Seyyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, an Iranian military officer currently acting as the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, issued a menacing statement against the Jewish state hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to bring up the ever-imminent threat posed on Israel by Tehran in his encounter with US President Donald Trump.

The two are slated to meet at the UN for the General Assembly’s 72nd session held at the NY headquarters.

“We will destroy the Zionist entity at lightning speed, and thus shorten the 25 years it still has left,” Iranian media quoted Mousavi as saying in reference to a recurring threat by Iran and its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to take down the State of Israel in the next quarter century.

“I warn the [Zionist] entity not to make any stupid move against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he threatened. “Every [such] stupid act will [make us] turn Tel Aviv and Haifa into dust.”

Mousavi also said that “the world will not forget the crimes [committed] by this arrogant Zionist offical.” According to Iranian news agency Tasnim, Mousavi was talking about an Israeli official who had allegedly made “irresponsible declarations” concerning Iran’s presence in the conflict-addled Syria.

“He [the official] should bow his head down and calculate how much longer he has to live. Every mistake made by this [Zionist] entity will make it last less than the 25 years it has left, and Iran will destroy this entity with lightning speed.”

He then reiterated the warning that Israel won’t proceed to exist for more than the next 25 years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to relay to the Trump administration Israel’s concerns regarding the looming threat posed by Iran’s nuclear activity. Netanyahu has been vocally advocating against the Iran Deal since before it was formed, and President Trump doesn’t seem to differ from Netanyahu in opinion concerning the nature of the deal.

“The Iran idea is one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen, certainly at a minimum the spirit of the deal is just atrociously kept,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One last week.

In response to Trump’s comments and recent US statements about Tehran’s actions, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Sunday that Tehran would react strongly to any “wrong move” by Washington on the nuclear deal.

Netanyahu is also slated to present to Trump’s Israel’s worries regarding the establishment of a long-lasting Iranian stronghold in Syria, that could also have grave repercussions on Israeli security. Israel will “not tolerate Iranian consolidating its presence on our northern border,” the premier said recently ahead of his key parley with Trump.


Protests turn unruly after Trump’s Phoenix speech

PHOENIX — A day of noisy but largely peaceful protests of President Donald Trump’s speech in Phoenix turned unruly as police fired pepper spray at crowds after someone apparently lobbed rocks and bottles at officers.

A cloudy haze enveloped the night sky Tuesday outside the convention center where Trump had just wrapped up his speech as protesters and police clashed. People fled the scene coughing as the disturbance unfolded.

“People in the crowd have begun throwing rocks and bottles at police. They also dispersed some gas in the area,” Phoenix police spokesman Jonathan Howard said, adding that officers responded with pepper spray to “disperse the crowd.”

Minor scuffles and shouting matches erupted earlier between protesters and Trump’s supporters on Tuesday with authorities on high alert as thousands of people lined up in the triple-digit heat to attend his first political rally since the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Phoenix police kept most members of the two opposing groups behind barricades and apart on separate sides of the street. As a police helicopter hovered overhead, officers wearing riot gear and carrying rifles sauntered through the lane between the sides.

Local authorities were vigilant in the aftermath of the deadly protests in Virginia and the president’s comments last week about both sides having blame for violence at the white supremacist rally. Mayor Greg Stanton had unsuccessfully called on the president to not hold the rally here so soon after the trouble in Charlottesville.

“Toxic Trump,” read one protest sign held up to the president’s supporters streaming into the Phoenix Convention Center downtown. “Lock Him Up!” read another, a reference to earlier campaign chants by Trump and his backers about his election rival Hillary Clinton.

Dillon Scott of Phoenix, who voted for Clinton, said he came out to express dissatisfaction with how long Trump took to denounce racism after the Charlottesville violence.

“No one should be allowed to get away with what he gets away with, especially in political office,” Scott said.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters chanted, “Wrong side of history! Wrong side of history!”

Trump backer Randy Hutson, a retired Phoenix police officer, began standing in line more than seven hours before the speech was to start. “He is the first president I feel in my lifetime that speaks his mind and speaks from the heart,” Hutson said. “He says what needs to be said.”

