Lies, hate and blood lusts

It is 12h16am. In just a few short hours, Israel has endured multiple terror attacks.

It can happen anywhere. On the bus, walking in the street or driving your car. Without a warning. Israel is enduring a frightening wave of terror where the weapons of choice are knives and guns to murder, cinderblocks and rocks to throw at cars. The most potent weapons are the words of incitement that emanate from the Mosques and the factional leadership, including PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, that are whipping the street into a frenzy of hatred with intent to murder.

Brought up on an unhealthy diet of “kill the Jewish usurper” incitement education from birth, Arabs from both the territories and Israel have embarked on daily terror attacks. Teenage Arab terror assailants have stabbed their Jewish peers. Women in modest hijab’s have stabbed other women or soldiers. An infant was stabbed.  Rabbi Eitam Henkin z”l and his wife Na’ama, were murdered in front of their children while returning home after Shabbat. Palestinians responded by singing and waving around pictures of the dead Jews. Everybody is a target in lust for Jewish blood.

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Israeli baby treated by paramedics after stabbing

Two weeks ago, Mahmoud Abbas used his opportunity to address the UN General Assembly to effectively relegate the Oslo Peace Accords into the garbage bins of history. As far as he is concerned, Palestinians are not bound by any peace deals and couple this with the hatred that spews forth from his mouth and you have a recipe for disaster. Make no mistake, this current wave of terror has been carefully orchestrated and the excuse that Jewish presence on the Temple Mount is the root cause is just the latest in the string of lies that grows ever longer. The Al Aqsa Mosque has effectively been defiled by those who use this sacred shrine as a weapons storage facility.

The world is silent. Jews under attack from Arabs is not nearly as sexy or headline-generating as Israeli reprisals. The world media gets hysterical when terrorists are “neutralized” by Israeli security forces. Those damn Jews, defending themselves again!

Palestinians declare more and more days of rage. Yes we know, you have days of rage, days of temper tantrums, days of victimhood, days of poor-us-ISIS-have-eclipsed-our-infamy- what-do-we-do? With the focus of the world firmly on Syria and ISIS, Palestinians have had to do something to be relevant again. How sad that once again they have chosen tactics that are counterproductive to peace.

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Well, I am also having a day of rage. I am enraged at the senseless violence and tragic death. I am furious that I feel that I cannot trust the Arabs I interact with on a daily basis. I am aggrieved that before I go to meetings or embark on my daily routine I have to weigh the safest options. I am angered that yet again, the chasm is widening and the distrust growing.

We will endure this as we have war, 2 intifadas and multiple waves. We are sustained by hope and the tenet that above all, we choose life. The world may be silent but we are not – we will find every forum we can to shout out that #Jewishlivesmatter!

My immense gratitude to the IDF, police and all in Israel’s security forces who are defending us with their lives. Quite literally!

The time for blame games and accusations of tit-for-tat are over. This blood frenzy where Jews are targeted one by one is based on the most evil and oldest hatred.

I am appealing to all who are reading this to show your support for Israel by helping us disseminate information about what is happening here. Help us end the silence! And while you are sharing, reposting, tweeting and emailing, please stand in solidarity with us by raising an Israeli flag on your social media pages.

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The time is 13h13. By now the names and numbers of casualties have been released. The names of the wounded circulated for prayers for swift healing. The messages checking in with friends have died down.

May tomorrow be a quiet day.

A Game of Thrones – Putin style.

This blog is currently featured in the South African Jewish Report:

http://www.sajr.co.za/news-and-articles/2015/10/01/a-game-of-thrones-putin-style

After several years of civil war, hundreds of thousands of deaths and a refugee crisis that is engulfing Europe, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has decided to send troops to Syria and airstrikes have begun on rebel strongholds. Putin is putin (pun intended) his support firmly behind Syria’s Assad regime. Well, birds of a tyrannical feather do flock together…

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At the moment of this blog post being published, 36 civilians have been killed.

This body count may register as a headline in a publication but it is not as sexy as say, Israel killing 36 Palestinians which more often than not warrants further inspection that almost always finds the majority of recorded casualties to be amongst belligerents.

