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Friday Feature - A tough week for American Jews

We started this week with many in the pro-Israel community fretting over the short and long-term implications of Israel’s ban on two antagonistic US Congresswomen from entering the country, and the role US President Donald Trump played in perhaps forcing Jerusalem into this controversial decision. But that ‘tempest in a teapot’ has been quickly overshadowed by Trump’s latest barrage against the provocative freshman lawmakers, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), which many have now twisted into an antisemitic trope against the Jewish people.

Just to recap, Trump first tweeted late last week that Israel (read Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) was showing “weakness” in allowing Omar and Tlaib into the country. Within minutes, news broke that Israel had decided to block the two agitators from visiting. Many saw it as Netanyahu instantly bowing to pressure from Trump. It took a few days, but Israel clarified that the decision was already in process well before Trump’s tweet. But by then, Republicans and Democrats alike, American Jewish leaders and Israeli officials in tow, were all wringing their hands over the potential damage to US-Israel relations of closing the door on two sitting members of Congress.

Yet that [important] debate quickly faded into obscurity when Trump commented in an Oval Office press appearance on Tuesday that American Jews who vote for a Democrat are showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Democratic Jewish lawmakers, 2020 Democratic hopefuls and major American Jewish groups all rushed to condemn Trump’s statement, accusing him of being ‘divisive’ and employing antisemitic stereotypes, among other charges. Charles Schumer insisted that Trump was “encouraging – wittingly or unwittingly – antisemites throughout the country and world.” Joe Biden described his comments as “insulting and inexcusable.” Dan Shapiro labeled Trump “disgusting.” The headline of one critical article even claimed “Trump is now echoing the same antisemitic tropes used by the Nazis”.

Despite the backlash, Trump doubled down on his pasting of Omar and Tlaib in a tweet on Wednesday, while also clarifying that he simply meant American Jewish voters were being disloyal to Israel and their own people when voting for radical, Jew-hating Democrats like the two ‘Squad’ members. Yet by now, the noise and mayhem surrounding this controversy is drowning out any sane voices and goodwill efforts to bring things back to a proper, realistic perspective.

Here is my attempt to be one of those sane voices:

1. Trump is indeed the Most Pro-Israel President Ever
It is hard for anyone to argue with that premise. He was the one who finally granted American recognition to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US Embassy there. He has challenged the unfair treatment of Israel in the United Nations, including UNRWA’s distorted definition of Palestinian refugees. He has cut off US funding to UNRWA, and to the Palestinian Authority over its pay-for-slay policies. He has removed the US from a very flawed nuclear deal with Iran which endangered Israel. And he has recognized Israel’s claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights. It is hard for any US president to match that track record, accomplished in only two years.

2. Trump is a Political Firebrand but he is not Anti-Semitic
There is an election season on, and Trump obviously enjoys the fray. He dishes out as good as he gets. And everyone knows Trump is trying to paint Omar, Tlaib, and other members of the “Squad” as the true face of the Democratic party. His initial remarks and subsequent tweet on “disloyalty” may have been a clumsy attempt to make that point, and it would certainly help if he were more careful in driving it home, but it was not expressed with evil intent against the Jewish people. It is just the rough-and-tumble way Trump tries to sway voters.

3. Comparing Trump to Hitler is Absurd
To do so is an insult to the six million Jews who died and the millions of others who suffered horribly under Hitler and the Nazis. Let us all be careful in the slippery game of drawing Nazi equivalencies.

4. Maintaining Bipartisan Support for Israel is Important
Yes, it is vital that American support for Israel must remain bipartisan. Both parties have had their problems with letting in antisemitic elements. For every Democratic mainstay like Jesse Jackson (“hymie town”), the Republicans have had to cope with their Pat Buchanan (“Congress is occupied Israeli territory”). But today, polls consistently show that the Republican party is overwhelmingly pro-Israel, while the Democrats have a real and growing problem with antisemitic, anti-Zionist, BDSers trying to seize the reins of the party. The Democratic strategy of appealing to identity politics has let in many ethnic and social groups that are ideologically anti-Israel. We saw this when a typically pro-forma plank on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was openly booed and hissed at a recent Democratic convention. Omar and Tlaib now personify that troubling wing of the party. So Trump is right in beginning to question why so many American Jews remain so wedded to the Democratic party, and frankly many conservative Christians are mystified by this as well.

