This is a parody on the Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball. The singer, Lirit Bilvan is a comedian actress, acting in an Israeli crime drama “HaBorer” as Neomi Kapit, the misfit daughter of a crime boss who has “turned” religious.
A tense situation is unfolding between Turkey and Syria after the latter shot down a fighter jet belonging to the former. According to Turkish officials, one of their aircrafts was shot down while in international space. Authorities are now convening with NATO allies to decide what kind of measures should be taken in response. Syria claims that the jet crossed over to its airspace, which is a violation of its sovereignty.
Members of NATO will be gathering for a conference in Brussels to discuss the issue. No military action is expected at this point.
Jihad Makdissi, Syria’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, said that Syria was merely acting out of self-defense and dismissed claims that the aircraft was in international space. It was also reported in the Syrian media that the jet may have been on an espionage mission and flew over the area to spy on the country’s radar system located in Latakia.
Turkey has said that no actions will be taken until it has discussed the matter with NATO, but has warned that the incident will not go unpunished. The matter may escalate even further after a claim that a second plane was fired at while on the search for wreckage of the downed jet.
Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s Energy Minister, said that a possible response may be to cut off Syria’s electricity supplies, since Turkey currently supplies Syria with about 10 percent of its power.
Turkey has also leaked news that several high ranking military members from Syria have defected due to souring relations between the two nations. Syria, in the meantime, has vowed that it will not stand idly by if NATO responds in an aggressive nature.
From the start of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has taken a firm stance against Syria’s government and has provided a refuge for defectors. About 33,000 Syrians have crossed over to Turkey for shelter.
A mall in Jerusalem was crowded with shoppers over the weekend. However, the patrons were not there to shop for the latest brand of clothes. They were there to purchase gas masks and other survival gear as they embrace for a possible chemical strike by Iran.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has publicly announced that a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities is imminent. There are talks that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are contemplating a strike within the next six months and possibly before the U.S. presidential election in November.
In light of the announcements, media sources have critically slammed the Prime Minister for being overly hawkish. Opinion pieces and Media analysts from Israel, U.S., and Europe have openly expressed their dismay at Netanyahu’s apparent eagerness to resort to military force. His critics have harshly condemned him as a war monger.
However, Netanyahu has openly praised two journalists who came to his defense. The journalists were Professor Eyal Winter of Israel and Colbert King of the U.S. who writes for Washington Post. Both writers received a personal phone call from the Prime Minister who thanked them for their support in Israel’s right to defend itself against a nation that has fervently vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Netanyahu has also invited Winter to his office and has plans of making the same arrangement for King in September.
Both the U.S. and Europe have urged the Prime Minister to exercise a little more patience to give negotiations and diplomacy a chance. Netanyahu, however, balks at the idea of further talks and says that doing so will only give Iran more time to build up its nukes. Netanyahu has also announced Avraham Dichter as the new civil Defense Minister. Dichter could play a pivotal role in deciding whether Israel proceeds with its plans of a military strike.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been marred by the intrusion of viruses that have sabotaged its computers. So far, two major cyber-attacks have been reported and have been given the name Stuxnet and Flame. While the U.S. and Israel have been accused of being the masterminds behind the virus assault, both nations have denied involvement.
The cyber-attack continues on with the emergence of a new virus. This one is being dubbed the “Gauss” and appears to be created for the purpose of hacking into banking institutions in the Middle East. This virus is so complex and advanced that it is believed that it could only be carried out by a nation and not by a lone hacker or small organization. Once again, the U.S. and Israel are being blamed for the attack though both countries are claiming innocence.
So far, Gauss has mainly targeted banking institutions in Lebanon though attacks have also been verified in 25 other countries. However, it is believed the virus is more directed for the purpose of monitoring transaction information rather than stealing money. It is also capable of stealing passwords and monitoring audio and keystrokes. Gauss was discovered in June though the virus is believed to have been active since last September. About 2,500 accounts have been reportedly hacked and monitored by Gauss though it is believed the actual number of infected accounts could be in the tens of thousands.
In the past few months, The Middle East has come under the assault of extremely sophisticated malware. Stuxnet was the first to be discovered and was responsible for hampering the progress of Iran’s nuclear facilities. This was followed by Flame and Duqu, which targeted various computer systems throughout various regions in the Middle East. It is believed all these viruses are linked and originated from the same creator.
