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June 18, 2017

Urgent Questions About Terror In Jerusalem & High-Rise Inferno In London

Friday evening 7:30 in Jerusalem: Most Israeli families were just finishing the traditional Sabbath Eve meal. A typical peaceful quiet had descended over the city. Suddenly on Saladin Street, the main thoroughfare in East Jerusalem, gunfire shattered the calm. Near Zedekiah's Cave, two Palestinians armed with knives and a modified Karl Gustav submachine gun attacked Israeli Border police who were patrolling in the area. The terrorists' submachine gun jammed quickly and the police officers shot dead the two attackers. Meanwhile, up the street near the Damascus Gate, a third terrorist surprised another team of Israeli Border Guards and stabbed twenty-three-year-old Sergeant Hadas Malka in the back. Although critically wounded, she tries to fight off her attacker before comrades shoot dead the terrorist.

Hadas was rushed by ambulance to Hadassah Hospital on nearby Mount Scopus. Doctors worked to try and save her life, but to no avail - she was fatally wounded in the neck and throat. Five hours later she was pronounced dead. A second Israeli Border Policeman was lightly wounded by ricochet fragments, as were two Palestinian bystanders who were not linked to the attack. 

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June 11, 2017

BIBI, ABBAS & ARAB STATES PLAY BALL WITH TRUMP

While the rest of the world was looking for the 'smoking gun' in James Comey's testimony against President Donald Trump in Washington, some intriguing developments were going on in the Middle East. After Trump's recent visit, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf States ganged up on Qatar for its support of Iran, the Muslim Brothers, and Hamas. It triggered a diplomatic and commercial earthquake throughout the region. It stands to reason that the Arab states would not have taken such drastic steps without the green light from the US President. Even though America maintains a big air base with 10,000 troops on Qatar, Trump has accused Qatar of backing Islamist terrorism.

The facts: unlike all the other Sunni Arab states, Qatar is on good terms with Shiite Iran. In addition, it supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt against President Al-Sisi while also backing Daesh, Al Qaida and Hamas in Gaza. (The IMF estimates that Qatar is the richest country in the world per capita with an average annual income of $127,000 compared to Israel with $35,000). As for the Jewish state, independent-minded Qatar maintains some informal ties, despite its support for Hamas. But Trump and the Shiite Arab states have concluded that Qatar has gotten too big for its britches, so to speak, and decided to take it down a peg or two. Its capital, Doha, is isolated in the Persian Gulf and will be forced to mend its ways.

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June 04, 2000

What happened to the Jews of Iraq?

 A war-torn nation now split between the Iraqi government, ISIS controlled areas, and the Kurdish region of the north, Iraq is certainly no safe land for anyone, let alone the small ethno-religious minorities that once thrived there for centuries. It's hard to imagine now, but Iraq was once home to a large Jewish population of over 150,000 souls, one of the longest surviving and most historically significant of Jewish communities in the Diaspora. As of 2008, there were less than ten Jews counted still living in Iraq, and the number today may very well have dwindled to none.

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May 28, 2017

TRUMP RAISES MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS IN MIDDLE EAST

The only thing consistent about U.S. President Donald Trump is his frequent lack of consistency. He left Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Right-wing camp jumping for joy: Trump had made no specific reference to the two-state solution! But on the other hand, he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was truly interested in making peace with Israel. Knesset Member Tzipi Livni, a former Likudnik who has switched to Labor, has more negotiating hours with Abbas than any other Israeli politician. Livni feels the question now is whether Trump will follow through on his declaration that both Bibi and Abbas are ready for a deal.

Livni is looking for Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt to start the ball rolling by putting something on the table. Greenblatt is Trump's longtime private lawyer with a reputation for resolving sticky issues. He will now have his work cut out for him. So far, he stage-managed a great Middle East tour for his boss that has left everybody singing the praises of Trump: Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Abbas, and Bibi.

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May 22, 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL HIGHTLIGHT HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE

After his 'tremendous talks' in Riyadh with Arab leaders, the U.S. President is convinced that he can help Netanyahu and Abbas close the deal. Fresh from his diplomatic success in Saudi Arabia, Trump will offer to act as a facilitator and instruct his administration to work overtime to aid Bibi and Abbas in forging peace. In Riyadh, he had heard that Muslim leaders world-wide would make peace with Israel the day after Bibi and Abbas hammered out an agreement. They already have signed on to the Saudi peace initiative for Israel. The first step was to return to the table with both sides making some good-will gestures to get the ball rolling.