As news of the civilian casualty count came in, I wondered how many cries of condemnation we would hear from human rights activists or the UN, EU and other general practitioners of holier-than-thouism. Of course the UN is currently preoccupied with speeches from world leaders to the General Assembly which have offered such pearls of moronic wisdom such as Mugabe’s “we are not gay” statement and Iran’s Rouhani and his ever predictable threats to Israel and for good measure, a token stab at the USA for “its unwarranted support of the Zionist regime”. All delivered with his customary Cheshire cat grin, so as to avoid alarming the nice folk at the UN. Abbas has in essence, flung the Oslo Agreements out the window and all eyes will be on Bibi for his rebuttal. At the EU, you can hear the chirping of crickets.

France has been the only power to investigate Assad for crimes against humanity, even though it is seen as largely symbolic.

Russia will not be subjugated to special investigation or have the UN delirious with mad obsession, passing resolution after resolution for the civilians killed in the airstrike. This is a privilege reserved specially for Israel.

And what about Obama? The problem is that the USA, by failing to deliver on threats to bomb Syria when news broke that Assad had used gas against civilians has rendered the commander-in-chief of the mighty US forces more laughing stock than serious player. Obama’s “red lines” moved more than someone dancing the hokey pokey. Don’t worry Mr President, there is always golf….

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The Middle East is a neighbourhood being consumed by flames. Daesh (ISIS) has pretty much destroyed Iraq and is making Syria its new target for terror, leaving a trail of barbaric murder and the destruction of ancient and precious antiquity in its wake. Egyptian forces battle these medieval lunatics and Jordan has felt the wrath and effect with the brutal torture and slaying of a Jordanian pilot. Lebanon has Hizbollah and Daesh in a heated standoff and in Gaza, Hamas are threatened by these barbarians who have claimed responsibility for a salvo of rockets launched at Israel. Israel is dealing with its own issues but is keeping a vigilant and watchful eye on our borders.

Russia entering the fray has added another complex layer to the mix. Putin has proven time and again that nothing and nobody threatens him in any way. There will be a disproportionate lack of response to any civilian deaths as a result of airstrikes.

Putin’s concern that Daesh may reach Russia is another reason for these airstrikes. “The only correct way to fight international terrorism… is to act preemptively, to battle and destroy fighters and terrorists on the territories they have already seized, not to wait for them to come to us,” he said in televised comments. Israel was notified of pending strikes as part of bilateral relations and while the US were quick to claim that they were also notified, Obama and Putin still clash over how best to handle the Syrian crisis and Daesh.

Obama has faced harsh international criticism for his failure to mention the word terror. Putin however, has no problem calling a spade a shovel. Obama is more concerned about the Iranian deal and mollifying the Mullahs.

All the while, Iran watches, waits and continues to fund international terror. Nuclear deal be damned!

This is a very sophisticated episode of Game of Thrones. King of the Middle East is the ultimate prize. If one is keeping score, Putin is currently in the lead and Obama has been relegated to the role of court jester.

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As the USA approaches an election year, it will be interesting to see how foreign policy plays out but in the meantime Putin picks up sword and scepter (and sophisticated fighter aircraft) and keeps his eye on the throne.

Zionism for the millennial generation – bringing sexy back!

This article is currently featured in WIZO Lapid:

http://fliphtml5.com/nati/ouas

The word Zionism is guaranteed to elicit some of the most passionate emotions. For Jews the word Zionism is synonymous with our identity and the love of Israel, for our detractors it is a word that is maligned, criticized and questioned. Zionism in a nutshell can be described as “the yearning of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland”. Relatively simple but Zionism is also about the inalienable right for the Jewish people to organize themselves politically.

The Jews must be the only people in history who have had their national aspirations scorned, derided and singled out for opprobrium. Who could forget the infamous UN Resolution that was passed in 1975 declaring Zionism to be racism? Even though this was eventually refuted, it left a lasting stigma associated with the word. Zionists have been blamed for every canard and conspiracy theory – from 9/11 and creating ISIS to the more ridiculous training of Mossad spy sharks and shoe theft.

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It is not all doom and gloom.  Israel is growing and thriving and the world is changing. Zionism is also changing to adapt to world trends.

