Archive for January 2008

Photos of the Middle East Snowstorm

January 31, 2008

Yesterday and today the Middle East has been experiencing a rare snowstorm. Reuters has posted a slide show of pictures of snow in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Abbas’ security guards throw snowballs, ultra-Orthodox teens build a snowman, and people of all types brave the weather…


Did Arafat Give Blood for the Victims of 9/11?

January 31, 2008

According to Charles Enderlin of France 2, the famous pictures were staged. History News Network reports.

In either case, it is clear that the blood donation was a PR stunt, so does it really matter? The Palestinians have provided us with much worse faked footage, such as the “murder” of Muhammad al-Dura.  And of course, the more recent Palestinian government meetings held in candlelight – in broad daylight!  (Read about this at the JPost website.)

Eilat Mazar Changes Her Mind

January 31, 2008

After much discussion online, Eilat Mazar has amended her reading of the newly discovered seal and now agrees with the scholars who suggested the “Shlomit” reading (and not “Temech).  A nice summary of the debate can be found at the Biblical Archaeology Society website.

The Dome of the Rock and the Solomonic Temple

January 30, 2008

The shaping of the holiness of Jerusalem, and particularly the shaping of the holiness of the Temple Mount in the Islamic religious consciousness, was influenced by the Jewish and Christian traditions encountered by Muslims after their swift conquest of the Syrian provinces of the Byzantine empire. The Koran does not mention Jerusalem, and the Arabs who conquered it came to learn about its spiritual importance only after more intimate contact with Jews and Christians; they were then exposed to the Biblical accounts of the city and to the many traditions regarding Solomon’s Temple. Solomon is mentioned in the Koran; he is venerated as the wisest prophet of God. In that period of early Islam, however, Muslims knew little about the major Biblical figures who appear in the Koran, and they needed Jewish and Christian assistance to learn more about them.

The Jews contributed to the deep messianic feelings and expectations that had already existed among the Muslims—especially by encouraging the new conquerors, who had been regarded as heralding the final redemption of Israel, to renew worship on the Temple Mount. When the Dome of the Rock was built, the rituals performed in it were reminiscent of the rituals that had been performed in the Solomonic Temple: the anointing of the Rock, the burning of incense and the lighting of oil lamps on Monday and Thursday. These actions clearly indicate that the Muslims wanted to link themselves historically with Solomon, the great prophet-king. In doing so, they leapt back past Christianity—then their main enemy—and challenged the Christian idea that the Temple would remain desolate until Jesus’ Second Coming.

From “Islam on the Temple Mount,” Moshe Sharon, BAR 32:04, Jul/Aug 2006.

Tribal Autonomy in the Middle East

January 29, 2008

Philip Carl Salzman of McGill University has published a book entitled Culture and Conflict in the Middle East.   He claims that Middle East politics are dominated by the tribal system, in which an extended family or tribe protects its members from other tribes.  And when one tribe gets control of a state, they rule over other tribes ruthlessly.  Daniel Pipes, at History News Network, writes, “Salzman’s deep analysis makes it possible to understand the region’s strange affliction and to identify its solution.”

Restored Mosaic Unveiled

January 29, 2008

The Israel Antiquities Authority has unveiled a restoration of the glass panel found in Ceasarea.  The palace in which it was found apparently belonged to Christians in the Byzantine period.

Read about it here:
Israel Antiquities Authority
Associated Press

Holocaust Education

January 28, 2008

Noah Klieger of Ynet argues that Holocaust education must focus on the role of the State of Israel in preventing another Holocaust.  With all the anti-Semitism going around in the world, is that really the main message of the Holocaust?