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Iran's Nukes
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 15, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran has publicly announced that they have successfully enriched uranium to 60%.

The good news, if there is any, is that they did not enrich a large amount of uranium. Their announcement mentioned 6.5 kilos which is 14 pounds of highly enriched uranium.

The reality is that Iran is inching toward 90% enriched uranium - which is high weapons grade enrichment.

Iranian spokesman Ali Rabiei said that 108 kilo (230 pounds) of uranium has been enriched to 20% already.

Israel is nervous. Serious thinkers are nervous. 90% is not simply a number. Once Iran has achieved 90% uranium enrichment, they can mount it on a missile and fly it to Israel causing the deaths of thousands of Israelis.

There is good reason to worry.

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Palestinian Polls
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 14, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Polling the Palestinians has never been easy.

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research is the best of Palestinian polling vehicles. Though flawed, they have managed to give us more and better insight into the opinions of Palestinians than any other polling organization.

The Center recently released a poll that shows a dramatic rise in Palestinian support of Hamas. This increased support of Hamas is certainly a direct result of the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Almost 75% of Palestinians concluded that Hamas was victorious against Israel in this last conflict.

The poll also showed that support for the Palestinian Authority and for Palestinian leader President Mahmoud Abbas plummeted dramatically.

Fatah and Abbas garnered only 14% support, while Hamas received 53% support.
This was in answer to the question which is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people.

These numbers are significant. They are also worrisome.

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Putin Denies Satellite Story
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Reuters and the Washington Post reported that Russia is about to provide Iran with advanced technology - including satellites, that would propel Iranian defense forward.

The Russian satellite system is called the Kanopus-V. It has a highly sophisticated camera with extra high resolution.

Technology of this sort would allow Iran to track numerous military targets, at a single moment, across the Middle East. The satellite will provide Iran with an ongoing monitoring of oil fields and troop movements. It will allow Iran to see military barracks in Israel and every US troop movement.

The plan is to launch the Iranian/Russian satellite, from Russia, in a few months.

If Iran were to receive this technology, it would most definitely change the face of the Middle East and help Iran become an even greater power.

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Russian Giving Iran Satellites
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The story that Russia will provide Iran with high tech satellite technology was first reported in the Washington Post and then picked up everywhere.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview on NBC news said that “it’s just nonsense garbage.”

Putin said that the entire idea was contrived: "It's just fake news. At the very least,
I don't know anything about this kind of thing."

Maybe. But the problem with Putin is that he, himself, is not reliable. There is nothing Putin says that can be taken at face value, nothing that can be assumed accurate or true.

Putin does not want to be caught helping Iran defend itself. But that sounds exactly like what Russia is doing. Not wanting to be caught doing something does not mean not wanting to do something.

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More On The Coup in Jordan
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

There continue to be ripples from the attempted overthrow of the King of Jordan several months ago.

At the time, Prince Hamza, a step brother of the current King, was placed under house arrest and charged with attempting to topple the King.

Now, the former head of the royal court, Bassem Awadallah, is standing trial. Also standing trial is former finance minister Sharif Hassan Zaid, a distant relative, who played a significant role in trying to liberalize Jordan’s economy.

The two were arrested in early April when the former heir to the throne, Prince Hamza, was placed under house arrest over allegations that he had liaised with foreign parties over a plot to destabilize Jordan, a close U.S. ally in the Middle East.

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Egypt in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Egypt has pledged $500 million to help repair and rebuild Gaza.

Last week Egyptian army tractors and other equipment crossed the border between Gaza and Egypt. Accompanying the equipment were soldiers. Army engineers crossed the border alongside the equipment.

Egyptian officers and soldiers are in Gaza for the first time since 1967.

They are there to help rebuild Gaza and they are there to monitor where Egypt’s money is going. And very importantly, the Egyptian soldiers are in Gaza to make certain that Hamas does not, once again, shoot rockets into Israel.

Not everyone is pleased that Egypt’s military is in Gaza. Palestinians fear that this is an Egyptian move to invade or at least, to take over Gaza.

And Israel has asked Egypt to remove their equipment. Israel, too, is fearful about Egypt trying to play too large a role in Gaza.

If all Egypt wants to do is rein in Hamas, that’s a good goal. But is that really all they want? Is it worth the risk of permitting Egypt into Gaza?

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Arab Jewish Violence in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 9, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Jaffa, which is part of Tel Aviv, is what Israelis call a mixed city.

That means that, in this city, Jews and Arabs live together. 100% of the Arabs of Jaffa are 100% citizens of Israel.

Over the past few weeks mixed cities in Israel has seen tremendous violent eruptions between Jews and Arabs. Most of the violence - though not all, has been Arabs attacking Jews.

In the Ajami neighborhood in Jaffa, 3 young Arab men threw a Molotov Cocktail into a home. They thought, incorrectly, that the home was inhabited by Jews.

The attack landed a 12 year old Arab in the hospital, severely injured with terrible burns.

