#Israel and #Hezbollah: thats enough now!

28 Jan

Anyone who planned the alleged Israeli strike last week in Syria which killed senior Hezbollah operatives and one Iranian General knew that Hezbollah was going to retaliate.

Hezbollah soldiers saluting. Source

That retaliation came today in the form of an attack against several Israeli jeeps in the Har Dov area. Two Israeli soldiers were killed, several were wounded.

Now Hezbollah has sent a message to Israel saying:

We don’t want further escalation.

I think Israel should hold its fire. We don’t want this situation to turn into a war. Its not good for us or for Hezbollah.

Unless of course Hezbollah attacks again, or that it starts building a military networks on the Golan heights, as Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin stated tonight Hezbollah wants to do.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese organization. Hezbollah bases in Lebanon? Understandable. Hezbollah bases in Syria, a foreign country where Hezbollah is helping its regime kill hundreds of thousands of its civilians? No.

A Hezbollah base against Israel on the Golan heights would be unacceptable to any Israeli government, be it Likud or Labor. No one in Israel would be willing to accept such a scenario.

But, lets wait and see what actions Hezbollah takes next.

We all have bigger priorities. Hezbollah’s Iranian patrons have their negotiations with the P5+1 to worry about. Hezbollah has ISIS to worry about. And we in Israel have social – economic challenges which desperately need to be addressed by our politicians.

#Iran – Esfahan the city of Polish children

28 Jan

Polish stamp commemorating Polish children who took refuge in the city of Esfahan. Source

Throughout history, millions of people have sought refuge in Iran. This is especially true when it comes to neighbouring countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the last three decades, millions of people from both countries have taken or took refuge in Iran.

But Polish refugees in Iran? Jewish Polish refugees in my ancestral city of Esfahan during WWII?In fact there were so many Polish children in Esfahan during the war that a recent commemoration stamp was issued by the Polish authorities (see right). On the stamp it says “Isfahan – Miasto Dzieci Polskich”, meaning “Isfahan – the City of Polish Children”.

What were they doing there?

They were a part of 450,000 people who took refuge in Iran during the war.

You can learn more about their fascinating history in this interview with Dr Lior Sternfeld. He is an Israeli scholar and is currently a lecturer of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Soon he will be joining Penn State University as an Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies. Wish him the best.

You can find the article here

The World Economic Forum: Top risks for 2015

27 Jan

200 million people without work around the world. Would you consider that a global risk?

Do you think it could affect your life?

We live in a globalized world. What happens in one country now affects many others. Iran and Israel may be physically disconnected, but they are not immune from global risks.

See below, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) top five risks for 2015. Short, sharp and to the point.

See which ones could affect your country. I know which ones are likely to affect Iran and Israel.

Interview: why I am against new #Iran sanctions

26 Jan

Don’t get me wrong, I think sanctions have worked so far. As I mentioned in my commentary piece for the Guardian in April 2013, they have forced the Iranian regime to change its stance. This is one of the main reasons why the regime changed course and allowed the Iranian government to show compromise at the nuclear talks.

But new sanctions while the talks or continuing? or passing sanctions which kick into effect if the talks fail, while we are holding nuclear negotiations with Iran? I am against them. We should wait until the deadline for the current talks, which is at the end of June 2015. We can wait that long.

I explained them in my latest interview with NPR. The audio file contains more of my comments than the text version.

You can listen to it here.

Highlights from today’s #Iran vs #Iraq football match

23 Jan

Iranian fans at the Asian Cup in Australia. Source

Today Iran played Iraq, as part of the Asian Cup tournament currently taking place in Australia.

It was one of the best matches I have seen in a long time.

The two sides drew 3-3 and it went to penalties. Iran lost.

There is a lot of controversy regarding the referee’s performance during the game. In any case it was very exciting to watch the match. Lots of praying, lots of jumping up and down.

Football belongs to the people of Iran. It represents the people of Iran and not the regime. So when team Iran plays, every Iranian, no matter what ethnicity or religion gets behind the team.

Here are the highlights from today’s unforgettable match. Shame that Iran lost. A big shame. Very sad.

What does Putin think about #Iran and #Israel security concerns?

21 Jan

Vladimir Putin. Source: Wikipedia

Yesterday, Iran and Russia signed a military cooperation deal.

According to AFP:

The deal provides for joint exercises and military training, as well as “cooperation in peacekeeping, maintaining regional and international security and stability, and fighting against separatism and extremism,” the Iranian defence ministry website said.

It’s not clear whether Russia will finally supply the S-300 missiles as part of this latest deal. Some say a solution has been found but many in Iran will be forgiven for not trusting Russia. Time will tell.

It must be remembered that in 2007 Iran and Russia signed a $800 million agreement according to which Russia was supposed to have been delivered the S-300 missiles.

Since 2007, not only Russia has not delivered the missiles (which it had built), it even went as far as dismantling and recycling them. Iran decided to launch a lawsuit against Russia, demanding $4 billion in compensation.

There are people both in Israel and Iran who mistrust Putin. They see him as someone who can not be trusted.

The question is: what does Putin think about Iran and Israel’s security concerns? Does he dismiss them? Does he think Israel is exaggerating? Does he believe that Iran is the victim or the aggressor?

This segment of his interview which he gave to the Kremlin controlled RT shows his opinion. It was filmed in June 2013, before the Ukraine crisis. Nevertheless, I think it says a lot about his level of understanding regarding both countries, and their security concerns.

#Iran Foreign Minister Zarif and his domestic challenges

21 Jan

Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Source: wikipedia

What is Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif up against inside Iran? What pressure is he under?

Is the pressure he faces at home bigger than the pressure he faces abroad?

Will the recent clashes on the Israel – Syria border affect the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1?

Did the Iranian General who was killed in Syria reportedly by Israel belong to the Quds force?

These are some of the questions I tried to answer in my interview with Allison Kaplan Sommer today for the TLV1 radio station.

You can listen to it here


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