A number of opposition signs showed drawings or photos of Trump with a small, Hitler-style mustache. Three Trump supporters taunted Latino protesters with offensive comments about immigrants and held anti-Muslim and Black Lives Matter signs.

As the line to get in the venue moved ahead, the two groups shouted at each other and some skirmishes broke out. At one point, a Trump supporter and protester shoved each other.

John Brown, of an anti-Trump group calling itself the Redneck Revolt, wore military fatigues and had an AK-47 rifle strapped to his chest as he and a half dozen others from the group stood about 30 feet behind the barricade for protesters. He said they were there to protect Trump opponents and stand up to fascism. “He’s offensive to me in every way,” Brown said.

The outdoor temperature remained over 100 degrees as the rally began.

Capt. Rob McDade, spokesman for Phoenix Fire Department, says that as of 6 p.m. they had treated 48 people for heat-related problems, most of them for dehydration. He said that of those, two were adult women were taken to a hospital for further evaluation.

State Democratic leaders urged people who wanted to show their opposition to the president’s policies to gather at a city-designated free speech zone near the site of the rally.

The message to protesters echoed those coming from law enforcement and Stanton. Stanton said he expects protesters to be “civil, respectful and peaceful.” Police Chief Jeri Williams says First Amendment rights will be supported but criminal conduct will be swiftly addressed.

But some of Trump’s supporters were so keen to see the president that they began queuing up before dawn for the 7 p.m. rally.

“It’s been on a bucket list of mine, since he became the president,” said Kingman resident Diane Treon, who arrived at 4 a.m. “I wished I had attended one of his campaign rallies before he became president and I wanted to go to the inauguration. And truthfully it was the protests that kept me away.”

Treon said she wishes protesters “would be a little more peaceful instead of violently rioting, which is happening in so many places” but isn’t overly worried.

State of Emergency Declared in Charlottesville After Protests Turn Violent

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville on Saturday as a protest of a plan to remove a statue of a Confederate general turned violent, leaving several people injured and threatening to plunge the area into chaos.

Protesters clashed in the historic college town, home to the University of Virginia, as white nationalists — some waving Confederate flags, chanting Nazi-era slogans, wearing helmets and carrying shields — converged on the statue of Robert E. Lee in the city’s Emancipation Park and the surrounding streets. The protest was the apparent culmination of more than a year of debate and division over the fate of the statue.

Saturday’s rally was supposed to start at noon, but the scene at the park had grown chaotic by late morning, with white nationalists and neo-Nazis facing off with Black Lives Matter demonstrators and other counterprotesters. Inside the park, which was encircled with metal barricades and the police, hundreds of white nationalists gathered around the Lee statue, chanting phrases like “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”

Outside the park, a huge mass of counterprotesters grew, shouting phrases like “Nazi scum.” By 11:35 a.m., the police had retreated, the barricades had come down and fights had broken out. People were seen clubbing one another in the streets. Pepper spray filled the air as the police attempted to contain the situation.

By 11 a.m., when the city declared the state of emergency, several people had been injured, including a University of Virginia police officer. It was unclear if the injuries were serious. The governor, Terry McAuliffe, followed with his own declaration an hour later.

“The acts and rhetoric in #Charlottesville over past 24 hours are unacceptable & must stop,” Governor McAuliffe said on Twitter. “A right to speech is not a right to violence.”

Charlottesville has been bracing for what feels like an invasion of alt-right demonstrators, here for what they are calling a “Unite the Right” rally. On Friday night, hundreds of them, carrying lit torches, marched on the picturesque grounds of the university, founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson.

University officials said one person was arrested and charged Friday night with assault and disorderly conduct, and several others were injured. Among those hurt was a university police officer injured while making the arrest, the school said in a statement.

Theresa A. Sullivan, the president of the university, strongly condemned the Friday demonstration in a statement, calling it “disturbing and unacceptable.”

Turn any old Android into your Android with Google’s #myAndroid site

Your phone should adhere to your tastes. The #myAndroid website helps you do just that.

