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U.S. Offering $10 Million in Hizbullah's Financial Mechanisms

By the Jerusalem Post
A new program will offer up to $10 million rewards for information leading to the disruption of the global financial mechanisms of Hizbullah, the US Department of State announced Monday. It is the first time that the department is offering a reward for information regarding Hizbullah's financial networks. According to "Forbes Israel" piece from December 2017, this is the richest terror organization in the world, with an estimated annual income of $1.1 billion. Hizbullah's revenue is a combination of Iranian support, business investments, donor networks, and money laundering activities. The State Department designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in October 2001. According to the State Department's announcement, the rewards could be provided for information that would lead to the identification and disruption of a source of revenue for Hizbullah or its fundamental financial facilitation mechanisms; major Hizbullah donors or financial facilitators; financial institutions or exchange houses facilitating Hizbullah transactions; and businesses or investments owned or controlled by Hizbullah or its financiers. Assistant Secretary for State for Diplomatic Security Michael T. Evanoff said in a press briefing at the State Department: "I'm confident that the (reward) that we are offering today, will provide incentives for people to come forward with information that will help us take down Hizbullah's financial networks." Also, the State Department has highlighted three individuals as key Hizbullah financiers or facilitators about whom it seeks information: Adham Tabaja, Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi, and Ali Youssef Charara. According to the State Department press release, Tabaja is a Hizbullah member who maintains direct ties to senior Hizbullah organizational elements, including the group's operational component, Islamic Jihad. Bazzi, says the State Department, is an important Hizbullah financier who has provided millions of dollars to Hizbullah generated from his business activities in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Charara is a key Hizbullah financier as well as Chairman and General Manager of Lebanon-based telecommunications company Spectrum Investment Group Holding SAL and has extensive business interests in the telecommunications industry in West Africa. "We will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of information that will help us clamp down further on these individuals and on others they use to access the international financial system," said Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea. "Either directly or via cash smuggling networks and other seemingly legitimate businesses and investments." He added: "We will pay for bank records, customs forms, real estate transactions, and anything evidencing money laundering or cash smuggling. The United States government is prepared to pay for this information, and we will award up to $10 million for leads that result in financial disruption. Whether by US law enforcement sanctions or other enforcement actions."

Report: Saudis Pressuring Abbas to Accept Trump's Mideast Plan

By JNS and Israel Hayom
According to a report on the Qatari website Alkhaleej Online, a member of Fatah's central committee revealed on April 20 that heavy Arab pressure was being applied to the Palestinian Authority leadership with regard to President Donald Trump's Mideast peace plan – the so-called "deal of the century" – that the White House is expected to unveil in June. According to the report, the official stated that Saudi Arabia was leading the campaign. The source was quoted as saying: "There are Arab countries, chief among them Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, that express great interest in the American deal, and are employing every available means, including political and financial pressure, to assure that the Palestinians accept the plan, despite the risks it involves for the Palestinian cause." The source added that the position of the Arab countries on the deal cast a disappointing light on all their previous support for the Palestinian cause. He emphasized that the PA leadership would never give in to pressure, whether from the Arab states, the United States or Israel. It should be noted that the Alkhaleej Online, which is under Qatari ownership, is hostile to Saudi Arabia in light of the tensions between Doha and Riyadh.

Israel Welcomes Emirate Billionaire's Call for Peace

By TPS
Israel welcomed a call by a billionaire from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to establish ties with the Jewish state while singling out Iran as the real enemy. Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, a tycoon from the UAE, called on the Gulf States to seek "peace and cooperation with Israel," economically and scientifically, as well as in agriculture and defense. Al Habtoor posted a video on Twitter calling on the Gulf States to declare peace and with Israel while underscoring that the biggest enemy is Iran and not Israel. "There is no need for compliments and lies to ourselves," he said, noting that even the more than two million "Palestinians" have acquired Israeli citizenship and that Jordan and Egypt have already made the move. Why do not we make peace and be clear, rather than hiding and being unclear?" he demanded. "Israel is not an enemy. Cooperation with it will benefit everyone." Al Habtoor is a 70-year-old billionaire from Dubai, founder, and chairman of Al Habtoor Group and chairman of Dubai National Insurance Company. A former member of the Federal National Council and member of the Board of Directors of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, his wealth is estimated at $ 2.3 billion.

Why is the Last Supper on a Different Night than All Other Seder Nights?