Police have arrested the three young men. Investigators say that the accused were acting in retaliation for the violence which has taken place in Lod, another mixed city, and on the Temple Mount. The three were also upset that Arabs were evicted from homes in the Sheik Jerach neighborhood in Jerusalem

After their arrest, additional weapons - not just materials for Molotov Cocktails, were discovered in the homes of the three young men.

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Hareidi Frustration w Bennett
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 8, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

For the first time in the history of modern Israel, the prime minster will be a kippa wearing shomer shabbat (Sabbath observant) Jew. Although Menahem Begin was shomer shabbat and often wore a kippa, he was known for donning and then removing his head covering.

So why is Naftali Bennett being attacked by the Hareidi religious community? Why is he being called “the evil one” and the “destroyer of Judaism in Israel” and “a traitor to Judaism”?

The answer has nothing to do with Judaism or of that decision ition – and everything to do with budget.

Hareidi parties, by their own choice, are no longer in the government. And when you are no longer in government, you no longer have power. And that means that your special interests will no longer receive special attention or – and more importantly, budgets.

The Hareidi community will take a significant budget hit with this new government. Established educational institutions and schools will, of course, receive allocations. But almost no schools in the Hareidi community conform to national standards and they will now suffer the consequences.

Not only will Hareidi education suffer, Hareidi housing projects will fall to a low priority issue, as well.

For decades Hareidi leadership has perfected the art of joining and supporting the government and, in exchange, they received essential money for schools and housing.

The hareidi community will not be left high and dry. Not all the benefits they have been receiving will disappear, but certainly, a significant percentage of the money they had been allocated will dry up with this new government.

The times, they are a changing.

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Iran Out in UN
By Micah Halpern

Monday June , 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran will lose its right to vote in the United Nations General Assembly this week.
They will lose the right to vote for none of the obvious reasons. Not because they sponsor terror and not because they violate the UN nuclear agreements.

Iran is in arrears to the UN. They own over $16 million in membership.

UN Secretary General Antonia Guterres explained that Iran has failed to pay their dues and as a result of that situation, he sent a note to the General Assembly President explaining that Iran’s vote may not be counted.

Somalia and the Central African Republic are also losing their voting rights. Somalia owes $1.4 million to the UN and the Central African Republic owes $29,395.

In the end everyone will pay their debt.

But given the present situation on the nuke agreement and the dialogue Iran is engaged in with the P5 + 1, Iran is snubbing their nose at the United Nations. And it probably gives them great pleasure.

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China & Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 6, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I read strategic reports all the time.

The reports issued by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) are always worth reading.

One of their recent studies discusses the importance of the role of China in harnessing and guiding Iran.

The suggestion is made that China is maneuvering to assume a more responsible role in international affairs - especially in the Middle East.

China is one of the only countries in the world that can influence Iran. Until recently China was, to put it plainly and simply, a user and abuser in the region.
The Chinese maximized their economic gain and their influence. One of their ulterior motives is – and always was, to hurt the US at every turn.

China now is interested in expanding their role.
The objective of Israel and of the West, including the United States, should be to influence China to act responsibly and to use their role of trusted ally of Iran to urge Iran to moderate their moves and their activities.

Iran often acts to destabilize. China just may be the power to bring stability to the region.

They will not do it to help Israel or to help the West. They will do it to further improve their role in the region and position themselves as the power that can insure stability in the region.

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Qatar Gives 1,4 Billion to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 5, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Over the past 9 years Qatar has given Gaza $1.4 billion.
The Gazans and the Qataris claim that all the money went to reconstruction. They also claim that Israel is aware of the avenues through which the money arrived to Gaza and where the money went.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bi Abdulraham bin Jassim al Thani has said that Qatar played important roles as mediator in the region and Qatar wants to continue in those roles. He said that most recently Qatar, together with Egypt, helped mediate between Gaza/Hamas and Israel to achieve the current cease fire.

The problem with aid being given to Gaza is that Hamas takes a cut of everything.

As of now there is no way around Hamas’ strangle hold.
Think of it as a mafia that controls a port. To use the port, you need to pay. Or else.

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Uruguay Sings Hatikvah
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I was stunned when I heard Israel’s national anthem being sung in the second season of “Who’s Got Talent” in Uruguay.

The name of Israel’s national anthem is HaTikvah, which means “The Hope”. The anthem was sung by Lucia Abealar, a contestant in the competition. She translated the song and sang her own version.

The four judges were visibly moved. One even quoted the song, speaking about the soul that yearns to be free. And then all four judges unanimously sent Lucia on to the third round of competition.

In introducing the song HaTikvah, the contestant correctly explained that the lyrics are a poem written by Naftali Hertz Ember in 1878 and that the music was added later.

Uruguay has no real skin in the game. They are a small country that has returned to, once again, being a democracy. The people of Uruguay care about important values and they have become friends of Israel.

We are often jaded by the many negative and loud voices heaping criticism upon Israel. But we must always maintain our faith and understanding in the values we know to be true.

