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Iran, Russia and Turkey Condemn US Troops in Syria

The governments of Iran and Russia issued a joint statement on Tuesday condemning the US military deployment meant to guard oil production facilities in northeastern Syria, ignoring US statements that the deployment was meant to prevent the facilities from being captured by the Islamic State (IS) terror militia and instead framing it as a simple theft of Syria’s natural resources by the US. “Any illegal exploitation of natural resources of a sovereign state without its consent is illegal and that is the view that we share," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Fahrettin Altun, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's communications director tweeted later in the day, tweeted a similar statement later in the day.

In related news, Turkish security forces announced on Tuesday that they had arrested 43 people on suspicion of their involvement in a plot by the Islamic State (IS) terror militia to carry out terrorist attacks inside Turkey. The attacks were planned on events celebrating Turkish National Day.

Governments in Lebanon and Iraq Toppling Amidst Protests
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced the resignation of his government in a televised statement Tuesday afternoon, acceding to the demands of protesters who have brought the countries economy to a near standstill in the last two weeks. The resignation also came despite violent attacks on protesters by supporters of the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah. Meanwhile, two of the main supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced on Tuesday that they supported his removal from office, possibly laying the groundwork for a new governing regime in Baghdad.

Here is a podcast giving some more context to this story

Bernie Sanders JStreet Speech Draws Harsh Rebukes
Democratic US Senator and Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders speech at the JStreet conference Tuesday drew sharp rebukes from Israel’s defenders, including former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who tweeted that "Just when you thought Bernie Sanders couldn’t get any more radical, he outdid himself. He wants to take money we give to Israel to defend itself from terrorists, and give it to Gaza, which is run by terrorists?? Unreal. Why isn’t every other Dem pres candidate saying he’s wrong?"

Here is a video which gives more context to this story

Governing Coalition Agreement Remains Elusive
The possibility of a third Knesset election in Israel appeared to grow this week as reports surfaced of sharp divisions within the Blue and White Party over the possibility of forming a minority government with support but not participation from the Joint (Arab) List. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said earlier in the week that “The best option moving forward is a unity government led by Blue and White together with Likud... However, we will not disregard any option or arrangement that will allow us to form a government.” At press time, negotiations between representatives from various factions was ongoing.

BDS Movement Suffers More Defeats
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered more defeats this week as European carmaker Porsche, as well as Union Tech Ventures and others announced another $9 million in funding for Israeli automotive technology startup Tactile Mobility. In a related development, Jerusalem is preparing to host a leg of the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix Series 2019, which begins on 11 December and will include competitions between 16 of the world’s top chess grandmasters.
Today's video gives an in-depth look at the ongoing standoff between Iran and Saudi Arabia

Israel on Alert for Attacks by Iran

The IDF air defense units and Israeli embassies around the world were on alert Tuesday amidst warnings that Iran may be preparing to launch attacks similar to the strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities earlier this month and/or terrorist attacks against Israel and Israeli or Jewish targets. "Iran wants to develop precision-guided missiles that can hit any target in Israel within 5-10 meters. It's doing it," Netanyahu said Monday evening during an event at the Jewish Agency.  "Iran wants to use Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen as bases to attack Israel with statistical missiles and precision-guided missiles. That is a great, great danger."

Here is the video of his full speech at the Jewish Agency event

Here is the video of another statement earlier in the day on this subject

Turkey in Negotiations to Buy Russian Warplane
Officials in Ankara told Defense News this week that Russia and Turkey are in an “advanced stage of negotiations” on a deal which could see NATO member Turkey buy the Russian-made Su-35 fighter aircraft. The negotiations, if finalized, would mark another stage in the shift of Turkey away from the West and towards Moscow following the procurement earlier this year of the Russian-built S-400 air-defense system by the Turkish military.

Protests Continue in Lebanon and Iraq
Street protests in Lebanon and Iraq continued on Monday despite increasing clashes between protesters and security forces and Iranian-backed militias in both countries. In Lebanon, roads were blocked and schools, banks and many businesses were closed for the last week, leading a Central Bank official to warn that the country is on the verge of economic collapse. In Iraq, the Army and counter-terrorism police have been deployed in Baghdad and other cities to crack down on a growing protest movement, with reports of a clash in the city of Karbala overnight Monday which left several people dead and wounded.

