Israel becomes a gas exporter
Israel’s major strategic concern: An Iranian presence in Syria
Do we look like our names? New research says yes
A new Iranian film shows the country’s forces destroying a U.S. Navy fleet, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The plot of the movie, Battle of Persian Gulf II, begins with the United States destroying an Iranian nuclear reactor, sparking a confrontation in the Persian Gulf. In a climactic confrontation, one Iranian vessel faces off against more than a dozen American warships. When told to surrender or die by an American commander, the captain of the Iranian ship, who closely resembles Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, responds, “General, I am not a diplomat, I am a revolutionary!” He then warns that any American serviceman involved in the attack “should order their coffins,” adding, “when you enter Hell, tell them Qassem sent you.” His crew then destroys the American fleet.
Director Farhad Azima claims that the movie is a response to American movies and video games that portray Iranians negatively. “We are saying that if you fire one bullet against Iran, a rain of hot lead will be poured on your forces,” he told the AP.
Iran has frequently threatened U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted a video to his YouTube account last summer warning that “should any war break out, one who will emerge humiliated out of it will be invading and criminal America.” In a February 2015 naval exercise, Iranian boats destroyed a replica of an American aircraft carrier.
Iran seized two U.S. Navy boats and ten sailors in January 2016 after they entered Iranian territorial waters. Khamenei praised the Iranian troops who captured the sailors, saying that they did “God’s deed,” and subsequently gave medals to the commanders in charge of the capture.
There were hundreds of incidents last year involving Iranian boats approaching U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf too closely or harassing them. The U.S. Navy’s Central Command “assessed all of these interactions as unsafe and unprofessional due to the Iranian vessels not abiding by international law and maritime standards,” a Navy spokesman said.
Let there be gas--
Marking the country’s first ever export of natural gas, an Israeli company announced Thursday it had started delivering to Jordan. The exports began in January without formal announcement at the time.
Jordanian firms Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine signed a deal in 2014 to import 2 billion cubic metres (around 70 billion cubic feet) of gas from Israel’s Tamar field over 15 years. Reports estimated the deal to be worth about $771 million.
Jordan is one of only two Arab countries to have a peace deal with Israel. Nearly half of all Jordanians are of Palestinian origin.
Israel’s number one security concern is the presence of Iranian-led forces in Syria, according to a senior Israeli intelligence official. Chagai Tzuriel, the director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, told The Times of Israel, “The most important strategic issue we’re currently facing is the strengthening of the Shiite axis led by Iran in Syria, especially after the fall of Aleppo.” Tzuriel emphasized that, due to recent battlefield developments in the Syrian civil war, there is “a strong imbalance in the region to Iran’s benefit.”
Iran, along with its proxy Hezbollah, has invested heavily in propping up the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which has committed wanton atrocities against Syrian civilians.Tzuriel continued, “If Iran and Hezbollah manage to base themselves in Syria, it would be a permanent source of instability in the entire region.”
Prof. Asher Susser, a senior fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, told the BBC last month, “The changes in Syria have brought Iran closer to Israel’s border than ever before.” Ehud Yaari, a veteran Arab affairs analyst, said, “The strategic objective of the Iranians today is to establish a land corridor between Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon, to reach the Mediterranean and the Israeli frontier…This is strategically the major threat to Israel today.”
Haaretz’s defense analyst Amos Harel reported, also last month, that the Assad regime, closely allied with Iran and Hezbollah, has been able to re-establish control over the northern part of the Syrian Golan Heights and is working on attaining such control over the southern Golan Heights as well.
From Israel 21c--
If your name is Fred, do you look like a Fred? You might — and others might think so, too, according to researchers from Israel and France investigating the possibility that people’s appearance can be influenced by their given names. In a series of studies led by Hebrew University of Jerusalem psychology Prof. Ruth Mayo and business PhD candidate Yonat Zwebner, researchers recruited hundreds of independent observers and showed them color headshots of complete strangers. Then they presented a list of names to the observers and asked them to choose the stranger’s real name based on his or her facial appearance. As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the observers repeatedly beat the odds of correctly identifying a person’s name based on facial appearance alone. For example, upon looking at the face of a man and considering four possible names — Jacob, Dan, Josef or Nathaniel — observers correctly chose “Dan” 38 percent of the time, significantly above the 25% chance level of a random guess. This effect held true even when the researchers controlled for age and ethnicity, implying that something more than simple socioeconomic cues is at work. (via Israel21c)