The unending onslaught of violence brought on by Syria’s regime has resulted in an unimaginable death toll of civilians. News has been surfacing of military generals and other high ranking commanders defecting from the regime and fleeing the country with their families.
There is now rumor that Syria’s Prime Minister, Riyad Farid Hijab, has packed up his bags and fled as well. If the news is true, then this will make Hijab the highest ranking administer to defect from President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The news of Hijab’s defection was initially reported by opposition forces. Syria’s government-run media, however, has denied all rumors of Hijab making an about-face. The media has insisted that Hijab was fired and did not defect as reported by the opposition. There are also reports that the country’s finance minister defected as well; this is also being disputed by the media.
Since the conflicts began about 17 months ago, Syria’s regime has consistently been fazed by the sudden defection of top military and civilian officials. According to an activist, while Hijab had close ties to President Assad’s brother, he appeared to be deeply disturbed by the atrocities committed by the government he was heading.
Aside from the defections, Iran’s role in the melee is also becoming more tangled. Rebel fighters have reported the capture of 48 Iranians in Damascus. Iranian officials have also called for an international emergency conference to be held in Tehran. According to the rebels, the captured Iranians are members of the country’s Revolutionary Guards. Iran has denied the claims and insisted the men were merely visitors embarking on a pilgrimage to a religious shrine in the city of Tadamon.
Iran has been an ardent supporter of President Assad and has continuously blamed Syrian rebels for the violence and civilian deaths. It has also blasted neighboring countries for siding with the opposition.
The U.S. presidential election is looming, and it is an issue that Israel is keeping a close eye on. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited the city of Jerusalem and said that the U.S. has an obligation to back Israel in every way possible against the threat of Iran acquiring nukes.
Romney’s stance may make him more of a desirable candidate for Jews living in the U.S. While President Obama has stated that Israel has the right to defend itself, he has hesitated to include whether military option would be considered. Instead, his policy was focused more on diplomacy and sanctions in stopping Iran.
Romney’s foreign policy advisor, Dan Senor has made statements suggesting that a Romney administration would aid Israel in a military strike if all else fails. Romney also took jabs at the democrats for being too soft in its stance against Iran.
During his visit, Romney also referred to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which drew the applause of those present for his speech. Obama has been criticized in the past for his refusal to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Some suspect that this is out of fear of offending the Palestinians.
Romney’s visit included a conference with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. His stop also included a pilgrimage to the Western Wall where he inserted a note inside a crack.
Romney and the Prime Minister have actually worked together as partners at a consulting firm in Boston back in the ‘70s. It is unknown whether this will play a pivotal role in who Netanyahu supports during the U.S. election. However, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, insists that there is no favoritism involved here. He also added that Israel does not have any leanings one away or the other over who takes over the White House in the November election.
The 2012 Olympics will mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre in which 11 Israelis participating in the games lost their lives to a terrorist organization known as Black September. Surprisingly, ever since the incident, no Olympic event that followed ever held a moment of silence for the victims.
While many have lobbied for the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremony, the IOC has refused and refused to budge on its stance. For the 2012 Olympics, both President Obama and Senator Hilary Clinton as well as other world leaders have all spoke in favor of having the moment of silence. So far, though, the IOC has showed no signs of relenting.
It is suspected that the IOC refuses to hold a moment of silence out of fear of offending Muslim nations. In fact, Jibril Rajoub, who is the chairman for the Palestinian Olympic Committee, sent a personal letter to the IOC praising and thanking the members of the board for making the decision not to commemorate the fallen Israeli athletes. He also added that allowing such a moment to proceed will only lead to divisiveness and racism.
The widows of two of the Israeli athletes who lost their lives that day are now calling for audience members to stage a peaceful and silent protest during the opening ceremony. They are asking for the spectators to remain silent when IOC president Jacques Rogge speaks at the ceremony.
While the IOC has commemorated the victims in other ways, families of the victims feel that the only true way to remember them is by having a moment of silence during the actual opening ceremony. Even with a petition of over 100,000 signatures requesting for the minute of silence, the IOC has already made it clear that no such moment will be held.
