Category Archives: Middle East


Iran’s Fear of the Popular Figure: The Execution of Navid Afkari

Also available in العربية

October 21, 2020

Navid Afkari, a 27 year-old Iranian wrestling champion who won numerous medals, had rarely lost a fight in his life. There was, however, one struggle he could not win. Following torture and a forced confession, Navid was executed earlier this month following a verdict by the Iranian Supreme Court. 

Navid Afkari, along with his two brothers Vahid and Habib, were found guilty of participating in the nationwide protest that engulfed Iran in August 2018, along with several other charges that included insulting the supreme leader, waging war against God, and murder. Vahid and Habib were handed prison sentences of 54 years and 27 years respectively. Both were also sentenced to 74 lashes and are still behind bars.

Navid’s execution demonstrates that Iran’s decision earlier this year to commute the execution sentence of three young men represented an exception rather than a potential shift inside the country. Iran had halted the executions of three young protestors—Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, and Saeed Tamjidi—under the pressure of an online campaign that attracted millions of tweets and a hashtag protesting their sentence.

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Israeli crowdfunding campaign to support victims of Beirut blast


Humanitarian aid intended to be sent to Lebanon. (photo credit: ISRAELI FLYING AID)

Humanitarian aid intended to be sent to Lebanon.(photo credit: ISRAELI FLYING AID)Advertisement

Israeli Flying Aid (IFA), a non-profit NGO specializing in delivering humanitarian aid to communities affected by natural disasters and conflict in countries who hold no formal relations with Israel, announced that it launched a crowdfunding campaign to provide aid to the Lebanese people in the wake of a massive explosion in Beirut that killed over 170 people and wounded thousands more, leaving another 90,000 or so with ruined homes.The campaign has two goals, according to IFA CEO Gal Lusky: The first being solidarity with the people of Lebanon and the second is to gather the means to provide aid to the victims.

“When a disaster of historical magnitude befalls our neighbors, we, the citizens of Israel must set aside the ongoing Israeli-Lebanese conflict, and rise above and beyond politics and diplomacy, reaching out to the Lebanese innocent victims  on the other side of the border,” said Lusky.

The chairman of the Syria Forum at the Moshe Dayan Research Center, Dr. Nir Boms, believes that this “humanistic” approach could create positive avenues between the two countries, and possibly down the line garner positive relationships between the two states.“ This recent disaster finds Lebanon in a critical time. Since 2019 the Lebanese have marched to the streets demanding a change and an end to a system that prioritize interests other than those of the Lebanese people,” said Boms. “The internal Lebanese discourse creates a unique opportunity to engage in a move of humanitarian diplomacy that will show a different face of Israel and that could open future tracks of dialogue between the two countries.”

Link to Crowdfunding site: “Human Warmth” – Israelis for Lebanese Citizens


The Syria conflict: Latest developments

Before it began, 2020 was assessed to be the last year of the Syrian civil war, which erupted in 2011. This turned out to be either wishful thinking or an overly optimistic assumption which fell victim to the Coronavirus. As the year approaches its end, the conflict is still there, with most of the same domestic and foreign actors – the Assad regime and its opposition, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, the United States and various Jihadi groups. What are the military and political pictures?

Panel: – Jonathan Hessen, Host.

– Amir Oren, Analyst.

– Prof. Zeev Khanin, Expert on Russian and Middle Eastern Studies, Bar Ilan and Ariel Universities.

– Dr. Nir Boms, Research Fellow, Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University.