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Lebanon's Defense Minister Threatens to Strike Ben-Gurion Airport in Future War

By the Jerusalem Post

Lebanon's Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab has warned that the Lebanese military would strike Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport if Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport would be struck in any future conflict. "If `Israel' bombards our airport, we will bombard its airport; if it strikes our oil facilities, we will strike its oil facilities," he was quoted as saying by Hizbullah's al-Manar news site. Disagreement over Israel's ongoing construction of the border wall, and Lebanon's plans to explore for offshore oil and gas in disputed maritime waters have elevated tensions between the two countries, who are officially still at war. Israel and Hizbullah fought a deadly 33-day war in 2006, which came to an end under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the disarmament of Hizbullah, for withdrawal of the Israeli army from Lebanon, for the deployment of the Lebanese army and an enlarged UN force in the South. But Hizbullah's influence in Lebanon has led senior officials in Israel's defense establishment have warned that Lebanon's army has lost its independence and has become an integral part of Hizbullah's network. According to the IDF, cooperation between the LAF and Hizbullah has increased in the past year and has warned that the next war will see Israel target not only military infrastructure but civilian infrastructure used by Hizbullah. The two countries have an unresolved maritime border dispute over a triangular area of sea of around 860, which extends along several blocks for exploratory offshore drilling Lebanon put for tender two years ago. Beirut claims that Blocks 8 and 9 in the disputed maritime waters are in Lebanon's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and parts of Block 9 run through waters that Israel claims as its own EEZ. Recently discovered oil and gas reserves off the shores of Lebanon and Israel are predicted to generate up to $600 billion over the next few decades, and in December 2017, Beirut signed contracts with three international companies to explore oil and gas in two of the blocks. Lebanon and Russia also signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on oil and gas in October 2013. Israel also views its offshore oil and gas reserves as highly valuable, both economically and strategically. Jerusalem has made agreements with Egypt to sell surplus gas and agreed earlier this year to partake in an Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, which includes seven members: Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, Italy, and the Palestinian Authority. In November. 2018, Israel reportedly signed an ambitious project to build a 2,000 km. underwater gas pipeline – from Israel to Cyprus to Crete to mainland Greece and Italy – to supply natural gas. The construction of the pipeline is expected to take five years and cost some $8 billion. Due to the pipeline, Greece and Cyprus were reported by al-Hayat to have offered their help in mediating the demarcation of the maritime border with Lebanon.

New York Times Claims Jesus Was `Likely a Palestinian'

By Ira Stoll, The Algemeiner

A New York Times article is claiming that Jesus "was most likely a Palestinian man with dark skin" is generating a fierce push-back from the Jewish community. The executive director of Boston's Jewish Community Relations Council, Jeremy Burton, tweeted, "Important to point out that no, Jesus did not identify as Palestinian. He was a Judean Jew, and for him, the term Palestine was that of the Roman occupier." A professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University, Steven Fine, responded on the Times comments page that "for sure" Jesus "was a youngish Jewish man" who "looked like other Jews of his place and time." Another Jewish Times reader responded in the comments section, "I am amazed that the author of this article cannot simply state that Jesus was a Jew. He uses the anachronistic term `Palestinian.' During Jesus' lifetime, the Romans called the province which they controlled `Judea.' Later they renamed it `Syria Palestina.' Referring to Jesus as `Palestinian' is simply misleading in the context of his era." The editorial director of the Times reader center, Hanna Ingber, responded to the complaint: "You are of course right that Jesus was Jewish. We never intended to imply that he wasn't, and we didn't leave that detail out to make a point, as some readers wondered. The article was focused on what he physically looked like. But again, we do hear your concern." A journalist with the Jewish Chronicle in London, Daniel Sugarman, has described the "Jesus was a Palestinian" claim as "idiocy" and "deliberate historical revisionism designed to deny the Jewish connection to the Holy Land." An official at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told The Jewish Journal that the claim Jesus was a Palestinian is a "grotesque insult." The Journal observed this claim was being made not only by the Times, but also by a Muslim-American Democratic congresswoman who supports the movement to boycott, divest from, and impose economic sanctions (BDS) on Israel — Ilhan Omar. Personally, I'm tempted to quip that if the Palestinians want him, they can have him. It's a little unseemly, or at least somewhat ironic, for Jews to be scrambling to claim credit for the founder of a non-Jewish religion. So far as the story can be discerned, though, he does appear to have started as a Jew. As time went on, at least as told in the Christian Bible, though, he seems to have been doing more of his own thing. His followers turned it into something definitively different from Judaism. Even so, using the term "Palestinian" to describe Jesus is indeed anachronistic, to the point of being misleading. The Times using its columns to push that false claim is enough to make readers wonder if the Times agenda here has less to do with the ancient history of early Christianity, and more to do with taking sides in the present-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs. (Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post.)

