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Israel Worried about US/Iran Dialogue
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The G-7 meeting was very worrisome for Israel.

Let me explain. President Trump publicly announced that he would gladly meet with his Iranian counterpart President Rouhani.

Here is the worry.

If the United States advances toward Iran in a path similar to the paths the US has taken with North Korea, it will mean that dialoguing with Iran will become a priority. It will weaken Israel's ability to influence the US.

More importantly, Israel has a series of priorities for their country's security. There are certain red lines in the sand that Israel wants to make certain the US does not cross with Iran.

This situation, this diplomatic warming between the United States and Iran, is not good news for Israel.

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Tensions Btw Israel & Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 27, 2019
I've Been Thinking:

Tensions are rising between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Add into the mix the terror group The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, also known as PFLP - GC and the tensions are pulsing even higher.

There are obvious reasons for these tensions. Hezbollah and the PFLP are sworn enemies of Israel and their raison-d'être is the destruction of Israel.

But of late there has been serious Israeli engagement in Lebanon and Syria. The groups are shouting about it. They are saber rattling.

Several important points of clarification - These groups do not awaken one day and hate Israel more than they did the day before.

Hezbollah has at least150,000 rockets. That is a conservative estimate. They have more rockets than 95% of the militaries in the world. Many of those are short range unguided rockets but a significant number are guided missiles with long range capabilities.

Another important point to make is that the Israeli elections are upon us. The will take place on September 17. Prime Minster is being portrayed as weak in Gaza by other contenders because he has not acted in Gaza. There is no magic solution to Gaza. So, Netanyahu has to show strength. He is attacking in Lebanon and Syria where it is easier to strike.

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Muslim Edict Against US Soldiers
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A fatwah is an Islamic edict declared by a leading authority.

Shiite theologian Grand Ayatollah Kazi al Haeri is held in very high regard by Iraqi Shiites. And he has declared a fatwah forbidding US troops to step foot in Iraq.

Grand Ayatollah Kazi al Haeri called on Iraqi forces to attack and stop all US forces.

The edict comes after media from all over the world covered stories that described Israel's attack on Shiite bases in Iraq - bases that are affiliated with Iran. Two Israeli officials confirmed that Israel was responsible for the attacks.

Many locals in the Middle East do not countenance any non-believers anywhere in the Middle East - not in any Arab lands.

The US brings out vicious animus in some people.

Over the years there have been numerous fatwahs involving the United States. This Grand Ayatollah is not alone.

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Saudis Track Hajj Pilgrims w Chip
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia has announced that they are instituting a smart chip for everyone joining the Hajj - the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Over 2.5 people, or pilgrims, travel to Mecca every year.

For many pilgrims, the chip will certainly be considered an invasion of their privacy. It will allow the organizers to monitor all movements of all participants. The chip can detect mass movements. It can rearrange and reorganize transportation.

The chip can and will also direct and redirect people and police to provide a more efficient movement.

It will also track where people are sleeping and what they are doing. Every person who enters will be tracked.

There is a positive side for the 2.5 million people who will now be tracked - the chip can help in health emergencies and get immediate aid to people in distress.

The Saudis know this chip works. They quietly tested it out this year and it was a great success.

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How to Tell an Anti- Semite
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A nonsensical school of thought has been making its way into all sorts of forums and discussions. It goes like this: Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. Don't label every criticism and critic of Israel an anti-Semite. As an example, proponents of this erroneous thinking will point to former President Barack Obama and say that Obama was a great lover of Israel, but he was also a vocal critic. He would say "friends need to call friends out when they make mistakes."

That may be true, but - and it's a big and important but - some people couch their anti- Semitism as criticism of Israel.

There are two factors that determine if the person criticizing Israel is an anti-Semite.

#1: does the critique allow for Israel to exist or does it suggest that if Israel were not there the problem would be solved

#2: the tone of the critique

Tone is everything. Critique is done with respect and love and is immediately identifiable. That kind of critique does not seek to harm or destroy but rather to help and assist.

Much of the recent and very vocal public criticism of Israel does not stand up to these factors. Certainly, US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib fits into the category of anti-Semite.

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Is Israel Bombing Iraq- Maybe!
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday, an arms depot north of Baghdad was blown up. The depot was hit by an aerial strike. It belonged to an Iraqi, pro-Iranian militia. Last week, an arms depot south of Baghdad, also belonging to pro-Iranian fighters, was also destroyed by an airstrike.

Sounds like someone is targeting Iranian fighters in Iraq.

The finger is pointing toward Israel.

Israel has, over the past few years, publicly warned of the Iranian influence in Iraq and has insisted that Iran is becoming a major military force inside Iraq.

Israel now has stealth capabilities. They operate F-35s which can travel without being detected. So it is certainly possible, if not probable, that Israel is testing out its efficiency and abilities by hitting Iranian bases in Iraq.

This is not a new front for Israel, it is an experiment. And while perfecting their capabilities, they are also effectively clipping and trimming Iranian influence and Iranian weapons caches.

Iran is an arch enemy of Israel. At this stage Israel will not strike Iran directly. However, pro-Iranian militias in Iraq are fair game.

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Iran Made Mistake Signing Deal
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Ali Shamkhani is a very close and trusted adviser of Iran's Supreme Leader. He is an official in the inner circle of Iran.

Lester Holt of NBC News sat down for a face-to-face with someone who almost never addresses the West and is as close as you can get to the Grand Ayatollah.

In the course of the interview Shamkhani said that Iran should never have signed the famous JCPOA, simply known as the Iranian nuke deal.

He said that it was not good for Iran. He also explained that, at the time, there were people who believed that a moderate approach was the best avenue to pursue.

He said that most of Iran, and certainly Iranian leadership, fervently believes that the entire strategy was a mistake and that Iran has suffered because of that moderate approach.

What Shamkhani is actually doing is telegraphing is the ouster of the current leadership, the President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif who were the architects of the agreement.

Shamkhani agreed to the interview only after he received the okay from the Supreme Leader, who also crafted the message he wanted to have presented and provided Shamkhani with his talking points.

There are big political changes on the horizon in Iran.

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ISIS is Alive & Well
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan which murdered 63 people and wounded 183 others is rock solid proof that ISIS is alive and well.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Shiite wedding celebration.

This is what they do best.

They are mass murderers of Muslims.

That might sounds strange because we, in the West, think of ISIS as targeting the West. While that is true, their main objective of ISIS is to intimidate and influence Muslims in the Muslim world.

ISIS announced the reason for their attack in Kabul. They said they attacked because the United States was negotiating a deal with the
Taliban and establishing an end to the 18 year old conflict in Afghanistan.

This bombing was a message to Muslims.

ISIS is back and alive and well and if you dare to stand up and oppose ISIS, you will be targeted - beware, you’ve been warned.

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UK Strips Jihadi Jack's Citizenship
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jack Letts is best known as Jihadi Jack, a dual UK / Canadian citizen who joined ISIS in 2014. Two years before joining, Jack had converted to Islam. In 2014 he changed his name to Abu Mohammed, married an Iraqi woman had a child.

Abu Mohammed has been interviewed on the BBC, pledging his allegiance to ISIS and promising to fight for the cause.

His parents sent him $300 and were subsequently tried and convicted of sponsoring terror. He claims he bought falafel and a pair of glasses with the money - not nuclear weapons.

Now Jack Letts cum Abu Mohammed cum Jihadi Jack wants to return to the UK.

The British Home Office not only said no - they stripped Jack of his UK citizenship and said he is Canada's problem now.

Meanwhile, Canada says that Jihadi Jack has no real contact with Canada and is a Canadian citizen only by virtue of his father, an organic farmer, who holds a Canadian passport.

The UK is correct to reject him.

Jihadi Jack must live with his decision.

Joining the enemy and fighting against your home country is treasonous and an act of sedition. It is easier to pull citizenship than to try someone as a traitor. Let Jack live in the community he selected when he abandoned his home and chose instead to take up arms against the country that nurtured him.

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Israel Denies Entry to US Congresswomen
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I usually touch on subjects before they become headline news, but today I am making an exception. Today I must weigh in on the news of the day.

Israel deciding not to permit entry to two United States Congresswomen.

As everyone knows, the two members of Congress in question are Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim females in Congress.

On their trip to Israel the Congresswomen wanted to focus only on Palestinian sites and interests. They scheduled no visits with
Israeli officials or, for that matter, any Israelis. Actually, in their invite to other members of Congress they explained that they were only entering Israel in order to pass into Palestine.

Both these members of Congress have proposed a bill to support BDS.

Israel has passed a law permitting leadership to prevent entry to those people who are known supporters of BDS.

I do not think it was wise of Israel to prevent entry to the Congresswomen - BUT, Israel was certainly justified in blocking them from entering the country.

All those who claim that Israel was violating freedom of speech are totally incorrect.

There is a limit to freedom of speech. That freedom stops when people are trying to destroy a state. The state - any state has the right and the responsibility, to protect itself against those advancing against it and attacking it.

BDS is not an idea. BDS is not an issue of speech. BDSers intend to galvanize supporters to unite and destroy Israel.

About that there is no question.

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Israel's Anti Drone Drones
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Drones are extremely difficult to defend against and now, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries named ELTA Systems has improved on their already very effective Drone Guard.

This improvement is called the Bird. One of the many advances the Bird has over the Drone Guard is a suicide mission that attacks incoming drones.

The new system identifies the drone or set of drones from take off.
It even predicts the direction the enemy drone will take. This system differentiates the incoming drone from other aircraft. Even if the other drone tries to deceive it with balloons, kites, hot air, even if it uses live ammo and shoots. The Bird knows it is a drone.

The Bird also employs the Drone guard technology of zapping enemy drones with electronic beams and rays that will cause the enemy system to implode.

Best of all is technology that enables the Bird to hijack enemy drones.

A new cyber war is taking place. ELTA's Bird is a major player in that war.

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Hamas Claims
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Speaking at an Eid al Adha ceremony, the head of Hamas, Yihya Sinwar, said that Hamas will teach Israel a lesson if it invades Gaza again.
Sinwar emphasized that Hamas will launch hundreds of rockets into Israel simultaneously. Israel, he said, will be broken.

"If Israel launches a campaign in Gaza, hundreds of rockets will be fired at Israeli cities in one go ... Hamas will break the IDF if it enters the Gaza Strip."

This is bravado, it is hyperbole.

Hamas really believes that they will strike and seriously hurt Israel - but it is pure bravado, hyperbole.

In Israel, any loss is a huge loss.

It is Hamas and Gaza who will suffer if Israel is forced to attack Gaza again.

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Caspian Oil Battle
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The five nations that surround the oil rich Caspian Sea (or Lake) met on Monday to figure out how to divide the great natural wealth - oil, that lies there.

Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan all have a stake. Russia and Iran are most insecure about what might happen.

Because of that insecurity they have not ratified an agreement that was drawn up last year. The other three countries are waiting for Russia and Iran to make the first moves and sign.

Both Iran and Russia are afraid that this newly found oil will change the supply of oil on the world market. They are particularly worried about Western countries that are urging the construction of a Caspian natural gas pipeline that will bring that oil over land to the West, especially Western Europe.

Iran and Russia need to preserve their reserves, keep the supply down and make certain the prices of oil and gas stay high.

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Muslim Holiday
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday was the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha. It is the Festival of the Sacrifice, also called Eid al Qurban.

Eid al Adha is one of two big Muslim holidays, the other is Eid al Fitr.

This holiday commemorates the story in the Koran of Ibrahim taking his son Ishmael and offering him as a sacrifice to God. At the last minute God stops Ibrahim and provides a lamb that is sacrificed instead of Ishmael.

If this sounds eerily similar to the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis chapter 21, that's because they are, indeed, the same story.

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Iran Claims Military Greatness
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is masterful at propping themselves up as undefeatable.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Naval Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi spoke to FARS, the official Iranian news agency, and said that: "Americans have always been the ultimate and full-scale losers in all their encounters with the IRGCN [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy], and the most notable cases of their defeats were on April 14, 1988, and January 12, 2016 before their drone was shot down on June 20."

Fadavi was referring to three incidents:
#1: the April 1988 incident when an Iranian mine badly damaged the U.S. frigate Samuel B. Roberts
#2: Iran's kidnapping in January 2016 of two American riverine boats and ten sailors after the boats mistakenly strayed into Iranian waters
#3: the downing in June 2019 of the US Triton drone

Fadavi continued and said: "that all failures and defeats of the U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf are illustrative of the Americans' desperation, frustration, and agony in the face of the Iranian nation in the past 40 years."

This is simply - and not surprisingly, not what happened at all.
In 1988 the US responded, launching Operation Praying Mantis and crippling Iran's navy. Luckily the situation deescalated and did not turn into a full blown war.

As far as Fadavi's other two examples, the United States wisely chose to neither react nor overreact.

It's all about the spin.

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ISIS Re Booting in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Here's a surprise. ISIS is re-establishing itself in Syria. Don't just take my word for it, a report released this week by the US Department of Defense Inspector General's office spells it out very clearly.

"Despite losing its territorial 'caliphate,' the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was resurging in Syria" from April through June.

The report begins with Principal Deputy Inspector General Glenn A.
Fine writing that from April through June, U.S. forces in Syria fulfilled the Trump administration's directive to partly withdraw from the country. Military officials told the inspector general's office that "the reduction of U.S. forces has decreased the support available for Syrian partner forces at a time when their foces [sic] need more training and equipping to respond to the ISIS resurgence."

Officials told the inspector general's office that ISIS continues to function as an insurgency in both Iraq and Syria partly because forces there "remain unable to sustain long-term operations against ISIS militants." ISIS is also "likely reestablishing financial networks in both countries."

Beyond that, military officials warned, ISIS "maintains an extensive worldwide social media effort to recruit fighters."

This means that ISIS is bouncing back.

It also means that ISIS is waging war against US allies and others who targeted them. Are you surprised?

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Iran is Jamming Ships' GPS
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is playing dirty tricks in and around the Strait of Hormuz. For one, they are jamming the GPS of tankers, causing ships to wander off course - and in to their waters. They are also spoofing and radioing as if they are friendly and US navy ships.

US Central Command in the area, known as CENTCOM, said in a statement that Iran "spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be US or coalition warships."

"Due to the heightened regional tensions, the potential for miscalculation or misidentification could lead to aggressive actions against vessels belonging to US, allied and coalition partners operating in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman ... GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning."

Bridge-to-bridge communication is when ships speak to one another.

Jamming and spoofing by Iran explains quite a lot of what has been happening in the Strait. Iran is not playing a fun game. And as always, the Iranians are playing by their own rules.

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Amazon Coming to Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Amazon is going to open operations in Israel in September - before the September 17th elections which falls a few days before the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

Amazon wants the site to be all in Hebrew.

Amazon has very stringent demands on writing, pictures and clarity of message. They are also very precise about handling and delivery. If it cannot happen in Hebrew, they will launch in English and then switch over to Hebrew. If everything is not in place and ready by September, Amazon will wait until after Sukkot and launch in November in time for the busy shopping period called Black Friday.

Amazon has already gobbled up several Israeli tech companies including a huge cloud service.

This is huge for Israel.

Having Amazon will be a huge boon in the local markets of delivery and move Israel's markets to an entirely new level. It will also devastate brick and mortar store fronts and ma and pa stores in Israel as it has done around the world. The competition will force Israel's big retailers and chain stores, including food stores, to up their game and move into internet sales.

Change can be great, change can also be very scary.

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Palestinian GPS Around Check Points
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A Palestinian tech company named Doroob created and app that can be downloaded through Google that will avoid Israeli check points and the long lines and waits that are involved.

The root D Ra Ba is found 58 times in the Koran. It's mentioned as Yadriba or as the noun Doroob and it means "to set forth."

Doroob Navigation uses crowd sourcing so people use their phones and the GPS to show where traffic in building up and to offer get updates and preferred routes.

Doroob operates much like Waze and Google Maps. But those systems were not very effective in the Palestinian areas - and this one is.

This company made their own maps and their own program.

Many check points are permanent, others change all the time. The IDF does that for security reasons. Although not its primary purpose, this program helps terrorists avoid the check points.

The IDF will have to work hard to stay out in front of this new software.

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Left Can't Oust Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The media is spending much energy showing how Israel's left and center left parties are trying to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

They are offering up a valiant set of descriptions - but their cause is hopeless.

All studies show that fewer and fewer Israelis connect with the left -- 12%.
In fact, in Israel, more and more voters lean right than left -- 59%.

Actually, the left numbers are almost as low as the numbers for those who simply do not care.

That does not mean that Bibi cannot be ousted ... Just unlikely.

Avigdor Lieberman is convinced that he can oust Netanyahu by creating a swing party. He thinks that his party will be big enough to make them essential to any coalition and that they will then decide if they want to take the government left or right.

Lieberman decided that Likud, Netanyahu's party, should select a number two. That way Netanyahu can step down when Lieberman - once again - refuses to join with Likud under Bibi Netanyahu.

Lieberman is also threatening to go to join the left. That is an empty threat. His voters are hardcore right and hard core secular. Lieberman's supporters would never countenance the moderate points of view of the Blue and White party.

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J.Lo in Tel Aviv
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

J.LO - Jennifer Lopez, performed in Tel Aviv on Thursday to a crowd of 50,000 admirers.

The performer, her fiance A Rod and her twin daughters spent five days in Israel. The performance was part of J.Lo's "It's My Party Tour" that they turned into a family vacation.

While in Israel, they visited the Western Wall, took in Tel Aviv culture and generally enjoyed their time. There were great shots of her on the Tel Aviv Beach.

Tremendous pressure was put on the world famous dancer-actress-performer not to accept the invitation to bring her show to Israel and then later, to cancel her trip. The BDS movement has been successful in intimidating many performers - but not this time.

J.LO is only one of two A-list performers who have come to Israel - the second is Bon Jovi.

J.LO posted dozens of selfies and family pictures. She declared how wonderful Israel and Israelis are. She said that she would be back.

JLO has 100 million followers on social media. She is more than a star, just like her fiance is more than a former baseball player.
They are icons. They are idolized. J.LO and A Rod's trip and their posts reinforced for Israelis that they are part of world culture.

This past year Israel has felt beaten up and abused on the international scene. BDS has been very effective. JLO helped invigorate Israel. She accomplished more for the case for Israel than any diplomatic initiative or PR campaign could have achieved.

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Japan Won't Help in the Strait
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has been working on creating a coalition of countries to patrol the Strait of Hormuz.

It should seem like the obvious thing to do - the Strait of Hormuz is now the most dangerous maritime region in the world. And responsibility for that lies totally and completely on Iran's aggressive maneuvers in trying to exert influence on Western policy and force the United States and other countries to reconsider the sanctions that have been crippling the country.