By the Jerusalem Post
The Last Supper is often identified as a Passover Seder. The connection between the two events is observable to this day, as both Passover and Easter, a holiday intimately tied to the Last Supper, often occur at the same time. However, the two holidays are slowly growing further and further apart, which points to a question about how they were ever connected in the first place. The tie between the two holidays dates back to the Last Supper, when Jesus, according to many scholars, had a Passover Seder soon before his crucifixion, although there is a debate on whether it was, in fact, a Seder. This happened on what is now called Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday and three days before Easter. At first, Christians used the Jewish calendar to set the days of their holidays, with Easter falling out on the first Sunday after the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan. At the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the Church changed that, deciding to set its day for Easter, according to the Atlantic. Today, most Christian communities celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21. The timing doesn't always match up with the Jewish calendar, though. The two holidays occur a month apart about 15% of the time. The main driving factor arises in the difference between lunar and solar calendars, especially considering that the two calendars vary from year to year. The Jewish calendar is mainly based on a lunar system, but corrections are made when necessary to make sure that the dates always remain within the same season. These corrections are mandated by the Bible which commands that Passover (Deuteronomy 16:1) must occur in the spring and Succot (Exodus 23:16) must be in the fall, as explained by the Rabbis. This, in a way, melds the lunar and solar calendars together. This correction used to happen with a decision made by the Sanhedrin (Jewish religious "supreme court"), based on eye-witness testimony of the moon's phases. Leap years would be decided based on a few considerations concerning both the seasons and practical considerations including the spring equinox, the ripening of barley and the conditions of roads, according to the Talmud. As the Sanhedrin dissolved due to persecution by the Romans, Hillel II calculated a fixed calendar in a feat of mathematics and astronomy, according to Jewish tradition. The calendar was tweaked and set over the next few hundred years and is in use to this day in the same form, in which leap years with an added month happen in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19 of a 19-year cycle. As much as this system keeps it close to solar years, it doesn't work 100%. "The Jewish calendar drifts about one day later every 200 years," Benjamin Dreyfus, a professor of physics at George Mason University who runs the Hebrew Calendar Facts Facebook page, told the Atlantic. This means that Passover falls a month later than Easter three times in every 19-year cycle, with the gap growing slowly over time. The Gregorian calendar, used by most of the world, also doesn't match up exactly with a solar year. Because of this, there are leap days about 24 times a century, according to the Atlantic. This brings the calendar almost in sync. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, therefore, in a surprisingly Talmudic fashion, announces every year whether to add a leap year to bring Earth time completely in sync with solar time, although this practice is not universally accepted.

Most Roman Catholics and Protestants now celebrate Easter after March 21 on the Gregorian calendar, while the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar to determine the dates of holidays (Orthodox Easter is April 28 this year). This year and last year, the first night of Passover fell on Good Friday (a day after Jesus would have done his Seder if it happened on Maundy Thursday). This won't happen twice in a row again until 2113 and 2114, according to Dreyfus. This occurrence is connected to another rule in the Jewish calendar, which raises an issue with the timing of the Last Supper. The first day of Passover can never fall on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday due to a rule in the Hebrew calendar, according to Maimonides. The law dictates that Rosh Hashanah can never be on a Saturday night, which would occur if Passover was on a Thursday. (The amount of days between Passover and Rosh Hashanah never changes, at least according to the fixed calendar.) This means that the Seder night could never occur on a Thursday night, unless Jesus were in a place where two nights of Passover were observed, which was done in areas outside of riding distance from the Sanhedrin, according to the Talmud. If the Last Supper took place in Jerusalem (meaning extremely close to the Sanhedrin), then there was no second night. There may be an explanation within a historical context. Perhaps the Last Supper fell on a different day before the Church switched from the Jewish calendar. But for now, the question remains: why exactly is Maundy Thursday night different than all other nights?

Dutch Holocaust Museum Removes Auschwitz Pictures from Exhibitions

By JTA
Overruling its curators, the Dutch national Holocaust museum left out of exhibition photos taken at Auschwitz that it called shocking. The removal of four pictures taken at Auschwitz from the museum's newly-opened exhibition on the persecution of Dutch Jews gained considerable media attention in the Netherlands, prompting a discussion on how and where to display graphic images of the genocide. In a statement, the Jewish Cultural Quarter of Amsterdam, which comprises the National Holocaust Museum, rejected claims it had censored the pictures. They were left out due to accuracy issues as they don't depict Dutch Jews, who are the focus of the exhibition, the text said. Curators Erik Somers and René Kok included the photos of bodies being burned in the "Persecution of Jews in Pictures" to show the purpose of the Holocaust, they told the Volkskrant daily, which reported on the disagreement on Friday. One curator suggested to Volkskrant that the removal was due to the gruesome nature of the photos. "The ultimate consequence, shocking as it may be, must be displayed" also because it is relevant to Dutch Jews' fate," the curator of the exhibition, which opened in January, told Volkskrant. While two pictures of Dutch Jews from concentration camps were included in the exhibition, "the pictures that are not associated with Dutch Jews in any way were not displayed," the statement said. The excluded photos of dead Hungarian Jews were taken at great personal risk by Alberto Errera, a Greek Jew who was murdered shortly after smuggling out the negatives.

Excited Chimps get Matzah for Passover

By IsraelNationalNews.com
Humans are not the only creatures that enjoy the change in the menu over Passover. Several animal species of animals at the Ramat Gan Safari love to chow down on matzah as well. The Ramat Gan Safari begins preparations for Passover just like any Jewish family. Just as Jewish families meticulously remove all traces of chametz from their homes, the safari goes over every pedestrian path and animal enclosure in the 250-acre zoo to ensure they are as clean as humanly possible - as well as clean of chametz. Two weeks before the holiday, animals that would normally receive bread with their meals are switched to a diet that is kosher for Passover. The safari ordered 11 pounds of matzah for Passover. The animals which receive matzah over Passover include apes, elephants, and other animals in the free-range part of the zoo. http://ch7.io/cbaaX$Fw The bread that is left in the safari before the holiday is usually given to Yossi the Elephant, the largest elephant in captivity in any zoo in the world. Yossi can eat eight loaves of bread a day. The matzah and the bread are not the main dishes for the animals, but merely supplement the fruits and vegetables they receive. Still, the chimpanzees at the zoo are very excited when they receive matzah, and videos were taken at the safari show those eagerly chowing down on the rare treat. Also, the safari ordered thirteen tons of kosher for Passover animal food for the holiday.




















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