Archive for February 2008

Why Isn’t Zionism a Priority for American Jewish Activists?

February 29, 2008

According to Prof. Gil Troy, the reason is that “individualism is in, collectivism is out.”  Activists focus instead on issues such as gay rights, abortion and feminism.  How to solve the problem?  According to Troy:

We Jews are lucky to be blessed with a rich, four-thousand-year-old storehouse of beliefs, insights, values, and heroes. By finding the “I in Zionism” we find a way into that conversation – and have standing – no matter how religious or non-religious we may be, no matter how learned or inexperienced we might be. All of us have a stake and a bond in each other, in our past, in our homeland. Sometimes, we have been forced to pay the price for those affiliations – why not reap the benefits too?

Read the full article at Israel at Sixty.

Seal with Ancient Hebrew Inscription Uncovered

February 28, 2008

From the Israel Antiquities Authority Press Release:

Finds recovered from the excavations in the City of David reveal an interesting development in the ancient world: whereas during the 9th century BCE letters and goods were dispatched on behalf of their senders without names, by the 8th century BCE the clerks and merchants had already begun to add their names to the seals.

In an excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting together with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Elad Association, a complete seal bearing an ancient Hebrew inscription with the name of its owner – Raphaihu (ben) Shalem – as well as parts of other seals with writing on it were found.

Tzipi Livni Calls for Promotion of the Zionist Idea

February 28, 2008

Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said at a meeting of JAFI’s Board of Governors that the Zionist idea has been eroded by de-legitimization of Israel in the international community.  She called for promotion of Zionism in the Jewish community by the Israeli Government and the Jewish Agency.  She stressed the importance of trips to Israel and fundraising.

Via e-Jewish

House Committee Voted to Recognize Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands

February 28, 2008

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives voted to approve a resolution recognizing the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Around the time of the creation of the State of Israel, most Arab countries with Jewish populations forced the Jews to leave. The resolution will be now be voted on by the House of Representatives. If Congress passes the resolution, the President will be obligated to ensure that whenever Palestinian refugees are mentioned in international forums, Jewish refugees are mentioned too.

History News Network has the background, including this amazing fact:

Jews and Jewish communities have existed in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region for many centuries. Their lives changed in the 20th century, as witnessed by a consistent, wide-spread pattern of persecution and the mass violations of the human rights of Jewish minorities in Arab countries. Upon the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, the status of Jews in Arab countries worsened dramatically as Jews were either uprooted from their countries of longtime residence or became subjugated, political hostages of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The result – from over 850,000 Jews resident in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf region at the turn of the century, it is estimated that less than 5,000 Jews remain to-day in Arab countries.

Bible and Qumran Articles

February 27, 2008

T&T Clark has posted some of the essays from their yet-to-be-published book in honor of Philip Davies’ 60th birthday. The book will be entitled, In Search of Philip R. Davies: Whose Festschrift Is It Anyway? and edited by Duncan Burns and John W. Rogerson. These articles are available in PDF format:

When YHWH Tests People: General Considerations and Particular Observations Regarding the Books of Chronicles and Job by Ehud Ben Zvi

Prophecy as Inspired Biblical Interpretation: The Teacher of Righteousness and David Koresh by Lester L. Grabbe

“Jew By Nature”: Paul, Ethnicity, and Galatians by R. Barry Matlock

The Second Temple Origins of the Halakhah of Besah by Jacob Neusner

Why Talk About the Past: The Bible, Epic and Historiography by Thomas L. Thompson

The Rhetoric of 2 Peter: An Apologia for Early Christian Ethics (And Not ‘Primitive Christian Eschatology’) by Robert L. Webb

The Death of Biblical History by Keith W. Whitelam

New Issue of BAR Online

February 25, 2008

BAR has posted selected articles from the March/April 2008 issue.  There is an interesting article on the Jezebel Seal.  Also worth reading is an article by Edna Ullmann-Margalit, who specializes in “the study of the scrolls— research about Scroll research.” This article examines the prevalence of the Qumran-Essene hypothesis amongst scholars.  Also posted are an obituary of John Strugnell, an excerpt from Mendel Kaplan’s memoirs, James Kugel responding to a review of his latest book, and much more…

Fidel Castro Is Stepping Down

February 20, 2008

Cuba’s president has announced that he is stepping down due to ill health.  Castro is a supporter of the Palestinian cause and considered Yasser Arafat a personal friend.  Cuba co-sponsored the 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism and voted against its revocation in 1991.

More on this story at JTA Breaking News.

Israel Prize in Talmud

February 17, 2008

Professor David Weiss Halivni received the Israel Prize in Talmud this week.  Haaretz has published a fascinating biography of the professor, describing his education in Czechoslovakia, his survival as a teenager in a Nazi labor camp, his immigration to the United States, career at JTS and his retirement and aliyah to Israel a few years ago.  Halivni pioneered the approach which differentiates between statements made by Talmudic sages and later editorial additions.

What was the Mufti of Jerusalem Doing During the Holocaust?

February 13, 2008

During World War II, the Mufti of Jerusalem met with Hitler and encouraged Bosnian and Moslem troops to fight against the Allies.  In addition, he worked to prevent immigration to the Land of Israel.  In 1968 he wrote in his memoirs:

“There were other serious occurrences during the war, such as the attempt by world Jewry in 1944 to bring about the immigration of Eastern European Jewry to Palestine… just as today they are trying to prompt countries in the East, such as Russia, the Balkan States and Eastern Europe to allow Jewish immigration to occupied Palestine. I objected to this attempt, and wrote to Ribbentrop, to Himmler and to Hitler… until I succeeded in frustrating the attempt.”

Here is a picture of the Mufti reviewing Bosnian troops fighting with the Nazis:


The Jordanian-Israeli Armistice Agreement, Apr. 3, 1949

February 11, 2008

Article VIII of the Jordanian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement promised Israel free access to the Holy Places, a promise which was not fulfilled:

2. The Special Committee shall be organized immediately following the coming into effect of this Agreement and shall direct its attention to the formulation of agreed plans and arrangements for such matters as either Party may submit to it, which, in any case, shall include the following, on which agreement in principle already exists: free movement of traffic on vital roads, including the Bethlehem and Latrun-Jerusalem roads; resumption of the normal functioning of the cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mount Scopus and free access thereto; free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives; resumption of operation of the Latrun pumping station; provision of electricity for the Old City; and resumption of operation of the railroad to Jerusalem.