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Bennett Won't Meet Abbas
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 15, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett explained why he will not meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas.

Bennett gave YNET the reasons for his decision. He said:
"My perception is different than that of the defense minister although we work in harmony. I oppose a Palestinian state and I think it would be a grave mistake to import the failed Gaza model of Hamas which shoots rockets at us and turn the entire West Bank to that.”

Bennett also explained why Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Abbas and why he can and should continue to meet with him.
Bennett explained that Gantz has different issues and different variables at play when deciding to meet with Abbas. But for him, it is a very different situation. He said:

"I see no logic in meeting Abbas when he's suing our soldiers in the Hague and accuses our commanders of war crimes. In my opinion, the Palestinian Authority is a failed entity.”

The government is acting in concert – there are no secrets among Israel’s leaders.

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Israeli PM Visits Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 14, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

For the first time in a decade an Israeli prime minister went to Egypt - publicly.
Egypt is the very first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel – but – over the past few years, the relationship cooled.

That might be changing.

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett travelled to Israel and met with Egyptian President al Sisi. The meeting took place at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, located at the very southern tip of the Sinai Desert.

The most significant purpose of this Egyptian/Israeli talk was to come up with a plan to jumpstart talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Additionally, Bennett and al Sisi were able to discuss regional tensions in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and of course Iran and Iran’s influence in the region.

By the meeting’s end, al Sisi volunteered to host an Israeli/Palestinian summit.

The question is, will the Palestinians accept the invitation.

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Israel Preps a 4th Booster
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

2.8 million senior adults in Israel have already received their third COVID vaccine.
That is almost everyone eligible for the booster.

And Israel is already securing and preparing a fourth vaccine. The reason should be clear. There is no way to know what will happen next. A fourth shot may be necessary, and necessary around the bend.

In an interview on Radio 103FM, Nachman Ash, Israel’s Health Ministry Director
General explained the thinking this way: “We don’t know when it will happen; I hope very much that it won’t be within six months, like this time, and that the third dose will last for longer.”

Most countries haven’t yet figured out how to vaccinate their citizens in a first round. Israel is preparing for a fourth!

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A Plan for Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Economy for security – that, in a nutshell, is Israel’s plan to bring quiet to Israel from Gaza.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has laid out a detailed plan.

Lapid presented his outline in an address to the International Counter-Terrorism Conference at Reichman University, formerly called IDC, the Interdisciplinary College. The plan is dubbed "Economy for Security" and will include two phases.

Phase 1 will be humanitarian rehabilitation for Gaza in return for combating Hamas' efforts to increase its military capabilities.

Phase 2 will see the Palestinian Authority take control of civil and economic affairs in the enclave.

Sounds simple, sounds easy – on paper. We will see what happens when reality sets in.

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20 yrs Since 9-11
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

It’s been 20 years since that fateful day, the day that changed history.

The world is a different place because of what happened that Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001.

What we consider a given, that al Qaeda, under the leadership of Osama Bin Ladin, perpetrated a triple hijacking that resulted in 2,977 deaths and over 20,000 wounded – is not what many people living in the Middle East think happened on that day.

Conspiracy theories positing that 9-11 was not the work of Muslim terrorists are rampant. They believe, instead, that Israel and the CIA colluded to cause that unfathomable act of terror. Or that the United States conspired to destroy their own Twin Towers.

It’s all about perspective. For many, facts and truth be damned.

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Taliban & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Taliban has announced that they are not at all interested in any diplomatic ties with Israel. What do you know – not a surprise.

The surprise is that they made the announcement in the first place.

Taliban spokesman, Suhaul Shaheen, spoke to Sputnik News Service, a Russian news outlet and said that the Taliban would cooperate with the United States.

He said: "Of course, we will not have any relations with Israel. We want to have relations with other countries, Israel is not among these countries."

"Yes, of course, if America wants to have a relationship with us, which could be in the interest of both countries and both peoples, and if they want to participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, they are welcome.”

The Taliban has already named a provisional government and that government includes several people wanted for terror offenses. Among that group are:

Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a veteran of the group who is on a UN sanctions list and served as the Islamist regime’s brutal leader between 1996-2001. He was named as acting prime minister.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is wanted by the FBI for suspected involvement in a 2008 terror attack in Kabul that killed six people, including an American, and other alleged offenses. He has a $10 million bounty on his head. And he was named as acting interior minister.

Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar will be the deputy prime minister. He previously served as the head of his movement’s political office, overseeing the 2020 signing of the U.S. withdrawal agreement.

Mullah Yaqoob, son of the Taliban founder and late supreme leader Mullah Omar, was named defense minister.

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Uman & COVID
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 9, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Those Israelis who visited Uman this year for Rosh HaShannah have returned home and along with their luggage, they are bringing home COVID.
And the virus is barreling in at a startling rate.

Followers of Rebbe Nachman travel to Uman, in Ukraine, to visit the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav. Being there for Rosh HaShannah holds serious significance.

In order to return to Israel, travelers from Uman and everywhere else, were required to ahow proof if a negative PCR test. Many of those who returned had COVID and forged their PCR test results.

The COVID positive travelers most certainly infected the entire planeload of people by traveling while infected. Ad then they infected everyone they were in contact with at the airport and upon returning to their apartments - especially their children.

Those now exposed children go to school, see other children and infect them.
Uman has become a super-spreader event. This may be the single largest super-spreader event in Israel since the beginning of COVID.

This behavior is simply unacceptable – it is sheer arrogance of the highest order.

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Abraham Accords 1 yr Later
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 8, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

It has been just over a year since the signing of the first Abraham Accords, the U.S. brokered agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Even though the first of the accords were signed during the peak of COIVD, there was a flurry of activity and back and forth travel between the countries.

Israelis flocked to the UAE and Bahrain, some even made weddings and forged new business contacts in these once forbidden countries. But most of the travel and excitement has been one way, one sided.

Residents of the Arab countries are being discreet about their forays into Israel. While we are seeing significant investments, those making the investments are keeping a low profile. They are taking private planes so as not to be seen in the terminals and on the flights coming to and from Israel.

Israelis are jumping at opportunities. The question is whether these will be long term or short term opportunities. Will the relationship develop or disappear after one cycle? Will there be continued and open reciprocity?

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Moderna & The Flu Shot
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 7, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Moderna has announced that it is developing a single vaccine that combines a booster dose against COVID-19 with its experimental flu shot.

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, presented an update during a presentation to investors on the company’s drugs in development. During the presentation Bancel said: "We believe this is a very large opportunity that is ahead of us, if we could bring to market a high efficacy pan-respiratory annual booster … We believe Moderna could be first to market in this important new opportunity.”

The drugmaker already had several influenza vaccine candidates in development before the corona virus hit. This new vaccine combines the experimental flu shot that is furthest along together with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The company has also already started clinical trials for a vaccine appropriate for older adults.

Novavax, another pharmaceutical company, has also announced that it has initiated an early-stage study to test its combined flu and COVID-19 vaccine.
This is a major step forward.

By combining the vaccines into a single booster injection, recipients will bolster their overall protection.

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COVID in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 6, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

It seems that the 4th wave of COVID in Israel is beginning to subside.
Positivity rates have been dropping, the numbers of hospitalizations are dropping and deaths are dropping - but that said, there are still people dying.
COVID is still there and still dangerous, even for those Israelis who are triple vaccinated.

Here are some number from Sunday, September 5th:
After 11 more Israelis succumbed to the virus, the total death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to 7,205.

Of the 127 people who died from COVID since the beginning of September - 65 were unvaccinated, 42 received the first two doses of the vaccine but not the booster shot and 15 received all three vaccinations.

39,600 Israelis received the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Sunday.
2.6 million Israelis were given the shot since its rollout late in July.

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Even Harder to Get out of Afghanistan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 5, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Private organizations and private people are still chartering planes to help US citizens and Afghanis who were helpful to the United States, escape Afghanistan.
They are facing terrible obstacles.

At least four chartered planes, capable of rescuing several hundred people, are instead literally sitting on a tarmac in Afghanistan. They have been unable to board the people they came to rescue. They have been unable to leave the country for days. There are a variety of reasons for why they cannot take off.

An Afghan official at the airport in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif said that the would-be passengers were Afghans, many of whom did not have passports or visas, and thus were unable to leave the country. He said they had left the airport while the situation was being sorted out.

Entrance and exit to Afghanistan has now been tightened.

None of this portends well for those desperate to leave the now Taliban-led country.

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Attacking Saudi Oil Fields
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

There was an attack on the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. A missile was shot and intercepted over Saudi Arabia's oil-rich eastern region. The Saudi ministry of defense reported news of the attack.

The missile was intercepted over a suburb of the city of Dammam. The falling shrapnel from the destroyed missile fell and injured two Saudi children and caused light damage to 14 houses. This news came in a statement carried by Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA.

Photos on state media showed broken glass and the damaged entrances of several residential buildings.

Conventional wisdom blames the attack on Iran-aligned Houthi forces. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility in Houthi-run media.

The coalition of Western powers policing the region report that they have intercepted and destroyed ballistic missiles heading towards Jazan and Najran in the southern part of the country. They earlier reported the interception of three explosive-laden drones headed towards the Saudi Kingdom.

Iran sponsored tensions are increasing. It is just a matter of time before one of these missiles gets through.

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Europe Wants Iran Talks
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

France, Germany and The United Kingdom have all been urging Iran to come back to the table and, once again, talk to the P-5+1 about their nuclear plans.

In response, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced that Iran would, indeed, resume talks with world powers with the objective of reviving the 2015 nuke deal.
But – and this is a big “but” they will not sit down and talk with Western "pressure". Raisi also made it cleat that Iran’s objective is the lifting of U.S.- imposed sanctions.

Negotiations without pressure. I do not thank that exists anywhere in the world. The entire point of negotiations is to push and to be pushed back. Maybe, quite possibly, this is Iran’s first push.

France and Germany have pushing Iran to return to negotiations. A break in the talks was called a few months ago to allow for Iranian elections in June. And now, elections are over and France is demanding an immediate restart amid Western concerns over Tehran's expanding atomic work.

Last month the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), aka the UN’s nuclear watchdog, confirmed that. For the first time, Iran has produced uranium metal enriched up to 20% fissile purity and lifted their production capacity of uranium enriched to 60%.

And that is the impetus for the big push by France, Germany and Britain to get Iran back to the table and talking.

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Israel Critiques US Departure
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


In an unusual diplomatic moment, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday criticized the way the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, which led to the consequent takeover of the country by the Taliban terrorist organization.
It is unusual for the Israeli Foreign Ministry to comment on US policy.

Lapid said: "The withdrawal was botched. I think the whole world is worried, America first and foremost.”

Lapid continued: "This was probably the right decision, but the way it was done was wrong. I do not think we fully understand the implications of this move. This is going to have a big impact on al-Qaeda, and on ISIS.”

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School Starts in Israel w COVID
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Today the school year opened in Israel.

About two and a half million students went back to school on Wednesday Sept 1 –
Israel’s traditional first day of school - even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to rage on.

Education Ministry Director General Yigal Slovik announced that about 250,000 other students were in quarantine and could not attend school.

He explained: "We must get used to living this way this year. the numbers will only go up but most students will continue to learn in person next to their friends, with teachers. 90% of students are in school".

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Bennett on TikTok
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 31, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

In order to increase the vaccination rate among teenagers, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hosted a live broadcast on the TikTok video sharing app, where he answered viewers questions regarding vaccines and the risks of COVID.

"The coronavirus is an epidemic that will end someday. Will we have to get vaccinated every six months for the next few years? Maybe yes, maybe no," said Bennett. "I believe that within two months, approval will be given to vaccinate children aged 6 to 12."

"We see that the vaccines work. It could be that the third jab will last forever, it could last for no more then half a year, and that's not the end of the world. What matters is that the vaccine is not a poison. The poison is the pathogen."

Hopefully, this venture into teenage social media works.

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Israel-PA Dialogue
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 30, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

For the first time in over a decade, a high level Israeli met face-to-face with the PA leader. Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz travelled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In and of itself, this trip was a symbol of respect shown by Gantz, representing Israel, for Abbas, representing the Palestinian Authority.

Their discussion, we are told, was on security issues, not diplomacy.

As expected, Hamas slammed the meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In an official statement the terrorist organization termed the meeting: "a knife in the back of our people and sacrifice and a betrayal for the blood of the martyrs."

According to their statement: "Abu Mazen [Abbas] continues to give up on the national values and work to justify the occupation. "He does not represent his people, only himself.”

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Lebanon Oil Shortage
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 29, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I have already described the fuel shortage in Lebanon and how Hezbollah is sending tankers to Iran for fuel. There is a new addendum to the situation.

A dispute over scarce fuel supplies ignited sectarian tensions between neighboring Shi'ite Muslim and Christian villages in southern Lebanon, forcing the army to intervene.

The clashes center on the crippling gasoline and diesel shortages that have become a daily occurrence in Lebanon, and now there is concern that Lebanon will descend into chaos and a sectarian civil war.

The Lebanese have been suffering from severe financial woes for two long years.

Sources report that around six people were wounded in a dispute involving residents of the Christian village of Maghdouche and the Shi'ite village of Ankoun.

The incident spiraled out of control when a Maghdouche resident filed a complaint to police after being injured during a dispute over fuel and police visited Ankoun to investigate.

Villagers blocked roads and burned trees and troops were deployed in an effort to bring the situation under control.

This is just one example of the conflict enveloping Lebanon.

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Israel's COVID Stats
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 28, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is very open about their COVID situation and statistics - and what happens in Israel has helped medical and scientific personnel around the world shape decisions for their own populations. It should be clear from the COVID situation in Israel that vaccines blunt the virus but vaccines do not eradicate the virus.

Israel is experiencing its 4th COVID spike. In an effort to stave off more cases, vaccines are readily available and strongly advised and many Israelis have already received their booster, a third shot.

What is also clear is that the blunting of COVID means fewer deaths and fewer hospitalizations for high risk people.

Most recently, half of those Israelis who tested positive for COVID were double vaccinated - and few of them were required to be hospitalized. Of the other half, the unvaccinated, many are fighting for their lives.

Most of those people requiring hospitalization in Israel as aa result of COVID, are unvaccinated.

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Iran's Shadow Oil Fleet
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 27, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran has a shadow fleet of oil tankers that is operating daily, shipping fuel to China.

The Iranians are, once again, skirting international sanctions. About 700,000 gallons of oil per day is shipped from Iran to China.

As part of its strategic support, China is assisting Iran in selling pirated oil. This Chinese-sponsored oil export allows Iran to maintain regime stability and inject foreign money into the state coffers.

China is also helping Iran operate its shadow fleet so that the tankers will not be detected.

This, for example, is how they do it: the tankers transmit their incorrect location into the Automatic Identification Systems, the AIS, required by international shipping laws. The tankers are repainted, and the tankers' names are changed to cover the real identity of the tankers.

In another example: the Iranian shadow fleet tankers change their flag with frequency. This move is backed by a global operational infrastructure set up by the Iranian Quds Force, which includes a huge array of straw companies whose tankers are registered as owned.

And this is how Iran manages to inject much-needed money into its coffers, to revive its economy and to continue its arms race to build offensive capabilities and complete its nuclear program – which is getting closer and closer to completion.

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Israeli NGO Sending Planes to Afghanistan
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Shai Fund in Israel is organizing planes to airlift people out of Afghanistan.

Charmaine Hedding is the president of the fund and she works out of her home in the coastal Israeli town of Zichron Yaakov. Hedding is working feverishly to help extract thousands of people desperate to leave Afghanistan.

Hedding is an emergency response specialist and the Shai Fund is a humanitarian organization based in Israel and registered in the United States.

She revealed that her organization is heading up logistics, in coordination with the U.S. military, on a pending series of private flights that are set to swoop in and out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, in order to evacuate high-risk human rights defenders and other activists, including some high-profile personnel, who are direct targets of the Taliban, the Islamist group that has rapidly retaken control of the country upon the withdrawal of US and international forces, two decades after being overthrown.

I’m quoting: “We formed a coalition because, of course, this is a huge operation.
We have private charter flights. So, this is a civil society, grassroots initiative, run by NGOs (non-government organizations) like mine. We have raised the funds to get the flights in. So we have our first flight arriving. And these flights can take up to 300 people.”

“We’ve got 10 flights, back-to-back potentially, but there’s no point if we land in
Kabul airport and they can’t get through the gates because the Taliban are controlling the gates to the airport. And so, we have to break that open and negotiate where we come in, and we establish this humanitarian corridor so that we can evacuate our people out.”

The humanitarian aid the Shai Fund can offer is desperately needed. Hopefully, they will find a way.

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Gaza Balloons of Fire
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Gaza is once again lofting balloons that fall as fire bombs inside Israel.

So once again, Israel struck back in response.

The Israeli air force attacked two sites in Gaza after Gazans clashed with IDF forces on the border and launched incendiary balloons at southern Israel.

A statement issued by the Israeli army reads: "IDF fighter jets struck a Hamas military compound used for manufacturing weapons and training as well as an entrance to a terror tunnel adjacent to Jabalia."

"The strikes were in response to Hamas launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory and the violent riots that took place yesterday."

According to the army, both incidents were "examples of how Hamas continues to employ terror tactics and target civilians."

There were no reports from Gaza of casualties caused by these Israeli strikes.

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Rabbis Vs the Pope
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

There is a kerfuffle going on between the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Pope.

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate sent a letter to the Pope asking for an explanation and for clarification after a very significant public address that he gave.

Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, chairman of the Rabbinates Commission on Dialogue with the Holy See, aka the Vatican, sent the letter to the Vatican.

The issue in question is simple and yet, very crucial. It is at the very essence of how Christians view Jews and how Christianity views Judaism.

On August 11, speaking at the Vatican, Pope Francis said that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people. He said: “God offered them the Torah, the Law, so they could understand his will and live in justice. We have to think that at that time, a Law like this was necessary, it was a tremendous gift that God gave his people.”

Later, however, Pope Francis added an addendum to his remarks when he said:
“The Law, however, does not give life, it does not offer the fulfillment of the promise because it is not capable of being able to fulfill it. The Law is a journey, a journey that leads toward an encounter… Those who seek life need to look to the promise and to its fulfillment in Christ.”

In his letter to the Vatican, Arusi wrote: “In his homily, the pope presents the Christian faith as not just superseding the Torah; but asserts that the latter no longer gives life, implying that Jewish religious practice in the present era is rendered obsolete … This is in effect part and parcel of the ‘teaching of contempt’ towards Jews and Judaism that we had thought had been fully repudiated by the Church.”

Truth be told, this is actually the way Christianity understands their role versus the Jewish role. And that is why Christians term their Bible the New Bible or New Testament and refer to the Jewish Bible as the Old Testament.

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A Day in the Life of the PM
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 23, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Ayelet Shaked co-leads the Yamina party with Israel’s Prime Minster Naftali Bennett.

Shaked said that she will bolt from the coalition and bring down the government if they even begin discussions about a Palestinians state.
Bennett is a rotating prime minister. He will leave office after serving as prime minister for two year and Yair Lapid will step in.

It is no secret that Lapid is in favor of a two-state solution. It is assumed that there will be discussion of the subject during the first two years of this government - while Bennett holds the position of prime minister.

That would probably be a wise move.

The Arab party in the coalition – an integral part of the coalition - also threatened to bolt if Bennett responds to the increased cross border fire balloons, fire kites and rockets coming from Gaza.

Bennett is in a bind. Another typical day as prime minister.

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PA Clamps Down on Protests
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 22, 2021
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Palestinians police in the West Bank, under the direction of the Palestinian Authority, are clamping down on protests.

Palestinian police arrested 24 people protesting the death of a prominent political activist while in the custody of Palestinian security forces.

The demonstrators had planned to call for accountability in the death of Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority who died while in custody on June 24, shortly after he was arrested. Instead police prevented the protest and arrested the two dozen activists.

PA police spokesman Louay Arzeigat issued a statement that the demonstrators had not received a permit and "refused to sign the conditions for the gathering." The statement did not elaborate further.

Banat's family has said that he was beaten as he was taken out of his home and they have accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to cover up the death.
Palestinian officials have said the matter is under investigation.

The protesting group’s major complaint - aside from regular human rights abuses, is that the PA was elected for four years back in 2005 – and that same government is still in control in 2021.

Abbas has faced mounting pressure for calling off parliamentary elections whenever it appears that his Fatah party would suffer crushing defeat at the hands of their rival, the Hamas militant group.

Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organization, condemned the security services for blocking this demonstration and making the arrests.

It accused the government of "attacking the rights and freedoms guaranteed by law" and called for the immediate release of those who were arrested.

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Poland Overturns Ruling
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 21, 2021
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An appellate court in Poland rejected a lower court’s decision forcing two Holocaust scholars to apologize for defaming the uncle of a Polish woman who, they said, collaborated with the Nazis.

The case against these two Holocaust scholars has been closely watched around the world. It was expected to serve as a precedent for research into the highly sensitive area of Polish behavior toward Jews during World War II.
Poland is governed by a nationalist conservative party that has sought to promote remembrance of Polish heroism and suffering during the wartime German occupation of the country. The party also believes that discussions of Polish wrongdoing distort the historical picture and are unfair to Poles.

In explaining its decision, the Appellate Court of Warsaw argued that it did not believe that it was the responsibility of the courts to judge scholarly research.
The ruling was welcomed by the two researchers, Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking, who declared it a "great victory" in a Facebook post.

They wrote: "We greet the verdict with great joy and satisfaction all the more, that this decision has a direct impact on all Polish scholars, and especially on historians of the Holocaust.”

The ruling comes half a year after a lower court ordered the two researchers to apologize to a woman who claimed that her deceased uncle had been defamed in a historical work they edited and partially wrote, entitled: "Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland."

Lawyers for the niece, 81-year-old Filomena Leszczynska, argued that her uncle was a Polish hero who had saved Jews, and that the scholars had harmed her good name and that of her family by suggesting the uncle was also involved in the killing of Jews.

Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II and its Jewish population was subjected to mass murder and slave labor. During the more than five years of occupation there were both Poles who helped the Germans and took part in the killing, and Poles who risked their lives to save Jews.

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Israel To Grow Avocados in Morocco
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 20, 2021
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Superfoods are considered to be extremely nutritious and healthful. They are in big demand in the market.

Avocado is a superfood. Israel grows many avocados and wants to grow even more to take advantage of the growing market.

And so, Israel’s largest grower and exporter of citrus — Mehadrin — announced that for the first time it will begin growing avocados in Morocco as it attempts to meet the constantly rising demand for the superfood.

Following the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, during which Morocco was the last of four Muslim majority and Arab countries to join, there has been a gradual deepening of ties between the Jewish state and the North African Kingdom.
Mehadrin is also looking to expand production to Africa and Latin America in a bid to produce the fruit year-round and also, to lower costs.

“Planting the avocados in Morocco is part of a larger plan to be able to supply our European customers more easily than from Israel in terms of geography and in terms of more competitive costs,” Mehadrin CEO Shaul Shelach told the news site The Algemeiner.

Shelach added that demand for avocados is currently outstripping supply, which he assesses will be a thing of the past when the superfood is grown more widely in both hemispheres of the globe. The current Israeli growing season extends only from October to March or April.

Shelach hopes to start planting the avocados as soon as he gets land from the Moroccan government. Mehadrin will have fruit in three years and full production in five.

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3rd Dose For Over 40 in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 19, 2021
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The Israeli government approved the COVID vaccine for everyone over 40.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has already received his third dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Bennett urged everyone in his age group to get their booster shots. "If you get vaccinated, we will be able to avoid a fourth lockdown," he said.

The United States is now offering third doses of the vaccine now to people who are immunocompromised.

The figures coming out of Israel for those over 60 who received a third dose several weeks ago indicate that very few people of that age group have gotten sick from COVID.

It seems clear that the third dose boosts protection against the Delta variant.

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Poland May Deny Israeli HS Students Entry
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 18, 2021
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Almost every high school student in Israel travels to Poland during their tenure in high school. And now Poland is rethinking that practice. Poland is rethinking permitting Israeli youth trips to enter their country.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński said that the Poland is reexamining educational trips by Israeli youth because, he asserts, the trips teach hatred of Poland.

This re-examination of a long held tradition comes in the context of a huge diplomatic feud between Israel and Poland over the passing of a Holocaust restitution law.

According to the Polish foreign minister: "Educational trips from Israel to Poland do not take place in a proper manner [and are conducted] in a way that hatred of Poland sometimes seeps into the minds of young people. We will examine the issue in depth because it is clear that the way these tours take place is not the right way.”

He has accused Israel of fostering "anti-Polonism" which is prejudice against Poles as an ethnic group and the state of Poland and its culture.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the signing of the property restitution law “a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust” and said that “Poland has chosen to continue harming those who have lost everything.”

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Iran Enriching Uranium Again
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 17, 2021
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The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, has announced that Iran is producing uranium that can be used to build a nuclear bomb.

This discovery by the IAEA is a major obstacle to renewing talks between the P-5+1 and Iran. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that his inspector now found that Iran had produced 200 grams at 20% enrichment. Just a few months ago Iran had produced only 3.6 grams at uranium at 20% enrichment.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the move by Iran was “unconstructive and inconsistent with a return to mutual compliance.”

He said: “Iran has no credible need to produce uranium metal, which has direct relevance to nuclear weapons development ... Such escalations will not provide Iran negotiating leverage in any renewed talks on a mutual return to JCPOA compliance and will only lead to Iran’s further isolation.”

He further said that “Iran’s nuclear advances have a bearing on our view of returning to the JCPOA,” and suggested that the U.S. was slowly running out of patience.

Price said: “We are not imposing a deadline for negotiations, but this window will not remain open indefinitely.”

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3 Israeli Schools in Top 100
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 16, 2021
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Three Israel universities made it into the list of Top 100 Universities in the World. Three!

Hebrew University took the 90th position. The Weizmann Institute grabbed the 92nd spot. The Technion was awarded 94th place.

These Israeli universities are in very good company.

Harvard was given first place for the 19th year in a row. Stanford was in 2nd place and Cambridge in 3rd place.

This is a huge honor and special recognition for Israel. To understand just how big an honor this is and to put it in perspective, there are 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States alone. And there are over 17,000 colleges and universities in the world.

Being in the top 100 universities in the world is a distinction worthy of pride.

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Poland's New Law
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 15, 2021
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Israel recalled their top diplomat in Poland as a result of the new law just passed in
Poland, which sets a 30-year limit on the ability to reclaim property.
The law, in essence, prevents any Jewish claim to property stolen from Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

There is no doubt that this law is anti-Jewish. It nullifies any chance of families or of victims themselves from getting any satisfaction on claims they make for their stolen property – many of which have been dragging through the Polish court system for decades.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is outraged. The Israeli prime minister described this new Polish law as: "a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust … Poland has chosen to continue harming those who have lost everything.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid instructed Israel's top diplomat in Warsaw, the charge d'affaires, to return home immediately for an indefinite period. And the new Israeli ambassador to Poland, who was scheduled to leave for Warsaw, will remain in Israel.

Upon hearing of the passage of this law Lapid said: "Poland today approved - not for the first time - an immoral, antisemitic law."

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Israeli Born in Dubai
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 14, 2021
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History is made in many ways.

The first Israeli child to be born in Dubai is history.

Ilan Sztulman, the head of Israel’s diplomatic mission in Dubai, and his wife Jackie are the proud parents of a newborn baby girl, born in Dubai.

The baby, named Maya, was born in Dubai’s Mediclinic Hospital, is their fifth child.
Giving the birth another reason to be entered into history books is that baby Maya was born on the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE.

Proud Papa Sztulman marked the occasion saying: "Maya is the first Israeli citizen to be born on Dubai soil. We are especially delighted by the symbolic timing of her birth.”

He continued: "There are many new Israeli owned businesses here and now we have an Israeli baby, born to a diplomat. When we issue her passport here in Dubai, we will be doubly excited because it will be the first Israeli passport issued here.”

Many locals came to congratulate Sztulman. Even the chief of police came to say Mazel Tov.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid sent his congratulations over Twitter tweeting: "Maya is the first Israeli baby born in Dubai! Congratulations to Ilan Sztulman, head of mission and his wife Jackie. The entire ministry is raising our glasses in a toast".
L’Chaim! And Mazal Tov!

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Urging Abbas to Join
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 13, 2021
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is being urged to address the new Israeli government – and address it in a serious way.

Both the United States and England have pointed out that if Abbas has any hope (or any real desire) or moving toward Palestinian statehood and normalcy, he must engage with Israel’s new leaders.

These messages from the United States and England have not simply been sent floating out there for Abbas to receive, they have been personally hand delivered.
Richard Moore, head of Britain’s MI-6, which is their equivalent of the CIA, went to Ramallah to meet with Abbas. That visit was followed by a visit from William Burns who also travelled to Ramallah. The CIA director paid his visit to Abbas while he was in Israel for talks about the region.

Topics under discussion with Abbas included Iran and their influence in the region.

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HRW Says Palestinians did War Crimes
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 12, 2021
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Human Rights Watch announced that during the recent war between Israel and Hamas, Gazans committed war crimes.

The group was referring to the deadly rockets fired into Israel by Palestinians, rockets that led to the deaths of 12 Israeli and injury to tens of others.

The human rights group also pointed out that rockets that misfired or that fell short of their intended targets within Israel, also killed or wounded "an undetermined number of Palestinians in Gaza". At least seven Palestinian civilians were reported killed by their rockets.

This is newsworthy.

Traditionally Human Rights Watch has been extremely critical of Israel and extremely wary of saying anything negative against Palestinians.

Because they were so biased, their credibility was in serious question.

Have they finally seen the light of truthful reporting – it is way too soon to tell.


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Robots for Bees In Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 11, 2021
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Bees are not just our source of honey. Bees are, more importantly, an essential part of the ecosystem, and the bee population is becoming rare. Without bees, the ecosystem will break down.

Bees are now at risk because of very aggressive farming methods and because they are being poisoned by pesticides.

An Israeli startup named Beewise is helping save the bees and save the world.
They are using a robot. The robot makes hives, stacks the honeycombs using robot arms and inspects the honeycombs for disease and pesticides. It also issues real time reports on anything determined to be threatening to the bee colonies.

This robot can house 24 colonies – that’s about 2 million bees. It is about the size of cargo container.

The developers od Beewise hope to have 100 of these systems operating in the United States and Israel.

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Found an Ancient Coin
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 10, 2021
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Every tourist to Israel and every person living in Israel dreams of finding a valuable piece of history while walking or digging through the country’s many excavation sites.

Of course, the likelihood of discovering a major find is next to nil. Bones and burnt wood and broken shards of pottery are often unearthed, but actually finding something significant in a site that has already been excavated and is open to tourists is practically unheard of.

But sometimes, dreams do come true.

