault to take back Mosul began last month, on October 17th, there has been slow progress towards achieving that goal.

But yesterday a major blow was struck against ISIS. The main supply road linking Mosul, Iraq to Raqqa, Syria was taken over by the Iraqi Shiite Militia, known as Hashed al Shaabi.

Air support was provided by the United States, but the ground fighting against ISIS was done by Iraqi Shiites.

On the very same day the US air-force destroyed the 4th bridge crossing the Tigris River into Mosul.

Cutting off the trade and travel route is very important. The entire route is 182 miles long. If it is interrupted it will make it nearly impossible for ISIS to send fighters from Raqqa to reinforce and help their fighters in Mosul.

These are their two remaining strongholds.

Iraqi sources estimate that there are between 5,000 to 10,000 ISIS fighters in Mosul. Amassing outside of Mosul are close to 100,000 Iraqi and other troops.

The battle is not over yet - but the end is in sight for liberating Mosul from ISIS.

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Ex Nazis Still Drawing a Pension in Germany
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 23, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

It is possible that 10's of thousands of Nazis are still collecting pensions from Germany.

There were 50,000 suspected Nazis working in Germany and as of 20 years ago Germany passed a law stating that suspected war criminals were to be stripped of their pensions.

After an investigation, it was uncovered that over the years of the 50,000 suspected workers, only 99 people have lost their pensions.

The German Ministry of Labor would not comment on this figure or about why so many suspected Nazis have continued to draw money from the state.

This is a terrible abuse of taxpayer money. Money should go to victims - not to murderers.

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Iran Exporting Heavy Water
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 22, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has too much heavy water. It is a violation of the infamous nuke deal signed 18 months ago between Iran and the six world powers.

Heavy water helps cool down the technology that enriches plutonium.

Iran has decided to export the extra heavy water. It's not a lot, it comes to about 220 pounds of heavy water.

How is that done? How do we even know about this? The Iranian media ran a piece yesterday citing diplomatic sources who said that the heavy water was already sold and shipped to Oman.

This is not a violation of the infamous agreement. Actually, it is the objective of Iran and has been from the start. Iran has always wanted to supply the rest of the world with nuclear materials. Iran was angered and insulted that the United States would not permit other countries to have nuclear materials.

Iran is doing what they want to do - just as they always do.

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Assassins in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 21, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Two assassination attempts against Egyptian President al Sisi were just foiled by Egypt's police. The assassins were members of ISIS.

Egypt is experiencing very difficult economic and social tensions. Al Sisi is working hard at keeping terrorists at bay, but it is a difficult battle.

One of the assassination plots was to be carried out at the Clock Tower Hotel in Mecca during the president's pilgrimage to the Hajj.
The plan was for the wife of the plot organizer to put on a suicide belt and blow herself up. The suicide bomb was intended to serve as a distraction for al Sisi's guards and he would be killed.

At the same time that al Sisi was being murdered, the ISIS plotters planned to assassinate the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammed bin Nayyef.

Egyptian police also uncovered a second ISIS plot. They call the plotters the bearded police and they have been arrested and charged.

Assassination is a commonly used weapon in the Middle East. ISIS is exploiting those who are loyal to the cause, many of whom work inside mainstream professions, by getting them to hand over information and facilitate access to targets. That is exactly what happened in Mecca and in Egypt.

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Palestinian Civil War
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 20, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

There is a significant movement rising up against Palestinian leadership in the Palestinian Authority.

The movement includes violent armed conflicts and shootouts with PA security and police pitted against armed locals in villages and towns like Ballata.

Ballata is a refugee camp outside of Shechem/Nabuls.

What makes this current internal conflict different from previous conflicts is that this time those fighting the establishment are not from Hamas - they are true blue Fatah supporters and always have been. They are people who have gotten to the point where they can no longer tolerate Palestinian corruption.

They support Mohammed Dahlan.

Dahlan is in exile and living in Abu Dhabi. Once upon a time he was one of Arafat's fair-haired boys and was the strong arm power of the PA in Gaza. Abbas and Dahlan came into conflict when Dahlan accused Abbas' two sons of corruption by using their power to amass personal financial success.

Dahlan was then convicted, in absentia, of corruption and of besmirching the name of the president.

The corruption is just one element of the discontent and resulting armed conflicts.

Palestinians are rejecting PA leadership because they have come to the full realization that there is no hope for change in the leadership. People are discouraged. Jobs are given only to insiders and their families.

The situation is getting so bad that the shootouts themselves have claimed the lives of at least 12 people and resulted in the wounding of dozens others.

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MidEast Importing US Natural Gas
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 18, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The US is exporting natural gas from shale to the Middle East.
Two shipments of liquefied natural gas went to Kuwait, one to the United Arab Emirates and two to Jordan. This is mind boggling.

Kuwait and the UAE together hold 40% of the world’s natural gas reserves. And they have more than 100 years of natural gas reserves.

So why are they importing US natural gas?

The answer is that they have a shortage of usable natural gas.
How? Here's how. They have heavily subsidized gas and fixed prices and they have a huge amount of wasted energy. Prices are so low and demand is crazy high --- so they need much more. Their gas is sour which means it has to be purified. It contains far too much hydrogen sulfide. That is expensive -- way above the price being charged per
BTU in these gas rich Middle East countries.

And that's why it is getting cleaner gas from the US makes sense, even if it is counter intuitive.

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Bibi on Russia
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 16, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about Israeli Russian relations. Given Russia's new role in Syria and the Middle East, everyone is concerned that an unintended skirmish might accidently become a reality.

Netanyahu said: "We are in close contact with Russia. I met four times over the last year with Putin in order to avoid any clashes that nobody wants between the IDF and the Russian army. So far, there has not been one and we hope there will not be one. The reality in the Middle East changes extremely fast and not always to our detriment. We need one thing and that is to be strong."

Yesterday, on Monday, Russia increased its intense bombing in Aleppo. The air attack originated from the aircraft carrier they have stationed off the coast of Tartus. That is the same carrier where, on Sunday, a MIG-29 crashed while landing.

Accidents happen in the air. But Israel and Russia want to make certain that, just in case, they will not be in one another's.


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Israel is the World's Best
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 15, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has awarded Israel the honor of being the country with the best disaster relief system in the world.

Israeli field hospitals are now ranked the best in the world.

The WHO said that Israel has a unique ability to deploy large, fully outfitted, medical teams with field hospitals at a second's notice and travel all over the world. The WHO evaluated Israel's teams as highly skilled.

People who monitor Israel and people who monitor world catastrophe know full well the grand and spectacular role Israel plays.

This is not an award - it is an honest evaluation. The truth is that whenever there is a world crisis, Israel volunteers and is almost always welcome.

Israel saves lives and teaches others how to save lives.

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Iran's Oil Production
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 14, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is once again violating their OPEC agreement.

This is upsetting Saudi Arabia more than anyone else. Iran is a member of OPEC and has agreed to their production quotas.

The purpose of the production quotas is to keep the price of oil as high as possible without creating a crisis that would stimulate research for new alternatives to fossil fuels.

Iran has begun producing about 250,000 barrels from the Karoun River valley, up from 65,000. President Rouhani says that productions in the valley should reach 1 million barrels per day --- ASAP. "Oil production west of Karoun must reach one million barrels per day," Rouhani said, referring to the North Azadegan, Yadavaran and Yaran fields. "This is a realistic goal, and we need investment and technology."

This will be a massive change in Iran's production. There is no doubt that the increase in oil production will have two effects. More cash will flow into Iran and the price of oil will drop.

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Iran Violates Nuke Deal
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 13, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Once again, Iran has violated the nuclear agreement.

This time around they violated the agreement at the very moment that they were warning President Elect Trump not to walk back on the famous agreement.

This information comes from the Associated Press.
AP saw a copy of a secret UN report by the IAEA stating that Iran has recently exceeded their agreed upon heavy water limit, which was 143.3 metric tons.

Iran went over by .10 metric tons.

The significance of this is enormous. Heavy water is an essential component of refining plutonium for use in nuclear technology.

Reports of these violations are few and far between. That's because few people want to harp on the inadequacies of the agreement and the policing process.

This is just one example. Like so many others, this violation went without notice. This was not the first violation and, worse still, it will not be the last.

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Rebels in Syria Prefer Turmp
By Micah Halpern

November 11, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

From what I am hearing, seeing and reading, Donald Trump's election to the presidency is seen as a positive by the rebels in Syria.

The rebels see Trump's ascent as a welcome change. They were very disappointed with Obama's lack of action = especially after Putin and Russia put boots on the ground in order to secure president Assad of Syria.

The rebels realize that Trumps has been very clear about ISIS and about taking the fight to ISIS. But they are also frustrated that the United States has not supported them in their battle against Assad and ISIS and al Qaeda and Hezbollah.

The rebels needed the US and Obama would not help. Now they are hoping that this new president will act and give them the weapons and the support they need to adequately fight ISIS and bring down Assad.

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What Really Happened in the Election
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 10, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Trump's election to the highest office in the land has many stunned.

Strange reasons were given for his victory.

The entire paradigm has shifted. The Democratic and Republican parties are no longer what they once were.

The Republican party is no longer the party of the wealthy and the elite. It is the party of the blue color worker and those who want to eek out an honest living.

The Democratic party was once the party of the worker, not just the organized worker. The Democratic party has been transformed and is now the party of the elite intelligentsia.

The former elite party is now the party of the honest worker. The former party of the workers, the party that looked out for the little guy, is now a party of people who are detached from workers, their needs and their issues.

It's quite an inversion.

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Long Live the King
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 9. 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The king is dead -- long live the king. That is how Charles VII of France was ushered onto the throne after the death of his father, Charles VI.

It is all about a smooth transition of power.

Mr. Donald Trump is the next president of the United States.
Most of pundits were wrong, they misread the polls and the numbers.
Analysts misunderstood the tone and the basics of what was happening in America. They could not - or did not, place proper weight on the messages and the answers that were given to them in the polls.

Establishment leaders and mainstream media could not admit that average Americans were feeling betrayed. There is a class divide.
While the country's leaders and elite could not believe that anyone would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump, the people, in fact, voted for him resoundingly

It is clear that change is the best theme for a successful campaign. In fact, that was the theme that got Barack Obama elected in both his campaigns.

This is a revolution, a real change.

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Election Day
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 8, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

It's Election Day. Certainly, an exciting day.

As I mentioned, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner visited the grave of the Lubavicther Rebbe the other day. Yesterday, the Satmar Chasidic sect endorsed Hillary. Satmar is divided into two large groups and both they support Hillary.

This is very unusual. The vast majority of the Orthodox Jewish community in the US will vote Republican. The vast majority of American Jews in general will cast their votes for Democrats. That's the history of American Jewry.

On the other hand, the Satmar have a long history of supporting the Clintons.

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Egypt To Buy Iran's Oil
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Egyptian oil minister took a trip to Iran yesterday. It has been a very long time since any senior Egyptian official traveled to Iran.

The reason for the visit is that the Saudis suspended their oil deal with Egypt last October after Egypt supported a UN resolution on Syria. It was a resolution that the Saudis opposed vehemently.

This entire move is very unusual.

The Saudis have supported Egypt since al Sisi took over. They have been Egypt's financial safety net. By going to Iran a new avenue for oil is opening for Egypt. It could be a gesture of independence on Egypt's part or, it could be simply a head fake.

Saudi Arabia was a major Egyptian benefactor. If Egypt actually does sign a deal with Iran it could shake up the entire balance in the Middle East.

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Ivanka Visits Grave of Rebbe
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Here are two interesting tidbits to mull over on the eve of the US Presidential election.

# 1: Ivanka Trump and her husband Jarred Kushner visited the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The obvious reason was to court a very powerful and influential segment of the Orthodox Jewish community, a community which is already voting Republican.

The second reason is that they really were appealing to the awesome power of the Rebbe to help and assist Donald Trump in the election process. I am certain that they are not alone. Many people are praying for their candidate to win.

# 2: In the ISIS online journal called Al Hayat which is produced by the communications team of ISIS a call went out for US Muslims to boycott the presidential election and, instead, vote with blood by attacking Americans.

The very long article was filled with pictures and quotes from the Koran speaking about the "Murtadd." The Murtadd is an apostate, a former Muslim who must be killed. ISIS identifies US Muslim leaders as Murtadd.

There has been actionable intel of threats on election day in New York City, Texas and Virginia.

What we have here in these two tidbits are two sides of the coin.

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Israel Warns Iran Controls Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 4, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Avi Dichter, chair of Israel's Knesset Defense and Intelligence Committee, reported to the Swiss Parliament that Iran is commanding a force of 25,000 fighters in Syria. The force is actually a foreign legion composed of Pakistanis and Afghanis ... not Iranians.

Iran trained, commands and supports the fighters.

Dichter explained that Iran has brought both this force and Hezbollah into Syria. He said that these forces are not fighting ISIS at all. They are fighting the rebels and any group challenging Assad. He also described their advanced weapons and their skills.

Bottom line: Hezbollah has gained much needed experience while fighting in Syria and defending Assad. All courtesy of Iran.

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Putin Defies Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 3, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Putin and Russia defy the world. They have snubbed their proverbial noses at UN Security Council sanctions that were slapped on them after the 2014 land grab of Crimea.

Russia ordered two Mistral helicopter carriers from France. But sanctions did not permit France to deliver the ships.

Now fast forward to the end of September 2016.

That's when France delivered two Mistral carriers to Egypt. Supposedly, the Saudis paid for the ships.

The delivery was covered in the Egyptian press with great fanfare. Then the carriers disappeared. They have now re-appeared off the coast of Tartus, Syria as Russian helicopter carriers. Is anyone surprised?

The Polish minister of defense uncovered the entire story and made it public by announcing that the Egyptians sold the French ships to the Russians for a single dollar. The minister said that his intelligence was reliable.

This is a blatant end around UN sanctions. It completely demonstrates how all the parties involved in this charade simply do not care what the UN decrees and will do whatever they can and whatever they want to advance their own goals.

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Israeli Mr Universe
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 2, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger. He won the Mr. Universe title four times in the under 23 year old under division.

This week in Birmingham, England, Israeli Kobi Yifach won the same title of Mr. Universe. This is a huge feather in the cap of Israel.
As Kobi said "It's an amazing feeling to wrap myself in the Israeli flag. I came from such a small country and became the center of attention. This is unprecedented!"

Israel is a tiny country not only in the world of body building but in the world in general. This victory puts Israel on both maps.

Mr. Universe is the most prestigious of all body building awards.
Future competitions will tell whether Israel is a fixture in the body building community of simply a blip on it radar.


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UAE Convicts Hezbollah Cell
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 1, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) convicted and sentenced 7 people to sentences of up to life in prison for being members of a cell connected to Hezbollah, which is a Shiite group sponsored by Iran and headquartered in Lebanon.

The 7 were tried and convicted of various degrees of espionage.

Cell members transferred pictures of oil fields and maps and the locations of gas fields. The convictions prove that the Sunnis of the UAE are actively trying to stop Shiite organization and aggression.

This is no small act on either side.

Hezbollah's objective is destabilize Sunni centers of power. The Sunnis are trying to repel Shiite incursions into their homes.

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OPEC Disagreement
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 31, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

OPEC had their meeting on Friday and the 14 oil nations could not agree on a central issue.

Iran and Iraq want to continue to produce more oil. They need the money - their main source of revenue is oil.

The other members said that Iran and Iraq need to hold to their production quotas to keep the market stable. This is especially true now as the price of oil is increasing --- if they flood the market with more oil, the price will certainly drop.

OPEC set another meeting for November 30.

In the meantime OPEC members will meet with other oil producing countries.

OPEC is trying to collude, they want to confirm that all oil producing countries are on the same page.