5.  Do Not Mistake Silence for Patience
Many Trump critics upbraided Republicans and conservatives for not immediately jumping on the bandwagon to condemn the president for his “disloyalty” comments. But some of us have learned that – in the age of Trump – it is often best to let things settle down first before making a judgment on what was really said and with what intent. This president does use strong and edgy terms sometimes, and people are just too quick to launch into lunar orbit against him. It is best to let everyone come down, regain perspective, and then assess what the truth really is. And at the heart of Trump’s complaint is that voters in several heavily-Democratic congressional districts elected some very radical politicians in 2018, and we are now waiting to see if they will be turned out or returned to office in November, which would signal a much deeper problem not only in the Democratic party but in America in general.

6. Omar and Tlaib are Indeed Anti-Semites
Not so long ago, Democrats in Congress were reluctant to expressly condemn by name their fellow lawmakers for openly espousing antisemitic views, such as Omar’s comments, “It's all about the Benjamins, baby.” No matter one’s political affiliation, that does not bode well for Israel and the Jewish community. As one commentator noted in The Forward: “The truth is, it’s been a tough week for American Jews.”

Iranian Leaders Darkly Threaten ‘Escalation’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued dark warnings to the outside world and their own people during a meeting attended by both men in Teheran on Wednesday. "The world powers know that if the oil boycott is fully sanctioned and Iran's oil exports are reduced to zero, international waterways cannot have their former security," declared Rouhani. "Unilateral pressure on Iran cannot be in their favor and does not guarantee their security in the region and the world."

Echoing these statements, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday in a speech at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) that "Mutual unpredictability will lead to chaos. President Trump cannot expect to be unpredictable and expect others to be predictable. Unpredictability will lead to mutual unpredictability and unpredictability is chaotic." He also criticized his neighbors, saying "Gulf Arabs cannot achieve security (in the region) by spending billions of dollars on purchasing Western weapons... No amount of foreign military presence (in the Gulf) can prevent insecurity…you cannot have an island of security by your fleet in the Persian Gulf when the United States is waging an economic war against Iran."

In related news, Rouhani was on hand Thursday for Iran's National Defense Industry Day, which saw the unveiling of equipment and weapons Iran’s defense industry claims to have developed. In the past, many such “new” weapons and pieces of equipment have later proved to be poor copies of Western and Russian equipment, or else merely plywood mockups of conceptual drawings. Elsewhere, Iranian-backed militias operating in Iraq complained on Wednesday that the US is allowing Israel to attack them and demanded that the US cease to do so.

Here are some videos giving further context to this story



Israel and South Korea Sign Free Trade Agreement

In a massive blow to the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen hosted Republic of Korea Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Wednesday to finalize a free trade agreement between the two countries. Netanyahu opened his remarks by saying “We've had free trade agreements with other parts of the world with the United States, with Europe and elsewhere but this is the first free trade agreement we have with an Asian economy, and what an economy, a global leader, a vibrant, advanced economy.”

Here is the video of his remarks and those of Minister Yoo Myung-hee



Bilateral trade between Israel and South Korea was nearly $2.5 billion in 2018 and it is hoped that the new agreement will see that volume increase, creating jobs and lowering prices for consumers in both countries.

In his remarks, Cohen said; "The free trade agreement with South Korea is an historic agreement, the first to be signed with an East Asian country that is one of the leading economies in the world. It reflects – inter alia – the policy of the ministry to assist in diversifying exports and opening new markets for Israeli industry.”

