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Bethlehem Becomes a Hotspot for American Anti-Israel Activism


Though evangelical Christian support for Israel remains strong, anti-Israel activists are increasingly making inroads in the evangelical community. One of the premier events among anti-Israel evangelicals is the annual Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in Bethlehem.

Inaugurated in 2010 CATC is organized by Bethlehem Bible College, which was recently described by Dexter Van Zile as the "nexus point for anti-Zionist activism directed at American Evangelicals." Despite CATC's effort to distance itself from some of the more extreme elements among anti-Israel evangelicals, such as the group Sabeel, "things have only gotten worse" since 2010. Rev. Luke Moon reported.

In fact, the event demonstrated just how savvy and successful Palestinian anti-Israel Christian activists have become. Over the last four years, the leaders and participants of Christ at the Checkpoint have grown to be increasingly astute regarding American evangelicals and how to persuade them of their anti-Israel narrative.

The gains made by anti-Israel evangelicals haven't just been the result of toning down its more hostile constituents, but also by appealing to core evangelical values. Moon writes that understanding that "niceness" is a quality that American evangelicals value, "anti-Israel activists attempt to portray Israel, especially the young soldiers who man West Bank checkpoints, as `mean.'" Additionally, they portray the Palestinians as the underdogs in a world where "Israel is Goliath to the Palestinian David."

Because evangelical Christians believe "in determining belief and practice according to biblical authority," God's love for Israel must be "redefined." Moon cited Dr. Gary Burge, who argues that the covenant with the Jews has been superseded so that "the Land of Israel and by extension the Jewish people are no longer important to God's redemptive plan for humanity." Moon referred to these arguments as "distortions of scripture."

Carter: Israel has Stockpile of 300+ Nuclear Bombs

By Israel Hayom

The United States should not attack Iran, even if Iran develops nuclear weapons, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said. In a recent interview with MSNBC, Carter not only declared his absolute opposition to any attack on Iran, he also said that Israel had a stock of nuclear weapons of its own.

"Israel has, what, 300 or more, nobody knows exactly how many," Carter said. "And I know that every Iranian realizes that if they should try to use a nuclear weapon, Iran would be wiped off the face of the earth, which I think is so ridiculous, a self-destructive decision, that they would not do it."

Carter expressed doubt about Israel's ability to attack Iran. "I never have felt that Israel had a capability militarily to go 1,200 miles or more and bomb Iran effectively and then return back to Israel," he said. "The only country on earth that has that capability would be the United States, and I don't believe it's appropriate for the United States to bomb Iran over this issue."

Carter, who ushered in the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, addressed the current diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians and criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's insistence that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state.

"I don't think that any Arab country can agree to that. And this is something, as you know, that's been resurrected [by] Netanyahu. This never was an issue when I was in office and trying to negotiate peace," he said.

Carter praised Secretary of State John Kerry, saying he believed Kerry had "done a heroic job" trying to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, it appeared that Carter had his doubts about President Barack Obama's relatively small role in the peace process, saying that Kerry needed "more overt help overt from the White House. I don't think we'll have ever a peace agreement there unless the president of the United States is the leading character in mediating between the two," Carter said.

Overbooked, Underfed El Al Passengers Finally Take Off


At least eight El Al Europe-bound flights that had been grounded for several hours finally took off, with passengers finally seated - and fed. An El Al official said that the problems that the airline experienced Monday were due to a larger number of passengers arriving for flights than had been expected, with a number of flights overbooked.

It's not clear how the mass overbooking occurred, but passengers faced long lines and several-hour delays as airline personnel worked to sort things out.

Among the problems was a lack of kosher meals of passengers. As a kosher airline – meaning one that is under rabbinical culinary supervision – El Al is required to provide passengers with kosher food. That's not a great challenge for the Israeli airline throughout the year, since there are plenty of caterers ready to supply meals for travelers – but on Passover, when meal options are limited and many caterers shut down for the week instead of preparing their kitchen for the holiday – getting kosher for Passover ready-made meals for airline passengers is more difficult.

Flights to a number of destinations, including Amsterdam, Geneva, Budapest, Zurich, and Vienna were affected. The delays were between one and two hours. Airline officials asked travelers to be patient – and to be understanding if they did not get to eat on their flight.

Over 1 million travelers are expected to pass through Ben Gurion Airport before, during, and after Passover. Passengers on El Al, however, may get to their destinations a bit late – because the airline has run out of kosher for Passover meals.

Temple Mount: Jews Arrested Attempting to Bring Pesach Sacrifice


Eight Jews were arrested Monday for attempting to sacrifice a goat on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest site. The group were making their way to the Mount in order to carry out the Pesach (Passover) Sacrifice, known as the Korban Pesach, on the eve of the seven-day festival. Jews are commanded to offer the sacrifice in commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt, during which God killed all firstborn Egyptians whilst passing over firstborn Jews.

The sacrifice is supposed to take place on the Temple Mount, which is the site of the two former Holy Temples of Jerusalem but which today is occupied by the Islamic Al Aqsa Mosque complex.

By order of the Islamic Waqf authorities who administer the site, Jews are forbidden from praying or carrying out any other religious rituals on their holiest site, in what activists have repeatedly condemned as a capitulation by police to Muslim extremists.

