Pope visits Muslim, Jewish sites on last day in Mideast

JERUSALEM – Pope Francis called for Christians, Jews and Muslims to work together for peace as he toured holy sites in Jerusalem on Monday, the final day of his Middle East pilgrimage.

On an early-morning tour of key sacred places in the walled Old City, the 77-year-old pontiff first visited Al-Aqsa mosque compound, then prayed at the Western Wall which lies just beneath it.

The pontiff was rounding off a whirlwind trip which saw him issue a unique invitation to the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pray with him at the Vatican to end their “increasingly unacceptable” conflict, as well as snatching a personal prayer moment at Israel’s controversial separation barrier.

Francis had promised the three-day pilgrimage, which began on Saturday in Jordan, would steer clear of political issues.

But he ad-libbed from his scripted speech to condemn anti-Semitism, religious intolerance and those behind conflicts in the Middle East.

“May we work together for justice and peace,” Francis said after being shown around the Al-Aqsa compound, which is also considered sacred by Jews because it was the site where their two famed Jerusalem temples once stood.

Entering the exquisite blue-tiled Dome of the Rock with its landmark golden cupola, used as a place of worship for women only, the pope first removed his shoes before walking down to visit the smaller, silver-domed Al-Aqsa mosque.

For Jews, the plaza is the holiest site in Judaism but they are forbidden by law to pray there, praying instead at the adjacent Western Wall, where the pope made his next stop.

Placing his right hand on the ancient stones, he bowed his head in prayer for a few minutes before placing a note in the wall, then sharing an emotional embrace with two close Jewish and Muslim friends travelling with him.

A controversial mass

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Pope visits Muslim, Jewish sites on last day in Mideast

Jewish Museum Shooting Claims Fourth Victim

A fourth person has died following a shooting spree at a Jewish museum in Brussels amid fears of a rise in anti-Semitism. Two Israeli tourists – reportedly a couple – and a French woman had already been confirmed dead following Saturday's shooting, which French President Francois Hollande says was clearly of "anti-Semitic character". "The anti-Semitic character of this act, a shooting in the …

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Jewish Museum Shooting Claims Fourth Victim

Pope: Israel-Palestinian stalemate 'unacceptable'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Pope Francis hug each other as Francis arrives at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday, May 25, 2014. Francis landed Sunday in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state as he began a busy second day of his Mideast pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

JERUSALEM (AP) Pope Francis delivered a powerful boost of support to the Palestinians during a Holy Land pilgrimage Sunday, repeatedly backing their statehood aspirations, praying solemnly at Israel’s controversial separation barrier and calling the stalemate in peace efforts “unacceptable.”

In an unscripted move, Francis arranged a meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian presidents at the Vatican next month. The meeting, while largely symbolic, shows how the pope has sought to transform his immensely popular appeal into a moral force for peace.

On the second day of a three-day swing through the region, the pope arrived in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christianity, before heading to Israel for the final leg of his visit.

While Francis mingled warmly with his Israeli hosts, his trip to Bethlehem included the day’s most powerful images as he expressed sympathy and solidarity with the Palestinians.

“I am with you,” he told a group of Palestinian children at a stop in Bethlehem’s Deheishe refugee camp. He also held a private lunch with five Palestinian families who say they have been harmed by Israeli policies.

Even the pope’s arrival in Bethlehem by helicopter straight from Jordan carried important symbolic significance. Past papal visits to the West Bank have come through Israel, which captured the territory in the 1967 Mideast war.

Palestinian officials hailed Francis’ decision to refer to the “state of Palestine.” In its official program, the Vatican referred to President Mahmoud Abbas as the president of the “state of Palestine,” and his Bethlehem office as the “presidential palace.” He pointedly called Abbas a “man of peace.”

Jubilant Palestinians cheered Francis as he arrived in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, shouting “Viva al-Baba!” or “Long live the pope!” Giant Palestinian flags in red, white, green and black and the Vatican’s yellow-and-white flags decorated the square, which is home to the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born.