IDF Jets Pound Terrorists in Hamas-ruled Gaza
The IDF spokesperson’s office announced on Thursday morning that the Air Force had struck positions in the Gaza Strip associated with terrorist organizations in response to separate rocket attacks into Israel emanating from the Hamas-ruled territory. The latest violence comes amidst a public outcry against Hamas by residents of the Strip following the death under suspicious circumstances of 38-year-old Tamer Fathi al-Sultan, a prominent critic of Hamas. He reportedly lost a short battle with cancer in a hospital in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was living in exile after fleeing the Strip earlier this year, although his family is questioning those reports.

“We learned about his death from posts on social media,” said his brother Saher. “Until this moment, we still don’t know the exact cause of death.” A statement by Fatah, Hamas’ rival in the Palestinian political arena to which al-Sultan belonged, added in their own statement that “He preferred to emigrate to the unknown to escape the oppression of the dark forces of Hamas.”

Chelsea Women Tour Jerusalem
Chelsea Women’s Football Club is in Israel this week to participate in a friendly match against Israel’s Football Association’s Women’s team as part of preparation for the upcoming season. On Monday, the team took a break from training to tour some of the sites, including Jerusalem’s Old City. "It was a wonderful day, for all the staff and players,” said Chelsea FC Manager Emma Hayes. “We had a really moving experience [today], which finished up with us writing private notes that we then placed in the Western Wall, as is the tradition. They were reminders of all the things we need in life, not want, and all the things that matter."

Experts from Around the World Learn from Israel

The NGO “Our Soldier’s Speak” hosted a delegation of military officers  this week from the US Army’s Special Operations Command, military intelligence and Coast Guard as well as Congressional staffers, officers from the Swiss military and UN legal experts. The delegates will visit the Knesset, Supreme Court and various other important sites, while receiving briefings on Israel’s security situation, diplomatic and legal efforts as well as the history and culture of the country. In related news, the IDF announced on Tuesday that it’s elite Shayetet 13 navy commandos had wrapped up Exercise Noble Rose 2019, a series of joint exercises with their counterparts from the US Army Special Forces command which had run for several days. The drills gave troops from both countries opportunities to practice various procedures for taking back a ship at sea after it had been hijacked by terrorists, as well as rescuing hostages in hostile territory and other scenarios requiring special military skills.
 
“In recent years, the Israel Navy has dealt with varying threats that require training for complex scenarios that prepare it to deal with changing and unpredictable situations,” the IDF said. “Cooperation with foreign militaries, and specifically with the US Armed Forces, bringing about mutual learning and the strengthening of professional relationships that enhance both militaries’ readiness. The Nobel Rose Exercise 2019 is another testament to the deep cooperation between the IDF and the US Army at both the troop and command level.”

Israel Blesses the World
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Wednesday regarding a delegation it sent to the African country of Chad earlier this month. The statement gave details of meetings the Israeli delegation had with their Chadian counterparts designed to facilitate the transfer of Israeli-developed technology and techniques in fields such as agriculture, water management and education. Advisory meetings were also held with officials from the ministries of Economy, Finance, Energy and Mines, as well as local business leaders, with participation by representatives from the World Bank and the US Embassy in Chad.

Pompeo Calls Out Iran in UNSC Meeting
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the UN Security Council session on Middle East peace and security challenges Tuesday, calling out the Iranian regime and its proxies around the region for  fomenting “terror and unrest” in conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen “with devastating humanitarian consequences.” Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said during his own remarks to the Security Council that the US is destabilizing the Middle East by deploying forces there and sending an “unbridled flow of American weaponry” to Iran’s regional enemies.

Here is the video of Pompeo’s remarks



Report: Israel Striking Iranian Targets in Iraq
A report was published Wednesday in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper saying that Israel has struck Iranian-backed militias and military bases in Iraq three times in recent weeks with the knowledge and approval of both the US and Russia. The report follows several statements by Israeli officials broadly hinting that the Jewish State is ready to expand its campaign against Iran to other theaters following hundreds of such strikes against Iranian targets in Syria over recent years.