Syrian authorities have issued a stern warning that it will not hesitate to employ an arsenal of chemical weapons against foreign invaders. The threat appears to be directed at Western nations in the event that they decide to deploy ground troops to the region.
For the U.S. and its allies, this appears to be an admission by Syria that they indeed own a stockpile of chemical weapons. The Syrian authorities have also issued a statement that its chemical arms will only be used to ward off a foreign invasion and would never be used against its own citizens.
According to Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jihad Makdissi, the weapons will only be used to defend itself from foreign aggression and will be up to the generals whether they are to be deployed. However, when asked whether this was confirmation that Syria possesses such weapons, Makdissi would not give a direct confirmation. He only says that if such weapons exist, that they would only be used against foreign invaders and never be used domestically.
It is believed that Makdissi’s ambiguous statements were directed particularly at the U.S., Israel and Turkey. According to a report sent to Congress, Syria has steadily built a cache of chemical weaponry, which includes cyanide, sarin nerve agent and mustard gas, all of which can be spread through the use of firing from artillery rockets, missiles and aerial bombs.
While Syria continues to keep its enemies guessing over what it possesses in its arsenal, a diplomat from the United Nations said that in a conference with Kofi Annan, a message was leaked suggesting that any chemical weaponry Syria may own is stored in a safe location.
Aside from Syria, Israel has also been just as equally ambiguous about its own stockpile of chemical weapons. In fact, Syria and Israel are two of eight nations that continue to refuse to relinquish its cache of chemical arsenal, despite a 1997 convention for all countries to dismantle their collection of chemical-related weaponry.
Cyber-attacks are the preferred weapon these days by lone wolf attackers and even orchestrated by one nation against another. Another wave of cyber-attacks has been hitting the Middle East with over 800 victims unknowingly downloading a piece of malware that spies on their Web activity.
The attack is being called “Madi,” and the culprits behind it are believed to be a group of Iranians who operate off a location in Canada. The hackers stole mostly email and Facebook accounts belonging primarily to businessmen and government officials in Israel, Iran and Afghanistan.
The victim’s computer becomes infected when a malicious malware, usually disguised as a harmless file, is downloaded. Once downloaded, the malware can spy on the user and record everything from keystrokes to login information. It can also monitor messages exchanged via email and social network as well as record audio activity of meetings that take place through Skype.
The email containing the downloadable malware was sent specifically to the intended targets and were not spam emails sent to thousands of random people at a time. The downloadable content often came with videos of missile tests or religious pictures, anything designed to lure the person into clicking on the material.
Madi is actually less sophisticated than other types of malware that has been implemented in the past. In fact, some experts are puzzled at how such a basic Trojan virus was capable of successfully making its way into the computers of high profile people.
Madi is just one of the many cyber-attacks that have been taking place in the past year. Two other attacks known as Stuxnet and Flame sent a malware that was intended to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities. It has been speculated that Israel and the U.S. have been behind these attacks, though neither country has ever confirmed or denied involvement.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud party that backs him announced that they will show support for a controversial law that will make it mandatory for all ultra-Orthodox Jews as well as Palestinian-Israelis to perform either military or community service.
The law was proposed by the Plesner committee and would require everyone to complete military or community service. The plan also looks to increase benefits for those who comply with the law and impose stiffer penalties for those who try to dodge the draft.
Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz opposed the idea of a mandatory draft and even threatened to quit if such a proposal were to be passed. However, he and Netanyahu have since agreed on proceedings to get the law drafted.
Supporters of the law have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv to rally in favor of mandatory service for all Israelis. Currently, there are certain minority groups who are exempt from compulsory service. The protest required a police presence, though no violence or arrests were reported.
Under the present law, most men over the age of 18 are required to serve a minimum of three years in uniform, while women are required to enlist for two years. However, they have the option of opting for community work in place of military service.
With the new law, hefty financial fines will be enforced for those who try to evade the draft. It also has plans to cut down the number of religious seminary students who are exempt from 50,000 to about 1,500 within the next four years.
The plan also aims to increase the number of Arab citizens living in Israel to serve. Arabs make up about a fifth of Israel’s total population; the majority of them are strongly against the proposal.