Without a broad based world coalition, a true defense strategy to protect the oil tankers using the waterway will fail. A broad coalition is both a practical and public relations necessity. It is the only way to condemn Iran effectively.

And yet, there is opposition. Japan has said that they will not join.
They are afraid that it may trigger a war. Japan has said that they may escort their own ships (highly unlikely) and that they will provide airplanes to assist in monitoring the Strait.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said that they: "... are closely monitoring the situation and continue to collect information while working closely with the United States and other countries."

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Iran's Economy
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The currency of Iran is the rial.

The most recent US sanctions against Iran have hurt Iran badly.

The economy of Iran is suffering.

In order to survive the tremendous inflation they are suffering, Iranian leadership has decided to lop off four zeroes from the rial.

Iran's inflation is so high, we have no idea how high it really is. There are official inflation numbers of 30%, but we know those numbers aren't true. Unofficial numbers put Iran's inflation at 1,000% - that's one thousand percent.

The announcement about the rial was made by the Iranian government spokesman after a government meeting.

To get a sense of what has happened to the rial and the economy of Iran let's look at the rial over the past 4 years. In 2015 $1 was worth 32,000 rials. Today the official exchange rate is 120,000 to $1.

Wow!

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Lieberman's Demands
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 31, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Avigdor Lieberman, the head of Yisrael Beitaynu, declared that the only way for his party to join the next coalition would be that will demand three points.

#1: There must be a mandatory draft for the ultra -orthodox.

#2: Public transport must be accessible on Shabbat.

#3: Civil marriages must be permitted and instituted.

These demands signify that, almost certainly, Yisrael Beitaynu will not be part of the next government.

It also means that the right needs to gather the required 60 members of government without Lieberman's party which is one of the right-wing parties.

We do not know how many seats Yisrael Beitaynu will earn in the September election. But we do know that the reason there is a second election taking place in September is because Lieberman refused to join the Netanyahu coalition in April, thereby torpedoing the possibility for Netanyahu to form a government.

In the end - what did he really gain?

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Turkey Lashes Out Against Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The president of Turkey is once again lashing out against Israel.

Erdogan never misses an opportunity to attack Israel. This time he went out of his way to attack Israel without any reason or provocation.

At a meeting with provincial officials, as reported on Press TV in Turkey, Erdogan went on his rant.

He said: "Whoever is on the side of Israel, let everyone know that we are against them ... We do not approve of silence on the state terror that Israel blatantly carries out in Palestine."

This is more than a policy dispute. This is Erdogan drawing up teams and threatening discipline for those who break ranks with him.

While many barriers have broken down between Israel and other countries over the past two years, Turkey wants to turn back the clock.

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Iranian Youth Search www
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian youth works very hard to break through their government's block on the internet.

The government has shut down almost all forms of contact and any access to the West through the internet - the World Wide Web, aka the www. The Iranian web is a cheap facsimile of the www.

Iranians who want to jump on the West's www have gone to great lengths. They spend hours attempting to bypass governmental blocks.

The youth use VPNs, or Virtual Personal Networks. VPN artificially makes it appear as if the user were located someone else.

Here's how: Let's say you live in Teheran. When you go online, you click onto a VPN and it shows that you are in Los Angeles. The Iranian can now surf the net, and no one will know.

The bigger problem is that VPNs are overloaded. So many people want to get on that it can take an hour before you get on and that many users causes the server to be slow and users to be regularly bounced off.

Iranian leadership does not have the same restrictions. Iran's president and foreign minister tweet constantly - even the Supreme Leader, or at least the Supreme Leader's office, tweets regularly.

Iranians use the internet because they want to learn what is happening in the West. That's a good sign.

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Iran is Petrified of Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is petrified of Israel's new stealth F-35. Israel has already flown the planes over Iran.

A Kuwaiti newspaper reported about it.

According to an "informed source" quoted by the newspaper Al-Jarida: "The fighters crossed Syrian airspace into Iraqi airspace, including to Iran, where they carried out reconnaissance missions and targets in the areas of Bandar Abbas, Isfahan and Shiraz, flying at a high altitude over other sites suspected of a relationship with Iran's nuclear program".

Iran did not detect the F-35. Neither did the Russians. This F-35 is a secret weapon. This worries Iran, but it is not their only worry.

Israel's character worries Iranian leadership even more than the weapon. The Israeli military is bold and tends toward quick and decisive action. That, combined with the F-35, is a real threat to Iran.

Israel can and will strike Iran if necessary - and Iran knows it.

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Barak Merge with Meretz
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli elections are coming up and the final lists for each party are due in two weeks.

The most curious of all lists will be the result of a speculated merger between Israel Democratic Party leader Ehud Barak and Meretz chair Nitzan Horowitz.

Meretz is the most left Jewish party on the electoral spectrum. Barak is a former prime minister and former leader of the Labor Party.

This potential merger will take voters away from both the Blue and White Party and the Labor Party.

Israel Democratic Party and Meretz are trying to create a genuine left. The problem is that the Israeli electorate is center right - not center left or left anymore. And that will almost certainly translate into failure for this merger at the ballot box.

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Israel Keeps The Lid on The MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

As I mentioned yesterday, Israel's Foreign Ministry invited Arab bloggers to Israel. In the end, six bloggers visited Israel.

They guests of the foreign ministry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During their meeting the PM told them that actually, Israel is keeping the region safer.

Netanyahu said: "but within the region, Israel is the irreplaceable power, because there is no other power in the region that without its presence and activity here, I would say the region would collapse ... Without Israel, without the things we do, the things we stand for and the things we protect, I think the entire Middle East would collapse by the forces of Islamic radicalism, whether Shiites led by Iran, or Sunni radicalism led by the Islamic State."

The prime minister continued, saying that Israel "is the one indigenous force in the Middle East that prevents the collapse of the Middle East."

I have not thought about it until now. Prime Minister Netanyahu is correct.

Israel keeps the lid on so many issues. Without Israel, Islamic extremism would have taken over major swaths of the Middle East. And then the world.

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Saudi Blogger in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Foreign Ministry of Israel is hosting a group of bloggers from Arab and Muslim countries. We do not know how many bloggers came on the trip - but we do know that one of them is Muhammad Saud from Saudi Arabia.

Saud is a very popular blogger. Saud is also fluent in Hebrew.

Like any good Muslim, Saud wanted to visit the Dome of the Rock. He dressed in traditional Saudi religious garb and ascended the Mount.

Locals were not pleased. Some people threw chairs at him. Video shows Saud standing at the Dome of the Rock when one youngster ran up to him, grabbed his arm and spit in his face.

This was not part of the Foreign Ministry's objective in bringing the bloggers to Israel.

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Shaked Can Unite the Right
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Former Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and her political colleague and party member Naftali Bennett had a meeting. It was agreed upon that Shaked will become the head of their party, The New Right Party, and that they will work to unite the entire right wing community behind her.

In Israel, many religious parties fall under the right wing umbrella. And some rabbinic voices are suggesting that a woman - certainly a non-religious woman, cannot lead the religious parties.

The problem with that point of view is that Ayelet Shaked is, by far, the best and most significant force in the right wing world and probably the only person capable of bringing the right together.

Shaked has national presence. She has experience. She has been successful in maneuvering and navigating around Bibi and his government. She is the best shot they have. The question is - will they give her the chance?

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Iran Takes Another UK Tanker
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I just watched the video of Iranian commando rappelling from a helicopter onto the Stena Imperio owned by Stena Bulk, a British oil tanker.

The 90 second video was spliced together from several cameras. At least two of the videos were taken by the small Iranian boats that surrounded the oil tanker and one from inside the helicopter as the five commandos jumped out.

It was impressive. The operation took only a few seconds.

Iran has stepped up their game. This is the second UK ship they have taken. And just as Iran is stepping up their game, an Iranian ship that was in the Port of Jedda was released. The ship, which suffered from engine trouble, was being held by the Saudis. After its release the Iranians publically thanked the Saudis.

It is the long game here that is important.

Iran is becoming more and more brazen. But with each move they push Europe and others closer to US President Donald Trump. They are effectively unifying the world around Trump - a leader they would normally reject.

Right now the game is on. Iran is playing very seriously. The West's counter move may or may not be commensurate with Iran's moves. We should know soon.

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Iran Proposes a Compromise
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has offered a very nice deal to the US. It goes in both directions.

In New York Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said that Iran will permanently permit enhanced inspections. While at the same time the US will permanently lit all sanctions against Iran.

Zarif said that the Iranian offer was a good deal it was "a substantial move."

Zarif continued that "It's not about photo ops. We are interested in substance," he told reporters at the Iranian mission to the UN in New York on Thursday. "There are other substantial moves that can be made."

He said: "If they [the Trump administration] are putting their money where their mouth is, they are going to do it. They don't need a photo op. They don't need a two-page document with a big signature."

Zarif is calling Trumps bluff.


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Shelly Leaves Labor
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The politician who has been the back bone of Israel's Labor Party for the past 15 years announced that she is taking time out from politics.

Her name is Shelly Yachimovitich and she has been the most successful of all Labor politicians for the past 15 years.

Not only has Shelly been the backbone of Labor, she has also been Labor's heart and their soul.

The April election proved that the fire that once fueled Labor has dimmed and is about to be extinguished. The party is a shell of what it once was and Yachimovitich, who almost single-handedly kept the party alive and relevant, no longer has the burning desire to fight for change the way she once did.

Shelly as she was known - her first name was all she needed, came to politics after a long and successful career in media. She was the most popular radio talk show host in the country. Shelly affected change through her media platform. Then she left the media and joined Labor in order to better bring change to Israel.

Shelly's departure is another example of the death of the once great Labor party.

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Hezbollah & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 17, 2019
I've Been Thinking:

Last week Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah issued a warning to Israel and a description of what was to come.

With the warning Nasrallah informed Israel that Hezbollah rockets could hit anywhere in Israel. And then he went on to describe, more or less, where the attacks would take place.
In response, Israel bolstered 20 strategic targets.

Certainly Israel has the ability to respond to Hezbollah attacks, but that is not enough. They must secure their important sites again missiles. With the passage of time missiles become more powerful, their range becomes longer and their accuracy increases.

It would be irresponsible of Israel not to take the threat by Hezbollah seriously. Back in 2016, after an official assessment, Israel allocated 150 million shekel ($43 million) to improve the security on these 20 strategic sites. Attacks on these sites could cause serious damage and certainly inconvenience to Israelis.

It would also be irresponsible of Hezbollah to attack Israel's sensitive sites because Israel would counter attack - and counter attack very seriously.

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Hamas: Murder the Jews Everywhere
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

In the middle of his recent Friday sermon, a fiery charismatic Hamas Sheik named Fathi Hamad shouted that Arabs should murder Jews all over the world. He demanded that followers murder Jews in Israel and everywhere else.

A few days later Ahmed Yosef, who has a direct line to Hamas leader
Ismail Haniyeh, publicly condemned Hamad for calling for the murder of all Jews.

Yosef said: "The language of knives and explosive belts is not suitable for statesmen ... And the talk of killing Jews using this kind of language contradicts religion and morality."

Yosef continued: "Hamas is not against world Jewry, and not even against Judaism as a religion."

This exchange is illustrative of an important issue.

Traditionally, Palestinians terrorists struck out against Western targets, and, of course, against Jewish targets. Particularly in Europe. Then they changed course, turned inward, and focused on Israel only.

Today we are witnessing a conflict between the two perspectives and focus of Palestinian terror. There are those who still believe that Jews around the world should be murdered and those who believe in targeting only Israeli Jews.

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Why is Russia so Involved?
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Ever wonder why Russia is so involved in the Middle East and so committed to Iran?

I'll explain:

First and foremost, there is a significant Muslim population in Russia. And Russia needs to placate their citizens. There has been some Russian / Muslim tension and it is important to tamp it down.

Next is that the United States has significant influence in the region. And for Russia, it is very important to keep US interests in check. It is that attitude alone that informs large swaths of Russian foreign policy.

Third comes proximity. Russia itself, is actually located in the region. Their former states are even closer, extremely close, to Iran and to the entire Middle East.

Finally, Russia and Iran are linked economically. They are enormous oil producers. Russia is also a huge provider of much of what Iran needs.


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Hezbollah Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah went public today outlining the next conflict with Israel.

Nasrallah announced: "In the next war with Israel we will have surprises in land, air and sea." He went on and explained that "the resistance" which means perpetrators of terror and his own forces can reach "the whole of Israel until Eilat." Eilat is the southern-most part of Israel.

There was more. Nasrallah said he is "confident of victory" and confident that "Israel is weaker than a spider web ... Life and death are in the hands of God, yet logic points to me praying in al-Aqsa mosque."

Nasrallah described how Hezbollah could strike "sensitive targets" in the southern and northern Israel. 'In a next war with us, Israel will be fighting for its existence ... and I will be praying in Jerusalem".
The comments were made during an interview on Al-Manar TV, the Hezbollah TV cable station.

Explaining that Hezbollah is not afraid even though Israel has previously killed many Hezbollah members and will target them, he said: "Hezbollah is an organization that doesn’t depend on anyone ... There were those who died and those who left the organization, and it didn't affect us."

Nasrallah cautioned that Hezbollah will target the city centers: "There's no need for us to harm soldiers. Instead of wasting missiles on the north, we will attack the south ... "We'll bring Israel back to the Stone Age."

Explaining one of his targets Nasrallah explained that: "Israel tried to get rid of the ammonia tanks in Haifa and did not succeed. We only need a couple of rockets to hit these tanks, and the number of fatalities will be very large, even Israelis themselves say that."

The leader of Hezbollah emphasized that: "Everything I've presented is the minimum of our abilities. It's important to me that Israelis understand that."

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded very quickly to Nasrallah's remarks by saying: "Over the weekend we heard Nasrallah's remarks on his attack plans. It should be clear that if Hezbollah dares to do some nonsense and attacks Israel, we will hit him and Lebanon with a crushing military blow."

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Make Israel Normal Again
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The election in Israel will be held on September 17th.
After the April election, Avigdor Lieberman was the man responsible for preventing Benjamin Netanyahu from creating the coalition government he needed to cinch the position of prime minister - thereby forcing the new election.

On Thursday Lieberman and his party, Y'Israel Beitenu (Israel is Our Home), released a campaign ad that unveils a new slogan.
The 30 second video which was released via Twitter runs under the phrase "This is not Las Vegas." The ad cuts to a slot machine with photos of Netanyahu's potential coalition partners and labels them all as extremists. Next comes a derogatory comment about potential coalition members if the Blue and White party were to win.

The ad finishes with a flourish. In white letters, against a blue background, with a blood red exclamation point for added emphasis - and in English - is the phrase "Make Israel Normal Again!"

The allusion to Donald Trump's "Make American Great Again" slogan is obvious. The substitution of the word "normal" is critical. Normalcy is a political and defense condition Israelis yearn for.

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Israeli Arab High Jumper Represents Israel- Called a Traitor
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Hanin Nasser is an Israel Arab, she is also Israel's best female high jumper. Nasser will represent Israel in the European Athletic U23 Championships.

And that upsets some Arabs.

Hirak Haifa, a group of Israeli Arab activists, is pressuring Hanin Nasser to back out of the competition. They went public with a statement. This is how it read:

"We condemn her representation of the Zionist entity that uprooted our people and is using her as a fig leaf to cover up the racism and crimes of Israel."

The group also sent a personal note to Nasser asking her not to represent Israel.

What frightens haters more than anything else is normalization. In their narrow world, freedom and democracy are treated as treason.

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Israel Stopped 50 Terror Attacks Worldwide
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Jerusalem Post published a report yesterday informing us that the Mossad has announced that Israel prevented and intercepted 50 terror attacks by Iran and ISIS over the past 3 years.

Twelve of those attacks were planned for Turkey. Some were halted at the very last minute.

Turkey's relations with Israel have been very rough since 2010. That's when a Turkish aid ship, part of a flotilla, was boarded by Israeli commandos.

Turkish President Erdogan has been a vocal critic of Israel at almost every turn.

And yet, despite the vitriol being spewed against them, Israel is convinced that helping stop terror everywhere is the right thing to do. Israel's leadership also believes that these connections will help Israel further improve relations with countries all around the world.

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Israeli Plans For Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's moves to increase the enrichment of their uranium has upset the countries who signed on to the now infamous deal with Iran.

It appears that the deal has no teeth. That there is no way to force Iran to comply with the deal.

Additionally, this deal leaves Israel in a very precarious situation.

Questions arise. How will Israel respond to the new threats?

It should be perfectly clear to everyone that this assertive move by Iran is, first and foremost, a direct threat against Israel. And then it is a threat to the rest of the Western world. But location is everything and Israel is in the neighborhood - in the target zone, in the cross hairs, of Iran.

Israel has a history of interceding when it perceives threats to be developing. In 1981 Israel attacked and destroyed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. In 2007 Israel attacked and destroyed the nuclear center in Syria.

If Iran pushes too hard, Israel may very likely strike Iran's nuclear system.

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Why Generals Are Running Against Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Have you ever wondered why so many generals are vying for political leadership in Israel?

One former general cum present contender was the most decorated Israeli general ever. Another was the head of the Mossad, another the head of internal security and another was chief of staff of the IDF.

Ostensibly the argument is that these former generals want to protect Israel and disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu's point of view on safety and security. But that's not really true.

The truth is that these generals want to trade in their name recognition for political power and ultimate control.

They may disagree with Netanyahu about a two-state solution or about how harsh to be with Iran, but on most of these topics they are on the same pages with only nuanced difference.

They all worked for Bibi and now they want to oust him. They think that their IDF experience will win over the Israeli masses and lure them away from a leader they perceive to be a demagogue and a danger to Israel.

They want to save Israel from Bibi Netanyahu. And each of these generals wants to be the person who replaces him.

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J.Lo in Tel Aviv Aug 1
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jennifer Lopez, J. Lo to her fans, will perform in Tel Aviv on August 1st. The Tel Aviv concert is part of a sold out, 30 concert tour, entitled "It's My Party." The tour began in Las Vegas.

Accompanying Lopez on her trip to Israel will be her fiance, New York Yankee legend Alex Rodriguez, aka A Rod.

BDS supporters are applying tremendous pressure. Their goal is to prevent the concert by forcing force J Lo to cancel.

In a letter BDS supporters wrote: "Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within".

The letter described the Israeli "government's policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people."

"To understand why we are writing you, we would like to start off by saying that, much like Sun City in South Africa under the apartheid regime, the city of Tel Aviv, where you are about to perform, is used as a tool for marketing the State of Israel as a 'cool' and 'cultured' democracy, while hiding a brutal history of colonization, even that of the city itself".

