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PA Muslims Desecrate Christian Gravestones


Palestinian Authority Muslims went on a rampage Sunday and desecrated 70 Christian graves two weeks after the pope praised efforts for a new PA state and tried to appease Muslim anger over previous disputes between the two religions.

The vandals smashed gravestones and knocked metal and stone crosses off graves in the village of Jiffna, near Ramallah, home to approximately 900 Christians and 700 Muslims. Greek Orthodox Church official George Abdo told Reuters the head and hand of a statue of Madonna also was severed.

Netanyahu: 'If Israel Doesn't Remove Iranian Threat, No One Will'

By Ha'aretz

If Israel does not eliminate the Iranian threat, no one will, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday. "Israel is not like other countries," Netanyahu told his Likud faction in a meeting. "We are faced with security challenges that no other country faces, and our need to provide a response to these is critical, and we are answering the call.

"These are not regular times. The danger is hurtling toward us. The real danger in underestimating the threat," Netanyahu said, addressing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. "My job is first and foremost to ensure the future of the state of Israel ... the leadership's job is to eliminate the danger. Who will eliminate it? It is us or no one.

"Our relationship with the United States is of great importance," Netanyahu said. "Our situation today is different from our situation between 1996 and 1999. Our priorities must be inline with national security needs and we must unite in order to deflect the danger. The Defense Minister and I are working in coordination; he is not conducting an independent policy."

Netanyahu added that he reached understandings with President Barack Obama, among them that the most important goal for both countries is preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear military capability. Netanyahu told Likud members that Israel received a number of key pieces of defense aid from the Americans.

Addressing the differing Israeli and American approaches to the issue of West Bank settlements, Netanyahu said the issue resembled a disagreement between good friends. "The Defense Minister and I are working in coordination; he is not conducting an independent policy. During the elections I said that we are law-abiding and will deal with deal with the illegal outposts."

PA Official: Obama Admin Sees Jerusalem Divided


The Obama administration told the Palestinian Authority that Jerusalem will never be united under Israeli sovereignty, a top Palestinian Authority official told WND Monday.

"Americans said an open Jerusalem - yes. But a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty - no," Hatem Abdel Khader, the PA's minister for Jerusalem affairs, said in comments to both WND and Israel's YnetNews website. "(The Obama administration) has made clear that Jerusalem must be accessible to everyone – but not united under Israel's rule," Khader said.

Khader claimed the U.S. is cooperating with the PA to "thwart Israel's plans in Jerusalem. When they collaborate with us in Israeli courts against home demolitions or the confiscation of land we see their attitude," he said.

Khader told WND, "The Americans are very present on the ground, and they are making pressure over Israeli authorities and even municipalities. They are acting according to the concept that the failure to establish a Palestinian state would jeopardize U.S. national security interests – and without Jerusalem there is no Palestinian state."

Khader made the remarks after the State Department yesterday refuted a speech in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week Jerusalem would never be divided. "Jerusalem is Israel's capital," Netanyahu said at an event marking 42 years since Israel reunified the city following the 1967 Six Day War. "Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided."

Israel Prepares for Missiles, Terror in 'Future War'


Israel's most extensive nationwide drill will be launched next Sunday with a "battle in Gaza," spreading into a "war" in northern Israel as well. In addition, the forces will practice a scenario of uprising and rioting by Israel's Arabs.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attempted to convey a calming message to Israel's neighboring countries during Sunday's cabinet meeting, saying that "This is a routine drill, which was planned several months ago and is held every year in order to coordinate between civil and military systems."

The "Turning Point 3" exercise will begin on May 31 and will last five days. The drill will be operated by the Defense Ministry with the assistance of the National Emergency Authority. It is aimed at training the Israeli home front, from the government level down to the plain citizen level, and will simulate a comprehensive regional war.

According to the scenario, the war will involve Hamas, Hizbullah and Syria. Palestinians will carry out terror attacks, and Israel's Arabs will riot in masses.

The Political-Security Cabinet will practice the various scenarios, while the Israel Defense Forces will mobilize forces in accordance with the occurrences. The proposed scenario simulates an escalation lasting three months, reaching its peak with an overall attack on Israel.

The outline of the drill has been presented to the government ministers. The overall war scenario begins with an escalation on the Gaza front, which leads to an IDF ground offensive. After 60 days of fighting in Gaza, tensions in the north heat up. The army is forced to enlist reserve forces and launches a war on the northern front.

During the war, the Israeli home front will be hit by barrages of missiles. Simultaneously, a terror offensive will develop and extensive riots will take place across the country.

The drill will kick off on Sunday with an exercise to the ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting. Monday will see the IDF, Home Front Command, Emergency Economy, Israel Police, government ministries and local authorities take part in the drill.

On Tuesday, an air raid siren will be sounded across the country, roads will be blocked and citizens and school students will practice entering bomb shelters. The Political-Security Cabinet and national information system will take part in the drill on Wednesday. On Thursday, the last day of the drill, IDF corps will hold field exercises and the training of the Home Front Command headquarters will continue.