Norwegian Capital Joins BDS Movement
The incoming City Council in the Norwegian capital city of Oslo presented a platform Tuesday which included a ban on public procurementof goods and services from Israeli communities in the West Bank. The largely symbolic measure was applauded by the Norwegian branch of the BDS movement, which noted that Oslo was the sixth municipality in Norway to take this step.

Today's video shows yet another way Israel is blessing the World

Israelis React to Baghdadi Operation

Israel’s strategic analysis community reacted to the news on Sunday that a US Special Forces team had killed Islamic State (IS) terror militia leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with statements that expressed admiration for the US move and hope that it would help turn the tide against jihadi terrorism and the general trend of regional tumult throughout the Middle East. “For us Israelis, the threat from ISIS is secondary,” said Amos Yadlin, chief of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) think tank at Tel Aviv University. “We would like to see the US act in a similar way against [Iranian Quds force commander Qassem] Soleimani, and [Hezbollah head Hassan] Nasrallah.”

US President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid on his camp in Idlib Province, Syria, by US Special Operations teams. Various sources have confirmed that a raid took place which killed several senior IS operatives, although the death of al-Bagdadi was being questioned by the Kremlin and others.

Here is the video posted by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Analysts See Some Progress in Coalition Talks
Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet meeting Sunday morning that the country needs a government with “wide shoulders” able to make “hard decisions” amidst an escalating security crisis which IDF Chief of Staff Lt. General Aviv Kochavi said last week is menacing the Jewish State on all its borders. Just hours ahead of his meeting with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, which ended with no apparent progress towards a unity government, Netanyahu said that such a unity government “is what the State of Israel needs at the current time.”

Despite the meeting between Gantz and Netanyahu, which took place at the same time as meetings between representatives of Blue and White and other parties, ending without a dramatic announcement, analysts pointed t the lack of rancorous statements by either side as a sign of progress. Several Blue and White MKs also said during press interviews recently that they would not agree to proposals for forming a unity government with the anti-Zionist parties of the Joint (Arab) List.

Lebanon and Iraq Rocked by Massive Street Protests
Massive street demonstrations continued over the weekend in Lebanon and Iraq, with many protesters holding signs and chanting slogans against the influence of Iran in their countries. The protests in Lebanon showed no signs of dissipating despite pleas and even veiled threats of violence from the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shit’ite terror militia Hezbollah, while the Iraqi protests only seem to have intensified following a harsh crackdown by the Baghdad regime which has left over 100 protesters dead and many more wounded.

Israeli Women Shine in Defeat for BDS
The campaign to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered some more defeats over the weekend as two Israeli women made international headlines. The first was kickboxer Yulia Sachkov, who won the gold medal at the Kickboxing World Championship in Sarajevo, Bosnia on Saturday. The second was Dr. Deganit Paikowsky, who was appointed as a vice president of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), a space advocacy organization based in Paris.

“Your selection is a spectacular personal achievement,” said Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, “but also a huge accomplishment and a tremendous expression of the international community’s confidence in the State of Israel, its impact on the space industry, and the State of Israel’s achievements in state-of-the-art technology and research.”

Mnuchin Visit Focuses on Threats from Iran
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was in Jerusalem on Monday as part of a regional tour to visit with heads of state of US allies. Standing alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, he told reporters that sanctions on Iran are having the desired effect of weakening Teheran’s leverage over its neighbors. "We have executed on a maximum pressure campaign for sanctions,” he said. “They have worked, they are working, they are cutting off the money."

"We will continue to ramp up, more, more, more ... I just came from a very productive working lunch with your team. They gave us a bunch of very specific ideas that we will be following up."

Today’s video shows some recent work done by the Israel Antiquities Authority

FRIDAY FEATURE - Alone Together – Israel and Saudi Arabia

Reports surfaced on Thursday that on Tuesday evening, a privately-owned, US-registered business jet left Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, briefly landed in Amman, Jordan, then flew to Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia. After less than an hour, it took off again to fly directly back to Israel. Speculation about who was on the mystery flight and what they were up to has been rampant in the Israeli media ever since the news broke, but most analysts agree it could not have taken place without the knowledge and cooperation of governments in both countries. Given the lack of official diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia and the often harsh criticism of the Jewish State by the Sunni Muslim religious authorities in the Saudi kingdom, this stealthy flight raises many additional questions.

