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Israel Has New Tech to Discover Tunnels
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Ever wonder how Israel discovered not one but two terror tunnels crossing from Gaza into their sovereign land? The tunnels opened up well within Israel and were designed to enable Hamas and Islamic Jihad access in attacking Israelis and kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

Israel discovered the tunnels by using their new very unique technology. The system is called "the lab."

The lab harnesses human intelligence, scientific brain power, computers and other machinery and guides users to uncover tunnels. The lab uses an algorithm that literally takes all the guess work out of finding tunnels.

This is the first time In history that a mechanism has been developed to discover tunnels. It is pure math and science. In other words, the lab actually has done the impossible - it finds something that until now was undetectable.

Hamas is dumbfounded. . The lab is top secret. But it is certainly working. This new defense, when applied in full operation, will effectively protect Israel and destroy one of Hamas' most effective and aggressive weapons. There is no reason it cannot be used to discover Hezbollah's tunnels, too.

Hamas may be forced to prematurely use their incomplete tunnels to attack Israel before the tunnels are discovered. It is a risk Israel faces, but an unlikely one. Hamas does not want to escalate tensions with Israel at this time. But neither can they afford to just loose their investment in their tunnels. It is an issue of pride as well as money.

Given the effectiveness of the lab, Hamas will have to either ratchet up their tunnel use or throw in the towel and abandon it totally.

I predict Hamas will try one more time with their tunnels and then scrap tunnel warfare completely.

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Putin Spent the Day in the Mideast
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Putin spent yesterday in the Middle East. His first stop was Syria where he met with Assad and proclaimed victory over ISIS.

Then he flew to Cairo for important meetings with al Sisi. Along with their discussions, they signed an agreement to resume commercial flights between Russia and Egypt. Russia had cancelled all flights to Egypt after ISIS blew up a Russian charter plane as it reached altitude after taking off from a Sinai airport.

Putin ended the day in Turkey. There, he lashed out at Trump and the United States for the decision to recognize Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Putin said that this decision will derail any chance of a mutual Israel Palestinian agreement.

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Israel Destroys Another Terror Tunnel
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel destroyed a terror tunnel this weekend. The tunnel started in Gaza, crossed under the Israeli border and ended up several hundred yards into an Israeli agricultural area.

The tunnel was discovered almost two weeks ago and Israel has been monitoring all activities until they destroyed it. There was no one inside.

This tunnel is the second tunnel in a month that was destroyed. The previous tunnel was built by Islamic Jihad.

There were no weapons in the tunnel and it was destroyed very differently than others. It was not hit by missiles from the air but collapsed by ground equipment.

It appears that Hamas was aware that the tunnel was discovered because there was no real usage of the tunnel during the time that it was being monitored.

Only minutes before Israel destroyed the tunnel, Hamas made an announcement that Israel would pay a heavy price for their actions. The Hamas message said that Israel will soon be taught a lesson.

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Putin To Visit Egypt Ahead of Pence
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump on Jerusalem -- Some Agreed
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump Announces Jerusalem is the Capital
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Egypt Hitting Back at ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

Few countries have suffered as much as Egypt.

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

Monday December 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Saudis Attack Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Sending Ships to Gulf of Mexico
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamas Delays Gaza Turnover
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

This is a big bone of contention.

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

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

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

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Lebanon Claims Gal Gadot Mossad Agent
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This is a story for the history books.

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

It all sounds like a Ken Follett spy novel.

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

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

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

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Uber Shut Down in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Uber is no longer permitted to operate in Israel.

There are two reasons for that decision.

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

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

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

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

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

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ISIS Warned Egyptian Town
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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Arab Anti Terror Alliance
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ISIS Beheads 15 of their Own
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS beheaded 15 of its own members yesterday in Afghanistan.

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

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

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

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

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Saudi Officials Visit Synagogue
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Here's an exclusive from the Jerusalem Post.

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

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

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

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

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Important Phone Calls
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Ancient Torah Scroll in Turkey Confiscated
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

The provenance of torah scrolls can be tricky.

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

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

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Israel's Contacts w Muslim Countries
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Farrakhan: There are Some Good Jews
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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German Court Bans Israelis from Kuwaiti Air
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday November 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Russia Says US Protecting ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

Obviously, the Russians are exaggerating.

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

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Israel Refuses Entry to BDS Politicians
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

Good for Israel.

Wise decision.

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Increased Tensions in MIddle East
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

We will see what happens next.

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Bahrain Pipeline hit by Terror
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Syria Claims Victory Over ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PA Says Hamas Must Disarm
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Morocco Retracts Israel Judo Team's Visas
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

We will continue to monitor these events.

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

Tuesday November 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

This story isn't over.

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US Strikes Somalia
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dutch Supplied Nuke Tech to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Iran Calls US Their #1 Enemy
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Putin Visits Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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Terror in NYC
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

There should be no doubt that this was terror.

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

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

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

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

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

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World Court Against Israel's Female Bias
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Pres Turned Down Meet w Trump
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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


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Bubbe Videos Are Funny
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Watch Bubbe ask you to call.

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

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


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

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

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

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Russia Seals Arms Deal w Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

This deal can be worth billions per year.

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

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

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

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

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


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Pence to Visit Israel & Egypt in Dec
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MD Gov Says No to BDS
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland is a perfect example.

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

Kudos to Governor Hogan.


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Rouhani Says Iran Expanding Role in Region
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Egypt Attacked by ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

We will uncover the details of what happened soon enough.

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

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No Israeli Emblems in Judo Match
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Sounds like good news? Nope!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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HAMAS Will Not Disarm
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

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

Hamas says, in essence, no way.

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

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

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

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Israel Will Feed the Birds
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

The reasons are clear.

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

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

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

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

Hopefully, this will work.

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Islamists Attack Church & Rob Bank in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt was hit by another Islamic attack yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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Syria Wants Turkey Out
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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ISIS Attacking Egyptian Targets
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

Egypt needs to shut down ISIS.

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Russia's Def Min To Visit Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

Much is at stake.

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

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

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

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Belgium Pulls out f Palestinian Aid Projects
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Threatens the US Over Terror Designation
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

This designation will cut into the Guard's purse.

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

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

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

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Hezbollah Says US Suporting ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

Nasrallah made the statement during a TV presentation.

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

This is an exaggeration, it is also a mistake

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

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

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

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Turkey Cross in to Syria to Clear Idlib
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

And then Turkey began bombing Idlib.

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

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

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

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

But that is just a matter of time.