“Coming to Bethlehem and flying to Bethlehem from Jordan shows solidarity with the Palestinian people, which is wonderful. We need that,” said Samar Sakkakin, a 52-year-old Palestinian-American from Canton, Michigan.

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Pope: Israel-Palestinian stalemate 'unacceptable'

Brussels killings due to 'incitement' against Jews: Netanyahu

Israel's premier said late Saturday that the attack at the Brussels Jewish Museum, which left three dead and one badly wounded, was the result of anti-Jewish and Israeli sentiment in Europe. "This act of murder is the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state," Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman joined Netanyahu's sentiment …

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Brussels killings due to 'incitement' against Jews: Netanyahu

Reports that Beirut synagogue will reopen dismissed as rumors

BEIRUT: Beiruts Maghen Abraham Synagogue has not been reopened and no date has been set for the buildings re-inauguration, said Bassem al-Hout, a lawyer and mukhtar for Lebanons Jewish community.

The synagogue, located in Wadi Abu Jamil in Downtown Beirut, was badly damaged during Lebanons 1975-90 Civil War and has been undergoing an extensive renovation for the past five years.

The construction is basically done, Hout told The Daily Star.

But it doesnt have any benches or furniture, he explained. He refused to speculate on when the synagogue would reopen. Moreover, there are no Jewish religious leaders, called rabbis, in Lebanon to lead religious proceedings, Hout said.

The Jewish community also still has plans to move a trove of historical documents related to Judaism in Lebanon into the synagogue.

The synagogue, which was constructed in the first decades of the 20th century, was shelled by the Israeli army in 1982 during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, according to news reports published by the Associated Press. Both Jewish and Muslim refugees had taken shelter in the synagogue during the Israeli siege, and were seen fleeing into the streets after the building was shelled.

The synagogues feeble, pock-holed shell was shuttered for decades.

The entire renovation project, Hout said, has cost between $4 million and $5 million.

Hout denied recent reports claiming the synagogue was set to reopen.

These are just rumors made up in the press, he said.

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Reports that Beirut synagogue will reopen dismissed as rumors

Palestinians Just Make Stuff Up About Israel Killing Their Children! Fmr Israeli Ambassador To U.S. – Video

Palestinians Just Make Stuff Up About Israel Killing Their Children! Fmr Israeli Ambassador To U.S.
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Palestinians Just Make Stuff Up About Israel Killing Their Children! Fmr Israeli Ambassador To U.S. – Video

Israel Denies 'Baseless' Rumor It Will Give 'Last Supper Room' to Pope

By Lawahez Jabari

TEL AVIV Israel on Wednesday denied “baseless” rumors that it plans to hand the Vatican control of a building where Christians believe Jesus held the Last Supper.

Orthodox Jews have been plastering posters around Jerusalem claiming that Israel is about to relinquish control of the room ahead of a visit and planned Mass by Pope Francis next week.

Religious Jews revere the building on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion as the tomb of the biblical King David and say it must not be used for Christian prayer.

Writing in response to the claims Wednesday, the Israeli foreign ministry said: “The rumors about handing over the Last Supper Room to the Vatican are baseless.

“This is part of an attempt to stir things up in the field, and to cause tension around the Popes visit.”

Christian pilgrims from Romania pray at the Cenacle, or Upper Room, on Mount Zion in Jerusalem on May 19. For Christians, the room is the place where Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples before he was crucified.

Christians are currently allowed to pray there for two days each year, but the Vatican has for years petitioned Israel to give it more access.

A senior Catholic official told Reuters last week that the two sides were close to a deal allowing official daily prayer there, but not a transfer of control.

Wednesday’s statement added: “It should be emphasized that there is no intention of handing over or giving any rights at the Last Supper Room to the Vatican, not during the Popes visit in Israel, and not after it.

