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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Pittsburgh Mayor Visits Synagogue Shooting Memorial in Israel, Contrasts Response to Anti-Semitism with WWII

February 24, 2019 News

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto III speaking at the KKL-JNF event on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Rafi Ben Hakun, KKL-JNF

After the shooting attack at the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, a key Israeli organization wanted to show that the Jewish State felt connected to the victims in the United States by setting up a memorial. On Sunday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto returned the sentiment by visiting the memorial during his time in Israel for the International Mayor’s Conference.

While there, Peduto contrasted the response to the anti-Semitic attack with the ambivalence around the beginning of World War II. “Unlike 80 years ago, when Jews were murdered, when synagogues were destroyed and businesses were shattered, when the community called this time, the police didn’t turn their back, they ran in to help. Politicians didn’t look the other way or try to hide, they stood up and said never again. And business leaders and community leaders gathered as one and said ‘an attack against one is an attack against us all,’” Puduto was quoted by an Israeli press release as saying on Sunday. … Continue Reading

Israel Rebuts Iranian Claims of ‘90%’ Success in Syria as Tehran Warns of Upgrade in Deterrence

February 24, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu with Russia President Putin. Photo Courtesy of Israeli GPO.

A senior official in Iran warned that the approach in 2019 to Israeli attacks on the “Axis of Resistance”—presumably Iran, Syria and terror groups such as Hezbollah—would be “significantly different from the combat methods in the past.” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani made the comments in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency published on Saturday, where he also claimed that the Axis achieved “more than 90 percent” of their goals in Syria, a claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied a day alter.

“This is incorrect,” said Netanyahu of the Iranian assertion, according to comments published by his office on Sunday. “It is correct that they are trying and it is correct that we are blocking them. Last month another Iranian official said that they are only ‘advising’ Syria. The world hears very many Iranian lies.

“I have a clear message to the Iranian regime that wants to destroy Israel: Israel will continue to act as necessary in order to block Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.” … Continue Reading

Israeli Spacecraft Launching for the Moon This Week

February 18, 2019 News

President Rivlin at SpaceIL event with a model of the “Beresheet” spacecraft. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

Israel is set to become just the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon, as the satellite “Beresheet”—Hebrew for “Beginning”—is scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX rocket around the end of this week with its destination being the lunar surface. The spacecraft will carry a time capsule to be left on the moon—which includes a digital Bible, Israeli national symbols and Israeli songs—as well as conduct an experiment to measure and map the moon’s magnetic field, per Israeli press releases. The lander is scheduled to touch down on the moon in April.

“The spacecraft project will enable every Israeli, but especially future generations, to understand that even the citizens of a small country may and should dream big,” Israeli Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis was quoted by one of the press releases as saying. “The fact that Israel will be the fourth country in the world, alongside the US, Russia and China, to land a spacecraft on the moon is cogent proof that we are an international science and technology power.” … Continue Reading

Israel Freezes $139 Million for Palestinians over Terror Payments

February 17, 2019 News

Attacking Israelis won’t pay as easily now. Illegal gun seized by Israel. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of ISA.

Financially supporting terrorists is going to cost double for the Palestinians, as Israel on Sunday froze over 500 million shekels (roughly $139 million) in tax monies owed to the Palestinian Authority (PA)—which mirrored the exact amount the PA paid to terrorists and their families in 2018. The move follows passage of a law by Israel’s government in July 2018 authorizing the financial seizure, according to a press release from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

“Security officials presented data to the effect that in 2018, the Palestinian Authority transferred the aforesaid amount to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families and to released prisoners,” said the press release. “Therefore, it was decided to freeze the same amount of funds from the tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered increased checks on Palestinian Authority payments “linked to terrorism”—which includes the so-called “pay-for-slay” program of paying money to terrorists and their families. The press release noted that total amount of funding due the PA that will be frozen could be updated as more information on the terror payments is uncovered. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Tells Arabs that Iran Is Main Threat, To Talk with Putin to ‘Ensure Freedom of Action’ against Iran

February 17, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu meets with VPOTUS Pence. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

It’s a busy season of diplomacy for Israel against Iran, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Poland last week for a conference with Arab and Western nations discussing the threat from Tehran, and this week he will be in Poland’s neighbor Russia to discuss how to keep combatting that threat. Netanyahu, in comments on Sunday released by his office, said he would be in Moscow on Thursday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and converse on “the continued strengthening of the coordination mechanism in order to prevent friction between the IDF and the Russian military” in Syria.

Israel has repeatedly bombed targets in Syria in an effort to keep Iran and it’s terror ally Hezbollah from expanding their threat against Israel in the north. Russia is also militarily involved in Russia acting on behalf of the Syrian regime in the civil war there, making coordination key to avoid direct conflict between Israeli and Russian forces.

Said Netanyahu, “These talks are very important and are part of our continuing effort to ensure freedom of action for the State of Israel against Iran and its proxies, which declare their intention of using Syria as a front in their war to destroy Israel.” … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Looks Forward to Trump Peace Plan while US Sec-State Says ‘Can’t Get Peace Without Confronting Iran’

February 14, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu at Warsaw conference. From left to right: Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yemen FM Khaled al-Yamani, US Sec-State Mike Pompeo, Polish FM Jacek Czaputowicz, WEF President Borge Brende and US senior adviser Jared Kushner. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

The United States and Israel seem to be speaking each other’s language in a lot of ways when it comes to peace in the Middle East. On Thursday, while at the US sponsored Warsaw Conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed enthusiasm for the anticipated “Deal of the Century” peace plan by the Trump Administration during a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence.

Just hours earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a line from Netanyahu’s talking points when he said during a meeting with Netanyahu that “you can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran.

“It’s just not possible,” continued Pompeo in comments released by the State Department. “They’re a malign influence in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, the three H’s: the Houthis, Hamas, and Hezbollah. These are real threats; there are others as well. But you can’t get peace in the Middle East without pushing back against Iran.”

During the conversation between Netanyahu and Pence, the Israeli leader fielded a question from reporters asking if he supported Trump’s peace plan for the Israelis and the Palestinians. Responded Netanyahu, “I look forward to receiving the plan, and we’ll look at it once it’s presented.” … Continue Reading

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