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Shiites Shoot Missile Toward Mecca
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 30, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The other day the Shiite Houthis of Yemen launched a missile into Saudi Arabia. The missile was intercepted 40 miles from Mecca by a Patriot anti missile battery.

The Shiite Houthis are involved in a civil war in Yemen backed by the Iranians. They claim that the missile was not aimed at Mecca but rather, it was aimed at their second largest city Jeddah with a population of 4 million.

The Saudis say that this attack was a terrible violation. It effectively broke through the glass ceiling. The Shiites respect Mecca as a Muslim site, but they resent Saudi control over the site.

This assault was a massive game changer.

There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia will respond to an attack of this magnititude with a serious and significant counter attack.

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Abbas Meets W Hamas Leaders
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 28, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Mahmud Abbas, the leader of Fatah and the President of the Palestinian Authority, met yesterday with the two leaders of Hamas. The meeting took place in Doha, the capital of Qatar. It was sponsored by the Qatari foreign minister.

The objective of the meeting was a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Abbas did not want to meet with the Hamas leaders. His advisers and handlers repeatedly said that there were no plans for a meeting in Qatar despite rumors from Hamas and Qatar leadership.

An official statement from Abbas' office said that the meeting was a business lunch and the objective was to try to reconcile the two sides.

Despite the fact that they had lunch together, there is no chance for that Hamas and Fatah will get together. They hate one another and do not trust each other.

This is just the most recent set of events resulting from the election that Abbas cancelled and that Hamas barred Fatah from participating in.

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Saudis Sign Nuke Deal
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 27, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, World Nuclear News published an announcement that Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia have signed a nuclear pack.

Saudi Arabia has plans to create 300 nuclear facilities over the next few years and this agreement with Kazakhstan is a huge component of the larger picture. Kazakhstan sits on 12% of the world's uranium. Together with Russia, which will enrich the uranium, Saudi Arabia can now create the nuclear material that will enable them to create nuclear plants.

Saudi Arabia already has nuclear deals with Argentina, France, China, Finland, Hungary, Indonesia, Russia and South Korea.

This agreement with Kazakhstan puts Saudi Arabia squarely on the nuclear map.

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Cyber Attack on Friday Was a Warning
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 26, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Friday's cyber attack is an important warning to us all.

On Friday, Twitter, Snapchat, Vox, Reddit, Etsy, Netflix and Amazon all came under cyber attack.

They all went down.

This was an amazing cyber attack and it was spread through kiddy cams and home routers.

The essential point is that future conflicts will be centered around cyber attacks.

Future wars will more than likely utilize cyber attacks.

They will certainly be less bloody than traditional wars, but the fall out and the damage caused by cyber attacks is still unknown.

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Price of Oil is Rising
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 23, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Knew it would happen. It did!!!

Oil hit $50 a barrel. The Saudis are elated. So are the Iranians. And everyone else in OPEC, too.

To give some perspective: In January oil was below $30 a barrel. In February it fell even more, to $26. And now - oil is expected to hit $60 a barrel by year's end.

The changes are due to several factors.

The two most important factors involve Venezuela and Russia.

During the first week of October Iran and Venezuela agreed to freeze production in an effort to stabilize the market, i.e. to increase the price of oil. Then during the 3rd week of October, OPEC and Russia agreed to a production reduction.

There is great distrust of Russia, and yet, the price of oil is rising.

This is good news for Iran and Saudi Arabia and of course for Russia.

It is bad news for us.

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Iran Preps to Kidnap More Americans
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 20, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has been positioning itself to kidnap more Americans. Just a few months ago, in a reversal of long standing policy, the US transferred $1.7 billion to Iran in exchange for freeing American hostages in Iranian custody.

Since the release of those hostages, Iran has taken more Americans.
It is inevitable that the new hostages will be ransomed for billions more dollars.

The Iranians have already begun discussions, or rather negotiations, for the lives of these Americans.

Iran wants to kidnap Americans and use them to make money. They are
already on their way.

The precedent has been set.

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ISIS Loses Money Sources
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 19, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

One of the most important effects of the United States' and Allies' strikes against ISIS in Mosul, is that the pounding and the invasion is resulting in the shrinking of ISIS resources and of monies immediately available to them.

The attack on Mosul is causing a shrinking of ISIS oil and gas and cash and bank accounts - essentials that have been the foundation of their state since 2014.

Most of these resources have now fallen back into the hands of the Iraqis.

ISIS has been forced to turn to other means of generating cash.
They are raising income by increasing their extortion and protection programs. They are also increasing their kidnapping efforts and are raising money from foreign supporters.

Without money, ISIS will die a slow death.

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Dropping Leaflets in Mosul
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 16, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Iraqi army dropped leaflets over Mosul early Sunday morning warning residents that the final assault will soon take place.

The messages told the population that their intent is not to target civilians, and that they should avoid ISIS areas. Other leaflets announcements that the final attack to free Mosul from ISIS is about to begin.

Many say that announcements of this kind show the players' hand.
They say that the bad guys will have the opportunity to run away or to burrow and hide deeper underground or even embed themselves more tightly among the innocent population.
Israel drops these messages.

It is an important moral component of combat.

Innocent civilians should not be targeted. Inevitably, some evil characters do escape but more normally, exits are limited and only innocent people are permitted to leave.

Today wars can be surgically and successfully executed.

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Saudis Want Relations w Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 14, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

An official Saudi lobbyist proposed closer relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, especially economic relations. The essay with this information was published in an oped essay in The Hill, an insider DC web journal.

The author of the piece is Salman al Ansari who is the founder and president of a Saudi PAC in DC called the Saudi Public Relation Affairs Committee.

Ansari suggested "rapprochement" between Israel and Saudi Arabia. He wrote that they have many common objectives and "a more solid foundation for establishing deep-rooted ties between the two countries could manifest in the context of a mutually beneficial economic partnership."

He believes that better relations between Israel and the Saudis would create "a rare, golden opportunity for Israel to participate in and help bolster the Saudi economy."

Ansari also wrote about Israel helping the Saudi deal with issues like water and technology. Better relations "will undoubtedly promote security and weaken extremism in the region."

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US Warship Attacked in Red Sea
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 11, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian backed Houthis shot 2 missiles at a US destroyer off the coast of Yemen.

The missiles missed, but it was clear that the US destroyer was the target of the attack.

A little background. The conflict in Yemen is between Shiite Houthis and Sunni Yemeni leadership. Iran is backing, arming and helping the Houthis while Saudi Arabia is supporting Sunni leadership.

The attack took place in the Red Sea. It came on the heels of last week's bombing of a UAE auxiliary ship by the Houthis. The United States has sent in support ships to make certain that the water ways stay secure.

Iran, through their Houthi proxies, are sending a message to the United States. The message is that: We, the Shiites, are in charge.

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Israelis Are Fasting on Yom Kippur
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 10, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

It is the eve of Yom Kippur and Israel is preparing for the fast day.

61% of Israelis have declared that they are going to fast on Yom Kippur, 38% have said that they will not fast and 1% did not respond at all. The poll was conducted by YNET.com and by Bina, the movement for social change. They polled 500 people, with a standard deviation of 4.4%.

Fasting on Yom Kippur is a religious act. Does that mean that over 60% of the population in Israel is religiously observant? It does not. The number of religiously observant Israeli Jews is closer to 20% of the country.

The reason for the 40% disparity is simple to understand. Israel is a Jewish society. Jewish life is the foundation of the State. It's that simple. And when you understand that, you can also understand why it is that so many Israelis sit down to Shabbat dinner every Friday night.

Israel is a society where secular Israelis are not really secular. In Israel, secularism is infused with religious undertones.

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Russia Blocks Airstrike Resolution in Sec Council
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 9, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Both France and Russia had their proposals to end airstrikes in Aleppo rejected by the UN Security Council yesterday.

The French proposal, which received 11 votes in favor, was defeated by a Russian veto.

The US said that because of the failed resolution more people will die and that Russia is part of the killing process, "using tactics more commonly associated with thugs than governments."

The British UN Ambassador said - "please stop now!"

In response, the Russians presented their proposal to stop airstrikes. The Russian resolution received only 4 votes - there was no need for a veto. In order to be adopted and carry, a resolution needs a yes from 9 of the 15 members with no vetoes from any of the 5 permanent members.

The Russian proposal was not really an end to all airstrikes. They proposed using the September 8th ceasefire as the foundation of their resolution.

That would mean placing the responsibility on the local actors and permitting parties like Russia and the United States to continue to bomb at will.

Back to square one.


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Hackers May Sell to Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Eugene Kaspersky, one of the world's leading cyber security experts, just expressed one of his leading fears. He said "I am really afraid some terrorist group will pay cyber criminals to develop and deploy such weapons on their behalf."

Kaspersky said that cyber criminals often are mercenaries, providing cyber crime services to anyone who is willing to pay - anyone, even terrorists.

This is very scary. Kaspersky's comments were made in an interview he gave to ComputerWeekly.com.

Fears that a cyber weapon will be launched are real. The parties in the game will probably exercise self control. But terror groups, by definition, want to attack the most sensitive part of society and wreak havoc.

If cyber criminals are hired they will produce a devastating cyber weapon. There is no doubt that terrorists will deploy the weapon. The result will be devastating.

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Iran Warns Saudis in Straits of Hormuz
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 6, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian Revolutionary Guards have issued a public warning to Saudi Arabia to stay out of Iran's territorial waters.

The Saudis have begun a five day maritime war game in the area. Iran wants to make certain that the Saudis stay out of the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. Iran is interpreting the entire activity as a saber rattling.

Of course the Iranians would think that, and of course that is why Iran responded so forcefully. It is also of course critical to know that Saudi Arabia deliberately planned these maneuvers in order to get under Iran's skin.

The problem with all these actions and counter actions is that they continue to ratchet up tensions and intensity in the region - which is already explosive enough on several fronts.

The parties are already confronting one another through proxies in various areas in the Middle East including Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

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Iran Insults Germany
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 5, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

German Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel is visiting Iran. The visit has been heavily covered in Iran, in Germany and throughout Europe.

That having been said, imagine my shock when it was announced that Iranian speaker of the parliament, Ali Larijani, has cancelled his meeting with Gabriel. Remember, Germany and Gabriel have been in the forefront of leaders asserting that Iran is changing and that countries and leaders need to give Iran opportunities.

No reason was given for the cancelled meeting.

Whatever the reason - it was a huge mistake on the part of Iran.
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Abbas Condemned For Peres Funeral
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 2, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended the funeral of Israel's former president, Shimon Peres. Abbas was one of 70 leaders from countries around the world who came to pay tribute to Peres, the Israeli statesman who had a real impact not only on the Middle East but also on their worlds.

During his eulogy, President Obama gave a shout out to Abbas for attending the funeral. Across the Palestinian world social media criticized Abbas for attending. It was vicious.

Some officials were extremely critical of Abbas on their private social media accounts. What they did is in violation of their employment agreements which do not permit public critique. And, in some cases, it is even illegal.

PA Military PR officer, Osama Mansour, was arrested for writing and criticizing Abbas on his private facebook page. Yes. Arrested for criticizing the President! In a democracy he would be censured and maybe lose his job - but not arrested. He would only be arrested if he had exposed national secrets.

The PA, as we know all too well, is not a democracy.

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Egypt Court Supports Deal w Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 30, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

An Egyptian court overruled a lower court and permitted an agreement which transferred back to Saudi Arabia two Islands in the Red Sea at the mouth of the Gulf of Eilat of Aqaba.

The agreement, which was signed during a visit of the King of Saudi Arabia to Cairo in April 2016, sparked the largest protests in Egypt since Al Sisi seized power in 2014. The agreement transferred Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

A lower court had earlier annulled the agreement. This court rejected that agreement. So the agreement now stands as it was signed.

This agreement also had both Saudi Arabia and Egypt negotiating with Israel which also controlled the island and wants to make certain the mouth of the Red Sea remains opens.

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Hit an Imam w Shoe on Live TV
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 29, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

An Egyptian lawyer took off his shoe and started beating an Imam on live TV.

The Imam, who is from Australia, argued that a woman's headscarf is just a cultural tradition and not a legal or a religious tradition. The lawyer insisted that that it was, instead, a religious obligation.

During the conversation the lawyer took off his shoe and stood up and started hitting the Imam. The stage crew sprinted in to separate the men.

Afterward the host apologized to the viewers and said that he should have done a better job of moderating the conversation and keeping distance between his guests.

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Nasrallah Says Wahabi is Worse than Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 28, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, told his followers that Wahabi Islam is worse than Israel. Wahabi is the sect of Islam most commonly practiced in Saudi Arabia and is most influential in directing its education and even Islamic policies

Nasrallah said: "Wahabism is more evil than Israel, especially [in] that it seeks to destroy others and eliminate whatever thing that has to do with Islam and its history."

This is more than a simple comment and a passing attack from a Shiite about Sunni Islam.

This was a cry to make certain that in the battle which is raging in Syria and Iraq the Wahabi Muslims are the enemy of Hezbollah Shiite Islam.

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Ahmadinejad Will Not Run Again
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 27, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Everyone is talking and thinking about presidential elections. And not just the US presidential election.

Iran is also having elections -- they are scheduled for May.

The former and infamous Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed interest in running, once again, for the presidency in Iran.

Yesterday Ahmadinejad met with the Supreme Leader and asked not only permission to run but also for his support. In Iran it is de rigueur to meet with the Supreme Leader. Without the blessing of the Grand Ayatollah no one can win the presidential election in Iran.

The Supreme Leader denied Ahmadinejad's request.

The Grand Ayatollah told Ahmadinejad that his running would divide Iran and that was unacceptable at this time.

This effectively ruins Ahmadinejad's candidacy for president, at least for the moment. May is not yet upon us. And no one knows what will happen over the next few months.

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Iran Issues Credit Cards
By Micah Halpern

Monday 26, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Iran introduced their first credit card.

There are three different categories for the credit card. A $3,000 limit, a $10,000 limit and a $15,000 limit.

Iran is easing the credit cards into their country in the hope that it will help stimulate the economy - especially the banking system. The country needs to jump start its internal purchases.

There is an important issue still at hand.

Islam rejects the concept of interest which is exactly how credit cards work. That is the reason Iran and other Islamic countries have until now shunned the credit card.

Is business trumping religion? I wonder how long credit cards will last in Iran.

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ISIS Man Convicted of Hacking
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 25, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday a Federal Court in Alexandria VA convicted Ardit Ferizi of hacking for ISIS.

This is the first case in which a person has been convicted of hacking and helping a terror group. Ferizi is a native of Kosovo and was arrested in Malaysia. From there he was extradited to the US to stand trial.

Ferizi stole the records of over a 100,000 people from a retailer in the US and identified 1,351 US members of the military and federal employees to be targeted by ISIS.

He knew that ISIS was going to attack them and "hit them hard." He pleaded guilty to the charges.

"Ferizi admitted to stealing the personally identifiable information of over 1,000 U.S. service members and federal employees and providing it to [ISIS] with the understanding that they would incite terrorist attacks against those individuals."

ISIS is working hard to attack the US - and attack in as many ways as possible.

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Israeli Satellite Back on Line
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 23, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Last Tuesday Israel launched spy satellite Ofek 11. This satellite launch brings the total of Israeli spy satellites to ten.

When the spy satellite was launched, it was malfunctioning. That's a problem. The satellite was unable to send pictures back to earth to be analyzed by Israeli defense intelligence teams.

But yesterday, Thursday, we got a report that the Ofek11 was online and transmitting very clear pictures.

The coming on line of the satellite allowed the Israeli teams to breathe a deep sigh of relief. It is very hard to fix a satellite from earth - but it seems that is exactly what they did.

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UK Amb Converts to Islam and Does the Hajj
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 22, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Simon Collis, the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, converted to Islam. This week Collis and his wife, who is of Syrian descent and is also a Muslim, performed the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Saudi press has been filled with compliments for Collis.