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Iran Bans Woman for Not Wearing Hijab
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Squeezes Kurds
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

That means no Iranian diesel to the Kurdish area.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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ISIS is Marching Back in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:


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

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

Al Qaryatayn was taken in a surprise attack.

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

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

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Putin Visits Turkey Agree on Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Understanding Kim Jung and Trump
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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PA Calls Terrorist a Hero
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Increasing Oil Exports
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Russian Def Min To Visit Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Heavy weapons will also be a very important topic.

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

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

Sunday September 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel Downs Iranian Drone
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Drone parts were found scattered in the area of Qunetra.

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

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

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

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UN Head Against Kurd Vote
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Snapchat Shut Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Snapchat shuttered its portal to Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia.

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

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

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

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

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Turkey & ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September, 17,2017

I've Been Thinking:

Turkey arrested 74 people on charges of being ISIS members.

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

The local Turk was being interrogated.

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

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

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

Friday September 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran & Turkey to Get Part of Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

The main points of this agreement are frighteningly problematic.

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

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

And Russia will be pulling all the strings.

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Saudis Bust ISIS Terror Cell
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

Two native Saudis were also arrested.

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

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

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

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Conference w Israel and Muslims Postponed
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Russia and Saudis Agree to Safe Zones
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Saudis To Reduce Oil Output
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

Even exports to the United States will be cut.

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

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

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Hitler Bell in Germany
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A small town in Germany still has a Hitler Bell.

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

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

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

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

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

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Godiva Becomes Muslim
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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35,000 Radical Muslims in England
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Putin Meets Xi about N Korea
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 3, 2017

I've Been thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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IAEA Says Iran Is Following Nuke Deal
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Looks like Iran is following the nuke deal.

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

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

This is important news.

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

And they say that everything is A-OK.

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US Craters ISIS as the Retreat
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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ISIS Ousted from Leb/Syria Border
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saudis Sign $70B Deal w China
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Imprison Leaders Who Liberalize Islam
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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California Leads US in Anti-Semitism
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

The numbers and the examples come from the ADL.

This does not bode well.

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

Friday August 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On September 25th the entire Middle East might explode.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel Revokes Citizenship of ISIS Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Iran Makes Nuke Counter Move
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Russia Strikes ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday August 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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ISIS Celebrates Terror in Barcelona
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is dangerous stuff.

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ISIS Attack Hamas in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

The terrorists were probably wearing explosive suicide vests.

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

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Hamas Warns Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Abbas Sends Blessing to Kim Jon Un
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Convicted For Defrauding ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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US Kills More ISIS Leaders
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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


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Iran May Be Forced Out of World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday August 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

They called it Jihad.

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

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

ISIS means business.

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Israel Extradited Jewish Murderer of Arab
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This is a remarkable story.

Yehoshua Elitzur has been extradited from Brazil to Israel.

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

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

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

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

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Pushing ISIS out of Syria & Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamas Drones
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamas in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A senior Hamas delegation arrived in Iran on Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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Iranian Granted Asylum from Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shin Bet Finds Hamas $ Trail
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday August 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

The debate going on now is intense.

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

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

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There is No Solution
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 2, 2017
I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Actually, Kushner's insight is refreshing.

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

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

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


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PA Trying to Cancel Israel Africa Summit
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Qatar Says - Internationalize Muslim Sites
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 31, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

Qatar took a dramatic swipe at Saudi Arabia.

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

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

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

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

These tensions will continue to fester.

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Abbas Refuses to Meet w US Envoy
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arab League Warn Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

He continued:

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

And then:

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

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

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PA is Calling for Violent Attacks on Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel is not going away.

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Tensions Continue Despite Removal of Metal Detectors
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:


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

Here's why.

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

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

But that is not the essential point.

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

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

And that's the crux of the issue.

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Israel Jordan Rift Resolves
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once all this happens, tensions will melt away.


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Israel Embassy Attacked in Jordan
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

The terrorists were killed. An Israeli was wounded.

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

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

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

The Jordanians are walking a tightrope.

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Tensions Increasing - Not Yet an Intifada
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

Three Palestinian youths were killed during Friday's rioting.

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

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

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

Tensions will only continue to escalate.


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Kuwait Expells Iranian Ambassador
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

This is all the result of a spy scandal.

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

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

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

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

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Iran Threatens US Over Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time will tell.


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More Sanctions on Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

Another group has been involved in stealing US software.

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

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Imam in Montreal Calls to Kill Jews
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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


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Arab Leaders Condemn Terror: Local Leaders Embrace
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This is essential to understand.

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

This should not surprise anyone.

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

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

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


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Arab Leaders Mostly Silent about Al Aqsa
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Cartoons are very telling.

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

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

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

The commentary is clear.

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

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

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

Friday July 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bastille Day & Trump
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gulf States Continue to Pressure Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Opens Tenders for Oil Exploration
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

This is a very important move for Iran.

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

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

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

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

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


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Sisi Accepts 2 State Solution
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

This is a tremendous step forward.

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

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

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

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Bibi Takes a Phone Call
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

The call was from Putin.

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

Foreign diplomacy at its best!


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ISIS Not a Cyber Threat
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Misspelled Terrorism on the Memorial
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Israeli Hospitals Hit by Cyber Attack
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Anti Trump Cartoon Competition
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Remember Iran's cartoon competition about the Holocaust?

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

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

First prize is $1500.

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

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

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

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Assad on New Bank Note
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Syria is printing a 2,000 pound bank note.

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

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

The banknote went into circulation on Sunday.

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

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

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Indian PM To Visit Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran is the Hottest Spot on Earth
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Hamas Creating Buffer w Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Now Selling Gas to Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Israel US Cyber Terror Pact
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Defends Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a public defense of Qatar.

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

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

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

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

Now Iran is now coming to their defense.

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Assad Visits Leaves Enclave for Hama
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

This is a telling and important move.

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

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

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PA Justifies Paying Terrrorists
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

We have reached an impasse.

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

There is no excuse for murder.

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

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

Thursday June 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why Israel Saves Syrians
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Iran Explains Missiles & Warns Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran & China Conduct War Games
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BBC False Headline Doesn't Say Terror
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

The story line is upside down.

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

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

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

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

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ISIS on Israel's Border
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remember Tora Bora
By Micah Halpern

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Remember Tora Bora?

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

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

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

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

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

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Indonesia Admits ISIS is All Over
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Hamas in Egypt Mending Ties
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This meeting is an attempt to bridge that gap too.

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Hamas is Pushing For Escalation
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

And it is happening right now.

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

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

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

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

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Confilcting Messages from Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

This is a huge issue.