However, it has been an open secret for some time now that although there were no diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the military and intelligence services of the two countries have worked together, usually under the auspices of the US and in cooperation with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and other NATO allies, to address regional issues of mutual concern. This clandestine cooperation increased dramatically following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, which brought a massive new threat to both Jerusalem and Riyadh, but also was spurred by a mutual interest in confronting jihadist terrorism, piracy in the Red Sea, and other security challenges. Occasionally, it even extended into areas of environmental protection and economic development.

These quiet ties came close to the surface during the 1991 Persian Gulf War when Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles targeting both countries, leading to feelings of solidarity and parallel efforts at the UN and other international forums to address the crisis. The friendly public statements faded shortly after the conflict, however, and in the ensuing years, particularly after the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000, relations retreated back into the shadows.

However, another public thaw began around the summer of 2015 when Iran and the P5+1 powers signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement, which was vehemently opposed by both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Shortly thereafter, prominent members of Saudi Arabia’s strategic community, acting in their capacity as private citizens, began to appear on the same stage with their Israeli counterparts at conferences and think tank events in Western countries, usually as part of panel discussions on the threat from Iran and other regional issues. Regular reports also began to surface in Israeli and Arab newspapers about routine meetings between intelligence officials of Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Many military historians have also speculated that the Israeli raid on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak on 7 June, 1981, was almost certainly coordinated with Saudi Arabia, as the Israeli aircraft which bombed the reactor flew for hours through airspace which would usually be monitored by Saudi radar posts yet went unchallenged.

The rise to prominence in Saudi Arabia of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) sparked even more dramatic changes, with his “Vision 2030” plan to massively reform his country in almost every area from economics to foreign policy. Whispers of cooperation with Israel in many of these projects, particularly a plan to build a new hi-tech mega city on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast just a few hundred kilometers south of Israel’s resort city of Eilat, have become a staple in media outlets all over the region.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s reforms have also included a thawing in its attitude towards Israel’s Evangelical friends. During last week’s Feast of Tabernacles gathering in Jerusalem, ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler connected by Skype with Christian author Joel Richardson, who at that moment was leading the first-ever group of Evangelical Christian tourists on a visit to Saudi Arabia. During the call, which was projected onto screens for Feast pilgrims at the Pais Arena in Jerusalem, Richardson held up a Bible and declared that the long-time ban on bringing this book into Saudi Arabia had been lifted, along with many other similar restrictions.

Here is the video of this Skype exchange, captured during a special Feast seminar session “Breakthrough in Saudi Arabia”  (Video starts at 2:02 and goes through 2:45)

The Feast session also featured CBN Middle East bureau chief Chris Mitchell recounting his recent week-long visit to Saudi Arabia as part of an Evangelical delegation led by Joel Rosenberg, which included a first-ever Christian group hosted by Crown Prince bin Salman at his royal palace.

However, in recent weeks, there have been some dramatic regional developments which might force Israel and Saudi Arabia to draw even closer together and perhaps even openly acknowledge their cooperative efforts.

US President Donald Trump’s decision not to respond reflexively to drone and missile strikes on the Saudi Aramco oil processing facility in the Abqaiq and Khurais oil fields in September stunned many in Israel’s strategic community, leading some analysts to openly declare that America is abandoning its regional allies and that “Israel is alone” in its standoff against Iran. Trump’s subsequent decision to withdraw the 1,000 US troops deployed to northeastern Syria in a train-advise-assist mission to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), composed mostly of Kurdish militias who helped beat back the threat of the Islamic State (IS) terror militia in recent years, led to even more urgent warnings of American retreat from the region.

However, there also were voices in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates saying that if Israel was alone in the standoff with Iran, and the Gulf Arab states also were alone in the same standoff, then the only logical conclusion is that Israel and Saudi Arabia are alone together.

This is the conundrum that now faces both countries. Despite decades of public enmity and mutual suspicion fueled by a vast political, religious, cultural and ethnic divide, can the richest country in the Middle East and the most militarily powerful county in the Middle East come together to effectively confront a common threat without the guiding hand and mollifying influence of their superpower ally which appears to be losing interest?

Israelis and their friends around the world will be watching and praying as this situation, so fraught with danger but also promise, continues to unfold.

