Engineer Michael Peres Furthers Israel-Philippines Bond via Launch of a Viral News System


What started off as a community interested in Israel and Middle Eastern news turned out to be a significant platform that brings nations together, rallying support for the Jewish state.

Known on social media as Mikey Peres, entrepreneur Michael Peres could not believe that the community he started would help bridge old ties between Israel and other sovereign nations, just like the Southeast Asian country, Philippines.

When Peres, a software engineer operating multiple start-ups in Seattle Washington, launched the Facebook community Israel Now / Israel Breaking News in December 2019, among its first active members were people from the Philippines.

“When engaging with voices from all around the world, I was surprised to learn that the most passionate supporters of Israel weren’t even Jewish, and from the least expected corners of the world,” said Peres.

Today, the news system got over 3 million views and the Facebook community group ballooned to 19,000+ members, rising to the top 8 biggest support  groups on Facebook, in less than three months after its launch.

According to Peres, he created the page to provide an avenue for people like him who share a similar passion for Israel and Middle Eastern politics to come together.

Peres, created the FB community group along with the news website, which provides independent reporting and commentary on a diverse range of Israel, middle-eastern and Jewish issues; and the news aggregator site that streams real-time news reports about Israel and the Middle East.

These three platforms compose the novel news company Israel News Now, a non-political and non-partisan American-based broadcasting network covering Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world.

For the Filipinos of the Philippine islands in Asia, it is surprising that people of Malay descent would be among the most vocal to express favourable sentiments for Israel.

“We love Israel and we stand with Israel,” said Emilita Famor who is currently an overseas Filipino worker in Tel Aviv.

“I love and support Israel, the chosen people of God,” said Rodolfo Cruz from Metro Manila, the Philippines’ capital.

“We  have the same God, we are their spiritual brothers, said Elsa Lincuna Claver from Southern Philippines, noting the religious background that Israel is the people of God written in the Bible and the Philippines being a majority Christian country recognizes the Bible as the basis of faith.

Filipinos were friends of the Jews even during the time of the Holocaust.

It is worthy to note that the Philippines and Israel share a special bond of friendship dating back the Holocaust era when the sovereign country opened its doors to accommodate Jews from Europe fleeing the brutality of the Nazis.

Historically, from 1937 to 1941, the Philippines saved over 1,200 Jewish refugees, some of whom are still alive today. Then Philippine President Manuel Quezon even planned to bring in 10,000 more Jews but plans were spoiled by the impending Asian war.

As recognition of the Philippines’ compassion to the Jews, Israel has granted visa-free entry to Filipino tourists since 1969 and erected the Open Doors Monument in Tel Aviv as gratitude to Quezon for giving refuge to the Jews.

Moreover, the Philippines are considered an ally of the Jewish state for being the only country in Asia that signed in favour of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which paved way for the creation of the State of Israel in 1947.

Today, this friendship reverberates in many corners of the social media. Filipinos will always be supporters of Israel even in this present generation.

A Facebook video of vlogger Hananya Naftali summarized the love and support of Filipinos for Israel on the Jewish states celebration of 71st Independence day.

The Philippines Blesses Israel For Independence Day

The Philippines blesses Israel for its Independence Day! 🇮🇱🇵🇭

Δημοσιεύτηκε από Hananya Naftali στις Τετάρτη, 8 Μαΐου 2019

Hundreds of Filipinos, young and old alike, also wrote their independence day wishes  at the comment section of the video post, saying they will always stand with Israel.

What is Tzitzit and What Does it Represent?

Tzitzit means “fringes” in Hebrew and it refers to the strings attached to the four corners of the tallit. A tallit is a Jewish prayer shawl and it looks like a poncho which is worn under the shirt throughout the day.

Jewish people were commanded by God to wear the Tzitzit so that they can remember him and his commandments.  Rabbis constantly talk about how important the Tzitzit is; however, new information has emerged on the importance of it recently.

Tzitzit fulfills a couple of commandments in the Torah and most notable are those in Number 37, a portion called Pashat Shlah.

Jewish tradition requires Jewish people to wear Tzitzit throughout the day. It is supposed to be attached on all four corners of the garment one wears; however, in the modern day most clothes don’t have corners at all. So because of that, the Tzitzit is supposed to be worn on the prayer shawl or on the special small tallit. This tallit is called a tallit katan and traditional Jews still wear it under their clothes. The Tzitzit can be tucked inside or it can he hang from their tallit katan.

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There are a couple of ways how to attach the Tzitzit, but mostly it is attached to the knotted corners of the tallit, in a specific pattern.

