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Egypt Arrests Hamas Helpers
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 12, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Egypt sentenced 11 Muslim Brotherhood members to life imprisonment for helping Hamas.

There are two essential points here.

First, Egypt has made the Muslim Brotherhood illegal. In Egypt, Hamas is also an illegal organization. Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, is viewed as a terror organization by Egypt.

Second, Hamas is at war with Israel, with the United States and with Egypt. Egypt often tries to reach out to Hamas Ė to negotiate, to run interference, to deliver messages from Israel and the US, but that does not mean that they are allies. Egypt and Hamas are enemies Ė enemies who share a border and still talk with one another. But enemies none the less.

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Bolton Fired or Quit
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 11, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

It does not matter whether John Bolton was fired or whether Bolton resigned.

The question is what kind of impact his departure will have on policy.
Bolton was a hawk on issues like North Korea and Iran. He did not believe that the US should run towards dialogue.

On the issue of Israel there is no doubt that the Netanyahu administration has lost a very close friend in the White House. Bolton was an unconditional ally and friend of Israel.

The difference between Bolton and the US president were obvious to everyone who monitored the White House. There is an important role for advisors who disagree with the president. But the National Security Advisor and the President need to step in tandem.

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Shiite Holy Day
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 10, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Today is the Shiite holy day of Ashura. Ahsura means 10 in Arabic. Ashurah is the 10th day of the first month in the Muslim calendar, the month of Muharram.
It commemorates the battle of Karbala when the Husein ibn Ali the grandson of Mohammed was killed in 1060.

Shiites which means most Iranians and Hezbollah mourn on this day.

Speaking to all Shiites, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he and his allies, including Iran, were in the middle of a "major campaign." He used military terminology to invoke a connection to the Battle of Karbala.

"We are in the midst of a major campaign, (and) the United States and Israel are trying to outflank us," he says in a speech to mark the Muslim holiday of Ashura.

"The leader of this camp is (Iranian Supreme Leader Ali) Khamenei and its center is Iran," he said.

He added that "tonight and tomorrow we will tell (Benjamin) Netanyahu and (Donald) Trump that we are a people not affected by blockades, sanctions, poverty and hunger."

We will wait and see. It looks like they have a plan.

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More Rockets From Gaza
By Micah Halpern

September 9, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Itís been a weekend full of rockets in Israel.

On Sunday night sirens blared in the region that abuts the Gaza Strip. More rockets were being fired at Israel from Gaza.

One of the rockets fell short and it actually landed in Gaza. Several others, we donít know exactly how many, landed in the Israel.

The situation has reached such a pitch that Egypt dispatched an emergency team of military and diplomatic advisers to Gaza. They will shuttle between Egypt, Gaza and Israel. The Egyptians want to become major players in the area. Keeping peace between Israel and Gaza would serve both to position them as influencers and to keep their own country safe.

To risk stating the obvious, this is a dangerous situation and could easily spiral into a larger and larger conflict. The situation needs to be controlled. It needs to be contained.


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MidEast Food Battle
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 8, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Another battle is being waged in the Middle East. The intensity keeps rising. This battle - is over food.

For years, Arabs have accused Israel of appropriating their food and making it "Israeli". They claim that falafel is not Israeli food, it is Arab food. They claim that humus is not Israeli, it is Arab food. The assertion is that just about any of the foods created by Israeli chefs, is in fact a rip off of Arab food.

Now labeneh, or laben, a goat cheese yogurt is on the proverbial chopping block.

Enemies of Israel say that Zionists should create their own culture, not expropriate it from the Arab culture that surrounds them. They are claiming that appropriating their foods is another example of Israeli occupation. Israelis, they say, are not only stealing Arab land and Arab culture, Israeli is stealing Arab - or Palestinian, food too.

Israeli chefs and Israel's culinary creativity have become world famous. And while many of the dishes borrow from the region, to suggest that Israeli Jews stole the culture is preposterous.

These attackers want Israel to be seen by the world as interlopers, replanted into the Middle East from Europe. But in reality, most Israelis are descendants of Jews from Arab lands - not from Europe.

Part of Israel's culture comes from Europe, but much more of Israeli culture, including food, originates in the Arab world.
Blending those traditions is what makes Israel so interesting and so very Israeli.

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