- Scientists from Israel, Singapore, and Switzerland report a revolutionary breakthrough in photovoltaic technology
Iranian Defense Minister General Hossein Dehghan announced on Tuesday that Iran is “in possession” of the the S-300 Russian advanced missile defense system. He stated that it “serves our air force's counterattack command.” This announcement comes as the latest in a series of provocative steps Iran has taken since the nuclear deal was reached last July. The delivery of the S-300 has been opposed by both the U.S. and Israel. Stratfor describes the Russian S-300 system as “one of the world’s most capable anti-aircraft systems.” The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board explained in April that the transfer would make “Iran’s nuclear installations far more difficult and costly to attack should Tehran seek to build a bomb.” Iran also announced in February that it plans to purchase Sukhoi-30 fighter jets from Russia, which would be a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The resolution, which endorsed the nuclear deal, keeps the UN arms and ballistic missile embargoes in place for five and eight years, respectively. Deputy State Department spokesperson Mark Toner confirmed in February that such a sale of combat aircraft would violate the resolution.
The announcement comes only a day after a semi-official Iranian news outlet, Tasnim, reported that Iran test-fired another ballistic missile two weeks ago. This latest launch, if confirmed, would be the fifth launch of ballistic missiles since July. On March 9, Iran test-fired a round of missiles; one of them was marked with the phrase “Israel should be wiped off the Earth.” Iran’s ballistic missile launches are also in defiance of Resolution 2231. Iran has repeatedly declared its intentions not to abide by the ballistic missile elements of the resolution. Members of Congress from both parties have repeatedly called on the administration to take action against Iran for its tests. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, stressed that Iran’s actions “must be punished by the world community.” She also reiterated that she is “firmly committed to Congress’s role in holding Iran accountable for all of its international commitments.”
Ambassador Dennis Ross, former special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia in Obama’s State Department, commented on Iran’s behavior since the nuclear deal in Politico on Sunday: “In the aftermath of the nuclear deal, Iran’s behavior in the region has been more aggressive, not less so, with regular Iranian forces joining the Revolutionary Guard now deployed to Syria, wider use of Shiite militias, arms smuggling into Bahrain and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, and ballistic missile tests.”
The movement to boycott Israel is “counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton wrote in an open letter on Monday, one day before her church is set to vote on whether to divest from companies that allegedly profit from Israel’s control of the West Bank.
While Clinton did not specifically mention the United Methodist Church’s vote in her letter to leaders of the Israel Action Network and the Jewish Federations of North America, she reiterated her opposition to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which is behind the divestment proposal. “I believe that BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict. This is not the path to peace,” Clinton wrote. She also stated that “we need to make countering BDS a priority, and that we need to work together—across party lines and with a diverse array of voices—to reverse this trend with information and advocacy, and fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel.”
Beyond opposing boycotts, Clinton reiterated her admiration for Israel, emphasizing her past support as secretary of state and future support if she is elected president.
As Senator and Secretary of State, I saw how crucial it is for America to defend Israel at every turn. I have opposed dozens of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, the Human Rights Council, and other international organizations. I condemned the biased Goldstone Report, making it clear that Israel must be allowed to defend itself like any other country. And I made sure the United States blocked Palestinian attempts at the UN to unilaterally declare statehood. Time after time, no matter the venue, I have made it clear that America will always stand up for Israel. If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, the United States will reaffirm we have a strong and enduring national interest in Israel’s security. …
Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival. Fighting for Israel isn’t just about policy; it is a personal commitment to the friendship between our peoples and our vision for peace and security. Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, we need to repudiate forceful efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people. Anti-Semitism has no place in any civilized society—not in America, not in Europe, not anywhere. We must never tire in defending Israel’s legitimacy, expanding security and economic ties, and taking our alliance to the next level.
Clinton used similar language in her speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, saying that “we have be united in fighting back against BDS,” particularly “at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe.”
More than a thousand proposals are set to be considered at the Methodists’ quadrennial General Assembly. Four of the resolutions call for divesting from Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and Caterpillar, among other investments.
Clinton’s full letter can be read here.
The BDS campaign seeks to stigmatize and isolate Israel socially, economically, and politically until it accedes to a number of unilateral Palestinian demands. Critics of the campaign have accused it of being discriminatory in tone and intention, and pointed out that many of its leaders have publicly affirmed that they seek Israel’s destruction. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”
A tri-national team of scientists from Israel, Singapore and Switzerland has reported a major advance in the physics of perovskite solar cells – a new class of inorganic-organic hybrid materials that is creating a revolution in photovoltaic technology. The researchers – among them Profs. Jeffrey M. Gordon and Eugene A. Katz, both from the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Alexandre Yersin Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev — used a combination of experiments that independently and expansively varied the intensity of incident light and cell temperature, toward elucidating the molecular mechanisms that permit these solar cells to exhibit surprisingly high voltage (more than 1.0 Volt per cell at ambient temperatures), while maintaining high current density and low internal resistive losses, which are essential for their superior performance. Unlike most other photovoltaic devices where efficiency worsens as temperature rises, the research team produced high-performance cells where efficiency actually improves as the cells heat up, at common outdoor temperatures. “Perovskite” refers to a specific type of crystal structure, originally identified by the 19th century Russian mineralogist L.A. Perovski. Perovskite solar cells are not only relatively simple to fabricate and far less expensive than silicon, but can be processed at temperatures 1000°C below those required for silicon. The new study – recently published in Advanced Materials– suggests deploying perovskite solar cells under concentrated sunlight toward realizing even higher efficiency – one of the next tasks in their planned experimental studies. (via Israel21c)