But as time moves on, the tallit was replaced with jackets, trousers, shirts, and robes, so Jewish people have found new ways to fulfill the mitzvah. The first way was using a big tallit, which is essentially like the ancient times; the second way was by wearing the tallit katan, which is a more modern way and widely accepted amongst modernized Jews.

The Tzitzit which can be removed from one tallis and placed on a kosher tallis katan is eighter made of wool or cotton, but the former is more accepted amongst Jews. The Tzitzit is supposed to be sprung with the intention that It will be used for the mitzvah.

How to tie the Tzitzit?

Img source: YouTube

The Tzitzit is supposed to be tied on all four corners of the garment. You start by making four threats and you thread them through a hole. After going into each hole, look the Tzitzit so that there are eight strings hanging down. You need to knot the first few inches down so that the rest of the eight hang freely down.

Why is the Tzitzit so important to Jewish people?

There are multiple interpretations as to why Tzitzit is important to Jews. One rabbi reads a Talmudic passage and suggests that by wearing the Tzitzit, you obey the Shema.

Other say that it is a reminder that Jews are God’s servants – an interpretation by R. Hezekiah ben Manoach (13th century). God says that they must wear the Tzitzit so that they never forget that they are his servants and they are supposed to never forget the commandments.

Another explanation is offered to Jews in Torah Number 115.  The passage says that the Tzitzit saves Jews from sin. Often you can hear in rabbinic literature how people were miraculously saved from sin. Some suggest that this is because they wore the Tzitzit in the traditional way.

No matter what the explanation is, the Tzitzit is a tradition that all Jews need to follow.

The Main Threat For The US In The Middle East Is Not Iran; It’s Russia!


The news that the US left the Iran deal was felt around the world like an earthquake. It brought out many questions, with one of them being will the Israel and Iran start an all-out war? The move is considered a catastrophe from the stance of foreign policy, and now the US must deal with the threat that Russia could further expand its influence in the Middle East.

Donald Trump’s decision to leave the agreement is similar to what Britain did with EU exit. It is a decision that affects the entire world. Like we said, Iran and Israel are closer to war with every passing day. This conflict could change the present and the future of the entire region, and not for the better.

The most significant change that occurred, and that is something Trump’s administration won’t admit, is that the US is no longer the most influential player in the Middle East; It’s Russia! With recent development, Moscow increased their authority in this region.

Of course, we all know there’s something more to this country than just matryoshka nestingdolls and vodka. Russia is one of the most powerful countries in the world. You would expect them to have at least a little influence on everything that goes on in this planet.

America is focused solely on the Iran deal, which can already be considered a dead agreement, missing their primary conflict. It’s not with Iran or with the Middle East as a region; it is with Russia. If the US doesn’t start dealing with this threat, it will lose much more than with cancelation of the deal, and it will be a catastrophe for the foreign policy.


At this moment the conflict between Israel and Iran seems inevitable. Israeli doesn’t want Iranian troops in Syria, while this is exactly what Iran wants in order to be the regions most powerful country. The smaller fights already started, the moment the US left the Iran deal.

Because of this development, America’s influence in the Middle East dropped in favor of Moscow. At the moment Putin has more control over this region than Trump. It can be seen through their actions when tensions in this region started to escalate. When Israeli F-16 fighter was shot down over Syria, Russia was the one who told them to calm down. The same happened when Iran lost seven soldiers to Israel attacks. Moscow was the one who told Israel to cease air strikes on Syria and one who calmed down Netanyahu when Iran became aggressive after the US left the nuclear deal. Russia is the central player in the Middle East, even if the US doesn’t want to admit it.

It will not come as a surprise if Israel accepts Russian aid in dealing with Iran. Yes, Tehran and Moscow are allies, but if what all parties involved want is peace, Russia can help them; the US no longer has this power. Many believe that Israeli/American ties are too deep to be cut off by Kremlin. But, Israel/Russia bond is equally deep. Just remember back in the 1990s more than 1 million Jews went from Russia to Israel. This was 20% of their population back in the day.


The second language in Israel is not English; it’s Russian! You have airlines flights from Israel to Moscow twice a day, and Netanyahu started spending more time with Putin than he is with Trump. Also, the rift between Israeli and American Jews is becoming more profound. For example, Natalie Portman decided to boycott 2018 Genesis Prize which is also known as Jewish Nobel Prize after showing support to Palestinians and criticizing the way they are treated by Israel. She is only one person in a see of people who share her sentiment.