There has been a ripple effect throughout the rest of the Arabic world.

Collis, in explaining his decision, said that he spent the past 30 years living in Muslim cultures.

Although conversion is a personal matter, Collis' conversion is clearly important to the Arabic world and they are literally holding Collis up as a hero within Islam.

On the other hand, I am certain that people in White Hall, the center of the British foreign office, are very concerned about this very public conversion and the attention it is getting in the press throughout the world.

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Russia - Egypt Tensions
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 21, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Russia and Egypt are in the midst of a serious trade crisis.

Russia is one of the world's largest exporters of wheat and Egypt is the largest importer of wheat in the world.

In August a shipment of Russian wheat arrived in Egypt contaminated with a common fungus called ergot. Egypt rejected the shipment.

Then Russia rejected Egyptian citrus fruit saying that the fruit shipment was potentially rotten.

Now a special Egyptian delegation is off to Moscow to solve the problem. But Egypt will not accept tainted wheat. There is no doubt that ergot ruins wheat, but Egypt has been filling part of Russia's fruit needs since the breakdown of Russian Turkey relations earlier this year.

Egypt needs both to get Russia's wheat and to sell them fruit. Russia is in the driver's seat in this dialogue. Is anyone surprised?

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Israeli Embassies Drill Hostage Crisis
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 20, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday in Riga, Latvia the Israeli embassy and the Latvians conducted an important drill. They simulated a full blown hostage situation.

This Latvian drill comes on the heels of a drill in Rumania and another one conducted in Kiev, Ukraine. There was also a drill in Greece.

Israel needs to drill because the possibility of a hostage crisis is everywhere. These locations utilized the host communities to practice so that both the host country and Israel can be as well trained as possible.

Every single Israeli embassy and consulate around the world has been regularly training and drilling so that, when the situation arises, they will be ready and able to protect themselves.

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New Muslim Poll in France
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 19, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

A recent poll in France reveals two very interesting and important pieces of information about Muslims who live in France.

30% of those surveyed said that Islamic law is more important than French law and that one should follow Sharia over French law.

The next interesting point is that it has been assumed that 10% of the 64 million people in France were Muslims. This poll halves that number and puts it at 3 to 4 million Muslims in France.

The information in the poll is important to process. It is clear that Muslims in France are less and less likely to buy into the national values of freedom, equality and fraternity.

It is also important to realize that an entire educational message needs to be directed at teaching about the importance of the Republic.

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Algeria Put Israel on the Map
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 18, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

A massive crisis has engulfed Algeria. It is called "mapgate."

An educational textbook identified Israel by name on a map. It did not use the word Palestine. There are calls for the minister of education to resign. The Islamic parties are livid.

The books have been recalled.

The explanation given for the choice of Israel over Palestine was that the labeling was a mistake - that there was no intention of labeling the area Israel and not Palestine. The minister blamed the publishing house. The head of the publishing house apologized for offending Algeria sensibilities. It was called "a lapse and unintentional mistake."

The publisher said that the author was on deadline and downloaded a map from the internet without checking it.

The hatred towards Israel is so great in Algeria that they are jumping through hoops to try to justify using the name Israel. Israel, in Islamic Algeria, is quite simply an unacceptable word.

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Israel Drills for Massive Attack
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 16, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Next week Israel will conduct a national drill. It will be as realistic as possible.

The Home Front Command is enacting a drill that will simulate a multi-front simultaneous attack against Israel. There will be attacks from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, the Golan Heights and from Iran. 95% of the rockets will not hit residential areas but 1%-5% will definitely land and cause damage.

The most important part of the drill is getting emergency teams to the people and places in need and providing the necessary triage to get the wounded to the proper trauma centers.

These drills are so important.

Israel needs to constantly keep themselves as on top of their game as possible. At any time, on any day, the enemies of Israel can strike. Israel needs to be prepared.

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French are Cracking Down
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 15, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The French are working overtime to prevent terror. Just in the last week they prevented two terror attacks that were in the works from being carried out.

Yesterday France made public the arrest of a 15 year old. This teen had links to the notorious terrorist organizer Rachid Kassim. Kassim is one of the leaders of ISIS in France and has been linked to at least four, mass murder, terror plots since June.

The French have expanded their defensive net and are arresting people who are vulnerable to ISIS messages coming out of Syria and Iraq. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve explained that the arrest of the teen was part of a larger program to target people vulnerable to "calls to carry out killings, led by certain members of Syrian actors."

This of course means that the French have broken the terrorists' communication code because, as the Interior Minister said, they "use encrypted means to encourage increasingly young people."

There is no doubt France has picked up their game. But there is still room for improvement, especially in the areas of sharing intel and info.

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Al Qaeda Makes Appeal to Black Americans
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 14, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Al Qaeda just released a new video in honor of the anniversary of 9-11.

The video appealed to Black African Americans coaxing them to convert to Islam and protect themselves from the oppressive White Americana who are subjugating them. The video invokes the Black Muslim leader Malcolm X.

The video's objective is to stoke racial tensions in the US and push Black Americans to convert to Islam.

We will never know how successful this video will be - but it will certainly have some influence on some people.

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Iran's New Nuke Program
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 13, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

I read an insightful piece in the Japan Times yesterday. It was About Iran's new nuclear program.

According to Japan Times, Japan is offering Iran nuclear plants. The piece also noted that Russia is breaking ground on two new nuclear power plants. In addition, Russia and China have confirmed their positions as suppliers of nuclear technology. They have signed deals for 20 more nuclear sites between the Chinese and the Russians.

It seems obvious from this piece in Japan Times that Iran is already off and running on their nuclear program.

The reality is that Russia, China and Japan are jumping in and helping Iran's re-entry into this new nuclear era by supplying and building nuclear facilities all over Iran.

No one in the Western press has even begun to uncover this data or cover these issues.

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Germany Drops Charges Against Nazis
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 12, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

A court in northern Germany dropped charges against a 92 year old woman charged as an accessory in the murder of 260,000 Jews. The woman was a radio operator in Auschwitz.

Yes, she is old and suffers from ailments of age including poor vision and poor hearing.

But age should not be a reason to drop charges. Age can and should mitigate the punishment, not wave it away.

Shame on Germany for not pursuing justice and historical truth on behalf of victims of the Holocaust.

These are goals that trump the health of the defendant. It was the responsibility of the prosecution to pursue justice for those 260,000 Jewish men, women and children.

After being found guilty, the judge could have shown compassion and not imprisoned her, or the judge could have found an alternative punishment. Dropping the charges was taking the easy way out and tantamount to dropping the ball.

History and truth require prosecutors to prosecute - especially when it comes to Holocaust crimes. Especially in Germany in the year 2016.

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Palestinian Elections Delayed
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 9, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinians have postponed their elections. I knew they would.

The Palestinian High Judicial Council, the PA equivalent of a Supreme Court, has ruled that the election scheduled for October 8th has been postponed. They ruled that there are too many election related questions that need evaluation before the court to proceed with the October 8th date.

Almost all the cases have to do with lists and access to the ballot. Both Hamas and Fatah are challenging one another in court saying that they have not had proper access to voters and to the registration of candidates.

Elections are rescheduled until December. But the next case won't be heard until December 21. Hamas denounced the delay. They are demanding the elections go on as planned.

Who knows what will happen.

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Iran & Saudi Arabia Trade Barbs
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 8, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Over the past two days Iran has released some damning public critique against Saudi Arabia.

It might appear as if this is standard stuff, part of the on-going Shiite/Sunni - rift but it is much more than that. And the vitriol is far more biting.

On Wednesday September 7th, on the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani publicly said that Saudi Arabia should be held accountable for the deaths of last year's pilgrims during the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Last year 2,426 people were trampled to death in Mecca. The tragedy was allowed to happen because of poor planning. 2,426 is an official number of deaths, but there are estimates that place the number at two times that.

464 of the dead pilgrims were Iranian.

Iran says that other Islamic states should punish Saudi Arabia. Rouhani is quoted as saying: "regional countries and the Islamic world should take coordinated measures to punish the government of Saudi Arabia in order to have a real Hajj."

This is just one example of the vitriol.

For their part, Saudi Arabia declared that Iranian Shiites are not Muslims. Saudi Arabia's grand mufti Sheik Abdul Aziz al Sheik, the most notable cleric in Saudi Arabia, said that Shiite Islam is not Islam and that Iranians are not believers in the basic tenets of Islam.

He called them Majuws. The Majuws were pagan fire worshippers and Zoroastrians.

He said: "We must understand they are not Muslims, for they are the descendants of Majuws, and their enmity toward Muslims, especially the Sunnis, is very old."

Iran and Saudi Arabia will continue to trade shots at one another. But they are taking it up a notch. The situation is intensifying.

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New Poll in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

A new poll conducted by Israel's Channel 2 News has left me surprised.

According to the poll if there were to be an election today, Yair Lapid would unseat Prime Minister Netanyahu. Lapid and his party would garner 24 seats - up from the 11 seats they received in this past election and Netanyahu and his Likud party would only get 22 seats, down from the 30 they have now.

Another big winner would be Naftali Bennet and his Bayit Hayehudi party increasing to 14 seats from 8.
Lieberman, the current defense minister would increase from 6 to 10.

The biggest news is the big losers.

Biggest is the Labor party now called Zionist Union. They will drop from 24 to 13 seats. And the Kulanu Party, headed by finance minister Moshe Kahlon, would almost disappear, dropping from 10 to 6.

Polls are never something to rely on. However, this one is very telling. Obviously Netanyahu is in a low spot in his popularity but not that bad. 22 seats to 24 seats looks more like a tie with Lapid than a dismal defeat.

The big new centers on Labor dropping even more and Bennet gaining. Israelis like Bennet because he has no guile. He is direct and honest in his vision and objectives.

The Labor Party continues to fall. It seems that the party that founded and shaped Israel for decades is having difficulty connecting with Israelis today.

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Israel Breaking Travel Records
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 6, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

September 29th is going to be the busiest day in the history of Israel's airport, Ben Gurion International. 90,000 people will go through Ben Gurion on that fateful Thursday breaking the record set this summer when 87,000 passed in a single day.

The month of September is expected to see 1.73 million passengers pass through the airport, a 6% increase over 2015, the last busiest month in history.

So why September 29? Because it is the last day people can leave or arrive in Israel before the New Year -- Rosh Hashanna, which begins early Sunday evening October 2nd.

The flights are all booked. In addition to the many tourists entering Israel, many Israelis are leaving. Some are leaving for the Holidays, flying away from the anything remotely Jewish and heading for beaches and gambling casinos.

The largest group of people leaving the country, however, is travelling specifically for religious reasons. They are headed to Ukraine, to the city of Uman where the great Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav is buried and where tens of thousands of his disciples descend during this period.

This travel record is a huge boost for Israel. It tells Israelis that people are coming to visit, that their economy is getting a big shot in the arm and that, despite the news, people still see Israel for her true self. People see Israel as a very attractive place to visit and support.

It reinforces for Israelis the knowledge that Israel is a destination worth visiting.

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Israel & PA Sign a Mem of Understanding
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 5, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an official Memorandum of Understanding yesterday.

The MOU was signed in order to coordinate postal delivery. The new process will allow direct transfer of PA mail to cross into Jordan using the Allenby Bridge which is controlled by Israel and then off throughout the world.

This process will streamline PA postal service around the world and allow for more efficient movement of the mail as it moves out of the PA. Until now Palestinian Authority mail was bottlenecked and there was great difficulty getting the mail out.

The PA and Israel have come to an agreement about a small but important issue - small, but important. It's a good start.

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Syrian Launches Tourism Campaign
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 4, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Syria has just launched a tourism campaign entitled "Syria Always Beautiful."

It sounds crazy. I watched the video - looking at it you would never guess that Syria has been at war for 5 years. The campaign pushes the beautiful beaches and great historical sites of Syria.

In 2011, before the war began, 8.5 million tourists visited Syria every year. That would amount to about 15% of their annual economy.

Since 2011 tourism has dropped to nearly nothing.

They Syrians claim 400,000 tourists came in 2014. I find that number to be an exaggeration. No way did 400,000 people visit Syria - certainly not tourists using passports. Maybe, if you include the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Hamas fighters you might reach that number.

The irony of it all is that 400,000 is also the estimate of the number of people killed by the war in Syria.

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Hacker Gets 52 Months
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 2, 2106

I've Been Thinking:

The famous Romanian hacker Guccifer was sentenced to 52 months in a US federal prison yesterday for hacking. He claims he is the one who hacked Hillary Clinton's server and made it known that she had a private server in her NY home on which she was conducting State Department work.

In May, Guccifer plead guilty to crimes including the crime of unauthorized access to computers.

The Romanian hacker Marcel Lazar Lehel changed his name to Guccifer which, he feels, combines the style of Gucci and the light of Lucifer.

The United States asked Romania to extradite Guccifer because of the damage he had done here. He hacked into hundreds of official emails. He embarrassed the cyber security of the United States. He has been made an example of. But what of the illegal discovery?

Guccifer will spend 52 months in the federal penitentiary. Hillary Clinton is not even charged.

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Russia To Turkey - Hands Off Kurds
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 1, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The spokesperson from the Russian foreign ministry made a public statement yesterday.

Russia asked Turkey not to attack any group fighting ISIS - including the Kurds. The Kurds have been the most effective fighting group against ISIS.

Several important points need to be made here. First, Turkey has been targeting and attacking the Kurds and has utilized the battle against ISIS as cover to attack them.

More importantly, Russia has reinvigorated their relationship with Turkey. Turkey is highly motivated to keep Russia happy and retain Russian support and protection. So when Russia says hands off the Kurds, despite Turkish objectives and agenda, odds are that Turkey will comply.

Once again Russia is influencing the region.

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Kerry Says Don't Cover Terror
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 31, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State John Kerry made an inane statement in a press conference the other day.

He said out right that the press should stop covering terror attacks. He actually said, not implied, that if the attacks were not covered people would not know about them. The implication was that without the coverage, people would not freak out and fear terror and that without the publicity the terrorists would not act.

The entire message by Kerry is a serious mistake.

Terror does not go up and down because the events are covered. A press blackout on terror would never stop events from being covered. In this day and age of media access, most people learn about things from social media and not from traditional news sources.

The most important issue here is that Kerry's entire perspective is based on the false assumption that if you de-emphasize the value of something/anything it becomes less important to everyone else. This is not true. It is a terrible fallacy.

Terror is important to the terrorists and to the victims and to the world that is at war confronting the terror. Saying it is not Islamic or not terror will not make it less important.

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Israel 1st To Send Aid to Italy
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 30, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Most people do not know this, but the first country to send a team of aid workers to help Italy after the terrible and devastating earthquake struck on August 24 - was Israel.

Israel has volunteer teams that are always ready to hop on a plane and help people in need. They were the first in Italy, the first in Haiti and the first aid team in Nicaragua.

The teams specialize in finding victims buried under rubble and in dealing with the Red Cross, neighbors and community. Knowledge of the victim's native language, in this case Italian, is essential.

In Italy one of the main foundations of the team is a psychologist named Sylvania Winer who came to Israel from Italy as a 20 year old.

The Israelis are indentifying bodies and informing the families. Part of Israel's job also is keeping people away from the remains and from the dead bodies that are decomposing and rife with disease.

Well done Israel, we are all proud.

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Oct Summit in Moscow BTW Pal & Is
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 29, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

It is happening... almost certainly.... in October Netanyahu will meet with Abbas in Moscow under the sponsorship of Putin.

Originally, this meeting was supposed to take place in Egypt under the sponsorship of Egypt, but Abbas is wary of the Egyptian plan. It seems that he trusts Putin more than al Sisi.

We know that Netanyahu and Putin have been in contact over the past few days and now their teams should be ironing out the details.