Today’s video is about making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Chinese Academy of Sciences Coming to Israel

In another defeat for the effort to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced Tuesday that it is launching a center of excellence, it’s first outside mainland China, at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University. "This significant collaboration, amounting to several million yuan, ultimately aims to create opportunities for new jobs," said Bar-Ilan’s Prof. Dror Fixler. "This is an initiative that will lead to the economic growth of both China and Israel."

Here is a video giving some deeper analysis of Israel’s relationship with China



In another blow to the BDS movement, high-end German carmaker Porsche announced on Wednesday that it has acquired a minority stake in Tel Aviv-based sensing technology start-up TriEye, which develops systems meant to eventually be incorporated into driverless vehicles.

"TriEye is a promising technology company led by an exceptionally strong team with experience in the areas of nano-photonics, deep learning and the development of semi-conductor components," said Michael Steiner, member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG. "We see great potential in this sensor technology that paves the way for the next generation of driver assistance systems and autonomous driving functions. SWIR can be a key element: it offers enhanced safety at a competitive price."

Hezbollah Copying Hamas Terror Tactics

The Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah copied the tactics used by Gaza-based terror groups last Friday, setting fires in dry brush near the Lebanese-Israel border near the community of Margaliot, which quickly spread into Israeli territory. Video of the fires showed on Israeli TV show UN personnel passively watching the Hezbollah operatives set the fires without attempting to interfere.

"Everyone knows that the Lebanese side conducts these provocations and this fire is surely caused by them and not be chance," said Yoram Mahlof, CEO of the Mevo'ot Ha'Hermon regional council. This is not some innocent shepherd. They study us. They want to learn and we are prepared and ready. We know exactly what they want."

Meanwhile, on Israel’s southern border, Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Knaum issued a statement Tuesday morning in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement the day before that he was prepared to order the IDF to strike Hamas hard in the event of further escalation by saying, "Netanyahu's threats to embark on a military campaign in the Gaza Strip are empty. They come as part of the election campaign and for internal propaganda needs. The blows he suffered from the resistance during his long tenure as prime minister, including the recurring wars in the Gaza Strip, made his soldiers prisoners, dead or wounded. The same resistance is stronger today than ever before and capable of thwarting his new goals."

In recent days, several rocket and terror attacks emanating out of the Strip have been accompanied by demands by Hamas that cash grants from Qatar be delivered to it. Other terror groups based in the Strip have echoed these demands, usually adding some of their own in exchange for a cooling of tensions.

Back in Israel, demonstrators gathered in front of the IDF's Kirya Military Headquarters base in Tel Aviv on Monday to demand strong action be taken against terror militias in the Strip.

Here is a video about the ongoing battle between Israel and Palestinian terror groups

Study Blames Galilee Earthquakes on Water Extraction

Researchers from the Geological Survey of Israel and the universities of California and Miami published an article this week in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters assessing that a recent uptick in seismic activity in and around Israel’s Sea of Galilee were caused by large-scale groundwater extraction, while also predicting that a large-scale earthquake is likely to occur in the foreseeable future. “The geological history of the fault combined with the close proximity to populated areas suggest that future pumping in the region should be closely monitored," the study concluded.

Netanyahu Gives Iran a Warning in Ukraine
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Ukraine on Monday included a trip to Babi Yar, the site of a massacre of Jews by the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators during WWII. Speaking at the site, Netanyahu said, in a speech that many analysts said was partially directed at Iran, that it is a “constant duty (of Israel’s) to stand against murderous ideologies in order to ensure that there will never be another Babi Yar. For humanity, Babi Yar is a warning sign. For Jews, it is an eternal imperative – we will always defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any enemy.”

During Netanyahu’s visit to the presidential palace in Kiev earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that his government will soon open a hi-tech and investment office in Jerusalem, following the example of other mid-level powers, while also strengthening security and defense ties between the two countries.

