Opinion—Syria May Be the Melting Pot of Trouble, But Focus Is Key

Syria is so bad the bad guys are fighting worse guys and now not everyone on the “good side” is happy even when the good guys have success against the bad guys. It’s a hodge-podge of turmoil and terror, impacting virtually the entire region. It’s not just that three or …

Israel—An Ancient King of Making Glass

Centuries before the Land of Israel was a hub for the high-tech industry, the region was among the world leaders in another profession involving science, skill, and specialized knowledge: glass making. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced in a press release on Monday that they have discovered 1,600-year-old kilns used …

Rights Group—Syrian Regime Has Killed More than 60,000 Prisoners

The death toll for the Syrian civil war has reached hundreds of thousands of persons killed, and now a rights group is saying they have evidence that tens of thousands of those dead were not killed on the battlefield but in the confines of Syrian prisons. If true, the claim—which …

Israeli Op to Counter Raiders of the Lost Scrolls in the ‘Cave of the Skulls’

It sounds like the plot of a blockbuster summer movie, but instead it’s an initiative of the Israeli government that’s underway in the Judean desert. In an effort to foil antiquities robbers and preserve Israel’s history, the Israeli government is mobilizing hundreds of volunteers with a team of archaeologists to …

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Israeli Op to Counter Raiders of the Lost Scrolls in the ‘Cave of the Skulls’

May 24, 2016 News
Archaeology is making headlines again in Israel. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of Central Timna Valley Project – Tel Aviv University

Archaeology is making headlines again in Israel. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of Central Timna Valley Project – Tel Aviv University

It sounds like the plot of a blockbuster summer movie, but instead it’s an initiative of the Israeli government that’s underway in the Judean desert. In an effort to foil antiquities robbers and preserve Israel’s history, the Israeli government is mobilizing hundreds of volunteers with a team of archaeologists to find and secure historical artifacts in the cliffs of the Judean wilderness.

The cliffs are so challenging to the project, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) had to get permission to build a new trail up the cliffs—and still rappelling-equipment will be necessary. The initial location for the project is the “Cave of the Skulls”, and the most notable target is saving the remaining Dead Sea Scrolls. … Continue Reading

Israeli Leader Offers ‘Everything on the Table’ for Palestinian Talks

May 23, 2016 News
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French Premier Manuel Valls. Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French Premier Manuel Valls. Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a clear message for those who think that international intervention is needed for Middle East peace because Israel isn’t ready to make tough decisions. If there are direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Netanyahu said, “Every difficult issue will be on the table: mutual recognition, incitement, borders, refugees and yes, settlements—everything.”

The Israeli leader’s comments had a direct audience: the Prime Minister of France, which is pushing an international peace effort that will spur the sides to make an agreement. Netanyahu told Manuel Valls, in comments published by his office, that a French peace initiative is still possible, but it must come through direct talks. … Continue Reading

Rights Group—Syrian Regime Has Killed More than 60,000 Prisoners

May 22, 2016 Peace and Conflict
Is the world doing all it can to stop crimes in Syria? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (right) shakes hands with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left). Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

Is the world doing all it can to stop crimes in Syria? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (right) shakes hands with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left). Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

The death toll for the Syrian civil war has reached hundreds of thousands of persons killed, and now a rights group is saying they have evidence that tens of thousands of those dead were not killed on the battlefield but in the confines of Syrian prisons. If true, the claim—which was posted by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) on their Facebook page—would represent yet another potential atrocity on the part of the Syrian Assad regime in that nation’s five-year-old civil war.

The prisoner death toll, according to information obtained by the SOHR from “reliable sources” in Syrian security forces and military prison system, is at least 60,000 and includes 110 teenagers under the age of 18. The SOHR said the deaths were “either due to direct physical torture, or by privation of food and medicine.” The prisoner death threat is anything but over—the SOHR said more than 200,000 remain in Syrian prisons. “We urge the international community… for taking immediate action by putting pressure on the Syrian regime,” said the SOHR statement. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Appreciates Egyptian Call for Israel-Palestinian Peace Deal

May 17, 2016 Peace and Conflict
Can Egypt get the Palestinians to shake Israel's hand? Prime Minister Netanyahu (Left) and UN Sec-Gen Ban. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Can Egypt get the Palestinians to shake Israel’s hand? Prime Minister Netanyahu (Left) and UN Sec-Gen Ban. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The leader of the Arab nation with the longest running peace deal with Israel called for peace between Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation of the message. The speech from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi comes after a meeting between he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and ahead of an Arab summit on the topic of Middle East peace, according to a report from Ahram Online.

The article quoted Sisi as arguing that a solution to the conflict would give “hope to Palestinians and security to the Israelis.” He further said that Arab nations are working on the matter in various ways. Netanyahu, who has repeatedly called for direct peace talks with Abbas that the Palestinians keep rejecting, said in a press release that “Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region.” … Continue Reading

Is US Slow and Steady to Defeat ISIS, or Stagnating?

May 17, 2016 News
This US lawmaker isn't feeling good about the fight with ISIS. US House of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce. Photo Courtesy of House of Foreign Affairs Committee website.

This US lawmaker isn’t feeling good about the fight with ISIS. US House of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce. Photo Courtesy of House of Foreign Affairs Committee website.

On the surface, the international coalition has made notable progress in the fight against ISIS in Iraq, taking back almost half of the territory claimed by the terror group that seeks to build a new radical Islamic empire, or caliphate. But what’s missing in the up-to-date figure is that it doesn’t show how little progress has been made in 2016. Fox News reported that the Pentagon’s latest percentage of retaken territory—45% percent—marks just a 5% increase since December, when the number was 40%.

And over in Syria, the numbers are even less inspiring. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in comments to the media posted to the Pentagon’s website that just 16% to 20% of the ISIS territory has been retaken in Syria, which Fox News noted was similar to the figure in January. Cook didn’t comment on the figures’ significance, but separately one American lawmaker isn’t feeling too good about the war on ISIS. The same day as Cook’s comments, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said, “Current efforts to eliminate ISIS safe havens and defeat its propaganda machine are still falling short.” … Continue Reading

Israel Thanks Norway for Pressuring Palestinians to Stop Funding Terrorists

May 16, 2016 Peace and Conflict
Is your country's money going to help Palestinian terrorists? Illustrative banner of terrorists and Dome of the Rock. By Joshua Spurlock

Is your country’s money going to help Palestinian terrorists? Illustrative banner of terrorists and Dome of the Rock. By Joshua Spurlock

Financial aid to the Palestinians has become a goal of global proportions—but what happens when that money goes to terrorists? Norway, for their part, has said that practice must stop. Israel thanked Norway on Monday for the stand, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Director General Dr. Dore Gold speaking to the Norwegian Ambassador to Israel, Jon Hanssen-Bauer.

According to an Israeli press release on the discussion posted to the MFA website, the Norwegians have told the Palestinians that their donations should not be used to support convicted terrorists and their families. Dr. Gold was quoted as saying the Palestinian funding practice, “completely contradicts what peace is all about.” Gold wasn’t the only one concerned about the funds or thanking the Norwegian government. … Continue Reading

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