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

This is a classic move by the Palestinians.

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

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

Friday June 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Kurds To Vote on Statehood in Sept
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

This is a huge move.

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

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

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

The tide might be turning.

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Israeli Police Raid Bomb Factory
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Oil Prices Slip
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

So why has it dropped?

Two reasons.

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

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

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Russia & Saudis Agree on Oil deal
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A very special meeting took place recently in Saudi Arabia. Head of the Russia oil company Rosneft Igor, Sechin met with his counterpart Amin Nasser, the head of Saudi oil company Aramco.

This was their very first official meeting. In the past these two powerhouses of oil have spoken - because they were often at the conferences and meetings together, but this was different.

They met in order to develop a working plan to provide oil to Asian markets, especially Indonesia and India.

The idea is that these two mega oil producers work together and not compete to deliver energy to an area of the world in dire need of oil.

It will be a very good investment for them and, because the demand is so high in that part of the world, it will insulate them both from damage should the price of oil drop.

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ISIS Calls for Terror During Ramadan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS has been calling for vehicle attacks for several years. They are not alone.

Terrorist leaders across the globe - especially in Gaza and the West Bank, have called for using vehicles as a weapon for a long time.

Even Imams preach about the use of cars, trucks and knives to attack innocent people.

Now that Ramadan has begun ISIS has picked up their messaging.
ISIS has posted videos and other messages - including a poster sized message posted across the internet, imploring people to "kill the citizens of the Crusaders."

The message written in black, also reads "run over them with vehicles." In yellow, in parenthesis, they added (Gain Benefit from Ramadan).

Under that slogan there are pictures of a gun, a knife and a truck with the English words, written in red, next to each item.

At the very bottom of the poster is a translation of all the slogans into Arabic.

ISIS is calling for more terror - take them at their word and expect more, especially in Western Europe.

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A/S in Mt Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The pine cones spelled out words "KILL THE JEWS". And then there was a swastika for added emphasis.

This hateful message was laid out on the retaining wall at a school crosswalk for everyone to see in the beautiful, picturesque, affluent, Pittsburgh suburb of Mt Lebanon.

It was not the first or the second incident of this nature in that neighborhood. A few months ago the girls' bathroom in a local high school was defaced with a similar graffiti message and swastika and the same thing happened at a local playground.

The corner on which the pine cones were arranged is a popular spot for messages. The school crossing often arranges pleasant messages for the children going to school. "HAVE A NICE DAY" is the most common message --- not one of hate.

The house on the corner is up for sale and, for now, no one is living there. The message was discovered at 6:30 AM. After snapping a picture and calling the police, someone transformed the word KILL to LOVE.

This anti-Semitic sentiment is certainly not shared by everyone in the neighborhood. The vast majority of the residents do not, in any way, subscribe to it. The problem is that some hateful person or group of teens in Mt Lebanon is scrawling messages of hate for all to see.

The culprit or culprits need to be apprehended and punished.

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Kuwaiti Arab Anti Terror Vieo Goes Viral
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

An anti-terror YouTube video has gone viral. This is the first time anything like this has happened - the 3 minute and 11 second video was made by a Kuwaiti telecom company named Zain.

In just a few days 2.4 million people had watched the video.
Zain, the telecommunication company is actually a regional mobile operator with more than 45 million customers.

Through the voice of a young girl, the video proclaims: "You've filled the cemeteries with our children and emptied our school desks."

The video is an ad that takes a stand against terror.

The song sung in the video contains the following lines: "Worship your God with love, with love not terror." And, "Be tender in your faith, gentle not harsh. Confront your enemy, with peace not war."

This video depicts victims of terror. It implores a terrorist, who made a suicide bombers belt which he wears throughout the video, to stop the murder and embrace a different understanding of Islam.

This video ad is very impressive. So is the response it has received.

Watch the video:


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Trump Yelled at Abbas
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Channel 2 News in Israel is reporting that US President Trump yelled at Palestinian President Abbas when they met in Bethlehem.

The quote, as reported in the original Hebrew, went like this: "You lied to me in Washington when you talked about commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me you were personally responsible for incitement."

The Palestinians deny that there was any shouting and maintain that the conversation was peaceful and productive.

I would venture to say that Trump really did say those words, but in a civil - not loud and lecturing - tone. Both versions are correct and both are incorrect. One version is exaggerating the issue, the other is minimizing it.

Suffice it to say that President Trump is not happy that official PA media sites and networks are still inciting terror and that the PA is still paying regular salaries to the families of suicide bomber and the families of terrorists in Israeli prisons.

Just this weekend Norway went ballistic when they discovered that money they gave for a women's center in the West Bank town of Burka, located north of Nablus, was being named for Dalal Mughrabi, a female terrorist who participated in the massacre of 37 Israelis on the Coastal Road in 1978.

Norway has asked the PA to give their money back.

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Iran Leader Attacks Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lashed out at Saudi Arabia. The Ayatollah said that the Saudis are being used and exploited by the Americans and hurting the Muslim people and all of Islam.

The exact expression he used was that the Saudis are "being cow milked" by the infidel Americans.

The Supreme Leader delivered these rebukes to Saudi Arabia as he marked the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

He said: "These people [the Saudis] appear to believe in the Holy Quran... but in practice they act against its teachings."

"They are close with the infidels and offer the enemy the money they should be using to improve the lives of their own people." He said "The stupid Saudi government thinks it can attract the friendship of enemies by giving them money."

"But in reality there is no closeness and, as the Americans have said, they are just there to pump them for money like a milking cow, and later slaughter them." Khamenei added that host of Islam holy sites is Saudi Arabia and they are "cruel toward believers and kind toward pagans."

The critique is not surprising - but with these remarks, the Supreme Leader raised the level of tension and hatred and that in itself very powerful, significant and certainly noteworthy.


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Iran's Plan
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is extremely hopeful that their recent election will bring in new investments.

Iranians feel that the election signaled that Iran as a whole - and reelected President Hassan Rouhani in particular, will ramp up the moves that will open Iran and allow for interaction with the West.

Iran is working hard to improve oil production to 5 million barrels a day. With their expanded output Iran has become the third largest oil producer in OPEC.

Iran is actively courting industry and corporations and sweetening the pot for those interested in investments and trade.

Iran's real hope is that the increased output will provide the much needed money that will enable them to buy whatever they need and build whatever they want.

Iran is moving closer to their goal - and that means there is real danger on the horizon.

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What To Do About those Who Celebrate Terror
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday's lead editorial in The New York Times condemned the terror in Manchester.

