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 …

Iran Ends All Restrictions under Nuclear Deal; Israel Backs US over Killing of General

Iran on Sunday decided to withdraw from all remaining “key” restrictions under the Iran nuclear deal in what was described as the fifth and final such step, just days after Iran’s top spymaster general was killed in an American attack. Meanwhile, Israel reiterated their support for United States President Donald …

Israel Calls for More Iran Sanctions as Protests Rock Tehran over Downed Airliner

The Iran crisis took another twist over the weekend, as protests erupted in the Iranian capital of Tehran and elsewhere against the regime after it was confirmed Iran accidentally shot down a civilian airliner in Iran, killing all 176 passengers on board. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed solidarity …

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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

Israeli, German Leadership Agree More Needed to Battle Anti-Semitism

October 10, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu with German Chancelor Merkel. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of Israeli GPO.

Following the horrific shooting attack at a synagogue in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur, Israeli leadership spoke with their Germany counterparts on Thursday to discuss doing more to address anti-Semitism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and “expressed his appreciation for her vigorous stand against anti-Semitism,” according to a recap of the call published by Netanyahu’s office.

According to the call summary, Netanyahu also said that it was “important to step up efforts against manifestations of anti-Semitism” to which Merkel agreed. For her part, Chancellor Merkel noted that she also “intended to increase efforts to provide for the security of the Jewish community.”

The discussion comes one day after a shooter attacked a German synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. NBC reported that the shooter was unable to break into the synagogue—where the persons inside had barricaded the door—and instead he murdered two other persons, one of whom was at a kebab shop. Others were injured. … Continue Reading

Ancient City Discovered in Israel: ‘Early Bronze Age New York of Our Region’

October 6, 2019 News

Aerial photograph of the excavation site. Photo courtesy of Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities

A 5,000-year-old city—considered massive for its timeframe—has been discovered as part of a road construction project in north-central Israel. The city, which could have accommodated around 6,000 inhabitants and was more than a quarter square mile in size, displays ancient city planning, societal hierarchy and more. “This is the Early Bronze Age New York of our region; a cosmopolitan and planned city where thousands of inhabitants lived,” excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) were quoted in an IAA press release as saying.

An “unusual” idolatrous temple was discovered as part of the ancient city, noted the press release, as well as a fortification wall, residential and public areas and streets and alleyways.

“There is no doubt that this site dramatically changes what we know about the character of the period and the beginning of urbanization in Israel,” Itai Elad, Dr. Yitzhak Paz and Dr. Dina Shalem, directors of the excavation on behalf of the IAA, were quoted as saying.

“…This is a huge city—a megalopolis in relation to the Early Bronze Age, where thousands of inhabitants, who made their living from agriculture, lived and traded with different regions and even with different cultures and kingdoms in the area.” … Continue Reading

Israel Proposes ‘Historic’ Non-Aggression Pacts, Cooperation with Arab Nations

October 6, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu & FM Israel Katz. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

Israel and the Arab Gulf states may face a common enemy in Iran and may not be in open conflict—but technically, they are still at war. Now Israel is talking with those countries about changing that technicality by signing non-aggression pacts with those Arab nations. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz posted to Twitter that he has recently been promoting, with the support of the United States, a “political initiative to sign ‘non-war agreements’ with the Arab Gulf states. The historic move will put an end to the conflict and allow civilian cooperation until peace agreements are signed.”

In his tweet, which included a news report from Israel’s Channel 12, Katz further said that he presented the connect to multiple Arab foreign ministers and outgoing US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt during his recent visit to the United Nations. “I will continue to work to strengthen the status of Israel in the region and around the world,” said Katz in the tweet, which was translated from Hebrew by Google.

The tweet from Katz follows a report on the initiative by Channel 12 news. The Times of Israel recapped the Hebrew-language Channel 12 report by noting that Katz and the Arab contacts agreed to launch working groups to proceed towards the non-aggression pact plan. The report further clarified that the discussions come against the backdrop of the Iran threat and that fighting terror and economic cooperation are in the draft proposal. … Continue Reading

Germany Condemns Iran for Saying Wiping Israel Off the Map Is ‘Achievable’

October 2, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Radiation Warning Symbol. Public Domain.

It’s not new that an Iranian leader has openly discussed wiping Israel off the map, but the leader of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Monday said it’s no longer just an idea, but “an achievable goal.” The Tasnim News Agency quoted Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami as saying Israel “must be wiped off from the world geography in the second step (of the Islamic Revolution), and this is not an aspiration or dream anymore, but an achievable goal.”

Salami’s comments to a conference of IRGC commanders were condemned the next day by Germany, a nation who knows all too well the dangers of Holocaust rhetoric. “We condemn the recent threats by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps against Israel in the strongest possible terms,” a Federal Foreign Office Spokesman said in a press release on Tuesday.

“Such anti-Israel rhetoric is completely unacceptable. Israel’s right to exist is not negotiable. We urge Iran to commit to maintaining peaceful relations with all states in the region and to take practical steps to de-escalate tensions.”

Yet rather than back down from the violent comments, Iran doubled down on Wednesday, responding to Germany’s comments with yet another threat. … Continue Reading

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