The Zionist movement has its roots in human rights. Theodore Herzl, the founding father of modern Zionism, envisioned a state that would live up to the Jewish ideal of tikkun olam (contributing to the world) and be inclusive of minority communities. He wrote this in his manifesto, Altneuland. While Herzl would never live long enough to witness the birth of his dream, his tenacity and unfaltering belief that “if you will it, it is no dream” has been realized and today Israel is a thriving, cosmopolitan kaleidoscope of culture, creativity and innovation, proudly holding her own in the family of nations.

During the country’s brief 67years, the impact the Jewish state has made on the world is extraordinary. Few are aware of the Jewish state’s history of helping beleaguered African countries in the 1950’s and 1960’s by establishing youth training programmes and agricultural cooperatives as well as medical infrastructure and industrial enterprises. Today, Israel continues to help post-colonial Africa with groundbreaking medical and agricultural technology. Africa is just one example.

Practical Zionism that exhibits “tachlis” or results is very attractive to the millennial generation. This is a generation for whom the language of human rights is very important. Zionism has been in effect, hijacked by Israel’s detractors in order to frame their argument that Israel is a racist, Apartheid state that is guilty of human rights. This is used effectively on campuses and many students who are supporters of Israel are targeted and harassed. In many cases it is difficult for students to confidently show their support because it makes them vulnerable to attacks.

So how do we claim back the narrative? How do we make it safe for a new generation to express themselves and their identity?

There are many ways to promote Zionism other than the political sphere. While it is my personal belief that we should all become pro-activists for Israel, for some, especially the millennial generation, the political arguments seem daunting and overwhelming.  This is a generation that has always known Israel to be a strong and secure country. This is a generation for whom Israel is about start-ups and Birthright, the IDF and Ben Yehuda Street.  We need to take back the narrative that Zionism is about human rights and frame it in a language and use the tools that they understand. We need to appeal to their inner rebel and make it current. It is a fallacy that the younger generation do not identify with Zionism – they do, they just express it differently to what many are used to.

Zionism if you think about it is quite rebellious and revolutionary. Zionists don’t conform. We take ideas and change the world with them.  At the outset, nobody, save for Herzl, could conceive of a state being born out of a manifesto and followed by a movement and eventually a state. Zionism is proof that anything, in fact, miracles ARE possible. This is rebellious. It bucks the status quo, and appeals to the inner romantic and the rebel. How could this not be appealing to students who become politically aware and socially conscious once they start university?

Zionism is the story of triumph over tragedy. Zionists punch above our weight. This is evident in the way that Israel is always first on scene in time of natural disasters like we were recently in Nepal. Zionism is sexy and innovative – if there is an app or hot new start up, you can bet that you can find it here and that it is attracting investment.

Zionists are humanists – while we may fervently defend our right to protect ourselves, we are dismayed at the injustice and persecution that our neighbours endure through despotic and hegemonic regimes. We open our arms to providing our life saving and revolutionary medical technology to children from enemy countries, desperately in need of care.

Zionism is about creativity and the freedom of expression – discourse and debate is the order of the day and the test of being a Zionist is being brave enough to challenge the policies and status quo we disagree with in order to build a better Israel. When the going gets tough, we get introspective and discuss. Zionism is about creating the space for individuality and the collective.

All this should fire up the millennials and it does! These are the messages that they relate to. This is attractive, unique and all about bridging the gaps between past and future. It is time to make Zionism relevant again and adapt to a new generation and we can only do this effectively by listening to them.

And they are aware of the challenges. They are the frontline – they are looking at things from a different perspective and finding creative ways to engage.

One of my favourite quotes of all times is “be moved by your message and your message will move the world” and we are making Zionism sexy again.

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Rolene Marks is a passionate advocate for Israel and appears on radio, television and has been published in numerous global publications. Rolene is a member of the Media Team Israel, an advocacy body that fights media bias as well as Truth be Told.

Rolene volunteers for WIZO and is a member of the World WIZO Executive and previously represented the organisation on the World Zionist Congress. Rolene can be heard every Monday on the Chai Drive on Chai FM, a Johannesburg based radio station giving political commentary on Israel and the Middle East.

In 2007 Rolene participated in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Young Jewish Diplomats Leadership course and is the owner of Rolene Marks Consulting, specialising in Media, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing as well as Israel Advocacy Training. Rolene Marks is available for interviews and lectures upon request.