The Yizhaki family was playing a game in the excavated mikvah in the Karazim National Park in Israel when one of the girls spotted a coin on the ground. As everyone is instructed to do, she handed the coin over to the park staff.
It was bronze and it is 1500 years old.

According to Dekel Segev, director of the Korazim National Park, this ancient bronze coin is estimated to date to the Talmudic period between the fourth and fifth centuries which is, he explains, “ … the peak period of the Jewish village in Korazim”.

Korazim, which is mentioned in the Christian Bible, is located in the Galilee between Safed and Tiberias. It is home to several impressive remains including a beautiful synagogue and a mikvah, both constructed with stunning pillars.

The coin is a natural treasure and it would have been illegal to keep the coin. It is a national treasure. In all probability, the family will be awarded a public honor for finding this remnant of archaeological history.

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Israel's Vaccinates Elderly
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 9, 2021
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Israel has mandated that people over 60 get a third booster against the corona virus.

The Health Ministry reported that 295,585 Israelis over the age of 60 received COVID booster vaccines in the first five days of the program. That accounts for nearly 20% of that age group.

There is no scientific evidence that the third dose will help. It certainly will not hurt.

Interestingly, however, the World Health Organization has asked for a moratorium on the third dose. Their rationale is that the entire world should get a first dose of vaccine before some get a third.

This is not a humanitarian gesture. It is a clear attack against Israel. Israel is the only country in the world that has begun administering a third dose of the COVID vaccine.

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Israel to Help Greece w Fires
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 8, 2021
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Greece and Turkey are confronting raging, out of control, fires.

Israel has a great deal of experience fighting fires. Israelis use computers and models to fight and plot and fight fires. They offered to help Turkey and Greece.
Turkey rejected their help. Greece accepted.

A delegation of 16 Israeli firefighters will travel to Greece to assist in the fight against the severe wildfires ravaging the country.

Thousands of people fled their homes on the outskirts of Athens. Hundreds were evacuated by boat from the nearby island of Evia.

The wildfires are fueled by strong winds and searing temperatures.

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Israel Unveils Iranian Master Planners
By Micah Halpern

Saturday August 7, 2021
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There has been an increase in tension between the Iran and the West.

Iran attacked an Israeli-leased and managed ship sitting off the coast of Oman and two people were killed. One was British. One was Romanian. The ship, named Mercer Street, is registered in Liberia and the company that runs the ship is registered in England. The actual ship is owned by Japan.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz unveiled the identity of an Iranian commander responsible for the deadly strike on the tanker.

Briefing the ambassadors of countries on the UN Security Council, Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid named Saeed Ara Jani — the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) UAV Command — and claimed that he was directly involved in the attack on the Mercer Street tanker that killed the two crewmen.

Gantz said: "The person directly responsible for these actions is Saeed Ara Jani, whose name I am revealing for the first time. Ara Jani is the main operator of the Revolutionary Guards' UAV apparatus which attacked the Mercer Street. He provides the equipment, training, programs and is responsible for many terrorist acts in the region."

Revealing the identity of the commander lets Iran know that there is a target on their back.

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PA Banks
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 6, 2021
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Banks in the Palestinian Authority have decided not to be the conduit for the agreement that allows for to Qatari money to be distributed to Gaza. The banks fear that their cooperation would expose them to legal actions on the grounds of supporting and funding terrorism.

International laws are very strict about banking and the support of terror.

According to “the Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Palestine through the Ministry of Social Development and the Qatari Foreign Ministry through the Gaza Rehabilitation Committee,” the PA has agreed to transfer Qatari funds through banks subject to the supervision of the Palestinian Monetary Fund according to a list of names compiled by the Qatari side.

The transfers will take place using ATM cards bearing the bank’s logo and will include assistance to 100,000 beneficiaries from poor families as well as 27,695 other beneficiaries, most of whom are Hamas officials.

After the funds are transferred to the Palestinian banks, the PA will issue magnetic cards that will be recharged each month with $100 and these will be handed over to the poor families in the Gaza Strip.

All this will happen only after banks that agree to participate in the plan are found. Right now, there is a serious fear of an international backlash against Palestinian banks.

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Budget Includes Arabs
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 5, 2021
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One of the results of the new Israeli government is that the Israeli Arab community now sits in the government. And that means that they have power -- economic power.

And so, the new budget has an allocation of 29.5 billion shekel directed toward Israeli minorities. 29.5 billion shekel is equivalent to about $9.18 billion.

21.5 billion is part of a 5 year plan for the Arab sector. 3 billion NIS will be directed to Druze and Circassian minorities. The Bedouin population will receive 5 billion NIS.
This is a major step toward equalization. Equalization that is long overdue.

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Turkey Says No To Israel 's Help
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 4, 2021
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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
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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
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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
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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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UAE Israel Oil Deal on Hold
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 27, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Affairs froze a deal with the UAE.

The ministry explained their actions saying that the standards Israel requested to protect the environment were not met by the UAE and until they are, the deal is frozen.

The deal was that the UAE would ship oil, by tanker, to the port of Eilat. From Eilat, a pipeline would take the oil inland to the port in Ashkelon where it would be shipped to Europe.

The pipeline was called the Med-Red Land Bridge, and it was a product of a joint Emirati-Israel company called Med-Red Land Bridge LTD.

Work on the pipeline has not yet begun, so the oil would have been trucked.
Details and safety aspects of the pipeline have not been made public. Therefore, the courts found that the safety of the environment was not guaranteed – and the deal was frozen.

This may push the push the parties to act quickly and responsibly.

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Russia to Supply Syria to Fight Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Russia is convinced that the new US administration disapproves of Israel’s bombing in Syria. And that opens the door for Russia to arm Syria to protect itself from Israel.

It appears, through certain Arabic press sources in London, that Russia wants to stop Israel’s bombing of Syria terror targets. To that end, Russia will supply Syria with better surface-to-air-missile systems.

The anonymously sourced report by the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat cited a “well-informed” Russian official saying that the Kremlin has “run out of patience” with Israeli air raids in Syria.

Israel’s objectives are clear - to prevent Iran from gaining a permanent military foothold on its doorstep and stop them from heavily arming Hezbollah.

Russia, a key supporter of the Assad regime, has built a strong military presence in Syria.

Israel needs to step in and diplomatically stop this and the way to do that is by going directly to the top – to Putin.

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Israel Hits Keys Players In Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Reports that an Israeli air strike killed a senior Hezbollah commander and a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander have spread throughout Arabic and Iranian news.

We do know that a Hezbollah commander and commander in the Iranian-backed Liwa Fatemiyoun militia were both killed recently. The details of their deaths remain unclear as of Saturday night.

The Saudi news outlet Al-Arabiya reported that the two died in Syria.

Hezbollah-affiliated media reported on Saturday that the Hezbollah commander Imad al-Amin, from Deir Kifa in southern Lebanon, was killed while “carrying out his jihad duty,” without providing further details.

Iranian media announced on Saturday as well, that Ahmed Qureshi, a commander in the Liwa Fatemiyoun militia, died due to wounds he suffered while fighting in Syria.

These multiple reports seem to be reliable.

One of Israel’s objectives is to cut off the heads of the snakes. Israel’s intention is to eliminate terrorist leadership.

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Gaza Getting Hot
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Things have been relatively calm on the Israeli border with Gaza. Relatively calm, not completely calm.

Gaza has not returned to the once-daily routine of launching attacks against Israel.
There had been, however, balloon-fire bombs tossed into Israel. These were met with quick Israeli responses.

But now, over the past few days, Gaza has increased intensity in its balloon fire-bombs and they have successfully caused at least three serious fires.

On one of the balloons a message was scrawled. It read: “time is running out”.
Israel is again responding, hitting what they believe to be the sites from which the balloon fire-bombs are both launched and created.

Hamas has not yet learned their lesson. Or maybe they are not interested in learning.

There may very well be an escalation and another mini-war around the corner.


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Ben & Jerry's
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 23, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is owned by a gargantuan company called Unilever. The company is headquartered in England.

Unilever bought the ice cream company in 2000 and by some quirk, they allowed Ben & Jerry’s to maintain its own independent board – a special board to deal with social issues.

That board decided to stop selling ice cream to Israelis living in the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria. With that decision, Ben and Jerry’s, and by extension Unilever, is subscribing to the BDS boycott. BDS stands for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel, not other countries, just Israel.

Boycotts are illegal in the United States and almost 35 states have enacted laws preventing states from doing business, making investments or assisting companies that boycott Israel.

Here is one example of those laws, from Illinois, passed in 2015. The language is very simple and very clear and it reads: “‘Boycott Israel’ means engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.”
That is the exact definition of the decision made by Ben and Jerry’s.

Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever should pay the price for their mistake. Texas and Florida are already investigating how they can divest from Unilever and do it ASAP.

That is how you answer BDS.

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Moderna to Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 22, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

From the start, Pfizer was the only vaccine given to Israelis. That is no longer the case.

Israel has 200,000 Moderna vaccines in storage. And Moderna will now be the vaccines administered to Israelis 18 years old and under.

Moderna has already been administered to 120,000 Palestinian workers in the Jewish State.

One of the reasons for the switch is that the Pfizer vaccine that Israel has in storage is about to hit its expiration date of July 31st.

Israel sold 700,000 of those Pfizer vaccines to South Korea. The South Koreans were well aware of the expiration date and needed vaccines so badly and so immediately that, for them it was a deal worth making.

100,000 new Pfizer vaccines are scheduled to arrive in Israel on August 1st.
The overwhelming majority of the country is already double vaccinated.

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Water Shortage in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 21, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

A water shortage in the Middle East, an arid, desert land, can lead to a very dangerous situation.

And this summer, Iran has been suffering from exactly that, a water shortage.

Iranians have taken to the streets to protest. They are protesting across cities and towns in Iran, making clear to Iranian leadership that they want the government to solve this problem.

During one protest in the city of Mahar shots were fired. A police officer was killed and a civilian was wounded, shot in the leg. This incident was reported in the official state media outlet IRNA.

It was the third shooting death that has occurred at protests calling on the Iranian government to get Iran more fresh water.


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70 yrs ago Jordan King Assassinated
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 20, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

It was a Friday. The date was July 20, 1951 and King Abdullah of Jordan was visiting Jerusalem. He stood on the steps of the Muslim Mosque of al Aqsa, what Jews called the Temple Mount. The King of Jordan had come to Jerusalem to speak to leaders of Israel.
But it was not to be.

Seventy years ago, while standing on those steps, in front of his grandson who would later become King Hussein, King Abdullah of Jordan was assassinated.

The assassin was a Palestinian named Mustafa Shukri Ashshu. He was a follower of the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini. The Haj Amin was anti anything Jewish. So anti that he forged a relationship with Adolf Hitler and was even hosted by him.

The Haj Amin and King Abdullah were arch enemies.
The ex-mufti supported the establishment of a Palestinian state. Abdullah annexed the West Bank. That act alone prevented the creation of a Palestinian state.

It was a season for assassinations. Just days before Abdullah’s assassination on the steps in Jerusalem, Riad al Sohl, the first prime minister of Lebanon, was assassinated in Jordan. Ali Razmara, prime minister of Iran, and Abdul Hamid Zanganeh, former education minister of Iran, had been assassinated days before.

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US Drones-Strike Iranian Militia
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 19, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The United States used a drone to attack an Iranian backed militia truck which was, most probably, carrying weapons and ammunition along the Syrian/Iraqi border.

The attack was reported in Iraqi news and by human rights observers in Syria.

There are several hundred US forces on the Syrian/Iraqi border. Their mission is to fight terrorism.

US troops, especially US bases, have recently come under attack by Iranian backed Syrian fighters. The attacks came by way of drones.

And so the United States has begun to counter attack. They are targeting the group known as Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.

According to reports, the US drone first shot a warning shot in the direction of the truck and the driver ran away. Then came a second shot that destroyed the truck.

As is the case in almost every incident, there are other reports that the driver was killed and that instead of weapons, and ammo the truck was carrying food.

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Israel Enforcing COVID Rules
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 17, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel has begun a new method of tracking people who are supposed to be in quarantine because of COVID.

The person in question will receive a text message and must respond by sending a photo in a return text message. The police will use that response to triangulate location and make certain that people are, indeed, where they are supposed to be.

If you do not respond to the text message, the police will come by and pay a personal visit.

Another change Israel has made is that indoor masking is now, once again, required. Weddings are included. This new rule applies to everyone, even double vaccinated Israelis.

Violators will be fined 5000 NIS.

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US Attacks Iranian Militia
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 18, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Beitar Yerushalim, an internationally competitive soccer team, was to host Barcelona in a scrimmage match leading up to the World Cup which is known around the world as the Mondial.

Barcelona asked for a change of venue.

They did not want to play in Beitar’s home city - Jerusalem. They thought that playing in Jerusalem would give credence to the Israeli occupation of the city.
Barcelona wanted to play elsewhere – preferably in Tel Aviv.
Instead of collapsing under international pressure, Beitar’s owner, Moshe Hogeg, simply cancelled the match.

Hogeg was stunned that Barcelona played a “political card” - a very harsh political card, but Hogeg and Beitar would not be pressured.

This is a point of principle.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is not an occupied city. If there were to be any discussion at all, it would be about East Jerusalem, not about West Jerusalem.

Barcelona was way out of line.

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Jordan Needs Vaccines
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 15, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The United States has just sent 500,000 Pfizer anti-COVID vaccines to Jordan.

The delivery of these vaccines is not part of the World Health Organization/ UN COVAX program that is charged with delivering vaccines to the world.

Jordan is suffering. Jordanians cannot wait for all the red tape to be cleared, they cannot wait for the bureaucratic machine to decide to ship them vaccines. They need those vaccines now.

There are about 10 million people in Jordan and their median age is 23.8. Given these numbers there are about 2 million Jordanians at risk.

These half million Pfizer COVID vaccines will provide for 25% of those Jordanians in need. The United States is enabling Jordan to take an important step forward in protecting those most at risk in the Kingdom.


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Iran Enriching Uranium
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 14, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

If you had any doubt that Iran was going to limit their uranium enrichment, the outgoing president of Iran removed all doubts. Rather than limit uranium enrichment, Iran will do exactly the opposite.

President Hassan Rouhani told his cabinet that "Iran's Atomic Energy Organization can enrich uranium by 20% and 60% and if one day our reactor needs it, it can enrich uranium to 90% purity.”

All this was reported in Mehr media, an official Iranian new outlet.

The percentages Rouhani spoke of are way above the 3.67% agreed upon in the famous nuke deal and the 20% permitted in research.

Iran is planning to move into nuclear technology. That is obvious. There is no way that they will walk back their enrichment numbers. Obtaining and then providing nuclear weapons to others is important to Iran.

Iran will continue to enrich uranium and continue their march toward nuclear weapons.

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Plans to Attack Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Hebrew media lit up over preliminary discussions on the budget.

The budget line that drew everyone’s attention was a request by the IDF for billions of shekel to be used to plan for and defend Israel against Iran.

Billions of shekel is quite a lot of money. The obvious question we must ask is: why was there was no allocation to deal with Iran set aside up until now? It’s no secret that Iran is a large and looming threat.

It appears that until this moment, until this budget discussion, Israel has not been totally prepared to strike and defend itself from Iran.

I find that frightening.

To clarify, there always were and there continues to be plans for old style attacks against Iran - especially assassinating nuclear scientists and sabotaging nuclear labs and centers. And we cannot forget that Israel smuggled out the Iranian nuclear archives. But as remarkable and as successful as smuggling that archive was – it is still old school.

Israel needs new school solutions. Kudos to the IDF for bringing this pressing need to the forefront of budget discussions.

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Israel Holds Terror Money from PA
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is freezing 597 million NIS of monies that are supposed to be transferred to the Palestinians. 597 million NIS is about $180 million.

The defense cabinet agreed that this was a wise and correct decision.

This is the exact amount of money - calculated by the defense cabinet – that the Palestinians paid to terrorists and to the families of terrorists now serving time in Israeli prisons.

The system has been dubbed “Pay to Slay”.

The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, passed legislation in 2020 permitting Israel to freeze money being transferred to the Palestinian Authority that would go to terrorists. That is exactly what Israel just did.

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Israel Hacked Iran's Transit
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel – it must have been Israel, successfully hacked and brought down Iran’s rapid transit system.

The system is partly owned and operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The IRGC ownership of the transit system made it a viable, justifiable and ethical target of attack.

This is just another example of many attacks against Iran. The attacks are not isolated incidents, they are part of an orchestrated plan to hurt and even cripple Iranian leadership.

There is a downside. An attack against Iran means a response from Iran. There is always a counterattack.

Iran has attacked Israeli ships on the open seas. Iran has hacked Israeli infrastructure, like the water system. Iran has unleashed their proxy Hezbollah and Hezbollah has launched rockets and drones into Israel.

I’m expecting Iran to unleash a cyberattack against Israel within the next week.

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Israel Leaves Surfside
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Israeli search and rescue team that came to Surfside and helped reshape and redirect the dig to more effectively discover bodies has returned to Israel. The work at Surfside is not yet complete, but the Israeli team successfully taught the Americans how to safely and effectively search for and find bodies in the aftermath of the building collapse.

The role of the Israeli team was essential to the success of the grueling and daunting task. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava thanked the Israeli battalion for their "unrelenting dedication" and presented them with an honorary "key to the county."

The team was divided into 2 sub teams and each sub team worked 12 hour shifts to find bodies.

As the Israeli team left Surfside they marched out in formation. People, family members, locals, clapped. It was a solemn clap, a sad clap of appreciation. The team marched and sang a Hebrew dirge, they sang “Ani Ma’amin”.
“Ani Ma’amin” means “I believe.” It was an extremely powerful moment.

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Israel Hacked Hams' Bitcoins
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 9, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel has begun hacking and seizing Hamas’ Bitcoin accounts. The Israelis have also hacked into and seized other Hamas crypto-currency accounts.

How did they do it – how did Israel successfully hack and confiscate Hamas’ Bitcoins and other crypto-currencies? Notice I am not asking why – just how.

The US Justice Department is doing the same thing. Attempting to hack into and seize the accounts of as many terror groups as they can. So far, Israel has seized over 150 crypto-currency accounts while the US has seized over 300.

The answer as to how Israel broke into this supposedly super stealth Bitcoin system is brilliant.

While crypto accounts are nearly impenetrable, they have a weak spot. The weak point is the point of transfer. That is when the accounts, the information, the owners are easier - NOT EASY, just easier, for the white hat hacker to access.

That is where Israel entered the system and that is how they were able to seize millions and millions of terrorist assets.

Israel has frozen the accounts.

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Delta Plus Variant
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 8, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

We all know about the Delta Variant of the Coronavirus.

But have you heard of Delta Plus?

Delta Plus is a mutated form of Delta, too similar to get its own name – but still a little different.

Like Delta, Delta Plus was first discovered in India. And now a handful of cases have been found in Israel. If the Delta Variant is more contagious than the Alpha Variant, Delta Plus is even more contagious and deadly than Delta.

It is still too early to understand what is happening, but information and research about this new variant is coming out daily.

One would think that, by now, the medical community would know so much more about the Delta variant and be on top of this, but not so. The standard PCR test offered everywhere does not identify variants. The test just identifies the presence or lack the virus.

And that makes the work on understanding, tracking and determining the nature of the various variants so very difficult.

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Israel Announces Lavish Room Discovered
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday July 7, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of a glorious and lavish set of rooms from the Roman era, adjacent to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The structure was built only a few decades before Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70CE.

The rooms were actually discovered decades ago, but they are only now being opened to the public. Now people can visit these rooms alongside other architectural finds at other sites near the Western Wall, like in the tunnels that run underground and parallel to the walls of the Temple.

The rooms, like all the digs in the tunnels next to the Wall were not “digs” per se.

Over the centuries or, more accurately, over two millennia the rooms and structures remained intact, they were never actually destroyed. They were filled in with dirt, sewage, rubble and remains from other destructions, but they survived.

That fill needed to be cleared out. And in the fill were items left over after the destruction of Jerusalem from other periods. The fill, which served to preserve the rooms, needed to be sifted and clearly identified. And that fill, those items discovered in the rooms, helps us understand what happened above ground, in the gloriously preserved and newly opened, Roman era rooms.

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Hareidi Childcare Gets Cut
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday July 6, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Tensions are rising along one of the Israel’s perennial fault lines.

Subsidies to Hareidi families have been cut. Specifically, subsidies for childcare.
Minister of Finance Avigdor Lieberman has chosen to change the childcare entitlement program that has been in place as far back as memory goes.

The Lieberman plan now requires fathers to work or study in a non-religious educational accredited institution for at least 24 hours a week. None of the traditional Hareidi yeshivot are accredited.

The childcare credit amounts to between NIS 900 and NIS 1,300 per child. In total, around 130,000 families benefit from the subsidies every year. The Labor and Welfare Ministry spends some NIS 1.2 billion on these benefits, approximately a third of which traditionally went to Hareidi families.

Of the Hareidi population, 53% of working age men are employed as compared to 85% of working age men from the rest of the country.

Changing the eligibility criteria for the childcare subsidy will impact the economy.
The rationale behind the subsidy was always to put children in day care, thereby freeing up mothers/wives so that they could go to work. If not for subsidies, they would have to remain at home taking care of the children.

We will see what happens now. It’s way too early to tell.


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Iran is Attacking the US
By Micah Halpern

Monday July 5, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran has, for all intents and purposes, declared war on the United States in Iraq and Syria.

Over the past several weeks, US forces have been targeted by Iran’s proxies almost every day. Even the US embassy in Baghdad has been attacked.

The attacks come in the form of missile strikes and drone strikes. The drones being used are becoming more and more sophisticated. To date, thankfully, no personnel have been killed.

And now, the United States has begun to strike back.

Iran has an agenda. Iranian leadership is ratcheting up tensions in order to force US involvement – to goad the United States into conflict with their proxies. Iran wants the US to hurt – Iran wants the United States to suffer the loss US lives.
That hurt will come as events escalate.

Iran does not care about the lives of their proxies, about those who will bear the brunt of US counter strikes. Iran cares about Iran, only and exclusively.

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US Shuts Iranian Websites
By Micah Halpern

Sunday July 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The United States seized 36 Iranian websites. The seized the sites and they shut them down.

Why these websites? Because they were spreading lies and drawing people into their traps.

A few days later, the sites resurfaced. Just like they always do.

So the question begs asking: Is it really a good idea for the United States to remove Iranian websites. One thing for certain is that it certainly plays into the narrative that the US controls everything.

The best way to combat rhetoric is to replace it with better material - not by shutting its sources down.

Censorship is never a good idea unless a source, a website, goes over the red line that limits free speech. That red line is the direct instigation of violence.

Really evil groups use the dark web and, unfortunately, by their very nature. it is impossible to shut them down. The United States should certainly monitor those sites, and sometime even play with them and hack them.

But never take them down, never shut them down.

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Iran Hits Another Israeli Ship
By Micah Halpern

Saturday July 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The internet lit up with reports that Iran attacked an Israeli vessel in the Indian Ocean. The vessel was enroute from Jeddah to the UAE.
Israeli news N12 broadcast the story.

According to the N12 report, the crew was not hurt and the ship was not badly damaged. They cited unnamed sources within Israel's defense establishment for this information.

Lebanese, pro-Iranian, TV channel Al Mayadeen had also reported that the ship was attacked in the Indian Ocean.

This is a big story. It is very difficult to police and to protect the high seas.


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Iran Electric Blackouts
By Micah Halpern

Friday July 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Widespread electrical blackouts are crippling Iran.
The heat is excessive, air conditioners are running round the clock, people are staying indoors and they are one their computers.

This story was first covered by Iran International, a TV and web media outlet out of London. The outlet is trying to present balanced, insightful coverage of Iran.
Large parts of the Iranian capital Tehran and parts of Karaj, a city west of Tehran, as well as other, smaller, cities were plunged into darkness. Iranian leaders are announcing that there will be more blackouts.

But this widespread blackout, which started at 11:00 pm Saturday night, was not part of the scheduled power cuts that Iran has experienced in recent months due to insufficient electricity generation and rising demand. In some parts of Tehran the power outage continued until 5 am Sunday.

An unexpected and long power cut in mid-summer high temperatures could create discomfort in apartments where air conditioning is essential, as well as unforeseen problems in hospitals. The scheduled power cut was supposed to take place only between 8-10 pm on Saturday.

Iran’s power consumption this summer has topped 60,000 megawatts per day. That is more than a ten percent increase in power consumption compared to last year. Meanwhile, electricity generation in Iran has remained the same at 50,000-56,000 megawatts.

None of this bodes well for the people of Iran.

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Israel Arrests Arrivals from Russia
By Micah Halpern

Thursday July 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

24 Israelis were arrested in Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

They weren’t arrested for drug trafficking and they weren’t arrested for smuggling.

They were arrested for buying tickets and almost boarding a plane for Russia.
40 other Israelis were fined 5000 NIS each, that’s approximately $2,000, for getting off a plane from Russia and trying to enter Israel.

Russia is a red state. Covid is rampant. It is forbidden for Israelis to come or go without special permission from the Exceptions Committee.

It might sound like Israel is becoming a police state. But the truth us that Israel is a country that takes the life and death of its citizens seriously.

No travel means no travel.

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Israel Helps Surfside
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 30, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The head of the IDF search and rescue team is Colonel Gidon Vach.

Vach spoke to a US media outlet and explained what the Israeli team is doing in Surfside and the value added by having Israelis on the ground at the site of The Champlain South building collapse.

Colonel Vach has been working search and rescue missions for more than 20 years. When speaking of the Surfside rescue operation he said: "It's one of the most difficult and complicated situations that I've ever seen."

He said that while one should never lose hope, you also have to be honest and there is “no chance” for finding survivors.

Vach described the 3-D model of The Champlain that Israel created even before arriving on the scene. He explained that the team is looking for bedrooms because people were asleep at the time of the collapse.

He also explained that the Israeli team replicated the collapse to determine how the building fell and then he said: "Our purpose is to get the first responder to understand, where exactly is he digging?"

That’s important. This way rescuers do not waste time and energy digging and removing rubble. Instead, they can target their dig so as to find people and bodies.

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Fire Balloons
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 29, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

They are called incendiary balloons. In other words, the balloons sent over from Gaza ignite and cause fires in Israel.

These fires cause 10’s of millions of dollars of damage. They destroy crops and fields and endanger farming communities.

The balloons bombs are very low tech – in fact, they cost less than a dollar each to make. They are one of the least expensive weapons in the Middle East today. An exacto knife is more expensive.

On May 21 the latest conflict between Gaza and Israel ended. Both sides agreed a cease fire. And yet, these incendiary balloons are being launched with more and more frequency.

If they do not end, if the balloons do not stop, Israel will respond. This is not a prediction - it is an absolute inevitability.

Israel will strike Gaza from the air and hit the labs the make the balloons. Israel will target the leaders of the groups launching the balloons. They will shoot the people who are launching the balloons as they are being launched.

This is an absolute fact. Hamas must know this. And so, I ask: why does Hamas insist on continuing to launch fire balloons into Israel?

The answer is that Hamas has a need to always attack Israel. They simply cannot stop.

It is a real life version of the Aesop fable about the “Scorpion and the Frog”.

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Fire Balloons
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 29, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

They are called incendiary balloons. In other words, the balloons sent over from Gaza ignite and cause fires in Israel.

These fires cause 10’s of millions of dollars of damage. They destroy crops and fields and endanger farming communities.

The balloons bombs are very low tech – in fact, they cost less than a dollar each to make. They are one of the least expensive weapons in the Middle East today. An exacto knife is more expensive.

On May 21 the latest conflict between Gaza and Israel ended. Both sides agreed a cease fire. And yet, these incendiary balloons are being launched with more and more frequency.

If they do not end, if the balloons do not stop, Israel will respond. This is not a prediction - it is an absolute inevitability.

Israel will strike Gaza from the air and hit the labs the make the balloons. Israel will target the leaders of the groups launching the balloons. They will shoot the people who are launching the balloons as they are being launched.

This is an absolute fact. Hamas must know this. And so, I ask: why does Hamas insist on continuing to launch fire balloons into Israel?

The answer is that Hamas has a need to always attack Israel. They simply cannot stop.

It is a real life version of the Aesop fable about the “Scorpion and the Frog”.

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Israel Permits Gas in to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 28, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel permitted the entry into Gaza of fuel trucks. The trucks were permitted entry in order to fill Gaza’s electrical stations which had not been producing electricity. They had gone dark..

The fuel is paid for by Qatar.

Ironically, permission was granted the same day that Israel received a formal request from Gaza to permit 10 trucks of fuel entry. Israel had made the decision before the request even came through.

Israel has also relaxed towards Gaza in other ways.

They are permitting the importing of raw material necessary for civilian purposes.
And even earlier, Israel extended the Gaza fishing zone another 6 nautical miles permitting Gazan fishing to extend 9 nautical miles into the Mediterranean Sea.

Qatar is asking that Israel permit their monetary aid be transferred into Gaza. That has yet to happen. It is still unclear where the money will go and how it will be supervised.

In daily meetings Egypt and Israel discuss the “hows” of how to make certain the money goes to the proper places and not to Hamas or to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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US Strikes Iran in Syria & Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 27, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The United States has carried out airstrikes against Iranian supported forces in Iraq and Syria.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the attacks were approved by President Biden who also, he said: “directed further military action to disrupt and deter” attacks on U.S. facilities and personnel in Iraq.

According to the official US statement: “We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to defeat ISIS … The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation - but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.”

The official Iraq military response condemned the United States.

The Iraqi condemnation was to be expected. What was not expected was the US strike.

Over the last few months Iranian proxies have been aggressively attacking US personnel in the region using drones. This United States needed to respond, and this was the best response.

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Israel & US Must Work Together
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with his US counterpart Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Vienna.

Lapid indicated that Israel had made a serious mistake by alienating Democrats in the United States. Both Lapid and new Israeli Prime Minister Bennet are committed to improving and even strengthening the relationship between the United States and Israel, a relationship which is so important that it should be above US party politics.

Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid also made it clear that Israel is unhappy with the United States for advances being made toward Iran in resurrecting the 2015 Nuke Deal.

Before the meeting began Lapid said: "Israel has some serious reservations about the Iran nuclear deal that is being put together in Vienna. We believe the way to discuss those disagreements is through direct and professional conversations, not in press conferences."


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Israeli Baseball & the Olympic
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel and the United States will face one another in baseball in their opening games at the 2021 Olympic Games in Japan.

Their face-off will be a double elimination which means that you are allowed to lose one game and still compete in the Games.

Israel's baseball team is expected to include former major leaguers Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia. Current Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dean Kremer is also said to have joined the team.

The fate of baseball in the Olympics has been rocky.

Baseball was dropped from the Olympics after the 2008 Games. It has been brought back this year – but only as a limited run. In the 2024 Paris Games baseball will be dropped again. This sport is expected to be played, once again, when the Olympic Games are hosted in Los Angeles in 2028.