The US leaving the Iran deal hasn’t only made Tehran its enemy once again, it brought out Russia as their biggest threat. Moscow is steadily becoming a leading player on the world’s battleground while Washington stands and does nothing.


What America needs to do is to lower the Russian influence in the region. What they should do is not another Cold War, but more of collecting back its allies one by one, starting with Turkey. The next in line should be Egypt and Lebanon. They should broaden their influence similarly to what Kremlin is doing right now. The US needs to regain its role as the peacemaker in the Middle East. The part that Moscow is playing at the moment, and they are doing it with a long-lasting American friend, Israel.

Instead of destroying its foreign policy, the US should do that to Russia. They must gather their allies and make a push of decreasing Kremlin influence by making them deal with internal affairs. This shouldn’t be hard to do considering the levels of corruption, and lack of human rights that exist in both Russia and their puppet states from where they are pulling all of their influence.


Chaos in Israel Continues while the US celebrates


The United States have made a big move this May by relocating the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trumps administration is celebrating this move as there has been an official opening of the embassy this Monday.

Still, even with that being said, the peace hasn’t been reached. Well, it looks like the peace is far, far away. According to the first estimations, around 35,000 Palestinians lined the fence that separates the Gaza Strip and Israel. They were protesting, and at least 58 people have been killed by Israeli Defense Forces. That number is just way too big.

But, that’s not the end of it. At least 2,700 people have been injured as it is reported by the Palestinian officials and the Gaza Ministry of Health.

The protests have been going on ever since March 30th. Palestinian journalist Ahmed Abu Artema has invited the people to a peaceful demonstration with the hashtag #GreatMatchOfReturn, which references their desire for Israel to allow the return of the Palestinian families that were removed from the country when the state was founded back in 1948.

What inspired the protests is Trump’s announcement that he is going to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Gaza Ministry of Health has reported that over 100 people have died and around 11,500 have gotten injured since the protests began.

Well, Monday was their bloodiest day there is no doubt about that, which is the same day that the US celebrated the new embassy opening in Jerusalem. Israel has drawn a lot of criticism for their use of force against the people who protested.

While some are protesting peacefully, the others are using all kinds of bombs and different methods of trying to break through the barricade. It just seems that this thing is not going to go away easily.


Trump’s Decisions Are Leading Middle East to War


After a meeting with Donald Trump, French president Emmanuel Macron made two statements. He said that Trump is going to pull the US from Iran deal and that as a consequence of that we are going to have another war in the Middle East. He got one thing right, and he’s not far away on the other.

Only hours after the US stepped out of Iran deal, the tensions escalated between Iran and Israel. The same day Trump made the announcement, Israeli troops were put on ‘high alert.’ The reservists are being called up, and bomb shelters are being prepared in expectations of Iran strikes.

Yesterday, Israeli officials went further and accused Iran of a rocket attack on Golan Heights, which was luckily an unsuccessful one. On the same night as a retaliation, Israeli bombers targeted Iranian outposts in Syria. The defense minister of Israel, Avigdor Liberman, stated that Israeli attacks on Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria were all on target.


The tensions between Iran and Israel are nothing new, but this time around, the conflict escalated too quickly. The new wave of violence is a cause to be concerned. The reporters from New York Times wrote: “While Israel and Iran have been conducting a shadow war in Syria for months under the cover of the civil war there, the conflict has now burst into the open.”

The conflict between these two countries is an ongoing matter almost for years, but due to the fact that it was shadow war on the territory of Syria, it wasn’t publicized. Iran is an ally of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and they are using this friendship to wage war against their enemy – Israel.

Israel is not accepting these actions, and since 2012 they have launched more than 100 attacks on Iranian targets in Syria. Their goal is to keep Iranians away from Israel border and to stop the weapons deliveries to Hezbollah.

Last month one of the Israeli attacks killed seven Iranian soldiers, and so far Iran hasn’t retaliated, but after what Trump did, it’s only a matter of time. Now that the US is no longer present in Iran in any capacity the conflict between the two countries will escalate without a doubt.


Ian Bremmer, the founder, and president of the Eurasia Group commented on the Middle East situation: “The Iranians have not responded, and I am sure a part of the reason for that is that they don’t want to give the Americans any reason to leave the deal. Now that they have done so, I assume that the gloves are off for the Iranians, and it makes mutual military escalation between the Israelis and the Iranians much more likely.”

Another pressing matter is the Iranian nuclear deal. Now, after the US stepped out of the agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran, they will be returning to their old ways. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talked about this possibility: “We have put a number of options for ourselves, and those options are ready including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities.”

