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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US Senator Vows Plan to Recognize Golan as Israel’s ‘Now and Forever’

March 11, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu, US Sen. Lindsey Graham & US Amb. to Israel David Friedman on the Golan Heights. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

In a significant diplomatic win for Israel, US Senator Lindsay Graham—a former candidate for president and a key member of US President Donald Trump’s Republican political party—on Monday openly endorsed Israeli sovereignty over the strategic Golan Heights that border Syria. “I’ve got a simple message. I will go back to the United States Senate. Working with Senator [Ted] Cruz, I will start an effort to recognize the Golan as part of the State of Israel now and forever,” said Graham during a visit to the Golan with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in comments published by Netanyahu’s office.

Graham didn’t stop there, continuing by highlighting that the history behind the territory Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 war is further evidence that Israel should keep it. “Israel occupied this territory by fighting for its survival. This territory was taken by military force because it was used as a launching point to attack the State of Israel. This territory has a rich Jewish history,” said Graham.

Perhaps even more important than Graham’s endorsement, US Ambassador David Friedman—the American representative of President Trump to Israel—was not only present with Graham on the Golan, he sounded moved by the senator’s comments. … Continue Reading

As Gaza Tensions Continue, Netanyahu Warns Israel ‘Will Do Everything Necessary’

March 10, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Gaza rocket attacks have resumed. Spent Palestinian rocket. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

More rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel over the weekend, and Israel responded with air strikes on terror targets. As the tensions between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip brew, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a warning to those who think that next month’s election in Israel will prevent Israel from engaging in another full-scale military operation in Gaza.

“I suggest to Hamas—don’t count on it. We will do everything necessary to restore security and quiet to the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and to the south in general,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office.

Netanyahu acknowledged that some of the attacks stemming from Gaza lately have come from other terror groups besides Hamas. However, given Hamas’ power as the authority in Gaza, the Israeli leader expects the main Gaza terror group to keep the smaller ones in line. “We have recently seen provocations and heads being raised from the direction of the Gaza Strip. This has been done by dissidents, but this does not absolve Hamas,” said Netanyahu. “Hamas is responsible for everything that comes out of the Gaza Strip, and we respond accordingly, with assaults by Air Force planes against Hamas targets.” … Continue Reading

Israel Battles the Behind-the-Scenes Side of Terrorism

March 6, 2019 News

Israel is protecting Europe from terror. PM Netanyahu and EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of: Avi Ohayon (GPO).

The same week that the IDF has had to confront Hamas terrorism from the Gaza Strip, Israel made multiple quieter headlines in their fight against the side of terrorism that isn’t quite as obvious, but ultimately just as dangerous. Fundraising and recruiting—those indirect elements that fuel terrorist organizations—received Israel’s focus as Hamas’ television station was designated a terrorist organization in its own right and Israeli diplomacy sought to cut off more terror dollars.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an order that deems “Al Aqsa” television as a terrorist entity, following an investigation by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) that found the station was being used by Hamas to recruit militants. A press release from Netanyahu’s office said that the move was recommended by the ISA and the Israeli Defense Ministry national anti-economic terrorism unit.

The move comes just days after Israeli Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan spoke with officials from multiple Western nations to encourage them to stop financial support of organizations calling to boycott Israel that also have ties to terrorism. … Continue Reading

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

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