Gantz Begins 28 Day Mandate to Form Government

Israel’s political process continued on Wednesday evening as Blue and White leader Benny Gantz formally accepted the mandate to form a government during a brief ceremony at the President’s Residence. A few hours later at midnight, the clock started ticking on a 28-day period during which Gantz will attempt to form a governing coalition and avoid a third Knesset election that no one wants but which many analysts have said appears to be highly likely.

“Those who try to drag Israel to a third election will be rejected by the people of Israel and will disappear from the political map,” Gantz said, in an apparent reference to incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The citizens of Israel will not forgive those who put their own personal good first, ahead of the national interest.” Referring to the ongoing criminal investigations against Netanyahu, Gantz pressed on saying “both of us realize that your legal situation necessitates making a change.”

“I will form a government that will seek peace but will defeat any enemy,” he concluded.

Trump Announces End of Sanctions on Turkey
US President Donald Trump declared during a White House press conference on Wednesday that he was ordering the lifting of economic sanctions against Turkey in response to its compliance with a cease-fire deal negotiated between Ankara and Moscow earlier this week. He also said that the countries of the Middle East must do more to police their own region. “It's their neighborhood, they have to maintain it,” he said.

Here is the video of his full remarks

Iran Criticized for Executing Minors
Javaid Rehman, an independent expert who has been investigating the human rights record of Iran’s security apparatus on behalf of the UN, told a meeting of the Human Rights Committee on Wednesday that the security forces of the Islamic Republic routinely carries out the death penalty against minors. His report noted that there are currently 90 individuals in Iran who are imprisoned on a death sentence despite being under 18 years of age at the time of their offense. He also reported on a variety of other human rights abuses by Iranian officials and security forces against their own citizens.

Tensions Continue to Escalate in Lebanon
Aging Lebanese President Michael Aoun gave a televised address to his countrymen on Thursday in an attempt to blunt massive street protests which threaten to upend its delicate political and sectarian balance and plunge it once more into civil war. The Lebanese Armed Forces were continuing their policy of remaining neutral in the standoff although the ground forces have been mobilized and deployed to several cities in an effort to discourage rioting and also, according to statements by some officers, protect protesters from efforts by Iranian-backed militias to intimidate and/or attack them.

Archeologists Display Artifacts from Byzantine Church
Archeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered the remains of a Byzantine church at a dig near the modern Israeli city of Beit Shemesh recently. Inscriptions and intricate floor mosaics at the site identify it as the “Church of the Glorious Martyr” and indicate that it was visited by thousands of pilgrims annually during the late 5th Century AD, following its construction in the middle of that century.

“The vision of the Bible Lands Museum is to provide a cultural, educational and experiential facility that connects the visitors who cross its gates to the roots of the past,” commented Director Amanda Weiss of the Bible Lands Museum, which is currently hosting an exhibit from the site.  “We are delighted by our partnering with the IAA, which allows us to present the impressive findings unearthed at the Church of the ‘Glorious Martyr’ with the help of thousands of volunteers and youth.”

Today's video shows a panel discussion on the 25th anniversery of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan

Russian-Turkish Deal for Syria Announced

The Kremlin issued a statement Tuesday following a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, saying the two had struck a deal that would see the Syrian Kurdish factions withdrawing their forces from the Turkish border region and redeploying further south under the supervision of Russian and Assad regime troops. The statement added a warning to the Kurdish factions that they had been abandoned by the US, broadly hinting to other US allies in the region that this was unlikely to an isolated case.

"The United States has been the Kurds' closest ally in recent years. (But) in the end, it abandoned the Kurds and, in essence, betrayed them," Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov told reporters. "Now they (the Americans) prefer to leave the Kurds at the border (with Turkey) and almost force them to fight the Turks."

Here are two recent podcasts giving some analysis of this situation

On Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad for meetings with officials of the Baghdad regime which were likely to include discussions of the US troops who are leaving Syria for Iraq. The regime has made clear to Washington that they must not stay in Iraq, even to fight the Islamic State terror militia, as the Pentagon initially announced they would be doing. The meeting also comes amidst large-scale street protests in Iraqi cities against what protesters have said are unacceptable rates of unemployment, poor government services to the citizenry and widespread public corruption.