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Honduras Opens Jerusalem Embassy
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Embassy of Honduras has opened in Jerusalem.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez came to Jerusalem to be part of the celebration.

At the opening, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: "This is another demonstration of the deep friendship and deep connection between the two countries."

Joining the president were a great many of his ministers and aides.

The Honduran foreign minister was there to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid. The MOU contained the decision by the two countries to collaborate in the fields of agriculture, water resources management, health, education and information sharing.

This is another example of Israel’s improving foreign relations. Israel continues to raise its status in the world. The decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and to move its own embassy there has been anything but an impediment for other countries.


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Bennett is Not Soft
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 22, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

For anyone worried that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett went soft by joining the coalition that made him prime minister – you can put that worry aside.

In addition to bombing Gaza after Hamas sent balloons which caused wildfires and tremendous destruction within Israel, the new prime minister also gave the order for the recent attack by the Mossad on Iran’s centrifuge factories.

Of course, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the Iranian attack.

Bennett also approved new settlement construction in Elkana, Mishor Adumim, and Yitzar. The new construction in these Jewish settlements on the West Bank is the first such move okayed by the government of the new prime minister.

The subcommittee on settlement in the Civil Administration actually made the decision to build and sent it on to the prime minister for approval. The committee, which normally convenes every three months, had not met since January.

Prime Minister Bennett has been kept very busy his first days in office.

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Russia Shoots @ UK
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 22, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

A Russian naval ship shot at a British naval ship in the Black Sea. The Russians also scrambled a jet and launched several bombs toward the British ship. The boat, called the HMS Defender, is a destroyer ship.

Russia explained their action by saying that The Defender crossed into Russian waters. The British deny the claim. The Russians countered saying that the British ship was as far as 2 miles into Russian waters.

Britain went so far as to deny everything - even that Russia shot at them.

According to the UK Ministry of Defense: “No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.”

As usual, the Russians are flexing their muscles.

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Bitcoins in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 21, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

You get bitcoins through mining. In order to mine, you use computers – very powerful computers. These computers answer questions, solve problems and get new coins.

Turns out, Iran is a very big Bitcoin miner. And because the computers mining the bitcoins are so extremely powerful and drain huge amounts of electricity, Iran has shut down several cryptocurrency mining operations.

In fact, Iranian authorities seized 7,000 powerful computers that were being used to mine bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

Analytics about these currencies show that 4.5% of all bitcoin mining takes place in Iran. If this is true, it translates into $100’s of millions of unrestricted dollars.

Iranian leadership seized the 7,000 computers because they feared that the mining computers would cause power shortages throughout the country.

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Iran's Nuke Plant
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 20, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran’s only nuclear power plant broke down and went offline. The plant will be closed until it can be fixed. It needs part from overseas. But because of international sanctions, parts are hard for Iran to procure.

The plant, which opened in 2011 is in Bushehr. One of its jobs is to help reduce the cost of electricity across the country. As a result of the Bushehr plant going down, an electricity shortage will most certainly occur throughout Iran.

The plant is actually very old. Iran started building it in the 1970’s under the Shah.
In 1979, because of the revolution in Iran, worked stopped and was only picked up again and finally completed with the help of the Russians.

The Russians are still helping out. This plant is uranium powered and Iran gets their enriched uranium from – you guessed it, Russia.


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Bennett Warns Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Saturday June 19, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has a warning for Hamas.

As we all know, Hamas controls Gaza. And Prime Minister Bennett announced to Hamas leadership that Israel’s patience “has run out” and that Israel will not tolerate “any more violence” from Gaza.

This is a theme that Bennet has been voicing for years.

Bennett had more to say to Hamas. He also told them that: "Residents of Gaza border communities are not second-class citizens, they deserve to live in peace and security.”

"Our enemies must understand the rules, we will not tolerate violence, we will not tolerate sporadic fire and we will not tolerate renegades.”

Bennett was very specific. He said that Israel "does not have any intention to harm those who have not risen against us in violence, and those who are held captive by a ruthless and violent terror organization."

Prime Minister Bennett also promised to retrieve the bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers and to bring home those Israeli still alive and held captive in Hamas’ custody.

He told Israelis: "I know that over the years you have heard a lot of promises and statements and the families only know disappointment and grief, but now it is our watch and we are committed to this."

These are easy things to say. The question is whether Bennett can act and effect change.


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PA Vaccine Story
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 18, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

UPDATE ON:
Israel offered to loan the Palestinian Authority 1.2 million Pfizer Covid vaccines.
To loan?

The PA really needs these vaccines. They really need more than 1.2 million vaccines.

The latest UN estimate, as of January 2021, has about 5.2 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. So any number of vaccines will help. Even a single dose of vaccine will help protect Palestinians.

But why lend the vaccines to the Palestinians?

Palestinians are scheduled to receive vaccines in 2022, presumably from the World Health Organization. They have, I am told, also made some progress in procuring the Chinese and the Russia vaccines.

Israel wanted to give them Pfizer vaccines. I presume that Israel would have received Pfizer vaccines in return.

But, in typical form, the Palestinians have rejected Israel’s offer.

They claim that the vaccines are too close to the expiration date. They claim that they will not have enough time to distribute the vaccine.

Truth is, the Palestinians could have had these vaccines a long time ago, but they dragged their heels in closing the deal. These are the same vaccines – with the same expiration date, that Israel is still using.

No need to worry. The vaccines will not go to waste. Israel has been approached by other countries only too anxious to receive and to distribute these Pfizer vaccines.

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Israel Lends PA Vaccines
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 17, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is loaning the Palestinian Authority 1.2 million Pfizer Covid vaccines.
Loaning?

The PA really needs these vaccines. They really need more than 1.2 million vaccines.

The latest UN estimate, as of January 2021, has about 5.2 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. So any number of vaccines will help. Even a single dose of vaccine will help protect Palestinians.

But why lend the vaccines to the Palestinians?

Palestinians are scheduled to receive vaccines in 2022, presumably from the World Health Organization. They have, I am told, also made some progress in procuring the Chinese and the Russia vaccines.

Israel is giving them Pfizer vaccines. I presume that Israel will receive Pfizer vaccines in return.

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New Poll About Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 16, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I am very troubled by a just released poll about Evangelical Christians’ support for Israel. The poll was a joint effort between Americans and Israelis and was released by Tel Aviv University.

The poll studied 700 Evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29. Participants were asked about their support for Israel. In 2018, 69% of respondents supported Israel. Today, only 33.6% support Israel.

The 2018 poll asked Evangelicals of all ages - but even taking that into account, these new results indicate a dramatic drop in support.

The poll also indicated a striking increase in support for a Palestinian state. 44.7% of respondents supported the establishment of a Palestinian state today, versus only 35% three years ago.

Evangelical Christians have traditionally been an essential ally for Israel and for the Jewish community. Israel used to spend time and energy and money developing and strengthening relations with this Christian community in the US.

It is now obvious that someone, or somehow, Israel dropped the ball with Evangelical Christians. That’s a real loss – a big loss, for Israel.

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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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Iran Tells Israel go Back From Where you Came
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 29, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran is very good at the media game.

In a recently issued message to Israel, Iranian Quds Force commander Ismail Kaani warned that Israel will soon be destroyed and that the Palestinians will control all of the land.

He said: "We recommend Israelis buy back the houses they sold in Europe, America, and elsewhere, before they become expensive".
Kaani delivered this message as part of a speech he gave during an event marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Quds Force deputy commander Imad Hizaju.

Later, Kaani congratulated Hamas on their success during the recent military operation in Gaza.

It is important to understand the history meaning behind Kaani’s message. Israelis are buying properties from Arabs in Jerusalem. When Kaani said “buy back your apartments in the countries from which you came”, the Iranian Quds commander is really saying that Israelis are not natives, that they are colonizers and interlopers.

He is saying that the land belongs to the Palestinians.

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Assad Re-elected
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 28, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Syria re-elected Bashar Assad as president.
Of course they did. In a dictatorship, the dictator always gets re-elected.

The question is by how much of a majority did Assad win. Certainly not a small majority of the vote, that would never do. In this election, Assad garnered 95.1% of the vote. At least, those were the official numbers.

In the last election, which was held in 2014, Assad won 88.4% of the vote. Apparently, he is much more popular today than he was 7 years ago.

It might surprise you to know that there were 3 candidates who stood for the May 26th election in Syria. The names of the two other candidates were obscure, they were unknowns.

Syria’s High Constitutional Court released their names on May 3rd. That was 22 days before the presidential election. If it was a real election there was no way to garner support let alone to get a groundswell of voters.

Syrians living in Lebanon were permitted to vote in this election. Syria views

Lebanon as a Syrian district. And about 1 million Syrian Lebanese voted in the election.

Obviously, this was a show of support for Assad, not a real election. Assad was guaranteed a fourth victory clearly and simply because he is a dictator. No other option existed.

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Jewish Hate Crimes
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 27, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The drastic rise in hate crimes targeting Jews has not fostered many responses on the grassroots level.

Some figures, like Senator Bernie Sanders, have even announced that they’ve had enough with all the condemning of anti-Semitism.

But there have been some inspiring attempts to help and assist the many frightened Jews. Especially frightened are those who are “obviously identifiable Jews.”

A group of martial arts experts in LA is being organized by a Remi Franklin, a Jewish martial arts instructor.

Franklin is coordinating jiujitsu, karate, mixed martial arts and boxer instructors who will escort Jews going to and from synagogue and will also secure synagogues in LA. His group is working together with a Jewish security group named Magen Am.

In interviews with the LA Times and The Forward, Remi Franklin explains that coordinating these communities combines his Jewish life and his martial arts life.

Haters of Jews need to witness strong powerful Jews and their friends standing together, standing tall and standing proud.

We need more people like Remi Franklin.

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US to Re-Open Jerusalem Consulate
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken has wrapped up his trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The secretary of state promised to re-open the US consulates in the Arab section of Jerusalem. He said that President Biden will ask congress for $75 million to re-open the consulate and for humanitarian assistance.
Why, you might ask, is there a need for a US consulate in Jerusalem - isn’t the embassy housed in Jerusalem?

The answer is that the consulate will serve the Palestinian community.

Blinken also indicated that President Biden will ask Congress for even more help for the Palestinians. Biden will ask for another $5.5 million in addition to the original request of $32 million slated for humanitarian aid.

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Jews Care About Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Pew Research Center Religion and Public Life published a study in mid-May which attached numbers to Jews and their attachment to Israel.

Look at these numbers.

45% of American Jews think that caring about Israel is essential to being Jewish. 37% think that caring about Israel is important. Only 16% of American Jews polled think that the Israel is not important.

The study was conducted between June 19, 2019 through June 3, 2020.

So - what conclusions can be drawn from the Pew Study?

The most important conclusion is that Israel is still important to the overwhelming majority of Jews in the United States.

I find that to be remarkably comforting. I would guess most of those 16% of Jews do not feel anything is important to their identity, not just Israel.
Poor souls.

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From Cease Fire to Peace - NO!
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Since the cease fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect, I have heard over and over that it is essential to ride the wave of momentum and to continue on. The assumption is that the cease fire will lead to a peace deal.

And I say - No way! Definitely not! To think this way is, quite frankly, to flaunt your ignorance. It is wishful thinking.

Hamas’ raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel, it is the basis of their charter.
Hamas does not want peace. For Hamas the cease fire was a protective move undertaken to prevent their total destruction.
Anyone who knows the region, knows this to be true.

So, you ask, why did the UAE and Qatar volunteer to help continue to broker a peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

And why did Egypt's foreign minister, during a visit to Jordan on Sunday, discuss ways to build on the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, ways de-escalate tensions in the Palestinian territories and ways to revive the Middle East peace process. And why was all of that announced in an official foreign ministry statement. They certainly understand the region.

The answer is - because, they have an ulterior meeting.

The Palestinian Authority is the only party that can negotiate peace with Israel. And right now the PA is not ready to take that step.

The UAE and Qatar and Egypt countries know that. But for the moment, they want to ride the wave of success and gain favor in the eyes of the United States and other Western countries.

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How Israel Destroyed 14 Stories
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 14, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


I watched the Israeli air-force demolish a 14 story building that was a center for
Hamas activity. The building was used especially for planning and for communications.

The video I watched was shot from a neighboring building.

The media felt so secure that Israel would be pin pint accurate with their shot that they were right there to tape the demolition. And indeed, Israel was accurate.

As always, Israel also text messaged people to get out of the building. I watched and listened as Israel called the guard of the building and asked him to evacuate.
They asked how long it would take. He responded 2 to 3 hours. They said good and then they called back to confirm that everyone was safely out of the building.
Even in war and conflict Israel maintains a respect for the lives of their fellow humans.

Most local media working for foreign outlets and covering this conflict are extremely biased. They did not even realize that by telling this particular story they were proving Israel’s point – not Hamas’ point.

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Arab Riots in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Rioting by Arabs in Israel has spun out of control.
Attacks on Israeli Jews by Israeli Arabs have increased dramatically.

There have been violent riots by Arabs against Jews in Jerusalem, Haifa, Lod, Tiberias, Acre, Umm al Fahm, Bat Yam, Jaffa, Jisr a Zarqa, Wadi Ara, Hadera and Beer Sheba.

In the course of these riots 374 Arabs were arrested and 36 police were injured. Many of those arrested were teenagers, some as young as 13 years old.

A synagogue in Jaffa was set on fire.

Beatings of individuals by gangs have taken place.

Policing is only one tool to prevent riots. Real prevention requires real community work and an investment of time and effort. Unfortunately, over the past few years
Israeli leadership has neglected crucial issues in Israeli Arab communities.
Frustrations have festered. We are seeing the result.

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Israel and Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

It is important to understand the real reasons behind the conflict that erupted between Israel and the Palestinians.

The eviction of 7 families from their East Jerusalem homes, despite what many are claiming, is not a reason for the conflict. The posturing for position by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad within the Palestinian community is the reason for the eruption of this conflict.

Israel mishandled the housing riots. They should have known better and that mismanagement poured proverbial fuel on the flames.

The riots served to force Hamas’ hand. Hamas wanted to make themselves relevant to Palestinians – more relevant than Fatah. And so they launched 1,800 rockets into Israel within 48 hours.

Israel hit back. They hit 750 targets and 160 rocket launchers. Within 18 minutes
Israel launched 170 smart bombs aimed at terrorists and at terror facilities – especially missile launchers and weapons depots and command and control centers. They were all surgical strikes.

The IDF claims to have successfully targeted 60 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist leaders. Hamas says that the Israeli strikes have killed 100 people. Israel will continue to attack Hamas and PIJ leaders.

Israel’s objective it to eliminate both the rockets and Hamas and PIJ leadership.
Israel’s objective is to keep Israelis safe.


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Israel & Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza will not end quickly.

Israeli leadership is of one mind. Israel will continue to strike at Hamas and at Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leadership and their infrastructure.

Israeli leadership believes that: “whatever is not done now will need to be done again in 6 months or a year.”

Israel is targeting terror commanders and communication centers and they are striking weapons depots.

Soon Israel will advance teams on the ground to rid out the terrorists and to destroy their centers of operation. The teams will go in under the cover of darkness.

In three days over 1000 rockets have been shot from Gaza into Israel.

Israeli injuries and deaths are mounting and that means that the government must continue to strike Gaza until Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad is no longer a threat to Israeli citizens.

Not an easy decision to make, but a necessary decision. Israeli leadership cares about the lives and the quality of life of Israelis.

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Israel & S Korea Signing Free Trade
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel and South Korea are signing a free trade agreement. This agreement is the first of its kind between Israel and an Asian market.

The purpose of a free trade agreement is to bolster investments and create a market between countries. In general, when there is a free trade agreement, most goods are tax free. So, the price of the items go down. And when that happens, sales and profits go up. The lost money from import taxes is made up on the sale of other items. As a result, economies blossom – all because good were imported without taxes.

In 2020, total trade between Israel and South Korea came to $2.4 billion. 33% of that was Israel importing goods from South Korea. That means that two-thirds of the $2.4 billion was Israel exports to South Korea.

This free trade agreement is very good news for the Israeli economy.

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Gaza Lofting Eplosions
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 9, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

It’s happening again.

Incendiary balloons, launched from Gaza into Israel, are making a comeback. Twenty fires were ignited by balloons launched from Gaza into Israel.

The balloons fly into Israel and fall as if in a burning cloud. When they fall, they hit dry ground and crops. The dry ground and the crops catch on fire. Often, the fires burn out of control.

And rockets continue to be launched into Israel from Gaza.

The Iron Dome defense system shot down two rockets over Ashkelon. The Gaza launched rockets were aimed at civilian targets.

The Iron Dome is only activated when rockets are clearly headed into civilian areas. If they are headed to fall in an abandoned area like a field, there is no need to waste the massive amount of money it costs to shoot the rockets down.

Violence in Israel has increased. Acts of terror have increased. Aerial attacks have increased. Palestinians in Gaza are getting restless, They are flexing their collective muscle. They are taking aim at Israel.

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India's COVID Trouble
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 8, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Despite a national lockdown, India is suffering terribly from COVID.

In March there was hardly any COVID in India. And then the tide turned and the pandemic surges. In the course of this last month, almost 250,000 people died as a result of COVID.

The numbers rise exponentially. The number of people testing positive for COVID increases by over 400,000 from one day to the next. Think about it. Over a four day period the number of people in India with COVID reaches 23 million. And that number continues to rise exponentially with each passing day.

The closure is helping, but the virus still progresses. Without the closure the situation would be even more dire. Almost one billion 400 thousand people live in India. They are all at risk.

With so many people, it is impossible to vaccinate any significant percentage of the population in a short period of time. Many more people will get sick and many will die. That is the unfortunate reality of India today.

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1st Orthodox Female Rabbi in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 7, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

History is being made in Israel.

For the first time ever, a woman has been hired to be the leader of an orthodox synagogue.

Rabanit Shira Marili Mirvis was appointed to lead Congregation Shirat Tamar in Efrat.

Mirvis will graduate from a five-year course at the Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL) at Ohr Torah Stone’s Midreshet Lindenbaum in June.
Her course of study included Jewish law pertaining to Shabbat, kashrut, family purity, mourning, marriage and divorce. The program certifies graduates as “spiritual leaders” and “morot hora’ah” - women authorized to provide direction in matters of Jewish law.

Rabbi Kenneth Brander, president and yeshiva head of Ohr Torah Stone expressed his pride in this first of its kind program for women. He said:

“I am deeply hopeful and confident that we will look back on this moment as one which paved a new halachic direction for the rightful place of women spiritual leaders within the Orthodox community.”

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Mossad Head in Bahrain
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 6, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Yossi Cohen, the head of Israel’s Mossad, visited Bahrain.

In Bahrain, Cohen met with his counterparts, the head of Bahrain’s national intelligence and the head of Bahrain’s strategic security.

There is tension in the region. Tension over Iran and how to deal with the Iranian regime. And tension caused by Israel's deal to normalize relations with Bahrain, aka the island kingdom. And further tension because Iran is trying to whip up anger against Israel.

Cohen’s visit and the meetings he held were reported about on Bahraini state run media.

The statement carried by the news agency was brief.

It said only that Yossi Cohen met with Bahrain's heads of national intelligence and strategic security to discuss "the most prominent security topics, regional developments and issues of common interest."

Neither Bahrain nor Israel want to cause more and unwarranted tension.

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Iran Threatens Israeli Shipping
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 5, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

For months I have explained, repeatedly explained, that Israel’s shipping assets are at risk.

For months, Iran has been targeting Israeli commercial ships on the high seas.

Now Iranian General Hussein Salami, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, is threatening Israel’s maritime trade. Salami has said that Israeli shipping could be "easily disrupted."

Iran and Israel have targeted each other’s ships. But Iran thinks that it has the upper hand. The Iranian general told state TV that Israel's small size makes it "more susceptible to such a devastating attack."
"On action can bring down this whole regime.”

General Hussein Salami was just posturing or sounding off. He was delivering a message.

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Iran In COVID Trouble
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran has purchased 60 million Sputnik V COVD vaccines from Russia. The Sputnik V is a two-dose vaccine.

60 million vaccines, at two doses each, means that Iran purchased enough vaccine for 30 million people. Sounds like good news - except that Iran has a population of 84 million.

Iran is in total COVID lockdown. Almost the entire country, 85% of the cities which comes to 250 cities, are in Red or Orange zones.

Thus far, only 100,000 people in Iran have been vaccinated.

Making matters worse is that the Sputnik V vaccine is not expected to reach Iran until the end of 2021. are only expecting the vaccines by years end.
The situation is dire.

Iran is living a COVID nightmare. The country is on the precipice. At this rate, millions of Iranians will die from COVID.

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Biden Meets Mossad Chief
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

US President Joe Biden met with Yossi Cohen, the head of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. They met one-on-one in the Oval Office.

The president of the United States receives a daily briefing on intel threats throughout the world. But this meeting was not a simple intel briefing.
Cohen was sent to Washington as a direct emissary of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And immediately after leaving the meeting, Cohen called and briefed his prime minister.

The topic of the meeting was Iran.

Israel is not happy with the on-going Iranian negotiations. The United States is not happy with Israel’s moves and counter moves against Iran.

Relations and interactions between Jerusalem and DC are still positive. The United States and Israel are working together - even when they disagree.


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COVID in Israel Almost Gone
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

As of the first week in May, Israel had a COVID positivity rate 0.1 percent. In real numbers that means that of the 9,236 people tested for COVID, only 13 people were positive.

There were 62 Israelis on ventilators, 102 hospitalized and two deaths.

That brought the entire fatality total in Israel to 6,365.

This was very good news.

Israel is still restricting entrance to the country, but progress on that front is being made. People entering from high COVID countries like India are put in quarantine hotels for 14 days and then tested.

Slow and cautious. That’s how Israel is managing the pandemic.


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Iran Sees Lift of Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Saturday May 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iranian media is reporting that their negotiations with the P-5+1 are going very well.

Their media is reporting that the talks in Vienna will lead to the lifting of sanctions on oil, banks, individuals and institutions.

"Sanctions ... on Iran's energy sector, which include oil and gas, or those on the automotive industry, financial, banking and port sanctions, all should be lifted based on agreements reached so far," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted telling Iranian state media.

Washington, on the other hand, is playing down any progress.
One day soon, we should know the truth about these negotiations.

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Death on Lag B'Omer
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 30, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The stampede that took place in Meron, Israel on Lag B’Omer is nothing short of a catastrophe.

The numbers will continue to rise – as of this writing there are 44 dead Israeli celebrants and 150 injured.

We are getting some background information on the stampede.

Meron sits on top of a mountain. There is only one way in and out. 500,000 people were at Meron for Lag B’Omer. As some people were trying to descend the mountain, they fell. And then they were trampled.

Lag B’Omer is a celebration tribute to RASHBI aka Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the traditional author of the Zohar, the work that forms the foundation of Jewish mysticism. People come to Meron to commemorate his Yahrzeit, the anniversary of his death.

They go to Meron and light bonfires. Why? There are many reasons.

In the Zohar Shimon bar Yochai is frequently referred to as Butzina Kadisha, which in Aramaic means “the holy candle.”

Zohar actually means splendor which really means light.

So in his honor, on this day, year after year, bonfires are lit.

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Azerbaijan Opens Tourism Office in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 29, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Azerbaijan's Economy Minister, Mikayil Jabbarov, announced that Azerbaijan will open an office in Tel Aviv. The office will advance tourism and diplomacy.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has said about Azerbaijan: "Azerbaijan is our greatest friend and energy supplier. We will continue to work to develop relations."

This is new, important and very good news.

Azerbaijan and Israel have had diplomatic relations for over a decade.
Azerbaijan is a Muslim country.
Azerbaijan has tremendous assets of oil and natural gas.

Advancing tourism will help both countries.

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Tourism Waking Up in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 28, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is starting to let tourists enter the country. Hopefully, the doors will soon be open to every tourist who wishes to enter.

Until now, Israeli authorities have been vigilant - not letting tourists in and even putting returning Israelis through a very rigorous regiment. Some have ankle monitors, others were put in forced isolation in hotels, still others isolated at home.

How can Israel’s behavior be compared to other countries? The Jerusalem Post asked the question of a health professional government source.

The source responded: “Countries around the world are open to varying degrees …

You have countries like Australia and New Zealand, which are totally shut to tourists, and then there is the European Union, which says that EU citizens can only move from country to country under certain conditions. Then you have countries like Estonia, Iceland and Slovenia that are letting in vaccinated people from certain countries only.”

“Then, on the other hand, we see countries like Greece, Cyprus and Portugal rushing to let people in as fast as they can. As a rule of thumb, countries whose economies are heavily dependent on tourism are willing to take greater health risks to reopen than others. In Israel, about 250,000 people are in the tourism industry, but in others, it makes up 20% of GDP.”
Not bad.

I predict that Israel will slowly continue to open.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are employed in businesses connected to tourism. Hotels, for example are slowly opening - 30% are still closed.

Tourism will certainly bolster, even lift, Israel’s economy.

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Abbas Postpones PA Elections
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 27, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced, first to his cabinet and then to the EU, that he is postponing the Palestinian Parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of May.

The EU asked to delay the announcement to give them time to influence or pressure Israel.

Why pressure Israel? Because the reason given for the postponement was that Israel was not permitting people living in Jerusalem to vote in the election or to run for the Palestinian parliament.

While that is true, it is by no means the reason behind the postponement.
The real reason is that the polls, as well as common sense, show that Hamas has a united party and campaign while the PA is divided into many factions.

If the election were to be held, Abbas’ party will lose seats and lose power. According to all polls Hamas looks to gain the overwhelming plurality.

A victory for Hamas would be the end of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. It would also mean a very different relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.

As I have been predicting over the past several months, there is no way Abbas will allow for an election - and then lose.


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Is Sells 22% Gas Field to Abu Dhabi
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Delek Drilling, one of Israel’s largest energy companies, is selling 22% of Tamar - one of its offshore natural gas fields, to a conglomerate owned by the government of Abu Dhabi called Mubadala.

The price of the sale is set at $1.1 billion.

As of now the gas field, which has exceeded all expectations and is successfully driving down the price of natural gas, is jointly owned by Delek Drilling, Chevron, Isramco, which is an Israeli energy company, and a few smaller partners. Delek Drilling is owned by Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva.

This is very good news. The idea that Israel is becoming a player in the region’s energy market is significant. The fact that Arab countries are partnering with Israel in energy drilling and marketing is monumental.

Times are changing. Ten years ago, this ever happening was just a dream.

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France Permits Jewish Murder
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The highest court in France ruled that a Muslim man named Kobili Traore could not be tried and was not criminally responsible for murdering Sarah Halimi, a 65 year old Jewish woman, a retired doctor and teacher whom he threw out of her 3rd floor window.

Traore’s defense was that he was not responsible because he was under the influence of marijuana. The exact words were he was in a “delirious fit.”

As he threw her out the window, witnesses heard him shout Allahu Achbar – Arabic for God is the greatest.

Tens of thousands of people, all around the world, protested this decision by the French court. The main protest was held in front of the Eifel Tower where protesters held up signs which read “Jewish Lives Matter.”

French President Emmanuel Macron weighed in. This was the second time he commented on this highly unusual case. France respects the separation of powers and Macron instructed the minister of justice to change this law and to change it ASAP.

Macron said France: “does not judge citizens who are sick, we treat them … But deciding to take drugs and then ‘going crazy’ should not, in my opinion, take away your criminal responsibility.”

The president of France wants to reassure the Jewish community that the Republic would keep them safe. He said: “It’s not for me to comment on a court decision, but I would like to express to the family, to the relatives of the victim, and to all our Jewish citizens who were waiting for a trial, my warm support and the Republic’s determination to protect them.”

Macron’s remarks were quoted in the French daily LaFigaro.

This French law permits people to murder with total impunity, in the name of terror, by simply shouting the words “Allahu Achbar”. It is a truly perfect defense for a perfect crime if you want to murder Jews.

And that’s a problem.

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Iran Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iranian Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Hussein Baqeri, said that Iran will “teach Israel a lesson.”

This message cum warning was broadcast across Iranian media. It appeared in every outlet, on television, on radio and on the internet.

The general said: "Israelis think they can keep hitting Syria and make mischievous moves elsewhere and in the seas and not receive any response.”

"The moves made in the past few days and future moves against their interests will make them be wise."

"We don't announce anything about the incidents that happened recently, nor do we know who did it, but the resistance front will teach a very good lesson to Israel."

There’s more, he indicated that: "if Israel's actions against Iran" continue, it's "not clear how Iran will respond, but the Zionist regime will not remain peaceful." The expression “not remain peaceful” is Iran’s way of saying that Israelis will not have peace of mind or quiet moments in their homes.
These are direct threats.

There have been a number of military hits, back and forth between Israel and Iran and her proxies. The intensity has escalated. The targets have escalated.

The unanswered question now is will Iran increase or decrease the targets and the intensity.

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UAE & Israel Plant Trees
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 23, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Who can argue with Earth Day?

Earth Day should be the one event that unites everyone around the world. And yet, it was still a major event and a pleasant surprise when the UAE sponsored a tree planting – along with Israeli representation, at their embassy in Washington DC. The UAE ambassador planted an olive tree along with the Israeli ambassador. And a twin tree, an olive tree, will be planted in the garden of the Israeli embassy.

The UAE Ambassador Youse al Otaiba marked the occasion saying: “Warmer relations will help get us to a cooler planet. Normalization is already accelerating climate cooperation between the UAE and Israel. These efforts in innovation, promotion and finance will help deliver the benefits of low-carbon, sustainable economic growth across the region and world.”

Other ambassadors and dignitaries present at this special event included Ambassador Princess Lalla Joumala of Morocco, Ambassador Dina Kawar of Jordan, Ambassador Motaz Zahran of Egypt, and Deputy Chief of Mission Yousif Ahmed of Bahrain, Ambassador Barbara Leaf, Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council and Ted Deutch, Chairman for the
Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

This will, hopefully, be one in a long list of events jointly celebrated by Israel and the UAE.

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More on Missile From Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thurssday April 22, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


A follow up to yesterday’s entry.
The missile launched from Syria into Israel needs much further investigation.

It appears that the missile was a Russian made and supplied SA- 5 surface to air anti-aircraft missile. And although it flew over Jerusalem and into the Negev Desert, it now looks like it was actually a misfire from Syria.

Israel’s air defense did not shoot the missile down. The Israeli system is designed against surface to surface missiles, not surface to air missiles. Surface to air missiles are not at all accurate when used to hit targets on the ground.

The design of the SA-5 is actually not to hit the target aircraft but to blow up near it. If it misses its target, the missile self-destructs.
In this case, the rocket blew up mid-air.

Although, Iran claims that this missile was in retaliation for the Natanz bombing, it seems unlikely. It is also unlikely that Syria is using anti-aircraft weapons to attack Israeli targets on the ground.