A Rod's responded to the letter by saying in an interview: "I'm going to Israel, so I am so excited, it's my first time."

So far the performer and her celebrity fiance are standing strong against the BDS pressure. If they do not succumb, J Lo and A Rod will witness - with their own eyes, the wonders of Israel. They will understand the lies BDS is spreading. And this concert and their trip will be an inspiration for those who are curious about Israel and for the many lovers of Israel constantly libeled by BDS canards.

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Erdogan Offers to Mediate
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to mediate the conflict between the United States and Iran. He said that he wanted to help ease the tensions that continue to ratchet up between the two countries.

Erdogan made his suggestion at the G-20 meeting in a conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Surprising as it may seem, it is actually a very good idea.

Erdogan is perfectly positioned to mediate. He is distrusted by both parties - and yet, he is also close with both parties. Erdogan shares strategic economic objectives with both the United States and Iran.

I look forward to hearing the responses - if any, of both the United States and Iran to Erdogan's gesture.

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UN:Miss Iraq Says She Loves Irsrael
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan and former Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman are friends. Their relationship began in 2017 at the Miss Universe competition.

Ms. Idan posted a picture of herself with Ms. Gandelsman and wrote: "Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel." Yesterday Idan was at the United Nations Human Rights Commission speaking about anti-Semitism in the Arab world and about the hatred towards Israel that is taught in the Arab world.

In 2018 Sarah Idan visited Israel.

While in Israel Idan said: "The issue between Arabs and Israelis goes beyond policy disagreements. It's deeply rooted in the belief systems taught in Muslim countries, which are anti-Semitic."

Yesterday, at the UN she said: "Two years ago, I represented Iraq at Miss Universe. I posted a photo with Miss Israel on social media. I was told to remove it and forced to denounce Israeli policies. I received death threats. Since then, I can no longer return to my homeland," she further recalled in Geneva,

While in Geneva, home of the UN Human Rights Commission, Idan made a point of mentioning that the Iraqi government did not condemn the threats, nor did they protect her freedom of expression.

She also spoke out denouncing Hamas:
"When I watched the news last month, why did they never report that the Hamas terrorist organization fired nearly 700 rockets at Israeli civilians in one weekend or that Hamas used Palestinians in Gaza as human shields? Why do they never condemn Hamas for initiating the attacks? Instead, they only show those killed by the response, in self-defense, and blame Israel."

Idan concluded her remarks by saying:
"For advocating peace, I'm called a traitor ... negotiating peace for both states isn't betraying the Arab cause but a vital step to end conflict and suffering for all. Thank you."

Thank you, Sarah Idan. The world needs more spokespeople with your courage and commitment to righting wrongs.

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Russia is Striking Hospitals
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Since April, when Russia launched an offensive to recapture the area of Idlb in Syria, the Russians have bombed more than 23 hospitals in the region.

Mark Lowcock is the UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs. He reported to the Security Council about the attacks on the hospitals.

Lowcock told the Security Council that he sent a letter to Russia asking for an explanation about the clear targeting of hospitals. He said that he was "not sure" why Russia would act in this way.

Last week, on June 20th, an ambulance with a pregnant woman being rushed to the hospital was targeted by Russia.

Lowcock has tried to find out how and why that happened. "I have written to the Russian Federation to request information as to how the details provided through the de-confliction mechanism are used."

Russia has not yet responded.

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Bank Leumi Appoints Arab Chair
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel once again proved itself a wonderful democracy. The largest investment bank in Israel, Bank Leumi just named an Israeli Arab as their new chairman of their board.

On Sunday Dr. Samer Haj-Yehia was selected by the bank's board of governors.

Haj-Yehia earned a PhD in macroeconomics from MIT. He earned an MBA in finance, a master's degree in accounting and economics and a law degree.

His resume is very impressive. As the new chairman of the board I am certain that the bank will continue to grow financially.

The most important lesson here is that his election was not a token appointment. Haj-Yehia is the perfect candidate for the position.

Israel is a democracy with equal opportunity.

Unfortunately, like any democracy, there are some very vocal racists.

A tiny minority -- and also unfortunately that minority attract the limelight. These racists often catch the attention of the media and they are paraded across headlines.

But they do not represent Israel.

More typical of Israel is this appointment.

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Syria S-300s are Operational
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Israeli intel satellite company ImagSat International released pictures of Russia's four S-300 surface-to-air anti-missile batteries in Syria.

The fourth and final S-300 photographs were made public this weekend.

This information means that it will be much harder for Israel to attack Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

This Russian S-300 weapon is one of the newest and most sophisticated anti-missile systems - and it will most probably be manned by the Iranians.

The four batteries are positioned strategically throughout Syria and will significantly bolster their defense against Israelis airstrikes.

With the S-300 protecting them, Israel will have to work much harder to keep Iran and Hezbollah from amassing weapons and transferring them.

This is a major obstacle for Israel to overcome.

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PA Arrest Attendees of Bahrain
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

15 Palestinians attended the Bahrain conference.
And on Friday, Palestinian police raided their homes to arrest all 15 of them.

The police confiscated computers and security cameras. Only one person was arrested the others escaped or went in to hiding before their homes were raided.

Hebron businessman Saleh abu Mayaleh was the person arrested. He spent two days in jail and was released after the US embassy sent a very strong letter to the PA.
Jason Greenblatt, White House Special Envoy tweeted a response after abu Mayaleh's release:

"We are pleased the PA has released the Palestinian they arrested after attending the Peace to Prosperity workshop. We look fwd to continuing our conversation w all who attended the workshop & anyone else who wants a better future for the Palestinians."

Before the Peace to Prosperity Conference the Palestinian press published the names and pictures of those planning to attend the workshop and called them all traitors.

The charge against them was treason.

Talk about an extreme reaction.


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Bahrain Not Really in the Media
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The workshop in Bahrain is over.

Palestinians are calling it a big nothing.
The United States is optimistic - after all, it is the first stage in
their "Deal of the Century."

There was very little coverage of the Bahrain workshop in mainstream US media. There was very little coverage in the Israeli media.

Actually, the most covered news items in the Israel news cycle at the time that the workshop was taking place were the US presidential debates and the Iranian threat.

On the whole, there was more media coverage to the lead up to the workshop than there was of the workshop itself.

One can never really predict how a news cycle will develop. In many ways modest coverage is helpful - but, then again, it proves the point for the Palestinians,

Bahrain was in the media, but on the sidelines.

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Russia Says US Drone in Iranian Airspace
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia announced yesterday that they have information that the US drone that was shot down by Iran was over Iranian airspace.

Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia's Security Council, made it clear that their information indicates that the US encroached on Iranian air space and hence, Iran was justified in shooting down the US drone.

He followed up and said that the pictures, video and information that the US provided was fuzzy and very unprofessional and therefore unconvincing. He clearly said that he does not believe the US argument.

This is a devastating statement by Russia. They are siding with Iran over the United States. The Russian statement also raised doubts about whether the US is telling the truth - and that plays right into the Iranian playbook which repeats over and over that the United States has fabricated facts about Iran.

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US UK Israel Joint F-35s Train
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The British Royal Air Force Defense Ops tweeted about and confirmed a three country joint training operation with US, British and Israeli participants.

This was not just any training operation. This was a joint training exercise for the Lightning F-35B - the most advanced fighter jet in the world. One of the specifications of the F-35B is that it is a stealth jet.

The British released a picture of 6 jets - 2 British, 2 US and 2 Israeli - in arrowhead formation. Each of the countries was flying two F-35s.

The F-35 has already flown many missions for Israel, especially over Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. There are also rumblings about the F-35 flying several missions over Iran.

Making this information public is very important. It is a clear statement to Iran. It tells Iran that these three countries, Great Britain, the United States and Israel, each have the ability to enter Iran and then leave without even being seen.

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New Parties in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The new elections in Israel on September 17, will certainly have new parties. Two new ones are in the works.

One new party to emerge is headed by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak the only person who actually defeated Bibi in an election. He was the leader of the Labor Party. Labor has since imploded.

Ehud Barak is putting together a great new team. The names include former foreign minister and head of the Kadima Party Tzipi Livni.
Also, Dan Meridor a former Likud minister. Yair Golan former deputy chief of staff of the IDF is also part of the team. The final person to round out the top of this all-star team is Adina Bar Shalom. Bar Shalom is the extremely talented and well known daughter of Rav Ovadia Yosef, former Chief Rabbi and founder of Shas.

The emergence of this party will leach from the New Blue and White coalition. Barak has been rumored to have also spoken to Yair Lapid one of the heads of the Blue and White.

The second new party is far less nationally or internationally enticing. The mayor of Tiberias Ron Kobi is its head. The name of his party is the "Secular Right."

Many more parties will emerge some with better chances than others.


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The Deal of the Century
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The whole world knows that the Palestinians are not pleased with the Trump administration's Deal of the Century, but the truth is that there are Israelis who are not happy with it, as well. And not simply the prime minister. Many leaders of parties that will become part of the next coalition government will find parts of the deal highly objectionable.

Yet, despite those problematic areas, Israel must say "yes" in principle to the Deal of the Century.

Saying "yes" is how one gets a great deal.

The deal is a framework, a text upon which to work. It is a draft. Some items stay in, some are changed or modified and improved, others come out.

From Israel's point of view some issues - like questions of security, will need to be re- referenced and re-evaluated. The best example we have from what has, so far, been made public is linking Gaza with the West Bank via a train and highway.

Israel has rejected this idea for decades, ever since it was first proposed. It was always nixed for security purposes. Any route connecting Gaza and the West Bank would serve as an easy route of transport for terrorists and weapons.

Israel needs to think seriously about how they are going to deal with each proposal.

The Palestinians should have said yes and should be doing the same thinking.

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US Hits Iran - a Cyber Strike
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

USCC is the United States Cyber Command.

The USCC launched a retaliatory strike against Iran this weekend.
This has been a very busy week, cyber speaking. The big news was that Iran attacked US interests, striking tankers in The Sea of Oman. Lesser known news is that Iranian cyber teams were also kept busy attacking many other interests in the region and beyond.

In addition to the United States, Iranians attacked Saudi, Bahraini, UAE and other US computer systems.

In response to the tanker attacks, probably exacerbated by tensions resulting from the computer systems attacks -- or maybe the opposite -- The USCC launched a barrage of attacks against the Iranians.
It's important to note that Iran's cyber aggression team is directly connected to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Many questions have been left unanswered. It is not clear if this USCC cyber response is the response President Trump was referring to when he referred to striking Iran or if there is more of a response to come. It is also not clear who was hit by the US and how large the attack was. And we do not know if the US hit the Guard's naval force, the military body that has been wreaking havoc in the region.

What is clear is that a cyber attack can be far more destructive than any missile strike.

We learned that lesson from the Stuxnet cyber virus attack against Iran. Stuxnet and follow-up cyber strikes were enormously effective. Effective cyber attacks can set Iran back by months, even years.
The down side is that with each US-led attack, Iran improves its cyber defense capabilities.

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Iran May Strike Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is aware that Iran is feeling frustrated because the United States has not responded to their traps. The Iranians are also disappointed that the US has not al changed their policy toward them.

So, Israel thinks that Iran may decide to elevate tensions with the United States and take them up a notch, up them to a higher level.

That may mean attacking Israel - especially a border area in Israel. Iran would not make the move themselves, they would probably use Hezbollah, their proxy, or utilize their forces in Syria wearing Syrian uniforms and attacking from Syrian positions.

It is unrealistic for Iran to think that taunting the United States or US allies will result in a changing in US policy toward Iran. And yet, that is exactly what Iran is hoping for.

Israel will do its best to intercept an attack or preemptive strike coming from Hezbollah or Syria. Remember, Israel is not limited to the restraints that constrain the United States.

Should Iran conduct an attack against them, Israel will almost certainly respond and strike at the heart of the bases that perpetrated the attack.

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Israel Fixing Gaza Sewage & Electric
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Strange but positive things are going on between Israel and Gaza.

One of those things is related to sewage, the other is related to electricity.

The Gaza sewage system is in a state of total collapse. Gaza's sewage system sends its waste overflowing into Israel causing a real environmental and health hazard. Thousands of cubic meters of waste from Gaza flow into Israel every day.

Israel has been intercepting the waste and piping it to Kibbutz Erez for treatment, but the kibbutz pipes are small and the plant is tiny.
So Israel came up with a different solution.

There will be a new, heavy duty pipeline that will carry waste directly from Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia in Gaza to the Sderot sewage treatment plant. This re-routing of Gaza's sewage waste will save both the Western Negev and Gaza.

Israel needs to handle the sewage issue because, if ignored or mishandled, it could contaminate drinking water and the soil. Israel's drinking water comes from the aquifer which is a natural purifier in the ground.

There's more. It also looks like Israel will build a new electric line to Gaza, paid for by Qatar. Qatar has met with Israel and they have come to an agreement. The cost and the actual amount of money that Qatar will pay has not been made public, but Qatar has already made several payments to Gaza for other projects and they total hundreds of millions of dollars.

Things are looking up for Gaza.

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Trump - Don't Respond to Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is luring the United States into a trap.
All these attacks against oil tankers and other US interests are Iran's way of trying to have US President Donald J. Trump respond.

And should Trump respond - any response will be deemed excessive and disproportionate and will play right into the hands of Iran and their public relations campaign. Iran's bottom line remains unvaried, the United States is unfairly targeting Iran.

My advice to the White House and the president is do not take the bait! Even when Iran escalates their targeting - do not take the bait. The only action I would recommend is interception.

Interception is when the United States sees an attack happening, intervenes and stops it before it reaches its target. In doing so the evidence will be clear that Iran was responsible and the Iranians will be publicly humiliated.

The situation is, quite obviously, problematic and extremely explosive. The potential for a larger conflict is certainly there.
And the lesson to be gleaned by Russia, China and North Korea should the United States let US interests be attacked without responding would have serious future ramifications for the US .

Israel is one of the United State's greatest strategic interests. Shared enemies may decide that the US and Israel will not respond to minor attacks so as not to escalate tensions with Iran and then go ahead and pepper them with small attacks.

None the less - and I can't stress this enough, it is essential that the United States hold firm and not respond to Iranian taunts and teases right now.

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Iran & Tensions Rise
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Tensions with Iran are spiraling out of control.

A spokesperson for China went on record yesterday explaining that the situation must calm down and that no one wants war in the Gulf.

The attack on two Saudi oil tankers and the subsequent pointing of fingers at Iran by the United States and the release of a video showing Iranian Revolutionary Guards, only served to ratchet up tensions.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe was in Teheran when this all happened. His purpose was to deliver a message from US President Trump to the Grand Ayatollah urging them to sit down and talk.

The Ayatollah said: "Trump is not worthy." In response Trump tweeted: "They are not ready, and neither are we!"

We need to closely monitor the situation.

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New Terror Balloon Trick
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Balloon terrorism has entered a new stage.

Terrorists lofting balloons into Israel are now using slow burning wicks.

They have found a more powerful, yet still simple, way to terrorize Israelis. A six inch burning wick falling from the sky.

Slow burning wicks break off and continue to burn. That means one balloon which used to have only one attack point, now has three or four attack points. There is the final point - where the balloon drops, and the three other points where the wick breaks off and remains lit as it hits the ground and starts a fire.

This is a major advance for the Palestinians. It is an inexpensive and effective improvement.

Israel discovered this new terror devise after a series of balloon fires were doused and no remains of balloons were found. Israeli authorities watched the video tracking and they saw how that had happened.

This is very difficult weapon to defend against it. There is no way to stop it.

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PA Full Court Press
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinians are putting together a full court press to influence their natural partners and supporters to boycott or even back out of the US economic workshop in Bahrain.

Today the PA went on Facebook with an appeal to the greater world to influence Jordan and Egypt to change their minds and not attend the workshop. Their hope is that public humiliation will impact decisions.

"The Palestinian Authority urges Egypt and Jordan not to attend the Bahrain conference," Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesman for the Palestinians wrote on Facebook after it was announced the two Arab countries and Morocco would participate.

Melhem continued, "all brotherly and friendly countries to withdraw," adding that participation "would carry wrong messages about the unity of the Arab position" on rejecting Trump's plan.

Lebanon said they would not attend because they have not been consulted. Now really - why would the US consult Lebanon?

One of the biggest problems emerging out of this entire episode is that countries and leaders, including the Palestinians, have an unrealistic understanding of their true import and role in the larger picture - not just of the Middle East region, but of the world in general.

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Iran Mock Bombs White House
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

In Northern Iran, in the small village of Kiasar, an enactment of a mock attack on Israel, the White House and a US Naval ship was staged.

Fake rockets were emblazoned with the famous quote from the former leader and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini reading, "Israel must be erased from the annals of history."

The staged presentation was broadcast on Iranian TV. Present were heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Commander General Ali Fazli remarked: "This symbolic missile demonstrates their willpower and their faith. In fact, if there is a need one day, this place will be transformed into a real base for the defense of the religion of God."

In the video presentation of the strike a narrator is heard saying: "Prepare to erase Israel from the annals of history. This mark of shame will quickly and permanently be erased from the annals of the world. This base of global Zionism, England, and America - we shall raze it to the ground, and we shall erase it from the annals of history."

And the crowd applauded.


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Yiddish in the Spelling Bee
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For people who follow The Scripps National Spelling Bee this year's competition was more exciting than the Super Bowl.

Many people were amazed because the judges ruled that the competition was over and named eight national champions.

I found it amazing because three of the words in the competition were Yiddish.

Two of the Yiddish words were given to a 7th grader, contestant No. 5, Rishik Gandshari from San Jose, California.

The first Yiddish word he was given was "Yiddishkeit". He spelled it correctly. A little bit later he was given the Yiddish-Hebrew word "Keriah". The judges told Rishik that the word derives from Yiddish. Actually, "Keriah" really comes from the Hebrew. It means rending clothes during Jewish mourning. The judges defined it as tearing clothes in Jewish mourning ritual.

Finally, the last Yiddish word was "Lekach" the honey cake eaten by Ashkenazi Jews on and around Rosh Hashanah.

Wow.

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PA Religious Intolerance
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

At the end of Ramadan, the month of daily fasting, Muslims around the world celebrate. The celebration is called Eid el Fitr.

Because the Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar, based on the moon, and because that calendar has not been fixed or standardized like the Hebrew calendar, the celebration of Ramadan and Eid el Fitr varies from year to year.

Most of the Muslim world celebrates on June 5, but some celebrated on June 4. The cause of the disagreement centers on the question of how they calculate and see the new moon. So the date of the Eid depends on local leadership and their declaration of when the Eid begins.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE started Eid on Tuesday June 4, whereas Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan and Australia and others start today, Wednesday. The Palestinians, also, celebrate on June 5.