Iron like lions in Zion!

“Ain’t nobody gonna break my stride, I gotta keep on moving” sang a passionate Matisyahu at the recent Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Spain. To quote another reggae luminary, Bob Marley, Matisyahu was Iron like Lion in Zion. He epitomized peace and tolerance in the face of great adversity and discrimination. We all know the story but in a nutshell, Matisyahu who is American and Jewish was asked to endorse the positions of the BDS movement and was summarily disinvited by festival organisers when he didn’t. After immense worldwide pressure by peace loving citizens who were outraged over the ban, Matisyahu was re-invited and defiantly sang his hit, Jerusalem. You see, it is not actually about Israel, it is all about Jews. Boycott shmoycott – that is just verbiage and fancy wordplay that disguises the true intentions of the Belligerent, Disruptive and Stupid campaign. Matisyahu had this to say on his Facebook page:

“My deepest thanks to the worldwide community for rallying to the cause of musical freedom. Most of all, thank you to my incredible fans and to so many people of all faiths who refused to remain silent in the name of artistic freedom. This is your victory.”

Jerusalem if I forget you…….

Matisyahu’s performance is indicative of a phenomenon that Jews have faced since eternity – the ability to stand up to the Goliath of haters.  Since time immemorial, the small nation of Israel has had to stand up to colossal entities who have sought our destruction. In the modern age, they are aided by vast media outlets.

Matisyahu’s brave performance got me thinking. The one thing that scares off a bully is if his intended victim stands up to him. I am often asked during interviews or lectures, why Israel’s public relations is so bad. Granted, it can stand to improve a lot but the Jewish people face a phenomenon no other nation does. Our diaspora communities are seen as the de facto spokespeople for the State of Israel and are targets for many an anti-Semite. Don’t get me wrong – criticizing policy you don’t necessarily agree with is healthy and democratic but if it comes at the expense of other countries committing true atrocities or if the rights of the sovereign Jewish state to exist are questioned, then we are dealing with a whole new animal.

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Iron like a lion in Zion

Many have approached me in despair, lamenting the fact that we can’t compete with massive budgets and buying power on broadcast networks or are dwarfed by sheer numbers. This is when I think of David vs Goliath and now, Matisyahu.

For the first time in our history, Jews not only have a state and an army but we also have a voice. We have the same social media tools, the same ability to disseminate information and a myriad of NGO’s and individuals who fight the good fight. We also have legions of support in the Christian community and believe it or not, in areas where we would least expect it in the Muslim and Arab worlds, often at great risk to their personal safety.

It is my belief that despite the size of the opposition, we can all be lions for Zion. There is an old African folklore tale that even the smallest mosquito can irritate the great elephant. The most important thing is that we show up with the facts, ready and confident to make our case. This seriously irritates the proverbial elephant!

Seventy odd years ago, Jews did not have a voice. There was no Facebook to share their plight and the gates of the nations were closed to them. They were stateless and voiceless.

Today, every letter in response to a hostile op-ed, every Facebook share or post and every tweet can go a long way to getting the truth out. We can give a voice not only to those who cannot speak for themselves or live in countries where anti-Semitism is prohibitive of their freedom of expression but also to the generations before us who could not speak out.

Matisyahu, who ironically bears the name of the great Maccabean leader (who hailed from the city of Modiin where I live), is hugely symbolic.  Matityahu, the hero of Chanukah, led the battle against the Greeks and his leadership skills were passed down to his sons who defeated them and won back the Temple.  Talk about beating the odds! Today’s Matisyahu is using the power of music as an instrument of peace and tolerance with a message of national identity and is being the mosquito that irritates the BDS elephant.

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Excavations in Modiin, the city of the Maccabees

My message is simple – we may be small in numbers and the odds may seem insurmountable, but we can all show up in our own unique way. We can draw from the example from history and the present and roar like iron lions from Zion!

Useful sites to help you:

www.wizo.org

www.chaifm.com

www.idfspokesperson.wordpress.com

www.honestreporting.com

www.mfa.gov.il

www.jewishvirtuallibrary.com

www.israel21c.org

www.ngo-monitor.org

www.jpost.com

www.timesofisrael.com

www.voiceofisrael.com

www.i24news.tv

www.standwithus.com

BDS – Bulls*** Double Standards?

