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Turkey Says No To Israel 's Help
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Horrific fires are burning through the southern coastal region of Turkey.

According to the Israeli Embassy in Ankara, Israel offered to help fight the fires -- but Turkish officials refused their offer.

According to Turkish officials, the "situation is under control".

The Israeli embassy has indicated that their offer of assistance still stands.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government seem poorly prepared to fight these fires. Their poor response to the horrific fires decimating a wide swath of their country is inexplicable.

There has been a great deal of tension between Turkey and Israel. Israel puts all bygones aside to help save lives - but Turkey still does not want their help.


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COVID In Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s COVID infection rate continues to climb. The government is being forced to make difficult decisions.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the public that if daily coronavirus infection rates do not drop, they should prepare for another lockdown. This lockdown, Israel’s fourth, should it happen, would be enforced next month, during the Jewish High Holidays.

Gantz explained his prediction to the coronavirus cabinet. He explained that a lockdown during the High Holidays would cause less economic hardship to Israelis than previous lockdowns because so little happens economically during this time of year.

Israel is aggressively pushing more vaccinations and has begun to administer a third booster to everyone over 60 years of age.

Israel does not stand alone in this uptick of Covid numbers, they are just very open about it. The Delta variant is wreaking havoc on the world.


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US Returning Artifacts to Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Even today “spoils of war” are a reality. Looting is as wrong today as it has been for centuries - especially when national treasures are the stolen loot.

During the Colonial Period the British were notorious looters. The British Museum is filled with the stolen artifacts. The head of a sculpture, for example, is on display in the museum while the rest of the statue’s body stands in situ.

In 2003, during the US operation in Iraq to oust Sadaam Hussein, tens of thousands of archeological artifacts were looted.

The United States is now gathering those Iraqi national treasures and will return more than 17,000 ancient artifacts looted and smuggled out of Iraq.

The most valuable of all the items is a 3,500-year-old clay tablet bearing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is the Babylonia creation story, it is their equivalent of the biblical story of Genesis.

Countless national treasures of Iraq, archeological finds and artifacts, were poached or – more often, destroyed by ISIS. Thrown to the ground and smashed into pieces. They destroyed more than the United States took. ISIS controlled a third of Iraq between the years 2014 and 2017, before they were defeated by Iraqi and international forces.

U.S. authorities are working diligently to recover the artifacts. They are literally seizing them from dealers and museums in the United States. And Iraq is grateful.

As Iraqi Culture Minister Hassan Nadhim told Reuters: "The U.S. government seized some of the artifacts and sent them to the (Iraqi) embassy. The Gilgamesh tablet, the important one, will be returned to Iraq in the next month after legal procedures are finalized".

It is never too late to right a wrong.

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Israel at the Olympics
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel loves sports and Israelis love the Olympics. They also love to win and to get medals. What country doesn’t?

Hearing the Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, being played while an Israeli stands on the winner podium makes every Israeli’s chest swell with pride.

It almost makes it feel as if all the bad press Israel is bombarded with is worth it.
Especially when Israel has just won a gold.
Artem Dolgopyat won the gold medal in artistic gymnastics, the floor exercise. The win was impressive. Artem was impressive.

Israel’s president called Israel’s star athlete and congratulated him. President Herzog said: "We are all very excited and I congratulate you. We are all looking forward to seeing you in Jerusalem soon. You are a source of pride to many children who will surely follow in your footsteps.”

Dolgopyat told Herzog that he did it all "for the people of Israel" and expressed his happiness that "all of our nation watched me [during the final]."

In his call to Artem after the win, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: "You made history here. We stopped the cabinet meeting in the middle to congratulate you for bringing us this great news".

“On behalf of the government of Israel and on behalf of the citizens of Israel - we are all proud of you and look forward to your return to Israel for the celebrations”.
Bennett and the members of his cabinet had interrupted their weekly Sunday morning cabinet meeting to watch the floor performance.

This is the second gold medal for Israel in the history of their participation in the Olympic Games.

In Israel, people disagree over politics but they are united in their national pride.