Last week I wrote that Egypt's President al Sisi announced to a closed groups of select journalists that Putin was interested in hosting the meetings... and now they will all come together. Egypt and Saudi Arabia will also be part of the talks

Abbas has no idea what he wants - but he knows that he needs to stack the group against Israel.

What Abbas does not realize is that most everyone has lost their patience with him (not with Netanyahu) and as I read the tea leaves, the real pressure will be on the Palestinians (not the Israelis) to make serious concessions and move towards a real solution.

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Iran Attacks US Carrier- US Fires Warning Shots
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 28, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Wednesday and Thursday saw two aggressive Iranian actions against the US aircraft carrier Nitze.

On Wednesday four little boats belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard aggressively approached the Nitze. The United States fired four warning shots at the little boats and the incident ended.

And then again, on Thursday, the rubber speed boats came in "arms length" of the US aircraft carrier. This time the US carrier fired three warning shots. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel turned and left.

The White House and the Pentagon have said only that they are concerned and that this behavior is not helpful and that they do not understand the motivation behind it.

Well, I understand the motivation very well. The Iranians are toying with United States. These actions are meant to lure the United States into an irresponsible and exaggerated response.

This is a game that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is playing.

In January the Iranians did the same thing with drones and a submarine that were close enough to nearly touch the flight deck of the US vessel.

My suggestion to the United States - don't take the bait.

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Bibi's Gov Almost Fell Last Night
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 26, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

A massive crisis in Israel was averted on Thursday night.

The crisis was not about peace or economics, not about the Palestinians or security or even about ISIS. And yet, it was a crisis of such proportion that it threatened to take down the government - and nearly did. Prime Minister Netanyahu spent the whole night in dialogue and negotiations to keep his government from falling.

The crisis centered on a simple Latin expression composed of 2 words: Status Quo - which means, things should stay the same. No Changes.
Status Quo. These words are the foundation of the Netanyahu coalition. It has to do with the concept of religious life in Israel, especially the role of government.

In this case religious parties in the Netanyahu government were up in arms because work on the rail lines was taking place on Shabbat.
Two ministers sent a scathing letter to the PM saying stop or we will pull our support from your government because this is a violation of the Status Quo, which is part of our coalition contract.

Israel's ministers of transport and labor said that their contracts allowed for work on Shabbat in Tel Aviv. The religious parties said no way.

Finally, the prime minister stepped in with a Solomonic resolution.
They agreed to allow emergency and safety related work to be done on Shabbat because that work save lives. For instance, major safety improvement on the Ayalon Highway may be performed so that fewer people will die in what has become a deadly roadway. But simply laying track and other non-safety related work will be postponed until after Shabbat.

A near crisis - averted.

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What a Shock-- Its Politics
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 25, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

George P. Bush, Jeb Bush's 40 year old son, just returned from a trip to Israel.

The trip should come as no surprise, Jeb and his uncle George W. are great supporters of Israel.

The big surprise is that George P Bush broke ranks from his father and endorsed Donald Trump, the republican nominee. Despite the awful way that Trump attacked his father, George none the less has embraced the idea that Trump needs to win the presidency.

Currently, George P. Bush is the Texas land commissioner, elected in 2014. But he may be maneuvering for a spot in the Trump administration. This trip to Israel certainly helps secure his foreign policy exposure and experience.

Machiavelli said that politics make strange bedfellows. Here we have the perfect example.

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Russia to Sponsor Israel-PA Summit
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 22, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Egyptian President al Sisi informed several journalists yesterday that Russian President Putin is offering to host direct talks between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas.

That is a very important announcement.

Originally, Egypt was supposed to host a bi-lateral summit. Now it will be Russia who hosts. It is essential that Egypt and Saudi Arabia be present. Their presence will allow Palestinian leader Abbas the illusion of protection, comfort and security that may permit him to make concessions.

Of course, the biggest questions is where the United States will be during the summit. They will unquestionably be invited - but this time around they will have to take a back seat.

This is Russia's party and the co-hosts are Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

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Iran's Weapons Industry
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 21, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran now has an advanced weapons industry.

Iran's motivation in creating this industry was the sanctions that the West and the world imposed on them. So far, their results have been very impressive. Iran is making sophisticated weapons, on its own.

Here's an example:

The Russian S-300 rocket system has been caught in the sanctions debate. And even though Iran signed a deal with the P5+1 last year, the S-300 has not actually been delivered.

Russia has been pressured by Israel and the United States not to send the entire S-300 order.

So, since 2010, Iran has been developing an alternative to the S-300. The Iranians say that they have successfully developed the Bavar-373. We are told that they tested the rocket and that Iranian President Rouhani actually toured and watched the launching of the new weapon.

Also on the agenda for release almost immediately is Iran's first turbo jet engine.

This info comes to us courtesy of Iran, so some skepticism is valid. Iranians are masters of deception and have, in the past, fictionalized their technical weapons development and prowess.

We just have to wait and see what the real story is this time.


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Turkey Confiscates Accounts of Rebels
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 19, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Turkey is confiscating the money, property and assets of anyone they feel was involved in the July coup.

Included in the group of confiscated properties are the schools and other charities of self-exiled Turkish cleric leader Gullen who lives in a complex in Rural PA.

In addition, two Fortune 500 companies that are in Turkey have also been impacted. Their assets were taken and their company offices were closed.

The Turks will continue to crack down on everyone they think was involved in the coup.

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More Info About Egypt's Refusal to Shake Hands
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 18, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

More details are coming out about that judo match between Israel and Egypt, the match in which the Egyptian refused to shake the hand of the Israeli.

Now it has been made public that Egyptian athletes have refused to ride in elevators with Israelis.

Israeli Ori Sasson has described the evil murderous looks that Egyptian Shahabi gave him before their judo match. He reports that as they began the match, Egyptian Shehabi said "Alahu Akhbar." Sasson said he could only think of the declarations make before a terror attack.

After the incident the Olympic Committee summoned the Egyptian. Shehabi was disciplined him and sent back to Egypt.

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Hamas Threatens PA on Elections
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 17, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas sent out a scathing ultimatum to the Palestinian Authority yesterday.

Hamas said that if the PA doesn’t stop arresting their people in the West Bank --- Hamas will boycott the upcoming local elections.

Actually, many of the Hamas leaders that the Palestinian Authority is arresting in the West Bank are election organizers who are motivating people to vote for Hamas over Fatah.

Fatah might actually want Hamas to boycott the local elections - it would give Fatah a hands down victory over Hamas.

The problem is that if Hamas is absent from the election, it would call into question Fatah's true popularity and give Hamas the opportunity to delegitimize the entire election.

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All Maps Are Political
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 16, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

All maps are political. And Google Maps is in the middle of a huge conflict over their maps.

Over the past few weeks Google has been accused of removing Palestine from their maps. The company has responded by saying that they never did have Palestine as a separate country. Some voices are saying that Google should show Israel's occupation of Palestine.

The argument is not unique to Israel and Palestine.

There are similar arguments about Crimea. The argument is whether Google maps should show Crimea as part of Ukraine or, now that it is under Russian control, should they show Crimea as part of Russia.

And what about the Kurds who control areas in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Should they show the Kurdish controlled areas? And what about ISIS controlled regions? Should people know which areas are under the control of ISIS? But then again, does showing all that automatically signify acceptance of their right to control the area?

Goggle is in a difficult position. We need their maps - and we want to be up-to-date in terms of geographical shifts and changes in territory.

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Iran Lost 400 Guards In Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 15, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's actions are often shrouded in deep secrets - even mystery.

The Iranians do not telegraph their actions. Often they become reliable sources of information about what others are doing, such as the United States. And Iran was the source of the video and the information about the $400 million in cash that the White House delivered stealthily one night, the same night that four American hostages were released by Iran.

One of the mysteries that has plagued those of us who have been analyzing Iran is how large their force in Syria and Iraq really is.

On Saturday, Iran's semi-official news agency, ILNA, reported that 400 families were being honored because they were the parents of sons who had died in Syria as fighters for the Revolutionary Guard. Yes, 400 dead in Syria.

400 dead Revolutionary Guards is a huge number. We have be shown, here and there, memorial photos of Guards killed in Syria - but we never knew how many of them there were. We also heard from other sources that the Iranians were there. We even had a vehicle filled with six Revolutionary Guards, including a general, that Israel killed in an airstrike as they were touring the Golan Heights.

Iran has made a huge investment in Syria and we always assumed that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were all over Syria attacking ISIS and Al Qaeda. Now we know for sure.

This is a very important admission and acceptance.


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Christians Protest in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 14, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Christians protested in Cairo on the steps of the national court house. They were demanding equal rights and equal protection.

Protests are virtually unheard of today in Egypt. New anti-protest laws are so strict that they almost certainly guarantee conviction and prison, not to mention injury caused by the police in a crackdown.

Christians number about 10 million in Egypt, which means that they are about 10% of the population. Almost universally, they supported al Sisi in his overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood's president Morsi.

Under Morsi the Christian community was in the cross hairs. They expected improvement under al Sisi but they have not felt any significant change. Egypt's Christians want equality under the law. And they want protection from abuse.

Their demands are reasonable.

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Israel Ordered to Pay Iran $1.1 Bill
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 12, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The World Court has ordered Israel to pay Iran $1.1 billion plus interest and lawyer's fees.

The decision came about as the result of an oil company created jointly by Israel and Iran in 1968. The company was created after the 1967 War during which Egypt closed the Suez Canal. Israel needed to get oil and so they created a corporation with Iran who provided the oil.

But then, eleven years later, after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, it all fell apart. And when it fell apart Israel took control of the corporation.

Now that the court has ruled (although the ruling is dated June 27) it is unlikely that Israel will pay up.

It is against Israeli law to send any money or support to Iran.
Israel cannot and will not hand over any money to Iran.

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US Hits ISIS Hard
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 11, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has confirmed that they have killed 300 ISIS fighters - that is 1/4 of their fighters - including much of ISIS leadership in Afghanistan. Yes, in Afghanistan.

We think of ISIS in Iraq and in Syria and then in Libya and Yemen. But ISIS is now setting up shop in Afghanistan. And ISIS needs to be stopped.

General John Nicolson, US head of the region, confirmed the kills. He told reporters: "They killed a number of top leaders of the organization and up to 300 of their fighters".

"Obviously it's difficult to get an exact count, but what this amounts to is about 25% of the organization at least, and so this represents a severe setback for them."

This is a very important step in checking ISIS as they attempt to expand into new regions. Without this check ISIS would be free to take over Afghanistan.


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Iran Bans Pokemon Go
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 10, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran joins the nations that are banning Pokemon Go.
They claim that the game is a security risk and a tool of foreign spy agencies.

Niantic, the company that makes Pokemon, never asked for permission to launch in Iran. If they had, Niantic would have had to submit an application to the Supreme Council on Cyberspace. This group was set up by the Ayatollah in 2012 in order to try to keep a handle on the cyber world inside Iran.

The Council is also responsible for a cyber defense and attack infrastructure in Iran.

Iran is one of the top 5 cyber tech countries in the world today. Obviously, the Council would have rejected Pokemon Go. But just as obviously, Pokemon Go is being played in Iran anyway. I have seen pictures and videos of Iranian teens in public parks running after those little guys.


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Charity Aided Hamas- Countries Stop $
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 8, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

World Vision was a credible Christian charity. It was respected all over the world and it raised millions of dollars for its various causes.

The NYT scooped a story about how World Vision in Gaza was giving its charity to Hamas.

The Israelis supported the claim by saying that they had the head of World Vision in custody since June and he confessed to siphoning millions - almost all the money allocated to Gaza - and giving it to Hamas. He actually said that he infiltrated the organization with that plan in mind from the very beginning.

Now a few days later, Australia has suspended all gifts to World Vision. The Australian government gives about $4 million a year to World Vision. Germany, also, has stopped their donation dollars to World Vision. Israel is providing the evidence to any and every country interested.

Israel has also said that countries and individuals must be particularly careful about giving to organizations in Gaza. The chances of it going to Hamas are extremely high.

According to the Israeli briefing report the monies did not go to Hamas charities or their social service infrastructure. The monies from World Vision went to the military wing of Hamas and to the digging of tunnels.

That means individual Western donors and Western countries were contributing to terror infrastructure. It means that giving to World Vision was not just fraud but a violation of the anti-terror funding laws of these countries. That is a very serious violation.


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IDF Saves Syrians
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The IDF released a video of its medical teams going into Syria to save Syrians who were badly injured in bombings. Two of the wounded were very young children with burns all over their bodies.

Seven medical teams went into Syria in the dead of night. This was many more than are even assigned to the special medical group designated to stealthily save Syrians. These medical teams were borrowed from the armored corps that was involved on a drill nearby in the Galil. The teams included high ranking medical personnel that had with them a huge amount of equipment to help the injured.

So dramatic were the injuries that the team called a helicopter to airlift the Syrian patients out of the area. This was highly risky and very unusual --- in an already unusual situation.

The most amazing part of the story was watching an uninjured elderly women walk alongside the gurneys to the helicopter. The children's grandmother was with them as they were dying and she joined them in Israel.

Here is a link to the video:
www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4838412,00.html


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Egypt Kills ISIS Leader
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 5, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The head of ISIS in Sinai was killed in an air raid conducted by the Egyptian military.

The Egyptian air force launched an attack against an ISIS weapons depot. One of the additional reasons for the strike was that according to intelligence reports they had received, in addition to the weapons numerous ISIS leaders and fighters were present at the depot.

So the strike was launched. 45 ISIS members were killed and the entire cache of weapons was destroyed.

Among the dead is said to be Abu Dua al Ansari, the head of ISIS in the Sinai. Ansari was responsible for the planning and execution of the horrific terror attack that blew up the Russia charter flight murdering all 224 people aboard the airliner.

There has been no confirmation of Ansari's death from anyone in the Sinai. No one - from ISIS to the Bedouins of Sinai have said anything about the attack or the death.

This is par for the course.


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Iranian Leader Says Saudis are Traitors
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 3, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Khamenei has gone on record saying that the average Iranian has not felt any positive effect from the six month old nuclear agreement between Iran and the Western world.

The Ayatollah also accused Saudi leadership of committing treason. He was referring to a group of Saudi businessmen and a former Saudi general who recently went to Israel for a long visit and have been speaking about the experience and about how Israel is not at all what it is assumed to be by the general public and by the media.

Khamenei was livid with the Saudis. He said: "This job by Saudis is a great sin and treason but in this big wrongdoing, Americans have played a role since the Saudi government is possessed by the U.S. government while following and listening to Washington."

When the Supreme Leader speaks, the Arab world listens.

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Pope is Wrong on ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 2, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Pope has got ISIS and Islam all wrong. In fact, his comments actually help ISIS gain more support.

After the brutal murder of a Catholic priest in Normandy, the Pope and his spokesmen did not mention Islam. His Holiness does not believe that Islam is the issue.

Yesterday the Pope said: "It's not right to identify Islam with violence. It's not right and it's not true." He said: "I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group."
And then he concluded "I know how they think, they are looking for peace."

Unfortunately, the Pope does not know how ISIS works. He is so very far off from understanding them.

The Pope believes that ISIS "presents itself with a violent identity card, but that's not Islam." He is wrong - for ISIS that is Islam.


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ISIS Terror in Europe
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 1, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Since June 8 there has been an ISIS inspired terror attack every 84 hours in cities outside the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Sinai, Egypt and Libya. This statistic comes to us via IntelCenter a group that tracks terrorism.

According to IntelCenter over half of those attacks were outside major cities in what would be considered low risk areas. This is counter-intuitive - but it is also part of the ISIS plan.

Today Europe is flatfooted in dealing with ISIS terror. And at the same time, ISIS terror is increasing in its intensity. We will see many more attacks before the summer ends. ISIS knows that their attacks are working.

Europe is stunned. They have no idea how to respond to ISIS and now, in addition to the deaths and the fear, they are being hit in the pocket book, too.

