How Gantz Could Build A Government, Without A Majority

Israel’s second round of elections have been a complex but ultimately straightforward math problem: the ruling Likud party plus their allies equals less than a majority. The opposition Blue and White party plus their allies equals less than a majority. Neither side is willing to make the compromises needed to …

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 …

Israel Holding Hamas Responsible as Gaza Attacks Continue

Following more rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel, the IDF hit back at Hamas in a counterstrike last Friday. Based on comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, expect that Israeli response to Gaza violence to continue as needed. “We are acting against Islamic Jihad, as it is …

Iraqi Protestors Challenging Iranian Influence Have ‘Clearly Made Iran Nervous’

Protests are making an impact in Iraq, and it’s not just the leaders in Baghdad that are feeling the pressure. Leaders in Iraq’s next-door neighbor and general bad influence Iran are taking notice too, as Iraqi protestors have opposed Tehran’s entanglement in their country. “Iraqis increasingly view Iran as having …

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International Judo Bans Iran for Refusing to Compete with Israeli

October 22, 2019 News

Iran is being sanctioned again – this time in Judo.
Illustrative official meeting in Iran. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Iran is down for the count in international judo, after a major judo competition body on Wednesday banned the country from competing due to their refusing to compete with an Israeli. The International Judo Federation (IJF), in a news report on their website, said in the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo in August, an Iranian judo competitor, or judoka, was instructed to withdraw from the competition rather than face off against Israeli Sagi Muki. The Iranian judoka, Saeid Mollaei later informed the IJF of the Iranian demand he throw the match.

After reviewing the evidence—including testimony from another Farsi speaker who confirmed the instruction from the first Deputy Minister of Sport of Iran and the Iran National Olympic Committee’s President telling Mollaei not to compete with the Israeli—the IJF decided to uphold the ban on Iranian judo competitors. Per the news statement, the IJF said the ban would remain until the Iran Judo Federation “gives strong guarantees and prove that they will respect the IJF Statutes and accept that their athletes fight against Israeli athletes.”

One of the concerns, according to the IJF, is that throwing the match effectively served as “competition manipulation”. The IJF also cited principals such as “mutual understanding and a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play”, as well as opposition to discrimination. … Continue Reading

How Gantz Could Build A Government, Without A Majority

October 22, 2019 Special Feature

If unity fails, could Gantz still succeed? President Rivlin (center) with Netanyahu and Gantz. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach, Israeli GPO.

Israel’s second round of elections have been a complex but ultimately straightforward math problem: the ruling Likud party plus their allies equals less than a majority. The opposition Blue and White party plus their allies equals less than a majority. Neither side is willing to make the compromises needed to join together and the swing vote secular Yisrael Beiteinu party is so far non-committal, wanting instead to join the two major parties in a unity government. Altogether that equals deadlock and a third round of elections.

But what if math wasn’t such a problem? Could Blue and White leader Benny Gantz cobble together enough numbers to be Israel’s next prime minister without a governing majority? It’s possible, and here’s why.

… Continue Reading

Israel Discusses Syria Situation with US, Russia

October 21, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu and US Secy. of State Mike Pompeo. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

With Turkey invading Syria to battle the Kurdish minority—making an already volatile Syrian civil war even more complicated and dangerous—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the situation in Syria with both the United States and Russia in a span of four days. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned Netanyahu to congratulate him on reaching his 70th birthday, and during the call they also discussed “the situation in Syria and developments in the region,” according to a press release from Netanyahu’s office. The call comes one day before Putin was scheduled to talk with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the Russian Presidency Twitter feed.

The discussions on Syria with Moscow follow a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem last Friday. According to a press release from the US State Department, Pompeo and Netanyahu discussed “regional security and the announcement of an immediate ceasefire in northeast Syria” between Turkey and Kurdish forces. CNN has since reported there have been numerous alleged ceasefire violations by both sides. Meanwhile, Syria wasn’t the only regional hotspot discussed by Pompeo and Netanyahu—Iran was another. … Continue Reading

Iran Blames Israel, US and Saudis for Attack on Tanker, and Promises Revenge

October 16, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Iran has attacked oil shipping and yet claims they were the ones recently attacked. Oil Tanker. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy. Photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer

The Iranians claim to have video evidence and other documents that will allegedly show the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia were behind the recent explosion on an Iranian oil tanker, although they haven’t produced such evidence yet. Senior Iranian Parliamentarian Abolfazl Hassan Beigi said on Wednesday per a report by the Fars News Agency that the cameras on the damaged tanker would lay the blame on those three nations for the incident, which Iran claims was a missile attack. Fars noted that no sailors on the ship were injured and the ship was in stable condition.

Beigi said they planned to deliver their supposed evidence to the United Nations, but as of his comments Iran had not yet published the evidence. Meanwhile, another Iranian official promised revenge for the alleged attack and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. While the US announcement did not mention the tanker incident or Iran’s accusations, Iran is on the agenda.

On Wednesday, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani was quoted by Iran’s Press TV as telling a Russian envoy “We will give a response that will make those behind the attack on the Iranian vessel and seek to create a new wave of tension in the region regret their act.” … Continue Reading

Israeli Leadership Show Festive Hospitality by Opening the Sukkah to Strangers

October 16, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu hosts lone soldiers in his sukkah. Photo courtesy of Koby Gideon (Israeli GPO)

Hospitality is one of the traditional themes of the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles—temporary dwellings known in Hebrew as a Sukkah or Sukkot in plural—and Israel’s highest-ranking leaders are practicing that virtue with complete strangers. This week during the festival, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted three “lone soldiers”, immigrants serving in the IDF whose families are not in Israel.

“I would like to take this opportunity to again wish a good year to all citizens of Israel and to the soldiers—men and women—who are serving and defending our state around the clock, not just on holidays,” said Netanyahu in a press release on the event. “A good year and a happy Sukkot to you.”

In addition to speaking with the soldiers, who came from Australia, Ukraine and Italy, Netanyahu also spoke with their parents via video phone to give them holiday greetings as well. Netanyahu heard the soldiers’ personal stories, their families and IDF service, while sharing about his own time in the military.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s office, meanwhile, has announced plans to open his sukkah to Israelis during the holiday, complete with a personal souvenir for guests. … Continue Reading

Israel Condemns Turkish Offensive in Syria, US Imposes Sanctions

October 14, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu and US President Trump both have concerns about Turkey. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Avi Ohayon (GPO)

As Turkey invades neighboring Syria to battle alleged terrorists among the Kurdish minority there, Israel has warned of the potential for “ethnic cleansing” and the United States on Monday issued sanctions against the Turks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also offered humanitarian support to the Kurdish people. “Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” said Netanyahu in a statement released by his office last Thursday. “Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.”

On Monday, the US opposition to the Turkish military moves took the form of sanctions imposed upon the US ally. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the Turkish Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Energy and three senior Turkish officials had been sanctioned. Speaking in a statement released by the State Department, Pompeo said the intent of the sanctions is to “press Turkey to halt its military offensive against northeast Syria and adopt an immediate ceasefire.”

Separately, US President Donald Trump issued a statement posted to Twitter in which he also announced an increase on tariffs on steel trade with Turkey and halted talks on a $100 billion trade deal with the Turks. “I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” said Trump in his statement. … Continue Reading

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