You may have bought the same phone as a few hundred thousand other people (or a few million), but that doesn’t mean you’re anything like them. And Google wants to help you prove it.

This weekend, the tech giant and phone maker launched a new tool to help you turn any old Android into your Android. The #myAndroid website promises to help make your handset truly your own, “from the way it looks to the way it works.”

To get started in the customization process, Android invites you to take the #myAndroid Taste Test, a series of questions designed to understand you, your tastes, and your needs. Asking users to “tap first, think later,” Google hopes that you’ll answer these questions in rapid fire so as to be as honest as possible. You’ll be asked about your preferences when it comes to a multicolor or monochromatic palette, organic or geometric shapes, and even how you like your sandwiches sliced.

The ultimate goal is to help you customize your phone with new wallpapers, icon packs, and more.

MoreHow to reverse search images using Google (on iPhone or Android)

The quiz, which is actually quite long, spanning between 10 and 15 questions, gets into the weeds when it comes to not only your design aesthetic but also how you actually use your phone. Are you more of a gamer or a worker? Looking for more information or to look cooler? A new Android user or a veteran of the OS? Based on your answer, Google has something different for you.

Once you’ve finished the test, you’ll be presented with a series of suggestions for your icons, your launcher, your wallpaper, and even your keyboard. And if you’re not satisfied with the results, you’re welcome to take the test again and again and again until you’ve finally landed on the Android that truly feels like home.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/myandroid-google-website/#ixzz4bBdjrS00
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It Was America’s Turn to Confront Violent Extremism



The Peeled Onion (Satire)

serveimage-2Winter was coming and the violent extremists knew they had to do… something. It was tricky in America, because they had to pretend to be for free speech, when deep down they longed for the Soviet glory days when opposing them was a capital offense.

They would double down on their “Woe is me” strategy, deploying the phrase Never is Now, a feeble attempt to revive the state-enforced religion of Holocaustianity. Using their media, they amped up the harassment of a weary race-baited America, calling whites all the slurs they came up with years ago, after getting them to fight and die in two World Wars.

In this assault, they would pretend to be victimized twigs in the thicket of other minorities, when not publicly anguishing over “white privilege.” This strategy was seen as pretty extreme, since even they themselves acknowledged they’ve always been welcomed in America.

They resolved to “speak truth to power” in this blitz, taking the phenomenon of projection to preposterous heights. They would crank up the Mighty Wurlitzer to levels of hypocrisy not thought humanly possible.

Countering 70 Years of Post-WWII Extremism

This winter campaign would lead into the historic year of 2017, that marked 70 years of intensified covert cultural, physical and spiritual warfare upon America.

Israel attacked the USS Liberty on June 8th, 1967. Final death toll was 34 with 171 wounded.

In truth, folks had not been this aware of the root causes of violent extremism in America (and Europe) since the 1930s. It dawned on men and women everywhere that their leaders were not just fake, but likely compromised. Honorable, hard-working Americans recoiled at unspeakable crimes against the innocent, but the corruption could no longer be hidden.

The men and women had started to speak out against violent extremism, even though they knew it would put them in danger. They began to break the trance of trauma-based mind control, and see history from the side of the vanquished.

They realized that to stop being victims of violent extremism, or unwittingly carrying out their agenda, they had to wise up. They realized they didn’t have a snowball’s chance of Hell of being free nations again, if they didn’t strike the root.

They started to choose organic culture over the synthetic one created for them by the violent extremists. They were breaking out of the retarded see saw of politics that had kept them polarized. The awareness of the roots of violent extremism had dawned on both the so-called Far Left and the so-called Far Right – basically, everybody who hadn’t been too severely damaged.

More worrying to the violent extremists, a sizable group shunned the psy-op Election, exposing that Americans could not be fooled again.

Who were the violent extremists?

They had an ideology of supremacy that’s rather extreme. It’s so extreme in fact that they were willing to subvert and destroy entire nations, genociding millions in the process, to achieve their goals.


Many realized, if they defeat you, they show no mercy. They demonize you for eternity, until they wipe you off the face of the Earth completely.