These missiles have a long range and they can clearly threaten Israeli aircraft. As an example, in 2018 Syria shot down both an Israeli fighter jet over Israel and a drone. Israel quickly retaliated by hitting five rocket launch sites in Syria.

Syria has the weapons to launch more attacks against Israel. But Syria clearly does not want to escalate for fear of Israeli counter attacks.

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Missile From Syria
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 21, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Syria launched a missile strike against Israel’s nuclear plant in Dimona, located in the Negev Desert in the very south of Israel.

Israel’s anti-missile defense system went into effect and Patriot missiles were launched from all over Israel. Reports of the Patriots were heard in Israel’s north, in Jerusalem and near Dimona.

And then, in response, Israel immediately struck targets outside of Damascus.
DImona, Israel’s nuclear facility is at the other end of Israel. This was not an errant rocket or a mistake.

This was a tit for tat. Israel attacked Iran’s nuke facility in Natanz so Syria, an Iranian proxy, attacked Israel’s nuke lab.

Iran’s hardline Kayhan newspaper published an opinion piece by Iranian analyst Sadollah Zarei suggesting that Israel’s Dimona facility be targeted after the attack on Natanz. Zarei cited the idea of “an eye for an eye” in his remarks.

He wrote that action should be taken “against the nuclear facility in Dimona ... This is because no other action is at the same level as the Natanz incident.”

It seems pretty obvious that Iran is trying a “Hail Mary”, throwing a long pass trying to hit Dimona. Israel did not confirm that they successfully shot down the missile, but it certainly did not hit Dimona.


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Israel Orders 3rd Shot
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 20, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that Israel has signed agreements with Pfizer and with Moderna for 9 million more vaccines to be used for a second round of COVID shots.

Netanyahu said that they will start revaccinating the country, children included, in six months. He told the country to prepare their shoulders and to prepare their children because in 6 months the vaccine will be approved for children.
In addition, the prime minister told Israelis that they are bidding on building factories which will produce vaccines in Israel.

Israel has determined that, without a doubt, there is a need for a booster shot to control the COVID virus. The new vaccines will be tweaked to protect against the new variants that are punching through the old vaccines.

Six months puts us at October, just after the New Year and High Holidays.

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Israel & US At Odds
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 19, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The United States and Israel are at odds about Iran.

The United States, along with the five other permanent members of the UN’s Security Council plus Germany are in serious talks with Iran about their nuclear development.

While that is happening, Israel attacked Iran’s Natanz nuclear lab knocking out their centrifuge system.

The United States made it very clear to Israel that they were unhappy about the attack. So Israel has agreed to step back and halt their aggressive strikes against Iran. The trade off is that Israel is expecting – or at least hoping, to have significant input into US and policy regarding Iran.

I would posit that Israel stepped up their strikes against Iranian targets in order to one day – which turns out to be now, pull back. Israel always intended to use these attacks as a valuable card to play with the United States.

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Elections in Syria
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 18, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

This year, Spring is the season of Middle East elections.
Syria has announced that on May 26th they will hold presidential elections.

Assad will win a third term as president. These are not true elections and his win is a certainty.

The Assad family belongs to a minority group in Syria. They are Alawites. And Syria’s Alawites control their brutal security forces. Opposition is not tolerated. A part of the Syrian election law is that a candidate must have lived in Syria for the past 10 years.

There is no opposition within Syria.

In 2011, protests in Syria began in the south of the country. The protestors were asking for election and political reform. The protests were crushed and so began a civil war that has, for the past ten years, devastated the country.

The only question about Syria’s upcoming election is whether Bashar Assad will win 85% or 95% or even 98% of the vote.

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US Displeased w Israeli Attacks
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 17, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The United States has made it known to Israel that they are displeased with the strikes on Iran.

The US is especially unhappy with Israel’s “boasting” about their success and claiming responsibility for the attacks - something that Israel has been loath to do in the past.

When there is an element of doubt it leaves the target, in this case Iran, questioning not just whether it was Israel but if the strike was a coordinated effort.
Was the United States involved? Was there intel from agencies from other countries? Were their neighboring countries involved?

The United States is concerned because Iran has announced that they are enriching uranium to 60%. That is 20 times the agreed upon enrichment level.

Because of strike on Natanz and the strikes on Iranian ships – all courtesy of Israel, the US is going to have a difficult time at the negotiation table in Vienna.

What we have here are two very arrogant nations. The United States is dictating to Israel. The US believes that they can tell the world what to do and what not to do. Israel, meanwhile, is telling the United States that they will do what is necessary in order to achieve safety for their citizens.

Neither country is about too change their point of view.

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PA Elections- Maybe?
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 16, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Elections for the Palestinian legislature are scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 22nd.

Presidential elections are scheduled for July 31.

Polls are telling us that Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, is having a difficult time getting a majority or - even a plurality.
Because of these polls, I anticipate that the elections will be postponed or even cancelled.

The Palestinians will blame it on Israel. They will claim that because Israel is not permitting Palestinians residing in Jerusalem to vote, they cannot hold a true election.

That of course is simply a smoke screen. It is a contrived excuse to save Fatah, with Abbas at its head, the embarrassment of losing. It really is a big deal. Losing this election would not just be an embarrassment – losing would mean the end of the Palestinian Authority and the end of Fatah as we know it.

In the meantime there are several parties that are contenders in this election.
They include Fatah and Fatah breakoffs - but Hamas is a contender as well.

If the elections take place there will be serious changes within the PA, if not a total implosion. The situation could certainly devolve into armed battle between factions.

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Biden Sanctions Russia
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 15, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Biden Administration has slapped Russia with a series of sanctions.

The announcement about these sanctions was unclear as to the timing. There was no date given for when these measures would take effect.

It did, however, explain that included in the sanctions will be a list of banned companies. Also included is the expulsion of diplomats. And finally, the sanctions will prevent US banks from buying any Russian bonds from Russia’s central bank, from their national wealth fund and from the Russian finance ministry.

This is a major step in the right direction. Russia has been a significant agitator in the US political arena and in US financial markets. When it comes to foreign affairs, the Russians tease and taunt the United States.

In response to the Biden announcement, Moscow said that they are considering a response which may also include counter sanctions against then United States. The Kremlin spokesperson explained that: "The principle of reciprocity for such matters has not been canceled, but everything will depend on the decisions made by the (Russian) head of state.”

Every decision in Russia, we all well know, is made by the head of state.

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Israel @73
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 14, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel celebrated 73 year of independence.

This was no small feat. 73 years ago, most people doubted that Israel would survive a single year - no less 73.

This past year was tough for everyone world over. But Israel seems to have emerged out of the dark tunnel called COVID.

In honor of Independence Day, for the first time in thirteen months, the city of Tel Aviv held large outdoor concerts for children. There was a limit of 650 children per concert and all the children were given a free COVID rapid test within an hour of the concert. The test gave results in 15 minutes. The test was developed by an Israeli bio tech company and results came back in fifteen minutes.

As required for all large gatherings, even outdoor gatherings, masks were worn.

Life is not yet back to the normal we used to live, but in Tel Aviv as in all of Israel, a new normal is developing. And life goes on.

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Iran's Fiction
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran is masterful at using their own media to develop a narrative.
And one of the literary devices they often use, is making things up.

The Iranians exaggerate. For example: They say that they have more weapons than they really have, or that they have new weapons. They say that they have attacked and hit targets which never happened and is all sheer fantasy. And they deny the damage or the extent of the damage to their infrastructure, military and population, all the time.

So, when Iran threatens revenge against Israel on the same day that they claim to have discovered, conquered and destroyed a Mossad house in Iraq – fake news antennae must go up.

Fact is, there are no such Mossad houses in Iraq to discover. The entire episode looks great on Iranian media and it makes Iranian leadership look strong for having avenged the Natanz strike, which Israel purportedly perpetrated, but it is a total fiction.

But fiction and fantasy never stops Iran.

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Israel Changes Tune in Involvement
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Ephraim Halevy is the former head of Israel’s Mossad.

Iran’s nuclear enrichment facility was struck with a cyber-attack. The attack turned out the lights in the facility. It literally turned off the electricity in the Iranian nuclear enrichment center.

Around the world fingers pointed at Israel. Leadership in Israel did not deny responsibility – nor did they claim responsibility. They did, however, publicly comment that Iran was due for a lesson.

Halevy had something to say about the entire situation. He said: "Apparently, those in Israel in the political leadership want [the attack] to be attributed to Israel. Therefore, it must be assumed that the attack was indeed carried out by those who are now suspected [of perpetrating it]"
He continued:

"We will make a big mistake if [we will think of Iran] as an opponent who has two left hands, that is not true."

When Ephraim speaks, we should all pay attention.

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Saudis Against Iran Talks
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The talks in Vienna between Iran and the P-5+1 to kickstart the Iranian nuke deal are not pleasing everyone.

We know that Israel, for example, is very skeptical of the outcome of these talks.
So is Saudi Arabia.

Tariq al Humaid, a very popular Saudi columnist, wrote in the international paper of Saudi Arabia, Asharq al Awsat, that many people do not trust Iran. He wrote: “There is Gulf apprehension regarding the Vienna talks.” His comment should not come as a surprise. Iran and Saudi Arabia are arch enemies.

The 6 world leaders pushing the nuke deal will not pay much attention to Saudi Arabia’s analysis, just like they are not paying attention to Israel. But Iran is paying attention. And Iran is pleased that the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia are being ignored. It ups the Iranian advantage.

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Pfizer Not Good Against S-African Variant
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

According to a study done in Israel, the South African COVID variant can “breakthrough” the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

That is not good news. Actually, it is very bad news.

The study was composed of 400 unvaccinated people and 400 double vaccinated people. The result of the study is that people who were not vaccinated were 8 times safer against the South African variant than those who had been vaccinated.

The good news is that there is very little incidence of South African COVID in Israel.

In South Africa however, the variant is predominant.

This study has not yet been peer reviewed. But, the essential lesson to be learned is: do not use the Pfizer vaccine in South Africa.

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PM of Norway Fined For COVID
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 9, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The police and the justice department in Norway fined their prime minister for violating COVID restrictions after Prime Minister Erna Solberg held a party to celebrate her 60th birthday. Thirteen members of her family were in attendance.
Solberg was fined 20,000 Norwegian Crowns which comes to about $2,500.

The prime minister had apologized - but Norwegian leadership and the justice department knew that her apology was not enough. They knew that the country cannot have a situation where the there are two sets of rules.

That’s why they chose to fine Prime Minister Solberg and to make her punishment public. So they needed to fine her and make it public. Gatherings are limited to 10 people and they would tolerate no exceptions.

The irony of this situation is that Prime Minister has been on the front line insisting that people act responsibly during COVID.

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Iran in Lock-down
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 8, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran announced a 10-day lockdown. The announcement was made after a fourth wave of COVID hit the country hard, very hard. This information was made public by state media.

Using state media in this way is not at all typical of Iranian leadership. Under normal circumstances, Iran would not want outsiders to know the extent of their damage and the enormity of the threat. But COVID is not normal and they needed to inform the public of the shutdown so they bit the bullet and used the media for all to see.

The decision was made to shutter 23 of Iran’s 31 provinces for 10 days. Shuttering means no schools, no theater, no sports and the closing of all public gatherings.

Ramadan begins in the midst of the closure. This year, that means that there will be no families gathering together to break their fasts as is the custom.

The psychological pain of this closure will surely have a harsh impact on the people of Iran.

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US Give $235 Mil to Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 7, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

In 2018 then-President Trump stopped all aid to the Palestininas.

Now things are about to change.

The Biden administration has announced that they have a plan to give $235 million to the Palestinians. This is the second time in one week that the Biden administration announced the granting of money to the Palestinians.

First, they promised $15 million. Their new plan calls for $150 million through the United Nations relief agency UNWRA, $75 million in U.S. economic support and $10 million in development funding. These figures came to light in a notice emailed by the administration to congressional offices.

The US State Department has said that the monies are legal and in line with US policy toward the Palestinians.

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Iran Meets w US about Nukes
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 6, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The P 5+1 met with Iran in Vienna. They met to take a look at the Nuke Deal.

The talks were successful and they decided to meet again in a few days. The P 5+1 are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Iran and these major powers will continue to discuss ways to revive the 2015 nuclear deal that former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.

Following the meeting, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi told Iran state television: "The talks in Vienna were constructive... our next meeting will be on Friday.”

He added that Tehran would not suspend its enrichment of uranium to 20% fissile purity in return for the release of $1 billion of its funds blocked in other countries because of U.S. sanctions reimposed on Iran since 2018.

Interesting. Iran is running this how and they are holding strong.

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Problems in Jordan
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 5, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Jordan’s crown prince, the King’s half-brother Hamsa bin Hussein, was put under house arrest. An investigation against him was opened.

The visit by the head of the army to the home of the crown prince was made public for the entire country to witness. Everyone needed to see that King Abdullah does not tolerate any challenge to his leadership.

The crime Crown Prince Hamsa bin Hussein committed was posting an on-line serious critique of Jordanian leadership claiming that it was corrupt.

The back story is that, not too long ago, Prince Hamsa was removed from the line of succession after attempting to position himself for the kingship and maybe even ousting his half-brother King Abdullah.

When King Abdullah discovered Hamsa’s newest challenge to his leadership, the King’s hand was forced and he had to act to make an example.

The story is still developing. There are rumors being spread that the situation between these brothers is on the mend. Hamsa publicly signed a letter pledging support to the King.

There is little tolerance in Jordan for those who challenge the king. House arrest is getting off easy.

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Putin Signs Law He Can Run Until 2036
By Micah Halpern

Sunday April 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Vladimir Putin signed a law that now allows him to run for president for two more terms.

His current term ends in 2024, so the new law would keep him in power until 2036.

If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind about the “democratic” (and I put democratic in quotes for a reason) nature of Putin and the country he leads, this is another cogent and essential example of his style and objectives.

Of course, he still needs to run for reelection and to win … but why would Putin change the constitution if he was not assured of a successful re-election bid.

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Sudan Repeals Israel Boycott
By Micah Halpern

Saturday April 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Sudan repealed a law prohibiting any interaction with Israel. The boycott law, which was originally enacted in 1985, had prevented any trade with companies or citizens of Israel.

On October 23, 2020 Sudan and Israel normalized relations.

It is still unclear, however, what that entails. Sudan’s local press quoted ranking leaders as saying that they will not recognize Israel and send an ambassador. But that was probably just bluster.

It clearly looks like normalization means trade. It also probably means tech and military advice. And it certainly means agricultural and medical technology assistance.

Baby steps are still steps. Slowly, slowly, one at a time.

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Investment in Israel is Way Up
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Here is some very good news about investments in Israel.

Israeli cyber companies broke an all-time record and concluded the first quarter of 2021 having raised $1.5 billion in 17 different transactions.

Israel is in second place worldwide in the volume of investments made in cyber companies in the distribution of investments. First place goes to the United States.

Israel’s performance is a continuation of a 2020 trend, when investments in Israeli companies reached $2.9 billion and accounted for 31% of all cyber investments in the world.

These investments could help Israel return to normal after the devastating damage of the COVID pandemic.

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US Human Rights Report & Israel, PA
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The United States issues a Human Rights Report every year. The report is an update on the ongoing status of human rights across the world. This document is essential in understanding the status of worldwide human rights – and human rights violations, and in pinpointing those areas that the United States deems to be in need of more work, more money and more influence in order to bring about improved human rights.

Israel and the Palestinians are always mentioned in the Human Rights Report.
Under the Trump administration the chapter title dealing with their area was changed from “Israel and the Occupied Territories” to “Israel the West Bank and Gaza”.

The big question this year was: Would the Biden administration revert back to the Obama language in the Israel and the Palestinians chapter, or were they continuing with the Trump perspective on those areas?

The State Department clarified the issue: in some places in the body of the report it refers to the areas as “occupied”.

Ned Price, the US State Department Spokesperson said that the report: “does use the term ‘occupation’ in the context of the current status of the West Bank.”

Lisa Peterson is the highest level State Department official currently in the human rights bureau, she is the deputy secretary. Peterson explained the new / old terminology saying that the report generally uses geographical names and that “Israel, West Bank and Gaza” was easier and clearer for readers.”

So indeed there is a small and important change happening. Progress is progress.

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Yugoslavia to recognize
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 31, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Yugoslav’s new foreign minister, Donika Gervalla, gave an interview that made headlines in Israel and around the world.

Gervalla had just finished a conversation with Turkish President Erdogan. Erdogan was pressuring the Balkan nation to reconsider their diplomatic opening of relations with Israel and the opening of their embassy in Jerusalem.

In her interview with the online news site Kallxo.com she said “I believe that the issue of our embassy in Israel is a done deal. Why is it a done deal? Because we cannot get involved in diplomatic adventures to reconsider an issue that already has ended”.

Gervalla said Kosovo wants to strengthen ties with Israel but also wants to have “a good friendship, good ties with Palestinian authorities.”

Kosovo established diplomatic ties with Israel on Feb.1st of this year and earlier this month became the first European country and the first Muslim-majority country to establish an embassy in the western part of Jerusalem.

The Turkish president is, once again, stirring the pot – but Yugoslavia is not interested.


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Corruption in France
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 30, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Lest you think that only Israel has corrupt officials.

Former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been convicted of corruption. He was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment - 2 of those years are suspended.
Sarkozy is the second former president in modern France to be convicted of corruption. The first is the late Jacques Chirac.

Sarkozy was convicted of offering a job in Monaco to Judge Gilbert Azibert in return for confidential information about an inquiry into allegations that he, Sarkozy, had accepted illegal payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.

The payments came to light while conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, were wiretapped after Sarkozy left office. Those wiretaps were in relation to another investigation into Sarkozy about alleged Libyan financing of the same 2007 presidential campaign.
Vive la France.

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Iron Dome 10 Yrs Old
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 28, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Ten years ago, the Iron Dome defense system shot down its first rocket targeting an Israeli city.

The Iron Dome intercepted the rocket, launched by Hamas terrorists, midair.
It was nothing short of a miraculous achievement that then proceeded to give new life to the south of Israel.

Skeptics refused to believe that this defense system would be successfully deployed. The US Defense Department rejected the idea and the math behind it. They thought it would be too expensive, that the costs would outweigh the benefits.

But it did work. And it has brought a measure of security to those living and working in the southern part of Israel.

While it is not fool proof, the Iron Dome is a vast improvement over whatever defense systems Israel had once used. The system is constantly recalibrated to handle the changing nature of the threats against Israel.

When a terrorist’s rocket is shot into Israel, the Iron Dome will activate only if that rocket is going to land in a populated area. If the terrorist’s rocket is going to fall in Gaza or in an open field, there is no reason to waste money on shooting that rocket down. Each Iron Dome missile costs $30,000 to $40,000. There are eight missiles in a battery – if they are all deployed it would cost over $300,000.

The Iron Dome is a wonderful addition to the Israeli defense system. It is hard to believe that it has been ten years.

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Israel Yearns to be Boring
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 27, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Eretz Nehederet is the most successful political satire show in Israel. The television show is a smash - hit enormously funny and enormously popular. The show pokes fun at Israel, at Israeli leaders and at life in Israel. Nothing is off limits.

Eretz Nehederet, like all sature, is social and political commentary.
The name, Eretz Nehederet, means a “Wonderful Country”.

The star of Eretz Nehederet is Eyal Kitsis. He is quoted as saying that he wishes there wee less fodder for his show to feed on. He yearns for a more boring and stable government. Of course, he acknowledges, that would hurt the show. But it would be good for the country. The situation, as it now exists, makes for very good satirical material.

Katsis said "I would like us to finally have a stable government and make a boring program.”

Most Israelis would agree. But after a few episodes, they would certainly find their favorite program boring.


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Biden Giving Aid to PA
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Biden administration is restoring relations with the Palestinians. The first official move signaling this change in US policy came in the form of a speech by the US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The ambassador spoke before the UN Security Council at their monthly meeting. She announced that the United States will be giving $15 million to the Palestinians for humanitarian assistance. Especially for food in “vulnerable communities”.

She also said that the Biden administration supports Israel and that Israel is often “unfairly singled out by one-sided resolutions and actions in international bodies.”
She said that too often, criticism of Israel “veers dangerously into antisemitism. Antisemitism, as with all forms of hate, works directly against the cause of peace.”

This entire turnaround is troubling. Despite the kind words and caring sentiment the UN ambassador expressed for Israel, the resuscitation of US / Palestinian relations will inevitably spin around and hurt Israel.

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Iran Hits Israel Ship
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran shot another missile at an Israeli tanker. It happened in the Arabian Sea. The tanker was hit and damaged.

The tanker is owned by an Israeli businessman and registered in the name of a Haifa company named XT Management. The ship was on its way to Tanzania from India. The attack took place between India and Oman.

A similar incident occurred to another tanker, called the Helios Ray, in the Gulf of Oman in February.

Israel is investigating and will determine two important things.

First, how to punish those responsible for theses attacks. Second. how to protect Israeli ships.

Punishing those responsible for these acts of terror might incentivize those making the decisions and calling the shots to stop these acts of terror and destruction against Israeli ships.

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Soccer A/S in Argentina
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

In Argentina fans shouted “Chaca is coming along the road, killing the Jews to make soap.”

This is a direct anti-Semitic slur directed against Jews.
Chaca is short for Team Chacarita.

The ream was was preparing for a game against their long-time rival, Atlanta.
Atlanta, like Chaca, comes from the Villa Crespo neighborhood in Buenos Aires.
Many Jews live in this neighborhood.

But Atlanta has a long history of positive and open relations with their Jewish fans, their administrators and even some players. Jewish fans have supported Atlanta for years - ever since its founding in 1904.

This is not the first time a reference to soap has been made. In 2000, Chaca fans threw soap and Nazi flags at Atlanta fans. Then they chanted “the Jews were made of soap”.

In 1988 Argentina passed laws forbidding this hate speech, making it illegal and punishable by imprisonment. Yet, in certain circles, it persists.

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Israel's Elections
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 23, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Today is election day in Israel. Four elections in two years.

It is expected that, this time around, there will be a very low voter turnout. As of noon, only 24% of voters had cast their ballots. It is hard to build voting enthusiasm when it looks like nothing more than a repeat performance for the fourth time in a row.

It appears that the results will be more of the same.

The final tally will not be in until Friday. Big winners, so far, are Netanyahu and Bennet and Religious Zionists. Big losers are Blue and White and Saar’s New Hope party.

The big question is: This time around, will Netanyahu have enough votes to forge a government of likeminded parties without compromising too much on his political platform.

FYI - anyone who was deluded or naïve enough to think that corruption charges would derail the sitting prime minister’s election, does not understand Israel. No one chose to vote against Netanyahu because of the charges against him.

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Israel Court - Teachers Must Vaccinate
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 21, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Tel Aviv Regional Labour Court ruled that an assistant teacher in a special education program who refuses to vaccinate against COVID and refuses to get tested can be barred from entering the school.

The court ruled that while the personal rights of the assistant teacher are important, those rights cannot encroach on the safety and security of the students and their families.

This case will certainly soon appear Israel’s Supreme Court. Hopefully, by then, the Israeli Knesset will have passed laws dealing with this issue so that the High Court will have a basis upon which to rule.

As of now, in Israel, the rights of the individual do not outweigh the right of the many. Teachers have the right to say “no” to both the vaccine and to COVID testing. But they cannot work in schools or in hospitals.

This is also established law in the United States – and not just as it relates to COVID vaccines. It is about other critical vaccines, as well. A good example is the response to an outbreak of polio, which was thought to have been eradicated in the United States, in the New York City area several years ago.


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Congress Invites Rivlin
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 20, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Both Houses of Congress have invited Israeli President Ruby Rivlin to address a joint session. The invitation is a farewell gesture to the Israeli president whose term of office ends on July 9th.

This is a wonderful swansong for Rivlin. It also – and perhaps more importantly, is an indication that there is still a strong bipartisan spirit of support for Israel in Congress.

COVID will be the determining factor in whether or not President Rivlin comes to Washington.

Reuven “Ruby” Rivlin has been a wonderful diplomat for Israel. He has fulfilled his role with grace and dignity. The role of an Israeli president is to generate non-partisan, worldwide support for Israel – and Rivlin has succeeded par excellence.

Most recently he travelled to Europe for talks with the heads of state from countries including France, Germany, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria and Portugal. He spoke to them about the plan of the ICC, the International Criminal Court, to prosecute Israel for war crimes.

Rivlin was very successful in swaying world opinion. Ruby Rivlin will be leaving large shoes for Israel’s next president to fill.

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Iran Threatens DC
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 19, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

According to an AP report, United States intelligence has discovered that Iran was planning a USS Cole-style attack on Fort McNair.

The intel, which comes from the NSA, the National Security Agency, also indicated that the US Army Vice Chief of Staff was a target.

Fort McNair is in Washington DC. Literally, it is in the nation’s capital. It is in closer proximity to the White house than the Pentagon or the CIA.

Fort McNair is also home to the National Defense University which includes the National War College. Included is the Capstone Program which brings 100 flag officers from 50 countries around the world to learn together.
As a target – it is prime. And that is why it was chosen by Iran.

The USS Cole was a US Navy destroyer situated in the Gulf of Aden in Yemen. In October of 2000 a small rubber boat filled with explosives pulled up alongside the destroyer and blew a huge hole in the ship. 17 sailors were killed.

A USS Cole-style attack is an attack against a significant US military target, This was a very serious threat.

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Contracting COVID Twice
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 18, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

On Wednesday, the highly respected medical journal Lancet published a very important peer reviewed article about re-infection from COVID.
The research was done in Denmark.

This research challenges the conventional wisdom that you cannot get COVID twice. The Denmark study puts numbers to the possibility of reinfection and to its risks.

The study divides people into two groups, those below 65 years of age and those older than 65.

If you are under 65, you have an 80% chance of recovery from a second COVID infection. If you are 65 or older, you only have a 47% chance of recovery if you contract COVID a second time.

The study explains that contracting COVID a second time is extremely uncommon.
They explain that new variants need to be studied. And they suggest that the new variants might be a reason for contracting COVD a second time.

Importantly, the study asserts that, should you contract COVID a second time, and if you are over 65 years old, it could very well be life threatening.

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Drone Deliveries in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 17, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel conducted a drone exercise on Wednesday. This was not a military program, instead, it was a test of commercial deliveries using small mini drones.

The test took place in the city of Hadera. It was computer controlled and managed from Haifa, which is 35 miles away.

The drones, released 20 at a time, delivered pizzas and other small items.

The skies of Israel are filled with other drones, with planes and with helicopters and even with paragliders. Because of all this air traffic, the rules of delivery drones state that they must fly under an altitude of 360 feet.

Israel’s delivery drones all have emergency parachutes in case of malfunctions.
Should there be a malfunction, the parachute will make certain the drone and the package and anyone or anything on the ground is not damaged.

The exercise was a success. It looks like drone deliveries are soon to become a reality for Israelis.

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Icholov Closes COVID Wards
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 16, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

On Monday March 15, 2021 Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv closed their last COVID ward.

The 18 remaining patients were transferred to other non-COVID care units.

This is enormously significant.

Ichilov is the largest medical center serving Tel Aviv. It is one of the largest medical campuses in Israel. Closing their COVID wards signals that Israel is in the final stretch of this pandemic.

Fewer and fewer people are dying of COVID in Israel. Fewer and fewer are becoming critically ill and requiring hospitalization. Vaccinations have topped 5 million will hit 7 million in the next few weeks.

The lock downs, the quarantines, the strict enforcement of rules and restrictions have paid off in lives saved and a pandemic that has been contained.

Good going Israel.

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Israel to the ICC
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 15, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

An Israeli group named Anshei Emet (the People of Truth) have taken the State of Israel to the Hague, also known as the ICC – the International Criminal Court.

This group alleges that Israel is forcing citizens to vaccinate and that forcing them to vaccinate is a form of abuse. They also assert that people have died from the vaccine. Their biggest argument is that the reaction to the shot is a form of abuse.

In reality, the numbers tell an opposite story.

Only 0.25% of those in Israel who received the Pfizer vaccine had any significant reaction. That number is practically 0.

The case is absurd. This group and their decision to bring the case to the Hague takes anti-vaxxers to a whole new – and dare I say ridiculous, level.

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Hackers Hack Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 14, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

A hacker group successfully attacked an Israeli finance company. Now they are demanding a ransom of 1.9 million shekel. That’s about $570,000.

The group is called The Black Shadow.

The company they attacked is called KLS, a finance company that handles car payments.

The Black Shadow has begun to release the company’s private information on the web. They also deleted a significant amount of data.

This is not the first time The Black Shadow has cyber attacked an Israeli company.
Last December they successfully attacked Israeli Insurance company Shirbit. Following that attack the hacker group demanded - and received 200 Bitcoins which equaled $3.8 million.

KLS has refused to pay. They told The Black Shadow that they will not pay.

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Archeology in The MidEast
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

A team of archeologists from Norway and France have discovered and unearthed a compound consisting of six churches and many isolation chambers. The remains are from the 5th century.

The finds are located in the Western desert. This dig further supports the idea that monastic life was commonplace in Christian religious life.

They found inscriptions. They found buildings that were cut into bedrock. They discovered that basalt stone as well as mud brick was used for building.

Archeological finds like this one are very helpful in our understanding of early Christian society.


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Sea of Galilee Nearly Full
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Just 18 months ago the water line in the Sea of Galilee was so dangerously low that it was below the bottom red line.

It was so low that pumping from Israel’s only freshwater lake was restricted to the bare minimum and nearly stopped. When the water level reaches the bottom red line, pumping must be restricted if not stopped.

Today, the Sea of Galilee is almost at full capacity. Israel is no longer in crisis for fresh water.

The Sea of Galilee was filled due to an unusual amount of rain and snow over the winter months.

If the water rises just a little more, the National Water Authority will open a dam and release water form the lake into the Jordan River. This is done in order to prevent flooding.

Imagine, six months ago water in Israel was at a dangerous low, today it is so high Israel can afford to siphon it off.

Israel needs water. For decades Israelis have been taught about the importance of water conservation. Water is so important for productive life and Israel has many plans to insure that the country continues to have fresh water.

Rain, of course, is not part of the plan but, thankfully, this year it arrived in the nick of time.


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Timeline for Iran Deal
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I have written about the upcoming elections in Iran that will take place on June 18th.

Now we are hearing from “experts” explaining that, because of those elections, the window for the United States to come to an agreement with Iran before their election is about 10 weeks. That is all - just 10 weeks. After the election, they explain, the new president who will almost certainly +be even more conservative than Rouhani, the current president, will not welcome an agreement.

That entire analysis is wrong.

Who is to say that after an agreement is cobbled together and signed with the current government of Iran within the next 10 weeks, the incoming government will not rip it to shreds if for no other reason than to prove that they do not support relations with the United States and with the West.