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Israel Vaccinating 60 & Older
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 31, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is beginning a third round of vaccinations for people over 60. The decision to vaccinate was made in order to avoid a fourth country-wide lockdown.

In a televised press conference Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told Israelis :
“Our goal is to keep the State of Israel open … But we must understand that there is a race between the vaccine campaign and the pandemic. We must make sure the vaccinations rate beats the pandemic's spread. We all have the shared obligation to protect one another. Go get vaccinated!"

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, who turns 61 in September, was the first Israeli to receive the booster shot as part of the campaign.
Bennett said that he will accompany his 78-year-old mother Myrna when she gets her jab.

The prime minister explained the efficacy of the third dose saying: "Within a few days of receiving the third dose, [the vaccine] comes into effect and provides protection. I urge seniors who have been vaccinated with the second dose — go get vaccinated with the third dose. It will protect you from serious illness and death."

The essential point he was making is that you may get sick, but with the vaccine you are not going to die. And that is what is important.

If the campaign works as Israel is hoping, the country will not need to shut down. And that means the economy can continue to rebuild itself.

To answer the most asked question, tourism will not spring back up. Open borders are not immediately on the agenda.

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Iran Attacks an Israeli Ship
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 30, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

An oil tanker flying a Liberian flag that was a part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s maritime group named Zodiac was attacked just north of the Omani island of Masirah. That puts it 185 miles from Muscat, the capital of Oman.

The ship is actually Japanese owned, leased by Zodiac and registered in Liberia.
Although owned by Ofer, an Israeli, Zodiac is a British based and registered company.

Two crewmembers were killed in the attack - one British and one Romanian.

This attack has international implications. It was perpetrated by a drone strike and Israel asserts, with absolute certainty, that the attacker was Iran.

In an official statement, the management of Zodiac Maritimecalled the attack piracy.

The statement read: “At the time of the incident the vessel was in the northern
Indian Ocean, traveling from Dar es Salaam to Fujairah with no cargo onboard.” In other words, the ship was making its way from a port in Tanzania to a port in the United Arab Emirates.

Israel will certainly respond to this attack. Because there were deaths and one of the crew members killed was British, England may join Israel in the response.

We will watch and see.

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New Policy for Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 29, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

We need a new policy toward Iran.

The West world, especially the United States and Israel, need to change their attitude and realize what Iran is really doing.

Historically, radical regimes like Iran have perceived reality differently than the West. And because of that perception, they invest in their country very differently than does the West.

In Iran’s case, despite terrible economic and internal crisis after crisis, Iranian leadership is channeling huge amounts of money not into their own country, but into aggressive actions in Syria. They’re doing this in an effort to strike at Israel and the US.

It is counterintuitive when it comes to Western logic, but to Iran it makes sense.

Iranian leadership is trying to deflect attention from internal crises and place blame on the United States and Israel for their problems. Iran is solving problems internally by attacking what they perceive to be the root causes - the United States and Israel, which are on the outside.

The US and Israel needs to focus and push back hard against Iran. The entire region and Iran will be better off when internal issues are addressed.
Iran needs to be forced back and to face inward.

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Israel Helps Dom Rep w a Med Test
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 28, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

We do not dedicate enough time to good news – especially good news about the great contributions Israel has made to the world.

Here is a one example. Israeli technology is being used in the Dominican Republic to diagnose early stages of cervical cancer. This test will save the lives of many of the women who are diagnosed early.

The name of the Israeli company that developed this technology is MobileODT and they launched a nationwide program testing 50,000 women.

The Artificial Intelligence-based kit allows non-specialists to diagnose abnormal cervical findings in their early stages using an ordinary smartphone. The patient is then matched with adequate preventive treatment.

The test is checked through the phone. 18,000 of those women who were tested were of very modest means and early detection would both save their lives and cut the cost of treatment exponentially.

Danny Biran, Israel’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, noted that "Israeli technology can reach anywhere in the world, make essential health services accessible to everyone and present fast results and above all — save lives.”

He said, "We will continue to work on a variety of issues in the field of groundbreaking and life-changing Israeli technologies together with Israel's great friend, the Dominican Republic."

The world could use more good news of this sort.

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