Tourism in all the traditional European tourist sites has plummeted. Even fellow Europeans are not travelling within Europe. Certainly Americans are not interested in visiting traditional European centers of tourism.

The loss - both financial and psychological, is devastating.

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Hezbollah Tatoos & Islam
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 31, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

I just read an eye opening essay about Hezbollah supporters and fighters tattooing themselves with Shiite images and even tattooing themselves with pictures of Shiite leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

Most Muslim authorities forbid permanent tattoos. Henna and non-permanent body art is ok according to all Islamic authorities.

The Koran does not mention tattoos but the Hadith which is the oral teachings of Mohammed does. This Hadith, recorded by Bukhari, reads: "It was narrated that Abu Juhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who does tattoos, and the one who has a tattoo done."

That is pretty clear.

No reason is given for the prohibition, so Muslim thinkers can only speculate as to the motivation behind it. The answers are obvious. Tattooing mutilates Allah's original creation. It was a tradition of the pagans. It covers the natural body.

Getting tattoos, even Shiite tattoos with quotes from the Koran or pictures of Mohammed's sword or similar depictions are not in line with majority Islamic tradition.

But the people being tattooed do not seem to care.

This may change, however, when they are killed by other Muslims because of their tattoos and because they are Shiites.


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New Elections Slated in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 28, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has announced that next year on May 19th they will conduct presidential elections. The decision was made by the Iranian Guardian Council.

President Rouhani is expected to run for election. If he does not run and win, he will be the first president in the history of Iran since the 1979 not to win a second term.

The real power in this election will not be the voice of the people. The real power will come from the Supreme Leader, The Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.

We do not yet know who the other candidates will be. But we do know that that there has been serious tension between The Grand Ayatollah and the current president. May 19, 2017 will be the perfect time for the Ayatollah to remove Rouhani from office and from power.

But removing Rouhani from the presidency could cause a huge loss of confidence in Iran. It could be devastating for the future of Iran.

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ISIS Murders in a Church
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 27, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS terror strikes Normandy in northern France. Two terrorists enter a Catholic church and slit the throat of an 85 year old priest. The terrorist then tape themselves declaring their goals and their motives.

One of the terrorists was on a watch list and was outfitted with an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor him activities. He was, however, permitted to remove it for several hours each morning. And indeed the murder took place at 9:30 AM. His mother turned in her son saying that he had become an extremist.

The West was shocked by the murder.

This murder in a church is exactly what ISIS wants. It proves ISIS' superiority and demonstrates the inferiority of Christianity. ISIS wants to attack the essence of Western and Christian values and traditions.

ISIS is trying to attack the very heart of the West. Going into a church is part of that plan. For ISIS it is even more important than attacks against Shiite mosques or pilgrimages.

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Iran Destroys 1 Mill STV Sat Dishes
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 26, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran destroyed 100,000 private satellite dishes yesterday in its capital Teheran. All the satellite dishes were handed over by their owners in order to avoid a stiff $2800 fine for having the TV dish.

The general in charge of destroying the satellite dishes, General Reza Neghdi, said that these dishes "deviate morality and culture." They are un-Islamic. They "increase divorce, addiction and insecurity in society."

He said: "Most of these satellite channels not only weaken the foundation of families but also cause disruptions in children's education and children who are under the influence of satellite have improper behavior."

Iran leadership as well as Iranian citizens know that there is a vast world of ideas out there. Their leadership wants to shut out that influence. But people in Iran yearn for that which their leaders shut out - information and news.

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Saudi Delegation Visits Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 24, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

A group of Saudi businessmen and academics wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel. The delegation was led by former high ranking Saudi general Anwar Eshki.

The delegation met with high level Israeli diplomats.

The objective of this visit was to resurrect the 2002 Saudi- Arab peace initiative. The essence of the initiative was land for peace wherein Israel was to give the Palestinians land taken during the 1967 Six Day War. In exchange for the resolution, the Arab world would normalize relations with Israel.

The messages we are receiving are that the meeting was very successful. More important, however, is the message that comes with that success: Creating a solution to the Palestinian question is a priority for moving ahead on the diplomatic front.

This was not General Eshki's first meeting with Israelis. Last year he met with Dore Gold, director general of Israel's foreign ministry. They met in the United States.

The photo-op for this meeting took place at the history-infused King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

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Abbas' Brother Dies
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 22, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in Qatar. He went to Qatar from Paris.

Abbas went to Qatar to bury his brother Omar who just died from cancer.

Omar Abbas, also known Abu Loway, died at the age of 76. I have discussed his cancer and his medical care in the past. Abbas' brother received regular cancer treatments at Asuta, a private hospital in Tel Aviv.

Of course they have hospitals in Qatar, world class hospitals. But they are not even close to providing the level of quality of Israel's hospitals. They were not good enough for the brother of the Palestinian president.

Despite all the myths and all the lies, Palestinians get the best medical treatment in the world - in Israeli hospitals.

Arab news outlets never covered the fact that Omar Abbas was treated in an Israeli hospital. It does not fit their narrative. In their narrative all of Israel and all Israelis are evil.

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Erdogan:Outside Countries Sponsored Failed Coup
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 21, 2016 I’ve Been Thinking:

Turkish President Erdogan gave an interview to al Jazeera. In the interview Erdogan said that foreign governments had a hand in the failed coup in Turkey last week.

The Turkish president did not mention any governments by name but he said he knows that this is very clear.

I can go through the list of countries who were happy about the attempted coup and crushed to discover that the coup failed.

These are countries in the Middle East and in Europe and even in the Americas.

It should be very clear that Erdogan knows who his enemies are and who are his friends.

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Bibi Send Message to Abbas Via Youtube
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 20, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Prime Minister Netanyahu posted a YouTube video directed at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

On his video, Netanyahu spoke directly to Abbas saying: "President Abbas, over the past several years, you refused to meet me and sit down and negotiate peace, I hope you'll hear this message."

Netanyahu's message to Abbas was, let's talk and make peace - we owe it to the future. He said the time has come to stop supporting terror and that he needs to put an end to the statements of his underlings who repeatedly make comments supporting terror attacks.

Finally, Netanyahu asked Abbas to stop paying premiums to the families of terrorists. That, according to Netanyahu, only incentivizes terrorism.

Now we wait and see if Abbas responds to the Netanyahu message.

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Russian Delivers S-300 Part to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 19, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian news sources have confirmed that Russia is sending them components of the S-300 missile system and that a significant segment arrived yesterday.

The news report said that the S-300s components will be delivered in their entirety by the end of the year.

The S-300 is a surface-to-air system. It is not the best Russia, has but it will definitely improve Iran's ability to respond to incoming missiles and aircraft.
Israel has voiced their disapproval over the deal, but they have not raised a huge stink - probably because the old S-300 has serious weaknesses and can be gamed. In other words, Israel has a defense against it.

The Russians said that they would slow down the delivery - which they have done. But eventually they must live up to their obligations and contracts with Iran. This agreement is over a decade old.

The most troubling part of the arrival of the S-300 components is that this marks another new stage, a period in which Russia and Iran are engaging in important weapons trade.

Russia has a difficult time saying "no" when it comes to the money and influence side of the weapons market.

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Syrian Rebels Fear Loss is Near
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 18, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Syrian rebels are taking the US to task. They are publicly saying that the US is not calling Russia out on their massive violations.

The Russians are supporting Assad and in the process they are perpetrating war crimes. Basma Kodmani, the spokeswoman for the resistance, has been very vocal about the Russians and the United States. "What we lack here is a serious reaction to Russian behavior on the ground" she said.

Kodmani is a member of the main opposition High Negotiations Committee.

All this comes as the resistance is watching the noose tighten around Aleppo. Assad, his allies and Russia are closing in on the resistance stronghold. There is no doubt that the High Negotiations Committee and all the those fighting against Assad fear that if Aleppo falls to Assad the entire battle to oust Assad will be lost.

That is why Kodmani is making such strong statements and accusations against the US. She needs the United States to act against Russia. She is trying, in her own way, to guilt them into it.

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France: 17 Unidentified Victims
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 17, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

French officials still have not identified 16 of the dead and one of the wounded from the devastating Islamic terror that rocked Nice.

The numbers of dead and wounded are mind blowing. One single person, in a truck, killed 84 men, women and children and wounded 202 more people in a low tech attack using the simplest of weapons. All that was required was a terrorist to drive a truck into a crowd and murder as many holiday revelers as he could until he, himself, was killed.

The number of unidentified victims is a telling statistic.

Most of the 16 unidentified bodies, people with no discernible i.d. on their person, were probably tourists or individuals out on their own to enjoy the evening - and no one has yet to notice that they were in Nice and that they are missing. The unidentified injured victims have wounds that do not allow them to aid in their own identification.

The lives of the 202 injured are forever changed. The lives if families and friends of all the 84 murdered have all been irrevocably altered.

The terrorist successfully struck at the heart of France and the West. For ISIS this is another huge victory. Their web sites claim that this style of attack is an effective tool - a model that should be duplicated throughout the West against the enemies of Islam.

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Why Bastille Day
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 15, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Over 80 dead and hundreds wounded on Bastille Day in Nice, Southern France.

Clearly, an act of terror.

The symbol of the day is so important - it cannot be ignored. The prison, the Bastille, was stormed on July 14, 1789. The prisoners inside the Bastille were freed. That act became the symbol of the French Revolution which, in turn, triggered the birth of the modern state in which individual rights and freedoms are the hallmark of modern society.

Bastille Day is a symbol even more powerful than July 4th. It is the foundation of the revolution that heralded the assumption of all future modern states that every individual is created equal.

For the Islamic terrorist the ideas of equality and freedom are the antithesis of everything they believe in. Every citizen of France understands the deep significance of Bastille Day. They have internalized the knowledge that all the terror that has been targeted at France rises out of what France represents and what it demands.

France demands freedom and equality. France demands that all those who enter their country adhere to the principles of freedom and equality.

That is an idea that extremist Muslims, that Muslim terrorists, cannot abide.

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England's New Foreign Secretary
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 14, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The new prime minister of England has appointed Boris Johnson as her foreign secretary.

Johnson served two terms as Mayor of London and has a huge amount of foreign affairs experience as a politician, a news editor and a political columnist.

Concerning Israel and the Middle East, Johnson has proclaimed himself a proud Zionist who supports Israel's right to exist even if he disagrees with some of her policies.

When he visited Israel he announced that the Boycott Israel Movement was a group of "Lefty Academics." As a result of that comment many of Johnson's meetings with Palestinians in the West Bank were cancelled.

This is a very good appointment. Johnson will serve well and he will be an honest friend. Most importantly, when he disagrees with policies, he will disagree with respect and his style tends not to be patronizing.

This may be the beginning of a new era of Israeli // British relations.

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Jews Say NO to Abbas Invite
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 13, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has invited a group of Israeli and Jewish leaders from Arab lands to meet with him.

The group, which is made up of seventy leaders from The World Federation of Moroccan Jewry, has already met with Abbas several times. Their meetings have been very productive and have helped to move issues and dialogues along.

This time, however, the group rejected the invitation from Abbas.

The leader of the group, Sam BenShitrit, said that they would not meet with Abbas until the Palestinian Authority president publicly condemned the recent stabbing of Hallel Jaffa - the 13 year old Israeli girl stabbed to death by a Palestinian intruder while in her bed.

BenShitrit also pointed out that Abbas refused to meet with Israeli President Rivlin in Europe at the EU meeting.

And finally, BenShitrit explained that after their last meeting with the PA president he wrote to Israeli PM Netanyahu paving the road for face to face with Abbas, but Abbas still has not pursued that meeting.

BenShitrit feels that it is not useful to continue meeting with the head of the PA when Abbas does not follow through with their previous agreements.


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Terrorist Prisoners Watch Soccer
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 12, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Eurocup2016 was played on Sunday night. It was watched all across the Middle East. Like the World Cup, or Mondial as it is called, hundreds of millions of people tune in to watch the game.

For the purpose of our discussion, it does not matter who won or lost. It is about watching the game.

What matters is that the Supreme Court of Israel decided that Hamas prisoners convicted of mass murder and terrorism were entitled to watch the game.

Families of the victims of the crimes perpetrated by these prisoners petitioned the Court to disallow them the pleasure of taking in the game.

But the Court ruled in favor of the prisoners.

Call me crazy, but I don't believe that pleasures like this should be rights --- they should be rewards for cooperation, insight and information.

Watching the Eurocup could have been used an incentive to leverage information from prisoners. Now watching soccer has become a right.

What's next?! What a missed opportunity.

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Mideast Countries Issue Travel Warnings on US
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 11, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Two Middle East countries have issues travel alerts about the United States. Add to that The Bahamas which also said that their citizens should exercise judgment and avoid protests and any interaction with police while in the United States.

The United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington DC has issued a warning that their citizens should stay away from big city protests. In addition, the government of Bahrain tweeted that their citizens should maintain distance from protests in the US.

There is no real threat to citizens in the United States - especially relative to the dangers of the Middle East. The United States is safe for Americans and for tourists.

The subtext of the warnings these countries are releasing is that the Black Lives Matter movement and their protests are likely to be violent and police are on edge and they may react which could lead to more deaths.

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Hackers and Cyber Terror
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 10, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Hackers are starting to ask questions about cyber terror.

Hacktivism, the online hacker journal, published an essay saying that new definitions of cyber terror are important and cyber attacks really do not meet the current criteria.

The current definition, according to the journal, reads:
"An act must be illegal and violent or endanger human life, be coercive or intimidating, and occur in whichever jurisdiction fits. The code does not say that terrorism must meet one or all, but "means activities with these three characteristics." Most acts of hacktivism only tick one or two of these boxes, if at all."

They are correct.

Most cyber hacks are illegal - but not terror.

Most cyber hacks are denial of service when they flood a website and bring it down. That makes for a minor inconvenience and an illegal act, but hardly an act of terror.

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Israel Creating Laws Against Facebook
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 8, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is advancing legislation to limit hate speech on Facebook and other social media. They want to scrub it.

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said yesterday:

"Some of the victims' blood is on Zuckerberg's hands."

"Facebook has turned into a monster. The younger generation in the Palestinian Authority runs its entire discourse of incitement and lies and finally goes out to commit murderous acts on Facebook's platform."

There is much support for these laws - and not just by Israelis.

The evidence seems pretty clear that there are direct links between terrorists, their Facebook accounts and the incitement they are exposed to.

Normally we would say that people still have the ability to choose between good and evil, that just because, for example, someone watches horror movies they are not turned into a potential mass murderer.

But, in defiance of all logic, these kids are different. For some reason, these young Palestinian kids who go out and become terrorists seem to be different from the norm.

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Davos Report: Israel Top in Tech
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The World Economic Forum, also known as Davos, has released a report on Global Information and Technology.

The report puts Israel in the top group of nations that benefit from technology and digital innovations. The report actually said that it is private individuals who are driving the progress - not government or business

In order, the United States, Singapore, Finland, The Netherlands, Sweden Switzerland and Israel are the countries that gain the most from technological innovation.

The most troubling part of the report is that the gap between those gaining from technology and those not gaining is growing very quickly.

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Hackers Attack Olympics
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 6, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Olympics are scheduled for this August, this summer.

It looks like the hacker community is talking a lot about the Olympics, too. These hackers are not out to wreak havoc and terror on the Olympics, these hackers are selling knock off tickets and other memorabilia.

Hackers are luring people into honey traps by offering travel packages that include flights, hotels and tickets to the games ... they are all fake.

This is the classic hacker model. Most black hat hackers are after the quick buck. They almost always go for the simple easy buck.

Most hackers are petty thieves and con artists - not evil masterminds. They lead people down a path, deceive them and simply steal from them by entrancing them with the excitement of the con.

The hacker community is talking about their plans in great detail.

Caveat Emptor. Buyer beware!