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May 14, 2017

ISRAEL SUCCEEDS IN BLOCKING CYBER ATTACKS

So far so good. As of this moment Israel's cyber defenses have prevented any major cyber break-in. After some one hundred countries have reported a major cyber offensive around the globe, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the regular cabinet session today that Israel's cyber wall had stood the test. The country was waiting for Sunday when Israel goes back to work after the Sabbath when everything shuts down. The PM reported only 'very minor' cyber attempts were detected and there had been no penetration of vital strategic networks. He also disclosed that several years ago Israel had established a 'Governmental Authority' to protect Israel's vital institutions. This obviously referred to the IDF and a vast array of other potential military and civilian targets. Netanyahu did not reveal details, but it's a safe bet that Iran poses the greatest cyber threat to Israel.

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May 14, 2000

THE ISRAEL YOU DON'T SEE ON THE NEWS

 Amidst the whirlwind of tensions that monopolizes much of Israel's airtime attention, it does appear to be a wonder sometimes that anyone would choose to live in such a tumultuous and threatened nation, let alone vacation here. Indeed, it is not unusual for outsiders to shake their heads dismally at the newest sensationalized upheaval, wondering, 'when will those hot-heads in the Middle East get their act together?' And this languid desire for peace and quiet is not unfounded; in point of fact, the state of Israel has been in a perpetual state of war with its neighboring countries since it's Declaration of Statehood in 1948, which was marked by Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq launching a joint attack on the infant nation meant to 'drive the Jews into the sea'. The truth is Israel itself would like some peace and quiet more than anyone. And yet, despite the troubling realities of a nation living under the constant shadow of war, Israel has miraculously thrived in almost every way imaginable! 

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April 30, 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP TO PERSONALLY PROD ISRAEL & PALESTINIANS TOWARD PEACE

It's not official yet, but President Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Israel next month. It's a safe bet that he will prod Israel and the Palestinians to show progress on the peace track that has hit a dead end. Make no mistake, Trump can use something to show in the international arena now that he has those famous 'one hundred days' under his belt. In fact, he's showing signs of some 'wear and tear'.

'I loved my previous life - I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.'

Previously, the tycoon Trump did not have to cope with such pesky problems as the U.S. Constitution, political rivals and the 'checks and balances' of American politics. If some of the hired help failed to deliver, he could just shout at him or her 'You're fired!' Now it is far more complicated with many more hurdles to overcome on the path from setting a goal and actually reaching it.

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April 18, 1948

Israel's War of Independence

On May 15, 1948, day after the creation of the State of Israel, the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon invaded the new Jewish state.

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April 09, 2017

AFTER SYRIA, ISRAEL & PALESTINIANS WILL NOT BE FAR BEHIND

The aftershock of the US military strike has shaken the globe far beyond Syria. President Trump showed the world that if necessary, he will 'put his money where his mouth is'. Russia's own Machiavellian Vladimir Putin probably admires Trump for it. But those 59 Tomahawk missiles served not only as a cynical super-power ploy, they were also blow dealt in the name of international morality against the Syrian war criminal Bashar Assad.

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March 27, 2000

We don't need another failure

 Two days after the Israeli elections, Islamic State carried out suicide attacks at two mosques in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, murdering around 150 individuals. The day before, an Islamic State offshoot perpetrated a terror attack in Tunisia that killed 23 people, mostly tourists. During the same two-day period, seven people were murdered in an attack in Kathua, India, and 70 bodies were discovered in Damasak, Nigeria. Who heard? During the course of February, 1,977 people were murdered by Jihadists around the globe – all in acts of terror only. And as I write these words, reports are coming in about massacres being carried out by Iraqi-Iranian forces in the city of Tikrit, Iraq.

 

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March 27, 2017

LONDON & JERUSALEM IN 'CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS'

What motivated a 52-year-old citizen, born and bred in Britain, to attack the sacred 'Mother of Parliaments' while running over, stabbing and shooting scores of his fellow countrymen? It was yet another road mark in the 'Clash of Civilizations' that radical Islam is waging world-wide. Even Canada, with no imperial past to atone for, was targeted in October 2014. The British terrorist, Adrian Elms, was apparently converted to Islam in prison when he served a term for stabbing, and adopted his new name of Khalid Masood. Daesh has confirmed he acted in its name. What may have sent him around the bend may have been the heavy bombing now being inflicted by the US-led coalition on the Daesh force in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The Daesh 'capital city' of Raqqa in Syria is next in line. In response, Daesh Internet has adopted the old Marxist battle-cry with its version, 'Muslims of the world unite - come and join our forces in the Middle East, but if you cannot, kill the infidels wherever you can!'

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March 26, 1979

Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat sign on the peace agreement between the two states.

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March 12, 2017

ISRAEL RESETS RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW & WASHINGTON

The state's two top leaders have returned from similar missions - Prime Minister Netanyahu went to Moscow and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Washington to determine how Israel can better 'coordinate' strategic policies with Russia and the U.S. There are several urgent reasons for doing so as a new strategic landscape is fast emerging in the region in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal and the winding down of the Syrian Civil War; and in fact, there is a link between the two.