Turkish Ground Incursion Into Syria Rebuffed
A Turkish ground incursion into the northwest Syrian province of Idlib was met with airstrikes by forces loyal to the Assad regime on Monday, leading to the withdrawal of the Turkish convoy and a sharp exchange of rhetoric between Turkish and Assad regime officials. Russia, the regime’s main patron and ally, was also rebuked by Turkey for allowing the situation to escalate despite having been told in advance that the convoy was on its way to re-supply Turkish troops already operating against jihadist groups in the province.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting was ongoing Tuesday between regime forces and jihadist groups in the city of Khan Sheikhun, a large metropolitan area in Idlib which the regime lost control of in 2014 amidst the long-running civil war in Syria.

Israeli Athlete Brings Home Gold from Minsk
Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram collected four medals, including one gold a silver and two bronzes at the World Challenge Cup in Minsk, Belarus from 16-18 August. The performance puts her in excellent position heading into the 2019 Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships, which will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 16-22 September and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Today's media is a podcast about ways Israel is blessing the world

Attacks From Gaza Raise Tensions in Southern Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters as he boarded his aircraft for a flight to Kiev on Sunday evening that political considerations would not affect a decision on how strongly he would order the IDF to respond to a recent escalation in terror attacks against Israelis emanating from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. "I've heard statements saying that I would refrain from embarking on a broad campaign because of the elections," he said. "This is not true. My considerations are case-relevant. If it is necessary, we will go into broad action - with or without elections- we will do what is necessary for the safety of Israel."

His statement followed a violent weekend on the Gaza border which also included a terrorist car-ramming attack on Israeli teenagers near Jerusalem.

Attacks included the launching of several rockets towards Israel over the weekend, with most being intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. On Saturday night, three terrorists were killed as they attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the Strip armed with weapons. This followed a terrorist ramming attack on Friday which targeted two Israeli teenagers, a brother and sister from the Elazar settlement in the Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem. A nearby police officer shot the driver of the ramming car dead at the scene and at press time the two victims were in stable condition at a Jerusalem hospital.

Here is a video released by the IDF showing the infiltration attempt on the Gaza Border



Israel Blesses the World
Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovote recently partnered with Israel’s Space Agency to develop a new satellite scheduled to be launched into space in 2023 and carrying special equipment designed to operate in ultraviolet light. “This unique configuration will help us answer some of the big questions in astrophysics,” said ULTRASAT principle investigator Prof. Eli Waxman of the Weizmann Institute.

Here is a video about other ways Israel is blessing the world



Knesset Campus Set to Expand
A plan to expand the campus of the Knesset, Israel’s national parliament, received approval on Sunday by the Jerusalem Municipality. The new campus will, when completed, nearly double the floor space of the existing campus and include new offices for a variety of government ministries as well as legislative committee rooms and dining facilities for new staff.

Bonamassa Set to Perform in Tel Aviv
Legendary American Blues musician Joe Bonamassa dealt the latest blow to the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel by scheduling a concert in Tel Aviv for 22 August. “It was one of those things where I thought nobody even knew who we were in Israel, but there is always such a great, loving audience,” he told the Jerusalem Post this week. “It’s really worth making the trek every three or four years. It’s a great music town with a lot of amazing musicians. And they appreciate the roots of blues rock.”

Today's video shows some fun things to do on your next visit to Israel

Iran Preparing for Rocket Launch Attempt

Reports emerged on Monday that preparations are being made at Iran’s Imam Khomeini Space Center near Teheran to attempt the launch of a satellite into orbit, following two failed attempts earlier this year. Officials in many countries have accused Iran of using its space program as a cover for the development of ballistic missiles, while the Islamic Republic routinely denies it. Meanwhile, UN special rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran Javaid Rehman issued a scathing report on his observations inside the Islamic Republic to the UN General Assembly over the weekend.

The report covers a wide variety of gross human rights abuses by Iran’s security services against ordinary citizens, which are subject to arbitrary arrest on such charges as "waging war against God, corruption on Earth, blasphemy, and insult of the Prophet" Muhammad. The report notes that over 80 such acts are punishable by death, with women accused of adultery subjected to the especially cruel fate of being buried up to their neck and stoned to death by angry mobs.