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ISIS Is Back in Full Force
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 5, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS plans to end Ramadan with a blast.

Over the past few days ISIS has orchestrated terrible attacks in Bangladesh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The attacks have all been timed to coincide with the final days of Ramadan - a three day festival called Eid el Fidr which marks the conclusion of the month long period of introspection.

Yesterday three attacks took place simultaneously in Saudi Arabia. The day before a car bomb blew up in Iraq killing over 200 people. The intentions are obvious, the attacks were devastating.

The targets have been Shiite and Sunni and even Western diplomats.

ISIS has made it clear that they are attacking across the board. No established group is safe. ISIS may be Sunni Muslims, but they are also attacking Sunnis - Sunnis who do not specifically subscribe to ISIS' understanding of Sunni Islam.

In the world ISIS occupies, if you subscribe to a more liberal form of Islam you're a heretic and you can be killed.

Sadly, it does not look as if these attacks will die down after Ramadan. A new momentum has been created and we must watch and determine how powerful this surge of ISIS violence and terror becomes.

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Turkish Ship Arrives in Israel Gaza Aid
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 4, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The first Turkish ship carrying aid and journalists to Gaza has arrived in Ashdod port in Israel.

This arrival of the ship comes as a result of the agreement that was signed between Turkey and Israel as they normalized diplomatic relations only last week. The aid must come through Ashdod and then it can be transferred to Gaza over land.

This ship was carrying medicine, food and toys.

Taken together with yesterday's public criticism of the original flotilla by Turkish leader Erdogan, it seems as though a new era of interaction between the two nations has begun.

There are those in Israel who are against the transfer of aid to Gaza.

Their reasoning is that Hamas has still not given Israel any information about the bodies of Israelis soldiers or the whereabouts of two Israeli who stumbled into Gaza. They argue giving aid is unilateral and Israel gets nothing for giving the aid.

The argument continues. If Hamas has either info on the bodies or on the kidnapped boys, they should inform Israel and then and only then should they receive aid - any aid, even aid from Turkey.

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Bibi on Historic Africa Trip
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 3, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will begin a four country African visit tomorrow.

Netanyahu will start his trip in Uganda on July 4th, the day that marks the 40th anniversary of the heroic rescue in Entebbe where, in 1976, his brother Yoni was killed while leading the historic and dazzling mission.

This is the first time an Israeli prime minister will have visited the sub-Saharan Africa region in over three decades. Israel has a long history of aid and involvement in Africa, especially dealing with technology, water and agriculture. Most of those interactions have been behind the scenes and kept very quiet.

Israel is now ready to open a new era in their relationship with that region of the world. Part of Israel's objective is to challenge ISIS and radical Islam.

Africa is the future - and Israel needs to have a presence.
So over the next few days Prime Minister Netanyahu will visit Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia. A truly historic mission of his own.

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Assad Says West is Helping Him
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 1, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Reuters has released a sneak preview of an interview with Syrian leader Bashar Assad scheduled to be broadcast on Friday on Australia's SBS news channel.

The quotes are very damning -- damning of Western countries.

Assad is quoted as saying that Western countries condemn his government politically but then send security advisers to help fight ISIS and al Qaeda. He also gave a big dig to the United States saying that Western countries simply mimic what the US wants them to say.

One of the important revelations in this interview is that Assad tells the Australian media that their country, Australia, is among those countries who show their duplicity.

"They attack us politically and then they send officials to deal with us under the table, especially the security, including your (the Australian) government."

"They don't want to upset the United States. Actually most of the
Western officials, they only repeat what the United States want them to say. This is the reality."

It is befitting that Assad sees the world through his own unique lens - before becoming a ruthless dictator, he was, after all, a card carrying MD and licensed eye doctor.

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Iran Favors Brexit
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 30, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is elated about the Brexit vote.

The Iranians claim that they believe in democratic voting and so they supported the vote about leaving the EU. The Foreign Ministry statement read "As a democratic establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran respects the British people’s vote on leaving the European Union, and considers that as being in line with the will of majority of that country’s people to adopt their own foreign policy."

It sounds good, but it is truly irrelevant.

The real reason Iran supports Brexit is because the United States was in support of remaining.

In addition, the Iranians perceive England to be a huge trading partner and they want to expand their trade with Iran.

Every country has an agenda. Iran is no exception.

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Germany to Lease Israeli Killer Drones
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 29, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israel will lease 5 drones to Germany in a deal worth 600 million Euros.
There are two fascinating components to this deal. The first is that Germany did not lease or buy the US drones, but chose Israel instead. After all, the US Predator and Raptor drones are part of the United State’s highly developed weapons cache.

Israel has a wide range of drones and they are the leaders in technology in the field. The Germans are leasing the Eitan which is called the Heron TP.
It is huge, weighing over 5 tons. Its wingspan is 86 ft and it is 43 ft long. The Eitan can carry an additional 4000 lbs of equipment. (bombs).

And that leads to the second very interesting dimension to this deal. The
Germans said that the Heron can carry and shoot missiles, rockets and bombs. The Germans used older versions of these drones to attack in Afghanistan.

The Germans were revealing a well hidden secret
Israel has never admitted that they make drones that can be armed with weapons. The Germans just disclosed that very important piece of information.

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US May Buy Iron Dome
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 28, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The US is considering buying the short range interceptor missile, the famous Iron Dome, from Israel.

The idea is to use the Iron Dome in Europe to protect against Russian missiles that could attack European cities. The US already has anti missile batteries in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia has interpreted this as a major threat against them and an increased US direct involvement in Central and Eastern Europe.,

US Major-General Glenn Bramhall of the US Army's Air and Missile Defense Command just visited Israel and discussed details of buying the Iron Dome or major segments of it.

Israel developed the Iron Dome with the financial help of the United States.

There were many conditions placed on the money. Israel cannot sell it to just anyone. But they can certainly sell it to the United States.
Interestingly, there have not been many potential buyers for the missile despite it 90% success rate against the rockets shot at Israel from Gaza.

The original Iron Dome was limited to a range of only 3 - 43 miles. But with improvements that expand its range to 95 miles this short range interceptor now encroaches into the range of a mid range interceptor allowing for a near total defense shield.

The United States is thinking critically and strategically with this military purchase.

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The Pope & Turkey
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 27, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Pope Francis just finished a visit to Armenia and, as expected, he ruffled Turkey's feathers.

When the Pope arrived he made a clear declaration condemning the Turkish- led Armenian Genocide as a planned attempt to murder Armenians.

In response the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Nerettin Canikli, called the Pope’s declaration "greatly unfortunate." He said that the Pope was showing a bias that resembled "the mentality of the Crusades."
Last year Pope Francis made a similar statement condemning the Armenian Genocide which resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians. As a result Turkey withdrew its ambassador from the Holy See for ten months, only now returning to their post in Rome. The Turks accused the Pope of spreading lies.

The Turkish claim is that people died on both sides and that it was the middle of WWI just as the Ottoman Empire was breaking down. They also simply say that the number 1.5 is a huge exaggeration.

Turkey is in the midst of trying to resurrect diplomatic relations with Israel. The day before the preliminary deal was signed Turkey hosted a formal meeting with the head of Hamas.

Turkey appears to have a warped sense of the code of conduct for the art of diplomacy and they just don't know how to get along with others.

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Muslims Sworn into IDF
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 26, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Muslim soldiers were recently sworn in to the IDF.

Most of the soldiers are Bedouins. They were sworn into the Desert Corp. They will probably be trackers, a task that Bedouins have traditionally excelled in for decades.

These Muslim soldiers swore their allegiance to defend the State of Israel. They each received a weapon and a Koran.

The ceremony took place at the Memorial for Fallen Bedouin Soldiers in the Negev Desert in the southern part of Israel.

Israel wants and needs Bedouin input in the IDF and in Israel society.

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New ISIS Hit List
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 24, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS just released a new hit list of 8318 people from around the world and almost all 8000+ were from the US.

The United Cyber Caliphate put the list on line. The list includes names, addresses, and email addresses belonging to 8,318 people.

Names come from the United States, Australia, Canada, Belgium, Brazil, China, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden, Trinidad, and Tobago. On Vocativ reports of the 7,848 Americans listed, 1,445 had addresses in California, 643 in Florida, 341 in Washington, 333 in Texas, 331 in Illinois, and 290 in New York.

An interesting point is the Vocativ also found that 4000 names and details were found on an earlier hit list from Linkedin created in 1999.
This new ISIS list was unique in its own way. While it was a list of enemies - earlier lists were actually entitled hit lists. This list was not.

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Israel & Turkey to Mend Relations
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 23, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and Turkey will normalize relations this weekend. The information was leaked yesterday. This will bring a final conclusion to six full years of diplomatic conflict between the two nations.

There will be an official announcement at a joint meeting between Israel and Turkey and then ambassadors will once again be dispatched.

Israel had earlier agreed to compensate the families of the ten Turks killed in the Israeli operation that stopped the flotilla of Turkish ships from breaking the sea barricade against Gaza.

Israel announced that they "regretted what happened." At the time, that was not enough for Turkey - they wanted an apology. Israel did not want to issue an apology. That would have meant that Israel's actions were wrong and unjustified. And of course Israel does not think they were wrong or unjustified.

Six years later Israel issued an "apology". There are two reasons for the change in terminology. One is that Israel wants Turkey back on board. The second reason is that six years is enough time for the people of Israel not to be upset and may not even see the difference in meaning between regret and apology.


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Hamas To Import Israeli Watermelons
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 22, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

In Gaza this summer the price of watermelons is going through the roof. And in Gaza, watermelons are a staple of the summer season. They are eaten in the evening, the afternoon and just about every other time all summer long.
Right now, the price of the melons is prohibitive. So the Hamas Ministry of Agriculture came up with a plan to lower the cost of watermelons for the people of Gaza.

Hamas is letting in Israeli watermelons. For three days the market will be flooded with Israeli watermelons in the hope that the Israeli melons will flood the market and bring down the price.

I'm a bit skeptical.

Three days is not a lot of time and while it will most probably artificially alter the price, it will then re-adjust and come back to normal.
Or, the Israeli watermelons will prove superior in taste and quality and they will become even more expensive lifting the price of both Gaza’s and Israeli watermelons.

The final possibility is that the demand will be so great that Gazans will want more Israeli watermelons and other produce and Hamas will let in more and more. If that should happen then the price of watermelons will drop as the market will naturally force down the price of produce.

The plan may just work. Then again, maybe not.


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Hackers Hit Airlines
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 21, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

I read with amazement a report by the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) that most commercial aircraft and airports are susceptible to hacks.

I was astonished to find out just how many hacks have grounded flights around the world.

The worst part of it all was that when I investigated the hacks, I discovered that they were very simple hacks.

About a year ago a hacker grounded and disrupted Polish Lot Airlines. And when a Spanish cargo plane crashed it was discovered that three of the four computers on board were totally wiped clean.
Four people were killed in that crash.

There are all kinds of hacking. Some are just for fun. Flights where everyone is served a vegetarian meal is harmless - and maybe even healthy. But a hack is a hack is a hack.

We need to make certain that our planes and airports are in our control and not under the control of some outside power.

You never know what power may be lurking behind a hack - even an innocuous hack..

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Iran is Pumping Much More Oil
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 20, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is now producing oil at a rate that makes them a major player in the oil world.

In January, when the sanctions were lifted, Iran produced 1.3 million barrels a day. By April, they were producing 2 million barrels per day.

May's figures put Iranian oil production at 3.64 million barrels per day.

Several problems emerge.

One problem is that Iran is making such serious headway that they are creeping up into the Saudi market.

A bigger problem is that fewer people are buying the oil. The market is weakening and just because the Iranians are pumping oil, it does not mean they have someplace to unload it.

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Iran Buys 220 Passenger Planes
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 19, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

This past week Iran signed a deal with Boeing for 100 passenger jets. And a few weeks earlier Iran signed a deal with Airbus for 118 planes.

This is enormous. The newest Iranian plane was a 1994 Airbus. Their fleet is so old that most of the planes are from the 1970’s - from before the revolution.

The condition of Iran's planes and their safety was so poor that they are not allowed fly over Europe. This is all the results of the sanctions that did not allow spare airplane parts to be imported to Iran.

Before this purchase Iran only had 46 jets. Now they will have nearly 220 brand new planes and the EU has already approved flight plans with the new planes.

The price of the planes will total about $60 billion. It is an investment that will have huge benefits for Iran.

We are seeing more and more doors opening for Iran. We are witnessing massive changes. It signals that there will be almost no way to snap sanctions back on sanctions Iran. Actually, just the opposite.


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Obama Caused ISIS Attack in Orlando
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 17, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday Senator McCain said that President Obama was responsible for the ISIS terror attack in Orlando.

What he meant was that the policies of the president led to the creation of ISIS and that with different policies there would never have been the rise of ISIS and, consequently, there would never have been an attack on Orlando.

President Obama visited Orlando yesterday and met with victims and families of the victims.

He told them that they, or their loved ones, were killed and shot by a single individual. This is so dishonest.

The president paralleled this terror in Orlando with Aurora, Colorado Newton and Connecticut. How wrong. This was terror not a crazed individual. This terrorist was part of ISIS.

ISIS does not require or need membership - it just requires watching internet videos or reading a website.

Those who believe the president simply do not understand the nature of ISIS and the modern face of terror.

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ISIS Terror Squads on Way to Europe
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 16, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

An ISIS Terror squad is en route to Belgium and France. They are traveling through Turkey and Greece.

The intelligence message was sent to Belgium and the Belgians sent it on to France. They are evaluating the information.

Neither country yet increased their threat level. They explain their inaction by saying that France and Belgium constantly get alerts and cannot change their status on a whim without evaluating the threat. The say that their threat level is already at 3 or 4. It is very serious but not the highest

The description of the ISIS squad is very clear and the targets are obvious.

Not raising the threat level is irresponsible at best and possibly even criminal.

We hope that the plans of the terrorists will be foiled. But unless France and Belgium tighten their defenses, attacks will be successfully carried out.

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Muslims Supporting Orlando Terror
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 15, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The dark web has been full of praise for the terrorist Omar Mateen.

There have been some condemnations, but those are relatively tepid.

The essence of the praise arcs over two topics. One is the attack against the infidel. The other is the attack against gays.

One blogger wrote that the terrorist will have a place in Jannah. Jannah is Arabic for heaven. The word has the same root as Gan in Hebrew which means garden, as in the Garden of Eden.

Another writer, this one named Ahmed, is very verbose and graphically praises the terrorist.

He writes "He is a hero -- Let me kiss your hand ... Finally a martyr died in place where people deserved to die not in a Mosque"

"Those who apologize are stupid donkeys. I hope a Civil War breaks out and kills the Americans"

"Allahu Ahkbar - Allah brought the battle to their doorstep ... This made me very happy."

These were some of the less inflammatory praises heaped on Mateen. The other stuff is really ugly.

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It's Called Terror
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 14, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Terror hit Orlando. Do not be deceived. It was ISIS terror. It was Islamic terror.

Not to call it terror is not simply a mistake but it is also a hindrance.

Not to call it terror is an obstacle in confronting terror.
One needs to know what one is confronting in order to stop it.

Terror, Islamic terror in particular and ISIS terror in the West especially in the United States, is a very particular terror.

This terror cannot be confronted in the same way that normal police activity and investigations deal with terror.

To confront Islamic terror, authorities need more latitude. But if you don't acknowledge acts as being Islamic terror, that latitude will never be given. And our risk of attack is heightened.

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US Calls on Israel to Not Respond to the Terror
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 11, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The United States State Department issued a statement on Thursday about Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the statement: Israel "must" avoid an increase of tension with the Palestinians in the aftermath of the terror attack perpetrated in central Tel Aviv that resulted in the murder of 4 Israelis and left another sixteen people murdered.
Excuse me? Israel "must"!

