Weapon News

President Putin warned Israel: do not sell lethal weapons to Ukraine. In his soft-spoken way he called such a sale "counterproductive." "It's the Israeli leadership's choice. If these are lethal weapons, I think it will be counterproductive. It will only lead to another round of conflicts, to a rise in the number of victims, and the outcome will be the same," Putin told the Rossiya TV channel.

In Israel rumours of selling weaponry to Ukraine reached a fever pitch after President Putin gave the green light for the delivery of S-300 missile systems to Iran. A contract for the missile delivery was signed in 2007, but in 2010 President Medvedev embargoed the delivery. This was not called for by the UN-approved sanctions but rather represented a separate Russian sanction against Iran. This sanction was unilaterally imposed and unilaterally lifted by Russia after the Lausanne agreement was completed. The White House confirmed that the S-300 is not banned under UN sanctions. On Friday US president Barack Obama said he was surprised that Russia’s voluntary suspension of missile sales to Iran had “held this long,” a comment that left Israeli analysts shocked and amazed.

Netanyahu called Putin by phone and spoke for an hour trying to dissuade him, but the Russian President replied, "Regarding our [weapons] shipments to Iran, these are defensive weapons that will in no way harm Israel's defensive capabilities." He later added that “such arms supplies are a deterrent." This is precisely what Israel does not like – a deterrent. Now their option to bomb Iran is gone. “We still can bomb Iran," said one Israeli general, "but with difficulty and at a cost.” Israeli newspapers reported that Iran has its own version of the S-300 called the Bavar 373 air missile shield with features similar to the Russian S-300, but with “increased mobility, agility and reduced launch-preparation time.” This system was paraded in Tehran on Saturday the 18th.

The Feast of the Visitation

The Holy Land celebrated the charming local feast of the Visitation, also known as Small Annunciation. On that day the Holy Virgin visited her relative Elizabeth, the future mother of St. John the Baptist. The feast is celebrated mainly by the Russian community in the Holy Land. A large icon of the Annunciation was met at the perennial spring of Ain Karim near Jerusalem by nuns of the nearby Russian Gorni monastery, and taken by a flower-covered path to the convent's church for a three-month sojourn, until the Nativity of St. John.

This beautiful custom is in danger as a Jewish developer has begun to build a large hotel perilously close to the spring. Protests by the locals with the backing of the convent have thus far proven fruitless.

Russians Discriminated Against

Israeli police did not allow Russian pilgrims to celebrate the Holy Fire in Jerusalem. Only some 50 Russians were permitted to enter the Old City, let alone the Church, while the Greeks were given 2,000 permits. As the result, the Church was half-empty at the most solemn event of the ecclesiastical year, while throngs of Russians stood and wept, barred at the Jaffa Gate.

This is but a small part of the travails of the Russian community: a part of the Gorni Convent was expropriated by the city in order to build a light-railway, while the only accessible road to the convent now runs through Jewish checkpoints. Pilgrims are obliged to submit to a search and to pay $5 per car every time they pass the checkpoint.

Still No Government

Post-election attempts by Bibi Netanyahu to form a new government are yet unsuccessful. There are strong rumors that the opposition Zionist Camp party block of Labour and other centrist-left movements will join the rightist government of Netanyahu. This will ease Netanyahu’s position internationally, but destroy the case for the center-left parties.

Abbas in Moscow

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas visited Moscow, meeting with President Putin and Patriarch Kirill who bestowed a medal upon him. President Abbas said Palestinians are ready to make peace and are waiting on Israel. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu said there would be no Palestinian state as long as he is in power. Abbas will return for Moscow's May 9 celebrations of V-Day, while Israeli president Mr. Rivlin refused the invitation as May 9 is a Saturday, the day observant Jews do not travel.

No God for Her

Israeli model Bar Rafaeli declared she does not believe in God; her statement was reprinted in the mass media. In Israel, at least 80% say they believe in God. The general sentiment towards Bar Rafaeli was: “You say that after He provided you with your gorgeous figure!” No gratitude at all! ...