This is Iran we are dealing with!

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Waters to Stevie Wonder - Boycott Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Stevie Wonder will be awarded the Wolf Prize from Israel. As always, the award was announced by the Israeli President, Ruby Rivlin.

The Wolf Prize is awarded to artists and scientists. It’s quite impressive.

Not surprisingly, Roger Waters – a blatant and outspoken hater of the Jewish State, is asking Stevie Wonder to reject the prize. Waters is a singer, songwriter, musician and composer. He is a also rabid supporter of BDS and he never misses an opportunity to attack Israel or to use his fame and music popularity to force others to boycott Israel.

Waters has reached out to just about every single performer scheduled to come to Israel. He publicly calls them out and uses Twitter to embarrass them.

Thus far, Waters’ campaign has had only very limited success.

And Stevie Wonder is still scheduled to accept the award.

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Iran Bombed Israeli Embassy in India
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 9, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

There was an explosion outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, India, this past January.

Until now it was thought that ISIS – which claimed responsibility in the aftermath of the explosion - had planned and executed the terror attack.

But India has now concluded that Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were behind the terror attack which was detonated by remote control.

A note, written in English was found nearby the site of the attack.

Turns out that the note was a deliberate attempt to mislead investigators.
According to the note, the attack was to avenge the deaths of several “martyrs”.
The martyrs listed on the note were Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s Islamic
Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander who was killed in a January 2020 United States drone strike; Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a top Iraqi militia commander who was killed along with Soleimani; and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s nuclear program, killed in a November 2020 attack that Tehran has blamed on Israel.

The note also said warned that the attackers are watching and can strike at any time.

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Elections in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 8, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

On June 18th, right around the corner, an election is scheduled in Iran. Candidates are starting to emerge.

One of the most likely candidates, and with an excellent chance of succeeding in this election, is named Saeed Mohammad. Mohammad is the director of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He also runs the largest commercial enterprise in Iran called the Khatam al Anbiya Construction.

Mohammad has no political experience. But that will not sideline him. He is very close with the Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Khamenei, the man who makes all decisions in Iran. In addition, his role in the IRGC gives him a great credential.
And he is also the employer of 10’s of thousands of people. Or he was – Mohammad just stepped down from that position in order to dedicate time to his run for the presidency.

Name recognition. A close connection to the Grand Ayatollah. An insider. Remember the name. Saeed Mohammad may very well become the next president of Iran.


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Israel Closes Kindergartens
By Micah Halpern

Sunday March 7, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s ministry of education announced that over 500 kindergartens have been closed because of COVID. It is the largest number yet.

The kindergartens have been closed either because the children have been exposed to COVID or because their teachers have contracted COVID. In an effort to protect the teachers and the students and their families, the kindergartens had to be shuttered.

Anat Dadon, director of pre-school unions in Israel is quoted saying: "Parents are sending their children [to kindergarten] knowing they may be exposed to a carrier of the virus."

"We have not seen so many kindergartens forced to close and staff and children made to quarantine since the start of the pandemic."

The simple fact is that, in Israel, for the next few months, there will continue to be rolling closures of schools as students and teacher continue to test for COVID and some of them come back with positive test results.


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Dalia Lama Gets the Shot
By Micah Halpern

Saturday March 6, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


Today the Dalai Lama got received his COVID 19 vaccine.

It was the first of the two vaccines he will get.

After receiving the shot, the 85 year old Tibetan spiritual leader spoke to the world.
He spoke to his ardent followers and to all who listen to him. He urged them all to be brave and to get the vaccine.

The Dalai Lama was the latest in a series of leaders - especially spiritual leaders, who are urging people to vaccinate. They are combatting a growing number of anti-vaxxers who have created conspiracy cults. Thee claim that COVID is a hoax.

They claim that the vaccine will cause damage to one’s health.

It is these conspiracy theories that are the real hoax. The Dalai Lama stood up and is helping to save the lives to his followers.


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Teaching Site Says Jews Killed Jesus
By Micah Halpern

Friday March 5, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

A mother complained that the homework assignment for her 7 year old son depicted the Jews as killing Jesus.

As a result, the site that the homework was on took down the 19 pages dealing with Jews as the killers of their god.

On the site, under the title The Trial, there was the following quote: “The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus to be guilty. They found it difficult to find anything that he had done wrong even though they paid people to lie about him. Eventually they asked him if he was the Son of God. Jesus replied I am. This was enough. They said this was an insult to God. Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate the Roman Governor.”

And it goes on.

In the Christian Bible, on the several occasions where it is written that Jesus says that he is the son of God, it is only inferred. He never actually says those words.

There are people who are teaching children to hate Jews because they are the killers of their god. It is medieval. But it is happening today.


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Assad Has COVID
By Micah Halpern

Thursday March 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

President Assad of Syria and his wife Asma tested positive for COVID. Both the president and his wife are 55 years old.

Asma had cancer nearly three years ago. She was treated and has fully recovered. The presidential office said that they have only mild symptoms, are in isolation in the palace and will return to work in a few weeks.

Several important points have emerged with that report.

Telling us that Assad and his wife have COIVD is unusual – it is not the modus operandi in Syria. Not telling us how serious the cases are is also very telling. The Syrian president’s office lies all the time. They are not lying about the COVID, but they are most certainly lying about the symptoms.

As an example of a lie - according to Syrian health officials only 16,000 people in Syria have contracted COVID. That cannot be the case.

In a dictatorship, information about the president or about national health are almost never made public and what is made public is almost never accurate.
It will be interesting to see if any further details – truth, half truths or lies – will be released.


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Hoaxes About COVID
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday March 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is investing millions of shekels to combat fake news on the internet about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Over the past few weeks, as Israel has hit major milestones in vaccine numbers and prepares to vaccinate the remained of their still unvaccinated population, an online movement has developed spreading hoaxes and lies about the vaccine.

Those behind these hoaxes couch their lies in pseudoscience and medicine.
Israelis who have not yet been vaccinated have done so out of choice. They need to be convinced. And because of these fake news sites, it is harder to sway them.

Experts say that these hoaxers are endangering individual lives as well as the greater health and well being of the population of the nation.

500,000 Israelis over the age of 50 still have not been vaccinated. They will get sick and some will die - simply because they were told lies about the vaccine.
Websites quoting real Israeli medical experts are now on counter websites. In simple terms, they explain the science behind the vaccines. They are debunking the myths. Hopefully, they will be saving lives.

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Agreement Btw US & Israel on Iran
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


Most great agreements are hammered together behind closed doors.

Announcements of the final product are much more impressive when details of the day-to-day bickering inherent in forming an agreement are kept in the shadows.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced that the United States and Israel have come to an agreement about Iran.

Both countries agreed that there be no surprises. That means that Israel will not attack Iran without tell the United States in advance. And the United States will not open doors for Iran or enter negotiations or begin a new strategy without letting Israel know in advance.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said: "If anyone thought the Americans would run to make an agreement with Iran, up until now it did not happen, and I hope it does not happen in the future".


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Israel Launching Regional Security Pact
By Micah Halpern

Monday March 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel has launched an effort to create a regional defense pact.

The idea is to come to strategic agreements with numerous countries in the region, bonding together as a group, enabling group members to better protect themselves from aggressive outliers.

This defense pact will function similarly to NATO. If one country is attacked it is, by treaty, seen as an attack on all member nations.

The plan was reported by KAN, a Hebrew language radio network in Israel. It credited Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi with the idea for the plan and the follow through.

So far, the players joining Israel are UAE and Bahrain. I predict that both Egypt and Jordan will follow suit.

The outliers that will be isolated in this defense pact are Iran and Syria.

This could be a very useful – and intimidating, defense tool.

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Prof Fired for A/S Tweets
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 28, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to anti-Semitism.

A science professor at Ferris State University in Michigan named Thomas Brennan was fired because of his tweets. There is no hiding it – his tweets were outright anti-Semitic.

The Torch, which is the university student newspaper at Ferris State, printed a screenshot of one of his tweets. It read: “Covid19 is another jewish revolution.”

At the time, the university’s president, David Eisler, said the school was “shocked and outraged by these tweets.” He added that the tweets were “extremely offensive and run counter to the values of our University and our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

In November, Brennan was placed on administrative leave until an investigation was concluded.

As a defense, Brennan explained that he thought there were people invading his body and mind. He claims that he was not in control when he wrote those tweets.


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Iran Attacks Israeli Ship
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 27, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

This week an Israeli cargo ship, the Helios Ray, was hit by 2 missiles while above sea level in the open sea. The shop docked in Dubai in order to repair the holes.
The attack was almost certainly the work of Iran.

Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said: "This past weekend we received a reminder from one of the biggest threats in the region, who reminded us that Iran is not only a nuclear threat, but a spreader of terrorisms which carries out terrorist acts and actions against civilian targets."

Iran has identified a very weak link in Israeli security – Israeli shipping in the open seas. Cargo ships at sea are totally defenseless. Israeli ships flying the Israeli flag have only limited security.

This ship, the Helios Ray, was not flying an Israeli flag. It travelled under a Bahaman flag. But Iran knew its origin.

Israel must figure out how to defend ships on the high seas.

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Gantz Visits Jordan
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The head of Israel’s Blue White Party, Benny Gantz, met with King Abdullah of Jordan on Friday.

The purpose of the meeting was to point out to Israelis that Prime Minister Netanyahu was not welcome in Amman. Bibi has never successfully developed or expanded relations with Jordan.

Gantz is a serious underdog in the upcoming March 23rd elections.

This tete a tete in Jordan was an attempt by Gantz to illustrate how much more likeable to the Arab world he is than Bibi Netanyahu is.

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Israel Gives Vaccines to Syria
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

There have been some very interesting developments on the COIVD vaccine front.

One of the most fascinating is mostly speculation - but it is still, very plausible.
Syria received the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. It was given to them by a “friendly nation.” That was how Syrian Health Minister Hassan Ghabash put it, as reported by the official Syrian media outlet SANA.

Now here is where it gets interesting and speculation begins: Russia was running interference and playing mediator between Israel and Syria to swap prisoners for an Israeli woman who accidently wandered into Syria.

To sweeten the pot, Israel bought the Russian vaccine and had the Russians deliver the vaccine to Syria. So who’s the “friendly nation”? That would be Russia.

The private equity company in Russia handling the sale and distribution of the Sputnik V vaccine would not comment.

We may never know the truth or learn more details. But quite possibly, Israel bought the vaccine from Russia and had it sent to Syria in exchange for the release of an Israeli woman.

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Vaccine Diplomacy
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I call it Vaccine Diplomacy.

Israel is giving COVID vaccines to countries that have already moved, or promised to move, their embassies to Jerusalem.

Israel is giving vaccines to those countries that have opened their diplomatic doors to them.

The ability to vaccinate your citizens, when vaccines are expensive and difficult to come by, is of the great benefits of creating relations with Jewish State.

Honduras, Guatemala and the Czech Republic will all benefit from Israel’s Vaccine Diplomacy.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu explained that: “Our stock is above and beyond what Israelis need; we have more than enough to help out.”

More countries are in line to receive COVID vaccines from Israel – and more and more vaccines are arriving in Israel.

Pfizer was, for a long time, the only vaccine administered in Israel. That’s because Israel agreed to transmit to all the details of the public rollout to Pfizer, allowing the drug company to use Israel as their test country.

Now however the Moderna has arrived. And Israel has more than enough vaccine, allowing them to be generous to their “friends” in need.

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Elections in Iran June 18
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 23, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Most people have not marked the date on their calendars, but on June 18th there will be a presidential election in Iran.

The present government, which is run by “moderate” Rouhani will be replaced by – who knows. The field is full of conservatives. Included in the roster of contenders is Irani’s current Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif.

It is too soon to predict the outcome of the election for two simple reasons.
Reason number one is that the Supreme Leader has not yet made his opinion public. And as we all know, in the end it is The Grand Ayatollah who decides who wins an election.

Reason number two is that the only issue of significance in Iran right now is the nuclear question which is all about sanctions and the economy. Until the Biden administration puts their plan of action into play, neither the candidates nor current
Iranian leadership will be able to respond.
We must all be patient and wait.

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Monitor World Leaders
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 22, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

It is important to monitor the activities of leaders of allied countries, not just the actions of our enemies. Their travel and their health can be very telling.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is recovering from a successful surgical operation. The report was issued by the state news agency.

The Crown Prince underwent laparoscopic surgery for appendicitis in the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

This is very good news from all points of view.

Most important is that the Crown Prince was quickly diagnosed and that he was brought to a local hospital where a successful and quick surgery was performed.
This shows a change in Saudi policy. In the past, the Crown Prince would have been flown to another nation for his surgery.

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Israel's Cure for COVID
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 19, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Enlivex is an Israeli biotech company specializing in immunotherapy. The company is working on a cure for COVID. They just completed Phase II of trials and the results are very promising.

The drug Enlivex is testing and improving is called Allocetra.

In this second stage, sixteen patients who were all in severe or critical condition survived a 28 day experimental Phase II treatment. At the end of the trial, two of the sixteen patients were in still in critical condition and on ventilators. The other fourteen patients were fully recovered, healthy and released from the hospital.
The average duration of hospitalization after receiving Allocetra, for those who were discharged, was 5.3 days.

In the Phase I trial of the drug, five patients were all in severe condition when they started receiving Allocetra. Their average stay in the hospital was 10 days and they all recovered.

The most significant finding in this study is the improvement that was seen from the first to the second trial. Nearly a 50% improvement. And the time spent in the hospital once the drug was administered went from ten days to five.

There is hope.

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Arrest the Rioters
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 21, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The rioters who broke into the Capitol on January 6th are, slowly, slowly, all being arrested.

The rioter who sat in Mike Pence’s seat in the Senate and who shouted and posted horrific Jew hatred saying that the Jews control the government and Israel controls governments around the world has been arrested.

His name is Christian Secor. His internet name is “Groyper.” He follows and supports white supremacists. He has praise for shooters who spray their bullets across crowds and murder innocent people and for the neo-Nazi rally that was held in Charlottesville, VA in 2017. His web-posts are littered with racist Jew hatred and with conspiracy theories.

The Department of Justice has prioritized their agenda. Fighting extremism is high on their list.

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Israel's Nano Satellite
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 20, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


Tel Aviv University launched a nano satellite from Virginia. The satellite is, as the name implies, tiny. It is only 4 inches by 4 inches by 12 inches and weighs just over 5 lbs.

This nano satellite will orbit the earth at an altitude of 250 miles, racing at a speed of 5 miles per second which puts it at a speed of 17,150 mph (27,600 kph). An entire orbit of the earth will occur every 90 minutes.

Tel Aviv University’s nano satellite entered orbit on a NASA supply ship on its way to the international space station. It split off into orbit when it hit its proper altitude.

This is truly remarkable. The technology was created by a few engineers in a university lab - not by a multi-billion dollar company with hundreds of engineers and physicists.

We are witnessing the future of satellites and it is a great equalizer. It is called “New Space technology” as opposed to “Old Space Technology”.
And Israel is on the cutting edge of this technology.


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Chief Rabbi Fires Judge-Refuses to Vaccinate
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 18, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau suspended a rabbinic judge who serves on the conversion court.

As president of Supreme Rabbinical Courts, Rabbi Lau has the authority to suspend judges for behaviors deemed inappropriate. This judge refuses to take the COVID vaccine.

In a statement issued by Rabbi Lau, he wrote: “It is forbidden for a person to damage his own body and all the more so that of someone else”.

Lau said that the dangers of COVID-19 are a verifiable fact and that any dangers inherent in the vaccine are uncertain, and that it is, therefore, an obligation to get vaccinated.

He explained: “Someone who does not get vaccinated is not only likely to harm himself but is also likely to harm someone else.”

According to the Chief Rabbi, protecting one’s health allows people to “fulfil our obligations in a world of significance … Someone who does not fulfill this command rejects the good that God granted his world by giving us the possibility of getting out of the distress caused by the coronavirus.”

According to Jewish law, Rabbi Lau is correct. According to Israeli law, I’m not sure if suspending the rabbi for these reasons is legal.

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Israel Warns Hezbollah
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 17, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel has sent a very clear message to Hezbollah.

During a single, 24-hour period, Israel engaged in an exercise during which the Israeli air-force attacked 3,000 targets.

The targets were all essential infrastructure and military sites. They hit bridges, electric grids, airports, arms depots and underground command and control centers.

This is the first air-force drill of its kind. It was so big and so real.
Israel carried out this one-of-a-kind exercise in public. In an almost unprecedented move, the exercise was broadcast to the media.

Israel was transmitting a message to Hezbollah both through the air and through the air waves. The message was clear. Israel is prepared to respond to any attack or act of aggression from Lebanon.


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Rabbis From Arab Lands
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 16, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The rabbis of fourteen Arab countries have created an alliance.

Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yossef endorsed the new group which is named the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States. The chairman of the alliance is Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the Chabad representative in Turkey.

Rabbi Chitrik explained the background behind this alliance and said: “The establishment of this alliance to unite all the Jewish communities in these places with the recognition of government officials in each state is very welcome and will assist in the provision of Jewish needs of the members of these different communities.”

The fourteen countries participating in this alliance are: Tunisia, Morocco, Uganda, Nigeria, Kosovo, Albania, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, North Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates. Additional members are the Russian Muslim-majority republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.

According to Rabbi Chitrik: “Our purpose is to advance Jewish life in these countries and focus on Jews who still work and live in the Muslim world … It is important for us to have our voice heard in countries where we live, so we work with government officials to maintain the Jewish past and sustain Jewish life in the present.”

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Iran Arrests Synagogue Thieves
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 15, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran arrested a gang of thieves as they were tunneling into an ancient synagogue in Urmia, a city in the north western region of the country.
Urmia is the 10th largest city in Iran.

The gang’s plan was to steal synagogue treasures and then to sell them.

In the past, it was Torah scrolls that were stolen from synagogues in Iran. In one case, a Torah was found and returned to its rightful synagogue – all by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

It was the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that discovered the tunnels and arrested the thieves.

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Israeli Borders & Drug
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 14, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s borders with her neighbors are, first and foremost, security risks.

They are also the point of entry for illegal drugs.

When an Israeli soldier was injured in shootout on the Egyptian border, the reason was clear. The Egyptian army and drug smugglers were shooting at each other when the Israelis arrive. The soldier was not hit by a bullet, but by shrapnel.

In the end, the drug smugglers were stopped.

Most drugs enter Israel through its borders, very often from the Egyptian border.
Bedouins excel at drug smuggling. For Bedouins, borders do not exist. Crossing borders and delivering product is not a violation of Bedouin tradition.

This tradition must be broken.


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Israel Gives Gas To Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel has signed on to an agreement to import natural gas to Gaza.

The agreement was signed between Israel, Qatar, the United Nations and the European Union. The deal was brokered by Qatar.

The agreement has two parts.

Part one involves Israel providing gas to the Palestinian Authority.

Part two includes the construction of a pipeline from Israel to the Gaza Strip. The European Union and Qatar will allocate money for the pipeline.

Israel has already signed contracts with Egypt and Jordan, so it makes sense that they should supply natural gas to Gaza.

It is hard to imagine, but Israel is now a major player in the supply of natural gas.


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Herzl 150 years
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 12, 2021
I’ve Been Thinking:

Friday February 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Theodor Herzl’s spectacular work. Der JudenStaat. was published in February of 1896.

In this pamphlet Herzl presented his plan for changing the Jewish people through the creation a state. Herzl argued that a state will transform the Jewish people.

The title Der Judenstaat is most often mistranslated. Whereas as “The Jewish State” is the translation we most often here, it is fundamentally a wrong translation of Herzl’s idea. The best translation of Der Judenstaat is the “State of Jews”.

Herzl wanted Jews to come together, he wanted to create a mini-Switzerland in the Middle East. Herzl did not want a state imbued with Judaism.

Herzl proposed that, rather than one language, all languages be spoken in the new state. That way, he felt, it would bring the culture of the world to the new state.
He warned that two languages should not be spoken.

Those languages were Hebrew and Yiddish.

About Hebrew he said: who among us knows enough Hebrew to order a train ticket. And About Yiddish he said: Yiddish is the language of the ghetto, the new state is a rejection of the ghetto.

Herzl actually went to the Sultan of Turkey and offered to balance his books in exchange for giving Jews land in Palestine. Obviously, the deal never went through.

Theodor Herzl is the father of modern Zionism. This year commemorates the 125th anniversary of one small publication that changed the world. Not just the Jewish world, the entire world.

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Gaza Has Re-Armed
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza have completely rebuilt their military apparatus in the years since their last major conflict with Israel in 2014.

According to Israeli estimates Hamas now has:
7000 rockets, 300 anti-tank missiles, 100 anti-aircraft missiles, 30,000 soldiers and 400 naval commandos.

Islamic Jihad has:
6,000 rockets, dozens of drones, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and 400 naval commandos.

This is not good news.

The border between Israel and Gaza is 30 miles long and very problematic. In 2014 alone, Israel discovered and destroyed 20 terrorist tunnels going from Gaza into Israel.

With each passing year, the threats increase.


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Crazy Ideas About COVID
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I’ve Been Thinking:
Israel has been a beacon to the world on how to best deliver the COVID vaccine to millions of people.

And yet, there are still those who DO NOT want to receive the shots.
Vaccine evaders tout pseudo-science and pseudo experts and parrot claims about the dangers of taking the vaccine.

There are rabbis and community leaders and people with influence who advise that the vaccine leads to death and that COVID is, really, not so bad.

Rumors are spreading that the vaccine is actually a tool of the government used to track every citizen and therefore, DO NOT vaccinate.

It’s ludicrous. But there are believers.

Israel is spending millions of dollars to educate anti-vaxxers. Proponents of this idea are very slick, they couch their message in great presentations. But performances aside, their premise is incorrect.

The numbers are unclear. No one knows exactly how many people are refusing COVID vaccines, but every one of them can and will endanger countless other people.

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TEVA to Help Produce Vaccine
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 9, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Kare Schultz, the CEO of Teva Pharmaceuticals, announced that the company has been approached by, and they have approached the manufacturers of, COVID vaccines to help produce more product.

Demand for the COVID shot is tremendous. And that demand is only increasing.
Every country in the world needs to have their residents inoculated and creators of the vaccines need more and more vaccine. They cannot keep up with the need and so they are looking for help.

Teva is an international company. It was created in Israel, it manufactures in Israel and Israel is one of its major centers, especially in R&D.

This is a good idea. The shortage of vaccines is due to inability to produce enough vaccine fast enough.

A contract between Teva, the largest producer of generic drugs in the world, with whichever company needs the help, will be a win-win for each and every one of us.


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Iran's New Boats
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 8, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iranian media has reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has 340 new, small, attack boats.

Some of the boats are from England and they are called Bladerunner.

Some are from China and are called “China Cat”.

Some are from North Korea and are called Taedong -B. These are attack boats with the capability of going under water.

Some of the boats were filmed and photographed. Some had drones attached to them. Others had rocket launchers attached.

Part of the strength of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard comes from their fleet of small boats that travel under the radar. An additional 340 attack boats would be a massive upgrade to their fleet.

But - many analysists are doubting the veracity of the claim as reported by Iranian media. Some doubt that all of the 340 attack boats are new. Others doubt that there are even 340 of them at all.

It might all be a big fake. Iran enjoys the game of intimidation.

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Biden Says No About Lifting Iran Sanctions
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 7, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

All it took was a single word – and that word was NO.

President Biden said NO, the United States will not lift sanctions against Iran until after Iran stops enriching uranium in violation of the 2015 Nuclear Deal.

Before the US president made his intentions clear, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the Supreme Leader Khamenei both said that they will not stop enriching unless the United States lifts the sanctions. They both asserted that there should be no preconditions.

The Supreme Leader said: "This is the definitive and irreversible policy of the Islamic Republic, and all of the country's officials are unanimous on this, and no one will deviate from it."

It looks like we have an “Iranian standoff.”

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David Schoen Kiddush HaShem
By Micah Halpern

Saturday February 6, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The lead defense lawyer for former President Donald Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial is David Schoen.

Schoen is an orthodox Jew and he requested that the proceedings halt from Friday evening through Saturday evening, during the Sabbath.

The request, which was granted by Senator Chuck Schumer, also Jewish but not as observant a Jew as Schoen, raises several questions. One of those questions is about how long will the trial actually take? Will it take over 4 days – an interesting question given that the Senate is not scheduled to meet during the week known as President’s Week?

From the Jewish perspective, the appointment of Schoen to lead attorney is a tremendous “Kiddush Hashem”, an act which elevates and highlights the beauty of Judaism and God.

It is a clear demonstration that accommodations can and should be made for Sabbath observers and that Sabbath observers can and should request the accommodations. It is a clear demonstration that being a Sabbath observer should not be thought of as a professional hindrance.

Schoen did not make his request of the Senate at the last minute, he let them know upfront. Respect is a two-way street.


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ICC Sides w the Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 5 , 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians have always felt secure about imploring the international community to plead their case and to defend them.

Their use of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is a perfect example. The International community - and especially the ICC, is a reflection of the thinking and the tone of power as it is set on the international scene.

For 4 years under the Trump presidency, the Palestinians and their cause were sidelined. And for the past year even their fellow Arabs relegated Palestinian issues to the margins.

Things changed once Joe Biden took office. And now the Palestinians are making certain not to miss this opportunity. Not waiting for the result of Israeli elections scheduled for March 23rd, the Palestinians have mounted a diplomatic full court press in Europe.

They are also pursuing Israel by way of the ICC. And the ICC has ruled that they now have jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories.

Israel needs to clearly show where they stand - especially on the issue of Palestinian statehood.

For years Israel embraced ambiguity. It was safe. But because of the changes in the White House, real decisions are going to be forced upon the region. In order to properly respond, Israel must know its options and plan adequately and appropriately.

This is not just important, it is crucially important.

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Royal Cloth Found in Desert
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

A fragment of royal purple cloth, dating to 1000 years BC, was recently discovered in the Israeli desert, near the Dead Sea, in a place called Slaves Hill.

The dig in which the cloth fragment was unearthed has been dated to the reign of King David.

The royal purple color of the cloth is officially known as argaman. Cloth of that color, which came from a murex sea snail, was more valuable than gold. The color does not change over time. It does not fade. 3000 years later the purple is the same purple.

The textiles made their way from the Mediterranean coast where the snails were caught to Jerusalem where the clothing was worn.

This small fragment is proof that there was much more interaction between geographic areas and socio-economic groups than historians and archaeologists had thought. It is now clear that people of the rural desert and royalty must have interacted.

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PA Plants Trees for Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 2, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority has begun planting trees to memorialize terrorists.

The PA decided to plant trees so that they can “sanctify” terrorists and make certain that they “eternally remain in our hearts”.

According to an advisor to Abbas: “[t]he initiative… honors the Martyrs, who are the most ‎precious thing we have in our history”‎

The father of a terrorists expressed his pleasure at this initiative and said:“Every day we will grow a tree, every day we will grow a Martyr”.

The list of people the PA has chosen to honor with trees is astonishing – and abhorrent. They include:

“Self-sacrificing fighter Martyr Dalal Mughrabi” - who led the mass-murder of 37 Israeli ‎civilians, including 12 children.

“Martyr commander Fathi Shaqaqi” - founder of the terror organization Islamic ‎Jihad. ‎“Martyr commander Salah Khalaf” – who planned the massacre of 11 Israeli ‎athletes during the Olympic games.

Thank you to PMW, Palestinian Media Watch, for their descriptions of these Palestinian terrorists and for bringing this initiative to our attention and to the attention of the world.

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France Suspends Hosts Who Interviewed Is Amb
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s ambassador to France, Daniel Saada, was interviewed on BEUR FM radio.

BEUR FM is a French national station that caters to the North African community throughout France. They broadcast in French, in Arabic and in other Berber languages.

Saada was interviewed by two hosts on a show that discussed the Abraham Accords and especially, the new relationship between Israel and Morocco.
The two hosts were suspended and sanctioned for hosting the interview with the Israeli ambassador. The hosts were stunned.

Legal proceedings have now commenced against the station for illegally suspending and sanctioning the hosts. This is most certainly a form of discrimination.

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Iran is Playing Games to Win
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 31, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The “Iran and the Nuclear Deal” game is on.

President Trump withdrew from the Nuke Deal in 2018. Three years later the new US administration, under President Biden, is excited about getting back to the negotiation table.

Don’t expect this to be easy, as much as Iran wants it and as much as Biden wants to make it happen.

Iran’s foreign ministry has flat out rejected changing participation in the negotiations. This was in response to France’s President Emmanuel Macron suggestion to bring Saudi Arabia along to the table.

Iran responded saying: "The nuclear accord is a multilateral international agreement ratified by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which is non-negotiable and parties to it are clear and unchangeable.”

Iran knows that France and the rest of the Western world want to stack the deck against them. The Saudis would join with Western nations and become a force against Iran.

Iran was correct to reject Saudi participation in the talks. I don’t often say that Iran is correct.


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World Watches Israel
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 30, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The world is learning about COVID and the COVID vaccine from Israel. People world over are watching what happens in the Jewish state.

It is hard to imagine, but in Israel right now, 40% of all new COVID infections are found in school aged youth. Another 40% of new infections are found in the Hareidi population - which composes only 11% of the population.

The need for ventilators has increased six-fold for people between 40 and 60 years of age. 17 patients under 40 years old are now on ventilators. Another 25 people under 40 are on ECMO which is a heart / lung machine. It is the last hope these people have for recovery.

Israel is making all their numbers public to help the world understand how to confront this killer virus.

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Jordan King Demands Israel Vaccinate
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 29, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Jordan’s King Abdullah used his time in Davos, attending the World Economic Summit, attacking Israel for not vaccinating the Palestinians.

The King’s attack was not that Israel was not vaccinating Israeli Arabs, but rather, that Israel was they not vaccinating the 2.8 million Palestinians living under
Palestinian control in the West Bank and the 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

Here is the problem. Palestinian leadership has not asked Israel for vaccines. And actually, according to the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians are responsible for their own healthcare.

And there is an even bigger issue here. For weeks, Palestinian leadership has been working to get the vaccine from Russia through the Sputnik V vaccine program. PA leadership has also been insisting that they are going through the UN to get their vaccines. And they have repeatedly said that their program will begin in February.

So why was the King of Jordan attacking Israel in January?

The simple answer is that attacking Israel is an easy way to deflect personal responsibility. Attacking Israel unifies all those who hate Israel.


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Gantz Speaks to Austin
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 28, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, and his US colleague Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, had a phone conversation on Thursday.

Obviously, Gantz congratulated Austin on assuming his new position as US Secretary of Defense. Gantz emphasized how he was looking forward to continuing the spectacular relationship that has been in place for decades between the countries.

They also spoke about Iran – an area of potential tension.

