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Former U.S. Imam Urges People to Join PA Struggle


People worldwide should go to Palestinian Authority areas and help step up the struggle against Israel, said Imam Muhammad Al-Asi, former leader of the Islamic Center of Washington D.C., adding "and if that is not possible, go to Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan or Syria."

According to an Iranian news agency report, Al-Asi called for the establishment of a radio station or satellite TV channel devoted solely to the PA cause, and proposed setting up a financial institute to help distribute monetary contributions and donations without any legal entanglements.

Terrorist Hamas Government Sees 'Signals' that Obama will Speak with Them


Hamas is hopeful President Barack Obama will open dialogue with the Islamist group in spite of congressional restrictions on such talks, Ahmed Yousef, Hamas' chief political adviser in Gaza, told WND in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

Yousef, speaking from Gaza one day after Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House, said he believes Obama intends to "change" American policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Obama will show some kind of a change of U.S. policy toward the region and toward the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. I do believe that he is still assessing the situation and is preparing for a (new) policy. He will meet with everyone in the region, and he will be crystal clear about his policy toward the peace process," Yousef said.

Yousef's comments were contrary to a well-circulated statement from a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, who was quoted by Israeli radio saying the goal of Obama's stance during his meeting with Netanyahu was to "mislead global public opinion and to ensure the continuation of Israel's existence as a racist state."

Yousef told WND he himself is a member of the Hamas government but that "you may here different statements coming from different people." Asked if he believed Obama intends to open dialogue with Hamas, Yousef replied, "Yeah. Actually, there is (sic) signals."

"Yeah, I do believe this will take time," he said. "This is not an easy job since there is a restriction from the Congress, and there are laws and regulations that are preventing taking action without solving things with the Congress.

"So I know that he might himself believe that engaging with Hamas will help put an end to the conflict and also to enhance the American image all over the Arab and Muslim countries," Yousef said. "Hamas is the answer if Americans are serious about its image in the Arab and Muslim world."

Yousef said he expects Obama will make "strong statements" toward the Muslim world during a major address from Egypt next month. "He will meet next month with the Egyptians, and I do believe he also will have a strong statement in Egypt and explain American attitudes," said Yousef.

Hamas' official charter calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel. The Islamist group is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilians.

An American Jew's Guide to Living in Israel

By Elliott Antman (Ha'aretz)

When my grandmother first visited Israel in the 1970s, she was eager to practice her dormant Yiddish speaking skills. She was shocked to learn that no-one, from the bus driver to the shopkeeper, could speak a bisel of Yiddish.

Likewise, there are certain flavors of Judaism that are completely new to an American Jew like myself residing in Israel. I am quickly acquiring a taste for these new flavors, but nostalgia for the comforts of my Jewish upbringing in the United States still remains.

The common thread that binds all Jews together is very much alive in Israel, but I would like to alert my fellow Diaspora Jews to some of the differences they might encounter here in our homeland.

Although camaraderie amongst Israeli Jews is evident on the national scale, don't expect to receive discounted prices or that high-profile job because you have a Jewish mother or had a bris. I'm not sure if it's the demographics or the cynicism in Israel, but somehow getting special treatment from fellow Jews is quite rare.

Living in the Diaspora leaves many Jews restricted to a small selection of available food, usually placed in a dark, dusty corner of their local supermarket. In the modern Jewish state, we have entire city blocks of open-air markets dedicated to offering the best in kosher delicacies. We are no longer shackled by the choice of fish in a jar or powdered hummus. The countless options of kosher foods from all over the world means we cannot only compare tastes, but also prices - both activities which can make for a full day excursion.

The falafel has swiftly replaced kneidelach as the ball of choice for the modern Jew. Barely 61 years of Jewish self-determination and already, matzah ball soup seems like a ritual from the Second Temple. With falafel stands on almost every corner in Israel, there is little room for delicatessens with matzah ball soup on the menu. While falafel is delicious and filling, Jews visiting Israel should not expect this spicier ball to carry the title of "Jewish penicillin" that matzah balls proudly bear.

During the holiday season in the United States, many Jews feel compelled to counter the shine of Christmas lights with our blue-white glow of dissention. This electric display of religious alliance is quite unnecessary in Israel. Call it old-fashioned, but a hannukiah serves just fine for a little holiday cheer.

The famous dessert pastry, loved by American Jews and immortalized by Seinfeld, is harder to come by in Israel than a lasting peace agreement. It could be the chocolate and vanilla frosting living side-by-side in harmony that doesn't ring true in this part of the world, but for one reason or another, this deliciously diverse cookie is still amiss here.