The conclusion they came to is that worldwide unity needs to be the main strategy for confronting terror.

Quoting the editorial: "That spirit should bring together all citizens, all countries, who---whatever their faith or birthplace---grieve for the innocents cut down Monday night in Manchester."

This is a valiant idea. Uniting those around the world who condemn attacks and mourn victims is a major step.

But there's a problem. What about those who celebrate the deaths. What do you do about the serious percentage of the population who applaud acts of terror.

Until we come up with a real plan to confront the threat of terror, terror will continue for years to come.


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PA Media Calls Israeli Reception was Immature
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian media is taking pride in their high class behavior and in the way in which they received President Trump in Bethlehem.

In contrast to their behavior, on Palestinian TV the press spoke about how the Israelis were childish and immature in the way they received Trump at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israeli member of Knesset Oren Hassan took a selfie with the president. Then Israel's minister of security, Gilad Erdan, told the president that the terror attack which had just been perpetrated was actually a traffic accident. Erdan wanted to show off - but did not have all the information. The truth became clear a few minutes later.

The Palestinians explained that their reception for the US president in Bethlehem was dignified and classy and showcased the great tradition of Palestinian Arab culture of hospitality.

The Israelis, they said, were childish.

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No Direct Flight From Saudi Arabia to Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The maiden Trump Presidential Trip has, so far, been a success.

Here's an interesting tidbit that has not been covered.

On Monday morning, when the US president departed Riyadh, his plane traveled directly to Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.

However, everyone accompanying the president in planes that would normally follow the president, did not make that same direct, non-stop flight, from Saudi Arabia to Israel.

That's because no planes - other than the US president's plane - can travel directly between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Everyone else made a short stop in Cyprus. They just touched down and took off.

Progress, when it comes to diplomacy, can be slow moving.

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Trump's Trip-- A Deal is Coming
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

President Trump's trip to Israel and visit with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is already a success.

Abbas has declared that he is interested in talks with Israel and will return to the table.

Trump's meeting in Saudi Arabia with Arab and Muslim leaders also gave the US president - and by extension all of us, as well - new reason for hope in two very important fields. President Trump saw the Arab world's willingness to accept Israel and their motivation to destroy ISIS and other extremist groups.

Now the real challenge emerges.

How does the transition from the idea to a reality get under way?
How do you get the parties to actually work together and create a deal.

Previous US leaders have gotten the parties to talk, but getting them to move beyond talking has always been where it all broke down.


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Iran Votes in Liberal
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has voted - and voted with gusto.

Incumbent Rouhani defeated all other candidates with a resounding victory, garnering a significant 57% of the vote, leaving the other four candidates in the dust.

Ebrahim Raisi, the most serious of all contenders for the position of president of Iran, was far more conservative and representative of a point of view more in line with the style of past president Ahmadinejad than of Rouhani.

Clearly, hands down, Iranian masses rejected that direction. The people of Iran signified that they want to continue down the path of reaching out and embracing the world as opposed to snubbing and spiting on the world.

Rouhani tweeted a message to Iranians - even though twitter is outlawed in Iran. Many, many people, especially young Iranians, follow twitter by getting around the block.

His tweet read: "Great nation of Iran, you are the winner of the election. I humbly bow down before you. I will remain loyal to my promises to you."

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Saudis Say They Don't Mind Sharing Intel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Thursday, the same day that the Justice Department announced that a special counsel would investigate the "Russian Connection" to the Trump campaign, a very interesting - and supportive, comment was made by a very surprising individual.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir defended Trump with regard to sharing intelligence with Russia.

Jubeir, who will be meeting with Trump next week when the US president visits Saudi Arabia, said that President Trump can certainly discuss intelligence with Russia during a White House meeting last week. He said that the US president had an "absolute right" to share "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety."

He said: "We share a very, very large amount of intelligence with the United States and vice versa," "We have had no hesitation about doing so and we will not have any hesitation about continuing to do so."

Appointing former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate action taken by the Trump team during the campaign has little - and yet everything - to do with the Saudi statement.

The Saudis are saying: let's get serious and let's act like adults. They are saying: enough already, there is serious business at hand, let's get to the real problems we face and not waste time on games and name calling.

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Elections in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:


Presidential elections in Iran take place tomorrow - Friday. While there are six candidates running for office, only two of them count.

The two contenders to watch in this election are:

#1: the incumbent, current moderate president of Iran, 68 year old Hassan Rouhani

#2: his arch rival, 56 year old staunch conservative Ebrahim Raisi

Terms like "moderate" and "conservative" are relative and not very helpful when they are attached to Iran, but the terms do, at least, put the two candidates on a continuum.

Rouhani's party is actually called the Moderation Party. Raisi seems to be more in line with the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Grand Ayatollah. To date, the Supreme Leader has not endorsed either candidate.

Iran is not really a democracy. The Grand Ayatollah holds all the power, but he cedes much authority to the president who seems to be elected by a popular vote.

So the real question is whether Rouhani's openness to the West - which is what brought down the sanctions -- is more powerful than the conservative Raisi’s point of view which is to spit in the eye of the West and have Iran do whatever Iran must do.

Has the relief caused by lifting the sanctions been good enough? Or has Iran suffered because of the openness?

History is on Rouhani's side. No incumbent has ever lost an election in modern Iran since 1981. But you never know.


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Al-Bashir Invited to Trump Meeting
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia has thrown a monkey wrench into the Trump visit.

It seems that Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has been invited to the meeting with Trump and 50 Muslim leaders from the Middle East, Africa and Asia scheduled for this coming Sunday.

Al Bashir is wanted by the International Court for Human Rights in the Hague for war crimes, mass murder and massacres in Darfur during the civil war there.

It will be a major problem for US President Trump to speak to and be greeted by a group that includes a war criminal.

Trump cannot be present in the same room as al Bashir. I look forward to seeing how this plays out. Will the Saudis un-invite al Bashir or will President Trump demure and back out of the meeting? My money is on dumping al Bashir.

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US Officials Say Western Wall Not In Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There are reports of tensions being high - even explosive, between Israel and the Trump team, all revolving around the upcoming Trump trip to Israel. There are many issues to be resolved. Included among them are protocols and what is required of every visiting head of state.

Most troubling of all is that during a preparation meeting for the US President's trip to Jerusalem, the Israelis were unceremoniously told to leave during the Trump team's field trip to the Western Wall.

According to the reports the team from the US embassy told the Israelis that they must leave the Western Wall area which, they explained, is not in Israel - it's the West Bank.

