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Israel to Host Arab Nations in Judo Tournament for the First Time

November 8, 2018 News

Israel and Arab states are getting closer. Illustrative photo of Israeli PM Netanyahu and Egyptian FM Shoukry. Photo courtesy of by Haim Zach / GPO

First, it was the Israeli national anthem playing at a Judo tournament in an Arab nation that showed just how far Israel had come towards being accepted in the Arab sports world. Now, it’s Arab nations who are coming from afar to compete in Judo—in Israel. “For the first time ever, Israel will host an int’l Judo championship in which judokas from Arab countries that we don’t have diplomatic relations with will also participate along w/ their flags and their national anthems. It’s a great achievement for Israel & for Israeli Judo” Ofir Gendelman, Israel’s Arabic spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, posted to Twitter on Thursday.

Arab nations have long tried to refuse to recognize Israel, even in the sports world, where simply competing against an Israeli can have negative connotations. In the past, in Judo tournaments in Arab nations, Israel’s national anthem was not played when their athletes were victorious. But that changed in the last competition in Abu Dhabi in October, where the national anthem played not once, but twice.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on this significant moment in comments to the gold medalist Israeli judokas on Thursday. “I’ll tell you a secret, when I heard Hatikva twice; I also had tears in my eyes,” said Netanyahu in a press release from his office. “It was so exciting, I do not believe that there was an Israeli who was not excited at this moment, it really has very broad implications. Keep it up, this is a tremendous thing.” … Continue Reading

Major US Sanctions on Iran—including on Oil Trade—Return for ‘Maximum Pressure’

November 4, 2018 News

PM Netanyahu & US Secy. of State Pompeo Photo courtesy of: Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

The United States on Monday is resuming sanctions on key Iranian industries—including the oil and financial sectors—and their impact was already being felt before the sanctions’ effective date as global businesses anticipated the sanctions “snapback.” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last Friday said that ahead of the sanctions’ return on November 5, they expect to have already reduced Iranian crude oil exports by more than 1 million barrels.

“This massive reduction since May of last year is three to five times more than what many analysts were projecting when President [Donald] Trump announced our withdrawal from the [nuclear] deal back in May,” said Pompeo in comments released by the State Department. “We exceeded our expectations for one simple reason: Maximum pressure means maximum pressure.”

The Israelis were already applauding the American sanction plans last week as well. “For years, I’ve been calling for sanctions to be fully reimposed against Iran’s murderous terrorist regime, which threatens the entire world,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening in a press release. “The effect of the initial sanctions is already being felt—the [Iranian] rial [currency] has plummeted, Iran’s economy is depressed and the results are evident. Thank you, President Trump, for this historic move.” … Continue Reading

Denmark Accuses Iran of Plotting Attack in Europe, Talking ‘Actions’ in Response

October 31, 2018 News

Will the Europeans agree with Israel on Iran after attack plot in Denmark? PM Netanyahu and Federica Mogherini. Photo courtesy of: Avi Ohayon (GPO).

Denmark has accused an Iranian intelligence service of plotting to assassinate a political separatist in Denmark and arrested a man they claim was conducting reconnaissance for that plan. In response, Denmark is now talking with the European Union about taking steps against Iran in response, which the BBC said could include sanctions. The BBC report identified Iran’s target as a senior member of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), a separatist organization that wants to carve out an Arab state in a region of Iran.

The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) posted in a report on their website that while the arrested man denies the charges, the Danes believe the plot was real. Said the PET report, “When PET now states that there is sufficient basis to conclude that an Iranian intelligence service has been planning the assassination of an individual living in Denmark, it is not only based on the case against the man in custody, but on comprehensive intelligence efforts.”

Meanwhile, the angst towards Iran has reached the highest levels of Denmark’s government. Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen posted to Twitter on Tuesday, “It is totally unacceptable that Iran or any other foreign state plans assassinations on Danish soil. Further actions against Iran will be discussed in the EU.” … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Sends Condolences after ‘the Worst Anti-Semitic Attack in US History’

October 28, 2018 News

PM Netanyahu. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Following the horrific shooting attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a condolence message to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh that also expressed thanks for Israel’s friends as part of the fight against anti-Semitism. The Washington Post reported that 11 were killed and six wounded by a suspect Robert Bowers, who reportedly screamed anti-Semitic slurs during the attack and afterwards said he just wanted to “kill Jews.”

Netanyahu called the violence “the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history” and said that this is a “particularly heinous crime that we in Israel have unfortunately experienced as well.” Netanyahu wasn’t alone in Israel responding to the attack. Statements were released from the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, President Reuven Rivlin and others. The Israeli government cabinet meeting observed a minute of silence before Sunday’s meeting in memory of those killed, according to an Israeli press release on the meeting.

Said Netanyahu, whose letter was published by his office, “While these attacks are nothing new in the history of our people, what is new is our ability to fight back against the anti-Semites. Israel does that every day. But the Jewish people are also blessed to have many friends around the word who reject and fight anti-Semitism.” … Continue Reading

US, Israel Working Together to Pressure Iran; American Sanctions Target Iranian Use of Child Soldiers

October 21, 2018 News

PM Netanyahu & US Secy. of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Photo Courtesy of Kobi Gideon (GPO).

The top United States financial official visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, and in a sign of the times, their first topic named by Netanyahu to the press was not economics; it was Iran. “This is what is going to occupy a great deal of our discussions today—how to stop Iran’s dual aggression: Its quest for a nuclear arsenal and its quest for a conventional arsenal and its plans of conquest in the Middle East,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office during a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

As head of the US Treasury, Mnuchin is key to enforcing US sanctions on Iran, which are ramping up even more in November when oil restrictions go back into effect. And those aren’t the only increase in sanctions. Additional moves were announced last week by the US after they discovered who is paying for an Iranian militia to use child soldiers.

The major US sanctions on oil follow the decision by US President Donald Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Netanyahu noted that the sanctions relief and economic benefits from the JCPOA—totaling hundreds of billions of dollars—only fueled Iran’s aggression in the region to “unbelievable heights.” … Continue Reading

Australian PM Morrison Considering Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

October 15, 2018 News

PM Netanyahu addresses ceremony marking opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem. Illustrative.
Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / GPO

Another nation a world away from Israel is contemplating moving their embassy to Jerusalem. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday was quoted by The Guardian as saying that he and his government are “open-minded” to the move and referenced the idea as a “sensible suggestion.” The same day Morrison made the comments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with his Aussie counterpart about the idea of transferring of their embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to the Jewish capital.

Morrison told Netanyahu “that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem,” said a press release from Netanyahu’s office, adding, that the Israeli leader thanked him for the comments. The press release went on to say the two leaders also “discussed steps to continue strengthening bilateral relations.”

The United States officially made their embassy move to Jerusalem earlier this year, after announcing it in 2017. The decision was controversial, but the Americans were quickly joined by Guatemala and Paraguay. Others have discussed the idea. … Continue Reading

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