In related news, large crowds continued to gather in the streets of Lebanese cities on Tuesday and Wednesday despite public appeals for calm by the Iranian-backed Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah, the most powerful faction in the country. Reports had begun to surface on Monday of clashes between supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal Shi’ite group on one side and protesters on the other, with the Lebanese National Army attempting to get between the two sides to prevent clashes from getting out of control. Leaders of the LNA have also publicly stated that they will not confront the protesters on behalf of the government.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah leaders have darkly hinted that they are prepared to send their fighters to violently disperse the protesters if things get to a certain undefined point, leading to fears of a new civil war in Lebanon which could be even more devastating than the last one which raged from 1975-1990.

Here is a video about Israeli communities close to the border with Lebanon

Soaking Rain Marks Early Beginning of Winter

Israelis were awakened early Wednesday morning to the sounds of thunder and rain as an early winter storm washed the country and began the process of re-filling lakes, streams, rivers and subterranean aquifers after the heat of summer. "We're at the beginning of fall, therefore temperatures are still nice and warm during the day," Meteo-Tech forecaster Tzachi Waksman told Ynet. "The rainfall might resume over the weekend and maybe even get colder in the days that follow."

Poll Shows Public Shift Against Netanyahu
Amidst speculation that Israel might be headed to yet another Knesset election early next year, a poll was released Tuesday evening showing that a slight majority of voters is ready for Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister. Netanayhu appeared unfazed by the poll, celebrating his 70th birthday on Tuesday with the help of some of his comrades from his days of commanding the IDF General Staff Reconnaissance Unit at the Crusader fortress at Kochav Hayarden National Park in northern Israel.

"Fifty years ago, in the southern approaches to Afula, I received these boys. They have not changed much, I must say,” the prime minister said.  “I would like to say that I had the privilege of having such soldiers,” Netanyahu said. “I have had the privilege that we have kept this bond, a very special and very strong bond. I can only wish that we will meet here in another 50 years."

Israel Blesses the World
A delegation of Israeli health care specialists recently visited the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan to assist the regional government there in improving health services. The specialists from the Israeli health system representatives and Maccabi Health Services are scheduled to make more such trips in the future and be ready for regular consultations as the project, which has been given a $100 million budget, moves forward.

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

Iranian Judo Federation Banned from Competition
The International Judo Federation (IJF) issued a statement Tuesday indefinitely extending a ban on Iranian athletes from competition over the policy of the clerical regime in Teheran of refusing to engage Israeli athletes. Iranian Judoku Saeid Mollaei walked away from his team during the world championships in Tokyo last month in protest against being ordered to intentionally lose a semi-final match rather than risk being pitted against an Israeli athlete in the next round, leading to an investigation into Iran’s policies.

Toyota Partnering with Israeli Venture Capital Firm
In the latest defeat for efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the trading arm of the Toyota Group, announced this week that it is entering into a partnership with Jerusalem-based venture capital crowdfunding platform OurCrowd. "The future belongs to the bold who are implementing game changing technologies," said Minoru Murata, executive vice president, regional CEO & CTO of Toyota Tsusho. “Our partnership with OurCrowd will bring us these key technologies and leaders to work together on the next generation of global challenges."

Today's video shows how Israelis live close to the Lebanese border

Netanyahu Returns Mandate to Form Government

Israel’s incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Reuven Rivlin on Monday evening shortly after the end of the Simhat Torah holiday, informing him that he was unable to form a governing coalition and formally returning the mandate he had received to do so nearly four weeks ago. On Tuesday morning, Rivlin announced that he was giving Blue and White leader Benny Gantz an opportunity to form a governing coalition and manoeuvring by the factions which made it into the 22nd Knesset began almost immediately thereafter.

"I hope and believe that we will be able to create a basic infrastructure that everyone can connect to," Gantz said on Tuesday morning. "If everyone will know to give up a little bit, everyone will have a lot more room together."

Lebanon Erupting in Popular Discontent
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Israel’s northern neighbour of Lebanon, angered by years of government corruption, incompetence and mismanagement which has in recent weeks seen an inadequate response to raging forest fires which have destroyed large swaths of forest as well as dozens of homes and businesses. Proposed tax increases on mobile messaging apps as well as other economic austerity measures were the final straw for many protesters whose demands now include the mass exodus of the entire hereditary political class in Lebanon and fresh elections.

Jordanian Official Warns Peace Treaty with Israel Endangered
Speaker of the Jordanian House of Representatives and president of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Atef Tarawneh addressed the 141st International Parliamentary Union Assembly in Belgrade on Monday, saying among other things that Israeli “violations” against Jerusalem are putting the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel at risk. “We in Jordan, who are signatory to a peace treaty with the Israeli occupation government, see today that this peace is under threat, in light of the blatant violation of its terms, especially with the issue of Jerusalem,” said Tarawneh.