If Iran fails to avoid an economic crisis, with the help of European countries who are willing to continue the agreement, going for nuclear weapons might be their only option. If Iranians start working on their nuclear arsenal Israel threatens that they will begin to target their nuclear facilities. This action would most certainly lead to war.


In the past, US administration wanted to avoid the war, but Donald Trump is not hiding from this option. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu is also ready for a full-scale conflict. With Saudi Arabia support, the war seems imminent at this point.

U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark is one of the people who believe so: “Israel has several times sought U.S. help, or at least U.S. support and backup in striking Iran’s nuclear program. Under the Obama Administration, the answer was, No. Under President Trump, and with the emerging condominium of interests between the Saudi’s and the Israeli’s, the possibility of war between Israel and Iran is rising.”

President Trump said that he doesn’t want another war in the Middle East, but his decisions are saying otherwise.


M1 Abrams vs. Merkava IV – A Comparison


Ever since the first British tanks rolled on the field of Flanders in 1916, nations across the globe have competed who will create a better-armored vehicle. Today, we take a look at two of the best main battle tanks found on the modern battlefield, American M1 Abrams, and Israeli Merkava IV.

Merkava tank was born after the Yom Kippur War, which saw massive tank losses on both sides. Israel lost more than 1,000 tanks and some 500 other armored vehicles, while the Arab nations fared even worse, with some 2,500 tanks destroyed. Israel high command has felt that such losses were unsustainable, despite the victory and had sought a new tank, one with heavier armor and better crew protection, able to go toe to toe with Russian tanks fielded by their opponent.

The man in charge of this project was General Israel Tal, a legend among Israeli tankmen. His design was named Merkava (Chariot) and featured some unique design solutions, like the front-mounted engine and an infantry compartment in the rear. The engine in the front is highly unusual for armored vehicles, but it is logical from the Israeli point of view. They needed a tank for mainly defensive assignment, hence the front-mounted engine only added to the crew protection. That is why Merkava Mk.1 is one of the slowest tanks in its generation, since the speed wasn’t deemed vital, but rather the ability to traverse the rocky terrain of the Golan Heights, which is why Merkava tank tracks and suspension were taken from the British Centurion tank, which served Israelis well during the Yom Kippur War.

With the engine in front, the rear of the tank was reserved for ammunition, packed in fireproof racks. Merkava could easily be transformed into armored personnel carriers by removing these racks, which cleared the space for 10 infantrymen. It also allowed IDF to evacuate its wounded under heavy enemy fire.

Merkava also features some unique weapon options. Mk I and Mk II had a 105 mm main gun, while later Mk III and IV carry more potent 120mm smoothbore cannon. All versions have four machine guns, two 7.62 mounted on the roof of the turret for the commander and loader, and a third one mounted co-axially with the main gun. Just above the mantle is M2 Browning 12.7 mm remote-controlled gun, which proved very valuable in asymmetric warfare Israel has been engaged in the last few decades. Another interesting weapon option is a 60 mm mortar, which allows the crew to assault targets which are hidden from view. This option proved very useful in many urban engagements.

American tank had a somewhat different history. Designed to replace aging M60 tanks, which was deemed unfit to counter new Russian designs, Abrams was one of the first third-generation MBTs in the world. It featured a revolutionary Chobham armor, which made it almost impervious to the T-72 and T-62 tanks, a fact Iraqi armored forces discovered the hard way during Gulf War. M1 Abrams is also heavier than Merkava tank, weighing 68 tonnes. The tanks excelled in desert warfare, where its combination of mobility, firepower, and protection proved lethal and unstoppable, but urban clashes of the Second Gulf War shown that this is not an ideal weapon. That is why an improvement suit called TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit).

Abrams also features a 120 mm main gun, designed by Rheinmetall and based on the gun used in Leopard tanks. It carries two or three machine guns, depending on the variant.

Both of these combat machines feature active measures in their latest installments. Merkava Mk IV carries Trophy active protection system, which is deemed as one of the best solutions currently on the market and the only one able to defeat even the most modern anti-tank missiles like Kornet, Konkurs, and RPG-29 Vampire. In fact, the system proved so good that the Americans are planning on purchasing it for at least one brigade of Abrams.

Although there aren’t really a chance of these two tanks going against each other, it is important to note that both of them are designed to fulfill their country’s respective needs and may not be directly comparable. These machines manage to fill their intended role successfully and that is the only thing one could ask from a modern weapon system.


US and Israeli Officials Increase Threats Against Iran


As May 12th deadline imposed by the United States President Donald Trumps nears, the warnings towards Iran, made by the White House and Israel, are getting increasingly more threating.

