There is so much misery in this region. There are wars, poverty, inequality, extremism. I could go on.
But there is also so much beauty. The Middle East is home to some of the most ancient cultures and traditions, religions and some of the most friendly and hospitable people. It has some of the most breathtaking mountains, deserts and beaches.
One of the most beautiful countries in this region is Iran. You may or may not have known this, especially since all most of what you hear in the news about Iran is negative: terrorism, nuclear program, abuse of human rights etc…
But never judge a country by politicians. This is especially true about Iran.
Remember the golden rule: whatever you think of Iranian politicians, the opposite is most probably true about the people and country of Iran. The latter have little control over the former. Very little.
But don’t let that stop you from learning and enjoying the sights and sounds of Iran. Its an amazing country, filled incredible people. The people of Iran are our friends and regional neighbours.
Enjoy this short and beautiful clip about the land of my birth.
The IRGC says the UAV which was shot down was HERMES UAV which Israel operates
Yesterday, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) of Iran announced that it had shot down an Israeli UAV.
Today it released photos of what it says are the remains of the alleged Israeli UAV. However it did not show any proof that the UAV belonged to Israel.
There was additional news today from Iran where the IRGC stated that the UAV was not launched directly from Israel.
What is interesting is that the government of Israel has refused to comment on this issue.
We can assume that this could be due to (at least) three reasons:
- The UAV was in fact Israeli, or
- The UAV had nothing to do with Israel. But by staying silent the government of Israel wants to create the perception in Iran that Israel is closely watching the Iranian nuclear program. As senior Haaretz correspondent Amir Oren stated on the i24 news channel last night, “as long as the Iranians believe they are being watched and whatever they do is transparent, this is good for Israel”. This theory is helped by the fact that the UAV news was headlines news in numerous Iranian news outlets today.
- The UAV belonged to another country and its not Israel’s place or business to comment on the military activities of other countries.
Lets see if any new evidence or news emerges over the next few days.
There has recently been a concerted effort by the government of Benjaminn Netanyahu to convince the international community that Hamas and ISIS are the same.
Yes, they are both terrorist organizations. They are both anti – Israel.
Hamas is a terrorist organization. But not all terror organizations are the same.
However the differences between them are far bigger than the similarities.
I have listed their differences, in order of their importance in descending order.
- Hamas wants to take over Israel, ISIS wants to take over the World.
- Hamas has a military arm as well as a political party, ISIS only has a military wing. It does not have a political party.
- There are Christians living in Gaza under Hamas rule. ISIS is slaughtering anyone who is not Sunni and living under its rule.
- Hamas is negotiating indirectly with Israel. Its difficult to imagine ISIS doing this directly or indirectly.
- The level of cruelty between HAMAS and ISIS can not be compared. As nasty as Hamas is, it has not killed, raped and decapitated men and women on the same scale as ISIS, despite being around since 1988. ISIS has been around for 3 years.
Last Sunday I wrote a blog entitled “How popular is the extremist group (IS) in the Islamic world?”
In that blog I suggested that it would be interesting to see a poll conducted in the Muslim world to see how popular this extremist group is.
Well since then, a poll has been carried out about the popularity of IS (also known as ISIS), not in the Islamic world, but in the UK, France and Germany. These countries have the three most powerful economies in the EU.
The poll was taken by ICM Research for the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya. ICM research is a well-known UK polling company which has carried out polls for reputable publications such as The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph and The Scotsman publications, among others.
And the result? well look at the snapshot below of the survey.
You have to ask yourself: what would possess 20% of France’s 35-44 year olds to have a positive view of ISIS? The same about 11% of the British population?
Why would anyone who lives in democracies such as the UK and France support one of the world’s darkest regimes which rapes, kills and decapitates a person live on camera ?
These are some of the important questions which the French and British societies have to ask themselves.
You can see all the questions asked and the population and age breakdown of the survey here
You can read more about the survey here
One of the discussions in Israel regarding the conflict with Hamas in Gaza is: what should we do about the siege?
One of the more popular questions, addressed in the i24 news debate below is: “Will the lifting of the Gaza blockade be a victory for Hamas?”
I recently wrote about what I think about the siege so I won’t go into it again.
But I would like to invite you to listen to the opinion Dr Boaz Ganor, who is a colleague of mine at the IDC and a renowned terrorism expert and that of Orit Perlov from the INSS think tank here in Tel Aviv.
Both have very interesting things to say about the Israeli view of the siege vs how the siege is seen in Gaza.
There was no need for it. There was no God damned need for the current ceasefire between Israel and Gaza to end.
And now its over. Some group in Gaza, we don’t know who yet, decided to break the ceasefire today by firing at the city of Beer Sheva in Israel.
Are you against the siege of Gaza? I am, against most of it, except importing weapons. I don’t see the logic of making exports from Gaza so difficult. Why drive the people there to poverty? To punish Hamas? How silly. The poorer Gazans become the more they are likely to support extremist groups.
In fact I agree with a Gaza port. I want the people of Palestine to have their own port and airports. Why not? I have it. They have the same rights. As long as there is a mechanism to ensure no missiles get through. In fact I would welcome it. Prosperity has always contributed to stability. If the people of Gaza have a thriving economy, its good for all of us.
But there is no way on God’s earth that I would agree to continue negotiating with Hamas when it does not respect ceasefires. Now you could say that there are other militant groups in Gaza too. Yes, there are. In the past, when it has wanted to, Hamas has ensured that these groups respect ceasefires. Gaza is not Canada. Its small enough for Hamas to get the message through to all groups that there is a ceasefire, so respect it – if and when it has wanted to.
If Hamas doesn’t even respect a temporary ceasefire, then what is the point of negotiating with it for a long-term ceasefire. Whats the point of making compromises?
This has to stop. We need a ceasefire in place which is respected. We need calm and quiet for both people. And once we have that, both Israel and Hamas need to make some serious compromises, if they are interested in avoiding future wars.
There is no military solution for this problem. Israel and Hamas will never be able to destroy the other side.