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July 29, 2017

IN ISRAEL, TEMPLE MOUNT DISASTER UNLIKELY TO TOPPLE NETANYAHU

Most Israelis believe Prime Minister Netanyahu screwed up in his handling of the Temple Mount crisis but are willing to forgive him. That is the conclusion of the latest opinion polls that show about 70% feel he handled the affair badly, but if an election were held today, as things stand, Bibi would still form a new coalition government. And that is the bottom line in the sorry story of what has transpired since three Israeli Arabs shot dead two Israeli policemen on Temple Mount on July 15th. So far, the Palestinian rioting has still not ceased although Bibi removed the new metal detectors installed to prevent more sub-machine guns from being smuggled into the religious site for killing more Israelis.

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July 09, 2017

ISRAEL'S LABOR PARTY AT FATEFUL CROSSROADS

By the time you read this article, Israel's Zionist Union (old Labor) will have elected its new party leader. Over fifty thousand Laborites will have determined whether newcomer Avi Gabay or old-timer Amir Peretz will take the helm from Yitzhak Herzog, who lost badly in the recent primary after leading the party into near oblivion.

Full disclosure: early on, Isracast took the position that only Gabay had the slightest chance of defeating Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu if he is the Likud candidate in the next general election slated for no later than Nov. 15th, 2019.

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July 02, 2017

NETANYAHU SABOTAGES ISRAEL'S RELATIONS WITH AMERICAN JEWRY

It is mind-boggling. Never in the history of Israel's sacred ties with American Jewry has there been such a firestorm. And who lit the match - none other than the Prime Minister of the Jewish State, Bibi Netanyahu. Bibi, in a moment of utter folly, has endangered the country's national interest for the sake of keeping his job as prime minister. He sided with the Haredi ultra-orthodox Israelis by suddenly throwing out the window a compromise agreement, after five years of torturous negotiations, that would have granted Reform and Conservative Jews the right for men and women to pray together, as they wish, in a separate section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem (remnant of First & Second Jewish Temples). At present, the ultra-orthodox have a monopoly over prayer arrangements at the Western Wall. (For example, like many secular families in Israel, my two sons had their Bar Mitzvahs at the Western Wall. I was able to stand next to them, whereas my wife and daughter had to stand separately farther away and behind a barrier and a watchful custodian there to prevent them from entering).

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June 25, 2017

TENSION RISING ALONG ISRAEL'S BORDERS WITH SYRIA & LEBANON

Saturday afternoon on the Golan Heights: Hundreds of Israeli visitors are enjoying the annual cherry picking festival. Suddenly, a barrage of ten mortar bombs rains down inside Israeli territory opposite the deserted Syrian town of Kuneitra. Just seven hundred yards away inside Syria, President Assad's army has been battling rebel forces. Israeli spotters identify the source of the mortar fire in a nearby Syrian army position. Israel's policy is to steer clear of the Syrian civil war that has raged for seven years. However, Jerusalem also holds Syrian President Assad responsible for any artillery fire from his territory into Israel, whether it is accidental or deliberate. And so within a very short time, Israeli aircraft rocket the Syrian position, hitting two tanks. The Syrians reported later that two of their soldiers were killed. Meanwhile, Israeli visitors in the immediate region were ordered to leave. It was the most serious Israeli-Syrian clash since February, and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman again clarified that Israel will not tolerate any spillover of shooting into Israeli territory. At the same time, it's Assad's call - if there is more Syrian shooting across the frontier, the IDF will hit back hard.

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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, 2017

PRES. DONALD TRUMP = HOMO DEUS OR YERTLE THE TURTLE?

Does U.S. President Donald Trump perceive himself to be a first and only master of humankind; a Homo Deus, to pinch the title of Prof. Yuval Harari's intriguing book? Never mind that the preponderance of serious scientists in the world agree that there is an urgent need to also 'repeal and replace' the Paris accord on the emission of dangerous gases into the atmosphere - our very future is at stake. But Trump has signaled that America's coal miners come first. However, just as Trump struck out on rejecting Obamacare, he probably will also fail again. Even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who opposed withdrawing from the Paris accord, was quick to play down the impact:

       “I think it's important everyone recognizes the U.S. has a terrific record of reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions. I don't think we are going to change our ongoing efforts to reduce these emissions in the future either. So, hopefully people can keep it in perspective.”

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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 08, 1972

Sabena Flight 707

On May 8, 1972 a Boeing 707 passenger aircraft of the Belgian airline company, Sabena, that was in flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv, was hijacked by four terrorists from the Palestinian terrorist organization, Black September, and landed at the Tel Aviv airport near Lod.


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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 23, 2017

HEZBOLLAH BECOMES LEBANON'S MAIN ARMY CONFRONTING ISRAEL

Almost overnight, Hezbollah has blatantly demonstrated that it is the ruling power in Lebanon, with all that entails, if and when Iran orders it to launch another war against Israel. This was a known fact, but Hezbollah has now seen fit to visibly demonstrate it to the formal Lebanese government in Beirut and also to the Jewish state. This is what has transpired, the importance of which should not be underestimated:

April 20th: A senior Hezbollah officer in uniform, and accompanied by armed Hezbollah fighters, leads a group of reporters along the Lebanese-Israeli border. He is the military power in charge and explains in detail how the IDF is deeply concerned about Hezbollah's growing strength and has hunkered down in defensive positions for fear of Hezbollah. To all intents and purposes, it was Hezbollah that represented the Lebanese government and not the Lebanese Army, which was out of sight and sound.

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April 22, 1979

Samir Kuntar Murders Israeli Family

Samir Kuntar is a Lebanese Terrorist who belonged to the Palestine Liberation Front. He participated in an attack on an Israeli family in 1979, and murdered three Israelis: a 28 year-old man, his 4-year-old daughter, and an Israeli policeman; the man's 2 year-old daughter suffocated as her mother tried to quiet her crying.

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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 16, 2017

DONALD TRUMP VS. KIM JONG UN = NUCLEAR PYROMANIA?

Has China leaned on North Korea to deliberately sabotage its own missile test? If so, it would be a crafty stratagem to diffuse the dangerous confrontation between North Korea and the US. All sides will now be able to step back from what could have escalated into an explosion no country wants at this stage. Overall, it looks a little fishy - if this was not a planned stunt, it should have been.

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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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April 02, 2017

NETANYAHU IMPOSES PARTIAL FREEZE ON SETTLEMENTS

Remember Henry's Kissinger's 'constructive ambiguity'? We are now seeing President Trump's version of it, possibly on the advice of his special emissary Jason Greenblatt, who recently visited the region to meet separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But how can Bibi's decision to establish a new settlement, the first new one in 25 years, aid in a resumption of peace negotiations? (All the other construction of housing units was within the boundaries of existing settlements on the West Bank).

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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 21, 2001

Founding of Kibbutz Hanita

Kibbutz Hanita was founded in 1938 on a land purchased by David Ben-Gurion, then head of the Jewish Agency For Palestine. IsraCast presents the original letter sent by Moshe Shertok of the Jewish Agency to the Lebanese Prime Minister Al-Adhab and his reply letter.

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