The Tal law was passed in 2002 and allowed ultra-Orthodox Jews and Palestinian-Israelis to be exempt from service. This law was declared unconstitutional in February and will become void beginning in August.
Most countries in the Middle East have a notorious history of treating women as second class citizens. There is now even more reason to believe that women are being held to unfair standards in a male dominated society.
In Iraq, some women are now being ordered by court to take a virginity test. In most Middle Eastern societies, women are expected to remain a virgin until marriage. Sexual activity before tying the knot is considered a dishonor to the family. In more traditional villages, some women are even killed by a male relative if it is discovered that she had engaged in premarital sex.
In the Baghdad Medical Legal Institute, women are being taken into a windowless room where tests are being done to prove or disprove their virginity.
Most women are admitted when the husband suspects his wife of not being a virgin. He then takes the matter to court where a judge can order the women to undergo a virginity test.
Aside from the women, the husband may also be tested for erectile dysfunction. Often times, the man will accuse his wife of not being a virgin in order to deflect attention away from his own shame.
If the test shows that the woman is indeed not a virgin, then there is no law to protect her. Her family would also then be required to repay for all gifts and expenses given during the courtship.
The human rights organization, Amnesty International, is currently looking into the matter and has described the virginity testing as a violation of human rights. The group has also said that the tests can be inaccurate at times.
In a culture where family honor is everything, women’s rights are being trampled on through these virginity tests. It is degrading and further illustrates that women are still being viewed as inferior to their male counterparts.
A beauty pageant was held in Israel. Unlike a typical pageant, the contestants were not women in their early 20s with model-like figures. The 14 participating contestants were actually Holocaust survivors.
All the women were between the ages of 74 to 97. The contest was held in the city of Hafa, and each contestant walked in front of a red carpet and described the grisly details of their personal experience during their detention in the concentration camps.
After listening to personal accounts, a four panel judge awarded the crown to 79-year-old Hava Hershkovitz, who was forced to flee her home in Romania with her family.
While the pageant was clearly held to honor the victims – both the ones who perished as well as those who lived to tell their tales – not everyone sees it that way. Critics are slamming the event as being in poor taste as well as being outright offensive.
The pageant was organized by Shimon Sabag, who said the finalists were selected based on their personal experiences as well as contributions to their communities. While physical appearance did play a role in the selection, Sabag insists the role was minimal.
After being crowned the winner, Hershkovitz says that for her, this was her way of showing that she is still alive and well.
However, Collette Avital, the chairwoman of Israel’s Holocaust Survivors, says that it was not appropriate to judge these women based on their appearances, especially considering the harrowing experiences they endeared.
Roughly six million Jews were slaughtered in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. About 200,000 Holocaust survivors are still living today, with most of them residing in Israel.
Though there are mixed feelings about the pageant, it should not take anything away from the participants, who experienced a living nightmare that no one can even come close to relating to unless they’ve experienced it first hand for themselves.
Israel and the United Nations have been engaged in talks with Iran to dismantle its nuclear program. Despite threats of sanctions, Iran shows no intention of abandoning its nuclear ambitions. Israel is now hinting at the possibility of military action.
The latest talks were held in Moscow. Once again, Iran has refused any compromise that would call for an end to its nuclear enrichment activities. Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Iran is not budging because current financial and oil embargo sanctions just are not stiff enough. Mofaz also said that they are now at the point where more drastic options need to be considered. It is hard to interpret this statement as anything other than military force.
Iran has continuously insisted that its nuclear program is solely for energy production and nothing more. The U.S., however, has long suspected that Iran is working towards the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.
Mofaz has said in an interview that if military force were to be employed, that it would have to be led by the U.S. The West has been leading the talks out of concern that Israel may resort to force if Iran cannot be convinced to relinquish its nuclear program.
While there is one more meeting scheduled in early July, there is no more talks that have been agreed to after that. This adds pressure for a peaceful diplomacy to be reached, or else risk the likelihood of war.
Other than talks over Iran, Mofaz has also visited the U.S. capital to help arrange a conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The hope is to continue with peace negotiations over how to handle Jewish settlement in Palestinian occupied land.
Mofaz currently runs the coalition that supports Benyamin Netanyahu. He and the Prime Minister have formed an alliance in order to prevent their political foes from seeking an early election.