The two American embassy diplomats said "We're asking you to leave, and we need to be left alone. Israeli officials cannot be here; this is not your territory, it's the West Bank. This is a private visit by the President and has nothing to do with you. It's none of your business."

To make it clear this was all about planning President Trump's trip to the Wall. Which these US officials say is not "Israeli territory."

And that's not all.

The US team gave Israel an ultimatum - either Trump visits the Holocaust Memorial called Yad Vashem or he has a visit with President Rivlin at the presidential residence. In the end Trump will do both, but it looks like the visit to Yad Vashem will be just 15 minutes long.

There is also a dispute over Masada. Netanyahu wants to speak on the mountain top for seven minutes and make the visit to Masada the center piece of the Trump visit. That was not part of the original Trump plan.

In the end, it will all be resolved. Even planning a trip requires diplomacy.

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$300 Bill Weapons Deal for Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Trump foreign policy is moving so quickly it is hard to keep track.

The US and Saudi Arabia are finalizing an arms deal worth over a $100 billion, a deal that could be worth over $300 billion during the course of the next 10 years.

The deal includes fighter jets, naval ships and much more.

This deal will be inked on the eve of President Trump's May 19th arrival in Saudi Arabia. It will be his first, official, foreign, state visit of his presidency.

A White House official has assured everyone that this deal will not challenge Israel's qualitative edge in the region. He said: "It's good for the American economy but it will also be good in terms of building a capability that is appropriate for the challenges of the region. Israel would still maintain an edge."

Israel will be the second stop on the president's trip.

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Eurovision & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Eurovision is an international song competition. Different countries send one representative each, all vying for the title of Eurovision Winner. Finals were held in Kiev, Ukraine. The winner was Portugal.

Nearly 300 million people watched this event.

Israel made it to the finals. Of the 26 finalists, in the end Israel came out 23rd.

Imri Ziv, a 25 year old performer from Hod Hasharon, represented Israel singing a song in English called "I Feel Alive".

Over the years Israel has won the Eurovision three times. They won with performers singing the songs entitled "Halleluya," "Abani Bi", and "Diva". One British paper wrongly reported that Israel was pulling out of the competition.

Once upon a time the music was the centerpiece of the competition. Now it is about the performance and that means glitz, videos and tech.

As that old favorite goes, "The Times They Are A'Changing".

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Hezbollah Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hezbollah is making serious threats.

Yesterday Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said that in the next conflict between Israel and Hezbollah the conflict will be, not just in Lebanon, but also be in Israel.

According to Nasrallah, Israel "is scared and worried of any future confrontation ... and knows that it could be inside the occupied Palestinian territories." He continued saying "There will be no place that is out of reach of the rockets of the resistance or the boots of the resistance fighters."

The implication is that Hezbollah's rockets will strike Israel at the most populated regions in Israel. According to intelligence sources Hezbollah has amassed hundreds of thousands of rockets. Some say over 100,000, others say 200,000.

With that kind of an arsenal Hezbollah can shoot at Israel non-stop and Israel will be hard put to defend herself.

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Cyber Terrorist, Librarian Arrested in England
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Great Britain arrested a cyber terrorist named Samata Ullah, he is 34 years old.

Ullah was the cyber librarian- one stop shopping for everything you need as a terrorist. He taught anyone and everyone about missiles, bombs encryption and whatever terrorists need to know. He even hid h
is material in cuff-links.

Head of the counter terrorism squad in England Commander Dean Haydon said this about Samata Ullah:

"He was an internet terrorist. He had set up a self-help library for terrorists around the world and they were using his library.

"There was guidance on encryption, ways to avoid detection from police and security services, expert tuition around missile systems and a vast amount of propaganda.

"He was self-taught. He has accessed it online himself and compiled a lot of material and put it into his own library.

"He has created a one-stop shop for terrorists.

"In my view he was a very dangerous individual although he was operating from his bedroom.

Mr Haydon added: "Just because Ullah's activity was in the virtual world, we never underestimated how dangerous his activity was.

"He sat in his bedroom in Wales and created online content with the sole intention of aiding people who wanted to actively support Isis and avoid getting caught by the authorities.

"This is just the sort of information that may have helped people involved in planning devastating, low technical level attacks on crowded places as we have seen in other cities across the world."

Samata Ullah was arrested in September with the help of the Kenyan police who told British police about him. The information has only been released now.

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Israel's New Cyber Unit to Protect Children
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel introduced a new police bureau yesterday. It is a special investigation and response unit for cyber crimes against minors. This unit will focus on cyber bullying and sexual abuse.

The stats on cyber crime in Israel are devastating.

One out of every four Israeli children has been subjected to humiliation, shaming and online bullying.

One in every five children Israeli children has been sexually solicited on line.

As if that was not bad enough - one in every ten children Israeli child has been sexually harassed, blackmailed or had their identities stolen while on line.

The new unit will have 100 investigators and will have a 24 hour hot line. Minors will be able to dial 105 and report an attack, an abuse, or any form of cyber bullying.

This unit has been in the planning stages for several years. Now it will be a reality.

It is essential that this cyber crime wave against minors in Israel be brought to an end. It is essential that Israeli police crack down and stop this cyber abuse. The children of Israel must be protected.

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Iran Tests Torpedo in Straits of Hormuz
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday Iran tested a new torpedo - a high speed torpedo.

The Iranian missile was tested in the Straits of Hormuz, totally within Iranian water. No international protocols were violated.

The missile is called the Hoot, it travels 250 miles per hour with a range of 6 miles.

The West, understandably worried, is watching the Hoot very closely. Remember, one third of the world's oil travels through the Straits of Hormuz every day.

This torpedo test is another example of Iran flexing its muscles in the Straits. The West knows well that they are held captive by Iran in this enormously strategic and essential waterway.

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US Weapons in Kurdish Hands
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday the Military Times reported that US weapons are being used by Kurdish fighters in Syria to fight ISIS and al Qaeda.

The Kurds are using US manufactured night-vision goggles, rifles and advanced optics.

The journal also said that Kurdish fighters are using advanced combat helmets, digital camouflage uniforms, Patagonia cold-weather attire, chest rigs that hold ammunition, body armor and first-aid kits, plus M4 rifles with various modifications, including infrared lasers used for targeting during nighttime raids.

According to the journal "American-made rifle optics and visible lasers have been provided to other Syrian rebel groups. While no particular organizations were specified, Lt. Cmdr. Lara Bollinger told Military Times that those products include a scoped optic that special operators commonly call an ELCAN, an EOTech holographic sight and the AN/PEQ 5 visible laser."