Poll Finds Americans Love Israel, Not its Government

A majority of Americans have a negative opinion of the Israeli government, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Nearly two-thirds of Americans - 64% - view Israel favorably. However, just 41% view Israel's government favorably, compared to 51% who view the government unfavorably. The survey, which was conducted from April 1-15 among 10,523 American adults, also found large partisan difference in support for Israel between Republicans and Democrats. 77% of Republicans responded that they had a favorable of the Israeli people, compared to 57% of Democrats. 61% of Republicans said that they had a favorable view of the Israeli government, while 31% had an unfavorable view. Just 26% of Democrats have a favorable view of the Israeli government, while a full two-thirds view the Israeli government unfavorably. Democrats also have a more favorable opinion of the Palestinian Arabs than Republicans. 58% of Democrats view Palestinian Arabs favorably while only 32% of Republicans have a favorable view of Palestinian Arabs. 81% of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the Palestinian Authority, as do 65% of Democrats. According to the survey, half of Americans believe that President Donald Trump is taking the right approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, while 34% believe he favors Israel too much and 6% believe he favors the Palestinian Authority too much.

How Terrorists Smuggle Phones into Prison

The Israel Prisons Service revealed a method used by security detainees to smuggle mobile phones to terrorists imprisoned in Israel. Security staff at the Ofer Prison began to suspect Tuesday night, during the reception of an Arab man identified with Fatah suspected of stealing, that the man was concealing items forbidden in prison on his person. The detainee was taken for questioning, during which he admitted he tried to smuggle cell phones inside the prison wall inside his body. During the interrogation, he produced capsules containing four cell phones, two cell phone keypads and 8 SIM cards. The interrogation did not end because the prison staff suspected that the detainee was hiding additional prohibited items in his body and decided to evacuate him to a hospital. An X-ray machine found several foreign bodies inside his body, including three additional cell phones as well as two keypads for cell phones. The investigation thus far showed that prisoners are systematically trying to smuggle cell phones into the prisons to trade them or transfer them to terrorists. This incident follows 11 attempts to smuggle dozens of mobile phones cumulatively into security prisons since the beginning of 2018.

Hitler's 'Suicide Note' Going Up for Sale

A letter written by Adolf Hitler just days before he committed suicide in a Berlin bunker is going on sale from April 30-May 1 and is expected to net at least $60,000 to $80,000. The document, which is being auctioned off by the Maryland-based Alexander Historical Auctions house, is a memo written by the Nazi German leader to Field Marshal Ferdinand Schorner, informing the general that Hitler would not make any attempt to flee Berlin. Hitler wrote the memo as Russian forces laid siege to the German capital, and approached the bunker where Hitler was holed up. As the fall of Berlin appeared imminent, Field Marshal Schorner pleaded with Hitler to abandon the capital and flee. In the memo, Hitler refused the request, blaming his commanders for the failure to win the war, and vowing to stay in Berlin until the end. The memo, which was written six days before Hitler committed suicide, is often referred to as the German leader's "suicide note." The document is separate from another paper, Hitler's Last Will and Testament, which he signed the day before he and his new bride, Eva Braun, killed themselves. "This is essentially Hitler's suicide note," said Alexander Historical Auctions president Bill Panagopulos. "In it, he tries to portray himself as a valiant leader of his men until the end, when in actuality he shuffled into his bedroom and fired a bullet into his head."

Israel Tests an Incentive-Based Program to Fight Traffic Jams


The Israeli Ministry of Transportation is launching an incentive-based pilot program to fight worsening traffic congestion in the country. The pilot will attempt to answer the age-old question: in an effort to solve Israel's traffic problem, will the carrot prevail, or will the government have to resort to the stick, levying congestion charges? As part of the pilot, participating drivers will receive an annual budget of NIS 4,500 ($1,250), from which money will be subtracted for certain actions, such as driving in peak rush hours. Good behavior, such as carpooling, could top-up the budget by up to NIS 25 a ride. A monitoring device will track participants' vehicles and driving habits. At the end of the year, the participants will pocket whatever is left in their budgets, as long as it doesn't exceed NIS 2,000 ($555), due to budgetary restrictions. A similar program was tested in 2013. Back then, 400 out of 1,200 participants decreased their rush-hour travels by 16.4% on average, netting a few thousand shekels in the process. The next stage of the program was planned for 2015 but was frozen by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who claimed it could result in a new tax on drivers. Katz's decision drew much criticism from the Bank of Israel and various research agencies due to the dire state of Israel's transportation. The program was greenlit again in 2018 following regulation passed by the Israeli parliament. Israeli government company Ayalon Highways Co. is overseeing the pilot program, which is being carried out by automotive resource management company Pointer Telocation Ltd. and mobile parking service Pango Pay & Go Ltd. The pilot is fully funded by the government. Pointer's vice president of marketing and business development Yaniv Baruch told Calcalist in an interview held over the weekend that the pilot is set to take place across the country, with 47% of participating drivers chosen from the greater Tel Aviv area.

The pilot is starting with a limited number of participants—500 drivers recruited from the 2013 experiment—for the first three months, mainly to give the operators time to test the monitoring system and the financial models, Baruch said. After the system will be proven to work the way it was intended, another 4,500 volunteers will be tapped, and the pilot will progress to the next stage of testing, which will include monitoring the routes people take and the hours they are on the road. If all is successful, Pointer and Pango are expected to receive in August the go-ahead for the final stage of the pilot, which will eventually include up to 100,000 participants, added in groups of 5,000 every few months based on open calls. Katz did not approve the pilot previously due to his demand that the state invest in public transportation infrastructure instead of turning to congestion charges, a spokesperson for the transportation ministry told Calcalist. The pilot is now being performed alongside other public transportation reforms the minister has put in place, the spokesperson added.

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