Does the US Department of State expect Israel to kiss the Palestinians for this? What would a responsible US response be in such a situation?

Israel always exercises restraint. Otherwise there would be wanton killing and counter attacking. And when Israel does launch an operation is it a surgical strike and carried out with the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties.

Palestinian terrorists, on the other hand, embark on missions to murder and injure as many civilians as possible.

It is hard not to be incensed by these boneheaded official directives cum statements issued by the United States.

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PA Condemns Terror
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 10, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The terror that rocked Tel Aviv killing four innocent people and injuring another sixteen is still very raw.

In an official statement the Palestinian Authority rejected the act of terror but made no mention of Tel Aviv. That was not an oversight. It was a deliberate omission because Tel Aviv is a modern Zionist city created in 1909 next to the Arab city of Jaffa.

The condemnation statement was issued in writing from the office President Mahmoud Abbas. It read: the PA "reaffirms its rejection of all operations that target civilians from any background regardless of the justifications."

The statement continued: "Achieving a just peace and creating a positive climate is what (will) contribute to removing the causes of tension and violence in the region."

The statement concluded saying: "Achieving peace requires everyone to stop taking any action that will increase tensions and resorting to violence."

According to a recent study, Palestinian support for terror is down slightly from three months ago when a similar study was done. The study focused on stabbings.

Three months ago 58% of Palestinians supported stabbings, now 51% support stabbings.

Three months ago 65% of those asked thought that violence would lead to an Intifada that would lead to improvement in their lives in a way that negotiations would not. Today 58% believe in that theory.

Sometimes small gains are the most important.

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NATO & Security
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 9, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

For more than a year I have been arguing that the Western world lacks a true understanding of the terror threat.

Now, finally, NATO is discussing the appointment of an assistant director of intelligence. They are finally thinking about creating a position specifically designed to confront ISIS.

There are those who are in favor and those who are still opposed to creating this new position. It is not yet clear whether NATO will indeed create the position and allot for the clout and the funds and the personnel necessary to create a division to confront ISIS through the establishment of a unified intelligence system.

Should it ever come into existence, the new division must place emphasis on cyber terror, cyber trolls and intel. They will need to get up close and personal in the dark web and watch ISIS very carefully.

One major problem that NATO will confront if this unit were to be created is that the unit will step on the toes of other, non-aligned, nations. That issue will need to be resolved.

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Putin & Bibi Meet
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 8, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Putin and Netanyahu met again today in Moscow.

This is their fourth meeting in six months.

Netanyahu has met with Putin more often than he has met with US President Obama. That small fact speaks volumes about relationships within this triangle.

Unlike the emergency meeting six weeks ago when, on the eve of Passover, Netanyahu ran to Russia to clarify and correct some communication problems with the Russian and Israeli air forces, this meeting was more diplomatic. The trip involved meeting the Jewish community. It was an official diplomatic outing which also combined cultural and social events.

Of course, there were official and obligatory press conferences and photo ops.

Putin wants to be a major force in the Middle East. He has set up operations in Syria and is continuing in his effort to expand his influence.

In order to be effective Putin needs a very good and strong working relationship with Israel. That is now his mission.

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Ramadan Has Begun
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Ramadan, the month-long fast in Islam, started yesterday.

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. The objective of the fast is to gain introspection, self-improvement and atonement.

1.6 billion Muslims around the world are said to be fasting. That is over 22 % of the 7 billion people on earth. I'm not certain how many Muslims actually fast, but even if it is half that number, it is still a huge and significant number.

During Ramadan Muslims break their fast each night at sundown. As an aside, our English word breakfast originates because we break our fast every morning after not having eaten all night. Muslims break fast after not having eaten all day.

In the Koran the original Muslim fast was only one day long. It paralleled the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. But after the Jewish tribes of Arabia rejected Muhammed's message, he changed the single day-long fast into a month-long fast.

That change along with other changes was designed to break from Judaism and "one up" the tradition on which Islam was based.

It was at this time that Islamic prayer turned its back on Jerusalem and began praying towards Mecca. It was also when Islam moved from praying three times a day to five times a day.

ISIS is calling on Muslims around the world to attack infidels during Ramadan. ISIS and other terrorists see this month of introspection and atonement as well suited for attacking their enemy, the Western infidel, who abused and attacked Islam.

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Another Hamas Tunnel Digger Arrested
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 6, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The IDF has allowed the publication of a report on the arrest of a 17 year old Palestinian boy from Gaza to go public. He was a tunnel digger, the third Hamas tunnel digger to be arrested by Israel in the past few weeks.

The 17 year old was arrested last month after he infiltrated into Israel. The boy had no weapons - but he was a treasure trove of information about Hamas, especially their tunnels.

The boy told his interrogators about his training and about the purpose and design of the tunnels. He described how the exits are all situated around schools and mosques. This we all knew, it was just confirmation, but much more information was gleaned from the interrogations.

This terrorist had no contact with the other two tunnel diggers who are also in Israeli custody.

There is clearly a large cadre of tunnel diggers and they are spread throughout Gaza.

The big mystery is why these three Gazans crossed the borders. What did they hope to accomplish? In the case of this young boy, he had no weapons and no direction. He was caught upon his exit.

It is entirely possible that these boys are dupes, sent over by Hamas
to test the response time of Israel to a border crossing. You can never tell when dealing with Hamas. And you can never be too careful. Hamas leaders are very casual about using their people as human guinea pigs.

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ISIS Has A Plan B
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 5, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The West is successfully striking at ISIS in Iraq and in Syria.
ISIS is taking serious hits. Recent victories by the West in Fallujah, Hit and Ramadi as well as a pounding from increased air strikes have begun to take a toll on ISIS.

Recruitment for ISIS is at an all time low. To rectify that situation, ISIS is in need of a huge public attack and a real victory.

But ISIS has a plan B.

Plan B is already in operation. ISIS has already pulled out much of their forces from Iraq and Syria and established a new front and base of operations - in Libya and in Yemen.

ISIS knows that they need to move on and that they are out-skilled and out-gunned in Iraq and Syria. Their downsized recruits and recruiting tell the story.

ISIS will now romanticize their struggle in Libya and in Yemen.

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Abbas Will Speak to Israel's New Foreign Minister
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 3, 2016

I've Been Thinking.

A delegation of Israeli mayors met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday.

The timing of the meeting is very important -- the Paris Conference, which is Europe's attempt to solve the peace issue between Israel and the Palestinians, begins today.

Israel has also empowered Egypt to create and initiate a peace conference.

The mayors were optimistic with the result of their meeting with Abbas as were the Palestinians.

The great surprise was that Abbas said that he would speak to Israel's new minister of defense, Avigdor Lieberman.

Abbas said that even though Lieberman referred to Palestinian leadership as "diplomatic terrorists" he also spoke positively about the Two State Solution. Abbas said that he was not dealing with Lieberman's past, just his present and his future.

Palestinian President Abbas is under huge amounts of pressure to meet with Israel. These comments are telling. They show an openness on Abbas' part and a willingness to sit down and negotiate with Israel.

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The Presidential Election
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 2, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

I've Been Thinking:

The most common question I get nowadays is about the presidential candidates.

The big question on people's minds is which candidate is better for Israel. Everyone wants to know which candidate is better on security. Of course, people also want to know which candidate has the best chance of winning.

Now that we are down to two candidates - even though the third party option has also emerged --- it is time to clarify some essential points of presidential politics.

The excitement about these issues will grow as we approach summer and the conventions which will be held at the end of July.
The conventions formulate and cast the candidates in the context of their parties.

Conventions ground the candidates and force them into a platform. For better or for worse, no matter which party you cheer for, the convention merges the candidate with the party.

We need to watch and see if either candidate wants to abandon ship or the party.

Until the conventions are over it is impossible to answer questions - even questions as simple as who is best for Israel's security, for US security, and who has the best chance to win.

Patience is the name of this game.


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Israel Bolsters Northern Border
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 1, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is worried that ISIS and Hezbollah are building fronts from which to strike and attack their northern border.

So the Israelis are implementing a strategy that is reminiscent of Lebanon in the 1980's and 90's. Israel has created and is now expanding a 'liaison unit' for their northern border.

The job of the liaison unit is to reach out and create positive and essential relations with villagers and leaders in Syria. So far, it has been a very effective plan. Locals have informed upon and even convinced ISIS, al Qaeda and Hezbollah not to attack Israel.

Since the conflict in Syria began, thousands of wounded Syrians have been picked up by the IDF inside Syria and brought to Israeli hospitals. The wounded are treated, healed and sent back. These people have become important liaisons, too.

When Israel carried out this plan in Southern Lebanon, it began with humanitarian aid and health care and then moved to helping the locals fight for themselves. Eventually the Southern Lebanese Militia was actually under the authority of the head of Israel's Northern Command.

That situation created a safer Israel - until it all collapsed.

I hope that Israel will learn from its mistakes.

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Iran India Agreement
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 31, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Several days ago India and Iran signed a groundbreaking set of agreements. 12 sets of agreements in all.

They agreed to fight terror, radicalism, drug trafficking, cyber terror and other societal ills. They agreed to share intelligence and to work together.

The agreements were signed in Teheran by Iranian Prime Minister Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Modi.

The jewel in the crown of the agreements was that India and Iran will mutually develop Chabahar port. Chabahar is located in the south of Iran outside the Persian Gulf. It is to the West of India and it is very important for them. The Indians are investing $500 million in the port - and it will be a significant conduit for them in the region.

India hopes that this will be the start of "bi" and "tri" level transit. If it all works out, the third party to this part of the agreement will be Afghanistan.

This new deal shows just how eager countries are to get Iran back up and moving forward. This deal with India illustrates how Iran can easily become a major player not just in the region, but also in Asia.

And that is a significant part of Iran's long term goal.

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Oil Nearly $50/ Barrel
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 30, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The price of oil is almost $50 a barrel. The price has continued to creep up even thought Canadian Suncor Energy oil-sands project is about to hit the market.

In addition OPEC will be meeting on Thursday and they will certainly be discussing the issue of supply.

The price of oil continues to slowly climb and that has important ramifications - and not just for our pocketbooks. If oil continues to climb beyond $50 and goes to $70 or $75, it will empower Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran and Saudi Arabia both suffered when oil prices dropped. Saudi Arabia lost power and influence. Iran nearly went bankrupt.

The tide is turning once again - and that is not good news for the West. Oil is the tool that greases the wheels of power and influence in large parts of the world.


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Turkey Livid with US
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 29, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish President Erdogan is livid with the United States. He is angry after viewing pictures of US Special forces wearing Kurdish insignias while training YPG and PYD Kurdish groups in Syria.

Erdogan said that this was a violation of the agreements that the US and Turkey had made.

The US Defense department acknowledge that it was a mistake and the issue is now being corrected and dealt with. The official word was that the forces on the ground should not have been wearing the insignias.

Obviously there is a tightrope here. The Turks want to destroy the Kurds. And the Turks will do anything and everything to prevent the Kurds from getting an independent territory. They have used the ISIS conflict to inflict serious damage on he Kurds - killing about 5,000 of them,

But the US needs real fighters on the ground - reliable and dedicated fighters to fight ISIS. The only group that meets those qualifications is the Kurds. So the US will continue support the Kurds and that upsets Turkey.

Kurds will not risk their lives and families simply to fight for either Iraq or Syria. The Kurds need to know that they are working toward their goal of territorial independence.

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Muslims Attack Christians in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 27, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Christian population in Egypt constitutes a large minority, numbering about 10 million people which puts them at 10% of the entire population. And yet, Egypt's Christians live in fear.

Christians living in Egypt are Coptic Christians.

In a village south of Cairo, seven Christian homes were recently burned and an elderly, 70 year of Christian mother, was stripped, beaten and dragged through the streets.

The woman's son, a Christian, was the real target of the attack. The son managed to escape as the mob shot thousands of bullets into the air. The attackers were so angry at not being able to find the son, that they grabbed the mother and attacked her. They also burned and looted neighboring homes.

Police arrived two hours after the attack. They arrested six people and are looking for twelve others. According to witnesses the angry crowd was as large as 300 people all shouting in unison "Death to the Infidel." President el-Sisi has condemned the act of violence.

Rumors had spread that the son was involved with a Muslim woman - a practice that is shunned in Egypt. And the son actually called the police the day before the attack issuing a complaint about threats that he was receiving.

The Christian community feels threatened. This is just one of many examples.

It should be noted that had it been a Muslim man and a Christian woman - there would have been no reaction from the Muslims.

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Hacking Middle East Banks
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 26, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Middle East banks are now the targets of a massive hack. This hack is happening only one month after the largest bank in the Middle East - the Qatar National Bank (QNB), was hacker and 1.4GB of data was stolen.

That hack was traced to a Turkish hacker group which eventually did take responsibility for the hack on YouTube.

This new set of hacks is different from previous hacks. Those responsible are not taking anything, they are just searching for things. The new hack is not for exploitation, it is just for reconnaissance. And that leaves analysts asking a lot of questions.

In this latest hack emails were sent to people in the banks as if they were from co-workers. When the emails were opened, downloaded and forwarded the infection went with them.

It is not clear how many banks have been hacked... but it is safe to say that many more than a handful fell victim to this new cyber attack. More than one and less than 50.

The looming question is, who stands to gain from the knowledge that was gained. I have a few ideas.

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New Head of Iran's Powerful Assembly of Elders
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 25, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Ayatollah Amhed Jannati was elected to be head of the Assembly of Elders in Iran. This is one of the most powerful positions in Iran - it is the Assembly of Elders who select and support the Supreme Leader.

Jannati is an extreme ultra conservative. He won hands down receiving 55 votes in the internal election cast by the 88 members of the Assembly of Elders.

Here are some examples of Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati's attitudes:

In April 2008, Jannati said: "You cried: 'Death to the Shah,' and indeed, he died. You cried: 'Death to Israel,' and it is now on its deathbed. You cry: 'Death to America,' and before long, Allah willing, the prayer for the dead will be recited over it."

And on 17 September 2010, he claimed that "opinion polls reveal[ed] that 84 percent of the Americans consider the US administration responsible for 9/11 attacks."

This is a national leader in Iran who has been in central positions since the revolution in 1979. He is the overwhelming voice in the most powerful body in Iran.

This is hardly a liberal and open Iran.

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PA Museum is Just Sad
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 24, 2016

I've Been thinking:

The Palestinians opened a museum of Palestinian history and culture in Ramallah last week- and it was empty of exhibits. That is both funny and tragic at the same time.

It is also an unbelievable metaphor. A $28 million dollar building that took decades to create was opened to huge fanfare - and there were no exhibits inside.

They said that people will come anyway, just to see the gardens - which are not completed. They admit that the leadership of the museum was in conflict and could not decide what type of direction the museum should take - so it took no direction.

Palestinian leaders opened a satellite museum in Beirut, Lebanon the same week which focused on Palestinian embroidery. The theme of that exhibit is that embroidery is a significant part of Palestinian culture. The hope is to open other satellite museums around the
world in the next year.

The entire idea has been a mess. This is the biggest single project the Palestinian Authority has embarked upon and it is a colossal failure in almost every way - especially in its symbolism and the message it is conveying to the Palestinian people.

For instance, there is no shortage of Palestinian architects, but a Dublin firm was commissioned to design and build the museum. And the heralded gardens are landscaped by a Jordanian firm. Even the director is not a Palestinian - he was hired under the pretense that he was the head curator at the renowned British Museum - but now it has been disclosed that he is not a curator at all, just a visiting scholar.

You can't make this stuff up.

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Building in Saudi Arabia Drops 51%
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 23, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Building in Saudi Arabia has dropped 51% compared to last year at this time.

The drop is due to low oil prices.

Saudi Arabia has scaled back on all their building. The building that is going on is the result of contracts that are already signed and buildings in the midst of being built. Most are in the tourism and business areas.