That brings me to the photo I saw of Palestinian police beating a Muslim Arab. The victim chose to celebrate the Eid on Tuesday, June 4 instead of Wednesday, June 5. They beat him with heavy four-foot wooden batons. The victim was on the ground.

This is a horrific act - and not simply because of the beating. It demonstrates just how intolerant the Palestinian system is for people who disagree. Where is religious freedom? Where is the protection of this man's rights? Whom did he hurt? Who will be held accountable for this gross violation of human rights?

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Crazy POV of the PA
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Saeb Erekat the Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee announced on Sunday that Israel is a security threat to the region.

On Twitter Erekat wrote:
"The Israeli occupation's aggression and provocations inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound." He continued "will be responsible for a new wave of violence to hit the whole region."

Erekat is repeating the very same tropes from 20 years ago. That the Middle East is about to explode because of Israel and their relationship with the Palestinians.

It should be clear that most of the leaders in the Middle East have lost patience with the Palestinians. And over the past year Palestinian leadership has once again tried to provoke the Arab masses into a frenzy because of some Israeli policy or another - even policies of safety and security at the Temple Mt did not cause mayhem. (Remember the Metal detectors).

Pundits thought that the Friday protests at the Gaza border would trigger mass riots around the Arab world. They did not. Many worried that every Friday during the month of Ramadan that there would be huge riots in Jerusalem which would cascade to violence around the world.

But these events were practically irrelevant and even if a small ripple was felt after some event - each blow back was temporary.

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US Tells Russia Israel May Strike Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Numerous times over the past few months the White House and the State
Department have told the Russians that they support Israel attacking Syrian targets.

Those targets include Hezbollah, pro-Iranian militias, Iranian advisers, weapons depots, transfers of weapons, command and control centers and launch and radar facilities.

The US explained that as-long-as Iran is present in Syria, Israel will consider it to be a direct threat and Israel will be justified in targeting Syrian military and all the other potential threats.

Israel, in the meantime, is planning a tri-lateral summit - Russia, the United States and Israel. The obvious topics of discussion will be Syria and Iran.

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Secret Behind New Elections in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I'm certain that every single reader knows that Israel is heading to snap elections on September 17.

This new election is anything but predictable at this stage. There is no knowing who will win or even how many parties will run.

The most important lesson learned from the earlier election is the simple rule of coalition politics.

The party that gains the plurality -- the most seats -- is not always the party with most power. As we saw -- the breakdown of the coalition negotiations proved this point and catapulted Israel into another national vote.

The smaller parties which are courted by the election winner almost always have significant and power in negotiations. Even small parties exert strength and try to get as much as they can when they join the coalition.

This is coalition politics. This is parliamentary democracy.

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Iran's Midget Subs are a Secret Weapon
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

National Interest magazine and website rated Iran's navy as the fourth most powerful in the world.

Iran's is a non-conventional navy. It hardly has 10 active large ships. It does have 34 mini submarines. And that is a huge number. These subs are officially termed midget subs or "littoral" subs. About 24 were locally built in Iran and the rest were built and bought from North Korea.

These electric and diesel subs are extremely useful in the shallow and narrow straits and water ways in the region near Iran. Larger nuclear subs and Western subs cannot maneuver well in the Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. These subs are the perfect attack given the terrain.

And that is why Iran's navy is ranked 4th in the world.

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Reading Trump's Rhetoric
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It is very important to sort the rhetoric from the objectives in understanding President Donald J. Trump.

At a press conference held in Tokyo as part of his visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump explained that he wants Iran to be non-nuclear. He explained that he does not want a war and he certainly does not want a change in regime.

Trump said: "I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that's very smart of them, and I think that's a possibility to happen."

"It has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership ... We aren't looking for regime change - I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons."

That was not rhetoric.

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Living w Anti-Semitism
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Felix Klein, Germany's Government Commissioner on anti-Semitism, announced that Jews should not wear a kippa in public. Klein said: "I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany."

In response to Klein's remark Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said: "The statement of the German government's anti-Semitism commissioner that it would be preferable for Jews not wear a kippa in Germany out of fear for their safety, shocked me deeply".

This is not the first time German leadership has warned Jews to be careful and not wear a kippa. Last year the head of the German Jewish community said something similar, but he was more specific and said not to wear a kippa in public especially in large municipalities.

Israelis do not understand what it means to live with anti-Semitism.

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PA Arrests ISIS Terrorist
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority has arrested a would-be ISIS terrorist. She - yes she, is a 23 year old teacher named Alaa Bashir.
Bashir's plan was to murder as many Israeli Jews as possible. Under interrogation Alaa admitted to her plan and to who trained her. She said that she began life as a potential terrorist by affiliating with al Qaeda and moved on to ISIS. She said that she was recruited via a Telegram group which is highly encrypted.

Alaa Bashir told her arresters that ISIS leaders from Syria and Gaza taught her how to assemble explosive devices.

The PA has been watching Bashir for some time, but because she is the niece of a general in the PA's internal security division, until she had a real plan in place she was left alone.

Now - the incongruity with this arrest by the PA needs to be explained.

Despite tensions in the political sphere, security interaction between Israel and the PA works very well. Security teams are in constant contact and work together towards preventing terror. It's a two-way street. Israel has thwarted attacks against Palestinians, and now the PA has thwarted an attack against Israelis.

And yet, PA political leadership continues to support and even pay terrorists to attack Jewish Israelis. So why stop an ISIS terrorist?

After all, what's the difference - dead Israelis are dead Israelis, no matter if they are killed by PA terrorists or ISIS terrorists. Both groups are united in the desire to murder as many Israelis as possible.

The difference is cause and motivation. Palestinian Authority leadership does not profess the same ideals as ISIS. (Gaza leadership, however, does share some of the ISIS ideology - emphasis on some).

Unlike ISIS, Palestinians do not want an Islamic caliphate.

So despite similar desires to murder Jews and to strike terror in
Israel, ISIS and the PA are not in agreement about fundamental issues. And that's why Alaa Bashir was arrested by the PA before perpetrating acts of terror against Israelis.

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Ayatollah Withdraws Support for President
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Supreme Leader of Iran The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted a major critique of the president and foreign minister of Iran on his official website Wednesday May 22.

This is a serious public and direct attack against President Hassan Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Khamenei said: "In some extent, I did not believe in the way that the nuclear deal was implemented. Many times I reminded both the president and the foreign minister."

This announcement on his website is an official withdrawal of support. That means the Supreme leader is leaning elsewhere and to the right.
The president and foreign minister serve at the pleasure of the Supreme leader.

The president and the foreign minister made it very clear that they represented a more liberal Iran and the nuke deal was in the best interest of all of Iran.

The Ayatollah was skeptical at the time but went along and gave the deal and the president a chance. We are now seeing the Ayatollah remind us of his pov in 2015. That is his way of saying your days in office are numbered.

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Hamas Mails Weapons to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has, twice in one week intercepted weapons, components and other tools of war headed for Gaza.

The materials were confiscated at Erez Crossing going into Gaza. All the items were being delivered through the mail. They were all ordered online for delivery to Gaza - and then they were stopped.

In total 372 packages were intercepted. On Tuesday 200 packages were intercepted and on Thursday 172 were intercepted.

Look at this list, this is what the Israelis found and confiscated: multi-rotors, tasers, weapons, balaclavas (ski masks), lasers, air-bag mechanisms, field phones, laser-making lathes, navigation equipment, telescopic sights and military-issue shoes.

Hamas and other extremist groups in Gaza are trying very hard to arm themselves.

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Israeli Lands in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

An Israeli backpacker named Bar Azoulay spent over four hours in Teheran.

Azoulay was flying from India to Bucharest, Romania for his brother's prenuptial celebration. On the way, someone on his plane had a heart attack and the plane was forced to land at the nearest airport - and that meant Tehran, Iran.

Azoulay was lucky. Throughout the four plus hour emergency delay he was on the ground. The Israeli fully expected Iranian authorities to demand that he deplane and that would be the end.

Instead, in the end, more than four tense hours later, the plane took off for Istanbul.

Speaking about the medical emergency and the plane's diversion to Teheran, Azoulay said: "After we landed, a medical crew boarded the plane, and I just sat there hoping they won't take us off. I promised myself that if I have to leave, it definitely won't be alone."

Once the medical crew stabilized the patient and he was removed from the plane, "we waited another four hours - and that's it."

Wow!


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US Has Low Expectations for the Peace Deal
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Deal of the Century is getting a huge amount of press coverage lately.

President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said the "challenge of reaching a peace deal is extraordinary". He predicted that the great deal will be greeted with criticism. Well of course.

"What we hope is a full, comprehensive peace agreement," Greenblatt said while addressing the World Jewish Congress' annual meeting on Wednesday in Ottawa. "If that can't be achieved, then positive steps forward to help both Palestinians and Israelis and the region would be very good as well."

There should be no doubt that the peace deal will be met with mixed feelings from sides. But the Palestinians have an automatic "no". And that will be what stops the deal in its tracks.

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Tensions Btw US and Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Rhetoric is extremely high between Iran and the US. US President Trump says the Iran will "face its end" if it attacks the US. This comes after a missile lands too close to the US embassy in Baghdad.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said over the past few days that they do not want war but - "there is no power that can confront us."

Israel added that it will not enter any conflict unless it is attacked.
Of course there is a fear that a skirmish might be sparked by accident.

There is a long history of this in war.

The possibility that some underling somewhere, manning a weapons position will take the rhetoric seriously and push the wrong button in response to something is very possible

But discipline is very important. Middle level military leadership is essential. This is where training is so important.

Rhetoric is simply rhetoric. Neither Iran nor the US want to engage they not should escalate based on rhetoric. They need to walk back the tensions.

We need to watch this carefully over the next few days.

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Jordan is in Trouble
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jordan's King Abdullah II is in a very precarious situation. Abdullah, who was never a very strong leader, is in a more weakened position than ever. He is in danger of becoming even weaker and he is certainly in danger of being overthrown.

Countries in the region see Jordan's king as irrelevant. They have no interest and no need for Jordan. Abdullah is not looped into any talks, strategy conversations or meetings. Washington barely speaks to him and even when he travels to DC he gets little respect and even less information.

King Abdullah II of Jordan has gotten no details of the famous peace plan.

Israel barely bothers to speak to the Jordanian king. And yet, Jordan needs Israel just like it needs backing from Washington and regional leaders like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Jordan needs their economic aid and needs a commitment to protect and defend the monarchy - his monarchy. But that aid has been dwindling. Leaders do not see the value of Jordan.

Jordan is petrified of neighboring country Syria, petrified by Assad, ISIS, Hezbollah and Iran. On Jordan's other border, Iraq is teaming up with Iran. Jordan has been the magnet for refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq. With those refugees come extremists from ISIS and al Qaeda as well as Iranian agents.

But Israel has not forsaken Jordan, not throwing Abdullah to his neighboring wolves. Israel is helping secure Jordan and it is probably Israel that leaked intelligence to an Arabic media outlet that there was a plot to assassinate key players in the Jordanian government.

Once upon a time Jordan was an important ally to Israel and in the region. Today the Hashemite Kingdom is no longer essential. The problem is that the alternative to Jordan is far worse. Despite their current status, for the sake of a stable region, Jordan and King Abdullah II must be reinvigorated and revitalized.

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Understanding Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Understanding Qatar requires clear insight and a watchful eye.
Qatar is emerging as a significant player in the Middle East, especially with regard to the Palestinians. Of late, Qatar is even exerting influence on Hamas and on Islamic Jihad.

At the same time - Qatar is siding with Iran against other Sunni nations. So much so that Saudi Arabia and their minions are united against Qatar.

The best example of their influence in the Middle East is the $480 million that Qatar gave to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to solidify a ceasefire with Israel. Egypt was not able to broker the agreement. The PA was not even in the room. The UN was irrelevant. Islamic Jihad, despite recently seeming to emerge as a force, was non-existent.

Qatar procured a ceasefire.

There's more. Turkey and Qatar have developed a very good relationship and that relationship, too, will be leveraged exponentially to propel Qatar into the role of regional influencer.

We need to keep a better watch on the Qataris.
Qatar may be isolated from their fellow Sunnis, but they have become remarkably successful at relationship building and power broking and have even begun to encroach on the role of Saudi Arabia as the region's great influencer.

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The Griffons Were Poisoned
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Eight griffon vultures were found dead in the Golan Heights. They were poisoned. Two others were poisoned and have been taken to an Israeli wildlife clinic. This was not terror -- it was the dastardly act of selfish people.

The Israeli authorities are investigating.

These birds of prey are huge - 9 feet wingspan 4 feet in length. They are so strong that they can literally pick up a baby calf or goat. The primary suspects are cattle owners who have poisoned griffons in the past.

These 10 birds are more than half of the entire griffon population in the region. What makes the timing of the mass killing even worse is that this is nesting season. Nesting is when the eggs are laid and they sit in the nest. The eggs need to be protected in order to hatch.

The eggs will probably not survive, creating yet another blow to the griffon population.

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Nakba is Today
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Nakba is the Palestinian Day of Catastrophe. It is May 15, 1948. The Day is remembered every May 15 since 1948.

Nakba, of course, corresponds to the Gregorian date of Israel's independence. It sounds strange -- Israel's creation is a Palestinian catastrophe -- but this is part of Palestinian culture.

This year there were Palestinian rallies throughout the region. One particular rally was at the Gaza border at the site of the Friday weekly rallies which are called the "March of Return." They gather and try to march through the border fence separating Gaza and Israel and then the purpose is to take Israel from the Israelis.

They attempt to breach the fence and the IDF uses various methods to stop them.

Hamas launches balloons and kites with bombs they roll burning truck tires.

It is hardly a peaceful protest. People often get hurt and some even die. So far today there have been no fatalities and injuries. Today, Hamas created a series of points where people should gather near the border fence. Hamas is clamping down and trying to control any violence to prove that they are in charge and to preserve the fragile cease fire with Israel.

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Iran Will Compete Against Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's Olympic Committee has officially announced that they concluded meetings with the International Judo Federation.

Iranian Judokas will now compete against Israelis.

Of course, the announcement did not mention Israel. It specifically referred to the Tokyo Olympics which will take place in the summer of 2020.

Over the years Iranian athletes have missed weigh-ins, faked injuries or found other excuses to get out and even forfeit their matches when they were scheduled to compete against Israelis.

The head of the Iranian Basiji Athletes Organization, General Daoud Azarnoush, had a different take on the announcement of Iran's new policy. He said that he hopes Israel will be wiped out before the next summer Olympic games in Tokyo when Israel and Iran will likely compete.

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Eurovision Starts in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Eurovision song competition began Sunday in Tel Aviv. While not a very popular music competition in the United States, Eurovision is the biggest musical event of the year worldwide.

As expected, there were calls for boycotts and threats of terror. More than 20,000 Israeli police are on hand - just in case. 250 million people around the world are expected to watch and Madonna, we are told, is scheduled to take the stage in a show of solidarity with Israel.

Each year, the previous winner's home country hosts Eurovision. Israel is hosting this year because last year's Israeli contestant, a woman named Netta Barzilai, won the competition with the song Toy. The Israelis created a huge statue of Netta in downtown Tel Aviv.

Israel has won Eurovision four previous times, once with the iconic song Halleluyah.

Two semi-final rounds will take place in Tel Aviv on May 14th and May 16th. The grand finale will be held on May 18th.

For Israel, winning and then hosting Eurovision, an international event based on merit and creativity, engenders a renewed sense of pride and validation. It is perfectly timed after Israel Independence Day and Jerusalem Day.

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US Condemns UN
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

I do not like to write about the United Nations but sometimes what happens is so outrageous I cannot remain silent.

The United Nations Security Council met to condemn Israel. They did not condemn Hamas for launching 700 rockets into Israel.

President Trump's Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt appeared at was is called and Arria Formula meeting. He condemned the UNSC for their present act and their history.

"Where is the urgent condemnation from this room for that unconscionable, sustained attack? Where is the sympathy and the solidarity for the people of Israel? All I hear is silence," Greenblatt said.

"It is baffling and disappointing to see the obvious, continual anti=Israel bias here. Here we are in an Arria session to condemn Israel, in the same halls where just a few months ago, Member States failed to condemn Hamas, a known terrorist organization that just a few days ago fired close to 700 rockets at Israel - including at hospitals and schools," Greenblatt said.

"It is truly shameful that in these halls there have been nearly 700 resolutions condemning actions of Israel - the region's only real democracy - yet not one condemning Hamas' attacks on Israelis or its abuse and neglect of the very people it purports to govern," Greenblatt said.

Looking beyond Gaza, he said, the UNSC has never held an "Arria or session of any kind focused on Palestinian terrorism or incitement."

"Let's stop pretending that settlements are what is keeping the sides from a negotiated peaceful solution. This farce and obsessive focus on one aspect of this complicated conflict helps no one," Greenblatt said.

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Israel: Happy B-Day
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It is Israel's 71 birthday!

This is no small fete. Israel has transformed the world during those 71 years. Not just the Jewish world --- the entire world. The world is a better place because Israel exists.

During the first few years after Israel was established -- it was not at all clear that Israel would survive. That was the second miracle -- the first being the creation of the state itself. At any moment the young fledgling state could be over run by her hostile neighbors.

And yet Israel survived and grew now to over 9 million citizens (9,021,000 to be exact).

The creation of Israel and its continued strength and success illustrate several important points in history. The first is that the destiny of the Jewish people is not victimhood but creativity and productive contributions. Despite the horrors of Holocaust, Israel emerged as fulfillment of the age old dream of building the promised land, the holyland.

Being connected to the land of Israel is transformative. That connection is called Zionism. It changed the Jews as individuals and as a community. There is a stark contrast in Jewish life between pre and post 1948, the year Israel was established.

It was a watershed. It was one of the greatest most drastic distinctions in history. Within a period of 15 years (1941-1956) Jews went from horror to rebirth to builders. Ask any Jew who lived before and after.

Never take this miracle for granted. And remember that the miracle continues today and every day.

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The Cost of Gaza Rockets
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

There are several interesting pieces of information to be noted about the barrage of nearly 700 rockets that were just launched toward and into Israel.

90 of those rockets never made it into Israel. 240 were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Most of the others landed in empty areas.

It is estimated that between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Gaza is in possession of between 5,000 and 20,000 rockets and missiles. Most of the rockets are short range but some, especially those missiles smuggled in from Iran, have the ability to reach far into Israel.