These weapons will help Kurdish fighters as they attack Raqqa. The weapons raise the quality of Kurdish fighters to the equipment level of US Army Rangers. That having been said, it is against the law to simply give sophisticated US weapons to non-US groups.

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Watch ISIS in Sinai
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

When it comes to ISIS, the Sinai Peninsula is the place to watch.

ISIS has expanded in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. They are now training there and operating against locals as well as launching attacks against other Egyptian targets. ISIS has shot missiles from the Sinai into Israel and even launched cross border attacks into Israel.

ISIS fighters attacked a family in Yamit, a village in Sinai. They murdered the mother on the spot and kidnapped her husband and two sons.

On Saturday the heads of the father and his two children were left on the street in Rafah, in Sinai. Their bodies were also found and taken to a hospital to be identified.

ISIS has been on the attack - Egypt is now fighting back.

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Went Into Labor at Justin Bieber Concert
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Justin Bieber performed in Tel Aviv to a sellout crowd. It was the talk of Israel. Not just the performance - but also, maybe even especially, the traffic jams it generated throughout Tel Aviv.

A 23 year old ultra-Orthodox woman name Reut Ziskind, from Bnei Brak, was one of the concert attendees. Of all the people in the Ganei Yehudah stadium - even though she had to leave the performance after hearing only the back-up performers - Reut probably had the most memorable experience of all.

And that's because, in the middle of the concert, Reut went into labor.

"I wasn't having contractions, so I didn't think I needed to be resting," said Ziskind.

"At first I was disappointed that I didn't get to see the show because I was going into labor, but now I am happy because I have an amazing daughter," she said.

"I'm a modern Haredi woman, so [ don't ] be surprised, there are a lot of Haredi women who like Justin Bieber. When I bought the tickets I was sure I would give birth before the concert or after it, but I never believed I would give birth during the concert. If I had had a son, I would have named him Justin, but I had a girl and we named her Hadar," said Ziskind.

This entire story illustrates an important point. Haredim do not fit easily into one stereotypical group. They are not all what they appear to be. Classic stereotypes no longer apply.

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Trump Tell Abbas Enough
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

US President Trump hosted Palestinian President Abbas yesterday. They held a press conference after their meeting. The message was hopeful.

Donald Trump believes he can bring Israel and the Palestinians together and create a deal.

The most important part of the meeting was that Trump insisted that Abbas stop inciting hatred and paying terrorists and the families of terrorists. The US president said no more naming of parks, events, schools and stadiums after terrorists. He said change the names of venues already named after terrorists.

The best paying job in all the Palestinian Authority is being a terrorist or a family member of a terrorist. They get monthly stipends and - in a macabre and evil way, there is a calculus determining how much they get. The more Jews killed the more money received. For injuring Jews, they also receive money, but less money.

Families of suicide bombers get $5,300 a year - that's four times the average salary in the PA. A wounded terrorist collects $2,655 yearly. Families of terrorists in prison receive $1,325.

Trump said enough - stop this behavior.

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Erdogan to Visit Putin Then Trump
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish President Erdogan is off on an official trip to Moscow to meet with Russia's President Putin.

The two leaders will discuss plans for dealing with Syria and for attacking terrorists. They will discuss America involvement in world affairs and especially President Trump.

Erdogan has a busy travel schedule. In addition to Putin, he is scheduled to meet with Trump in Washington next month.

Yesterday Putin and Trump spoke by phone. They spoke about Syria and North Korea. And today Palestinian President Abbas is meeting with Trump in the White House.

There are a number of important meetings and phone calls happening.

Most of the dialogue - no matter which leaders are in the conversation - focuses on the same topics.

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Israel's Big Riddle
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Today is Israel's 69th birthday.

Part of the fun and celebrations this year was a riddle.

The riddle, which was was online with multiple layers, had 90,000 people attempt to solve it in the first 48 hours. Six people have so far solved the riddle.

The riddle was created by the Israel National Security Agency, known in Hebrew simply as Shin Bet. It is a form of recruitment. Those who solve the riddle will be invited in for an interview.

It was a tool to help recruit candidates who can bolster and build the Shin Bet's high tech security and defense apparatus.

Last year Israel's Mossad provided a riddle and 20,000 people attempted to solve their problem.

Israel is using great games to attract gamers. Computer games are the foundation of the tech security world. Those who excel in gaming are good at real world games of defense.

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Iran Assassinates Media Mogul
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 1, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

An Iranian expatriate was assassinated in Istanbul Turkey recently.

Saeed Karimian was the founder and head of a satellite television network that broadcast in Persian all over the world and was even viewed in Iran through satellite dishes and the internet.

Karimian was murdered, along with a colleague, as they drove down a street in Istanbul. A jeep pulled up and blocked their path. Then two assassins with ski masks got out and murdered Karimian and his associate.

The jeep was later found abandoned and burned.

Earlier this year Karimian was convicted in Iran in absentia and sentenced to 6 years in prison. He was convicted for "acting against national security of the Islamic Republic" and "spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic."

The prime suspect in the death of Saeed Karimian is, of course, the Iranians. We will follow the investigation.


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Abbas Preps to Meet Trump
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 30, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday April 3rd, in the White House.

In preparation for the meeting Abbas met with Egypt's President al Sisi on Saturday and then on Sunday met with Jordanian King Abdullah.

Abbas hope to gain insight into Trump. He is prepping himself so that he can create a strategy to engage the American president and as well as benefit from the meeting and the relationship. Abbas feels that he is at a distinct disadvantage.

President Trump, he realizes, is clearly pro-Israel.

What Abbas does not realize is that being pro-Israel does not de facto make President Donald Trump anti-Palestinian.

Trump wants progress - not talk.

When he shut off the electricity to Hamas in Gaza, Abbas took action that will resonate with Trump. It means that Abbas has no illusions of unifying the PA with Hamas and Gaza.

That might be what Trump needs to push Israel into dialogue.

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Abbas Shuts Electricity to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas aka Abu Mazan has informed Hamas and Israel that the PA will no longer foot the bill for electricity in Gaza.

Israel provides about 30% of the electricity for Gaza - and Abbas pays for it. The payment is actually taken out of the import taxes that Israel collects at the ports of Ashdod and Haifa.

If it was Israel that decided to shut down electricity to Gaza, the world would declare them war criminals and label Israel a huge abuser of human right and would even take Israel to the Hague.

Aside from the Palestinian on Palestinian cruelty - which the world seems not to care about --- the real reasons for initiating this action is that Abbas is creating distance between the PA and Hamas. Sure, there have been stabs at unity between the PA and Hamas, but they have always failed and will continue to fail.