Courageous men and women of all races dared to stop whacking at the branches of violent extremism, and strike the root. There were some casualties, as those who broke the trance were shunned by mind control victims, or threatened by those running cover for the crime syndicate.

How did humanity prevail against violent extremism?

They passionately rejected dystopian visions for the future. They grew stronger psychically, and overcame the black magick and psychic attacks.

They courageously defended their right to live as nature intended, as free men and women.

They overcame the attack on European culture and values, and encouraged all races to honor their unique lineage. They banded together with all those of genuine good will and honor.

They exposed the big lie that European racial identity threatens others. They wrote their true history, and resolved to learn from it, especially how they became vulnerable to subversion and genocide.

With small steps and big ones, the violent extremists were neutralized, so they couldn’t continue to plunder, kill and subvert nations. They could no longer poison our symbolic and literal wells. Our natural immunity returned.

A wise man once said when you face the violent extremists, you are facing the Devil. When enough men and women started to seriously dare to look at this central ordeal of humanity, the seeds of real freedom were sown.

How a Simple Tax Rule Let Donald Trump Turn a $916 Million Loss Into a Plus

It is among the least controversial parts of the federal tax code, almost as old as the income tax itself: A business, big or small, can escape taxation if it lost money in a previous year, a rule that helps businesses weather tough economic times, and hopefully thrive again.

But in the early 1990s, as his overleveraged and indebted properties faltered and he teetered on the edge of personal bankruptcy, Donald J. Trump sought to take this ordinary provision to an enormous scale and escape a foundering business — and avoid taxes for years going forward.

In 1995, according to documents published on Saturday by The New York Times, Mr. Trump claimed almost a billion dollars in operating losses that could be used to avoid future federal income taxation. The eye-popping figure would amount to almost 2 percent of all so-called net operating losses claimed by all American taxpayers that year.

The maneuver would have protected him for up to 18 years’ worth of income taxes, easing his path to his new career: leveraging his name and knack for publicity while minimizing the risks to his fortune. Trump-branded apartment buildings, golf courses, men’s wear and steaks were followed by his lucrative hit reality television series.

“I was able to use the tax laws in this country and my business acumen to dig out of the real estate mess,” Mr. Trump said on Monday in a campaign appearance in Colorado. “Few others were able to do what I did.”

Because he has broken with decades of American political tradition and steadfastly refused to release any full personal income tax returns, much about what Mr. Trump did remains unclear. But the disclosure of his 1995 tax maneuver has led to a rare moment in which the arcana of tax policy turned into a national political issue.

And much like the admission by Mitt Romney in 2012 that he had paid an effective income tax rate of less than 14 percent in some years while amassing a $250 million fortune, the disclosure of Mr. Trump’s ambitious tax maneuver was seized on by Democrats as an illustration of the huge advantages tax rules can bestow on the wealthy.

Continue reading the main story

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Continue reading the main story

More than 500,000 individual taxpayers took advantage of the same tax rule as Mr. Trump in 1995, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The average loss they claimed, however, was just $97,600. Mr. Trump’s $916 million loss accounted for almost 2 percent of the national total.

“He likes to say he does things in a big way, but I doubt he would boast about having what was likely the biggest net operating loss in the economy,” said Lily Batchelder, a law and public policy professor at New York University.

The rule that let Mr. Trump shelter almost $1 billion in income from taxation dates to 1918. It was enacted to prevent businesses from being penalized by the administrative convenience of calendar-year taxation: If a company loses $100,000 one year, and makes $100,000 the following year, the law allows the company to pay nothing in taxes, as it has only broken even.

There is nothing unusual about business losses appearing on a personal tax return. Most American businesses are organized as “pass-throughs,” rather than corporations, meaning their profits are passed through to their owners, and taxed as personal income. Losses are passed through, too.

“It’s good policy,” said Alan Cole, an economist at the conservative Tax Foundation. “This is just the astounding edge case that has everyone’s eyes bulging as they look at that number.”

But the rule also reflects an inequity in how income earned through labor is taxed compared with income earned through capital. Mere wage earners cannot avail themselves of the provision Mr. Trump and other business owners use to avoid taxes.

