DNA Evidence Argues Ancient Biblical Villain Philistines Have European Ancestors

The Roman name for the region including Israel—which evolved into “Palestine”—may have been derived from the name of the Philistine people who once lived on the coast, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Yet ironically, it turns out at least some of the Philistine’s ancestors are not only not from Israeli …

Arab Village Electrician Uncovers Ancient Artifacts, Helps Israel Preserve Them

Arabs can face opposition from their own people for helping Israel, but one Arab villager recently chose to do the right thing in spite of critique and in the process helped Israel preserve history. The resident of the village of Araba in northern Israel, Ahmed Nassar Yassin, is an electrician …

Politicians Predict Impact of Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ Peace Plan on Israel

The long-awaited Middle East peace plan from United States President Donald Trump is not expected to be unveiled until after Tuesday’s Israeli election, but Israeli politicians are already making bold statements about details in the as-yet-unseen plan dubbed “The Deal of the Century.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments …

Trump, Netanyahu Plan to Discuss US-Israel ‘Mutual Defense Treaty’

The United States and Israel could move towards arranging a mutual defense treaty linking the two countries, according to US President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Saturday, Trump tweeted in a pair of tweets, “I had a call today with Prime Minister …

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Britain Declares All of Hezbollah A Terrorist Organization

March 3, 2019 News

British Flag. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The United Kingdom last week decided to define all of the Hezbollah group in Lebanon as a terrorist organization, with penalties for being a member of the entity, and thereby ceased differentiating between the so-called “political” and “military” wings of Hezbollah. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called his British counterpart Theresa May and thanked her for the move, and added that “he expects additional countries to follow suit,” according to a press release from his office.

The decision, summarized in a news report on the UK government website, said that the order would make membership in or support of Hezbollah a criminal offense. While the “military” wing of Hezbollah has been proscribed as a terror group in the past, the latest decision includes the “political” side of Hezbollah as well.

The British report quoted Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt as saying, “We are staunch supporters of a stable and prosperous Lebanon. We cannot however be complacent when it comes to terrorism—it is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist, and by proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilizing activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security.” … Continue Reading

Netanyahu and Putin Agree: Foreign Forces Should Exit Syria

March 3, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu and Russian President Putin at the Kremlin. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s focus in last week’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was concerns over Iranian forces in Syria, and he may have achieved a breakthrough. The Israeli leader on Sunday said that Putin and he “agreed on a common goal—the withdrawal of foreign forces that arrived in Syria after the outbreak of the civil war.”

Based on Netanyahu’s comments, which were published by his office, that could mean that Moscow has concurred with Israel that Iranian base-building for a permanent presence in Syria is not acceptable. And Netanyahu and Putin even have a concrete plan for clearing Syria of these foreign forces: “We agreed to establish a joint team to advance this goal, together with other elements.” Russia is a key ally of Iran and may have diplomatic tools for influencing Tehran.

This is a tricky plan, since Russian foreign forces have also moved into Syria during the fighting there, but Israel’s main concerns are about Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, not Moscow. If Russia follows through on this promise to help nudge out those forces, this would be a key victory for Israeli diplomacy. Israel has already attacked the Iranian presence in Syria in an effort to prevent them from becoming entrenched in the country and thereby move the Iranian military to Israel’s northern border. Israel has also bombed weapons in Syria to prevent them from being transferred to the Hezbollah terrorist group, which is also an Iranian proxy. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu, Putin Talk of Friendly Ties ahead of Syrian Discussion

February 27, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu and Russian President Putin at the Kremlin. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

As the Israeli and Russian leaders found one commonality after another between their countries in their meeting on Wednesday, it certainly didn’t look like Israel and Russia had tense relations just months ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had met 11 times in the last three-and-a-half-years, even as this was just the second face-to-face meeting—and the first in Moscow—since Russia accused Israel of negligence that led to a Russian plane being shot down last September by Syrian air defenses, according to a report at the time by Sputnik International.

While Israel denied the claims, Russia moved forward anyway with arming the Syrians with an advanced air defense system in response to the event, per a twitter post last week from ImageSat International. Yet just five months after the incident, and there was Putin accepting an invitation to visit Israel for the dedication ceremony for a memorial in Jerusalem to those who fell during the siege of Leningrad during World War II.

The warm signals sent by Putin are key, as Netanyahu’s primary goal during the visit was battling Iran in Syria—a sensitive topic given that Russia is a major player in Syria, has ties to Iran and backs their joint ally in the Assad regime. … Continue Reading

Pittsburgh Mayor Visits Synagogue Shooting Memorial in Israel, Contrasts Response to Anti-Semitism with WWII

February 24, 2019 News

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto III speaking at the KKL-JNF event on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Rafi Ben Hakun, KKL-JNF

After the shooting attack at the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, a key Israeli organization wanted to show that the Jewish State felt connected to the victims in the United States by setting up a memorial. On Sunday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto returned the sentiment by visiting the memorial during his time in Israel for the International Mayor’s Conference.

While there, Peduto contrasted the response to the anti-Semitic attack with the ambivalence around the beginning of World War II. “Unlike 80 years ago, when Jews were murdered, when synagogues were destroyed and businesses were shattered, when the community called this time, the police didn’t turn their back, they ran in to help. Politicians didn’t look the other way or try to hide, they stood up and said never again. And business leaders and community leaders gathered as one and said ‘an attack against one is an attack against us all,’” Puduto was quoted by an Israeli press release as saying on Sunday. … Continue Reading

Israel Rebuts Iranian Claims of ‘90%’ Success in Syria as Tehran Warns of Upgrade in Deterrence

February 24, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu with Russia President Putin. Photo Courtesy of Israeli GPO.

A senior official in Iran warned that the approach in 2019 to Israeli attacks on the “Axis of Resistance”—presumably Iran, Syria and terror groups such as Hezbollah—would be “significantly different from the combat methods in the past.” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani made the comments in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency published on Saturday, where he also claimed that the Axis achieved “more than 90 percent” of their goals in Syria, a claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied a day alter.

“This is incorrect,” said Netanyahu of the Iranian assertion, according to comments published by his office on Sunday. “It is correct that they are trying and it is correct that we are blocking them. Last month another Iranian official said that they are only ‘advising’ Syria. The world hears very many Iranian lies.

“I have a clear message to the Iranian regime that wants to destroy Israel: Israel will continue to act as necessary in order to block Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.” … Continue Reading

Israeli Spacecraft Launching for the Moon This Week

February 18, 2019 News

President Rivlin at SpaceIL event with a model of the “Beresheet” spacecraft. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

Israel is set to become just the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon, as the satellite “Beresheet”—Hebrew for “Beginning”—is scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX rocket around the end of this week with its destination being the lunar surface. The spacecraft will carry a time capsule to be left on the moon—which includes a digital Bible, Israeli national symbols and Israeli songs—as well as conduct an experiment to measure and map the moon’s magnetic field, per Israeli press releases. The lander is scheduled to touch down on the moon in April.

“The spacecraft project will enable every Israeli, but especially future generations, to understand that even the citizens of a small country may and should dream big,” Israeli Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis was quoted by one of the press releases as saying. “The fact that Israel will be the fourth country in the world, alongside the US, Russia and China, to land a spacecraft on the moon is cogent proof that we are an international science and technology power.” … Continue Reading

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