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March 14, 2018

NETANYAHU - ISRAEL'S WINSTON CHURCHILL OR RICHARD NIXON?

For two weeks Israel has been totally absorbed in a political frenzy focused on Prime minister Bibi Netanyahu and the question - is he an Israeli Winston Churchill or a Richard Nixon. The subject of no less than four full-blown investigations into corruption charges, Bibi was battling for his political life and possibly over serving jail time. He rose to the occasion - at his best, or worst, depending on whether you love or detest him. Contending that he was the victim of a witch-hunt, the PM portrayed himself as an Israel Winston C Churchill and only he can take on the threats to the Jewish state today, first and foremost Iran's vow to annihilate it (besides, Bibi also loves cigars). To the state-witnesses and mounting evidence that he was involved in a series of seedy dealings, Netanyahu pleaded innocent and declared loud and clear to the Israeli public: 'I am not a crook!'

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March 04, 2018

NETANYAHU'S COALITION CRISIS - CRISIS OR COMEDY?

Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and wife Sarah flew merrily off to Washington with his coalition partners in a frenzy - the Ashkenazi ultra-orthodox party, which holds the balance of power in the coalition government, was threatening to topple the government. And why was that? Simply because the cabinet was not ready to pass a new basic law that would exempt all its young religious men, who study all day, from enlisting in the IDF like the rest of the other eighteen-year-old Israeli men and women. Nearly all of the ultra-orthodox are already legal draft dodgers, but the ultra-orthodox politicians have been ordered by their rabbis to press for even stiffer legislation. Such as including it in Israel's informal constitution that is made up of 'basic laws' that can only be altered in the future by an overwhelming majority and not by a simple majority.

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January 14, 2018

ISRAEL TAKES ON TUNNELS, TERROR, AND IRAN

Israel is now engaged in an active low-intensity war on three fronts: Gaza, the West Bank and the Iranian-Hezbollah forces in Syria. In the past week or so, there has been a noticeable escalation in hostile activity in these three arenas. However, the IDF has things well in hand, so much so that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu was able to fly off on an official visit to India. However, his prodigal son Yair, after his latest escapade, was left behind. More on Yair's caper later.

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September 20, 2017

WILL TRUMP NOW SHOOT DOWN ANY NEW PROVOCATIVE NORTH KOREAN MISSILES? THAT'S WHAT JFK PROBABLY WOULD HAVE DONE

President Donald Trump could not have been any clearer- the US is ready, willing and able to totally destroy North Korea, if it continues with its nuclear weapons program. Trump's verbal escalation in the UN General Assembly should have left little to the imagination – even for a lunatic like Kim Jong un. On the other hand, Trump's declaration should not come as a surprise. Remember Barbara Tuchman's memorable phrase about a 'lantern on the stern' when it comes to charting a course for America's ship-of-state. Not just the mercurial Trump, but probably all US presidents would have issued the same severe warning – are they not duty-bound by their presidential oath to 'protect and defend' the constitution, the embodiment of the USA? And is North Korea now bent on building ballistic missiles that can reach America's West Coast?

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July 29, 2017

IN ISRAEL, TEMPLE MOUNT DISASTER UNLIKELY TO TOPPLE NETANYAHU

Most Israelis believe Prime Minister Netanyahu screwed up in his handling of the Temple Mount crisis but are willing to forgive him. That is the conclusion of the latest opinion polls that show about 70% feel he handled the affair badly, but if an election were held today, as things stand, Bibi would still form a new coalition government. And that is the bottom line in the sorry story of what has transpired since three Israeli Arabs shot dead two Israeli policemen on Temple Mount on July 15th. So far, the Palestinian rioting has still not ceased although Bibi removed the new metal detectors installed to prevent more sub-machine guns from being smuggled into the religious site for killing more Israelis.

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July 09, 2017

ISRAEL'S LABOR PARTY AT FATEFUL CROSSROADS

By the time you read this article, Israel's Zionist Union (old Labor) will have elected its new party leader. Over fifty thousand Laborites will have determined whether newcomer Avi Gabay or old-timer Amir Peretz will take the helm from Yitzhak Herzog, who lost badly in the recent primary after leading the party into near oblivion.

Full disclosure: early on, Isracast took the position that only Gabay had the slightest chance of defeating Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu if he is the Likud candidate in the next general election slated for no later than Nov. 15th, 2019.

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June 25, 2017

TENSION RISING ALONG ISRAEL'S BORDERS WITH SYRIA & LEBANON

Saturday afternoon on the Golan Heights: Hundreds of Israeli visitors are enjoying the annual cherry picking festival. Suddenly, a barrage of ten mortar bombs rains down inside Israeli territory opposite the deserted Syrian town of Kuneitra. Just seven hundred yards away inside Syria, President Assad's army has been battling rebel forces. Israeli spotters identify the source of the mortar fire in a nearby Syrian army position. Israel's policy is to steer clear of the Syrian civil war that has raged for seven years. However, Jerusalem also holds Syrian President Assad responsible for any artillery fire from his territory into Israel, whether it is accidental or deliberate. And so within a very short time, Israeli aircraft rocket the Syrian position, hitting two tanks. The Syrians reported later that two of their soldiers were killed. Meanwhile, Israeli visitors in the immediate region were ordered to leave. It was the most serious Israeli-Syrian clash since February, and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman again clarified that Israel will not tolerate any spillover of shooting into Israeli territory. At the same time, it's Assad's call - if there is more Syrian shooting across the frontier, the IDF will hit back hard.