President Trump has given his European partners until May 12th to find a solution for the Iranian Deal that he called “insane” earlier this week, or he would pull out the United States from it. Since he has provided no plan on his intentions after the deal gets scrapped, there are growing concerns about the future American policies towards Tehran. If Trump starts insisting on a regime change, the situation can escalate into another open conflict in the Middle East.

Israel has been a long-time advocate for a tougher stance on Iran, especially in the light of Tehran’s activities in Syria, which both Washington and Tel Aviv are describing as “malign.” Possible clashes between Iran’s forces present in Syria and IDF can easily spill over and spiral out of control. Israel has been proposing a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, something they have done in the past, but this time the response would be much firmer. There are plenty of militants groups in Syria close to Israel’s border with enough motivation to carry out attacks, supported by the instructors, money, and weapons from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which has a strong presence in the country.

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, has warned that Iran is the lynchpin which holds together various entities hostile to both Israel and US, like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Assad’s regime.

The change of tone in Washington coincided with the appointment of the new National Security Advisor John Bolton, a Bush-era politician who have advocated strikes against Iran and North Korea in the past. Mike Pompeo, the new Secretary of State, hold similar opinions, having said that “the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the Mullahs’ regime in Tehran.” Trump has now surrounded himself with advisors that are very hostile to the regime in Tehran and they may influence him towards more hawkish behavior which could easily escalate into open conflict. United States Secretary of Defense Mattis has expressed concerns that Israel may preemptively strike Iran’s forces in Syria, which are smuggling advanced weaponry into the country, able to hit targets deep in Israel.

“We have seen them trying to bring advanced weaponry into Syria on its way to Lebanese Hezbollah in southern Lebanon,” Mattis said. “Israel is not going to wait until those missiles are in the air. Will it be cataclysmic? I hope not, I hope Iran pulls back.”

Gholamali Khoshroo, Iran’s ambassador to the UN also addressed Security Council. “The Iran-phobic, and hysterical statements we have heard today and in recent months are being actively perpetuated by those who are badly in need of creating an imaginary enemy to sell their “beautiful weapons” and those who entrench their aggressions through using such weapons. It is a dirty business that has nothing to do with peace and security in the Middle East,” he said.


Israel and Iran May Confront in Syria, Warns Mattis


US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that there is a possibility of military confrontation between Iranian and Israeli military forces on Syrian soil. The Israeli officials have arrived in Washington to discuss the matter, and Mattis was quick to warn the Congress of another military conflict in the Middle East. When he was asked whether the two sides could engage in a fight, he responded: “I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where. I think that it’s very likely in Syria because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hezbollah.”

Mattis said that Iran was strengthening its position in Syria and he also accused the country of “bringing advanced weapons for Hezbollah through Syria. [Israel] will not wait to see those missiles in the air and we hope Iran would pull back.”

The Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman who spoke with Mattis and US national security adviser John Bolton warned that Iran might strike. He told Arabic news website Elaph: “Any site in which we see an Iranian attempt to achieve a military foothold in Syria will be struck. We won’t let that happen, regardless of the price.” In February, Israeli forces attacked Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria when one of their F16 jets was taken down at the Syrian border.

According to Charles Lister from the Middle East Institute, the Iranian presence in Syrian has become a “hugely explosive issue.” Mr. Lister told The National “The threat is unacceptable, and Israel can’t continue to watch it grow.” He added: “What it means is they [Israelis] need to do something, so we started to see more aggressive, more risky strikes.” With Russia’s inability to keep Iran calm, the possible confrontation might spread on Lebanon as well, and that is why it has to be nipped in the bud.

According to Mattis, Trump had not made the decision to get out of the Iran deal, and the White House is a place where national security meetings are held. At the meetings, the president and his aides are considering the options once the May 12 deadline passes. Of the Iran deal, Mattis said: “I have read it now three times, all 156 pages, and I will say it is written almost with an assumption that Iran will try to cheat. So the verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in.”

Another big thing happened on Thursday as the former CIA director Mike Pompeo has been confirmed as the new Secretary of State. He will replace incapable Rex Tillerson and find the department in the sorry state. However, Pompeo will fly to Brussels right away where he will discuss the NATO defenses, and from there he will go to the Middle East. There are several vacant spots on the department which need to be filled immediately, and Mr. Pompeo has promised to do it. According to Bloomberg, Paula Dobriansky is going to be the nominee for Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, and she would replace Tom Shannon. She has already been on the various positions in both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush’s administrations.