Tens of thousands of jobs have been eliminated and many foreign workers have left the kingdom.

The cost of the war in Yemen in which the Saudis are supporting a regime against an Iranian insurgence is also tapping the Kingdom's reserves. Add to that the enormous cost of supporting the movement against Syrian leader Assad while Iran is propping him up.

Despite being the second largest exporter of oil in the world, Saudis are hemorrhaging money and no longer making what they once made. They are in trouble.

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ISIS Vid Calls for Small Attacks
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 22, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

A new ISIS video has been posted by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the spokesman of ISIS. He is calling on followers to strike at as many targets as possible during the Muslim month of Ramadan.

The nearly 30 minute long message was very explicit - calling on ISIS supporters to advance the cause everywhere they live.

Ramadan is a month long Muslim fast dedicated to introspection. It begins, for most Muslims, on June 6th and ends on July 5th. Muslims fast during the day and eat at night, after sundown.

Al-Adnani said: "Ramadan is coming, the month of attacks and jihad, the month of conquest so be prepared and be on alert, and make sure that everyone of you spends it (Ramadan) in the name of God on the attack. Requesting from God that it (Ramadan), God willing, be a month of calamity on the non-believers anywhere, especially by those soldiers and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America."

"The smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us. If one of you hoped to reach the Islamic State, we wish we were in your place to punish the Crusaders day and night."

These comments are a call to arms for followers and lone wolves to do whatever they can, however they can, wherever they live.

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Let Saudis Sell their US Interests
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 20, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia has threatened to pull out their US investments and sell their ownership of US companies if the United States permits 9-11 victims to sue the Gulf oil state.
This is a serious threat and people are rightfully taking it seriously.

And yet, it is also an empty threat and would prove to be a silly move.

Saudi Arabian interests in the United States total about $750 billion. Selling all that, over a period as short as a few months, will cause be a huge loss to the Saudis. Actually, good estimates say that if the Saudis sell their US assets, they will take more than a 50% loss on the sell. That would mean $750 billion will melt away and be reduced to something just over $300 billion. That is a huge loss - and a colossal failure.

The Saudi own $117 billion in US treasury bonds. Even if they liquidate all the bonds overnight, it will not have a huge impact. The daily treasury market is about $500 billion. China sold off their bonds in order to raise cash and it did not impact the market.

If Saudi Arabia did choose to try to sell their interests, there would be a long line of interested people excited about picking up those investments at a price way below market value. Many of those new buyers may actually be Americans.

If the Saudi follow through with their plan, it will backfire and the result may actually be better for the United States.

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Bibi Stabilizes His Government
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 19, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The government of Bibi Netanyahu just got stronger and more stable.

Lieberman and his party of six have just agreed to join the Netanyahu coalition. That decision will further guarantee Netanyahu's positions and power.

In joining the coalition Lieberman will become the defense minister and his party will receive several other governmental positions.

The additional six Knesset seats give Netanyahu a total of 67 seats - seven more than the majority he needs to hang on as prime minister
.
The dynamics of this new expanded coalition pushes the Netanyahu government further to the right, but it also insulates the prime minister from any harm the two religious parties in his coalition can do to him - he can now survive if either of those parties leaves, he has the votes.

Netanyahu was not only negotiating with Lieberman, he was also negotiating with Labor. And they almost succeeded in joining a coalition. But, as they say, almost doesn't count.

Labor has 24 Knesset seats. Had they joined with Netanyahu they would have received the foreign ministry portfolio. That move have put Netanyahu in the center left position and stabilized him even more with 85 seats.

And if both would have joined the coalition that would have made it 91 seats.

Some things, it seems, are just not meant to be.

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Pope Tells West to Stop Cultural Colonialism
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 18, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Pope has taken Western countries to task about, as he calls it, their cultural colonialism. He is speaking especially about the United States.

The Pope has been very critical of the desire of Western countries to impose democracy on others, without relating to or concerning itself with local cultures.

In an interview with the French Catholic paper La Croix, the Pope said: "Faced with current Islamist terrorism, we should question the way a model of democracy that was too Western was exported to countries where there was a strong power, as in Iraq, or Libya, where there was a tribal structure."

"We cannot advance without taking these cultures into account. As a Libyan said some time ago: 'We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have 50 of them!'"

The Pope is not anti-democracy. He is simply suggesting that respect for local culture will more effectively achieve the end results of democracy without creating a buildup of resentment.

On Islam, the Pope said that he does not think that Europe or the West is anti-Islam. Rather, they are anti-ISIS. There is a huge difference.

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Jordan Won't Let Gazans In
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 17, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

The Arab world has a very harsh approach to towards Palestinians.

Since last summer Jordan has not permitted Palestinians from Gaza to pass through Jordan. For the past several years Egypt has not permitted the movement of Gazans.

The most ironic element of the story is that while Israel is permitting more and more Palestinians exit and transport over Israel, they can't leave because they have no place to go. Jordan will not let them in. Because of Jordan, Gazans are stuck in Gaza.

The reasons should be obvious. Gazans are thought to be terrorists and affiliated with Hamas.

Gazans who are attempting to go to work, to the hospital, to the university, cannot go even when the destination is Jordan. A Jordanian university may accept a student from Gaza, but that same student will not be able to attend the university because of the Jordanian law.

This is a problem. It is not a problem caused by Israel.

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They Mourn Israel's Creation
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 16, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, May 15, the Palestinians commemorated Israel's 1948 creation in what they called the catastrophe, or, the Nakba. It is a yearly tradition.

They mourned the creation of the State of Israel which took place 68 years ago. In Palestinian eyes, Israel's creation was their destruction.

In Palestinian cities and villages throughout the West Bank a siren rang for 68 seconds. One second for every year of Israel.
Palestinians stood still in mourning, mimicking the siren that Israel sounds for Holocaust Memorial Day and for the day that memorializes Israel's fallen soldier heroes and victims of terror.

They created a model train out of cardboard, put it on wheels and had it run from Dheisha, a refugee camp just south of Bethlehem, to Rachel's tomb in northern Bethlehem.

It was an effective use of a near life size model train which they called "The Train of Return." Only one or two people were on the train but they used large model keys symbolizing the keys to their family homes that they still hang on to and hand down to younger generations. The idea is to use these keys to return home.

Of course there were riots.

The creation of Israel displaced many people - including millions of Jews across the Arab world who had to escape the Arab world and run to Israel for refuge.

Palestinians tell just part of the story. Yes, Arabs living in Israel left their homes. But one of the major forces telling them to leave was Arab leadership which told them to clear out while they destroyed the Jews and forced them into the sea.

The saddest part about the Nakba is that it places all the blame on Israel. It does not consider the Arab role. Israel won the war - that was not part of their consideration at the time. That was a tragedy.

The other tragedy is the incongruity - this day bemoans the creation of Israel in 1948. It does not focus on the territories. Dhesisha and Bethlehem and the entire West Bank were part of Jordan after 1948, all the way up until 1967.

Palestinian sadness is real. But Israel is only partially responsible. Only after they realize this will there be a possibility of living together. Otherwise, Palestinians will continue to wish and work for the disappearance and destruction of Israel.

And that is not going to happen.

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Ex Syrian General Wants Peace w Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 15, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

An ex-Syrian brigadier general named Nabir al Dandal recently sent a letter to Yuli Edelstein, speaker of the Israeli Knesset.

Al Dandal said that the Syrians want and need peace with Israel. They want it now more than ever. The letter was sent through academic researchers.

In a phone interview with Ynet, a leading internet source of Israeli news, al Dandal said: "When I was a part of the regime, I was convinced that former President Hafez Al-Assad missed an opportunity to make peace like former Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat. But when you serve the regime, you need to say what it wants (you to say) and not what you really think."

Al Dandal expressed his frustration that Israel has not supported the Syrian resistance against Assad. "Israel has an opportunity to make peace with the Syrian people, who now, since the revolution against al-Assad, have made sense of many things including the lie that the regime is selling regarding its resistance to Israel."

The ex-general and former high level Assad government leader made it clear that he wants real peace - as do the people of Syria.
"Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans - those (among them) who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve."

Al Dandal also said that: "The Syrian people want to emphasize to the Israeli people that it wants to separate itself from wars and that it is ready to take the necessary steps to build the infrastructure for religious coexistence in the homeland of Moses and Jesus."

This is very important. It shows a real opening in dialogue between Israelis and Syrians. It shows potential. Al Danadal, who says he is not just a one man voice but rather the voice of many people is bemoaning the fact that there was no diplomatic movement to normalize relations with Syria as there was with Egypt - and he is hoping that that normalization can still be brought into play.

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Tensions Btw Iran and Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 13, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia just got worse. Of course - like always, it is all about the Shiite Sunni conflict.

In this latest chapter of the conflict, Iranians will not be able to attend the Haj in January. Iran blames Saudi Arabia for not being able to work out the details so that, like all religious Muslims, Iranians pilgrims can make the religious trek to Mecca.

Last year during the Haj over 2000 people were trampled to death. 464 of the dead were Iranian.

Also this year, Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations with Iran.
It happened in January after Iran burned and attacked the Saudi Embassy in Teheran after the Saudis executed a Shiite religious leader.

These tensions make normalization very difficult. The two states are not allies. They are rivals for the leadership of the Islamic world. There is no way to make their interaction less contentious.

It all goes to prove, once again, that the internal conflicts of the Middle East are rooted in divisions that have nothing to do with Israel. And these tensions are not likely to be resolved.

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Israel Strikes Oil
By Micah Halpern

Thursday may 12, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

They struck oil in Israel. You know ... black gold, Texas tea.

Oil not gas.

Gas has been in the news a lot lately, mostly due to the huge reserves discovered and now being tapped in the Mediterranean Sea.

But now we're talking about oil. A group of companies have partnered together in order to pump the new found oil.

The oil was found near the Dead Sea in a place called Marimur. It was discovered by the same group that first discovered oil in Halamish in 1995 and is located very nearby.

Ever since 1995 there was believed to be a small but significant oil reserve at that spot. At the time, the low price of oil helped the owners' investors make the decision not to drill.

But now, despite the low price of oil, things might be different.

This is very big news.

It will not make Israel a large oil producer or even exporter--- but it will put her on the oil producing map.

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Muslim Terror Strikes in Munich
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 11, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

He shouted Alahu Akbar-- Allah is Great in Arabic - as he stabbed four people on a train platform 20 miles east of Munich in Germany.

One of those stabbed died from his wounds. It all took place just before 5 AM as people were commuting to work early on Tuesday morning.

It is hard not to call this Islamic terror. And yet, people are calling the terrorist crazy or psychotic deranged. They say he was talking drivel when apprehended by the police.

People are making excuses for this act of terror.

Europeans are looking for reasons. Was this man brainwashed or encouraged by a radical Islamic group? Was he a member? They will search his computer to see if he was part of the now infamous, loosely linked, cyber community that supports ISIS. A community you do not join or sign up for - all you do is click on and watch, read and write about radical Islam.

It does not matter if the terrorist was officially part of an established organization. The current hi tech world of ISIS stimulates lone wolves and very small units to act on their own.

If he was just a kook, he would not have been shouting Allah is Great as he stabbed people. People who stab other people and shout out Alahu Akbar are Muslim terrorists.

Period, end.

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Prof Thought to be Terrorists b/c of Math
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 10, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Imagine you were doing a complicated differential equation while sitting on a plane. You scribble away and your seat mate thinks you are plotting in Arabic and planning a terror attack.

Well, that is exactly what happened on an American Airlines flight flying from Philadelphia to Syracuse.

The person doing the math was a world renowned math professor from the University of Pennsylvania who on his way to give a lecture on math. His name is Guido Menzio and he is originally from Italy. Was he surprised.

The humor cannot be lost. The person who reported the "math attack" asked to get off the plane claiming that she was ill. But once she deplaned, she said the real reason was her seatmate's scribbles.

What is shocking is that this entire non-incident could not be dealt with quickly and dismissed. Instead, the flight was delayed two hours.

This is a no brainer. Actually, all you need to do is use your brain and you would know that this was not a terror threat.

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ISIS Attacks Cairo - Kills 8 Police
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 9, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS attacked and killed 8 Egyptian police in Cairo yesterday.

The ISIS terrorists attacked a minibus filled with police, including an officer. They killed everyone inside the vehicle and stole their weapons before running off.

ISIS has claimed responsibility.

ISIS has long been active in the Sinai and now they have expanded to the northern Sinai. While they have attacked in the cities several times before, it has not been a regular occurrence. Their style in cities until now has been small attacks or explosions - not massive attacks against large numbers of police. This attack is a watershed event.

Over the past few months Egypt has been clamping down on the expansion of extremists, especially trying to stop ISIS. Egyptian fears are real and not imagined. They walk a very thin line when it comes to cracking down on freedoms and Egypt's extremists are using those freedoms to organize and to popularize their particular points of view.

Egypt understands the potential risks.

Yesterday's ISIS attack in Cairo - and not in the Sinai, proves just how important it is to keep the pressure up against ISIS.

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Muslim Mayor of London - Not an Anti Semite
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 8, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Sadiq Khan assumed his new job as mayor of London Saturday. Khan is a Muslim, his parents and grandparents came to England from Pakistan just before he was born. Khan's election was filled with tension.

On Sunday his first full day in office in his first official act, Khan, went to the National Holocaust commemoration in London.

This was a very important gesture for unity and it dispelled any feeling that people might have that Khan holds the same feeling towards Jews as does Ken Livingston, a former Labour party London mayor who was removed from the Labour party for making statements comparing Israel and Hitler. (Actually, on Sunday, Livingston said that it would have been better had Israel not been created.)

In a previous position, Khan headed Ed Miliband's successful election team and that thrust him into politics. It should e noted that Miliband and his twin brother, both important British political Labour leaders, come from and continue to be active and proud Jews.

While Khan is undeniably Muslim, it is clear that he does not toe the Muslim line. There was even a fatwa (a religious edict) pronounced against him because of his support of same sex marriage.

Britain's Labour pary has its fair share of anti-Semites. And they are getting more and more obnoxious. But I do not see Khan as one of them. Actually, I would guess that a trip to Israel is the works -- even by the end of this summer.

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Hamas Needs to Decide
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 6, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are shooting mortars from Gaza into Israel.

The mortar attacks are a direct result of Israel's discovery of another underground terror tunnel.

The logic works like this: Israel is searching for tunnels and Hamas is shooting at them to slow the search process down.

It is clear that Hamas and Israel do not want the situation to escalate into a war. But Hamas has a serious question to answer.

Because Israel is searching and has found two tunnels within ten days, Hamas is in danger of losing one of its most effective weapons.
Should Hamas abandon the weapon, or will they use it as they can in order to attack Israel before they lose it totally.

The reason Hamas does not want this to escalate is because they are not prepared for an all out conflict similar to the conflict of two summers ago. So Hamas is taking the middle position. They are hitting Israel and hoping not to escalate.

Israel struck back with their air force. Thus far this is not a significant change in the status quo. But it is a balancing act.

Hamas is counting on knowing the proper calculus - one that will not break the paradigm. If Hamas pushes too hard, it could force Israel's hand. And Hamas fully understands that.

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Iran Threatens to Close Hormuz
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 5, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Rhetoric between Iran and the US is ratcheting higher.

On Monday the Iranian Supreme Leader called attention to US naval activity in the Straits of Hormuz. He reminded the world that Iran controls the Straits and the United States is permitted there only by Iranian largesse.

And yesterday, the deputy head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard announced on Iranian national television that if the United States continues it aggression against Iran --- Iran will close the Straits to the US and her allies.

Them's fighting words.

One third of the world's oil passes through the Straits every day.

I cannot determine if this rhetoric is the onset of new tensions between the United States and Iran or if it is a revival of old tensions.

What I can say is that Iran is speaking very boldly.

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