So why now? Why is Abbas cutting off electricity to Gaza now? Because of Donald Trump's upcoming and imminent trip to the Middle East during which the American president will push Bibi Netanyahu to begin talks with Abbas.

By lashing out against Hamas, Abbas is signaling that he might be ready talk to Israel.

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Pope to Visit Egypt on Friday
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Pope Francis will visit Egypt on Friday, he will depart on Saturday.

This is a very important visit. In Egypt Pope Francis will meet with the Coptic Pope. The two clerics have developed a relationship - they are both called Pope.

Pope Francis will also meet with other Christian leaders.

More importantly, the Pope will meet with the Islamic leader the Grand Imam and president of Azhar University, arguably the most prestigious Muslim institution in the world.

Everyone in the Middle East is aware of the symbiotic relationship between Muslims and Christians over the centuries in the region. But of late, there has been a rejection of Christians spearheaded by Muslim extremists like ISIS and al Qaeda.

These extremists have called for no meetings with Christians and even for the killing of the Christians.

Friday will be a very interesting day.

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Israel May Attack
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian press has warned Arab leadership to beware that Israel may attack them.

Specifically, Al Hayyat media has issued a warning, in the name of Jordanian monarch Abdullah, that there is a real risk. King Abdullah warned the Lebanese president and prime minister that there is a strong possibility that Israel will strike Lebanon.

Hezbollah has been on edge - waiting and preparing to make certain that if Israel attacks, they are ready with a response.

There needs to be a serious rethinking of what is happening.

Clearly, strikes are one option. But now, at this stage, other options need to be put on the table.

There is dialogue. There are negotiations. There are thoughtful resolutions. But all that is predicated on thoughtful discussion.

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Pope Should Never Speak off the Cuff
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There is a reason why the Pope does NOT traditionally speak off the cuff. But Pope Francis is different - he often speaks off the cuff and speaks from his heart --- and sometimes he mis-speaks. That can be a problem.

Most Popes in the recent past spoke only by reading prepared, vetted notes. They do not repeat themselves for fear that there may be a difference between the messages that can cause confusion.

An example of what can happen - did happen, when the Pope said that refugees today are living in concentration camps.

His exact words were: "I don't know if he managed to leave that concentration camp, because refugee camps, many of them, are of concentration because of the great number of people left there inside them."

The parallel is absurd. Nazis created work camps and death camps. They created murder camps where technology was created specifically in order to murder Jews.

Illegal immigrants and refugees cannot be portrayed as Jews in murder camps.

The Vatican is simply saying that the Pope spoke off the cuff. That is not an apology. That remark requires a real mea culpa. The Pope's comments must be explained in a proper moral and historical context.

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Iran's New Misssile
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is now outfitted with a cruise missile designed to strike ships. The new missile is called the Nassir.

The Iranian Defense Ministry tested the missile in February and the Nassir is now being sent to both ship and land batteries to augment defense against naval attacks.

What makes the Nassir unique and gives it value is neither range nor speed - it is the pride Iranian generals are feeling in their new weapon. The Nassir has counter jamming capabilities that will render it impervious to the counter defenses of the US fifth fleet.

When a missile is shot at a sophisticated target like an air craft carrier or a destroyer US counter measures are usually deployed, causing the smart bomb to miss its target and go off course or self destruct.

In the case of the Nassir - there is a counter to the counter -- and so the missile continues towards its target.

Until now it was just a question of how to better protect or hack the computer of the enemy. This missile re-codes after being hacked. It adjusts to the hack and overrides the override.

The technology of warfare has changed.

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Iranian Election
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Six candidates will be pitted against each other in the Iranian presidential election scheduled for May 19th.

The biggest news so far is that former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been barred from running for the presidency by the Council of Elders, the committee that vets - and then either approves or disapproves, each potential candidate.

The leading candidate in the race is now the incumbent, 68 year old Hassan Rouhani, the liberal leader who brought Iran out of the international doghouse.

Rouhani's biggest competition is Ibrahim Raisi who is 56 years old and a personal friend of the Grand Ayatollah. Raisi is a member of the Assembly of Experts which is the body that will select the next Grand Ayatollah.

Rounding out the list are are two reform candidates and two more conservative candidates.

But remember - this is Iran. Reform and conservative Iranians are a far cry from reform and conservative candidates of the Western world.

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Trump May Visit Saudi Arabia
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There is talk that President Trump will visit Saudi Arabia at the end of May.

With so many world leaders coming to visit President Trump in Washington, DC, this stop in Saudi Arabia will signify a very important step in cementing a partnership capable of taking on and confronting Iran, ISIS and al Qaeda.

The visit to Saudi Arabia will be an added stop in Trump's first international trip.

First stop will be Brussels for the NATO Summit on May 25th. May 26th through May 28th the president will be in Sicily for the Group of Seven Conference.

Because this is his first international diplomatic trip, Trump will be especially motivated to solve big international issues - like the diplomatic and security dilemmas he is now confronting.

Syria, Russia, Iran, ISIS and al Qaeda will be the essential questions. Trump will be sizing up his colleagues and deciding who to partner with in order to confront the huge issues that will define his presidency.

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Iran's Parade of the S-300
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian leadership just staged a huge military parade.

A highlight of the parade was a display of Iran’s new weapons - including their new S-300 Russian made anti-aircraft missile system.

The S-300 is a very capable weapon. It is a vast improvement over the Russian S-200 system that Iran has, up until now, relied on.

One of the purposes of the parade, in addition to reviving national pride, was to send out a message to Israel. The message was that Islam, and Iran in particular, intends to destroy Israel. There were floats that had pictures of Israeli flags being hit and destroyed by Muslim fists.

Israelis don't seem too concerned about the S-300s. That tells me that they already have a defense against the S-300 in place and ready to go.

That is a good sign.

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Iranian Pres Elections on May 19
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has submitted his name to run as a candidate in the Iranian presidential election scheduled to take place May 19.

There is a five day period during which candidates submit themselves and are vetted.

Submitting his name is a major power play on the part of Ahmadinejad. The Supreme Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, has already publicly forbidden Ahmadinejad from running for the position.

Ahmadinehad is staging a significant challenge to the supreme leader.

The polls put Ahmadinejad ahead of all the other potential candidates. The question is whether the vetting committee will permit him to run. The committee will need to decide if they should follow the Ayatollah or move to the even more conservative candidate Ahmadinejad.