The Iranian supplied missiles aside, most of the rockets in Gaza are locally built in work-sheds and industrial parks. They are made from materials smuggled into Gaza.

The price is the most remarkable aspect of these locally made rockets. They cost anywhere between one hundred dollars and a few hundred dollars. The price depends on what goes into the rocket, especially the propellant.

Gaza's terrorists can develop a powerful weapon for a fraction of the cost of the Iranian-made rockets. The Iron Dome, which intercepts rockets and missiles shot from Gaza into Israel, costs up to tens of thousands of dollars for each intercept.

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Israel's New Population Numbers
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Every year, on the eve of Israel's anniversary, they release the country's population numbers. The numbers are humbling given Israel's short, 71 year history, and the realization that just a few years ago Jews suffered a Holocaust.

Today, the total population of Israel is 9,021,000 people. That's the official number given by the annual report released by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. The report was made public on Sunday.

The report divides the population into different demographics.
6,697,000 of Israelis are Jews (74.2%).
1,890,000 are Arabs (20.9%).
434,000 belong to other religions (4.8%).

Israel is just a little larger than Papua, New Guinea and just a little smaller than Switzerland and Austria. It is miraculous that Israel has accomplished so much and is on track to accomplish so much more.


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They Defend Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted a defense of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. She tweeted after Palestinians launched more than 600 rockets into Israel and Israel struck back at launch sites and command and control centers.

She wrote: "How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends? The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace." in a tweet Sunday night.

This is stunning. But even more stunning was this response to a NYTimes headline. The headline read "Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets and Israel Responds with Airstrikes."

Rashida Tlaib Democrat from Michigan and a Palestinian American tweeted: "When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free? Headlines like this & framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families. #FreePalestine"


WOW! Simply warped

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Gaza Could Become A Major Crisis
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Gaza launched 430 rockets into Israel on Saturday morning thru Sunday morning. 180 of the rockets were fired overnight.

Israel retaliated by striking 130 sites in Gaza.

Early on Saturday morning Gaza began the barrage by sending 50 rockets toward heavily populated cities and towns. Israel's Iron dome was launched and intercepted some of the rockets.

Over the course of the day Gaza continued to loft rockets into Israel. Israel struck back at what appears to have been a predetermined set of locations. but there was some collateral damage. In Gaza a pregnant mother and her fourteen-month old child were killed. And in Israel a sixty year old man was injured and then died from his wounds.

We must monitor this very carefully. The response and the counter response between Gaza and Israel will determine whether or not this barrage escalates into a much larger set of events or even into a military operation.

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Escalation on Gaza Border
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt takes its role as mediator between Israel and Gaza very seriously. Tensions are rising and the conflict might escalate.

In response Egypt has invited or rather summoned the leaders of Hamas specifically Yahya Sinwar and the leaders of Islamic Jihad to Cairo.
They are not simply concerned about the tensions at the Gaza border with Israel.

This week numerous balloons and kites were launched in to Israel was well as a rocket which missed its target and landed in the Mediterranean Sea. The rocket was launched by Islamic Jihad - they accepted responsibility for the attack.

In response Israel struck Hamas and Jihad positions from the air.
Israeli leadership has threatened that if things do not come under control in Gaza and if things are not become calmer they will re-institute their policy targeting Hamas and Jihad leadership. Targeting is a euphemism for saying assassinate.

Hamas in turn announced that if assassinations resume then they will start launching rockets at major cities in Israel.

The threat is real and escalation seems very possible.

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Middle East is Buying Weapons
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Countries in the Middle East spend more on defense than anywhere else in the rest of the world. And now the United States is urging NATO to reduce its defense spending to 2% from about 5% of their GDP.

Most countries in the Middle East spend 10% or more of their GDP on defense - especially on purchasing weapons. Oman spends 11% and Saudi Arabia spends 10.8%. Afghanistan spends 10.1% of its budget on defense.

Seven out of the top ten defense spenders are Middle East countries and ten out of the fifteen largest spenders are from the Middle East and North Africa.

There are several essential points to be learned from this information. First is that both the United States and Russia benefit from supplying these weapons. Next is that it means that the Middle East is being armed way beyond their need.

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An ISIS Resurgence
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has surfaced. He took responsibility for the deadly terror attack, the mass murder in Sri Lanka. Baghdadi also outlined the role of the Islamic State - IS without a state.

French Intel said that: "The video of al-Baghdadi - the Caliph without a caliphate - is to be considered with caution at this stage. French services are analyzing it."

French Intel continued: "If this video is authentic, it confirms what we have repeated: Daesh (Islamic State) has no territory, but Daesh has not disappeared."

The important point is that IS is still very much alive with or without Baghdadi. If Baghdadi is alive then IS is not just alive but will certainly have an explosive resurgence in the near future.

Be aware and be alert!

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Poland To Import Gas from Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like Poland is going to import gas from Israel.
Poland wants - or rather needs, to disconnect from its Russian gas dependence.

Relying on Russia for just about anything almost always lead to problems. Poland knows this. According to Piotr Wozniak, CEO of PGNiG, the Polish state-controlled oil and gas company, Poland is "interested" in importing gas from Israel.

He told Reuters: "We are looking at all those places to the south of Poland ... So yes, we are interested in Israel ... We want to be the company at the crossroads of North-South and East-West ... we need something to the south. Something reliable. So we are looking at all those places to the south of Poland very carefully... So yes, we are interested in Israel."

This is very good news and a very important show of independence by Poland.

Russia has spent decades forcing countries into submission by using energy as a way to exert influence. Now Poland is finding a way to remove that threat and to forge an independent policy without Russia hanging over their shoulder.

Kudos to Poland.

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Iran Responds to US Threats
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is responding to US threats.

Yesterday they threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz through which 20% - 30% of the world's oil travels every day.

They are also threatening Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Iran is saying you think you can replace us and promise Donald Trump that you will fill the supply gap - don't count on it.

According to Iran's President Rouhani: "You whose existence is in the shadow of the Islamic Republic of Iran, how can you tell Trump that if you bring Iran's oil exports to zero we will make up for it? ... Do you understand the consequences of this statement and that it means you are a definite enemy of the Iranian people?"

Rouhani went on to say that if the United States wants to negotiate, all sanctions need to be lifted and an apology must be issued, referring to a prisoner exchange. This is Rouhani's phraseology: "Negotiation is only possible if all the pressures are lifted, they apologize for their illegal actions and there is mutual respect."

The Grand Ayatollah Khamenei has also chimed in. The Supreme Leader of Iran said: "America's efforts in sanctioning the sale of Iranian oil won't get anywhere ... We can export as much of our oil as we need and want."

This is very serious. The world oil market will feel the effects of
this standoff. Oil is now at its highest price since November.

The battle of oil on the world market has begun and Iran is not forfeiting.

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Abbas Calling Trump's Bluff
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jared Kushner, in conjunction with the the Trump White House, is starting a campaign to prop up and promote their deal of the century.

But at the same time Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, has embarked on his own campaign.

Abbas has called a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council to be held on May 15th in Ramallah.

The Council will discuss rescinding recognition of Israel and no longer engaging in security or any other interactions and exchanges with Israel.

They will discuss separating from Israel and the US and putting forth all requests to Europe. The most important appeal they will make will be for statehood and recognition.

Abbas is telling the US and Kushner and Trump we do not want your deal, we want a state. And Europe will recognize us. They are saying we the Palestinians do not need your support or your signing off on what we are getting form Russia the EU and even from Iran. Gone are the days that the United States can dictate to us.

We will soon know if the Palestinians emerge successful in their campaign and if they have outsmarted the United States.

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Trump Cracks Down on Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The pressure is mounting.

The United States has cancelled all 8 waivers that permitted certain countries to import oil from Iran.

Now, President Trump has announced that anyone importing anything -- especially oil - from Iran will be sanctioned by the US. President
Trump is giving allies a choice: do business with Iran or do business with the United States. It is a simple choice. You can't do both.

Iran is responding. Iranian leadership has announced that they will close the Straits of Hormuz if they are not permitted to export their oil.

This is a game of rhetoric and power.
Who knows what the next move will be.

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Iran's HomeMade Fighter Jet
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran flew its first totally, locally, manufactured fighter jet yesterday.

I watched the videos and it showed nothing exceptional.
The Jet is called the Kowsar or Thunderbolt. It is also the name of a section in the Koran.

The Kowsar is based on the US made Northrop F-5. Iran claims that their jet is 4th generation in its technology and that it is capable of jamming all electronic attacks.

It was said that Iran manufactured at least 5 Kowsar jets. They claim 7 but I saw a picture of 5 of them in the factory. Iran is now ready not simply to test, but also to sell them.

The question now is how well this Iranian-made jet stands up against the best US and Russian fighter jets and computer technology.

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What Happened in Bahrain
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For the past three days I have been reading how the Israeli delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress hosted in Bahrain cancelled their visit due to security concerns.

The story was posted all over the Hebrew and Israeli press.
Surprise! Then I discovered that the Israeli delegation went to the Congress, returned home from the Congress and called it a successful trip.

Okay, so there were protests and members of the Bahraini parliament shouted that Israelis have no place in Bahrain. But in Bahrain decisions are made by the Emir, not the members of parliament and the Emir wanted the Israelis at the Congress. In fact, they were under his protection.

The president and founder of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Jonathan Ortmans, was the source for the story that, while the Israelis were welcome , they did not attend for security reasons.

In the end, both versions of the story are probably accurate. Here is what probably happened. The Israeli went to Bahrain and met with several officials, maybe even the Emir. They probably did not attend the Congress.

That is why we have conflicting stories.

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Saudis Raise Their Price of Gas
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:


Saudi Arabia is raising its price of gasoline. The price of 95 Octane gas was originally .50 cents a liter and 91 Octane gas was .37 cent per liter. The new price is .56 cents and .38 cents.

There are 3.78 liters per liquid gallon -- that means the price per gallon in Saudi Arabia is $2.11 for 95 Octane and $1.43 for 91 Octane.

The Saudis say that the price of oil is determined by world market price of oil per barrel. Since the cost of oil has hit $70 per barrel they claim that the internal price of oil had to reflect that increase.

There has always been a myth that the price of gasoline in Saudi Arabia was nearly free -- almost like the price of water. That is simply incorrect. The Saudis are the largest producer of oil in the world and the 3rd largest exporter.

All this is true but gasoline still costs money.

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White House Keeps a Secret
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

This White House is all about tweeting and telling the most ridiculous and minute details of the happenings in the Oval Office.

The Trump White House leaks and tweets about almost everything.
Everything that is, except their Middle East peace plan.

The one thing that the White House has kept completely secret is the peace plan. We hear learned a few details, but nothing that has been confirmed. Supposedly the plan is tens of pages long. And we are told that it stops way shy of Palestinian statehood.

It stuns me that the White House has been able to keep the plan a secret. And it stuns me even more that so many people in the media are so ready to comment about a plan they have never read and a plan they know so little about.


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IMF Downgrades Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The International Monetary Fund, the IMF has revised their estimates for growth in the Middle East. They cut the predictions in half from 2.5% to 1.3% growth.

That is a major failure for the Middle East economy and the a statement
of lack of faith by the investor countries.

It all has to do with 2 factors oil and stability.

As for oil ... It seems that their forecast expected much more oil and sadly that is not the case. On the issue of security ... it has not been a calm period in the Middle East.

Investors were very hopeful for the Middle East but there has been no sense that success is around the corner.

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Biggest Winners in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The big winners in the Israeli elections were the religious parties.

The United Torah party increased their seats to 7. In addition, Shas the religious party, known as the party of the sefardim, of the Israelis who have roots in Arab North Africa also gained seats and now they have 8 in the upcoming Knesset.

Also the Right Wing Union party also received 5 seats.

The biggest losers are Labor with 6 and Meretz with 4. The second big loser was the Arabs. The Arab voter turnout was low. There are 2 Arab parties and both together they yielded 10 votes.

If you were to read Haaretz you would think that it is the end of democracy.

But hands down the biggest loser was the New Right Party. After the final counting of the ballots the New Right has failed to reach the threshold and make it in to the Knesset. They broke away from their party counting on right of center votes and they failed.

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Israel's Election
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Yes, there was an election in Israel yesterday.

And yes Bibi Netanyahu, will, without a doubt form the next government.

Israel is a rich and vital democracy - but it is not a democracy like the United States. Israel is a parliamentary democracy like Canada and the United Kingdom.

In Israel no candidate runs for prime minister and no Israeli casts their vote for a candidate.

Israelis vote for parties and the leader of the party with the most realistic chance of forming a coalition (of over half of the 120 seats in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament) is asked to form a government and then, that party leader becomes prime minister.

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Election Roll May be Hacked
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A hacker posted lists of Israeli voters on Saturday. The hacker claimed to have hacked 6,000,000 people and their details from what they claimed are current voter rolls.

The hacker was part of a larger, annual, mass hack attack against Israel called OpIsrael. It takes place ever year on April 7th and has been an annual event since 2011. Just coincidentally, tis is an election year and the election is today.

The name of the hacker is DarkCoder.

The timing of the hack is telling.

DarkCoder tweeted about the attack on Saturday, just days before Israelis go to the polls. Included in the tweet was a screenshot of a list of many, many names and ID numbers.

But really, it is doubtful that the system was hacked. More likely the list was copied from a previous hack. That information is on line and accessible.

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Flooding in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

70 Iranians have died in floods over these past few weeks. The devastation has caused thousands of people to be relocated.

The numbers say everything.

1900 cites have been flooded. 140 rivers have burst their banks. 409 landslides. 78 roads destroyed. 84 bridges failed.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement: "These floods once again show the level of Iranian regime mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness. The regime blames outside entities when, in fact, it is their mismanagement that has led to this disaster ... The United States stands ready to assist and contribute to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would then direct the money through the Iranian Red Crescent for relief."

Pompeo is correct. Iranians are suffering and their leadership is standing idly by and letting it happen.

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China & Russia Selling Arms in MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

China and Russia are moving to encroach on the US in the arms market in the Middle East.

The United States has always dominated the Middle East arms market and now that is changing. Both Russia and China and pitching to Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

To get a sense of just how lucrative and enormous this market it, in 2018 Saudi Arabia bought $7.7 billion of weapons from the US.

The US is losing market share in the Middle East. Russia and China are all too aware of that fact. The US is no longer the most influential force in the region. China and Russia are laughing, as the saying goes, all the way to the bank.

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Story Behind Baumel's Return
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Details of how Zachariah Baumel's remains were finally returned to his family and buried after 37 years are just now coming out.

The remains of a total of 20 bodies ended up in Israel's Abu Karbi forensic lab in Jaffa. Only one of them matched the remains of a missing Israeli soldiers. That was Baumel.

The entire operation of retrieving the bodies took 2 years and was managed by Russia. There were of course some snags along the way as tensions between Israel and Russia increased and decreased. The entire operation was put on hold after the Russia military transport was shot down by the Syrians and Russia blamed Israel.

The remains were found in the Yarmuq refugee camp which until recently was controlled by ISIS. After ISIS was removed Russia could go in.

Then the bodies were transferred to Israel.

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Superbugs Taking Over the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Superbugs are endangering the Middle East.

A Superbug is type of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. Superbugs are the result of overuse of antibiotics in a society.

Iraq and Egypt seem to have the worst case of Superbugs. They are popping up elsewhere in almost every part of the Middle East.

As far as we can see these areas have not controlled their use of antibiotics. Some have said that antibiotics are distributed like candy. And what is worse is that these societies also give them freely to their livestock.

Because of overexposure and over use of the medicine the antibiotics are simply not effective against these Superbugs. The medicine is simply not stopping the bacteria.

This problem has endangered the public health of the entire region. Unfortunately, there is nothing for them to do to change the situation. Stronger antibiotics would work but only if their use was limited and only prescribed in extreme situations.

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Bibi to Moscow
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 3, 2019
I've Been Thinking:

Netanyahu is flying off to Moscow on Thursday to meet face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It must be very important for the Israeli PM to take a day and make this trip especially because it is 5 days prior to an Israeli national election where he is not necessarily a shoe in winner.

What is so important? Only one thing ... Security!!!!

The announcement came on Tuesday and the trip is Thursday so the subject is time sensitive and cannot wait until after the elections.

It must have to do either with Syria or Iran or both.

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Most Expensive Painting Missing
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The most expensive painting ever sold was auctioned by Christies in November of 2017. It was a painting by DaVinci named Salvator Mundi.

The record breaking painting was sold for $450.3 million and was purchased by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamud bin Salman.

The painting was supposed to go on display in September of 2018 in the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre. But that never happened. It seems that the painting has disappeared.

No one is answering questions about the whereabouts of the famous painting.


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Arabs Are Not Voting in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's upcoming April 9 election is raising some important questions.
One very interesting factoid is that a recent study shows that large percentage of Arabs who are citizens of Israel not planning on voting.

The joint Arab List is the third largest party in this outgoing Knesset. They currently hold 13 seats. It is worth pondering that important point.

The study shows that 19% fewer Arabs will go out and vote in the next election. That means a drop from their already dropping number. In the most recent Israeli election only 63% of the Arab citizens of Israel voted.

Ironically the motto of the joint Arab List is "flocking to the polls."
This is actually a play on the Netanyahu's fear mongering during the last vote when he said that the "Arabs are rushing to the polls."

Arab citizens of Israel really are not rushing out to vote.

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Brazil Will Move Its Embassy Slowly
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

In order to succeed in diplomacy one needs both patience and realism. Sometimes huge bold pronouncements are simply election slogans. On a practical scale it is difficult to snap your finger and accomplish big changes.

So I was not surprised when I saw that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro changed his tune about moving his country's embassy to Jerusalem.

The Israeli press covered the announcement as a walk back of the decision. The Arabic press covered it as a decision reversal.
They got it wrong.

Just like Honduras, Brazil will open an office - not an official embassy - in Jerusalem. The message sent by the Brazilian foreign ministry was that they will be opening a business office in Jerusalem. It is the first step in the process that will ultimately lead to an embassy in Jerusalem.

The date, Guatemala has moved their embassy to Jerusalem. Last week, Hungary opened a diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem. Romania announced that they will be moving their embassy. Prime Minister Viorica Dancila of Romania made that announcement at the AIPAC conference.

Others, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Australia are all discussing it.

It will happen, it will happen in stages and it will take time.

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Israeli Mayor Writes His Gazan Counterpart
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Mayor Alon Davidi, the mayor of Sderot, wrote a note to Ismail Haniyah, the leader of Hamas in Gaza.

Davidi wrote the note in Arabic and posted it on Twitter.

"Good morning, ya Haniyeh ... I wanted to send you an email or a fax, but it seems your offices no longer exist."