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Israel Denies 'Baseless' Rumor It Will Give 'Last Supper Room' to Pope

Gandhi, Non violence and the Occupy Movement: A conversation with Norman Finkelstein – Video

Gandhi, Non violence and the Occupy Movement: A conversation with Norman Finkelstein
On August 25th, 2012 Occupy Brooklyn TV sat down with Norman Finkelstein — political dissident and world renowned scholar on the Israeli-Palestine conflict . On August 25th, 2012 Occupy Brooklyn…

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Gandhi, Non violence and the Occupy Movement: A conversation with Norman Finkelstein – Video

Defense for Children Palestine Publishes Video Footage for Recently-killed Palestinian Teens

RAMALLAH, May 20, 2014 (WAFA) Defense for Children international Palestine movement obtained Tuesday a video footage featuring the recent killing of two Palestinian teens during clashes near Ofer prison, said a press release issued by the movement.

The video shows the unprovoked and cold-blooded killing of Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu Daher, 16, who were both fatally shot in the chest with live ammunition near Ofer military prison in the city of Beitunia.

The video footage was captured by surveillance cameras installed on a nearby house where the incident took place. The images captured on the video show the unlawful killings of the both teens where neither of them posed a direct and immediate threat to the lives of soldiers at the time of shooting, said Defense for Children Palestine.

These acts by Israeli soldiers may amount to war crimes, and the Israeli authorities must conduct serious, impartial, and thorough investigations to hold the perpetrators accountable for their crimes, said Director General of Defense for Children Palestine Rifat Kassis.

Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu Daher, 16, were both fatally shot in the chest with live ammunition near Ofer military prison in the West Bank city of Beitunia during a peaceful demonstration marking the 66th anniversary of Nadkba. Both boys were transferred to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah where they were later pronounced dead.

Israeli forces continue to use excessive force and recklessly fire live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets on unarmed protesters, including children, killing them with impunity. While Israel claims to open investigations into such incidents, they are not transparent or independent, and seldom result in a soldier being held accountable said Kassis.

The Israeli militarys own regulations dictate that live ammunition must be used only under circumstances of real mortal danger, but the regulations are not enforced and frequently ignored by Israeli soldiers, according to research by DCI-Palestine and a recent report by BTselem, an Israeli human rights group.

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Defense for Children Palestine Publishes Video Footage for Recently-killed Palestinian Teens

Newspaper Review: Venezuela Fuel Support to Palestine Focus of Dailies

RAMALLAH, May 18, 2014 (WAFA) Venezuelas offer to supply Palestine with diesel for five consecutive years at preferential prices hit the headlines of the Palestinian Arabic dailies on Sunday.

Al-Ayyam read: Venezuela to supply Palestine with diesel at preferential prices over the next five years.

Al-Quds said President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his thanks to Venezuela for its political and economic support of Palestine. It quoted Venezuelan President Nicols Maduro Moros as saying: we will help Palestine gain statehood and sovereignty.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida quoted President Mahmoud Abbas as saying: the diesel needs of Palestine [will be covered] by Venezuela over the next five years.

In a different news subject, al-Quds said the composition of the new Palestinian government is pending approval by President Abbas.

Al-Ayyam said US President Barack Obama believes settlement construction was behind the failure of the peace negotiations.

Al-Quds said Hamas considered threats made by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu against Abbas proves a state of bankruptcy from Netanyahus side.

Al-Ayyam said Hamas called for promptly implementing the reconciliation agreement, reached last April, in response to the Israeli threats against Abbas.

Al-Quds said minister of prisoners affairs Issa Qaraqe called upon the international community to take immediate actions to rescue the prisoners.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said an old man died of aheart attack after his family scuffled with Israeli soldiers who stormed his Hebron-based house.

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Newspaper Review: Venezuela Fuel Support to Palestine Focus of Dailies


The war against Israel has passed through three phases.

The first was the attempt to annihilate Israel by conventional means. It began with Israel’s birth in 1948, when Arab armies nearly captured Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and ended in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israeli forces came within artillery range of Cairo and Damascus.