“As individuals, we generally don’t get this,” said David Herzig, a tax law professor at Valparaiso University School of Law in Indiana. “If you experience a loss in one year, you don’t get to carry it forward or carry it back.”

Ms. Batchelder said that it would be a boon to working families if they could carry over their deductions or spread out their taxable incomes over many years the way businesses do with their operating losses. “Virtually every taxpayer would be better off if they were able to pay tax on their average income rather than their income in a given year,” said Ms. Batchelder, who was deputy director of the White House National Economic Council under President Obama.

It remains unclear exactly how Mr. Trump lost such a huge sum. But the rough outline of his business decline is well established. By the early 1990s, Mr. Trump had amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in personal financial liability and had lost money on casinos, his Plaza Hotel property in Manhattan and his airline, though precisely how he reflected those losses on his taxes is not known.

But the federal government has made it particularly easy for real estate investors to avoid taxes. Investors, for example, can walk away from a property and record the investment as a loss — even if they were playing with borrowed money. While a profit from that same property would be treated as a capital gain, losses are treated as “operating losses” under a tax code provision that dates back to the Great Depression. Those losses can be deployed far more flexibly than capital losses to shield other income from taxation.

“He was forced to sell many of his investments in the early 1990s, at pennies on the dollar, teetering on bankruptcy,” Edward Kleinbard, a tax expert at the University of Southern California, said of Mr. Trump. “There were real economic losses from those investments — borne entirely by the lenders. Yet nonetheless he was able to emerge with a large net operating loss to carry forward, attributable primarily to losing other people’s money.”

Mr. Trump has defended his tax maneuvers over the years not only as legal and appropriate, but as proof of his business acumen. But whether the government agreed with that assessment is an open question. A letter to Mr. Trump from his lawyers, which the campaign released in March, indicated that the government may have examined those claims, several tax lawyers said.

The letter said that an audit of Mr. Trump’s tax returns for 2002 through 2008 was “closed administratively by agreement with the I.R.S. without assessment or payment, on a net basis, of any deficiency.” That language suggests, the experts said, that the government may have reduced what Mr. Trump was able to claim as a loss without requiring him to pay any additional taxes.

The revelation that Mr. Trump could have avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 years is likely to thrust into the spotlight a tax provision that has received little attention from Congress for decades. Members of both parties have argued in recent years for new limits on the use of past losses to offset profits. Democrats have called for reducing the number of years such a shield can be used.

House Republicans have proposed a change that would prevent taxpayers from using past losses to avoid income taxes entirely.

Mr. Trump did not include that proposal in his own tax plan. He did propose a large tax cut for businesses, including real estate investment firms, although Mr. Trump has not clarified the size of those cuts. His campaign continues to publicize competing versions of the plan.

Syrian War Could Turn on the Battle for Aleppo

Russia is bombing rebel-held areas in Syria at a furious pace. That is giving the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, the upper hand. Meanwhile, critics accuse the United States of dithering.

The war, approaching its sixth year, may be reaching a turning point in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and once its commercial capital. Government-aligned forces are trying to encircle its eastern half, controlled by rebels since 2012. If the government succeeds, it would be the greatest blow to the opposition in years.

But the battlefield is unpredictable. If the government regains full control of Aleppo, will the war begin to wind down, or will it escalate?

What Is Assad Doing?

Backed by the Russian airstrikes, Syrian government forces and Iran-backed militias are trying to besiege the rebel-held section of Aleppo to starve the rebels into submission — the same method government forces used to recapture another major city, Homs. Using starvation as a weapon is a war crime, but it has been widely used in the Syrian war.

Government-aligned forces have also severed the main supply route to Turkey that delivered food, weapons and aid to rebel-held areas, leaving one remaining route.

The United Nations is warning that about 300,000 people in the rebel-held part of Aleppo could be at risk of starvation.

The Syrian government has also succeeded in turning humanitarian aid — food — into a negotiating chit. In talks to end the fighting among world powers on Thursday, allowing food deliveries was offered as a government concession.


