Obama calls Bibi with Passover wishes

By Gary Baumgarten

WASHINGTON – President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Monday to convey his best wishes before the start of Passover.

Noting that he would host a seder at the White House, the president recalled that the story of Passover is one of liberation and freedom and expressed his hope that the Israeli people would be able to celebrate in peace, the White House said. The two leaders also discussed U.S.-Israeli cooperation on counter-terrorism, how best to move forward in efforts to advance Middle East peace and the recent violence near the Gaza strip the White House says.

Netanyahu expressed his deep appreciation for U.S. funding for the Iron Dome rocket and mortar defense system, which he noted has successfully intercepted several rockets aimed at Israeli communities. With the signing of the fiscal year 2011 budget appropriation, the president approved $205 million in U.S. funding for Iron Dome, which is above the annual package of Foreign Military Financing for Israel.

Helen Thomas to address anti-AIPAC gathering

By Michael Foley

The organization, Move Over AIPAC says long-time Washington Journalist Helen Thomas, who was ousted from her job at the Hearst Newspapers after making what many described as antisemitic remarks, will address its pro-Palestinian conference in May.

The conference coincides with the annual policy meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee  summit in the Capitol. Thomas will be the group’s keynote speaker May 21.

The 92-year-old Thomas, who was stripped of her White House press credentials when she lost her job, has just been granted credentials to cover the House and Senate for the Falls Church (Virginia) News-Press.

Move Over AIPAC says its May 21-24, 2011 conference hopes to “expose the AIPAC lobby and build the vision for a new U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.”


Arrests made in murders of West Bank family

A month after members of the Fogel family (parents Udi, 36 and Ruth, 35, and their children Yoav, 11, Elad, 4 and Hadas, 3 months) were brutally murdered at their home in Itamar in the West Bank while they were sleeping, the Commander of IDF forces overseeing the Shomron Regional Brigade, announces that  two of the alleged killers have been captured in the nearby Palestinian village of Awarta.

Col. Nimrod Aloni says the motivation of terror groups in the West Bank to execute attacks against Israeli civilians is still high.

“The murders of five family members including a 3 month baby constitute a crossing of all red lines, said IDF Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich.

“The IDF has invested in numerous operational and intelligence efforts and has worked closely with other security forces in order to find those responsible for this vicious murder.”

Teen wounded in Israeli school bus attack dies

A 16-year-old boy, the only passenger on an Israeli school bus that was hit by a rocket attack from the Gaza on April 7 has died.

Daniel Viflic had been in critical condition since the attack, for which Hamas took credit.

The attack on the bus was, Hamas said, in retaliation for the killing of three of its leaders in the Gaza.

Daniel’s mother spoke with Israel’s Channel 2 four days before he died, saying that the family was praying for a miracle.

U.S. funding Syria opposition

All this talk about Iran’s fingers trying to get into the turmoil pie in Bahrain and elsewhere comes into a bit of perspective, today, with a new WikiLeaks report which says that the opposition that’s basically in the process of toppling the government in Syria is being funded by the United States.

The Washington Post reports that the WikiLeaks documents show that the U.S. State Department has been funding support for the opposition, including financially backing a London-based satellite TV station that’s been beaming anti-government messages into Syria.

Al Jazeera is reporting that, as the unrest in Syria is spreading across the nation, President Bashar al-Assad is loosening emergency restrictions that had been in place.