"Ismail Haniyeh - can you not see that you’re losing? You take all the money you get from the Arab world and instead of using it for food, a functioning economy and a future for Gaza's residents, you waste it on your image and attempts to beat us."

"It's true Haniyeh, things aren't easy (here). Sometimes it's rough and I'll go as far as to say we're suffering. But look at the results of your behavior... How does Gaza look in comparison to Sderot?"

"You've been launching rockets at us for 18 years ... But it seems you don't know what goes on in this city - it's booming! Hundreds of new residents join us every year, new homes are being built. We're growing and growing stronger."

Davidi attached 2 pictures one of the destruction of Gaza the other of the development of Sderot.

Pretty powerful.

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Tehran is Under Water
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Parts of Tehran are under water. Actually 31 provinces in Iran have experienced torrential floods mudslides and sink holes.

As of the last count 32 people are dead and the death toll will certainly rise.

The forecast is for more rain -- more disaster.

There have been landslides of 25 feet. That means that a 25 feet high wave of mud and debrit including rock and everything else surges destroying everything it is wake. When a force that powerful hits its destructive power is devastating.

Roads have been destroyed, bridges wrecked and home washed away.

Iran is in a terrible crisis.

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Honduras Recognizes Jersualem as Capital
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Most people do not know that Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras. But it's an important fact that we all should know.

The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, announced that his country now recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Honduras will not be moving their embassy just yet, but they will be opening an office for trade and other official activities in Jerusalem. It is the first few steps in the process of moving the embassy

Hernandez said: "Today I have announced the first step, which is to open a trade office in Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel, and this will be an extension of our embassy in Tel Aviv."

Hernandez continued: "I've said that a second step will draw a lot of attacks from the enemies of Israel and the United States, but we will continue along this path."

This move by Honduras is significant and will impact others to act the same way - recognizing Jerusalem as the capital first, moving their embassy to Jerusalem later.

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Abbas Suggests US Force for PA
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed students at American University in Ramallah on Saturday. He described his fourth and last meeting with US President Donald Trump.

The meeting he spoke of took place in September of 2017 in New York City on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

During that meeting Abbas proposed a US peace keeping force to serve in the Palestinian state, supplemented by NATO troops. He said that Trump liked the idea.

"I told him that if Israel is worried about its security, I propose bringing US-led NATO troops to Palestine to protect Israel's and our security."

Abbas said that Trump then asked an aide "How many soldiers do we have?"

The official said that the United States has 6,000 soldiers who could be part of the planned NATO force.

"Trump told his aide that this number was not enough, but the soldiers should anyway be ready,” Abbas added. "I told Trump: Mr. President, I don't like war and I don’t believe in war. I believe that if we get our state, I would prefer to build a school than buy a tank, or build a hospital than purchase a warplane. I don’t want weapons. I just want to build my country."

After this exchange Abbas told the students. Trump looked at him and said: "How come they say you’re a terrorist? You are a man of peace."

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Israel Ranked 13th in World Happiness
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The results of the 2019 World Happiness Report are in - and Israel is ranked 13th in the world.

Actually, Israel slipped two positions since last year when they were ranked eleventh.

Topping the list are Finland, Norway and Sweden. The United States is ranked 19.

The World Happiness Report is generated by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and comes out annually in conjunction with the Ernest Illy Foundations and with the Gallup Polling Company.

The study is very telling specifically because it is based on how citizens define their own happiness. There is no standard variable or scientific standard and there is no way of equalizing the happiness quotient except to ask each person to rank how they feel on a scale of 1 - 10.

Interestingly, despite falling two places in world ranking, Israel's own happiness rating increased by 0.5 from last year.

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Model Planes and Balloons From Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The threats Israel is facing from Gaza continue to grow.

A few hours ago, a Styrofoam model airplane landed in the Eshkol region. A hand grenade was attached. The toy was found on Highway 234 near Gaza.

Of course, police sappers were called in and the devise was defused.

In addition to the model airplane, a bundle of balloons was found on Highway 40 in the northern Negev late on Sunday. This was the fourth set of balloon bombs sent from Gaza into Israel on Sunday. And again, police sappers were called to examine the explosives and defuse them.

These small devises are significant threats to the calm and well being of normal life in the region.

They are weapons of terror and they continue to threaten the lives and the wellbeing of Israeli citizens.

The end of this terror tactic is not yet in sight.

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Polish Paper- How to Identify a Jew
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

A weekly news magazine in Poland called Totally Poland had a frontpage story telling readers how to identify a Jew.

This is the magazine's formula for finding a Jew --- look at "[N]ames, anthropological features, expressions, appearances, character traits, methods of operation" and "disinformation activities."

This type of media is blatant anti-Semitism.

Poland has neither apologized nor have they tried to explain this magazine's agenda.

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Kurds Run to Russians
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For anyone who does not know -- The Kurds were the backbone in the battle against ISIS. They were the front line. Without the Kurds ISIS could never have been defeated.

And now the US has once again abandoned the Kurds.

When the US pulls out of Syria they will effectively be leaving the Kurds all alone.

The Turks are poised to seek revenge on the Kurds for a long history of hate ... and they have already begun to attack them.

In order to defend themselves the Kurds are moving toward the Russians. The Kurds will ask the Russians to protect them from the Turks.

This is a very shrewd move on the part of the Kurds. The Turks have true respect for the Russians. In the end it may keep the Kurds safe.

This will work only for as long as Russia needs the Kurds.

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Iran's Pres in Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently visited Iraq.

The purpose of the trip was to sign a series of agreements that mutually benefit both countries. One of the agreements deals with building a train that will link the two countries.

Iraq made the agreements and the meeting public.

To make this relationship work, Iran needs to push aside decades of tensions with Iraq. If that happens, Iraq can help Iran ease the pain of US sanctions.

It won't be easy - Iran and Iraq have had much tension and even fought a war. And Iranian troops are in Iraq to help protect the minority Shiites who live there. But the motivation on both sides is strong.

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Jordan's King in DC
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

King Abdullah of Jordan is in Washington, D.C.

In the residence of the Jordanian ambassador to the United States, the king met privately with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Also participating in the meeting was Special Envoy for the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and, of course, President Trump's son in-law Jared Kushner.

The meeting was significant.

The sheer presence of all the powerful men tasked with making decisions and advising the president on Middle East policy and potential peace plans for the region were gathered in the same room.

These are the architects of the plan of the century - the plan that President Trump has promised to deliver.

Jordan's support for the plan - whatever it is, is essential. The King of Jordan's support will be used as a tool to convince Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people to accept the Trump Plan.

But don't think it was all a one way street. They talked about the plan, but odds are they also devoted time and energy to talking about what and how much Jordan is asking for in order to support the Trump Plan.

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Iceland Group Challenge Bibi to a Fight
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

This is the kind of story that makes those who read it laugh but is totally under covered.

Iceland's Eurovision entry which is scheduled to compete in Tel Aviv this year has challenged Israeli PM to Glima.

That is a test of strategy and physical strength. Strategy wins hand down in the national sport of Iceland.

The Icelandic group chosen to represent Iceland in Eurovsion is a techno band called Hatari. They originally said they would not attend. But now they are challenging Israeli PM to a duel of Glima.

Hatari defines themselves as "an anti-capitalist techno performance art group." Now they published an invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Glima, a Nordic folk wrestling match.

This is a major step in the right direction.

Who cares who wins. There will never be an actual Glima --- but there is an opening to talk.

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Fmr Pakistani PM Calls for talks w Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf announced in late February that Pakistan should consider establishing ties with Israel.

"There is no harm to establish a relationship with Israel," Musharraf said, adding that "it will help Pakistan counter India" by accessing an "elite club" of "influential" nations.

There have been talks between Israel and Pakistan. In 2005 business man Jack Rosen facilitated a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers. So the idea is not new ... but it is interesting.

Musharraf made the announcement in Qatar. He is living in Qatar in a self-imposed exile. Musharraf fears a kangaroo court at home in Pakistan. He has made his new home Qatar.

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US Gives Israel THAAD Missile Defense
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Over the past few days the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system has been deployed in Israel for the first time.

The United States is showing its support of Israel by deploying this new weapon in Israel. These 200 US soldiers will, without a doubt, enhance and supplement Israel's security.

This weapon will add to Israel's already extensive anti-missile defense shield system and protect against attacks from Iran and Syria.

The THAAD anti-rocket land-to-air defense system is made by Lockheed Martin. Its rocket travels at Mach 8.24 - that translates to 2.8 kilometers per second.

In October of 2017 the US provided Saudi Arabia with the THAAD. The obvious reason, at that time, was to protect the Saudia from an Iranian threat.

The THAAD system costs about $15 billion. It is an investment well worth it when it comes to protecting US allies.

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3Torahs Stolen from Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, Israeli news reported that last Thursday three ancient Torah scrolls were stolen from a synagogue in Teheran.

There is no doubt - the synagogue was burgled and the Torahs were taken.

The synagogue is only one of many Jewish buildings in a compound. There are two Jewish schools, ritual baths and a lab used to check for shatnez - the forbidden blend of wool and linen in clothing.

The scrolls were several hundred years old.

It is still not clear why the Torahs were stolen. The immediate assumption is an act of anti-Semitism. But the real and most probable reason for the theft would be money. Burglars probably stole the three Torahs in order to sell them to a fence who will then sell them to collectors.

Sometimes a burglary, even in a synagogue, is only a burglary.

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Iran helps Hamas transform Missiles
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It has been reported that Israeli intelligence has issued 2 reports describing how Iran smuggled special systems to retrofit Hamas' rockets and make them more accurate with GPS satellite guidance systems.

The reports describe that the new guidance system is brought in small suitcases the size of airplane carry on bags commonly called wheel-ees.

Hamas smuggled in this new technology which literally transforms the status quo on the ground. A simple rocket is now a computerized smart bomb.

This is a game changer.

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Locust Swarm Approaches Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 27, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is preparing for a swarm of locust that is capable of devastating plant growth and agriculture.

The locust have begun making their way towards Israel as a result of the heavy rains that recently fell in eastern Yemen and on the Sudan-Eritrea border.

The Israeli Ministry of Agricultural explained that huge swarms of locust have begun migrating from Saudi Arabia. They will make their way to southern Israel via a small stretch of Jordan and the Red Sea.

Israel has prepared a series of pesticides to stop the locust. A similar swarm was stopped by Israel in 2013. While most of the locust were destroyed, several hundred thousand still got through and caused plant damage.

Locust do not pose a danger to humans but they have the ability to destroy the entire agriculture produce of Israel.

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Islamic Jihad Power Play
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 26, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian Islamic Jihad has come out strong making statements about their prowess and capabilities especially their ability to fire rockets that can hit places north of Israel.

Why - and why now?

Islamic Jihad is making a play for power on the streets of Gaza. Their goal is to wrestle power from Hamas which currently controls Gaza.

Islamic Jihad is a relatively small group in Gaza - significantly smaller than Hamas. In order for Islamic Jihad to get more supporters, Islamic Jihad must show that Hamas is no different from Abbas and his Fatah party and the Palestinian Authority.

Islamic Jihad must show Palestinians that the true protectors of Gaza's Palestinians is Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And that’s why we have started to see rallies and protests and hear public statements filled with bravado, telling people on the streets of Gaza how powerful Palestinian Islamic Jihad is.

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Jihad Missiles directed at Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is headquartered in Gaza, has as its goal the total destruction of Israel. They made the announcement on Iranian TV.

Islamic Jihad said that they have missiles that they can launch from Gaza and hit as far as Netanya, an Israeli city north of Tel Aviv.
The threat is serious, very serious.

The vast majority of Israelis, two thirds of Israelis, live in a very small stretch of land reaching from just south of Tel Aviv to just north of Tel Aviv.

It is very important to understand that just because a news item was broadcast on Iranian tv does not mean that it is true.

What is true is that Iran has those rockets. The question is whether Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been able to smuggle the rockets into Gaza.

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Sink Holes in Teheran
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Teheran is suffering from a terrible problem - sink holes. The ground simply opens up and whatever is underneath, falls into the earth.

These sink holes are being caused by a thirty-year drought. The excessive water shortages cause the ground to be very weak and to shift. In addition, because of their water shortages, Iran has been pumping more and more from their underground water sources which are called aquafers.

The water they pump is saltier than their regular water and the pumping process reduces the amount of water which, in turn, dries up the foundation under the surface of the ground.

Over 8 million people live in Teheran. The risk to buildings, roads, infrastructure are enormous. It could all be solved by improving the water situation. But given the sanctions imposed against Iran, that isn't impossible.

Iranian leadership will, hopefully, wake up and see the crisis. Hopefully, before it is too late.

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Arab MK: Israel Experiments on Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

We need to be kept abreast of the happenings on campus and the state of anti- Israel anti-Semitic activity.

This morning Galei Tzahal, also known as Israeli Army Radio, posted an audio recording of a Hebrew University professor speaking at Columbia University an Ivy League college in Manhattan.

Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian said that Israel experiments on Palestinians. That Israel tests all kinds of weapons on Palestinian towns.

The title of her talk was "Disturbing Spaces - Violent Technologies in Palestinian Jerusalem".

The idea that Israel uses Palestinian neighbors and villages as field to testing sites for new weapons is way off the charts. In addition to weapons she asserted that the IDF experiment with tactics.

"They check for which bombs to use, gas bombs or stink bombs. Whether to put plastic sacks or cloth sacks. To beat us with their rifles or to kick us with boots."

The IDF evaluates and critiques every single action. The post op after a military operation is written and discussed at every level and lessons are gleaned from successes and failures. From successes they look to see how to improve and the same is true for failures.

This is hardly experimenting.

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She Took Off Her Hijab & Now Where
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Remember the woman in Iran who stood up on a transformer, took off her white hijab and waved it like a flag. The woman who was then arrested, fired from her job and convicted of indecency and willingly violating the law. The woman who was sentenced to 3 years in prison and was threatened with taking her child, Viana, away.

Before her prison term began the woman, Azam Jangavi escaped Iran with her daughter and is now awaiting asylum. She sat down for a recent interview with Reuters and described her situation and why she took a stand.

This is what she said: "I was telling myself: 'Viana should not grow up in the same conditions in this country that you grew up in' ... I found a human smuggler with a lot of difficulty. It all happened very quickly, I left my life, my house, my car behind."

This woman is a hero. She, and her daughter, are also in danger. Her message is very important.

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Russia Responding to Trump Plan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Russia is on the offensive and trying to undercut the US. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called several meetings over the past few days and given press conferences.

In his terms --- he laments. He really means Russia is very upset that Palestinian Statehood is not part of the Trump Peace Plan making its way around the Middle East.

"Ending the split will strengthen the position of Russia and the international community, supporting a diplomatic solution based on decisions of the international community," Lavrov said. "There are countries that don't see an end to the division and therefore conclude that without it, the two-state solution has become mission impossible."

To combat the Trump plan Abbas is also traveling to Arab capitals especially Riyadh. His secretary general Saeb Erekat sent a letters to foreign ministers protesting the Trump Plan.

Everyone is running. Everyone is shouting. No one has seen the plan. We need to see the plan to make an honest evaluation.

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Official Saudi Recognition of Israeli Contact
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

For years it has been known that Israel and the Saudi Arabia have had discussions and communications. There are established lines of communication.

But what is new is that the Saudis have now admitted that a relationship does exist. This admission officially sanctions the dialogue.

It became official through Turki al Faisal the former ex chief of Saudi Intelligence. He said that Israel and the Saudis have been talking for 25 years.

This was all made public in an interview in Israeli media and Qatari media.

Light is shining and many things like this are coming out of the dark and into the light.

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Nasrallah in Humor Ad in Tel Aviv
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Humor is one of the coping mechanisms that Israelis use to deal with the constant threat presented by their enemies.

An ad promoting recycling, for example, pokes fun at the head of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

On Thursday a huge ad with Nasrallah's image was put up on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv. It beckons Israelis to recycle their plastic bottles.

Above the top on Nasrallah's head the caption reads: "I don't recycle bottles." Under the image of Nasrallah the caption reads: "Nasrallah has been stuck in a bunker for 12 years. What's your excuse?"

The humor is biting.

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Kushner to 5 Arab Countries
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are off to the Middle East for week long trip. They will be visiting five Arab countries. The objective of their trip is to brief leaders on the details of the still secret Trump peace plan. The focus will be on the economic aspects of the plan.

Kushner and Greenblatt will stop in Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

We are only able to speculate about the Trump plan. Uncharacteristic of DC politics - there have been almost no leaks about the real content of the plan.

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Iran Wants US Out
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 7, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian leadership is threatening the United States, telling them that they must leave Syria.

This is no surprise. At one time or another almost every Muslim and Arab country has issued the same warning and made it clear that the United States should not be in any Muslim country. They have said that no non-believer should tread on Muslim soil.

Syria is one of the centers of Muslim tradition and culture and so, they claim, the United States has no place being on Syrian soil.

Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to the Ayatollah Khamenei recently said: "Whether they want to or not, the Americans must leave Syria."

It just so happens that the United States wants to leave Syria as was announced by US President Donald J. Trump. The question is when.

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Europe Not Buying Oil from Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 6, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is trying to understand why European nations have not started to buy their oil.

In November, eight European nations received an official waver from the United States permitting them to buy oil from Iran. None of them have taken advantage of their waivers.

Fars, an official Iranian news agency, posted the comments of Bijan Zanganeh, Iran's Oil Minister. He said that they have been in contact with the Europeans and there has been no movement or interest. "[W]e have called them many times, but they do not return our calls." He was probably referring to Greece and Italy.

There are several interesting lessons that we must learn from this.

First, US sanctions are hurting Iran. Second, the countries that get permission to trade with Iran are still reluctant to do so because of feared backlash from the United States.

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Dogs Outlawed in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 5, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has prohibited walking dogs in public. Dogs are considered to be evil in Iran. And according to Iranians, the fact that the West embraces dogs is a sign of their backward nature.

Hossein Rahimi, Teheran's chief of police said: "Certain people who bring their dogs to public places cause panic and anxiety among the public." He added that local police have obtained permission from the judiciary to confront dog owners who walk their pets in public.

"People who walk their dogs in public places shall be dealt with severely."

Dogs will also be banned from cars, Rahimi said, underlining that "police will seriously confront dog owners who let their dogs ride in their cars."

Iran wants to discourage all dog ownership.

In 2010, A senior Iranian religious leader issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, that dogs were "unclean" and not to be kept as pets. "Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West," Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi said. "There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children."

Despite it all, especially among Tehran's middle class, dog lovers persist and they continue to own pets.

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Russia to Host Iran and Turkey Summit
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 4, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On February 14th Russia will host a summit with Iran and Turkey in their Back Sea resort.