Iranian officials have not responded to this report but their response to similar reports in the past has routinely been characterized by angry and contemptuous dismissal.

In related news, Sadegh Zibalkam, a political science professor at the University of Tehran and prominent critic of the clerical regime’s hostility towards Israel and other regional adventures, received a one year jail sentence over the weekend for a newspaper Op-ed in which he said that the government expenditures for employing Shi’ite clerics could be compared to the entire wealth of three of Iran’s poorest provinces.

Here are two videos giving some analytical context to this story



Friday Feature - Dire Straights, the Standoff With Iran

Thursday saw the Supreme Court of Gibraltar ordering the release of an Iranian oil tanker which had been seized by that territory’s police force, with assistance from British Royal Marines, as it attempted to pass through the strategic waterway because of suspicions that Iran was attempting to send oil to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in violation of US and EU sanctions. The order to release the Iranian tanker was the latest move in a geostrategic chess match between Iran and the US, which also involves several other global powers including Israel.

The original seizure of the Iranian tanker on 4 July sparked a series of events including the shoot-down of a US military drone over the Persian Gulf and sabotage attacks on oil tankers flagged by several countries, as well as seizures of British-owned oil tankers by naval units of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the pretorian armed faction which answers to no one but Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khemenei and in the assessment of many analysts the force which controls much of Iran’s economy and government. The British tankers were seized under legally nebulous circumstances as they attempted to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway separating Iran from Oman and the United Arab Emirates at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. 20% of the World’s daily energy supplies pass through the Strait of Hormuz and Iran has historically made use of threats to close it in order to gain leverage in its geostrategic position. Should Iran ever follow through on those threats and close the Straits of Hormuz, even for a short time, the global economy would suffer a terrible shock.

Another strategic waterway playing a role in the crisis is the Bab al Mandab, the southern gateway into the Red Sea through which ships travelling to and from the Suez Canal must pass. Hundreds of ships a week go through this chokepoint including tankers carrying oil from the Gulf to Europe as well as cargo vessels taking goods and people between Europe and Asia. Iran’s role in supporting Yemen’s Houthi rebels gives it the ability to harass ships traveling through the Bab al-Mandab while allowing it to plausibly deny that it is doing so.

Last but not least, military ships pass through and guard all of these strategic chokepoints, and that’s where Israel comes in.

The IDF, along with the US, France, China and others, maintains a military base in Djibouti, the tiny rump state on the African coast across from Yemen. This base allows Israel to play a role in maintaining the security of international shipping through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, much to Iran’s irritation. But it was the possibility that Israel would join an international coalition, led by the US and UK, to maintain sea lines of communication in the Strait of Hormuz which ignited the full fury of Iran’s leaders in recent days.

In sentiments echoed by several other senior Iranian officials, Commander of the IRGC Navy, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, told the Lebanese news agency Al Mayadeen this week that "Any kind of presence of the Zionist Regime (Israel) in Persian Gulf is illegal as it may trigger war and conflict in the region."

In this context, the Iranian-backed Lebenese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah, fresh from its successful military intervention in the Syrian civil war, has been making threatening statements that it is prepared to unleash its vast arsenal of rockets on Israeli cities should a conflict involving Iran erupt, whether Israel is directly involved or not. The Islamist terror militia Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has made similar threats, making a two-front rocket barrage against Israel a very real possibility.

Hovering over all this geostrategic drama is the increasing tension over Iran’s renegade nuclear program and the unraveling of the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement which was meant to address it. A related trend is the budding military, intelligence and even diplomatic relationships between Israel and the Western and Arab governments which are also opposed to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and regional hegemony.
 
With all these unfolding developments on multiple fronts across different dimensions, one of the few things which can be known for certain is that the world is, both literally and figuratively, in the midst of Dire Straits. Israel, as always, is poised to play a crucial role while also being potentially threatened by devastating consequences for a mistake or miscalculation by any number of players.

Here are two videos giving some analytical context to this story



 

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