The T-14 Armata tank and the military buildup of the Russian army

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The new Russian T-14 Armata tank. Source: http://bit.ly/1DS5YTD

Jane’s is a gem of a resource for anybody interested in military affairs and analysis.

This video shows that, with new acquisitions for its land forces, the Russian army will benefit from a big increase in capability.

Watching it reminded me of a very interesting and revealing quote in Mark Urban’s new (and honestly excellent and impossible to put down) book, The Edge:

“But even if his [President Putin’s] planned military buildup cannot now be funded, Russia has already taken its forces to the point where it is the global leader in several areas. Equally important, given the need of any aspiring military power to match capability with intent, the Kremlin has shown the willingness to use them.” (p. 89).

And this disposition will only benefit from economic recovery.

While the countries in the West continue to play cheap political games with cutbacks in military resources.

Remembering Jewish Soldiers of the Red Army

parade-031209According to a very interesting story published in the Jerusalem Post today, almost half of the Israelis polled are in favor of making May 9th, which is the day when Soviet Victory over Nazism is commemorated in Russia, a national holiday in Israel, too. Even more interesting is the fact that Yad Vashem (the Memorial and Museum to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem) evaluates that no less than 1,5 million Jews took arms and fought barbarism during World War II. Here’s the eloquent example reported by the JPost:

“Anatoli Shapiro, for example, a Red Army officer who commanded the division that liberated Auschwitz, was the first man to open the gates and inform its prisoners ‘the Red army has come to liberate you.’ His story reflects most of all the essence of the Jewish fighters, fighters who didn’t just ask to bring freedom to Europe, but fighters who fought to save their brothers and sisters.”

There is ample academic research (you could fill a few bookshelves of books about that subject) supporting the fact that, without the USSR, it is doubtful that the Allies would have crushed Hitler’s hordes. It is no less significant to recognize the service of Jewish soldiers who were part of the Red army. On May 9th, we not only salute the Soviet (Russians, Ukrainians and others) men and women who made tremendous sacrifices, the ultimate one in the case of several millions, but also these Jewish and Israeli people who also carry that involvement as a badge of honor. A national holiday is not an exaggerated way to say: Thank you!

Anti-Semitism on the rise by nearly 40%

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Rome (Gemelli station), summer 2014.

Last Saturday night, my family and I went to the Synagogue. We are not Jewish. We are proud Catholics. And we believe in the dialogue and friendship between Catholic and Jewish people. And we are always eager to express our solidarity with the Jewish people.

One particular discussion with a middled-aged Jewish man struck a chord in me. In a resigned tone, this gentleman expressed his discouragement at the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

This reminded me of the recent study completed by Tel Aviv University researchers, which revealed that the year 2014 had been characterized by the fact that ant-Semitic incidents rose by nearly 40%.

This is more than preoccupying, since:

“The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying anti-Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous, and that they are facing an explosion of hatred towards them as individuals, their communities, and Israel, as a Jewish state,” the authors wrote.

Last summer, while waiting for a train at a Rome station, I noticed a large swastika painted on the locomotive. In the last months, I have also heard an alarming number of anti-Semitic comments and observations by various people.

Anti-Semitism is a cancer that is eating up the spirit of tolerance of Europe – and many other parts of the world. We need to fight it with all our energies and determination. For, as Pope Francis recently said “a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!” And I totally agree with him.

I just wish I could join up with the participants of the upcoming 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem. I’ll make sure to attend in 2017. Now, more than ever, we need such venues.

Israel deployed 33% of the foreign medical personnel in Nepal

Yet another representation that Israel is a people of life and for life. If you compare the importance of the various medical delegations to Nepal with the population of the involved countries, you will quickly understand that Israel’s contribution is the most significant. If you are seeking a precise number, the government of Jerusalem has deployed 33% of the foreign medical personnel in Nepal, following the earthquake.

I’m waiting for major Western news media to report on it and to stress the fact that Israel is a deeply humanitarian society and country.

But I think I’ll wait a long time to hear about it from these sources. They will wait for the next opportunity to lambast and criticize. Sad. Very sad.