The Top 8 Headlines You Might Have Missed / Haaretz Newsline, September 15

From protests against the anti-Islam film spreading to Australia, to an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI, and new Gallup poll results on the Jewish vote, Haaretz brings you the top headlines from Israel, the Middle East, and the Jewish World.

Several hundred people took to the streets of Australia's largest city on Saturday, some throwing rocks and bottles during clashes with police, as anger over a film that insults the Prophet Mohammed continued into its fifth day.

Pope Benedict XVI appealed Saturday for religious freedom in the Middle East, calling it fundamental for stability in a region bloodied by sectarian strife. Benedict spoke on the second day of his visit to Lebanon, a country with the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East.

The bodies of a young Israeli couple were found in a forest near the village of Ein Hod in Hof Hacarmel on Saturday morning. One of them was a 25-year-old man from the Druze village of Daliyat el-Carmel, while the other was a 19-year-old woman from the Druze village of Isifiya.

The Yemen-based branch of Al-Qaida urged Muslims to step up protests and kill more U.S. diplomats in Muslim countries after a U.S.-made film mocking the Prophet Mohammed which it said was another chapter in the "crusader wars" against Islam.

U.S. President Barack Obama's lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney among Jewish voters is growing, according to recent unreleased Gallup daily tracking poll data reported on

International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi met Syria's President Bashar Assad on Saturday, state television said, to discuss efforts to end the country's 18-month-old conflict which activists say has killed more than 27,000 people. It was Brahimi's first meeting with Assad since he replaced Kofi Annan as peace envoy two weeks ago, taking on a mission which the veteran Algerian diplomat described as "nearly impossible."

Tens of thousands of people streamed off university campuses in Texas, North Dakota and Ohio on Friday after telephoned bomb threats prompted officials to warn students and faculty to get away as quickly as possible. All three campuses eventually were deemed safe and reopened by the evening, as authorities worked to determine whether the threats were related.

At least eight were killed on Friday in violent protests against a film that insults the prophet Mohammed that swept the Muslim world.