It has taken Who’s Got Talent to teach us that love of Israel can be a universal concept.

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Arabs Take Take Down Bibi
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is no longer Israel’s prime minister – that’s big news.
Bigger news is that the ouster of Israel’s longest serving prime minister was orchestrated with the assistance of the Israeli Arab political party Raam. Mansour Abbas, the head of the Raam party tossed the four Knesset votes of his party to the opposition.

Those four votes put the opposition coalition over the top, toppling Bibi and shifting political power in Israel.

And now, Palestinians in Gaza are calling Mansour Abbas a traitor, a man who acted for personal gain. They are calling him an “opportunist.”

Those lambasting Mansour Abbas are blinded by years of indoctrination and hatred.

In joining the government for the first time ever, Mansour Abbas (not to be confused with Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority) is cementing the opportunity to secure more funds for Israeli Arab infrastructure in the cities and town and villages where they live.

Abbas has already secured 36 million NIS in additional funds for roads and for beefing up police departments to protect his constituents from the roaming Arab gangs who terrorize their communities.

Of course there are problems with Abbas joining the government. But most of them are ideological. Practically speaking, this is a win- win for democracy in Israel.

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Iran's Largest Naval Ship Sinks
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Things aren’t going well for Iran’s military.

On June 2nd, Iran’s largest naval ship caught fire and sank near the port of Jask.
There has been no confirmation as to the cause of the fire.

A day earlier, an airplane accident led to the death of two Iranian pilots.

These news events were confirmed by Tasnim, one of the official media outlets of Iranian leadership. The name of the ship was the Kharg. It is a helicopter carrier and from the ship’s deck, dozens of attack helicopters could land or launch. But it was more than that. This ship was also outfitted with electrical generators capable of supplying electricity for an entire city.

According to an Iranian official: “This ship is one of the most advanced vessels of the Iranian military and is sometimes called a helicopter carrier.”

Tensions are extremely high throughout the region. There have been Iranian attacks on Israeli interests on the high seas. And there have been attacks against Iranian ship and targets that, Iran claims, have been the work of Israel.

Iran has not only been attacking Israeli vessels. They have also harassed US naval ships, US coastguard boats and commercial US vessels in the region.
Iran is keeping busy – and that’s not good news for anyone.

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Hamas & the UN
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

In a stunning announcement Hamas declared that both the head and the deputy head of UNRWA are persona non grata. They are not permitted into Gaza. UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is the UN division that is dedicated to Palestinians especially in Gaza.

UNRWA notoriously attacks Israel at every turn and have been known to aid terrorists.

Why would they do this? What provoked their actions? Turns out that Hamas leaders were displeased with UNRWA’s Gaza director, Matthias Schmale.

Schmale was called out by Hamas for siding with Israel or, as Hamas put it, for ‘bias in favor of the occupation”. Hamas is calling for the removal and the replacement of both UN officials.

What was it exactly that the UNRWA head in Gaza said? What so angered Hamas?
He said: “I have the impression there is a huge sophistication in the way the Israeli military struck over the 11 days … Yes they didn’t hit, with some exceptions, civilian targets, but the viciousness, the ferocity of those strikes were heavily felt.
More than 60 children were killed, 19 of who went to UNRWA schools. So, I think the precision was there but there was unacceptable and unbearable loss of life on the civilian side.”

In other words, Israel was very precise in their strikes against Hamas and Islamic
Jihad terrorists. But he was by no means flattering or siding with Israel.
Schmale told the truth. But Hamas and their supporters are not interested in truth.

There is a Post Script to this story - because of pressure, Schmale walked back his comments and said he meant no insult. Hamas has power not only over Gaza, but also in the UN.

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Iran Violates Nuke Deal
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 31, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The International Atomic Energy Agency, aka the IAEA, discovered evidence of nuclear particles in a number of sites in Iran.

After the evidence was discovered, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi announced fresh talks with Iran.

In his report about Iran Grossi wrote: “After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations where the Agency has conducted complementary accesses (inspections).”

Britain, France and Germany now need to decide whether or not they will sponsor the imposition of new sanctions on Iran for violating the nuclear agreement.

For these countries, who so want the nuke deal, it is a tough decision.

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Mossad Success in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 30, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Yossi Cohen, the man who has served as head of the Mossad, Israel’s famous spy organization, has just ended his 5 year appointment.

In his farewell to the agency, with Prime Minister Netanyahu at his side, Cohen recounted some of Mossad’s great achievements under his tenure.

He said: “We penetrated into the heart of hearts of the enemy Iran … We acted to constantly gather intelligence and uncover its secrets, and undermined its self-confidence and haughtiness.”

Cohen also said that the operation to squirrel away Iran’s nuclear archive had “exposed to the whole world Iran’s military nuclear program, its plans, its preservation of capabilities in the military nuclear field and Iran’s fraud and lies.”

Farewell, Yossi Cohen. Welcome, David Barnea – new head of the Mossad.

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