At some point during an election year in the U.S. or other democratic countries, a politician might strike a tone that doesn't exactly resonate with the Jewish minority. Inevitably, and quite swiftly, I might add, this individual will earn the stigma of being "bad for the Jews."

Politicians who have garnered this title (according to my grandmother) include notable figures such as former President Jimmy Carter. In the Jewish state, we can skip the preposition when describing out unpopular politicians and just label them "bad Jews."

Somewhere between Exodus and the Balfour Declaration, the people of Israel decided that paddle-ball would be the official sport of the beach. This is quite different from the popular beach sport Ashkenazi Jews from the Diaspora are accustomed to - applying more sunscreen.

Jews in the Diaspora are surely familiar with the phenomenon of being the 'token' Jew in the room. This situation naturally arises in places where Jews are not commonly found, such as wrestling tournaments or KFC. While being the token Jew in the room can be fun and/or life threatening - depending on where you are - Jews in Israel seldom worry about this situation occurring.

Over the years, Diaspora Jews have refined their ability to identify Jews and non-Jews. For some of us, this skill is most often employed while dining out. We can usually figure out where the Jews are in the room, judging by the looks of a person or how annoyed their waiter is. While visiting Israel, Jews might find themselves saying: "Funny, you don't look Jewish." As Israel is the melting pot for Jews from all over the world, one quickly discovers that Jews come in all shapes and colors.

The grandeur of Bar Mitzvah receptions seems to grow with every new generation of Jews in the United States. A standard Bar Mitzvah in the U.S. now might include an MC, DJ, lighting effects, fog machine, live animals from the endangered species list, and, of course, a theme.

These themes - once as simple a sport or film - have now reached the same level of importance as the buffet meal. As with other aspects of Judaism, Israeli Jews have chosen to forgo the frills of this age-old tradition. Bar Mitzvahs here in Israel are much more to the point: Torah reading. Food. Checks.

It is true that Jews in the Diaspora might find themselves experiencing a slight case of culture shock when they step off the plane. But anyone arriving in Israel will quickly see that it is a wonderful melting pot of cultures from all corners of the planet. So, if there is something missing in Israel, one should not be afraid to fill the void in this ever-evolving culture. It might just be the next big thing.

El Al Appeals to European Gays


Israel's national El Al Airlines has officially began marketing travel packages targeting Europe's gay community, in cooperation with the Tel Aviv Tourist Association and the city's Rov Hair faction. The special packages include a round trip from Europe, and a three-night stay in a Tel Aviv hotel, starting from the attractive price of €250 ($332).

On average, gay tourists spend more time vacationing than non-gay tourists and are known to be bigger spenders. The special packages will be marketed in a no less unique way: Thousands of gay Israelis surfing the Atraf dating website were urged to invite their homosexual friends from Europe to vacation in Israel and enjoy an array of events taking place during Gay and Lesbian Pride Month this June.

The events will peak in Tel Aviv's pride parade that will be bigger and better than ever this year as part of the city's centennial celebrations.

Tel Aviv City Council member Rabbi Naftali Lobert said in response to the report: "This is a disgrace. Just as El Al was sensitive to the ultra-Orthodox community and refrained from flying on Shabbat and serves kosher meals, it shouldn't take part in this. And in general, this whole pride parade – it would be better to watch a show at the circus than this parade."

Troubled Teens Spend Week with Religious Family


Two troubled non-Jewish British youths were sent by a reality television show to live with a religious family in Israel.

As part of the British Broadcasting Corporation's World's Strictest Parents, Gemma Lyons, 16, and Jack Travers, 17, spent a week with the Shaked family in Nof Ayalon. Travers arrived at the airport in punk rocker garb, heavy mascara and long hair, while Lyons was used to wearing a bikini wherever she went.

Both of them were taken to a clothing store to find clothing more suitable for a religious community. Lyons, who initially found the dress code challenging, later found that a change into more modest clothing had a profound effect on her behavior. "When they explained the reason behind it, I understood it more and wanted to give it a go. When I go back to England, I'm going to dress a lot more modestly," she told the Jerusalem Post.

The Shaked family took the teenagers to the Western Wall, a visit with a Holocaust survivor, a Kibbutz, and a Sabbath experience on their week-long odyssey. Travers, although an acclaimed atheist, found the visit to the Western Wall a highlight of his trip. "I'm not religious, but it was amazing," he said.

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