US Ambassador Slams Iran for Religious Rights Abuses against Christians, Other Minorities

The Islamic Republic of Iran is not known for being open to religious minorities, and United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback highlighted some of the egregious Iranian offenses in a recent speech. Christians, Baha’is and even Sunni Muslims have faced religious persecution from Iranian authorities. …

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 …

Iran Will Exceed Fuel Limits in Nuclear Deal Later This Month

Following the Iranian decision to withdraw from some of the limitations under their nuclear deal with world powers, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear fuel supply has increased to the point that they will exceed the limits on nuclear fuel storage under the atomic agreement on June 27. Iran’s Fars News Agency …

Israel Approves Town of ‘Trump Heights’ in Golan in Honor of US President

United States President Donald Trump made history earlier this year by recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the strategic Golan Heights region at Israel’s northern border, and on Sunday, Israel made history in return by naming a town for a US President for the first time in 70 years. Ramat Trump, or …

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Israeli President ‘Proud’ that Israel the One Place in Middle East Where the Christian Community Growing

June 4, 2019 News

President Rivlin with Christian leaders. Photo courtesy of Mark Neiman (Israeli GPO)

Israel is home to three major world religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is not only glad to see Israel’s commitment to freedom of religion, but also the status of the Christian community in the Jewish State. “These are difficult and painful times for Christians in the Middle East. I am proud that Israel is the only country in our region where the Christian community is not shrinking, but in fact is growing,” said Rivlin on Monday in comments published by Israel.

Rivlin was speaking to leaders of the Christian community in honor of Ascension Day—the day the Catholic Church marks the ascension of Jesus into heaven as recounted in the Biblical Book of Acts.

“The State of Israel, as guardian of this city, is deeply committed to the religious rights of worship and activity of all communities of faith in Jerusalem and Israel,” said Rivlin. “Christians, Muslims and Jews will always be free to worship here. Israeli sovereignty will never compromise religious freedom.” … Continue Reading

Israel Responds with ‘Strong Action’ against Syria after Another Missile Attack

June 2, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Israel’s capital is not far from the heart of Syria. Israeli signpost showing distance between Israel, Syria in Golan Heights. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

For the second time in less than a week, an attack from Syria was launched against Israel—this time in the form of two rockets on Saturday. In response, Israel struck at the Syrian military, hitting two artillery batteries, observation and intelligence posts and an air defense battery, according to the IDF’s English Twitter page. Said the IDF tweet, “We hold the Syrian regime accountable and will firmly operate against any attempt to harm Israeli civilians.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear the order to “take strong action” came from him following security discussions, according to comments released by his office on Sunday.

“We will not tolerate firing at our territory and we will respond with great force to any aggression against us,” said Netanyahu. “This has been the consistent policy that I have led, together with the government, and this is what we will continue to do for the security of Israel.” … Continue Reading

US Ambassador Slams Iran for Religious Rights Abuses against Christians, Other Minorities

The US is pushing back against religious injustice in Iran. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The Islamic Republic of Iran is not known for being open to religious minorities, and United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback highlighted some of the egregious Iranian offenses in a recent speech. Christians, Baha’is and even Sunni Muslims have faced religious persecution from Iranian authorities. “In Iran, blasphemy, apostasy from Islam, and proselytizing of Muslims are crimes punishable by death,” said Brownback in a speech last week published on the US State Department website.

“Minorities not recognized under the Iranian constitution—such as Baha’is and Christian converts—may not engage in public religious expression and are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, and arbitrary arrest.”

Brownback cited multiple examples of the plight facing Christians in Iran—noting that a dangerous label is to be called a Christian supporter of Israel. … Continue Reading

Egyptian Help Symbolizes Peace as Nations Assist Israel in Battling Wildfires

May 26, 2019 News

Israel and Egypt worked together on battling the wildfires. Illustrative photo of Israeli PM Netanyahu and Egyptian FM Shoukry. Photo courtesy of by Haim Zach / GPO

Multiple nations assisted Israel in battling the latest outbreak of wildfires that raged in the Jewish state, and Israeli officials made a point of expressing their thanks over the weekend to the foreign countries that helped—including one particular act of support that shows the potential for Middle East peace. “Israeli fire fighters and an Egyptian helicopter were working together yesterday in order to put out a huge fire that broke out in southern Israel. This is what peace is all about,” tweeted Israeli Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Ofir Gendelman on Saturday.

Egypt and Israel were once open enemies engaged in multiple conflicts until a US-brokered peace treaty took effect 40 years ago. Gendelman’s comments come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “my friend” in his thanks for Egypt sending a pair of helicopters to fight the fires, according to a press release from Israel’s office.

Even the Palestinian Authority—which has repeatedly rejected peace talks with Israel—reached out to Israel during the crisis, according to Netanyahu, whose comments were published by his office on Friday. Two days later, the Israeli Premier not only took time to thank the countries who helped, but noted their aid says something about Israel too. … Continue Reading

US Increases Troop Deployment to Middle East in Response to ‘Campaign’ by Iran

May 26, 2019 Peace and Conflict

US fighter jets are among the troops being sent to the Middle East. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth.

The United States is adding to an already-increased deployment in the Middle East— due to an ongoing threat assessment of a “campaign” by Iran—sending a dozen fighter jets as part of a 1,500 troop force. The US Defense establishment on Friday described the troops as defensive in nature and include extending the deployment of a Patriot missile defense battery already sent to the region, making the number of new troops less than 1,000, according to a press briefing posted to the US Defense Department website.

The American military posturing comes amidst multiple attacks against US interests and allies in the region that the US has attributed to Iran or its proxies. “I wouldn’t just call them threat streams, I’d call them a campaign designed by the Iranians against US interests, US forces and our partners in the region,” Vice Admiral Mike Gilday said during the press briefing, stating these threats range from the Strait of Hormuz that’s critical to the ocean transport of oil to Yemen and Iraq.

“…The reason I described it as a campaign is because you’re seeing activity across multiple domains—across the sea, from the air and on the land—by either Iranian forces or proxies. And so it’s more complicated than just a single threat stream. And they’ve acted on it.” … Continue Reading

Palestinian Government Senior Official Arrested for Shooting Attacks

May 20, 2019 News

A Palestinian government official was arrested for shooting attacks on busses. M-16 used in the attacks. Photo courtesy of the ISA.

A senior official in the Palestinian Authority Prisoners Ministry was arrested by Israel earlier this year along with a partner for “a series of shooting attacks,” and he even used a vehicle given to him by the Palestinian government to carry out the terrorism, according to the Israel Security Agency (ISA). An ISA press release on Monday said the official, Zakariya Zbeidi, worked with an Arab partner who not only holds an Israeli ID card, but was an Israeli attorney and member of the Bar Association. The partner, Tarek Barghut, also worked with the PA Prisoners Ministry as an attorney.

“That a senior Palestinian Authority Prisoners Ministry official and an Israeli attorney who worked for the Prisoners Ministry carried out severe terrorist attacks while using an official PA vehicle is very grave,” a senior ISA official was quoted in the press release as saying.

The ISA press release said the two were arrested in February following the foiling of another attack. … Continue Reading

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