According to an analysis by the Carter Center of the population centers each faction controls, the government has about 40 percent of the country, while the Kurdish groups, the Islamic State and other insurgent groups each hold about 20 percent.

The rebel groups that the West considers relatively moderate are strongest around Aleppo. But they are intertwined in places with the Nusra Front, which is linked to Al Qaeda and which the United States and Russia both consider a terrorist group. The deal reached in Munich, for a “cessation of hostilities,” leading to a cease-fire, excludes the Nusra Front and Islamic State.

The rest of Aleppo Province is a patchwork of zones of control. Kurds have the area around Afrin in the northwest, Islamic State holds the east, the government and its allies have advanced in the south, and other insurgent groups hold the west.


Mr. Assad may never be able to stitch Syria back together. But he and his allies now believe they can add Aleppo to a core area they control that includes the capital, Damascus, and Homs. That would give the government control of the cities that were the main population, cultural and economic centers of Syria — though insurgents still hold Idlib, which lies between them.

Still, it could take a long time for the government to re-establish full control of Aleppo. And even if it does succeed, it is possible the rebels and their backers will retreat and change tactics, as the insurgents in Iraq did. That could mean that even a nominally government-controlled Aleppo could still suffer sporadic attacks and instability, as Homs and Damascus do now.

What Is the Situation in Aleppo?

More than 300,000 people live in the insurgent-held side of Aleppo, and at least twice as many in the government-held west. Government troops occupy the historic citadel, while the Old City is contested. Both sides of the city have suffered indiscriminate shelling and water and electricity cuts. The rebel-held side is being pounded by government and Russian airstrikes and barrel bombs that have hit markets, schools and homes.

Heavily damaged buildings in the Saif al Dawle neighborhood of Aleppo in 2012, when rebel groups seized its eastern half and the government responded with shelling. Credit Maysun/European Pressphoto Agency
In the countryside, foreign Shiite fighters, trained and sometimes led by Iranian commanders, are fighting on behalf of the government alongside the Syrian Army. Coming from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran itself, those forces recently broke an insurgent blockade around two isolated, pro-government towns, Zahra and Nubol.

Rebel-held rural areas in Aleppo Province are boxed in between government and its allied forces, Kurdish militias, Islamic State and the Turkish border, which is closed to most refugees. The Kurdish militias, with some Arab allies, have advanced into territory ceded by Arab and Turkmen rebels under Russian attack.

What Is the U.S. Doing on Syria?

There is a lot of confusion over the United States’ aims in Syria. American policy has been to give insurgents enough support to keep them going — not enough to help them actually win. The question the rebels are now asking is, will the United States let them lose outright?
The United States still insists on trying to separate the civil war from the fight against the Islamic State. That is a distinction the rebels largely reject, insisting that Mr. Assad must go.

But Russia’s airpower has changed the calculus so that there is little the United States can do militarily without risking a direct clash with Russia.

The United States has insisted for months that there is no military solution to the Syrian war, only a political one. On Wednesday, one senior American official conceded, there may in fact be one — “just not our solution,” but that of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Jewish NBA fans turn on Cavs after favorite son David Blatt (Jew) fired

AP — The Cleveland Cavaliers suddenly have far fewer fans in Israel after the firing of David Blatt.

The shock announcement on Friday, despite the second-year coach leading the Cavs to the NBA Finals a year ago and to the top of the Eastern Conference this season, was taken personally by many fans in Israel, where the Boston-born Blatt made his name professionally, met his wife and raised his family.

News of the firing topped all Israeli newscasts Saturday, knocking Middle East violence off the headlines.

The provincial pride in Blatt was suddenly replaced with anger toward the Cavaliers and their perceived coldhearted send-off. Most of the venom was directed at LeBron James, the Cleveland superstar who had a rocky relationship with Blatt.

“Finally I can go back to hating LeBron without feeling guilty. Hope he never sees a title in his life,” said Gil Eyal, a 38-year-old Israeli high-tech executive who typically supports the Boston Celtics.

A Channel 10 talk news show ranked it the top story of the week, with panelist Aviv Bushinsky lamenting how Blatt’s amazing season had ended “because of one man: LeBron James.”