The next stage, starting in the early 1970s, sought to cripple Israel through terror. Suicide bombers nearly paralyzed the country, but by 2005 they too were defeated.

That is when Israel’s enemies launched the third, and potentially most devastating, campaign: to isolate, delegitimize and sanction Israel into extinction. And a key weapon in this stage is the hugely destructive word “apartheid.”

Translated from Afrikaans, apartheid means “apart-hood.” It stemmed from the deeply held racist beliefs of South African whites who, in the half-century after World War II, imposed strict legal barriers between themselves and all black people. The segregation was total: separate restaurants, separate toilets and drinking fountains, separate houses, hospitals and schools. Blacks were denied the right to vote. The system resembled the American South under Jim Crow and outlived it by several decades. Thereafter, “apartheid” remained synonymous with undiluted racism, second only in hatefulness to Nazism.

Today, the word “apartheid” is wielded by Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state. Adversaries point to the separation between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of the West Bank, separate Israeli and Palestinian roads, and separate schools, hospitals and legal systems. Although Israelis can elect their leaders, opponents of Israel say, Palestinians cannot. They claim that Israel has erected an “apartheid wall” between Jewish and Arab areas.

Yet none of this even remotely resembles apartheid. The vast majority of settlers and Palestinians choose to live apart because of cultural and historical differences, not segregation, though thousands of them do work side by side. The separate roads were created in response to terrorist attacks not to segregate Palestinians but to save Jewish lives. And Israeli roads are used by Israeli Jews and Arabs alike. The separation of schools is, again, a cultural choice similar to that made by secular and Orthodox Jews and Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Many Palestinians, however, study in Israeli institutions such as Ariel University, located in a settlement. Thousands of Palestinians, many of them from Hamas-controlled Gaza, are treated at Israeli hospitals.

Israelis can indeed vote for their leaders, and so too can the Palestinians, but the Palestinian Authority has refused to hold elections for years. Palestinians are indeed tried under Israeli (originally British) military codes for security infractions, but other cases are referred to Palestinian courts. And even on security-related issues, Palestinians can appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court.

Israel has erected a security barrier only a small section is actually walled between it and most of the West Bank. But the barrier, a vital counter-terrorism tool, is not permanent and has been moved several times to accommodate Palestinian interests. It is no more an apartheid wall than the fence between the United States and Mexico.

The West Bank represents a complex historical, humanitarian and security situation that six Israeli prime ministers from both the left and right have tried to resolve. Unfortunately, Palestinian leaders turned down Israeli offers of statehood in 2000 and 2008, and have now abandoned peace talks in favor of reunification with Hamas. They aspire to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza from which all Jews have been expelled. That is truly apartheid.

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Palestine thanks Malaysia for continuous support

16 May 2014| last updated at 03:19PM

Speaking at an event to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the Nakba Day (Al-Nakba) or Palestinian Refugee Catastrophe yesterday, he hoped Malaysia and its people would continue to support the Palestinian struggle.

Nakba Day referred to May 15, 1948 when more than 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled by force from their homelands and villages by the Israeli occupation forces.

They were forced to flee to other neighbouring countries like Jordan, Syria and Iraq and were prevented from returning.

Dr Anwar described the celebration as more joyful this year, “as the Palestinians are coming together again”.

He was referring to the unity talks between offficials from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the rival Islamist Hamas group.

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Palestine thanks Malaysia for continuous support

Indian Jews dancing in Israel (India Israel Indian Jewish dance Israeli India Israeli Indian dances) – Video

Indian Jews dancing in Israel (India Israel Indian Jewish dance Israeli India Israeli Indian dances)
Indian Jewish Israelis dancing at a bar mitvah party in Israel. Israel is home for thousands of Indian Jews. This community immigrated to Israel from Mumbai. (India Israel, Israel India,…

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Indian Jews dancing in Israel (India Israel Indian Jewish dance Israeli India Israeli Indian dances) – Video