As part of the drill, the cooperation between organizations and the local authorities will be examined. In addition to the war scenarios, the forces will also practice a major terror attack, a natural disaster, an epidemic or an operational malfunction in a hazardous materials facility.

Last week, the Israel Air Force held a three-day drill that included various scenarios and staged fronts the force may have to handle. Pilots also practiced a number of combat maneuvers. The drill was annual, but incorporated scenarios relevant to the current threats faced by Israel. As part of the drill, members of the IAF were briefed on Iran's test-launch of its new missile, the Sajjil-2, which has been said to pose a threat to Israel's security.

Israeli Foreign Minister's Party Proposes Loyalty Oath to 'Jewish' State

By VOA News

An Israeli ultra-nationalist party led by the country's foreign minister has drafted a law that would require citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish, Zionist and democratic" state.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman promoted the idea of a loyalty law in his campaign for parliamentary elections earlier this year. His Yisrael Beitenu Party grew into the third largest in parliament after winning votes from Israeli Jews who perceive the country's Arab citizens to be disloyal. Israeli Arabs make up about one-fifth of the population.

Lieberman's party drafted another bill on Sunday that would ban Israeli Arabs from holding annual commemorations of what they call the "catastrophe" (or "Naqba" in Arabic) marking Israel's creation. The proposals have drawn strong criticism from some opposition lawmakers and rights groups who call them a violation of democratic rights.

Yisrael Beitenu said it would seek Cabinet approval for the loyalty bill on Sunday before presenting it to parliament, where it would have to pass several votes before becoming law.

The legislation would require all Israelis to swear allegiance to a "Jewish, Zionist and democratic" Israel in order to receive an identity card. It also would give authorities the power to revoke the citizenship of people who refuse to serve in the military or perform a national service.

The proposed ban on commemorating the "Naqba" calls for a three-year prison sentence for violators. The measure also must be approved by lawmakers in several votes.

Jewish Groups Launch 'Israel Teachers Corps'


MASA-Israel Journey and the United Jewish Communities announced the launch of Israel Teacher Corps, a 10-month program providing opportunities for North American college graduates to teach English in underserved Israeli public schools.

Modeled after Teach for America, an American organization which aims to bolster education in underserved communities in the US, Israel Teachers Corps offers Jewish college graduates to spend a year living in and teaching in peripheral communities in Israel.

MASA partnered with OTZMA, a 10-month service program in Israel funded by the United Jewish Communities of North America, to launch the Israel Teacher Corps, with the goal of bringing 100 volunteers a year to Israel within the next few years.

MASA is a joint project of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Prime Minister's office, set up in 2004 under Ariel Sharon to encourage Jewish young adults ages 18-30 to spend a semester to a year on programs in Israel.

During their first six weeks in Israel, Israel Teacher Corps participants will take part in intensive pre-service training, which includes pedagogic instruction in teaching English as a Second Language, classroom management, and an intensive Hebrew Ulpan course. Additionally, participants will observe their classrooms before they begin teaching and become acquainted with their communities.

Following the initial training period, volunteers will move to their Partnership 2000 communities in groups of three to four and serve as English teachers, teachers' aids, and/or English resource teachers for approximately 35 hours a week. Participants also choose another volunteer project to pursue for three to five hours a week, with placements that may include after-school programs or homes for the elderly.

US: First African-American Woman to be Ordained as Rabbi


Alysa Stanton, 45, is set to become the first female African-American rabbi. She will be ordained at the Reform Movement's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in two weeks.

Stanton, a single-mother to a 14-year-old adopted daughter, will be ordained alongside 29 women and 13 men at the college that has been ordaining rabbis for 134 years. "Ten years ago, if someone said I was going to be a rabbi, I would have laughed," Stanton, told ABC News. "Me, a spiritual leader?" `
Stanton started studying to become a rabbi in 2002 in Jerusalem and completed her training in Cincinnati. And in August Stanton will arrive in Greenville, North Carolina, where she will take office as the spiritual leaders of the Bayt Shalom Congregation, which is both Conservative and Reform and serves 53 local families.

The rabbi-to-be said she was not worried that her skin color might become a problem for the new congregation. "There's an adjustment period for any rabbi when they go to a new congregation," Stanton told ABC. "I am not anticipating that race will be a factor in their adjustment.

"It's difficult paving new ground," she added. "It's difficult being a first of anything, and although I'm honored and in awe that God has given me this responsibility, it's one that I do not take lightly."

Stanton, who was raised in a Christian home, started showing interest in other religions when she was nine, and decided to convert to Judaism at the age of 20.

"Most people convert because they're marrying or dating someone who is Jewish or for another reason other than just picking that spiritual path," Stanton told ABC. "I did so because it was the path for me," she said. "Not only from a religious standpoint but from an ethical and social and communal standpoint, it was important to me."

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