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ISIS Hit By Israel
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS reports that an Israeli drone struck and killed five ISIS members in Sinai. They were traveling in a car in the very northernmost section of Sinai, almost in Gaza, just outside of the city of Rafah.

This was probably a response to ISIS' launching rockets from Sinai into the southern port city of Eilat just over a week before the drone attack.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the original rockets attack into Israel. They made an official statement and posted and proudly boasting that it was an operation ISIS of the Sinai Peninsula. They said: "A number of rockets were launched at Jewish centers in Eilat, known as Umm Rashrash. The Jews and Crusaders should know that the war of the apostles will not save them in any way."

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Take Bombs Threats Seriously
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Terror threats against the organized Jewish community have risen. These threats do not appear to have activated any serious response on either the part of the media or of the Jewish community.

The events were minimally covered in the press - especially the local press in the cities where the terror threats took place.

National and international press covered the threats, but did not extend their analysis to focusing on the threats, how to approach these threats or how to educate the Jewish and non-Jewish community.

Over three separate days in January - on the 9th, 18th and 31st there were 60 bomb threats called in to 46 JCC's in 26 states (including one in Canada). Some JCC's received several threats. The threats said that C-4 has been placed in your building and "a larger number of Jews are going to be slaughtered."

A national response is essential.

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Hamas Election
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas just held an election. As with everything Hamas related, it was fraught with controversy. Putting that aside – we can now say that Hamas has a new head and his name is Yahya Sinwar.

This is bad news all around - for Israel, for the West, for Gaza and for Hamas.

Sinwar is even more extreme than previous leadership. First and most importantly, he was in an Israeli prison and released only because of the prison swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Yahya Sinwar is a free man because of an exchange and yet, he has put unrealistic and extreme preconditions on any swap with Israel. He is demanding that all 50 prisoners who were released for Shalit in 2014 and then re-arrested after the kidnapping and murder of the 3 Israeli teenagers, be released.

And then he is demanding the release of dozens of other prisoners before he will even begin to talk about returning the bodies of Israelis killed in the most recent Gaza operations and the freeing of two Israelis who accidentally wandered into Gaza.

These are non-starters.

Even more dramatic and more dangerous is that Yahya Sinwar wants to rekindle relations with Iran. Previous Hamas leadership was interested in mending fences with Egypt. But moving towards Iran means Hamas will receive money and weapons that could have a huge impact on the safety of Israelis.

Running to Iran is never a good sign when it comes to power and politics in the Middle East.


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Hate Speech on YouTube
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 16, 2017
I've been thinking.

Many people have never heard of PewDeiPei. His real name is Felix Kjellberg. And he is the most watched person on YouTube - the most watched person ever!

PewDeiPei has 53 million subscribers and his videos have been watched over a billion times.

He is what you would call - hot. And yet - Disney just dropped him.

PewDeiPei was dropped because he had eight videos that were overtly anti-Semitic. One video included two Indians unfurling a banner that read "Kill the Jews." Another video had him saying "Hitler was right."

Kjellberg said that it was all done in humor, but he understands that it could be misunderstood.

That falls far shy of an apology.

Disney did the right thing. There can be no tolerance for hatred, not even in humor.

This artist was self destructive. Disney was worth millions to him per year. But don't feel sorry for him - he ruined his own career.

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Trump Bibi Meet
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Today's White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be, at the same time, both very exciting and very boring.

Exciting because it has been a very long time since an Israeli prime minister - especially Netanyahu, has been a welcome and well received guest at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Boring because there will be no new news to come out of the meeting -no news, no conflict, no new ground. In the end, that 'no news' will turn into "good news" for everyone.

The first meeting between a new US president and a sitting Israeli prime minister is normally a formality. The two leaders review basics and reaffirm the promise made by Bush and Sharon to protect Israel. They get to know one another and make certain that they can pick up a phone and clear things up if and when it becomes necessary.

In this case, Trump and Netanyahu are already friends. They will skip the formalities and get down to brass tacks business, or, as some will call it "tachlis." They will probably speak about Iran, ISIS, Syria, Turkey and the cabal of negativism that swarms around each of them.

They will only briefly discuss Palestinian issues - and only to reaffirm the Two-State Solution and agree that there is at present no Palestinian leader strong enough to broker the compromises necessary for negotiations and meaningful dialogue. They will mention settlements and President Trump will reiterate that it is not helpful to make public pronouncements about such things.

And finally, they will agree that it is a good idea to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, but more time is needed before the move can and should be made.

Not bad for Israel. And not bad for the United States.

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Tillerson to Meet w Russsian FM
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

It looks like new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is going to meet with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The potential meeting was reported by the Interfax news service which quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

The report suggests that the two chief diplomats will meet in Germany.

The coverage clearly articulated that the topic of their conversation will be Syria.

This will be an important test for Tillerson in his role as Secretary of State.

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