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April 02, 2017

NETANYAHU IMPOSES PARTIAL FREEZE ON SETTLEMENTS

Remember Henry's Kissinger's 'constructive ambiguity'? We are now seeing President Trump's version of it, possibly on the advice of his special emissary Jason Greenblatt, who recently visited the region to meet separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But how can Bibi's decision to establish a new settlement, the first new one in 25 years, aid in a resumption of peace negotiations? (All the other construction of housing units was within the boundaries of existing settlements on the West Bank).

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March 12, 2017

ISRAEL RESETS RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW & WASHINGTON

The state's two top leaders have returned from similar missions - Prime Minister Netanyahu went to Moscow and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Washington to determine how Israel can better 'coordinate' strategic policies with Russia and the U.S. There are several urgent reasons for doing so as a new strategic landscape is fast emerging in the region in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal and the winding down of the Syrian Civil War; and in fact, there is a link between the two.

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January 21, 2017

ISRAEL AWAITS TWO SAVIORS

Israel's Right wing fervently hopes and believes US President Donald Trump will reverse America's former policy that opposed settlement building in the West Bank. From Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on down, the Right wingers also trust the US will serve as a bulwark to anti-Israel moves at the UN and in other international forums. A first indicator will be if Trump keeps his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the face of bitter Palestinian and Muslim threats. But his credibility is at stake. Could this mean he will, as reported, suffice with some half-measure like moving the Ambassador's official residence to Jerusalem, while the embassy would remain in Tel Aviv?

Trump's Inauguration address focused on his 'America First' theme and bringing back home American jobs. If so, this might trigger a global trade war. Or then again, will Trump's bark prove to be worse than his bite?

On Friday evening, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu rushed off his best wishes to Trump:

       'Congratulations to my friend President Trump. I look forward to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel and America stronger than ever. Shabbat Shalom'.

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January 14, 2017

ISRAELI EARTHQUAKE IF ISRAEL'S ATTORNEY GENERAL PROSECUTES BIBI FOR FRAUD

The fate of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is now in the hands of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. A full blown police investigation of the PM is now underway on two counts:

  1. A tape recording, now in the hands of the police, reportedly proves Bibi and Yediot Ahronot newspaper owner Noni Moses discussed how to rig control over the sale and content of newspapers in Israel. This included the freebie Yisrael Hayom that totally backs Bibi and is financed by Sheldon Adelson, the American casino tycoon. (Get this: Bibi himself taped Moses. The PM now claims he did so to discredit the owner of the newspaper that hauled him over the coals day in and out. The only problem is that their secret powwows took place years ago and Bibi never handed over the recordings to the police after colluding with Moses on what was apparently a serious breech of trust, if not more).
  2. Bibi and his wife Sara (who has a habit of getting into hot water with the law) are suspected of having received some one hundred thousands dollars in super expensive cigars and champagne from Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan. The Netanyahus contend these were legitimate gifts between close buddies and not bribes.
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November 27, 2016

ISRAEL ENGULFED IN DISASTROUS FOREST FIRES & GERMAN SUBS

So far, no people have been killed, but over one thousand homes have been destroyed or damaged while tens of thousands of people were evacuated as the flames raced towards their communities. Some Israelis had to race for their lives carrying their small children and pets. Thousands of animals perished in the flames while tens of thousands of trees have been incinerated in over two hundred separate fires. Forestland that was planted and developed over the decades has been left a wasteland. It is a national disaster.

Visiting the Hatzor Air Base from where special firefighting aircraft have been 'bombing' the fires around the clock, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said experts have concluded there is no doubt that arsonists are involved, although the dry weather and strong winds may have started the inferno. Thirty-three Palestinian suspects have been arrested as the investigation continues. Netanyahu believes the arson campaign is a 'derivative' of the wave of 'lone wolf' terrorism that started over a year ago. Now it is a case of terrorists deliberately igniting forest fires rather than wielding knives or hatchets. In other words: 'If you can't stab them, let's burn them!'

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June 17, 2016

Netanyahu Faces Political Rebellion in Israel

Ongoing genocide of Yazidis in Syria...

Yazidis are neither Muslim nor Arab, and follow a distinct faith that is abhorred by Daesh. At this very moment, Daesh is perpetrating genocide of 400,000 Yazidi women, children and men, mostly in Syria. Everyone has known it's been going on and now the UN has verified it. Chairman Paul Pinheiro has issued a report by the UN commission of Inquiry in Geneva disclosing:

       'Genocide has occurred and is ongoing. ISIS (Daesh) has subjected every Yazidi woman, child and man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities. Girls as young as nine are being raped, as are pregnant women. More than 3,200 Yazidi women and children are being held mostly in Syria'.

