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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UK Foreign Secretary and US ‘Share the Same Assessment’ of Increased Iran Threat

May 19, 2019 Peace and Conflict

British Flag. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The United States has been warning that the threat of Iranian violence against their interests is higher than normal, and the United Kingdom agrees. UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Twitter on Thursday said that he and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had discussed Iran recently and “we share the same assessment of the heightened threat posed by Iran. As always we work closely with the US.”

The concerns expressed UK’s top diplomat were similar to those delivered by his counterpart in Germany, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, during a speech on Thursday published by the German Federal Foreign Office. “What happened in the past few days—the acts of sabotage against ships and pipelines—are signs that these dangers are concrete and real,” said Maas. Last week, an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia was attacked by rebels supported by Iran and two Saudi oil tankers were believed to have been sabotaged by Iran, according a report in U.S. News & World Report. … Continue Reading

German Parliament Calls Anti-Israel Boycott Movement ‘Anti-Semitic’

May 19, 2019 News

Germany stands with Israel. German, EU flags in Square of the Republic in Berlin. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The German Bundestag (parliament) condemned the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement in a non-binding resolution on Friday and called the “pattern of argument and methods” of the BDS movement “anti-Semitic”, according to a report by The New York Times. The article said the resolution—backed by multiple German political parties, including the ruling Christian Democratic Union party, compared the boycott of Israeli goods to Nazi boycotts against Jews.

A press release posted to the German parliament website further argued that organizations questioning Israel’s right to exist or projects backing the BDS movement should not be financially supported, according to a translation from German by Google Translate.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the German decision “important” in comments posted to Twitter by spokesman Ofir Gendelman. “I congratulate the German Bundestag on the important decision branding the boycott movement (BDS) as an anti-semitic movement and announcing that it is forbidden to fund it,” said a post to Gendelman’s Twitter feed. A follow-up tweet expressed the hope from Netanyahu that “this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation.” … Continue Reading

Israeli President Pushes EU-Style Economic Peace for Middle East

May 15, 2019 Peace and Conflict

President Rivlin at at Europe Day Reception. Photo courtesy of Mark Neiman, Israeli GPO – gpoeng.gov.il)

A peace treaty won’t be enough to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told European Union ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret—but the best peace plan might just be something with which the EU is very familiar. “I believe that we in the Middle East need to learn from the experience of the European Union which succeeded because it was established on the basis of economic cooperation and mutual obligation,” Rivlin was quoted as saying on Wednesday in an Israeli press release.

“By creating a shared economy and bringing people together through trade, the EU created a solid basis for durable peace. We all dream of peace between Israel and the Palestinians and between all the peoples of the Middle East. If we want to realize this dream, we should take a similar approach.”

Speaking with Giaufret and other European ambassadors, Rivlin made it clear that the recent conflict with terrorists in Gaza shows that peace is not a simple matter and it can’t just be on paper. “In the Middle East, like in Europe, there are no short cuts,” said Rivlin. … Continue Reading

Iran Says US Won’t Start War Because of Counterattacks on Israel

May 12, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Could the US end up battling Iran at sea? US Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jordan Crouch/Released.

Tensions between the United States and Iran are high—with the Americans sending an aircraft carrier strike group and a Patriot anti-missile battery to the region due to the Iranian threat—but it’s Israel who would be attacked in a US-Iran confrontation according to a key Iranian legislator. Iranian Parliament’s Vice-Speaker Ali Motahhari was quoted by the Fars News Agency as saying that the US is “not ready for a war, specially when Israel is within our range.”

Iran has long verbally assailed Israel and has even written that Israel “should be wiped off the earth” on a missile during a test in 2016, as reported by Fars at the time. With the US being a key ally of Israel, a US-Iran war could be used as an excuse by Iran to attack Israel in response given that the US homeland is believed to be well out of Iran’s missile range.

The latest tensions between the US and Iran come as Tehran has started to withdraw from the global nuclear deal in response to a failure of Europe to mitigate US sanctions on Iran. The US Defense Department on Friday announced on their website that the Patriot battery and a marine transport ship would be joining an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force in the Middle East region “in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests.” … Continue Reading

Germany Decries ‘Painful’ anti-Israel Bias at United Nations

May 12, 2019 News

Germany stands with Israel at the UN. German, EU flags in Square of the Republic in Berlin. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of the admittance of Israel to the United Nations by offering his nation’s ongoing support for the Jewish state and by criticizing the UN for continuing to act in a biased manner against Israel. “Germany stands, also in the UN, shoulder to shoulder with Israel, whose security and right to exist must never be called into question by anyone anywhere,” said Maas in a press release from the Federal Foreign Office.

“Nevertheless, Israel is still being denounced, treated in a biased manner and marginalized inappropriately in UN bodies to this day. This state of affairs is painful and unsatisfactory, and especially since the UN is at the heart of the multilateral, rules-based order and vital to international security and peace.”

The European nation currently holds a special place of honor at the UN as a member of the highly powerful Security Council, a role they intend to wield with Israel’s interests in mind. “We will continue, including as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, to support Israel’s legitimate interests, to help strengthen its representation in the UN and to do our utmost to oppose any attempt to isolate or delegitimize Israel,” said Maas. … Continue Reading

US Declares Completion of Steps Under Jerusalem Embassy Act

May 9, 2019 News

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

One year after the United States made history by opening their embassy to Israel in the capital city of Jerusalem, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday they had completed the other steps required under the Congressional act calling for the move. The original Jerusalem Embassy Act called for the US to open an embassy in the Israeli capital and also a chief of mission residence for the US ambassador to Israel, which the US did in March of this year.

While the Trump Administration has wrapped up the Congressional requirements relatively quickly from start to finish that stands in strong contrast to the decades it took the US to finally fulfill the wishes of Congress, as the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed in 1995. The Act allowed for Presidential waivers to delay the move, which were repeatedly used since the Act went into law more than two decades ago.

“On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem officially opened for business. Now, as we near the first anniversary of that momentous event, I am pleased to report that I have provided my determination to Congress that the relevant elements of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 have been addressed,” Pompeo said in a State Department press release. “Accordingly, no further Presidential waiver of the funding restriction under the Act is necessary.”

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Yuval Rotem thanked the US on Twitter and welcomed Ambassador David Friedman. … Continue Reading

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