Gantz clearly stated that Iran is a serious threat to the region and especially to Israel. He emphasized the importance of working together on issues concerning Iran and the importance of coordinating information and sharing strategy.

There was no comment from the United States.

Interestingly, as of this writing, Biden and Netanyahu have yet to speak.

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Holocaust Survivors Die of COVID
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 26, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

In Israel, 900 Holocaust survivors have died of COVID. 5,300 Holocaust survivors contracted the deadly virus. Those are powerful numbers.

As of now there are only 179,600 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. 850 survivors have lived to the age of 100. 66% of Israel’s Holocaust survivors are women.

Imagine the indignity of surviving the horrors of Nazism and Hitler’s murder machine only to succumb to COVID.

Everyone who gets COVID got it from someone who was not careful.

Think about that!


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Dubai is COVID Infected
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 25, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, was thought of as an escape from COVID.

People from all over the world went to Dubai for vacation. In Dubai there was no COVID – or, at least, people acted as if there was no COVID. There was dancing and partying and shopping.

In Dubai, you had fun. And then you went back home.

But in Dubai, all was not as it seemed, not as people wanted it to be.

240,000 ex-patriots from the United Kingdom live in Dubai. And among their friends who came to visit and party, there were COVID carriers. And they brought the new COVID variant with them.

Most countries banned flights to and from the United Kingdom. But Emirates Air flew five flights daily from Heathrow, London to Dubai.

Israel, too, was flying back and forth from Dubai. Some of those flights were even offset by government business assistance programs.

The irony! In the midst of COVID lockdowns, when only Israelis could enter or leave their country, Israel was sponsoring flights to a hotbed of COVID.

Several experts watching events unfold dubbed the Israeli / Dubai connection a ticking timebomb. They are so right.

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Modern Sandy Koufax
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 24, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Elie Kligman is a highly desired baseball recruit from Arizona.

A high-school senior, Kligman is regarded as one of the best baseball players in Arizona. There is serious interest from Division I universities and he is, of course, looking towards the majors.

Kligman is Jewish. Kilgman does not play on Shabbat. Friday night and Saturday games are not even an option.

In a story that ran on Chabad.com, Kligman is quoted as saying: "I have the mindset of, ‘This is what I am doing for Judaism, and this is what I am doing for baseball.’ Once the sun goes down on Friday night, it’s not a debate for me, [celebrating Shabbat] is just what I am doing … When you are a proud Jew, people respect when I tell them I’m not going to play on Friday night and Saturday.”

Kligman is still a teenager. He is also a Jewish hero. Not yet as popular or famous as Sandy Koufax who refused to play in the World Series on Yom Kippur, Elie Kligman won’t play on any Shabbat of Yom Tov.

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Hezbollah Drones
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 23, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

On a recent Friday morning, Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon launched a drone into Israel.

Israel monitored the entire launch.

The drone passed into Israeli territory in the Western Galilee near Kibbutz Hanita, which is located 150 yards (450 ft) into Israel and it was there that the drone was shot down.

Israel collected all the parts and bits and pieces of the drone for analysis. There were no weapons but, of course, there were cameras.

Hezbollah is attempting to test Israel and Israel’s defense capabilities. Hezbollah also want to show Israel that they, too, have drones.

Iran has been extremely creative in their drone activities and Iran is helping Hezbollah advance their drone operations.

Watch and wait. Hezbollah will be using more and more drones as the days go by.

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Iran Likes Biden
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 21, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran is happy that Joe Biden is the new president of the United States. No surprise there.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran is so pleased with the potential he sees in the new administration that he took the liberty of offering the new US president some advice.

Rouhani urged US President Biden to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Rouhani delivered his message in a televised cabinet meeting. He said: "The ball is in the U.S. court now. If Washington returns to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact … U.S. President Donald Trump's political career is over today and his 'maximum pressure' policy on Iran has completely failed.”

Iran wants to get back to the good old days before Trump.
It’s too early to tell what direction the Biden administration will take.

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Blinken Has History
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 20, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

During his Senate nomination hearing Tony Blinken, the Biden nominee for Secretary of State, revealed some very significant foreign policy ideas on the part of new administration.

Blinken wants to push for the Two-State Solution between Israel and the Palestinians and he wants to restart relations with Iran Russia and China.

This is what he said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "When we're not engaged, when we don't lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values. Or no one does, and then you get chaos … Either way, that does not serve the American people."

There is no doubt that if Blinken passes committee’s scrutiny he will be the one directing the Biden administration’s foreign policy.

Tony Blinken has extensive foreign policy experience. Part of that experience includes making nice with Iran - it is a part of his philosophy.

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Charedi Leader Finally Shouts
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 19, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Finally, someone with real bona fides and credentials in the Chareidi (ultra orthodox) community is calling out Chareidi leaders, calling them irresponsible and guilty of aiding in the deaths of their followers. He accused them of denying COVID and not taking the deadly pandemic seriously.

Yehudah Meshi Zahav is the founder of ZAKA, a volunteer emergency medical
organization that unhesitatingly rushes in after accidents and terrorist attacks. ZAKA members are true heroes.

After losing both his mother and brother to COVID, Meshi Zahav gave an interview to YNET. He said: "This is our leaders' fault. I say this with heavy heart, I think they're worse than Holocaust deniers. After all, Holocaust deniers deny history, and here, they're denying the present.”

"What's wrong with those leaders? How can they say, 'our hands did not spill that blood?' There are people around here who are suspected of spilling blood, even if people call them 'rabbis'. There isn't a single neighborhood, building, or home without at least one victim.

"Forty-four people have died in the last 24 hours, 44 families whose entire worlds fell apart, 44 families for whom nothing will ever be the same again - and we played it down. Can’t they see? Each one of us is literally a ticking time bomb.”

And finally, he said: "Their obituaries shouldn't say, 'rest in peace,' but 'may the Lord avenge their blood' instead. Hearing [coronavirus patients'] cries in coronavirus wards, it's heart-wrenching. There is no one there to hear them, and I am sitting there, watching ambulance after ambulance taking out the dead."

Yehudah Meshi Zahav is to be applauded.

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Israel Demands Turkey Shut Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 18, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel is showing strength and character.

Jerusalem issued a statement to Turkey about normalizing relations.
Israel made it clear that there can be no normalizing of relations between the countries until and unless Turkey shuts down their support and sponsorship of Hamas.

Turkey enables Hamas to organize their activities.

Turkey permits Hamas the ability to coordinate their terrorist operations out of Istanbul.

From Turkey Hamas recruits and finances much of their operation in Gaza. They transfer funds from Istanbul to Gaza and their money is protected in Turkey.

Israel has always had a weak spot for countries wanting to normalize relations with them. Israel would typically look the other way or even totally capitulate in order to accommodate the other country and get them to “like” the Jewish State.

Standing strong and making demands on Turkey is a major step for Israel.
Israel is showing maturity and wisdom.

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Saudis Welcome Qatar back
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 17, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I’ve Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia has announced that they are opening an embassy in Qatar.

The announcement was thrown out as a nonchalant comment about the opening of new Saudi embassies by Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan.

The Saudi foreign minister was speaking to journalists in Riyadh when he was asked about embassy re-openings.

This revelation signals that relations between Qatar and the other Sunni countries are on the mend. That’s big news because Qatar was isolated from the other Sunni countries after they sided with Iran against the other Sunni nations.

Now it looks like that the divide is narrowing and that Qatar is coming back into the community of Sunni Gulf nations.

It is clear that the Trump initiative in the Middle East was successful. Iran was sidelined and now Qatar wants to come back to the security of the Sunni fold, but many in the Sunni world are still skeptical of their real intentions.

Qatar’s move to side with Iran caused serious pain to the Sunni community. But if Saudi Arabia is willing to trust them other nations will probably follow along.

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Israel's Transition to Biden
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 16, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Now that Donald J. Trump will no longer president of the United States, Israel needs to recalibrate.

Israel spent the last four years riding the wave of pro-Israel US policy. And it was quite a wave.

The United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The United States recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Now Israel must figure out how to navigate their relations with the United States under Joe Biden’s administration.

Israel - not just Netanyahu but almost every leader in Israel, felt comfortable in the relationship between the Jewish State and Trump.

That is gone.

Biden is no stranger to Israel. But it will not be the same.

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Hopkins' A/S
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 13, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

It is stunning to realize how many examples there are of anti-Semitism on campus.

In a tweet, a teaching assistant at Johns Hopkins polled her followers and asked if, when grading, she should take points away from pro-Israel students.
She then described how repulsed she was by the pro-Israel sentiment of her students and how she found white men reprehensible.

The teaching assistant insisted that, up until now, she has always been fair – but her tweets speak for themselves.

The university issued a statement:
"We are aware of an incident of alleged anti-Semitism and potential abuse of authority in the discharge of academic responsibilities on our campus, and while we are constrained in what we can share with you and others about matters such as these, we wish to assure you that we take seriously any and all allegations of discrimination, harassment, or other misconduct – including anti-Semitism."

The pressure Jews feel on campus is growing and growing.

This is just one of many examples.

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Pelosi Quotes Israeli Poet
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I admit we live in crazy times. And then it just gets crazier.

While speaking in Congress, in an appeal to her Republican colleagues, Nancy Pelosi quoted from the great Hebrew poet Ehud Manor’s spectacular poem “Ein Li Eretz Aheret” which, in English, translates to mean “I have No Other Country”.

Pelosi did not just mention the title of the poem and its essential theme, she said: "Mr. Speaker … I recall the words of the great Israeli poet, Ehud Manor.”

And then continued: "I can't keep silent in light of how my country has changed her face, won’t quit trying to remind her. In her ears, I'll sing my cries until she opens her eyes. I can't keep silent of how my country has changed her face.”

The poem was turned into a song that was made famous by Gali Atari. It is a heart wrenching and deeply moving poem and when put to music it deeply touches the souls of people who care about their country.

For Ehud Manor, that country was Israel. For Nancy Pelosi, it is the United States.

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Pelosi Quotes Israeli Poet
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 12, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I admit we live in crazy times. And then it just gets crazier.

While speaking in Congress, in an appeal to her Republican colleagues, Nancy Pelosi quoted from the great Hebrew poet Ehud Manor’s spectacular poem “Ein Li Eretz Aheret” which, in English, translates to mean “I have No Other Country”.

Pelosi did not just mention the title of the poem and its essential theme, she said: "Mr. Speaker … I recall the words of the great Israeli poet, Ehud Manor.”

And then continued: "I can't keep silent in light of how my country has changed her face, won’t quit trying to remind her. In her ears, I'll sing my cries until she opens her eyes. I can't keep silent of how my country has changed her face.”

The poem was turned into a song that was made famous by Gali Atari. It is a heart wrenching and deeply moving poem and when put to music it deeply touches the souls of people who care about their country.

For Ehud Manor, that country was Israel. For Nancy Pelosi, it is the United States.

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Iran & Their Drones
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 11, 2021
I've Been Thinking:


Iran recently conducted a drone exercise. Several hundred drones participated in the exercise.

The drones were used in many roles - air to air, air to surface and surface to surface. Some of the drones also were fitted with missiles and smart bombs.

A major part of the exercise involved hundreds of drones in kamikaze strikes in which the drones were used as missiles. This kamikaze drone weapon is new and it is very effective. Like suicide bombers, the drone can be sent by its operator directly to its target.

The videos I watched were like Top Gun with drones. But this is neither fantasy nor entertainment. The new use of these weapons by Iran is extremely dangerous.

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Yemeni Houthis Threaten Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 10, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Yemen is threatening Israel.

They are threatening Israel in response to an interview on Kan Media in Israel during which an Israeli military source said that Israel is preparing strikes against Iranian backed Iraqi militias, as well as Iranian backed Houthis in Yemen.

Fadl Abu Talib, a member of the Houthi Political Bureau, told the Yemini media outlet Rai Al Youm that they will strike “very sensitive” sites in Israel if Israel attacks them.

He said: "If the Israeli enemy was involved in any action against our people, our people will not hesitate to declare jihad against this enemy. We will not hesitate to launch the strongest possible attacks towards very sensitive sites for the Israeli enemy."

Abu Talib then added: "The remarks of the Zionist war criminals, which stated that Yemen is a threat to the Zionist entity, have been repeated; therefore, we are recalling … that our hostility to Israel as a rapist entity and hostile to our ummah is a human and moral principle, as well as a religious obligation."

The Houthis are blustering and over-reaching. There is no way that they can actually present a realistic military threat against Israel.

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Israel Delivers Iron Dome to US
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 7, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Israel delivered its 2nd Iron Dome Anti-Missile defense system to the United States on Thursday. This is significant. The US commissioned Israel and purchased this advanced anti-missile system in 2019.

The Iron Dome works on a unique system. It triangulates and then once the missile target is determined, uses an extremely fast rocket to intercept the missile.

The Iron Dome is so good, it is even able to protect against low tech rockets shot into Israel from Gaza.

Ironically, when Israel first suggested the Iron Dome to the US, their Department of Defense engineers said the technology was impossible. They said there was no way to do what Israeli engineers say they can do.

The Iron Dome has successfully downed cruise missiles. It is the first time technology able to defend against the cruise missile.

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World Watches the US
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 6, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

I’ve been watching how Israel is watching the United States in the weeks since the November 2020 presidential election.

I’ve seen how deeply concerned Israel is about the way in which the United States has been handling the election results.

Israel can be considered a microcosm of the rest of the world – they are watching and worrying just like the rest of the world, even enemies of the US, are watching and worrying.

The violence that took place in Washington, DC when the US Capitol was overrun by rioters, not only shocked the world, it shook the world.

The world, and Israel in particular, look towards the United States for direction.
The United States sets the example, other countries learn from the example of the United States.

The world is confused by the images they are seeing. They do not understand what they are seeing, cannot believe what they are seeing.
Neither can Americans.

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Cammack To DC w Israeli Flag
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 5, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Kat Cammack was just elected to represent Florida’s 3rd District. She will be a welcome voice in DC. Cammack loves Israel.

Cammack has announced that she will post an Israeli flag outside her Congressional office on Capitol Hill. Cammack’s office will be situated right next to the Democratic Representative from Michigan’s office. She will be right next to Rashida Tlaib, so that flag will have special significance.

Tlaib is of Palestinian decent. She also supports BDS

Cammack said ““She (Tlaib) has some very strong opinions about Israel, and I have some very strong opinions about Israel, so I have made a pledge that I’m going to be planting the flag of Israel outside my door right next to the American flag.”

“I think it’ll be very helpful as she walks past it every day.”
Cammack is going to push back against “the Squad” and against their stance on Israel. Her strength and clarity is welcomed.
Kudos to Congresswoman-elect Kat Cammack.

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Iran Seizes S Korean Tanker
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 4, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran seized a South Korean tanker in the Straits of Hormuz. Iran claimed that the South Korean vessel was polluting. Iran acknowledged the seizure.

What was not acknowledged was that only hours earlier it was announced that a South Korean diplomat was arriving in Iran to discuss billions of dollars of Iranian assets frozen in South Korea.

South Korea freezes Iran’s assets and then Iran seizes a South Korean tanker.
There’s more.

While this is happening, Iran has begun to enrich uranium to 20%. Enriching uranium to 20% is 4 times higher than the famous Iranian agreement permits.
Iran is playing the world like a fine fiddle.

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Nimitz Back to Gulf
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 3, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

The US Defense Department announced that the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier group was exiting the region of the Middle East.

Over the past weeks Iranian leadership and the US president have been exchanging jabs. The intention of the United States in relocating the Nimitz was to de-escalate tensions between the countries,

So the Nimitz and its entire strike force group was relocated to the Persian Gulf area. And then, they were recalled. And now the Nimitz group has been returned to its original location.

During the course of a week the Nimitz was first recalled and then resent to the region.

Acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced, late on Sunday, that: "Due to the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials, I have ordered the USS Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment."

Iran is back to its old tricks. Iran, once again, is playing games with the United States.

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Iran & Trump
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 1, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Iran is obsessing over US President Donald Trump. Their thinking is that Trump will attack Iran in his final days in office.

Look at this tweet from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Zarif warns the United States not to attack Iran, he warns that Iran will defend itself so -- beware.
Zarif wrote: "Instead of fighting Covid in US, @realDonaldTrump & cohorts waste billions to fly B52s & send armadas to OUR region. Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war."

Zarif is claiming that President Trump is manufacturing a pretense so that the US can attack Iran.

A military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader warned the US president "not to turn the New Year into mourning for Americans".

This is just one of many episodes, one of many examples.

The essential lesson to learn from Iran’s behavior is that they are wary of Donald
Trump and believe him to be very unpredictable. Iranian leadership does not know what he will do and what he can do - even to the point of an attack on Iran in the last hours of his presidency.

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Naysayers About Normalization
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 31, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Morocco is the fourth Arab nation to announce normalization with Israel.
Over the past three decades Israel and Morocco have had secret relations - especially in the areas of security, terror and even foreign relations.

Despite all that, there has been serious blow back against the move to normalization. In Morocco and throughout the Arab world there is talk that normalization is an abandonment of the Palestinians and that following Donald Trump’s lead is a real mistake.

There is no way of knowing what the numbers are, of how many Moroccans support or reject normalization in Morocco. Morocco is not a democracy.

However, it is clear that the move will help concretize and increase relations with Israel and that those interactions that have been in place for decades.

Naysayers are exaggerating the damage that will be done and underestimating the benefits to Morocco.

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China Wants in w W Israel
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 30, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

The landscape is changing in the Middle East.

More and more countries are warming up to Israel.
And China is playing a more significant role in the Middle East.

That’s not all good news. Israel must tread very carefully.

China is determined to develop deeper relationships and become more involved with various Mid East countries. And Israel is on that list.

As the Trump era wanes and the Biden administrations emerges, China is going to want to play a more and more active role.

China cannot replace the United States – that is abundantly clear. But Israel will want to gain some of the advantages China has to offer. Those include investors, tourists, hi-tech production and most importantly, low-priced imports.

Trump did not look kindly at Chinese advances toward investments in Israel. We do not know how Biden will view the move.

It is imperative for Israel to understand that, while China may become a business partner, China will never be a friend.

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A/S Still Around
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 29, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Anti-Semitism still exists. That should not come as a surprise.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in LA published a top ten list of anti- Semitic outbreaks for 2020.

Number one: Jews created COVID. Again, not a surprise.

The report clearly explains that “[f]rom the earliest stages of the pandemic in February 2020, far-right extremists across social media platforms blamed Jews and Asian Americans for the virus.”

One example of that hatred is demonstrated through “an image titled ‘Holocough’ [that] urged, ‘If you have the bug, give a hug. Spread the flu to every Jew.’”

Another example is demonstrated throuf\gh a Trojan Horse with a Jew and a globe inside. The head of the horse is COVID-19 and people at the gate of the city invite the horse in.

The idea that the Jews created and spread COVID is obviously a canard. The most unfortunate part is that there are still many people living among us who believe the ugliest of stories about Jews.

And that, I am afraid, will not change and not go away in 2021.

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COVID in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 28, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Israel announced that they should have the COVID-19 pandemic under control by late February to mid-March.

They have already vaccinated nearly 300,000 people. 100,000 were vaccinated on Sunday alone.

There have been some hiccups. People complained that when they called on December 24th for appointments to vaccinate their elderly parents, they received an appointment for March. That is three months later.

When they complain, they are asked to call back because “more vaccination sites are opening all the time”.

Chief Sefardic Rabbi Yitzchak Yossef dedicated time to discuss the COVID vaccine on his Saturday night Torah lesson which is broadcast around the world on radio and internet TV.

Rabbi Yossef said that it was a Jewish legal obligation to GET the vaccine.

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Iran Threatens Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 27, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Iran threatened Israel by saying that they will attack any Israeli submarine found in the Persian Gulf. This threat came in response to statements by Israel and the United States that they are dispatching subs to the area.

Abu al Fadi Amoui, a spokesperson for the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament, said this in an interview on Al Jazeera in Arabic:

“Israel must know that our response to aggression against our national security will be strong and massive … Israel is looking for excuses to drag the region into a tension that creates chaos in the last days of the Trump presidency.”

Iran has been referencing Trump’s last days a lot. They have repeatedly said that Israel is trying to draw Iran into a conflict in the final weeks of the Trump presidency.

Iran likes to play mind games with the West.

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Morocco & Palestine
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 25, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, sent an official letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the letter the king wrote that Morocco stands behind the Palestinians and firmly supports a 2-state solution with Israel.
This is critical.

Morocco has begun to normalize relations with Israel, they have even instituted direct flights between the countries.

The purpose of the king’s letter to the Palestinians was to make it clear to Abbas and to all Palestinians and to the world that normalizing with Israel does not mean the end of support for the Palestinians.

The King of Morocco was explaining that they did not switch teams and can no longer be involved with the other side. The opposite. King Mohammed is saying that supporting both the 2-state solution and normalization with Israel is good for everyone.

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Israel's 3rd Lockdown
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 24, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Israel will enter another 2-week total lockdown on Sunday.

The cabinet met Wednesday night and agreed that all schools will close with the exception of 1-4 grades, 11th & 12th grades and special education. School will be limited to 5 hours of class.

No one will be able to wander more than 100 meters, which is 110 yards, from their homes.

All businesses, except food services, must close. Food services may deliver. No dining in doors or outdoors.

Only essential workers may move about.

Gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors.

Israel’s Corona Czar. Professor Ash, has said that 2 weeks will not be enough.
Corona virus numbers in Israel have been climbing and climbing. Over the last week they have doubled to 4,000 cases per day.

Shutting down has worked for Israel in the past -- this is their third shutdown since March.

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UN Condemns Israel 17 Times
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 23, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

As 2020 comes to an end, it behooves us to look at some numbers.
In 2020, the United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn Israel 17 times.

The entire rest of the world combined was condemned (only!) 6 times.

One of the condemnations against Israel was for a 2006 oil spill off the coast of Lebanon -during a war with Hezbollah.

The only relief in this preposterous state of affairs is that resolutions in the UN General Assembly have no authority - they are totally without practical power.

They do, however, give a clear indication of the way Israel is viewed by the rest of the world.

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Israeli Elections in March
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 22, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Israel’s Knesset, their parliament, did not pass their budget. And that means that Israelis are heading to their fourth set of national elections in two years.

Elections are scheduled for March 23rd. The date falls almost on the eve of Passover.

It is too early to predict what will happen in 3 months - BUT - there are certain absolutes.

The Blue and White Party has imploded. The party, which had emerged as a mosaic trying to bring together the center left, splintered after the last election.
There is no way they will get together again.

Gideon Saar broke, once a prominent member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, broke away from Likud and is forming a new, right-wing party. He wants to bring party members and voters with him which will, inevitably, draw traditional voters away from Netanyahu and the Likud.

Naftali Bennett, head of the Yamina Party, which means “the right” has staked out a position further to the right of Netanyahu and will draw many voters from
Netanyahu’s traditional base. Bennett began his campaign several months ago.
Voters who are frustrated by Netanyahu feel comfortable with Bennett. Voters who naturally lean right feel comfortable with Bennett. He is squeaky clean and that is a very attractive attribute in this era of political corruption.

A lot will happen in the coming months.

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Huge Iran Hack on Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 21, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Pay2Key is an Iranian hacker or hacking group - it is unclear. Individual or a group, they are highly skilled.

Pay2Key recently claimed that they hacked into Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI). They claim to have accessed one of the most secure facilities in the world.

Pay2Key published proof of their hack on their Darkwebsite, even including the name of the head of the IAI cyber division. Copies of secured documents were posted on their site.

How much damage was inflicted is unclear. The IAI says that no hack was detected.

If the hackers gained access only to files, they still have eyes on some of most sensitive material about Israel’s missiles and satellites, Israel’s present and future plans and importantly, Israel’s defense systems and intel.

If true, this was a huge hack.

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Iran Now Likes Bolton
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 20, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Iran’s FARS media has run a large story singing the praises of John Bolton.

I, too, was stunned as I read the piece. John Bolton is a hawk on all issues - especially on the Iranian issue.

As President Trump’s National Security Advisor, Bolton was the most vociferous of all hawks, constantly suggesting strikes and aggressive responses to Iranian hostility. None of this was new behavior or thinking. Bolton has been consistent throughout his career.

And then he and President Trump had a parting of the ways. And John Bolton wrote a tell-all book. And now Iran is praising him.

The reason is clear. In praising John Bolton, Iran is criticizing Donald Trump.

There are rumors that President Trump wants to impose martial law. Bolton does not think that to be a good idea and made his comments public. Trump retorted, in a tweet, that Bolton is “one of the dumbest people in Washington.”

Iran has been running with the martial law story.

It proves Machiavelli’s axiom. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Trump is Iran’s enemy + Trump and Bolton are enemies = Iran + Bolton = Friends.
Simple math.

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US Not Sharing Intel w Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 18, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Ever since Qatar sided with Iran, they have been on the outs in the Sunni Middle East.

And Qatar is also paying the price with Western democracies.
A report by the British Cornerstone Institute reports that the United States no longer shares intel with Qatar for fear that it will be shared with Iran. And neither do Great Britain or France.

What make this change in policy even more interesting is that Qatar still hosts US and British forces.

The Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is the largest single military installation in the entire Middle East. One of the reasons it is so large is that the base hosts both US Airforce units and British Royal Air force units, and also serves as the very important Headquarters of US Central Command.

More evidence that Qatar has been distanced from the West is that they ran to Turkey and Iran to try to scuttle the deals other countries were making with Israel. Qatar, Turkey and Iran are consolidating their relationship in the hope that they can become a strong front against the deals with Israel, all of which were sponsored by the United States.

It is assumed that Qatar has told the United States that they may not attack Iran from their territory. If that is true, it clearly shows where Qatar stands on the world stage.

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Russia Has a Plan
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 17, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Last week Russia’s ambassador to Israel said that Israel was the most destabilizing force in the region. He said that Israel was even more destabilizing that Iran.

This week Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called US policy in the Middle East “unconstructive.” He was responding to a comment made by Mike Pompeo that Russia’s Mid East policies are “destabilizing”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had declared that: "Russia continues to threaten Mediterranean stability using a variety of techniques to spread disinformation, undermine national sovereignty, and sow chaos, conflict and division within countries throughout the region."

Lavrov response was: "The US practically bans all the countries in the region from cooperating with Russia, whether in the military or technical fields, as well as on any other issue."

Lavrov’s example was accurate. The US has imposed sanctions on the Turkish defense industry because Turkey imported Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which is incompatible with NATO systems and could compromise the Western world. Turkey has denied the claims, saying that it has no plans to integrate the Russian system into NATO.

Turkey’s comments are irrelevant. Their promise not to integrate or share NATO military information with Russia is empty and hard to believe.

But what is most distressing is this war of words between the United States and Russia.

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Sudan & Israel - True Relationship
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 16, 2020
I've Been Thinking:


A series of questions is emerging about the normalization deals between Israel and some Arab countries.

Like Sudan. Sudan has a nasty history of perpetrating terror and supporting terror.
They have a terrible human rights record. They have made some of the most extreme of anti-Israel statements.

Sudan has almost nothing to offer Israel. With that knowledge it was not surprising to hear Sudan’s foreign minister, Omar Qamar al-Din, being interviewed on Al-Hadath TV and saying that Sudan "agreed to avoid a state of war with the Hebrew state but we will not reach any other state."

As if that wasn’t enough, he went on to say that "there is no diplomatic representation, no Chamber of Commerce and no cooperation between Israeli and Sudanese universities or companies. There are military factors that work together as far as we know. I have no further information on this matter. Everything that concerns the promotion of relations with Israel in the future depends on there being an agreement or agreements, and any such agreement will be presented to the legislative council that will be formed soon."

Normalization is just normalization, normalization is not peace.

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Iran's New Nuke Plan
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 15, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Iran has just announced that they are planning to build two brand new nuclear facilities.

This announcement appears to be revenge for the assassination of the father of the Iranian nuclear weapons program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

These new sites will be up and running within five months. It could change the entire nuclear game.

The first site is a laboratory that will deal with uranium in metal form. It is a mechanism essential in the making of nuclear weapons. The lab will have a heavy water reactor that can accumulate plutonium in its spent fuel.

Richard Johnson, the Senior Director for Fuel Cycle and Verification at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit organization, expressed his concern over Iran’s plans when he said: “If either was to proceed, that would stand out as a major proliferation concern.”

This is serious issue for the world. Iran has said that they will shut the new facilities down only if the United States re-enters the famous JCPOA, aka, the Nuke Deal.

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Iran's Oil Plan
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 14, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Iran is planning to up their oil pumping production next year. As of the beginning of the Iranian year, which means March, Iranian leadership plans to increase production to 4.5 million barrels/day.

This will happen in two stages.

Stage One takes place right now and extends through the Biden inauguration.
First, Iran will increase their oil production to 2.6 million barrels per/day. In Stage Two they will double that to 4.5 million.

Impressive as those numbers sound, the real increase will be in increasing their oil input from their current production numbers to reach 2.6 million. According to Bloomberg News, Iran is now only producing 133,000 barrels/day.

This plan was presented, by Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, to the Iranian parliament on Saturday.

Oil is the most significant component of Iran’s economy. They need to pump their oil and to sell their oil. These past few years the Iranian economy has been crippled. It looks like it is on the mend.

As their economy improves, so will Iran’s threat and so will their nuclear program.

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Benefits of Normalization
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 12, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

I get the question all the time: What does Israel gain from normalization deals with Arab nations? What benefits do the Arab and Muslim countries realize from these deals?

The obvious answer is peace. But while that is a significant reason, it is not really relevant right now. There was little chance of war because none of the countries that have now normalized with Israel, share borders with Israel. And there is only a slight chance that, because of the normalizations, either the international community or the United Nations will change their tone when it comes to Israel.

And so, the main reason, the most significant reason, these countries want to normalize with Israel is to use this new status as a military check against Iran.

Another reason, important but of slightly less importance, is that with normalization comes access to Israeli technology. All forms of Israeli technology – and that includes bio tech, medical tech, agricultural tech. It also includes solar energy technology and advancements and natural gas exports.

These countries want to ride the wave of Israeli security and hi-tech military advances.

Morocco, for example, now imports 90% of their energy. Israel can help them with solar energy and natural gas. And even before the normalization of ties announcement went public, Morocco had secretly purchased $48 million worth of drones from Israel.

The benefits for Israel, too, are numerous. Doors, formerly sealed shut and markets, once unavailable, are opening wide for Israel. Millions of investment dollars are pouring into Israeli tech.

Next in line look to be Oman and Indonesia.

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Hamas Hacking Arabs
By Micah Halpern

Friday December 11, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

The cyber branch of Hamas has been hacking Arabic-speaking targets in the Palestinian Authority, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey.

Hackers sent emails to Arabic readers with links to interesting stories about Arab countries normalizing relations with Israel. Imbedded in the links were viruses that enabled the hackers to access their targets computers, especially their history.