This article currently appears in The Algemeiner:

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/08/14/the-b-in-bds-stands-for-bull/

The issue of human rights is very alluring. It appeals to our conscience and sense of altruism but what happens when organisations and individuals who claim to be concerned with the cause of human rights discriminate against the rights of another?

Okay, the jig is up. You all know who I am talking about. BDS – the so called Boycott Divestment and Sanction movement. Only it should be renamed “we only care about boycotting Israel and accusing them of heinous crimes like Apartheid and screw those other folks like the Yazidis, Christians and Syrians who could really use our help.” But then again that would make for a rather long and confusing acronym.

It seems like those who are in dire need of a voice are not the subjects of marches, rallies – and t-shirts!

Cut to South Africa – okay I know I drone on but it really is the epicenter of BDS, seeing it burst onto the global stage at the 2001 UN Conference – and the latest drama playing out is t-shirt-gate. Now I know that you are scratching your heads wondering what I am going on about but it exposes another hypocritical double standard that the BDS are guilty of.

The humble t-shirt has now sparked a controversy about discrimination against these so called human rights activists. BDS SA poster child, Mohamed Desai, was asked to leave a popular Johannesburg gym for wearing a BDS t-shirt that read “From the coast of Cape Town to the coast of Gaza, in solidarity with Palestinians against Israeli apartheid”. See video clip below:

Mohamed Desai has a rant on camera

Now Mr Desai and his cohorts are guilty of the following – singing “Shoot the Jew” at a rally, harassing and bullying staff and shoppers at Woolworths stores, intimidating and even bribing student leaders who visited Israel recently, amongst other belligerent activities. The students incidentally have firmly decided that they have been lied to by BDS but back to our friend Mohammed who used the excuse that singing shoot the Jew was merely a hearken back to the struggle song “shoot the boer”. Both songs are repugnant. Desai is now taking t-shirtgate to the South African Human Rights Commission.

This is a prime example of the hideous double standards employed by this movement. Yeah, they are a movement alright – one that may require a latrine.

This same self-righteous are silent on Syria, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the flagrant abuse of Yazidis and the rape, mutilation and torture of women by Daesh (ISIS). Not a peep out of the mouths of this bunch. No marches, no demonstrations and no boycotts. This honour is reserved only for Israel and Jewish communities around the world.

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BDS rally in Paris but where is the one against ISIS

At a time when Jews have been shot while touring museums and doing their Shabbat shopping, there is nothing remotely dismissive or funny about singing songs like shoot the Jew. Why is it that every time BDS want to make a point something or protest their activities invariably result in anti-Semitism?

BDS are quite frankly anti peace. Bullyboy tactics and double standards are contra to what any peace loving individual who wants to see a just and negotiated settlement reached in the Middle East. Discourse is the only way and boycotts and inflammatory speech destroys that.

I appeal to any peace loving, sane person to not believe the bulls*** spouted by these hate mongers. Don’t let them polarize your community or import conflicts into your country, rather give a voice to those who have no advocates speaking or marching on their behalf. Nobody will be offended by any t-shirt carrying a peace sign.

An EPIC BDS Fail: Roro on The Josh Hasten Show (Voice of Israel)

What happens when you bring 16 student leaders from South Africa where they have been fed a steady diet of BDS b.s?  AN EPIC BDS fail! I was absolutely delighted to join the Voice of Israel’s Josh Hasten on air:

Listen to the interview:

http://www.voiceofisrael.com/pro-bds-students-do-a-180-after-visiting-israel/

Join me in subscribing to Voice of Israel radio:

http://www.voiceofisrael.com

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Ranting on air: gratitude to Josh Hasten

Iran is not a credible partner – Col. Olivier Rafowicz

This article originally appeared in French in Le Monde Juive

http://www.actuj.com/2015-07/israel/2136-olivier-rafowicz-l-iran-n-est-pas-un-partenaire-credible

Listen to the podcast with the Disgruntled Millenial:

http://brettsegalmusic.com/idfcolonel/

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Col. Rafowicz

Iran’s Ayatollahs were behind the bloody attack that hit the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 84 and injured 230. Iran is also behind the attack in Burgas, the resort in Bulgaria that resulted in several deaths. In fact, Iran is behind dozens of bombings and killings throughout the world that have targeted and continue to target Jewish, Israeli and western interests. These same Iranian mullahs and ayatollahs who promote the Islamic revolution are engaged in an open war against Israel. Iran is among the most corrupt states in the world and has empowered a handful of clerics who have enriched themselves for years on the grounds that they hold the “Truth” and use a fundamentalist Shiite Islamist ideology.

