Israel

Donald Trump's first overseas trip as president begins Friday with a pilgrimage of sorts. With stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, Trump will be visiting the centers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the three major monotheistic religions.

But he's wading into deep waters with potential for missteps and disagreement. He'll meet with Muslim leaders despite declaring that "Islam hates us" during the campaign; he'll meet with Pope Francis, who advocates for countries to be welcoming to refugees.

News of recent anti-Semitic acts in the U.S. — like the toppling of tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis and bomb threats against Jewish community centers — is being followed closely in Israel. So is the Israeli government's response to these incidents.

Some Israelis are questioning whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has played down the incidents to keep pressure off his political ally, President Trump.

Associated Press

President Trump is the latest in a succession of U.S. presidents pledging unbreakable support for Israel. Last year, for instance, the US signed a $38-Billion military aid package with the Israelis even as Washington pressed Israel to make peace with the Palestinians. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump signaled an intent to bolster Israel in even more demonstrative ways. But lately, in the early days of the Trump administration, the language of support has become somewhat less robust. 

About 3,000 years ago, a potter near Jerusalem made a big jar. It was meant to hold olive oil or wine or something else valuable enough to send to the king as a tax payment. The jar's handles were stamped with a royal seal, and the pot went into the kiln.

Over the next 600 years, despite wars destructive enough to raze cities, potters in the area kept making ceramic tax jars, each one stamped with whatever seal represented the ruler du jour.

They didn't know it, but in the process, the ancient potters were not just upholding centuries of tax bureaucracy.

Sholom Neistein

Mohamed Ghumrawi and Sholom Neistein have been friends for six years.

Sholom is Jewish. Mohamed is Muslim and of Palestinian descent. 

"I think it’s interesting how people perceive our friendship," says Mohamed, or Moe for short. "People see us and the first thing that comes to mind is, 'A Palestinian and an Israeli together? What? I must be in the "Twilight Zone".' ”

On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinians and concerned citizens gathered in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale to protest for peace in the Gaza Strip. 

And on Sunday, thousands of Israelis and concerned citizens gathered in front of New World Symphony in Miami Beach -- to protest for peace in Israel. 

While the protesters differed in ideas of how the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be handled, both sides wanted to see one thing: peace.

Today on WLRN-Miami Herald News, you heard:

Tinou Bao / Creative Commons//Flickr

Degrading Facebook comments about Palestinians caused two assistant Broward County public defenders to be fired on Tuesday.

The Facebook comments were published in a story by the Sun Sentinel, which discussed the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys by Islamic militant group Hamas. The remarks from assistant public defenders Gary Sheres and Bruce Raticoff referred to Palestinians as "filthy swine," "cockroaches," and even suggested they be "burn[ed] to the ground."

Courtesy photo / Palm Beach International Film Festival

The Palm Beach International Film Festival boasts a few star-studded indie films, but the schedule also is packed with a host of alternately gritty and inspirational documentaries featuring everyday folks in extraordinary circumstances. 

The festival, which kicked off on April 4, continues through Thursday. Every day, there are a dozen or so films screening at various theaters throughout Palm Beach County. You can't be everywhere at once, so below are four documentaries to consider making a priority at this year's festival. 

The Israel Democracy Institute. http://en.idi.org.il

03/27/13 - Wednesday's Topical Currents examines the turbulent history of Israel, from the origins of the Zionist movement in the late 19th Century to the present day.  There’s the backdrop of relations between Jews, Arabs and Turks, and the earliest settlements in Palestine under Ottoman rule.  We’ll visit with Tel Aviv University professor Anita Shapira, author of ISRAEL:  A HISTORY.  Don’t miss Topical Currents . . .

Update at 1:30 p.m. ET. Firing Continues:

"Intensive fire" has continued through the day across the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip, correspondent Linda Gradstein, who is in Jerusalem, tells our Newscast Desk.

Hamas has now fired more than 130 rockets toward southern Israel and the Israeli military continues to fire at targets in Gaza. Palestinian officials report at least 13 deaths on their side of the border. The death toll in Israel remains at three.

White House spokesman Jay Carney today told reporters that:

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