The question is: Why would Hamas want to monitor what Arabic readers were reading.

The answer is that Hamas wants to know what the Arab masses and what Arab world leadership is reading and what they are thinking regarding Israel.
In other words, they are worried that now that the many in the Arab world are warming up to Israel, they might be turning an even colder shoulder toward Hamas.


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Norway Defunds Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Thursday December 10, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Norway’s Storting, the Norwegian Parliament, voted to slash aid to the Palestinians.
They cut $3.4 million in aid to the Palestinians.

Norway’s Progress Party lobbied and convinced the parliament that for years the Palestinians have been saying that they will change, or have already changed, their textbooks. And yet, in schools and in their textbooks, Palestinians glorify terror and terrorists and preach wiping Israel off the map and pushing the Jewish State into the sea.

"Norwegian taxpayers will not pay the monthly salary to terrorists,"
Norwegian lawmaker Himanshu Gulati, the deputy chair of Friends of Israel in the Storting, posted a statement on the FrP website. He wrote: “Norwegian taxpayers will not pay the monthly salary to terrorists … "When Norway provides aid to Palestine, the money goes into the same economy that is also used to pay prisoners 'salaries’ ".

If the PA continues to pay salaries to the families of Palestinian prisoners arrested, convicted and serving time in Israeli prisons, Gulati called for Norway to further cut their aid to the Palestinian Authority.

This is critical.

For decades Norway has been known as a friend of the Palestinians, often attacking Israel as unfair and as an aggressor. They attacked Israel because they believe that Israel is stronger than the PA and that Israel has the power to help the Palestinians.

But Norway will not tolerate anti-Semitism. Norway cannot be part of or sponsor anything that promotes anti-Semitism.

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Russia: Israel More Destabilizing than Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 9, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

The Jerusalem Post ran a shocking interview with Russian Ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov.

Viktorov said that Israel was the most de-stabilizing factor in the Middle East … not Iran.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry called him in and dressed him down.

The Russian Ambassador to Israel called Israel an aggressor. He questioned Israel’s bombing of Iranian arm shipments to Hezbollah, even if the tunnels Israel discovered on the border were dug by Hezbollah.

There is no doubt that Moscow knew of and even prompted Viktorov’s comments. They also knew that he would be called in by the Foreign Ministry of Israel.

For Moscow, it was worth it all.

Moscow is realigning itself in the Middle East. It is shifting its own position in order to make Iran and Syrian and Turkey more comfortable.

Russia is responding to US involvement in the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab nations.

Russia is siding with those who reject this US/Israel move.

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Iran Sending More Oil to Venezuela
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 8, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Venezuela is suffering from a crippling shortage of oil. Considering that Venezuela is a member of OPEC and was once one of the world’s largest producers and supplier of oil and that Citco was once Chavez’ oil company – this is not a predicament anyone would have expected for Venezuela.

There are many reasons explaining why Venezuela is now in such dire straits. Most important is that the United States has made it clear that the Venezuelans have not been playing nicely when it comes to Foreign affairs. Nicolas Maduro has been a flamboyant and aggressive anti-US propagandist.

Venezuela needs help – and Iran is coming to their rescue. Iran, as we all know, is also in the diplomatic doghouse with the United States.

Iran has already sent oil tankers to Venezuela, I’ve written about that several times.

Now, they have launched a flotilla of 10 tankers headed to Venezuela to help further relieve the oil crisis.

Venezuela’s crisis will be eased, but the Iranian inspired crises in the Western world will be heightened.

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Abu Dhabi To Open Office in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday December 7, 2020
I've Been Thinking:


In September Abu Dhabi announced that they will open an investment office in Israel.

Today State-run Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) Director General, Tariq bin Hendi told a UAE-Israel conference in Dubai: "It's very exciting for us because we will have that office open in the next few weeks."
They will be opening their office in just a few days.

The excitement is palpable. Abu Dhabi has already made inquiries into investments and they have already setup meetings and lined up several projects in Israel. Israeli investment groups are working hand in hand with Abu Dhabi. These groups identify possible projects and propose them to investors.

We are talking about an injection of hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions of dollars of investments into Israel technology. Israeli tech and Abu Dhabi investment is a tremendous power.

These investments can potentially change the world. It is a marriage made in heaven.

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Saudi Prince Attacks Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday December 6, 2020
I've Been Thinking:

Recently Bahrain hosted The Bahrain Security Summit. Present was Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi as well as many of the most important players in the Middle East.

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was the head of Saudi intelligence for more than two decades was there and he spoke. Al Faisal also served for decades as Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and Great Britain. Currently the prince is officially retired but his words carry tremendous weight in Saudi Arabia and he has the ear of the king.

Al Faisal launched a scathing attack on Israel and normalization. He said that there will be no normalization deals needed to help the Palestinians obtain their own independent state.

He described Israel as a "Western colonizing" power. He said Israel has "incarcerated (Palestinians) in concentration camps under the flimsiest of security accusations— young and old, women and men, who are rotting there without recourse to justice. They are demolishing homes as they wish and they assassinate whomever they want."

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Poor PA Investment
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday December 2, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

$1.732 billion is a large sum of money. That sum is the difference between private Palestinian investments flowing out of Palestinian Authority areas and external investments flowing into PA areas.

In other words, people with money living in the Palestinian Authority are investing their money outside the Palestinian Authority. And of all those people who say that they care about the Palestinians are investing very little in the Palestinians. They are not putting their money where their mouths are.

These figures come from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Ghassan Halum, a Palestinian investor explained: “When people go abroad and invest, they usually intend to earn some capital and then return home, but they get used to a certain system and laws, in addition to facilities and privileges. When they return home, the corruption and complications needed to get things done shock them.”

This is not good news. It means that the Palestinian economy is losing billions of dollars annually.

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Secret Mtgs Btw Israel & Turkey
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 1, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Al Monitor, an Arab news outlet headquartered in London, reported that Turkey and Israel are secretly meeting in the hope of re-establishing diplomatic relations and returning their ambassadors. The ambassadors were recalled in 2018, after the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem.

There is, of course, another motivation.

Under President Donald J. Trump, the United States was not interested in Turkey’s human rights violations and the problems that they were causing - which included teaming up with Russia and Iran in support of Syria.

Turkey has been a public attack dog against Israel.

But now Turkey expects that the Biden administration will not be as sympathetic to them and will not turn a blind eye to these issues.

Turkey believes that, if they warm up to Israel, they will curry favor with the new US administration and with the Biden inner circle.

Al Monitor reported that three meeting took place between Israel and Turkey. In at least one of those meeting, the heads of Turkish and Israeli intelligence were present.

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Another Election in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 30, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like elections are on the horizon in Israel. Again.

Both Benny Gantz, the head of the Blue & White party, and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Likud, made announcements about elections on the same day. And their announcements were made only 15 minutes apart from each other.

Gantz wants elections. Bibi is saying hold on. They each have a personal agenda.
Elections are personal.

In the end, in the event of another election in Israel, both Gantz and Netanyahu will be big losers.

Gantz will never be able to bring together the broad base group that challenged Bibi in earlier elections. And Bibi is feeling a real threat from his right flank.
Gantz and Bibi aside, if there is a 4th election in Israel, the biggest losers will be the citizens of Israel.

Never a dull moment in Israel.

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UAE Blackballs 11 Muslim Countries
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 29, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and the UAE are in high gear. Multiple airlines are flying back and forth.
ELAL has 16 flights from Israel to Dubai per week. And that’s just one of the airlines now connecting these two, now friendly, countries.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have signed a visa-free program. There is no visa necessary for citizens of either country to fly to the other country.

But while Israelis can now travel to the UAE easily and visa-free, the visas of eleven Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Tunisia, have been yanked. They have been cancelled, rescinded.

This black-list is official policy. Why does this policy exist? The answer is, actually, pretty easy to understand.

Most of those eleven countries are havens for terror. Terror groups gather there and organize there.

The UAE is concerned that Israelis would be perfect targets for terror. So, the UAE has literally blocked all entry from countries that might plan, sponsor and perpetrate attacks against their Israeli guests.

If terror came to the UAE it would ruin not just their new relationship with Israel, it would destroy tourism, trade and business between the UAE and any other Western group planning on expanding their dealings in the UAE.

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Iranian Nuke Head Assassinated
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 27, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the father of the Iran’s nuclear weapons program, was assassinated on Friday, November 27, 2020.

His name and picture were part of the nuclear archive that Israel smuggled out of Iran and which Bibi Netanyahu presented to the world. Israel place a photo of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on a large screen and Netanyahu told everyone to remember that name.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated while riding in a car. Witnesses describe an explosion and then some shots. Photos show gunshots through the front windshield on the driver’s side. There was significant blood on the street. First reports were that he was taken to the hospital and died there. More likely, he was pronounced dead there.

The policy of most highly trained assassination teams is to “confirm the kill”. That means that after the strike, if there is time and access, they will quickly approach the body and shoot the target in the head.

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Qatar Stops Bahraini Ships
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 26, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Midday on Wednesday two Bahraini ships were returning home from a nearby war exercise in the Arabian Sea. As they passed through Qatari waters, the two Bahraini ships were stopped by three Qatari naval vessels who claimed that they were protecting their border and territorial waters.

In the end, the Bahrainis and their ships were let go and continued the rest of their short trip home.

Bahrain is ledging a complaint with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Both Bahrain and Qatar are members of the GCC which has an agreement that permits the vessels of member nations to safely traverse each other’s territorial waters.

In 2017 Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt all severed ties with Qatar. Why? Because Qatar had aligned with Iran.

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Israelis Go to Ethiopia to Fight Locust
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 25, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister has invited an Israeli team of locust experts to visit his country in order to help combat their worst locust plague in 75 years.

The team of four Israelis are on the ground in Ethiopia. They are using drones and spraying at night in order to stop the plague.

Dr Yoav Motro, a member of the team said: “It’s the worst it has been in 75 years. And a tropical cyclone that hit the eastern part of the region in the past few days will only make things more complex. One has to note these regions do not deal with locusts on a regular basis — which hampers their readiness and their resilience to it.”

The locust descend and literally destroy everything that grows. An entire year’s crop is lost - devoured. This is not just an issue of an industry being hurt or a crop being destroyed, it is about major food shortage.

Swarms of locust are destroying food in a region where food is desperately needed.

The Israeli team has studied locust and they have experience fighting them. If they were called in early enough, they will be successful in their mission. The locust need to be destroyed before they move on to their next location and destroy that area, too.

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Bibi Meets Saudi Crown Prince
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 24, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

With lightening-speed the media covered yesterday’s story of a secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news. And then The New York Times followed up and reported that the Saudis denied the meeting.

Then the Israeli press confirmed that the meeting did happen and the Saudis finally offered confirmation.

Yes, Israel’s prime minster and the head of Israel’s Mossad flew to Riyad, Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi leadership.

So, who leaked the meeting to the press?

In Israel, many people are pointing their fingers at the Office of the Prime Minister.

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15 September 2021 03:52 PM in Thoughts   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (8)



Iran's New Naval Ship
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 23, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has unveiled a brand-new naval ship that is 170 yards long. The ship is a “naval city capable of carrying ocean missions.” It can carry aircraft and drones and missiles.

Iranian State television reported that a "heavy, multi-purpose, and long-range warship capable of carrying all types of aircrafts, drones, missiles and radar systems" had been added to the Revolutionary Guards fleet. The Shahid Rudaki warship is a “mobile naval city capable of carrying ocean missions," state TV added.

The Revolutionary Guards navy commander, Ali Reza Tangsiri, told state TV that the warship would provide security for "maritime transportation lines, oil tankers, commercial and fishing fleets on the high seas."

The name given to this ship, the Shahid Rudaki, is profound. A shahid is a person who dies for a cause, a shahid is a martyr. Rudaki was the founder of modern Persian poetry and literature. He died in 941.

This Iranian naval vessel is the size of an aircraft carrier. Its purpose is to check the US aircraft carrier fleet stationed in the Persian Gulf.

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15 September 2021 03:52 PM in Thoughts   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (5)



Bibi Tells Biden About Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 22, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minster Netanyahu spoke at the memorial for David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

He used the opportunity to explain and plead his case before US president-elect Joe Biden.

Netanyahu said “Do not return to the previous [Iran] nuclear deal. We must keep to an uncompromising policy to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.”

Israel’s view of Iran’s nuclear program is no secret. And way before Trump assumed the US presidency, Israel was pushing the United States to step up pressure on Iran and to stop their nuclear program.

In fact, in great part, the tension between Obama and Netanyahu was on this very issue. During Obama’s tenure in office, Bibi Netanyahu took his argument directly to the US Congress and to the American people. He convinced them that the Iranian deal was dangerous.

David Ben Gurion would have approved of Netanyahu’s action then, just as he would have approved of what he did today. “Speaking truth to power!”

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Iran Planted
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 20, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel dismantled three IEDs, Improvised Explosive Devices, on the Israeli side of “No Man’s Land on the border with Syria.
In other words, it was on the Israeli side of the border.

It should be absolutely clear that the purpose of the bombs was to kill as many Israeli soldiers as possible. They were certainly placed there by locals who know the area. Locals who were taught, advised and coached by Iranian elite forces.

Israel has announced that they have evidence that the Iranian Al Quds Force was responsible for the bombs. Actually, the IDF was even more specific.

The IDF said that unit 840 of the Al Quds Force was the group that made the bombs and helped the locals plant them along the border.

This is very important information.

Iranians positioned that close to Israel’s border is very dangerous.

Iranian involvement in local Syrian activity so close to Israel is causing Israel to consider new options to better protect their border.

Thankfully, for so many reasons, these IEDs were discovered and thankfully, safely dismantled.

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Iran & A New Arms Race
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 18, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Now that the administration in the United States is changing, Iran is now laying out options for arms acquisitions.

In Iran’s eyes, the arms embargo is over.

Three countries are anxiously waiting to provide arms to Iran.
First is Russia, second is China and the third is Iran. Yes, Iran.

Iran is an arms manufacturer and with the opening of the embargo they will be able to build and even export weapons.

Because of Russia and China’s interests in supplying Iran with weapons, there is little doubt that an arms race will break out in the Middle East. Iran is going to expand vis a vis all forms of weapons – tanks, planes, boats, helicopters. That means that their Sunni competitors will also want to expand to keep their quantitative and qualitative edge.

While arms will be supplied to Iran by Russia and Iran, arms to the Sunni countries will be supplied by the US and other Western nations.

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PA to Resume Talks w Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 17, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday November 17, the Palestinian Authority announced that they will resume interaction with Israel.

The announcement came after PA leadership received assurances from the Biden Administration that things will be different under the Biden Administration from what they were under the Trump Administration.

A Palestinian Authority official is quoted in the Jerusalem Post saying: “We have received many positive messages from the Biden team in the past few days ... We are looking forward to opening a new page with the Biden administration after the damage caused by the Trump administration.”

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, had an official response to that statement:

“Israel has previously stated that the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian agreements continue to form the applicable legal framework governing the conduct of the parties. On financial and other matters.

“Therefore, in accordance with these agreements Israel continues to collect taxes for the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, it was the Palestinian Authority which decided not to receive those collected funds from Israel.”

Time will tell.

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Iran Should Not Assume Biden Will Roll Over
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 15, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is waiting and watching, very curious to see what will happen in the Biden administration.

Iranian leadership is hoping for a total change of direction - back to the Iranian deal and diplomatic paths that will reopen the embargo on Iranian business. Their ideal scenario would be to lift sanctions on Iranian oil and to permit COVID medications to enter the country.

At this stage, I think Iran is too hopeful.

They should continue to wait and test the waters and then they should wait a little longer because things may not go their direction.

The US is well aware that Iran have been cheating, ending around the system.
And the US knows, too, that the Saudis and other Gulf states are wary of and advances toward Iran.

Many things have changed in the four years since Obama left office. The Trump Administration successfully highlighted the problems with the Iranian deal. The imperfections need to be resolved. And Biden’s advisers are well aware of this as well.

Iran is hurting economically and COVID-wise, that should be clear. They need the assistance of the United States. And that is an important tool that can and should be used as leverage to get more from Iran than what was in the original Accords.

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WHO Condemns Israel
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 13, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The World Health Organization (WHO), a sub-unit of the United Nations, spent their most recent meeting condemning Israel for health abuses against Palestinians and the Druze of the Golan Heights.

One would think they would address the crisis of COVID-19 as a pandemic.
Instead they attacked Israel for mistreating Palestinians by restricting treatment and access to treatment.

Representative after representative, speaker after speaker, stood and condemned Israel - repeating the exact same words. It was a four hour session that resulted in a resolution condemning Israel.

The vote was 78 in favor, 14 opposed with 32 abstentions and 56 countries absent.
Countries that voted against Israel, that condemned Israel, know better. France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Japan, India, New Zealand, Luxembourg and Monaco, shame on you.

The entire notion is a total lie, a total fabrication. Israel has tried to help keep COVID contagion down in the Palestinian Authority. This sounds strange, but the best way to do that was by keeping many people from travelling. It helped.

Palestinians with COVID are in Israeli hospitals. It is the PA that shuns and even prevents their residents from going to Israeli hospitals. But a procedure is in place through which Palestinians enter Israeli hospitals.

Druze of the Golan are Israeli citizens. They are entitled to – and receive the same care every other citizen receives.

These are most of the countries that voted against the resolution: the United States, Britain, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Slovenia, Cameroon, Swaziland and Micronesia.

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Saudi King Speaks Against Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 12, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz seldom speaks publicly these days. The running of the kingdom is firmly in the hands of Crown Prince Salman.

On Thursday, the king addressed the Shura Council. This is the first time he has spoken since addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September. Both presentations were given with a safe video uplink.

The Shura Council is a consulting body that advises all branches of government in Saudi Arabia.

In this presentation the king addressed the issue of Iran. The Saudi leader views Iran as the threat. It was also his topic when speaking before the GA. He said that everyone needed to stand up to Iran.

"The kingdom stresses the dangers of Iran's regional project, its interference in other countries, its fostering of terrorism, its fanning the flames of sectarianism ... in its efforts to possess weapons of mass destruction.”

Expect that this issue will drive a wedge between the new US administration and the Sunni Gulf states. The promised policy of the incoming Biden Administration is to reach out to Iran. This is the opposite of the Saudi and Israeli objective which is to isolate Iran.

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Saeb Erekat Buried in Jericho
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 11, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Saeb Erekat was buried in Jericho. I know the cemetery, it is a fitting resting place for this illustrious Palestinian, lined with desert date palms - an oasis.

Erekat was one of the most recognized figures in the Palestinian media world. He was 65 years old when he succumbed to COVID. His burial coincided with the 16th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death. Also fitting.

Erekat was Arafat’s most trusted English spokesman and chief negotiator. More than simply an insider, 16 years ago he was thought to be a potential successor to Arafat. But the position went to Mahmud Abbas and once again he was in the successor position, to one day take over the Palestinian reins, this time from Abbas.

I had many interactions with Erekat, mostly on air, at times in person. Erekat was a propagandist for Arafat and the PA, a propogandist par excellence.
Unfortunately, that led to some ridiculous comments, speculation and accusations.
Some were honest most were forced. He fought to justify the Palestinian cause - including terror attacks against Jews.

Erekat understood the media. He understood the role of the media and its importance, even if it meant engaging in total falsehoods, as long as the Palestinian story would be told. He knew that when you fall off the “front page” you become irrelevant.

And that is the misfortunate of the end of his life. These past few years the Palestinian issue has become less central. The once great legacy of Saeb Erekat was lost. His death is not headline news.

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Iran is Emboldened
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 9, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is now flexing its muscles.

Iranian leadership knows that US President Elect Biden wants to return to making deals with Iran.

Should that happen, it would mean a significant weakening for the Sunni Gulf States. That’s because Donald Trump will no longer be there to protect them from Iran or to lend assistance, which was the plan.

So, Iran is now telling the Gulf States that now they are vulnerable and advising them that the best plan for them is to unite and join with Iran.

Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted: A sincere message to our neighbors: Trump's gone in 70 days But we'll remain here forever Betting on outsiders to provide security is never a good gamble We extend our hand to our neighbors for dialog to resolve differences

He wrote his tweet in English and Arabic. The tweet was announced on websites and broadcast on all their media outlets. It was like a Mafia family offering peace. Or else.

Iran has become emboldened by the Biden victory. It’s a new diplomatic chess game. Now we wait and watch to see what counter moves are in the works.

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Biden Mid East Policy
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 8, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


What will Joe Biden’s Middle East policy look like? – that is the question I am being asked non-stop.

There are certain givens. And there are many question marks.

The most obvious given is that Biden will, as he has said over and over again, return to the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or in lay terms, the “Iran Deal.”

It was no secret that the Saudis favored Trump over Biden. The Iran Deal was a
direct threat to Sunni hegemony. Expect tensions on that front.

Expect Biden’s administration to reopen the Palestinian Embassy in Washington, DC.

Expect them to restart aid to the Palestinian Authority - Kamala Harris has already made that promise.

Expect them to reach out and bring the PA back to the table based on the two-state solution.

Do not expect the US Embassy in Jerusalem to return to its former home in Tel Aviv. However, there will almost certainly be discussion about the United States withdrawing recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel is in for a series of roller coaster rides.

Biden has a long and very positive history with Israel. There were several low points during the eight years of the Obama presidency, but in general (“B’Gadol” as Israelis like to say), Joe Biden is a friend of Israel.

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Lessons From Israel -Tight elections
By Micah Halpern

Friday November 6, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel learned some important lessons from tight elections. The United States can learn from Israel’s experience.

Over the 15-month period between December 2018 and March 2020, Israel held three very close elections.

The most important lessons learned from these close elections are: First, be patient and second, do not pay attention to either sides claim of victory.

Next, there are always mistakes and problems in counting. These blunders are usually few and the exception. But when they become systemic, that’s when it is important to watch. Pay attention only when the mistakes sway the election.

In the end, true numbers will emerge and the legitimate winner will be officially declared. Do not rush the announcement.

Respect the process. For the sake of democracy, it is worth the wait.

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Not in US Interest to Push Saudis
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 5, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

I’ve mentioned this before – Saudi Arabia is not going to be the next country in the Middle East to normalize relations with Israel. Saudi Arabia is in line but certainly not at the front of the line.

There are many reasons. One reason is that the United States has been pressuring the Saudi Kingdom to normalize their power in the region.

Saudi power is based on their wealth and on the way they spread influence. They are contributors and sponsors. Even more significant is that they are the guardians of the Islamic holy sites in Mecca and Medina.

The Saudis have sway.

As open to the West as they appear to be, there is a significant group of leaders in Saudi Arabia – especially religious leadership, that is extremely conservative. They would have great difficulty with normalization with the Jewish State, especially public celebrations of the normalization with Israel.

The Saudi Kingdom functions by maintaining balance between Wahabi religious leadership and the royal family.

The Wahabis are a fiercely, fervently, religious subgroup of Sunni Islam. It is they who are responsible for religious life and education in Saudi Arabia. Normalization would wreck that balance.

We are not even going to discuss the Saudi human rights record and their attitude towards women.

While on the surface it would appear that Saudi Arabia is the prefect partner for normalization. That is simply incorrect at this stage. It is not in their interest or the interest of the US to push it.

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They Target & Murder Jews
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 4, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS claimed responsibility for the terror attack in Vienna, in the Jewish area, near the synagogue. 4 people were murdered, 14 were wounded and 7 of those wounded remain in serious and life-threatening conditions.

One of the terrorists, wearing a fake suicide vest, was killed on the spot.

With this attack ISIS struck at two of their highest value targets. Western Europe and Jews.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that there are people - individuals and groups - who target Jews in order to murder them. These are not accidental attacks. These are not spontaneous strikes. They are planned, murderous operations to kill as many Jews and Europeans as possible.

What is so eerie is that this particular terror attack was perpetrated in November of 2020. Kristallnacht took place in November, 1938. Vienna is the city in which Hitler matured and galvanized his ideology of hatred and murder.

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Bio-Convergence From Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 3, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is investing $100 million in “Bio-Convergence”.

That’s a big investment. And I bet that most people have no idea what it is.
Bio-Convergence is the overlap of biology, physics, computer science, mathematics, engineering, materials science and nanotechnology.

BC is a new form of Bio Tech. It is the marriage of all forms of science, engineering and math with medicine.

It uses all that knowledge and all those creative energies to find solutions to difficult issues that until now were not even close to being solved.

Utilizing collective wisdom from multiple disciplines is “Bio-Convergence”. It is the wave of the future for inventions and it is the future for investments.

Israel is on the cutting edge of this new phenomenon. And Israel is on both sides, on both teams - the development side and the investment side.

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Russia Escorting Iranian Oil Tanker
By Micah Halpern

Monday November 2, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Samah is a 900 ft long Iranian oil tanker. The tanker entered the Mediterranean Sea by crossing through the Suez Canal. It was heavy, laden with oil coming from Iran.

After passing through the Suez Canal and starting to make its way into the Mediterranean Sea, the Samah turned off its transponder. For all intents and purposes, the location of the tanker became a mystery.

Satellite photos, however, show that the Samah was met and then escorted by two Russian navy ships. One of the ships was a destroyer. The ships made their way to Syria. Iran has a history of delivering oil to Syria – despite the international embargo on Syria and on Iranian oil exports.

In this case, Russia is not turning a blind eye. The Russians are aiding Iran’s delivery of badly needed fuel to Syria.

Russia has an entire naval base as well as two full air-force bases in Tatus, Syria.

They also have a squadron of submarines there.

Russia is putting the world on alert, announcing that they will protect Iranian oil tankers. Protect them from whom? From countries thinking of enforcing the embargo.

This is a move of intimidation.

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Saudi Media Change of Tone
By Micah Halpern

Sunday November 1, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

In countries like Saudi Arabia official media offers a clue to understanding how the leadership us thinking and the direction in which the kingdom is moving.

Recently, official Saudi media has changed its tone about Israel and the normalization agreements.

Here is a quote from Saudi official Faisal Abbas that ran in the largest Saudi English language paper. Scolding Palestinian leadership he asks: “When will they learn that every time they turn away from the negotiating table, the pie only gets smaller?”

Faisal continues saying that the fault was “not all on one side” and that Israel also makes it difficult to reach a deal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That was one example of a changing Saudi attitude, here’s another.

For Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, the Saudi Arab News Twitter site changed its logo to “Shannah Tovah”.

And another: official State media ran a three day special, an hour each day, interviewing Prince Bandar in which he criticized Palestinians and all those who have been critical of the Kingdom’s advances with Israel and other Gulf State’s normalization agreements.

All this would have been unheard of just months ago.

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France Fights Islamic Terror
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 30, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

France is becoming an extremely dangerous place to live.

There was a second beheading this week and three other people were murdered by Muslims shouting “Alahu Akhbar”.

The beheading and two of the murders took place in Nice in the Church of Notre Dame.

An Israeli professional soccer team, Hapoel BerSheva, was staying in a hotel next door to the attack. After the attack, they requested additional security.

In Jedda, Saudi Arabia the French embassy was attacked. A French guard stationed at the embassy was stabbed and hospitalized. That attacker also shouted “Alahu Akhbar”.

France is trying to crack down on Islamic extremists.

They are also defending the freedom to discuss and critique cartoons that depict Muhammed. Cartoons are the excuse for these murderers, just like it was the excuse for the mass murders that took place in the office of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015.

Turkey has condemned France. The Palestinians are declaring a national Day of Rage against France’s anti-Islamic crackdown.

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US Passports Will Say Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 29, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

It is going to be officially announced soon - maybe you’ve already heard.

The United States, under President Donald J. Trump, will now permit US citizens born in Jerusalem to list the country Israel as their place of birth.

Until now, if a baby, the child of a United States citizen, was born in Jerusalem, their passport would list Jerusalem under “city of birth. And under “country of birth” it would be BLANK.

There would be no country of birth because, according to US policy, Jerusalem was still in question and in doubt.

That ended in December of 2017 when the United States recognized that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

This is a slam dunk issue. In 2015 the US Supreme Court ruled that Congress does not have the power to determine foreign policy and recognize capitals. In practical terms, it means that the President of the United States can decide to put Israel on US passports because Jerusalem is indeed located in Israel.

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Iran's Spy Ship Saviz
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 28, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Saviz is officially a merchant ship registered to Iran.

It has been suggested by intelligence analysts that the Saviz is really an intelligence ship monitoring and transmitting everything they see.

The ship is anchored at the southern end of the Red Sea, off the coast of Yemen and the Straits of Bab el Mandeb.

The location is a choke hold for oil and goods as they make their way going both to Europe through the Suez Canal at the northern end of the Rad Sea and going off to Africa and Asia coming South.

There are two undeniable proofs that the Saviz is an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Intel ship. First, we see them on the ship in their uniforms. Second, the ship has barely moved in 3 years. It just sits and observes.

Monitoring every single ship that enters and exits the Red Sea provides Iran with a treasure trove of intelligence.

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New Elections in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 27, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Yair Lapid, the head of the opposition in Israel’s Knesset and the leader of the Yesh Atid party, has said that if a budget is not passed by next week he will propose a vote of No Confidence in the Knesset.

Lapid is convinced that the vote will pass and the Netanyahu government will fall.
His former party affiliates in Blue and White have promised to vote for the No Confidence vote.

If successful - and there is a very high probability that the vote of No Confidence will, indeed, succeed Israel will go to new elections once again.

What it really means is that Israel has lost confidence in Netanyahu. Israelis have also lost confidence in Blue and White.

If there is another election, I predict a very different mosaic in terms of the parties that will be forming a government.

The moderates have disbanded. There will be a rise of the right. That means Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked will emerge as king makers, not Avigdor Lieberman who held that role in the past few elections. It will mean the near dissolution of Blue and White as well as Lieberman’s party.

Let’s see what happens next week.

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ISIS in Sinai
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 26, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

A branch of ISIS has been terrorizing the residents of the Sinai Peninsula.

In July they attacked a series of villages in Northern Sinai, planting explosives in the homes of residents.

The Egyptian army cleared out the villages. ISIS evacuated – that means they left without conflict. But the Egyptian army neglected to sweep for boobytraps.

Over the past few weeks, 14 people have been killed by explosives planted in their homes by ISIS.

This entire experience proves several axioms.

ISIS is bent on murdering as many innocent people as they can. They planted explosives for that very reason.

The Egyptian army was totally outsmarted by ISIS. They should have had their sappers sweep every home and every site for explosives.

People have been murdered. The murderers, ISIS, are smiling. This must not happen again.

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Sports The Great Peace Equalizer
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 25, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The real measure of success of a peace deal is … sports.

And now that Israel and the UAE have signed normalization agreements, sports competitions have begun.

On Sunday, Maccabi Haifa Football Club announced a cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates' Al-Ain Football Club. They will play a friendly match in Abu Dhabi very soon. The exact date has not yet been set.