Nationalist activist Noam Federman, who was among those detained, slammed the arrests as an "embarrassment" to the State of Israel. "It is a mark of shame that the government of Israel is directing a regime of racism against Jews on the Temple Mount. They [Jews] are forbidden to pray and even prevented from carrying out the mitzvot (Torah commandments) of the Festival (of Pesach)."

The Temple Organizations Headquarters - an umbrella representing several Jewish rights groups - issued a stern condemnation, calling the arrests "a severe blow to freedom of religion, the Basic Law of Freedom of Worship, the holy places and the rule of law in Jerusalem. The time has come to allow Jews to act as a free people in the State of Israel, without worrying about or surrendering to Islamist threats," the group added, referring to regular threats of violence by various Islamist groups if Jews are granted equal prayer rights on the Temple Mount.

A proposed law, tabled by the Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home), is aiming to guarantee just that, and has drawn ire from both Islamist and leftist groups alike.

Israel a Favorite Among Chinese Tourists


The number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel rose by 30% in 2013, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported, quoting Israel's Tourism Ministry. Chinese tourists spent an average of $286 a day in Israel (not including souvenirs), more than tourists from other countries.

Quoting the Tourism Ministry's director-general Amir Halevy, Xinhua reported 30,000 people arrived in Israel last year thanks to "the rapid development of bilateral commercial, technological, agricultural exchanges. Considering over 100 million overseas journeys are made by Chinese people every year, we see more potential in bilateral tourism exchanges," Halevy said. He noted Israel was working on recruiting more Chinese tour guides, as well as providing special tour services, to accommodate more Chinese visitors.

Some 776,000 visitors arrived in Israel between January and March 2014, an all-time record for the first quarter of the year. Halevy said Israel's goal was to attract 40,000 Chinese tourists in 2017, and 100,000 in 2020. To that end, Israel was working with Chinese airlines to launch direct flights to Ben Gurion Airport, and a reform in entry visas for Chinese visitors to Israel was introduced.

"China is a leading destination in the campaign of the Israeli Tourism Ministry for emerging markets," Tourism Ministry Uzi Landau told Xinhua last year. "We will work to increase the number of tourists from China to Israel over the next few years," Landau added. The Tourism Ministry also led seminars in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou last year, introducing hundreds of Chinese travel agents to Israeli tourism.

White Supremacist Charged with Murder in Kansas Shootings

By Reuters

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS — The suspect in the killing of three people at two Jewish facilities near Kansas City over the weekend could face the death penalty on state murder charges filed Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, who also goes by the name Glenn Miller, likely will face federal charges that also could carry the death penalty in the killings Sunday afternoon in Overland Park, Kansas, an upscale suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. Cross was known by law enforcement and human rights groups as a former senior member of the Ku Klux Klan movement and someone who has repeatedly expressed hatred for Jewish people. None of the people he is accused of killing were Jewish.

Prosecutors charged Cross on Tuesday in Johnson County, Kansas, with one count of capital murder in the fatal shooting of Reat Underwood, 14, and his grandfather William Corporon, 69, outside a Jewish community center on Sunday. The Jewish Community Center where Underwood and Corporon were shot will hold an interfaith service of "unity and hope" on Thursday, and funeral services are set on Friday at the Methodist church the two attended.

Cross was also charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the shooting death of Terri LaManno, 53, outside the nearby Village Shalom Jewish retirement home. LaManno, who attends a Catholic church, was there visiting her mother.

Cross, who is being held on $10 million bond, told the court he had received a copy of the criminal complaint and requested court-appointed attorneys during an appearance via video that lasted less than two minutes on Tuesday afternoon. "I don't have the money," Cross said.

Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe said the capital murder charge gives prosecutors the option of seeking the death penalty, but he had not yet determined if he will pursue that. A conviction would automatically carry a sentence of life without parole. "I don't take that decision lightly," Howe said. "He's committed some terrible crimes. This is about making sure justice is done."

The count of premeditated first-degree murder brings a sentence of up to life in prison, with parole not considered for 25 years, Howe said. Cross' next court appearance was scheduled on April 24.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a leading anti-hate group, has been tracking Cross for years, they said. The group said he was involved in creating an armed paramilitary organization in North Carolina 20 years ago and is a "raging anti-Semite" who has posted online commentary such as "No Jews, Just Right" along with calls to "exterminate the Jews." He served time in prison on weapons charges and for making threats through the mail, the group said.

Kansas' U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said it is the bias and belief of the suspect, not the identities of the victims, that determines whether or not federal hate-crime laws apply. Grissom said federal charges, which also could carry the death penalty, were not likely to be filed for a week or more.

The Kansas City-area shootings came as the number of violent attacks on Jews nationally has grown in the last few years, even though non-violent attacks have decreased, according to the Anti-Defamation League. "The shooting at the Kansas Jewish community centers is a sad and tragic event which reminds us where the spread of anti-Semitism and racism can lead," Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement.

Violent assaults on Jewish individuals or those perceived to be Jewish rose to 31 in 2013, up from 17 in 2012, 19 in 2011 and 22 in 2010, according to the group, which prepares an annual audit of incidents.

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