Shorts: Mideast

Iran gave $1.8 million to Islamic Jihad

jerusalem (jta) | Iran gave $1.8 million to Islamic Jihad last month, Israel’s defense minister said.

The money was supposed to fuel terror attacks within Israel, Shaul Mofaz told the Associated Press.

Israel has been on high alert for terrorist attacks in advance of the Tuesday, March 28 elections, and foiled one bombing this week, reportedly planned by Islamic Jihad.

Top rabbi wants world religious body

jerusalem (jta) | One of Israel’s chief rabbis wants to form an international organization of religions.

Yona Metzger, Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, called this week for a “United Nations of religious groups” as the second World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace opened in Seville, Spain, the BBC reported.

Also speaking at the three-day meeting, Rabbi Israel Singer of the World Jewish Congress’ Policy Council rejected the idea that Jewish-Muslim tensions lie at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some 150 rabbis and imams are taking part in the conference.

‘Explanations’ for bird flu outbreak

jerusalem (jta/ynet) | A leading kabbalistic rabbi said the outbreak of bird flu in Israel is God’s punishment for proposals to legalize gay marriage.

Rabbi David Basri said he hoped the deaths of hundreds of thousands of turkeys and chickens would help atone for what he called the sins of left-wing Israeli political parties.

Another explanation for the outbreak — this one from Gaza imam Sheikh Abu Muhammed — says the bird flu was sent by Allah to punish the Jews for being “the worst of humanity” and is the beginning of the outbreak of other diseases meant to destroy the Jewish state within the next 20 years.

He went on to ask Muslims at his March 17 sermon to pray for the sexual organs of Jews to “dry out” so they cannot reproduce, a Palestinian in attendance at the mosque services told WorldNetDaily.

The Agriculture Ministry confirmed this week that the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu has been found in birds at several kibbutzes. Last weekend, the government slaughtered hundreds of thousands of chickens and turkeys.

Report: Palestinians


jerusalem (jta) | The Palestinian Authority overcounted Palestinians by more than a million, a team of demographers have concluded.

The American-Israeli Demographic Research Group, presenting its findings at the American Enterprise Institute this month, said the 3.8 million figure for 2004, published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, was off by 1.3 million.

The researchers said the Palestinian statisticians based their figure on mid-1990s projections that counted on massive immigration after the establishment of a Palestinian state, then projected for 1999.

Trump Tower coming to Israel

jerusalem (jps) | Donald Trump has made his first entry into Israel sooner than expected and is planning to build a luxury apartment building in Ramat Gan within the next five years.

Trump, in partnership with Miami-based property company Crescent Heights, has bought the original Elite chocolate plant building in Ramat Gan earmarked for the development. Food company Strauss-Elite Ltd. said last week it sold the building to a foreign investor from the United States for $44 million.