The objective of the summit is to devise solutions to the problem called Syria.

Russia and Iran want the Syrian regime to continue under the leadership of Bashar Assad.

Turkey wants to oust Assad.

Turkey is not alone. NATO and the United States are working to remove Assad from power.

Is there any real hope that a possible resolution will emerge from the Summit? Highly doubtful.

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IDF Admits Hezbollah Poised to Attack
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The head the IDF commented on Hezbollah and he gave an important threat assessment.

Major General Aviv Kochavi explained that: "Only several dozens of kilometers from here, beyond our northern border, there is a terror organization that is set to harm Israel and its resilience, an organization that strives to use precision-guided weapons against us and aims to invade our territory and launch rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians, all the while blatantly violating international agreements and the rules of warfare."

There is no surprise that Hezbollah wants to attack Israel. What is new is that the head of the IDF is talking about it.

Israel is preparing to defending itself against border crossings where the terror group is planning to strike Israel.

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Olymipics Punish Malaysia for Banning Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 31, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Malaysia has said that they will not permit any Israelis to entire their country to compete in the International Paralympics swimming championships which they were supposed to host and were to take place from July 29 thru August 4.

The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has now announced that they are pulling the events out of Malaysia. Other countries have until February 9 to propose hosting the events in place of Malaysia.

"Politics and sport are never a good mix," said IPC President Andrew Parsons in a statement. "We are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia."

"All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination," said Parsons. "When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host."

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Russian Leaders Meet Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 30, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

One way to understand the important directions and strategies of a government is to look at their guest logs. Knowing who visited with the leadership and when they visited offers up a treasure trove of information.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a delegation of senior Russian officials yesterday in order to discuss the situation in Syria. Details about the meeting were supplied by Netanyahu's office.

The Israeli prime minister met with Russia's Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, and Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin. The prime minister's office announced that the talks focused on Iran, Syria and "strengthening the security coordination mechanism between the militaries."

There has been a significant amount of tension between Israel and Russia over the past few months. The tensions increased after Israel took credit for carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets and Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah.

Israel and Russia maintain a hotline to prevent their air forces from conflicting, especially over Syrian skies. While, for the most part, the hotline has worked, a Syrian anti=aircraft missile aimed at an Israeli plane last September instead shot down a Russian transport plane and Russia blames Israel for the debacle.

This meeting was important. It bodes well for the relationship between Israel and Russia.

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Iran Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 29, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Brigadier General Hussein Salami, second in command of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threatened Israel and warned not to attack in Syria again. The comments were made in the aftermath of last week's Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria.

As quoted by Syrian state television, Salami said: "We announce that if Israel takes any action to wage a war against us, it will definitely lead to its own elimination and the freeing of occupied (Palestinian) territories."

Speaking at a ceremony inducting Aviv Kochavi, the new head of the IDF, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Salami. The prime minister said: "I heard the statement made by Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman that they have no military presence in Syria, only advisors ... so I advise them to get out of there quickly, because we will continue our aggressive policy in the region as we've promised."

Most of this is rhetoric - but threats can have a real impact.

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Israel Sends Rescue Team to Brazil
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 28, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday a dam collapsed in the southern region of Brazil leaving at least 40 dead and more than 200 people missing. The dam was not just holding back water, it was holding back mining waste and was highly poisonous.

Almost immediately, Israel sent a team of rescue specialists to help find the victims. The Israeli crew is 130 strong and includes a highly trained team of rescue dogs.

Brazil's President Bolsonaro spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday to inform him of the magnitude of the disaster and within 24 hours an emergency team boarded an El Al Charter flight for Brazil.

Bolsonaro's son Eduardo, also a politician, tweeted about Israel coming to Brazil's aid. He wrote: "thanks during this difficult time ... Israel does this because it is a friendly country. It was always around, but was always mistreated by former governments ... Excuse me, but for all the bad guys on duty, you just have keep quiet and look how much good comes of this approach."

Brazil and Israel have a very good relationship.

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France End Arounds Iranian Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 25, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

We knew it was happening - now France has made it official.
France has put into place a system to circumvent US sanctions against Iran.

The basic principle is simple. France is creating a non dollar base trade exchange with Iran. This trade with Iran is totally outside the realm of US regulators.

The US system is based on dollars that move through world markets. So if the French/EU system is independent of dollars - then it will be free of the heavy US restrictions.

This new system was announced by the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday and it is totally backed by the Europeans.
Le Drian said that it "should be implemented in the coming days."

This end around US sanctions could have huge implications for US sanctions.
It could be the template for many others to follow and a way to avoid the wrath of the United States by those who insist on dealing with Iran.

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Iran Discovers More Oil
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 24, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Surprise - Iran has discovered oil on an island named Abandan. The island is located on a river 35 miles north of the Persian Gulf, just at the nexus where Iran meets Iraq.

The oil was discovered about 4000 yards below the surface. According to the Iranian oil minister, it is the first time they have found oil in this region. There was no public statement as to how large the newly discovered oil reserve is.

The news was reported in Mehr, an official Iranian news site. Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh called the oil discovery "very light and sweet."
Of course now Iran has to try to sell the oil.

President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, posted a message on his official website. He wrote: "With regard to oil issues, luckily we are pursuing various paths and roads for selling oil and we bypass American sanctions with pride."

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Germany Bans Iranian Airline
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Germany has discovered a spy in their military and as a result the Germans have banned an Iranian airline from entry into Germany.

The airline is called Mahan Air and Germany asserts that Mahan air has shuttled spies and other tools and equipment back and forth into and out of Germany.

They specifically say that the airline is connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Guard has direct connection to terror that has taken place in Europe.

In addition over the past year there have been several plots by Iranians to assassinate people in France and Denmark. These included a bomb plot to mass murder people in an anti Iranian rally in France.

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Israeli Elections-Ganz
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli elections are kicking off and it is spending some time looking at a political newcomer.

Benny Ganz, former head of the IDF, has launched his campaign.

Ganz's party is called "Y'Israel Lifnei HaKol". The simple translation is "Israel Before Everything". The translation that better conveys the sentiment behind the simple words would be "Israel is Our Priority".

Ganz sent out a very short video clip in which he says: "For me, Israel comes before everything. Join me and we will launch on a new path because we need something different and we will create something different. The screen then flashes the slogan Y'Israel Lifnei HaKol.

The video closes with Ganz saying he thinks he has "already said too much."

I disagree. In fact, Ganz has said too little. No plan. No ideas. No anything. Just a slogan.

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ISIS Kidnaps a Christian
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 18, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS strikes in Egypt again. This time in the Northern part of Sinai where they are free to do as they wish.

The standard targets in ISSI attacks in Egypt are Christians. In addition to kidnapping Christians ISIS attacks churches.

In this case ISIS kidnapped a Christian adult male. He was in a share a ride taxi.

The police were on site in seconds and the police chased the terrorists. One terrorist was killed and 3 wounded. Two police were also wounded in the crossfire.

For ISIS and all extremists Muslims killing a Christian is a goal.

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Malaysia Bans Israeli Athletes
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Malaysia has decided to both uninvite and not invite Israelis to every sporting event they host.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the cabinet affirmed last week that no Israeli athletes will be permitted to enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with Palestinians.

"The Cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government's firm stance over the Israeli issue."

"Even if we have already committed to hosting an event, they (Israeli athletes) will not be allowed (into the country)," Saifuddin said in a recording of a press conference heard by Reuters.

"It's about fighting on behalf of the oppressed,"he said.

The next sporting event taking place in Malaysia is the world para-swimming competition. It takes place July 29 to August 4 and 70 countries will compete. Israel will not be there. Israel has been uninvited.

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Israel is Growing
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It's January 2019.

It is important to show a few important numbers that help us understand Israel.

There are nearly 9 million people living in Israel. 74.3% of the population is Jewish while 20.9% is Arab.

185,000 babies were born in 2018 and 40,000 people came to live in Israel.

The country population increased by 174,000 or 2% during 2018.

There were 45,000 deaths in Israel and 7,000 Israelis left Israel to live elsewhere.

Overall the numbers are impressive.

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China Arms Sales to MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 15, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

China has increased its sales of weapons to the Middle East. This past year they sold 13 billion in arms sales.

That is an increase from 1.4 billion in the 2010. That means that China is one of the most significant arms dealers in the region.

This worries Israel for many reasons. Other than the sheer quantity of the weapons - most worrisome is that China has no limits when it comes to weapons sales. There are no checks and balances on their sales.

Another major worry is that this influx of weapons to the region including to Iran will alter the status quo and lend support to parties and governments that are true enemies of Israel.

This new Chinese weapons position ultimately confirms the reality that China is not trustworthy in the region.

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Iraq Opens A Virtual Israeli Embassy
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Attitudes toward Israel are changing in the Arab world. It's not news, it's the reality.

Here is the latest example: Iraq has opened a virtual Israeli embassy. The embassy was created by a movement called Project Blue Future, it is one of the very many ways the Arab world is interested in reaching out to Israel.

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

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

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Abbas To Squeeze Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 13, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel Nixed Arms Deal w Croatia
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

The US forced Israel to nix the deal.

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

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

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

The US is 100%.

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Israel Says 3rd Party Hacking Elections
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Fatah Cancels Gaza Rally in Fear
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Internal tensions are high in the Palestinian world.

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

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

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

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Iranian Russian Maneuvers in The Caspian
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 7, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Red Dead Water Project
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 3, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Salty brine will help refill the shrinking Dead Sea.

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

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

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Russia Takes Over MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 2, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

And they did it via the sale of weapons.

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

And they did it going the business route.

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

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

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Bolton to the Middle East
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 1, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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


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Another US PA Crisis
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Kurds Ask Russia for Help
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Iran is Selling its Oil
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Here's how they're doing it.

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

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

And that's how they Iranians are doing it.

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Rocket Shot into Israel from Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday December 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

The reason should be obvious.

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

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Honduras to Move Embassy for a Price
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Belgian Soccer Fans Sing "Burn Jews"
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Why US Def Sec Quit
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

Mattis' letter made no mention of the withdrawal.

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

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

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

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

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Lebanon Asks UN Sec Council to Condemn Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

They have already discovered and are destroying four tunnels.

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

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

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Hamas Beats Abbas in New Poll
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Russia & Israel on the Mend
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Christians Leaving the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 17,2018

I've Been Thinking:

Christians continue to leave the Middle East.

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

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

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

This trend is happening across the Arab world.

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Ukraine Honors Jewish Mass Murderer
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Anti Semitic Books at Int Bk Fair
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

It did not stop there.

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

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

Thursday December 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

This is the beauty of the internet.

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

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

Wednesday December 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Hit Squads
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran & OPEC
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

OPEC is asking their members to reduce output.

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

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

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

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

Did anyone really expect any other response from Iran?

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Collecting $ for Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

$100 million came from Saudi Arabia.

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

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

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Chess Fed Stands Up Against Israel Boycotts
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It's finally happening.

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

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

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

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98 Iranian Fake News Sites
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 2, 2108

I've Been Thinking:

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

The results should not surprise you.

The details are very telling.

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

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

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

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A/S at Columbia
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

They scrawl this images in order to instill fear.

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

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Iranian Hackers Indicted in US
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US Ambassador Visits the Belzer Rebbe
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Czech President in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Chad Pres Visits Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

We are in a new diplomatic era.

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

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Money From Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Explosive Balloons Landing Far From Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Impact of New Iran Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hezbollah Prepping For War
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Macy's Parade in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

At this point gestures are important.

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Calls to Boycott Sabra Hummus
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Czech FM Visits Western Wall
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamas Rockets Killed Palestinian
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

The irony is striking.

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

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

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

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Yesterday Was Tough Day for Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

Israel struck back hitting over 70 Hamas targets.

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

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

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

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

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Israel Operating in Gaza Draws Rockets
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

These small strike forces move quickly.

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

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

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

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

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14 Years Since Arafat
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saudis Say No Palestinians at Hajj
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Jewish Minister in Tunisia
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Another Iranian Hack
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New US Sanctions of Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The newest US sanctions on Iran kicked in today.

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

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

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

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

Positions have been set.

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

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Shortage of Tires in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Still Spinning from The Attack
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

It is the ultimate question about Zionism.

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

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Iran's Pres Phone was Hacked
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Israel Selling Iron Dome to Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

This deal coming to light is a huge issue.

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

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

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Oman Says Time to Recognize Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Increased Tension Could Lead to Quiet
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

Now Israel must now evaluate their response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jordan & Israel at Odds
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israeli diplomatic leadership made a massive miscalculation.

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The Real Khashoggi & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chinese VP in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Selling His Olympic Gold
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Gal Fridman is Israel's only Olympic gold medalist.

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

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

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

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

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

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Teachers Strike in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Teachers are striking in Iran.

That is a very bad sign.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday October 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

If so - Kudos to Pompeo and to Trump!!

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Druze Show Support for Assad
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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


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Israel & UAE Amb Sit Together
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday October 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday October 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

So here are some of the details.

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

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

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

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

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Iran Outlaws Terror
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

The answer is both simple and surprising.

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

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

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Another Tragedy in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Russian Numbers are Fake
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Independent monitors have very different numbers.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday October 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

Friday September 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Terrorist Take Advantage of Jewish Holidays
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Abbas in France
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

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

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

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

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

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Iran's Drills and Maneuvers
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Feeling the Sanctions Pressure
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

That is the question that needs to be answered.

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Syria Down Russia Plane
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

Some background is required.

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

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

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

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

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

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A Hero Murdered
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

These comments are official - they not off the cuff.

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

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Palestinans Say No Peace Deal!
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Hezbollah Leader Cries
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

Crocodile tears? Perhaps.

Effective? Time will tell.

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World Jewish Population is Up
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

New numbers are in.

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

There are 6.6 million Jews living in Israel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US Closes Palestinian Mission in DC
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel Issues Travel Warnings
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

The two most important warnings involve the Sinai and Turkey.

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

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

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

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

Shana Tova - Happy New Year.

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Greenblatt Says Palestinian Issue Not Central
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Iran's FM In Syria Shows Unity
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

Iran and Syria are in this for the long term.

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Putin's Rabbi Visits Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PA Lashing Out At Trump
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Tensions Btw Saudis and Germany
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Iran's Parliament Orders President To Explain
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 29, 2018

I''ve Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

There is good reason to worry.

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Russian Fleet to Syria
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Iranian Defense Minister in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Palestinian Leaders are Arming
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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Israeli Anchor Insults Cobryn
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 23, 2018
I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

The anchor is unapologetic and stands by her words.

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Iran Says The US is Scared
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamas Will Not Lay Down Weapons
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 21, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Israeli Won't Compete on Yom Kippur
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hajj Begins
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Syrian 1st Lady Has Cancer
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

We should all join in those wishes.

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Russia Stepping Up Role in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Russia is now stepping up their role in Syria.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iranian Leader Says No War w US
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

The Iranian leader put the ideas to bed.

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

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

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China Increases Influence in MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Bibi Said We'll Have New Elections
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Netanyahu is not sweating over this bill.

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Saudia Fake Oil Output
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Iran Worried About China
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Sanctions -- Taking Sides
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

China has said that they will not accept US sanctions.

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Says US Lies
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Syrian Scientist Get Blown Up
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

Anti-Assad forces have claimed responsibility.

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel Blocks Ship
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran's Military Drills
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel is Under Cyber Attack
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is under cyber attack.

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

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

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

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

Israel has it hands full.

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ISIS is Growing Again
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

But these are developments we cannot ignore.


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Persian Carpets and Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Sanctions against Iran often focus on oil.

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

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

The Iranian carpet industry employs hundreds of thousands of people.

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

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

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Syrian Refugees Returning Home
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Refugees are returning to Syria.

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

They were on their way home.

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

And Russia has several reasons for fulfilling that plan.

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

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

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

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Rock Falls & Conspiracies Explode
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's a very long time ago.

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ISIS Making Comeback in Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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Iran Says Don't Block Our Oil
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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New Methods Around Iran Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

This is just the beginning.

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

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Iran is Plotting A Cyber Attack
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Cyber terror can bring down a nation.

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

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

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

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

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Arab Glides into Syria to Join ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 20, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

The gag order was lifted yesterday, after his indictment.

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

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China Invests in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

This is very big news.

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Takes US to World Court
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamas is Failing in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:


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

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

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

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

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

Israel wants life to be better for Gazans.

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Iran Must Decide about Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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China Wants to Help in the MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bibi Meets Putin in Moscow Before World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

The message was transmitted and it was received.

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Iran Emptying Accounts for Cash
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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China Blocking US Oil
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel Strikes Syrian Airbase
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday July 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

This is a massive blow to Iran.

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

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

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

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

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Iran Doesn't Like the Deal
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Hassan Rouhani was working his magic in Europe this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will have our answer soon.

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Iran Threatens US
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The United States cannot afford to let that happen.

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Putin Using the World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Claims Israel is Stealing their Clouds
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Syrian Refugees Love Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 2, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Water Crisis in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 1, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

Iran is in the midst of a serious water crisis.

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

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

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

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

The situation can be resolved.

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

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

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Trump Putin Summit
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Calls Enemies the Satanic Triangle
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 28, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Putin Invites Leaders to World Cup Finals
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday June 26, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

The idea is to take the deal to the masses.

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

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

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

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Yemen Attacks Saudi Capital
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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IDF Shoots at Drone from Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 24, 2 018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Makes 15 Demands of US
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 22, 2 018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

It's a case of tit for tat.

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

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

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Gaza Changing The Rules of Engagement
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 21, 2 018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US Team Meets w Jordan King
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 20, 2 018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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


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CNN Reporter Tours Gaza Tunnel
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hateful Sermon in Mosque in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Miss Iraq in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

It also demonstrates how petty and hateful people can be.

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Large Numbers of Iranians Support Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran Wants More
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 13, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

Macron's office issued a statement saying:

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

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

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

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

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Fire Balloons the New Kites
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 12, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

The principle is the same.

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

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

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

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Iran is Back in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel & Sudan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

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

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

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

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

The telegram reads: "If things were going well with the US, you might be able to help us with Israel, as they are your closest ally in the region."

The plan is to start with one flight a week. This is a very big step forward in terms of African / European business. Israel can easily be a hopping point en route for travelers and for goods.

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Israel Asks FIFA To Ban Argentina
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Argentina has cancelled their friendly soccer match with Israel, scheduled to take place this Saturday June 9th in Jerusalem at 3:30pm Israel time.

It is clear that the BDS movement was able to successfully influence Argentina to scratch the match.

Now the Israeli branch of the Football (Soccer) Association is asking FIFA, the World Soccer Federation, to ban Argentina from the World Cup which takes place in Russia this summer. Israel is saying that Argentina's cancellation of the match was a case of "religious discrimination."