Maccabi owner Yaakov Schachar summed it up this way: "I am happy to inform you that our club has been invited to hold a friendly soccer match called the 'Game of Peace', in Abu Dhabi …. I have always believed it was possible to develop friendly relations through sports. We will sign a memorandum of understanding between the two clubs. In a matter of days to create a relationship that will include collaborations on both the sporting and business side."

Al-Ain is the UAE’s national winning team. They have won the local championship 13 times and the Super Cup five times. In 2018, they lost to Real Madrid in the final of the Club World Cup. Real Madrid is the European champions, so even losing to them is an honor.

This will be a great football match. More than that, it is a big step forward towards forging real peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

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Israel to Test 100,000/day
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 23, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has announced a new policy vis a vis COVID testing. By next month, they will be testing 100,000 people every day for COVID.

The change in policy includes people being able to take tests without a doctor’s prescription which has been standard policy until now.

There are 9.2 million citizens of Israel. If Israel is able to test 100,000 every day, that means every 92 days, every Israeli will be tested.

The new testing will make Israel more capable of catching the virus early and of isolating those who are contagious.

The most critical part of stymying the virus is identifying those who have it and keeping those who are infected from spreading it to others.

Israel might have found the answer.

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Secret Diplomacy
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 22, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, the United States, Israel and Bahrain officially signed their agreement. Seconds after the document was signed, an Israeli official handed the Bahraini foreign minister a note.

It was an official request to open an Israeli embassy.

It was to be a simple procedure. All the infrastructure was in place. There has been a secret Israeli embassy in Bahrain since 2009.

The secret embassy had been set up as a development consultancy working to help non-oil companies advance business deals in Bahrain. The company was called “The Center for International Development”.

On the board were Israeli diplomats who now serve as Israel’s Counsel General in Mumbai, Israel’s Foreign Ministry Cyber Coordinator and the Deputy Director of Economic Affairs. They all had false backgrounds and LinkedIn pages.

Bahrain and Israel have been secretly engaged in economic development as well as anti-terror coordination and anti-Iranian strategy for over a decade. That’s essential to understand.

Ever since Qatar closed itself to Israel and to the rest of the Sunni world and joined forces with Iran – Bahrain knew they needed this Israeli advantage.

Kudos to Bahrain.

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Israel: Next Lockdown Hanukah
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 21, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

It has been a difficult month for Israelis. The month of the High Holidays and Sukkot are normally a time for family and fun even some relaxation.

This year it was spent in lockdown.

Now, slowly, Israel is opening up. Kindergartens and nursery schools. Essential businesses. Public transport is operating and people are permitted to visit family. Within a week or two, life should be back in full swing.

The contagion rate is 3% and the situation is looking very good. But if the contagion rate increases, Israel will snap back the restrictions.

Now the big challenge is Hanukah. What happens during Hanukah? Hanukah, like the High Holidays and Sukkot is a two week celebratory period (even though Hanukah itself is only 8 days) when Israelis travel, have family events and party.

As you read this, Israel’s decision makers are discussing how to lock Israel down during Hanukah to prevent a COVID spike.

If they asked, I would say the best way is to keep those people who are high risk away from everyone else. It sounds awful. It sounds heartless. But the best way to save those who are most likely to suffer is to make certain that the older people you love do not come into contact with potential carriers.

As a policy it sounds discriminatory. It is.

But de facto, this how people behave to protect themselves. People knew that when they were not feeling well, they did not go out. So, too, now.

Unfortunately, this season, flu shots are not readily available for the entire population in Israel. What would be a second line of health defense is not there.

An educational campaign should be launched to protect the vulnerable and remind young and old alike how to convey their love at a safe distance.

Go out only when necessary and properly protected. Wash hands and keep safe distance. It should be rote for all of us by now.

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Sacha Baron Cohen Humor/Critique
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 20, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

I just watched the tape of Sacha Baron Cohen, or Borat as he is best known to the world, on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

I thought it was truly hilarious. His Borat 2 is coming out on Oct 23rd on Amazon. The theme of this movie is about ridiculous and crazy anti-Semitism.

Sacha Baron Cohen remains in his Borat character for the entire interview and flips into Hebrew phrases, just like he did in his original movie in 2006.

Kimmel asks Borat/Cohen about COVID. He replies, "comes from a place called Wuhan, which is in Israel".

We hear laughter, it’s a funny response. But more than laughs, Cohen was making a point. As Borat, he was making fun of people who actually believe that Israel is responsible for the virus. The interview continues with a health questionnaire in which Borat asks Kimmel how many Jews he had been around. Kimmel’s response was “all our writers are Jewish and none of our cameramen.”

Some might find this distasteful and, paradoxically, even anti-Semitic. NO! It is Cohen’s vehicle of critique. Sacha Baron Cohen is flabbergasted that people, normal people, hold these beliefs and the medium he uses to teach and critique is humor and film. It is no different than what Charlie Chaplin did in “The Great Dictator”.

Sacha Baron Cohen has written op-eds and spoken to groups. But there is no comparing the reach and the power of those messages with the reach and the power of a blockbuster movie.

In Borat 2, Cohen also addresses Holocaust denial. He interviewed real Holocaust survivors. Some were offended afterwards - I can understand their offense. How can the Holocaust be funny? It isn’t funny, but there is an entire genre of humor that Jewish victims shared with one another in the midst of the atrocities. For them, it was a survival tool.

Humor is a vehicle of critique and communication. Sometimes it’s good humor, sometimes it’s tasteless. It always has a message.

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UAE Musician Plays Hatikvah
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 19, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Ahmed al-Mansouri, a musician from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), played Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, on his oud – an eleven-stringed guitar-like musical instrument popular in the Arab world. He taped his rendition of the anthem and then posted it on YouTube. Al-Mansouri was paying tribute to the normalization agreement between the Jewish state and the UAE.

Ynet, easily tracked him down. They spoke on air about the Israel/UAE agreement, the responses he received to his tribute and the significance of music in shaping a world built on unity and peace.

In the interview Al Mansouri said that he would love to play together with an Israeli musician, on air, hosted by the interviewer. The Israeli newscaster said that he would arrange it and taught the UAE musician the Yiddish-Hebrew word “Schiduch” which means a match.

Al Mansouri told Ynet that: “Once I heard about the agreement between the UAE and Israel I decided to play the national anthem of Israel on the oud, to send a message of peace between the two countries … It is a dream for me, and I hope one day to visit Israel and play in public there”.

Speaking about Israeli music, al Mansouri said that he learned it from Youtube. He said he likes it and added: “In my opinion, Israeli music is very beautiful, it is similar to Arabic music in a different taste."

This is just one example of how people, regular people, not famous people, are expressing their excitement about the new horizons opening up between Israel and the Arab world. On YouTube, again, I saw another example. People, driving in a car on a busy highway in the UAE are happily singing the Israeli national anthem.

All the while imprinted on the screen are the words United Arab Emirates.

Israeli and UAE artists have already jointly recorded and posted songs. One of those songs received 1.1 million clicks in just a few weeks. The song is now trending and has gone viral.

Going back to the Ynet interview, the newscaster commented that this agreement seems so natural. He’s right - it does not seem forced at all. Actually, from Oct 17th to the 20th a team of Americans, headed by US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, spent time in Israel and the UAE in order to further assist in commercial projects that will benefit all the parties.

This is a prime example of the famous quote: a rising tide lifts all boats. This expression is often attributed to John F Kennedy in a speech he gave in 1963. But his speech writer, Ted Sorenson, said that while he did write it into JFK’s speech, it is not original to either one of them. Sorenson borrowed the phrase from a report by the Economical Council of New England.

Partnerships, that’s what it’s all about.

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Saturday Night in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 18, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Saturday nights, in Jerusalem, protests take place outside the official resident of the prime minister.

About 10,000 people attend.

Most people don’t wear masks and there is no social distancing. Most of the people are young, but there are some more mature people in attendance.

Protest organizers claim that these Jerusalem protests are deliberately kept small and controlled. They assert that every Saturday night, throughout the country, there are other small protests that take place. They say that the number of Saturday night protestors totals 260,000.

The protests began months ago and now there seems to be a groundswell.

Polls show that Netanyahu is slipping. He is facing challenges from his rightwing flank. His political future is anything but secure.

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US Threatens Turkey
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 17, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The US warned Turkey that there will be “potential serious consequences” if they activate the S-400 Russian anti-aircraft anti-missile systems that they purchased and received.

The “consequences” will be a breakdown of relations between the United States and Turkey. It will also mean a breakdown of relations between NATO and Turkey.

Using Russian weapons is a clear violation of NATO membership. The US could recommend that NATO oust Turkey.

US State department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said that: "If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile launch as incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO ally and strategic partner of the United States."

Turkey is pushing the envelope.

The Erdogan government is flirting with Russia and Iran and they are testing the US and NATO to see how will respond and how serious the response will be. Turkey is betting that NATO will not care and that they will get the best of both NATO and Russia.

I think that Turkey is underestimating both NATO and the United States.

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Cyber Attack Hits Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 15, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has confirmed that on Tuesday and Wednesday they were targeted by a computer hack.

They said that two targets were attacked and that in order to make certain that everything is safe, they took other offices of the grid.

Since Stuxnet, Iran has made their systems independent. They have nothing on the internet. Everything internal.

This attack was very effective. They did not hide it from the public, Iranian media covered the hack.

If I were managing a cyber attack I would use the small attacks on the two agencies as a ploy. I would watch as Iran shut down and rebooted several of what would be my more significant targets. Watching, and maybe even injecting spyware.

Whatever attacked Iran, it is highly sophisticated. No doubt it will strike again.

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Liz Taylor & Cleopatra
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 14, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli actress model Gal Gadot, who became a household name after starring as Wonder Woman, will now star as Cleopatra in a new remake of the 1963 blockbuster movie originally starring Liz Taylor.

The response to the announcement about Gadot’s new role has met with criticism by the Muslim world which is claiming that “Israel has stolen our land, now they are stealing our heroes!”

When the 1963 movie came out, Egypt banned the screening and put Liz Taylor on a no - fly list. It was the most expensive movie to be made at that time and Elizabeth Taylor earned $1 million in her lead role.

Elizabeth Taylor converted to Judaism in 1957 to marry the famous and popular singer Eddie Fisher. She became a major supporter of Israel buying a $100,000 Israel bond and raising over a million dollars for Israel.

Historically, Cleopatra was not actually Egyptian. She was Ptolemaic. Her father was from Macedon. Her mother was unknown.

In the end, Egyptians were so impressed by the response to the film that they did a major turnaround. The movie mentioned Egypt 122 times and it earned 4 Oscars.
Despite Liz Taylor’s love of Israel and even her visit to Israel, Egypt lifted its ban on the movie Cleopatra.

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Herd Immunity
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 13, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

We are hearing a lot about “herd immunity”. It requires some explanation.
Never in history has herd immunity been a strategy for confronting a disease, an epidemic or a pandemic. Herd immunity is a result of a vaccination policy.

Let’s take measles, for example. Because 95% of the population is vaccinated, the other 5% are mostly protected. That 5% is composed of infants and others who cannot be given the vaccine.

Even in cases where the minimum percentage of herd immunity is less, like polio - where it is 80%, the principle is predicated on the vaccine.

The suggestion that people be exposed to COVID – 19 so that they develop herd immunity is just absurd. Or to suggest that they are already immune because others around them have been ill, is just absurd.

In the United States 8 million people, out of 328 million people, have been exposed. That is a 0.3% of the total population. About 10% of the world has been exposed.

The only way to get to herd immunity is with a vaccination and even then, the vaccine needs to be a blanket covering well over 80% of the population.
Self-delusion and made-up excuses are not an excuse for caution and proper conduct.

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Statue of A/S Lueger
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 9, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

A statue of the man who served as mayor of Vienna from 1897 to 1910 was defaced when the word SCHANDE was scrawled on the monument. SCHANDE means “shame on you” in German. Ironically, it also means “shame on you” in Yiddish.

Mayor Karl Lueger was a racist. He was the role model for Hitler. During his tenure as mayor, Vienna was one of the largest cities in the world with a population of over 2 million people.

Nowadays, debates about the appropriateness of statues is commonplace. In the United States statues erected to honor people now considered racist are regularly toppled and destroyed.

Lueger was a racist. He was a self-declared racist. Writers and philosophers use Lueger as the model of a racist. A racist cult of character has grown with Lueger at its center.

But in 1926, Vienna erected the statue to honor Karl Lueger. It represented Vienna as it was then and there is still an undertone of anti-Semitism in Vienna to this day.

The statue of Karl Lueger has not been taken down for a reason. In Vienna there are still many who have very positive feelings about the racism of Karl Lueger.

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Israeli Sings w Iranians
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 8, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Liraz Charhi has just finished her second album. She is an Israeli actress and singer, of Persian decent.

For this album, Liraz had Iranian women from Iran singing with her. She used encrypted chats and encrypted social media. She sent money to her back-up singers through third countries. And she was petrified that they would be discovered.

“Technically, it was very difficult” Charhi, 42, said in an interview. “But emotionally, it was much more difficult. I felt night after night that I was doing a bad thing and these people could be arrested.”

In the end Liraz Charhi fulfilled her dream.

She is a strong believer that the real problem in Iran is Iranian leadership, not Iranians.

What a remarkable story.

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Egypt Broadcasts Israeli FM Speech
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 7, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

In Berlin on Tuesday October 6 Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi met with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, along with their German host Heiko Mass.

In what has become commonplace in the new world we live in, the group visited Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial. Gabi Ashkenazi is the son of Holocaust survivors.

What was extra ordinary is that, on the Gregorian calendar, the visit took place on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.

The Israeli FM’s speech was broadcast live on Egyptian TV.

Peace between Israel and Egypt has been swung between cold to cool. Over recent years, once Egypt’s President Al Sisi took office, the relationship between leaders has warmed up. Al Sisi has welcomed the normalization of the Gulf states with Israel as a very good step forward.

However, the media and the masses have been consistently cold and angry at anything related to Israel. This broadcast of Israel’s foreign minister on an Egyptian network called Extra might be a dramatic change.

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Frm Saudi Spy Head Critique of PA
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 6, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, is a living and breathing institution. He has been in his role for decades. In both of his positions his fingers were on the pulse of everything, small and large, that was happening in the world.

A 3-part interview was conducted with him on Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.
The first episode aired on Monday.

The most significant element in the Prince’s interview was his critique of Palestinian leadership over the past decades. He called the PA’s criticism of the agreements that both the UAE and Bahrain made with Israel a "transgression" and "reprehensible discourse".

Saudi Arabia is not about to be the next country to normalize with Israel, but they are getting closer and closer.

Prince Bandar, as he is always called in the United States, said that the Palestinians and their backers always are on the wrong side. And yet, he reminded them, Saudi kings have supported the Palestinian Authority for decades - despite the PA’s errors.

As an interesting aside, Prince Bandar’s daughter, Reema, is the current Saudi Ambassador to the United States.

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Erdogan Claims Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 5, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

President Erdogan of Turkey addressed the opening session of his parliament and announced that Jerusalem was their city. That they, the Ottomans, controlled Jerusalem for centuries.

Erdogan said: “In this city, which we had to leave in tears during the First World War, it is still possible to come across traces of the Ottoman resistance. So, Jerusalem is our city, a city from us.”

While it is true that the Ottomans controlled Jerusalem from 1516 until 1917 and the end of WWI when they were ousted by the British, it is hardly their city.

Much of Erdogan’s opening remarks were dedicated to the Palestinians. It was
strangely eerie to read his words. His presentation sounded like a speech from 1980 - not 2020. This is a new era and there are only two vocal rejecters of this new era. They are Iran and Turkey.

Saudi Arabia has also stepped up and come out distancing themselves from Erdogan and his politics. Saudi business leaders have called for a total boycott of Turkey. There are tensions in the region and Turkey seems determined to stoke them.

Erdogan feels that Turkey will be stronger because they are rejecting Israel and the US. There will be short term benefits, but in the end, his is a losing strategy.

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Biden Says In-Sh'Allah
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 1, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

“In-sh’Allah” in Arabic means “God willing” or if “God wills it.”

It is the same as “Im Yirtzeh Hashem” in Hebrew or “Siyata D’ishmaya” in Aramaic.

All nice expressions – but certainly not a part of the American vernacular.

So imagine my surprise when I heard the expression “In-sh’Allah” coming out of the mouth of former Vice President Joe Biden during the presidential debate against President Donald Trump.

It happened under the talk-overs, you had to be paying careful attention to catch it. Biden asked Trump about making his complete taxes accessible to the public and while Trump was talking, Biden muttered “In-sh’Allah”.

In colloquial Arabic the expression can also mean a sarcastic “yeah, like that will ever happen.” Something akin to “when hell freezes over”.

It was certainly a prepared and rehearsed line and it was directed at Arabic and Muslim voters who see Trump as far too pro-Israel.

The internet lit up - especially twitter. People are still tweeting about that split second comment.

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NYC Fining Non Mask Wearers
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 29, 2020

I've Been Thinking:


NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that the city will start fining people who are not wearing masks.

The mayor is particularly targeting Hareidi communities, but other communities and neighborhoods are also being inspected.

Until now many Hareidi neighborhoods have been totally non-compliant - to the point that they believed that COVID was over and that they had herd immunity.

But things are changing. People have begun to wear masks.

The fines can be up to $1000.

Over the past few weeks NYC is testing at 3% positive of all tests. That is a huge increase after months during which the positive rate was way below 1%.

Hopefully, the fines and the threat of fines and the presence of inspectors will jolt more and more people back into wearing masks.

It’s all about compliance – that’s how we save lives.

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What Does Sudan Want?
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 29, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Observers of the Middle East have speculated that Sudan will be the next country to normalize with Israel.

It is a good bet. Behind the scenes, however, there are some stumbling blocks.

According to the US, Sudan is still a state sponsor of terrorism. But the United States is dangling the carrot in front of Sudan by promising to remove Sudan from their terrorist list if the country moves forward with plans for normalization with Israel.

Sudan was put on the list because of its previous dictator, Omar al Bashir, who was in power for 30 years, from 1989 - 2019. Al Bashir gained power as a general in a coup. The list of his human rights atrocities inside Sudan and acts of terror outside his borders are too many to list here.

It would make sense for the United States to drop Sudan from their list. Except that, on Saturday, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said that he does not want that link.

That probably means that he wants something bigger and better.
Dropping them from the list would allow foreign aid to a country in need. What could be better? We will probably find out soon.

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UAE Signs an Israeli Soccer Player
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 25, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Middle East is changing so quickly and in so many ways.
Dubai has signed Dia Saba, an Israeli soccer player, to a three year contact at $3 million. He will play for the UAE club Al Nasr SC.

Dia Saba currently plays for the Chinese club Guangzhou R&F. He has played for them for three and a half years. He still plays for the Israeli national team in international competition.

Before signing with China, Dia Saba played for the Israeli team Hapoel Beersheba.
The significance of this soccer deal is that sports is the ultimate equalizer.

In the Middle East soccer is almost more popular than God. This move shows just how easy it is to normalize relations.

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Another Arab Country to Normalize w Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 24, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told al Arabiyah, the largest international Arab cable television network, that she expects that at least one additional Arab country will join the UAE and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel.

There is little doubt that it will be either Oman or Sudan.

Unlike many other Arab networks, al Arabiyah has no agenda and can be trusted. I was a commentator for them for several years.

On Wednesday, the leaders of Sudan finished a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Abu Dhabi. It was reported – not by al Arabiyah, that no agreement was concluded. That report may or may not prove to be true.
Oman is also waiting to announce their agreement.

The Palestinians are up in arms, unable and unwilling to recognize this dramatic shift in the Arab world.

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PA Resigns Chair of Arab League
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 23, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians were scheduled to chair the Arab League meetings for the next 6 months.

They resigned the chairmanship.

The Palestinians failed to convince the Arab League to condemn the UAE and Bahrain for committing to peace treaties with Israel.

They said that the treaties were an abandonment of the long-held agreement among Arab countries not to recognize Israel.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah that they were resigning the chairmanship. He said: “Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council (of foreign ministers) at its current session. There is no honor in seeing Arabs rush towards normalization during its presidency.”

Maliki then read from a letter he sent to Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit informing him of the Palestinian move and criticizing the UAE and Bahrain, both Gulf Arab nations.

He said that peace deals with Israel "created a deep crisis in the Arab League."

This is a typical Palestinian response. They are hurting themselves in the hope that by hurting themselves, people will take notice.

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Another Huge Explosion in Leb
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 22, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Another huge explosion in Lebanon.

This time, seven weeks after the first Beirut blast, the explosion was in an arms storage depot in the village of Ain Qana, just north of the port city of Sidon.

Two unauthorized sources say that the explosion, which was heard by other villages miles away, was triggered by a mishap.

Video shows a huge plume of black smoke.

The unauthorized sources also report that this very large weapons depot was located in the residential area of the village. The weapons belonged to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is a Shiite terror group that is sponsored by Iran. Hezbollah fights in Syria on Iran’s behalf and has wrested near total control of southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah’s religious leadership and membership is motivated by an oath all members gladly make to destroy Israel.

So yes, it could have been a mishap. It could have been sabotage. It could have been a mission carried out by the Israeli Mossad.

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Honduras To Open Emb in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 21, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Honduras announced that they will be opening an embassy in Jerusalem by the end of the year.

The announcement came on the twitter account of the Honduran president.
President Hernandez wrote: "To strengthen our strategic alliance, we spoke to arrange the opening of the embassies in Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem, respectively." He continued: "We hope to take this historic step before the end of the year, as long as the pandemic allows it."

This announcement follows last week’s announcements by both Serbia and Kosovo about their hope to open their embassies in Jerusalem.

A good number of other countries have announced their intention to move their embassies to Jerusalem. They include, Brazil, Hungary, Moldova and Romania.

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Rosh Hashanah
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 18, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

It’s Rosh Hashanah.
Another year has passed and a new one is upon us.
This, however, was no normal year – we all know that.
Traditions ground us and gives us stability. But this year, almost all traditions were thrown away, altered and re-shaped to meet the demands of our new reality.
Loss and crises flood my memory as I prepare for a new year.
And I wonder – can the community, any community, our community, sustain itself through another year like the one that is ending. And indeed, next year will be a year filled with the crisis called COVID-19. It will be different. Not the same crisis. But it would be naïve to think that this is all gone.
COVID is rolling back into certain areas with a vengeance. Those who thought the pandemic was waning thought wrong and arrogantly.
I know that our community must adapt to the change and to the risks involved. Real changes. Changes that include technology and changes that focus on services. Changes that will be hands-on, changes that will be small group oriented and changes that will be online.
Communities need to truly assess what they need. And then they need to go about raising the funds and implementing the programs that will achieve their goals.
Figuring that out is one of the most important items on my thought list as we enter the new year. May it be a Shannah Tovah, a good and healthy and productive year, for us all.

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Palestinian Israelis Love the Peace Accords
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 17, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The sides have been drawn. Those in favor and those against the Abraham Accords.

The Palestinians have made their discontent known to all who will listen.
But what about Palestinian Arabs that live in the State of Israel? They have been totally silent. And there is a good reason for that silence.

Palestinians citizens of Israel understand the tremendous benefits brought about by the agreement between the UAE and Israel.

Personal benefits.
Business opportunities.

Several Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have already opened Palestinian restaurants in the UAE. Others see tourism opportunities. Still others see educational and college opportunities.

And some Palestinian Israelis are hoping to culturally translate Israel to UAE and Bahraini leaders in business and politics. They know Hebrew and understand the Israeli mindset and they know Arabic and understand the Arabic world.

They see an opportunity that is expanding way beyond the tiny borders of Israel – which has already tremendously expanded past the borders enclosing Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel.

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The Abraham Accords
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 16, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Tuesday was a historic day at the White House. The Abraham Accords were signed between the UAE, Israel and the US.

As we know. is following suit and it looks like Oman will be next on the list. And that may well happen in the next week.

Oman will not be long before joining the illustrious group.

Lolwah Alkhate, Qatar's Assistant Foreign Minister, said his nation is not planning to join Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel.

Over the past three years Qatar has moved out of the Sunni sphere of influence.

They were at odds with the UAE and other Sunni states like Saudi Arabia when they joined Iran’s side. Qatar rejected the position of the Gulf States on Iran.

They want Arab countries to support Iran and relieve pressure being put on them by the United States.

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Israel Must Be a Bi Partisan Issue
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 15, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu flew in and out of Washington, DC to participate in the Abraham Accords singing ceremony.

Netanyahu spent time in the White House with President Trump. It is no secret that the two men are friends.

We have been told that while in the United States, Netanyahu did not reach out to Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate.

If that is indeed true, Netanyahu needs to correct that oversight.

He can call from the plane. He can call from Jerusalem immediately upon his return home.

No matter who wins the US presidential election, Israel must have access and the Prime Minister of Israel and he must be on very friendly terms.

If their relationship is not strong and secure, the potential damage is incalculable.

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More In Line For Peace Train
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 14, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

First UAE then Kosovo now Bahrain.

And now Oman. Oman state media issued a statement saying that Oman welcomed Bahrain's decision to normalize relations with Israel and hopes it will contribute to Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In one weekend, from a Friday to a Sunday, two Arab countries followed UAE. And earlier in the week Kosovo, a Muslim country, did the same. That makes it three countries in one week.

The Bahraini government statement read:
"Bahrain hopes this new strategic path taken by some Arab countries will contribute to bringing about a peace based on an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and on establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital."

A few days after the UAE / Israel accord was announced on Aug. 13, Israel’s intelligence minister explained that Oman could also formalize ties with the country. Oman has welcomed the UAE and Bahraini decisions but has not commented on its own prospects for normalized relations.

Such statements are normally seen as the final steps in the process. In this case they are the first public statements, but they are also the last country to come out after long and secret talks with Israel.

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Iran in War Games
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 13, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

I just finished watching videos of Iranian war games. I saw military drills and exercises that took place over three days in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.

The drills covered about 800 square miles. Included in the exercise were the
Iranian air force, navy and army. There were jet fighters, drones, helicopters, submarines and of course, ground forces. Iranian Special Forces swam and invaded land targets. Surface-to-surface missiles were shot and surface-to-air and air-to-surface missiles were all tested in what Iranian military considered real battle conditions.

It was impressive.
It was meant to impress.

The US 5th Fleet was right there watching. The US took no action. The US made no comment.

Tensions are always high in the area. But now, with Gulf countries waiting in line to recognize Israel, Iran is feeling their dream of a united Muslim world confronting the West crumbling down.

There is little chance that Iran’s dream will re-emerge – not even as a talking point among most of the Muslim world.

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Sri Lankan Gift Taken in Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 10, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Sri Lanka donated about three and a half thousand pounds of tea to the victims of the explosion that devastated Beirut.

Many domestic workers in Lebanon are Sri Lankan ex-patriots. Sri Lanka feels close to Lebanon and they feel their pain.

Sri Lanka produces some of the best tea in the world and they believe that tea has healing properties. Their donation was thought through and it was significant.

But instead of going to victims, the president of Lebanon gave the tea to his family and to the presidential guard and their families.

On August 24th the office of President Aoun of Lebanon released a picture showing him with the Sri Lankan ambassador, and quoted her as saying that Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, had "donated 1,675 kilos (3,685 pounds) of Ceylon tea to those affected by the Beirut blast".

Not everyone was pleased. "The tea was sent to the Lebanese, particularly those affected by the explosion. Of course it wasn't a present for those who don't need it," tweeted Paula Yacoubian, a former Lebanese member of parliament who resigned after the blast. She, like many other Lebanese, blame the explosion on the neglect of Lebanese leadership.

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Chad May Open Emb in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 9, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Chad is a country in central northern Africa. It is a majority Muslim country.
And now, Chad is considering opening an embassy in Jerusalem.

This week a high-level delegation from Chad visited Jerusalem. They met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday. During the meeting, Netanyahu said: “I do not only want to mark the relations between our countries, but to promote them even more.”

This will not be the first time Chad had an embassy in Israel.

After the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Chad closed their embassy and cut off ties with Israel. They were one of 30 African countries that cut ties with Israel in ‘73.

And then, in 2018 the president of Chad visited Israel and Netanyahu visited Chad in 2019.

Chad realizes how useful good diplomatic, economic and tech relations with Israel can be. They will almost certainly open their embassy in Jerusalem sometime soon.

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Suha Arafat In Favor of UAE Deal
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 8, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

Suha Arafat, the widow of Yasser Arafat, has come out in favor of the Israel / UAE peace deal.

Suha also apologized to the UAE for the disrespect Palestinian have shown the UAE, UAE leaders and UAE symbols.

Suha did not mention any names, but she did say that while she has received threats from many Palestinians because of her pro-peace deal comments, she has not been threatened by Palestinian President Abbas.

On her Instagram account Suha Arafat posted the following: “In the name of all the noble Palestinians, I am apologising for the UAE people and leadership for the profanation [sic] and burning of their flag in Jerusalem and Palestine and for insulting the symbols of the beloved UAE.”

On Egyptian TV where Suha appeared twice, speaking about the threats she received from Palestinian leadership, she had a message for those leaders. She said: do not touch my monthly stipend of $11, 830.

Arafat also appeared on Israeli TV station Kan and explained how important the deal was and that Palestinians have not yet realized that this is a game changer.

Good for Suha Arafat. She is taking a stand and is not afraid of the ramifications.

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2 More to Open Emb in Jerusalem
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 6, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

On Friday, at a ceremony in the White House, Serbia and Kosovo agreed to normalize economic ties between their countries.

And in the middle of that signing ceremony, both Serbia and Kosovo agreed to establish embassies in Jerusalem.

Kosovo will be the first majority Muslim country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made an announcement soon after the DC ceremony saying that: “Kosovo will be the first country with a Muslim majority to open an embassy in Jerusalem ... As I’ve said in recent days - the circle of peace and recognition of Israel is expanding and more countries are expected to join.”

These are powerful moments in history.

But not everyone was pleased. Turkey expressed disappointment. Palestinian leadership said that they would cut ties with countries that open embassies in Jerusalem or establish ties with Israel.

To date, only the United States and Guatemala have opened embassies in Jerusalem.

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Iran's Abuses
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 4, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

This week Amnesty International released a report stating that following the
November 2019 protests in Iran, many of those thought to be involved in the protest had been arrested and tortured and sexually abused.

The immediate reason for the protests was a 200% increase in the price of gasoline. People took to the streets. They also created traffic jams by stopping their cars on busy streets causing huge backups. The protests spread across over 100 cities in Iran.

Iranian security services were sent to crush the protests. Those who were supposed to defend the right of the citizens against abuse, were silent.

The internet, which was the vehicle through which the protestors communicated, was shut down for an entire week. No internet - total black out. No communication – and the protests disappeared.

The Amnesty report was disturbing but not surprising. Iran is a human right abuser on par with China and North Korea.

This report is an important reminder, we need to remember what kind of country Iran is and what Iran stands for.

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