Since the revolution in 1979, Iran has supported terrorism through its proxies like Hizbollah, amongst others. Iran also uses their special forces that are attached to the foreign service of the Iranian intelligence unit to increase their sphere of influence to perpetrate numerous attacks and are willing to become a major power in the Middle East and beyond. Imad Mugniyeh, the mega terrorist, who was killed in mysterious circumstances in Damascus, was one of the commanders of the Iranian external branch for military and terror attacks abroad. By the way, the Iranian foreign minister, Zarif, paid his respects at Mugniyeh’s grave two months ago. This same man, who is charged with signing an agreement with the west, has given full respect to a man who has French, American and Israeli blood on his hands.

Iran has a long arm, reaching as far as the Argentine State Prosecutor Alberto Nisman who formally accused the Iranian government of being behind the attack in Buenos Aires in 1994. He was the author of a report that indicted Hezbollah and was found dead in his apartment in January 2015 due to mysterious circumstances. He had issued an international arrest warrant against several senior Iranian officials, including former President Akbar Hashemi  Rafsanjani.

I acknowledge that today the West has to deal with the Islamo-fascist regime that continues to declare loud and clear that they want the total destruction of the Jewish state.

I accuse the major powers who do not want to acknowledge that Iran is a terrorist state that creates dangerous conditions for the State of Israel and the West – this agreement allows the major world powers to prefer economic and financial windfalls from activity in Iran and would rather use this state as their tool to fight ISIS, mostly in Iraq.

It is not just the responsibility of all the Jews in the world who love Israel but of all democrats, to acknowledge the absurd and dangerous policy of seeking an agreement at any price with a State that does not change their way of thinking and has installed a regime and form of government that continues to want to destroy the only democracy in the Middle East and the only Jewish state in the world.

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I accuse the big powers who want to believe that further remote control of the Iranian nuclear programme is possible and that the worst can be avoided, of being naive. As long as Iran is a dictatorship  that continues to stone adulterous women, which condemns homosexuals  to death, sends suicide bombers to blow themselves up in Jewish community centers or on buses carrying Israeli tourists and have hundreds or even thousands of Shiite suicide bombers ready to blow themselves up in restaurants and public places, this country cannot be worth signing an agreement  with.  From a nuclear and military perspective, men who dream of destroying the Jewish state should not be allowed to be partners to sign a credible agreement.

I accuse them of naivety, or at least being naive when it comes to wanting an agreement at any price with a regime that wants to destroy the state of Israel at all costs. It is difficult at present to know what the consequences of the nuclear deal will be for Israel and the region but it is clear that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and even Turkey and the State of Israel are starting to live in a much more dangerous era from today where the West will give carte blanche to the regime of mullahs who will undoubtedly continue their expansionary course and hegemony in the region. Today, Tehran controls Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Sanaa and Gaza.

If tomorrow, the region becomes inflamed due to an agreement with the Devil, Israel will be directly affected and the appropriate solution that should be adopted will come certainly from Jerusalem or at least in conjunction with the Jewish capital. The foreign ministers of major powers will certainly leave Vienna with the smile of those men who think they have negotiated a good deal. The Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs will certainly be the only one that will have a real reason to smile.

In Israel, we do not smile. We know that only the State of Israel, its army,its government and the God of Israel is and will always be the guarantor of our security. God Bless Israel.

Olivier Rafowicz is a reserve Colonel in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and is the former foreign media spokesman. Rafowicz is a senior consultant in communication and military affairs and has provided analysis and commentary on Middle Eastern issues on radio television and in the print media. Rafowicz is a frequent commentator on i24 News French edition and serves as KKL-JNF Senior Advisor on Hasbarah in Europe. Rafowicz is the author of “Le Temps du Retour’ (available through Amazon).