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March 02, 1921

Winston Churchill on Palestine

In March 1921, twenty six years before the The United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine,  Mr. Winston Churchill visited Palestine and met a delegation of Muslim leaders. They protested that the ultimate objective of political Zionism was to give the natural resources of Palestine to the Jews. They pointed out that the Arabs had occupied Palestine for over a thousand years. They asked Churchill to use his influence to correct what they considered a great injustice.

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February 26, 2017

'WHAT TRUMP DOES TO MUSLIMS WE'LL DO TO JEWS'

In America, the flare-up in anti-Semitism is somehow related to the ascension of President Donald Trump. But just what is the connection? Trump's daughter Ivanka even converted to Judaism and he has 'three beautiful Jewish grandchildren'. However, there is another way of looking at it. The new President is keeping his word about cracking down on Muslims at large. But in advancing this highly controversial policy, the President has run afoul of the US Constitution, as was pointed out to him by a federal judge. Nonetheless, he may have sent unintentionally a viral message to violent anti-Semites, who may be now saying to themselves:

    'Look at what Trump is doing to the Muslims; he not only talks, he does something about them! We must get off our asses and also do something about the Jews. Hell, they've even infiltrated Trump's family for Christ's sake!'

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February 11, 2017

WILL NETANYAHU AND TRUMP CLASH OR COOPERATE OVER SETTLEMENTS?

What's going on? Twice in the last week US President Donald Trump has opposed wide-scale Israeli settlement building on the West Bank. In Israel, Right-wingers have been shocked to the core - Trump and Bibi were supposed to be great pals. They had anticipated that Trump would give Israel the green light for constructing a brand new settlement and adding 5,500 new housing units to existing settlements. Moreover, there is the new controversial law that would enable Israel to legalize homes built on privately owned Palestinian land. But is this promising package is unraveling? In an exclusive interview with Yisrael Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu newspaper, Trump clarified his position:

  • 'The settlements don't help the process. I can say that. There is only so much land left (on the West bank). And every time you (Israel) take land for settlements, there is less land left (for a Palestinian state). But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options, we'll see. But no I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace'.
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February 05, 2017

TRUMP SIGNALS NETANYAHU - HOLD YOUR HORSES ON SETTLEMENTS!

It was not long in coming – President Trump has signaled Prime Minister Netanyahu to back off on building new settlements or expanding any existing settlements 'beyond their current borders'. In fact, Israel's leader actually triggered the White House response. What did Bibi expect after he announced that Israel would build a brand-new settlement to compensate for the evacuation of the illegal settlement of Amona? For good measure Netanyahu also tacked on 5,500 new housing units to existing settlements on the West Bank! This was the official Trump statement:

  1. "While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal."
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January 21, 2017

ISRAEL AWAITS TWO SAVIORS

Israel's Right wing fervently hopes and believes US President Donald Trump will reverse America's former policy that opposed settlement building in the West Bank. From Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on down, the Right wingers also trust the US will serve as a bulwark to anti-Israel moves at the UN and in other international forums. A first indicator will be if Trump keeps his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the face of bitter Palestinian and Muslim threats. But his credibility is at stake. Could this mean he will, as reported, suffice with some half-measure like moving the Ambassador's official residence to Jerusalem, while the embassy would remain in Tel Aviv?

Trump's Inauguration address focused on his 'America First' theme and bringing back home American jobs. If so, this might trigger a global trade war. Or then again, will Trump's bark prove to be worse than his bite?

On Friday evening, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu rushed off his best wishes to Trump:

       'Congratulations to my friend President Trump. I look forward to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel and America stronger than ever. Shabbat Shalom'.

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January 14, 2017

ISRAELI EARTHQUAKE IF ISRAEL'S ATTORNEY GENERAL PROSECUTES BIBI FOR FRAUD

The fate of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is now in the hands of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. A full blown police investigation of the PM is now underway on two counts:

  1. A tape recording, now in the hands of the police, reportedly proves Bibi and Yediot Ahronot newspaper owner Noni Moses discussed how to rig control over the sale and content of newspapers in Israel. This included the freebie Yisrael Hayom that totally backs Bibi and is financed by Sheldon Adelson, the American casino tycoon. (Get this: Bibi himself taped Moses. The PM now claims he did so to discredit the owner of the newspaper that hauled him over the coals day in and out. The only problem is that their secret powwows took place years ago and Bibi never handed over the recordings to the police after colluding with Moses on what was apparently a serious breech of trust, if not more).
  2. Bibi and his wife Sara (who has a habit of getting into hot water with the law) are suspected of having received some one hundred thousands dollars in super expensive cigars and champagne from Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan. The Netanyahus contend these were legitimate gifts between close buddies and not bribes.
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