This kind of challenge has never happened in Iran. It is pitting the extremely conservative against the even more conservative. Until now it was just assumed that the president will always be tapped by the Grand Ayatollah.

Things are changing in Iran. In a short while we will know just how much they are changing.



IDF Destroys Monument to Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The IDF destroyed has destroyed a monument erected in memory of the sixteen year old female terrorist named Bian Asila.

Asila was killed by the border patrol soldier whom she had stabbed but failed to murder at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in October 2015.

The teenager was turned into a folk hero locally and throughout Palestinian culture. Asila became a symbol of defiance. Asila represented a girl who could make a difference.

And so some people, we don't know exactly who, erected a monument to her memory.

Inscribed on the monument is a quote from the Koran that reads: "In the name of the merciful Allah, do not think that those who were killed for the sake of Allah die, but live in the midst of Allah."

This quote is one of the most important verses in the Koran. It is the Koranic line that justifies suicide terror attacks. Theses terrorists see themselves as being martyred in the name of Allah. They see their deaths not as suicide - which is forbidden in Islam, but instead as a way to elevate Allah.

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Sisi Declares State of Emergency to Defend Christians
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

After a horrific day of terror in Egypt, a day in which two Christian churches were attacked and over forty-four Christians were murdered by ISIS, Egypt has declared a state of emergency for the next three months.

President al Sisi understands just how important it is to clamp down on ISIS as they continue on their murderous rage against the Christians of Egypt. A significant change has taken place over the past month and Egypt is officially and actively working to stem the tide of violence and the murder of Christians.

In the eyes of ISIS they are perpetrating these attacks against Christians in order to galvanize Muslim support for their cause. Al Sisi realizes that he needs to step up his efforts against al Qaeda, too, in order to save Egypt from ISIS.

This is a very difficult move,

Most Muslims in the Arab world recognize the importance and the history of Christians in the Middle East. But there is also a resentment of Christians that has built up and festered over the years.

It has taken this horrific spate of mass murderous attacks against Christians in Egypt for al Sisi to begin the fight to destroy ISIS.

Hopefully, with the right effort and a lot of determination, al Sisi will, over these next three months, effectively destroy ISIS in Egypt.

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Reaction to US Strike
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

One of Newton's famous laws of gravity goes like this: For every action there is an opposite and reaction.

Apply that law to the sphere of international affairs and the equation changes a bit: For very action there is an opposite, though not always equal, reaction.

I'm referring, of course, to the US strike on Syria. We can certainly expect not one, but several responses.

Russia will pull back on cooperation with the United States - that should be clear.

The air-forces of 13 countries fly over Syrian air space. Russia is a powerful force in that air space as is the United States. It is inevitable that planes brush shoulders or even bump against another. Usually, it happens inadvertently. But then again, mid-air bumps are one certain way of reducing cooperation.

Rebel forces will be bombed by Syrian forces and by Russia forces.
Syria and Russia will use rockets and jets in order to prove to the world that the US strike did not impact the strength and power of their air force and weapons. Syria will aggressively attack their enemies and Russia will help.

They need to stem any momentum that rebel forcess may have picked up from the US strike.

This is not just tit-for tat. It is more like tit-for-tat-for-tat-for tat.

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Risks of Striking Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

We all know why President Trump sent about 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike the airbase in Syria from which Assad sent the chemical weapons that caused such death and carnage.

In US politics both sides of the aisle have come out in favor of the action.

The US action is supposed to be a message to Assad that the US will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians. This is truly a red line.

The biggest question is whether this strike will, in turn, stimulate a response that will then spiral out of control.

At this point it was a risk worth taking. The United States is isolating Syria and Iran and Hezbollah.

Other Arab states are in favor of boxing Assad in and making certain that Syria not use chemical weapons ever again.

Russian military on the ground must have known that this was going to happen. They made certain to get their advisers out of harm's way if any were present at the Syrian airbase. There is no reason to think that Russia will respond if none of their people and none of their weapons were injured in the strike.

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High Warning on Cyber Security in UK
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

England's nuclear facilities and airports have been put on high cyber security alert.

Along with other public transport networks they have been told to bolster their cyber defenses because of immediate threats.

The Telegraph media website asserted that these facilities need to improve their computer defenses because, if they don't - the entire nation will be endangered.

The obvious danger should be clear to the reader. Weaknesses in their computer systems could compromise the running of the nuclear systems. If computer security is lax in the airports and in the other transport systems, thousands of people are put at risk should there be a hack.

There is no reason for computers in these agencies to be susceptible. Too many lives are at risk. Excuses just don't cut it.

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Theresa May Didn't Cover Head in Saudi Arabia
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May visited Saudi Arabia on an official visit. The agenda of the talks has not driven the news cycle in Great Britain - a sidebar item has captured the country's attention instead.

The focus of the attention centers on May's decided not to cover her hair while on the visit. Saudi Arabia has very specific diplomatic protocols for women. Modest dress and head covering is par for the course.

May was taking a stand but she was not the first woman to abstain from covering her hair.

In 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Saudi Arabia with her husband the president. Not only was her head uncovered, she also shook hands with Saudi leadership. The shaking of hands is a real no-no in Islamic protocol. Men and women do not touch in public.

In 2012 Hillary Clinton was US secretary of state and her head was not covered. Condi Rice the Bush secretary of state did the same.

In 2007 first lady Barbara Bush was in Saudi Arabia and her head was uncovered during the first part of the trip. Later, she did cover her hair.

Finally, when Angela Merkel of Germany visited Saudi Arabia in 2010, she, too, did not cover her hair.

My suggestion is that British press spend time on the talks between their prime minister and the Saudi leadership. Some very important progress is happening on trade - and most importantly, on the fight against ISIS and other Muslim terrorist groups.

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Father of Kid who called Bomb Threats Says Sorry
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The father of the Israeli-American who called in many of the bomb threats that terrorized American - and parts of world - Jewry, apologized for his son's actions. His son called in bomb threats to US, Canadian, Australian and even New Zealand schools and Jewish community centers.

The father said that his son did not mean to hurt or harm anyone or make anyone afraid. The father said the son had no idea of the impact his calls were having. He, like his wife, the boy's mother, blamed the behavior on their son's brain tumor and his autism.

We know the name of the young man - it is Michael Kedar, but Israeli police has put a gag order on publishing his name.

Israeli police has also forbidden publishing an image of his face, so for now all the coverage only mentions him as M and his face is shaded. The decision by the censor is only good until the details are published by an international agency. The moment after that happens, the Israeli press should be free to use both his name and face.


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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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