Egypt and Ethiopia at Odds Over Nile
Talks over the construction of a massive dam by Ethiopia which Egypt says will cripple its economy broke down on Tuesday amidst statements by state-linked media outlets in both countries that they do not wish to go to war over the issue but they are ready to if need be. The $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is nearly 70% completed and is set to greatly increase the supply of both water and electricity for Ethiopia’s 100 million+ people, but Egyptian officials openly describe the issue of their water supply as a “matter of life and death” for their equally large population.

The escalating crisis is taking place amidst simmering popular anger against the regime which rules in Cairo and a lingering military confrontation with the Islamic State terror militia in the Sinai.

Today’s video gives some insights on Chinese Strategy in the Middle East

Erdogan Threatens New Assault on Syrian Kurds

Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to resume a full-scale offensive against Kurdish-led forces in north-eastern Syria when a US-brokered ceasefire is scheduled to end, unless the US keeps promises he insisted had been made to him regarding the conflict. Meanwhile, pressure on Turkey to end its invasion of the Kurdish-dominated region has mounted from several quarters in recent days, including the US Congress as well as the Kremlin and even Iran. Troops loyal to the Assad regime, backed by Russian forces, have been deployed to towns within Turkey’s proposed “safe zone” along the border, presumably as a blocking force to physically stop Erdogan’s plans if necessary.

Meanwhile, opposition groups estimate that around 300,000 people have been displaced by the latest round of fighting in Syria while several hundred on all sides have been killed and wounded.

"We need to stop the slaughter. We need to ensure that we don't enable ISIS (the Islamic State militant group)," Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen told a news conference on Monday. "I blame Turkey more than anyone. Turkey's invasion has put at risk the defeat of the caliphate," and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.

Also on Monday, Iranian government officials denounced what they called the “unacceptable” notion that Turkey would set up permanent military presence in northeast Syria, and area they would like to use for their own plans of establishing a land corridor from Iranian territory to Lebanon, where their terror proxy Hezbollah is poised to seize power amidst massive social and political upheaval.

Meanwhile, analysts warned of the possibility of intensifying civil unrest in neighboring Iraq, which could have a further destabilizing influence on the entire region.

Here is a podcast giving some further insights into the situation in Iraq

Israelis Decry Yom Kippur Synagogue Attack in Germany

Israelis reacted with sadness and anger Wednesday evening as Yom Kippur ended and they checked the news to see reports of an attack on a synagogue in Halle, in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. The attacker, who killed two bystanders but failed to penetrate the synagogue, live-streamed his actions on an online video game platform after broadcasting a short statement in which he blamed Jews for many of the social, economic and political problems facing Germany. “We saw via the camera system at our synagogue that a heavily armed perpetrator with a steel helmet and a gun tried to shoot open our doors,” Max Privorozki, Halle’s Jewish community chairman told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper. “But our doors held. We barricaded the doors from inside and waited for the police.”

He added that at the time of the attack there were around 80 people inside the synagogue observing Yom Kippur.

“That on the Day of Atonement a synagogue was shot at hits us in the heart,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter. “We must all act against antisemitism in our country.”|

“I call on the leaders of Germany and the Free World to bring the full force of law against antisemitism and its results,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said. “We will continue to campaign for education and remembrance in the fight on antisemitism, which raises its head again and again in Europe and across the world, based on a the clear understanding that it is not a problem of the Jews alone, but threatens to destroy us all.”

"We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in Germany and worldwide in the face of this depraved assault on a sacred place on this most sacred of days for our Jewish friends,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “It is past time for European and other world leaders to truly confront the rising tide of antisemitism in our midst. We also offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims in today’s violent hate crime.”

Here is a video in which IDF Soldiers sing Kol Nidre for Yom Kippur

BDS Movement Suffers Another Defeat
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat this week when Israeli fashion designer, Hed Mayner, won the Karl Lagerfeld Prize from the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, beating out over 1,700 competitors from 100 different countries. “I am so proud to be the first Israeli designer to ever enter this competition, let alone win this prize,” said Mayner. “I spend a lot of my time in Paris, but Israel is always part of who I am, there is a sense of freedom here that cannot be felt anywhere else in the world.”


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