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May 08, 2015

NETANYAHU'S NIGHTMARE - 'EVERY BASTARD A KING!'

 'By hook and by crook', Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has apparently cobbled together a majority of one in the 120-member Knesset. Even as I write, Likud Knesset Member Ayub Kara has threatened not to show up for the required Knesset vote of approval on May 13th, unless Bibi first promises to make him a cabinet minister. This illustrates the nightmare now facing Netanyahu: every one of his miniscule majority will have the power to topple his new shaky coalition comprised of the Right Wing Likud, the Far Right Jewish home and the Centrist Kahlon party. There is a literal Hebrew expression that describes it perfectly: 'Every bastard will be a king!'

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March 19, 2015

BIBI'S COMEBACK = U.S. REASSESSMENT

 What is on the line is America's three billion dollar grant in military aid for Israel to buy American made weapons, and political support in world forums such as the United Nations. Obama and his Secretary of State, John Kerry, have already brushed aside Bibi's dire warnings about a nuclear deal with Iran that is now being forged with the Iranians, who are squeezing out every last concession from Washington with the goal of leaving their formidable nuclear weapons potential intact for a future break out. This will occur probably after Obama kisses good-by to the White House and Tehran has rebuilt its failing economy as a result of the current international sanctions. 

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March 13, 2015

ISRAEL'S NEW PRIME MINISTER - ISAAC HERZOG?

 What's been happening? It's the economy, stupid! For the first time, domestic politics has come home to roost for Netanyahu, who has focused his campaign on the Iranian nuclear threat, while housing prices and the cost of living have been going through the roof during Bibi's last six years in office. In his home stretch interviews Bibi has admitted that 'mistakes' have been made and he pledges to rectify them. But it may be too late. The far Right 'Jewish Home' party has also dealt Bibi a body blow by siphoning off voters from the Likud. (Paradoxically, a majority of Israelis think Bibi is better qualified than 'Buji' to be PM but they say they will still cast their ballots for Jewish Home or the religious parties).

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January 01, 2015

PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT'S DIPLOMATIC SHOCK TACTICS

 Why did the UN Security Council reject a Palestinian resolution demanding Israel's unconditional withdrawal from all of the West Bank by the end of 2017? Clearly Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should have realized there are limits to ganging up on Israel, even at the world body. Did Abbas imply get carried away with the built-in majority for the Palestinians in such bodies as the General assembly, and the Human Rights Council that spends most of its time bashing the Jewish State? The question is, why did Abbas persist in presenting the one-sided resolution when he could have waited until after the New Year when the new composition of the Security Council would probably have passed it with the nine member majority? Simply because he knew the U.S. would have cast its veto and killed the resolution anyway. So he chose not to annoy the U.S., and gained popularity points on the West Bank for making Israel sweat it out.

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December 19, 2014

ISRAELI ELECTION CAMPAIGN FOR DUMMIES

 They are fed up with both his foreign and domestic policies. Israel has been suffering one diplomatic defeat after another in the international arena and the cost of living, mainly housing prices, has been skyrocketing during his tenure. And that is why the March 17th election is now up for grabs and why the ruling Likud party is now in trouble. While the polls show that no other candidate comes close to Netanyahu for being the most experienced 'in taking the telephone call at three AM in the morning', Israelis do not select the prime minister but vote for the list of candidates presented by the various parties running in the election. This is the crux of the current campaign. 

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December 03, 2014

ISRAEL'S EARLY ELECTION SET FOR MARCH 17

 The process has been set in motion for the Knesset to dissolve parliament after just 18 months in office. There are no snap elections in Israel - the law stipulates some three months for an intensive election campaign that is funded by public money. Each party selects lists of candidates that are presented to the voters. After ballots are tallied, it will then be up to State President Reuven Rivlin to meet with the various elected parties with the aim of selecting the party leader with the best prospect for forming a new coalition government; in other words, one that can command a parliamentary majority in the 120-member House. 

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April 19, 2014

MOSHE KAHLON - ISRAEL'S FUTURE PRIME MINISTER?

 Could Moshe Kahlon, who is barely known outside of Israel, become a future prime minister? Who knows? It's a long shot, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. The Likud Cabinet minister achieved immense popularity and prestige in the former Netanyahu government, but then dropped a bombshell by refusing to run in the last election in January 2013. At the time, Kahlon turned down the pleas of the Likud and Netanyahu, saying he wanted some time off from politics. After attending an advanced course at Harvard for foreign administrators, Kahlon has returned to Israel and to Israeli politics. The affable and soft Kahlon has now sounded a political war cry that is likely to shake up the next election campaign when it comes around. If Kahlon does decide to make a serious bid to run for the premiership, it will be the first time a Mizrachi Jew has done so, and that could have an important impact on traditional voting patterns in Israel. (Mizrachi Jews hail from Middle East countries, and Ashkenazi Jews are from Europe or Americas). 

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