The anguish was felt vividly online and in social networks, with one joke that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would blame the firing on President Barack Obama.

The 56-year-old Blatt is possibly Israel’s favorite son, thanks to his winning record, outgoing personality and unabashed Israeli patriotism.

Blatt grew up in the United States and played his college ball at Princeton but has called Israel home since 1981, when he first arrived to play for the U.S. at the Maccabiah Games. A solid playing career in the Israeli league followed, before an even more successful coaching career began in 1993. Over the next two decades Blatt developed his reputation as a top international coach and up-tempo offensive wizard whose stock surged dramatically after leading the Russian national team to a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics.

He’s married to an Israeli woman, Kinneret, and raised his four children here, with the oldest two having completed their military service. He speaks fluent, albeit American-accented, Hebrew and is a popular pitchman for TV ads who has professed a desire to one day serve as an ambassador for the country.

His signature coaching moment in Israel came in 2014 when he led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a series of upset wins en route to a dramatic Euroleague championship title — a run that paved his path to Cleveland. Their NBA games were broadcast live on Israeli sports channels and Israelis from all walks of life rose at dawn to catch a glimpse. Overnight, the Cavs became “Israel’s team” in the NBA, replacing traditional favorites like the Celtics, Knicks, Bulls and Lakers.

Not now.

“Last night, at 22:30, seven million Israelis, at least, sat in their living rooms and rooted for Cleveland. At 23:30 there were probably only about seven left. Tops,” wrote Sharon Davidovitch, a sports columnist for the popular YNet Website. “A magical, exciting journey that often lacked any sense of proportion came to an end for many Israelis who followed Blatt on his way to the top of the world. Or at least close to it.”

Praying for a World Series berth, Cubs fans turn to Orthodox rabbi

Is God a Cubs fan?

For long-suffering mortal supporters of the Chicago franchise, which has not won a World Series since 1908 (and has not even played in one since 1945), the answer may appear to be no.

But Chabad Rabbi David Kotlarsky has faith. He’s been wrapping Cubs fans in tefillin in a booth outside Wrigley Field all season — and the club is now just four wins away from a World Series berth.

Asked the God question by a local journalist, Kotlarsky said: “God is a fan of doing things that will make more people happy,” according toChabad.org. “I think there’s a lot of good people in Chicago who should be happy; that’s what we’re thinking about right now.”

READ: NY Mets in the playoffs: Should they be thanking Bernie Madoff?

Kotlarsky, co-director of Chabad of East Lakeview on Chicago’s North Side, has been offering fans spiritual support and help wrapping teffilin ever since the Cubs’ first home game in April. His local status has grown of late, helped by a tweet sent last week by Yahoo sports writer Jeff Passan to his 131,000 followers.

The Chicago Cubs celebrating their win against the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series in Chicago, Oct. 13, 2015. (Nam Y. Huh/AP Images)

More importantly, the Cubs are in the MLB National League Championship Series, one step away from the World Series, for the first time since 2003. On Tuesday night, they will return home to Wrigley after losing the first two games of the best-of-seven series to the New York Mets.

“We’re seeing a lot more people coming by now during the playoffs,” Kotlarsky told Chabad.org. “People are telling us we’re part of their pre-game ritual.”

After decades of disappointment, the Cubs fanbase is famously superstitious. The legendary “Curse of the Billy Goat” dates back to 1945. After Billy Sianis, owner of Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern, was kicked out of a Cubs World Series game against the Detroit Tigers because his pet goat was annoying fans in the stadium, he allegedly cursed the team by saying, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”

The team has not made it back to the World Series since.

Thanks to an influx of young talent assembled by their new Jewish general manager, Theo Epstein, who helped the Boston Red Sox end a similarly long championship drought in 2004, many Cubs fans think this season might finally break the curse.

“Thousands of fans go by, and there’s a feeling of excitement about it,” Cubs fan Jay Sandler told Chabad.org about the tefillin booth. “Since Cubs fans are so ritualistic, I think if they [wrapped tefillin] before and the Cubs won, they’ll certainly do it again.”