Comtec, the Israeli company that organized the game, has already paid the Argentina Soccer Association $2 million from the sale of tickets - the game sold out within 20 minutes of going on sale.

Discrimination is against FIFA rules. If FIFA leadership chooses to remove Argentina from the organization it would be an extremely serious punishment and would send a message to everyone else not to discriminate against Israel

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Farrakan Again!
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Louis Farrakan delivered a speech recently in which he attacked Jews and Judaism. It was a speech which was a lot like a medieval canard against Jews.

The founder of the Nation of Islam said:

"Satanic Jews who have infected the whole world with poison and deceit."

He said: "the false Jew will lead you to filth and indecency. That's who runs show business. That's who runs the record industry. That's who runs television." Farrakhan alleged that Jews often force aspiring actors to submit to anal sex. "Do you know that many of us who go to Hollywood seeking a chance have to submit to anal sex and all kind [sic] of debauchery [before] they give you a little part?" ... "It's called the casting couch. See that's Jewish power."

It is hard to imagine that in 2018 people like this still exist and speak out publicly. More amazing is that so many people actually believe these lies.

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Israel Thwarted Numerous Attacks in Europe
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on a European trip trying to convince leaders there to join Israel's global point of view.

One of Netanyahu's talking points is his also assertion that Israel continues to help Europe through sharing intelligence.

Netanyahu said: "Israel is operating against the threat of radical Islam. We prevent awful terror attack, also in France. Israel has thwarted many terror attacks across Europe and will continue doing so."

This is an essential point.

Israel is doing its job to help protect Europe. Now Israel wants a quid pro quo. Netanyahu is asking Europe to join forces with Israel and the United States.

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Putin Tells US -- Reward N Korea
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 5, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Russian President Vladimir Putin was interviewed in ORF Austrian public broadcasting an media group. newspaper.

Putin told the paper that the US should make certain to reward North Korea if a real deal is worked out.

Putin said that if North Korea agrees to denuclearize, the US must entice them trough aid packages.

In Putin's words, the deal would not be "a one way street."

These statements make it clear to all clear that Putin wants to be a player in this game, too.

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Assad to Visit N Korea
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The web lit up yesterday as North Korean media announced that Syrian President Assad will soon be visiting North Korea.

The reports in Rodong Sinmun, the official media mouthpiece of the North Korean dictator, did not specify when the Assad trip will take place.

The timing of the announcement was not accidental. The new North Korean ambassador to Syria was welcomed by Assad, but that was incidental. The real reason for making the announcement is that it dovetailed into the announcement that the summit between the United States and North Korea was still on for June 12.

The statement from Assad read: "I am going to visit the DPRK and meet His Excellency Kim Jong Un."

"I am sure that he will achieve the final victory and realize the reunification of Korea without fail." Syria "will completely support all the policies and measures" of North Korea and President Assad is certain of their victory.

Now we wait, watch and analyze.

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Dueling Resolutions at UN
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 3, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The US proposed a resolution in the UN Security Council to condemn Hamas for their attack on Israel.

Unfortunately, the only vote in favor of the United States resolution was the United States.

The vote came on the heels of a Kuwaiti resolution condemning Israel for excessive force and asking for Palestinians to get international protection. The US vetoed that resolution.

It was a clear back and forth anti Israel - pro Israel set of resolutions.
Yet---

These resolutions illustrate how the UN Security Council has made huge strides. The United States is trying to level the playing field in the Security Council. They are trying to make certain that Israel gets a fair shake and these two resolutions are the proof.

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Iran Tourism Takes a Dive
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 31, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Trust me on this, it's true - As a result of the nuke deal Iran was expecting a huge increase in tourism amounting to 3%-4% of their annual income.

Iranians were planning on their tourism expanding every year. Next year they were planning on it being 6%-8% of GNP.

The problem is that new US sanctions are discouraging Iran's potential tourists.

But there are tourist coming to Iran.

There are curious tourists interested in visiting Iran and reporting back to their friends and relatives about their experiences. Most of these tourists are thrill seekers and there are plenty of these thrill seeking tourists.

And among the first of Iran's visitors are tourism writers and photographers, there to document the pristine adventures of uncharted escapes and trails. These are the tourists who blaze the trails for main stream conservative tourists.

What was supposed to be a real economic find for Iran has just had the rug pulled out from underneath it.

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3 Countries to Boycott Israel Hosting Eurovision
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 30, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

It's a cardinal rule: the winner of the Eurovision, the international song festival, hosts the next year's competition.

This year, Israel won and next year Eurovision will be held in Jerusalem.

But it's not that simple - politics have set in and the situation is getting ugly.

Iceland, Sweden and Ireland have announced that they will not attend next year's competition in Jerusalem. They have chosen to boycott a cultural event whose very purpose - much like international sports, is to bring different people from differ countries together.

Knowledge and interaction promote dialogue and removes bias and hatred. Some nations, like some people, just can't get beyond their own biases.

That's a shame.


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No World Cup For Hamas Prisoners
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 29, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Gilad Erdan, Israel's Minister of Public Security, is forbidding Hamas prisoners from watching the World Cup which begins in three weeks and takes place this summer in Russia.

That is real punishment.

Erdan is also investigating whether or not he can strip all TV viewing privileges from Hamas prisoners all year round.

The World Cup takes place every 4 years. This summer, literally 50% of the entire world will be watching.

Four years ago several prisoners were forbidden from watching the Games and in response the prisoners appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court. They won. The Court ruled that the prisoners could watch the World Cup.

For die hard fans, not watching the World Cup is truly cruel and unusual punishment .

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Philip Cross- Wiki Editor Draws Disdain
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Philip Cross, as he is called, is quite simply, impressive. He has edited Wikipedia over 133,000 times over the past 14 years. He has never missed a day and edits, on average, 30 times a day. And nobody knows his identity or real name.

Cross is hated by many because of his accomplishment. Rewards have been offered to discover his true identity. Cross is hated because he is relentless in his pursuit of truth. Those who hate him are on the other side of his quick typing and insight.

Cross has, for example, edited and reedited the Wikipedia entry for George Galloway 1,700 times. Really! Galloway is a British politician who resigned under a cloud. He was such an anti-Semite that he was an embarrassment to his Labour Party especially his dear friend Cobryn the leader of the Labour party. Galloway's people edit his entry and then Cross re-edits it - over and over and over again.

Cross has no sympathy for Russian expansion, for liberal / labour conflict, for socialism, Marxism or anti-Semitism.

Some people guess that Philip Cross is not a person, but a group of British intel officers. Some argue that Cross is a group of former disgruntled journalists.

It doesn't matter. Philip Cross is leveling the playing field. He or they are making certain that we, the reader, are presented with an important and honest point of view.


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Fire Kites
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 27, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The fire kite has been Gaza's most effective weapon against Israel since they started using them on April 13, 2018.

The flying fire kite is a kite outfitted with a Molotov cocktail as its stabilizer tail.

The kites are launched into the air just like any regular kite would be. But then the kites burst into flames and turn into balls of fire. When they hit their targets, they land they ignite wheat fields on the Israeli side of the border.

The kite is an extremely low tech - and low cost, weapon. Hundreds of kites have been launched by Hamas and hundreds have landed in Israel and caught fire.

The damage that has been done is tragic. Over 1,000 acres of wheat has been burned. The fires are even more damaging now than when kites were first launched because the heat wave in the area causes the fields to be drier and more flammable.

Israel has now created a defense against Hamas launched Molotov cocktail kites.

Israel is using small multi-propeller drones with cameras and flying them right through the kites while the kites are on the Gaza side of the border. The fire kites fall on Hamas territory and catch fire there.

Over the past week Israel has downed over 120 of these flying fire bombs.

A low tech solution to a low tech weapon.

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Azerbaijan & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 25, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Azerbaijan leadership has just concluded a three day trip to Israel.

This trip was groundbreaking - for a number of reasons.

First is that Azerbaijan is a Muslim nation and does not yet have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Second is that Azerbaijan borders not only Iran but also Turkey and Russia.

Third is that Azerbaijan is one of Israel's largest suppliers of oil.

Finally, Israel sells all kinds of sophisticated weapons to Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani delegation to Israel was lead by their minister of taxation and he was joined by several deputy ministers.

A few weeks earlier Azerbaijan's most famous singer released a music video which included footage of the Azeri armed forces. Included were several shots of Israeli weapons.

A big new opportunity is opening up.

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Israel Says US Will Recognize Golan Heights
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 24, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's minister of intelligence Israel Katz suggested that the US might be interested in recognizing Israeli control over the Golan Heights.

This is part of the ripple effect begun when the US recognized Jerusalem as the national capital and dedicated the United States embassy there.

The Golan Heights was captured by Israel from Syria in 1967 - and then Israeli law was applied in the area. Israel views the Golan Heights as part of Israel. Before 1967 the Golan Heights was a strategic plateau from which the Syrians launched regular attacks on Israel. The attacks were so aggressive that it was nearly impossible for Israeli farmers in the valley below to plow their fields.

There is no way Israel will ever give up the Golan Heights.

Recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel would further cement another fact on the ground.

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Arab Scholar Says Jews Are Violent It's Their Genes
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 23, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Arab culture is rife with conspiracy theories about Jews and the Holocaust. These canards are often spread by leaders and elites, even by professors.

That is what happened recently on Channel 2 Egyptian TV.

Professor Amr Allam, the head of the Hebrew department at Menoufia University said, while on air, that "the Israeli violence or aggressive spirit is embedded in the Jewish genes."

Allam was a guest on "The Blue Line" a weekly show which dwells on depicting Jews and Israel as evil. In this particular episode the topic was the reasons for the "abnormal" Israeli character.

Hazem Abu Saud, the host of the show, said that the Holocaust "was not directed specifically against the Jews, but against all the people suffering from diseases, and so on," and that the Jews "have exploited" and "continue to benefit" from what happened to them in the Holocaust.

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Qatar will Pay Hamas Salaries
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 22, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

When it comes to supporting Hamas in Gaza, Qatar has been picking up where many other Arab countries have stopped.

Most of the Arabic world has abandoned Hamas but Qatar has been trying to funnel money and support. Qatar has promised to pay government salaries and inject monies to rebuild water and electricity infrastructure facilities in Gaza.

According to Arabic media sources, the Qatari Ambassador to Palestine, Mohammed al-Ammadi, is scheduled to visit Gaza soon to discuss the proposal.

"The Qatar initiative is moving beyond the humanitarian side this time and is related to fundamental improvements," the sources said.

"Qatar will support projects to improve electricity, water and other things that Ammadi may soon announce."

This is a very bad precedent.

Qatar seems not to care that by sidling up to Hamas they will further alienate themselves in foreign diplomacy.

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US Sanctions on Iran Are Working
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 18, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

New US sanctions against Iran are already having an impact.

On Thursday the largest international shipping container company in the world, A.P. Moller-Maersk, closed all operations in Iran. Maersk is so large that one cannot drive on a highway without seeing dozens of the containers rolling along on eighteen wheelers on the way to their destinations.

The day before that, on Wednesday, Total Energy shut their shop in Iran. Total Energy is one of the largest energy companies in the world, specifically for oil and gas. They employ over 100,000 people.

These are only two of the many companies that now feel the pressure of US sanctions to abandon Iran.

The sanctions mean that if companies continue doing business with Iran they will not be able to engage in any US economic banking activity.

That could destroy any company.


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50 of 61 Were Hamas Members
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 17, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Monday was a bloody day on the Gaza border. 61 Palestinians died.

On Wednesday senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil announced to Baladana TV, an official Hamas network, that 50 of the 61 dead were members of Hamas. In an interview Bardawil said that they were part of the Hamas ranks and that he was proud of their actions and their deaths. He said that they were fighting Israel and died as warriors and martyrs.

If that is correct - and there is no reason to dispute his claim, they were official members of a terror group, not innocents at the border.

That means that these 50 "protesters" were actually part of Hamas operations fighting against Israel. That is significant.

The remaining 11 may be connected to any number of other, anti-Israel, terror groups. Or they may have been simple rioters.

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Israel Delivers Aid to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 16, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday Israel sent supplies in to Gaza.

8 trucks filled with 53 tons of medical supplies crossed the border into Gaza.

And a line of gas trucks crossed from Israel into Gaza - but there was no one there to receive the gas, so the trucks turned around and returned to Israel taking with them the gas.

Hamas leadership, which controls Gaza, is actively working to destroy any attempts for aid to enter their domain - especially Israeli aid.

This assistance is from the Israeli army, the same group that the Gazans are fighting. The irony is staggering. The people you are attacking respond by sending you aid. Why? Because you were wounded striking out at them.

This is the Israeli way.

But did you see any international press showing the Israelis shipping humanitarian aid into Gaza the day after the world condemned them for being so brutal? The answer is: No, you didn’t.

That is the way of the world.

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Why More Palestinians Have Not Shown Up
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 15, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Some insight into the riots and attacks in Gaza:

During the most recent riots, Hamas organizers did everything they could to pack in the numbers and get as many people out as possible. They were hoping to be at least 100,000 strong.

In addition to busing rioters to the riot points, Hamas cancelled classes in all schools and all universities. They also announced a total shutdown of businesses.

There was no excuse not to have over a million people on the border between Gaza and Israel - but only 40,000 Palestinians showed up.

The reasons are simple:

Kids prefer to play computer games at home than to go out and riot.

Despite the inverted logic of Palestinian leadership, Palestinian parents and children are electing not to attend the organized riots and not to give up their lives for the cause.

Bottom line: The numbers don't lie!

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Hamas Wins on Campus
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 14, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Student Council elections at Palestinian Bir Zeit University had a not surprising result. Hamas won.

Hamas garnered 24 out of the 51 seats on the Student Council. The favorite party was the Martyr Party of Yassir Arafat which received 23 seats.

Hamas has claimed a tremendous victory - and they are correct to do so.

University elections are so important because they are a tool for predicting the future.

Winning at the university level empowers Hamas, it allows them to feel that they may very well be the future of the region.

It allows them to believe that they have unseated the establishment. This is not a good sign for the rest of us.

What is even more important than the results of the election at Bir Zeit University is that 75% of all students voted in this election.

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Israel Claims Syrian Strike
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 11, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

In a rare move, Israel accepted responsibility for air bombing Syria earlier this week.

The bombing was a response to the Iranian Al Quds Force launching of 20 missiles toward Israel. In the end, Israel struck and destroyed 50 sites, maybe even a few more.

Not all the targets were pre-arranged. According to Israeli Air Force sources, however, every site that launched a rocket was identified and destroyed. The targets included mobile operations like the S-200 rocket systems, command and control HQ's, radar and stocks of weapons.

As in the past, the explosions registered on the Richter Scale. This time they registered 2.6 in magnitude.

It is important to know that the elite Iranian force is embedded in Syrian camps.

Syrian fighters were trained in old Soviet-style strategy. In looking at the targets a specific Soviet-style pattern emerges. There are three lines and the first two lines have three clusters. Classic Russian defense pattern.

Of the 25 soldiers killed in the attack, most were Iranian. Israel has said that they were targeting equipment and not people - that makes sense.

This is now a game of cat and mouse. The game may still escalate.

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Iran Has a Plan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 10, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Make no mistake about it, Iran definitely has a plan in place as a response to the Trump move to pull the United States out of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht put it this way:

"The Management and Planning Organization of Iran have drawn up a plan that is proportional to the conditions of America's exit from the nuclear deal."

Piecing the plan together, it appears that Iran is making demands of the European nations. Iran is saying that, in order for them to stay in the agreement, they want more concessions. Iran will want more money and a shorter timetable to the sunset clauses. They will also permit more IAEA inspections.

It's all part of the game. And Europe may just agree to play by Iran's rules.

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Israel Strikes Iran Missiles Again
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 9, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

All educational trips to northern Israel were cancelled until further notice by order of the Education Ministry.

The reason is clear.

Iran has bolstered its missiles located in Syria and trained them on Israeli targets. And Israel once again struck a Syrian base with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iranian missiles. According to reports 15 people on the base were killed -- 8 were Iranian.

Israel is preemptively striking the Iranian missiles while they are still on the ground.

Israel expects that Iran will use those missiles to strike them.

Israel will continue to seek out and destroy all Syrian centers for Iranian weapons because those weapons threaten innocent Israeli citizens.

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Palestinian Foundations Are Crumbling
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 8, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians are up in arms at Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Bahrain and UAE participated in the first leg of an Italian bike race. That first leg took place in Israel - hence the reason for Palestinian ire.

Palestinians thought their boycott against Israel was ironclad - until it was smashed by these two Arab countries which have now officially competed in an international bike race hosted in part by the Jewish State.

The Palestinians are watching their foundations crumble. The bedrock upon which Palestinians stood in the Arab world was their position as victim. Now that the Arab boycott against Israel has been broken, their place in the Arab world is diminished, almost obliterated.

Now Israel and the Arab world are sharing interests.

This is very upsetting for the Palestinians.

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Oil Hits $75 -- Saudis Are Happy
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 7, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Strange things are happening in the oil markets - especially between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

For years Saudi Arabia has tried to push prices of oil down and tried to make certain that Iran was not able to benefit from sales of higher priced crude. But this week oil hit a high of $75/barrel and the Saudis announced that they want oil prices to rise higher - even to $80/barrel.

Oil today is already 50% higher than it was last year.

Meanwhile, Iran wants to sell as much oil as possible.

This change in attitude about the price of oil is part of a plan - a plan to hurt Iran.

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Bibi To Meet Putin
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 6, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will, once again, visit Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bibi will fly to Moscow where he will be an official guest at the Victory Day parade and celebrations.

Victory Day is held every year on May 9th. It celebrates the Russian (actually the Soviet) defeat of the Nazis. It is a huge celebration in Russia.

This will be the 8th face-to-face meeting between the Russian and Israeli leaders in two years. They have much to discuss.

Tensions between the two leaders surrounding Syria and Iran are certainly a high priority agenda item.

Putin's invitation to Netanyahu to join him at the Victory Day celebration and parade is a grand gesture signifying that the Russian leader wants to get relations between the two countries back on track.

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Jack Ma in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 4, 2018

I've Been Thinking:

Jack Ma, the richest man in China and the founder and head of Alibaba, is in Israel receiving an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University.

During his presentation Jack Ma announced that he will continue to invest in Israel. He and his company have already invested in five companies in Israel. The results have been successful and Ma is very pleased. Now he will be investing in many more Israeli companies.

Ma said that Israel is one of only three places in the world where he would even consider investing.

That is a tremendous compliment - especially from Jack Ma.

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