Archive for July 2008

A New Way to Experience the Beth Shean National Park

July 31, 2008

She’an Nights, a multi-media multi-sensory night tour of the ancient city of Beit She’an-Scythopolis, has recently opened at the Beit She’an National Park, located in the Jordan Valley. Developed at a cost of $3 million in a joint initiative of the Ministry of Tourism via the Israel Government Tourist Corporation, the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority and the Beit She’an Municipality, this unique project is the first of its type in the world in an archeological site and the fourth largest such project in the world…

Sound effects, that include voices, stories, song and music, complete the multi-sensory experience of being transported 2000 years back in time. Visitors may select their own route around the site and linger as long as they like at any one point, “meeting” local characters, “experiencing” the earthquake that destroyed the city in 749 CE, and “watching” a performance in the Roman amphitheater.

Posted at Easier Travel, via


Why is Zionism so Misunderstood?

July 31, 2008

An article entitled “Why is Zionism so Misunderstood?” appears in the Arkansas Indy Media. This is a fascinating question. Unfortunately, the article does not even attempt to answer the question, focusing instead on the history and ideology of Zionism.

The premise of the question is that Zionism is misunderstood around the world. This definitely seems to be true, as demonstrated by accusations that Israel is an apartheid state built on the ruins of a Palestinian national homeland. So why is it misunderstood? Here are some possibilities:

1. Zionism is a form of nationalism, and nationalism has become unpopular in international politics.

2. Since many Jews and Israelis have lost sight of Zionist goals, the rest of the world is confused.

3. Anti-Zionism is a deliberate distortion of Zionist values, based on anti-Semitism.

Possibly all three of these reasons play a part in the disapproval of Zionism rampant in public opinion. Or is something totally different at work here?

UPDATE: Richard L. Cravatts writes “How to Get the World To Hate Israel” on the History News Network.

Music and Politics

July 30, 2008

Z-Word has an interesting piece on the complexity of cooperation between Arabic singer Natacha Atlas and Israeli singer Yasmin Levy.  In an interview for Abu-Dhabi’s English newspaper, Atlas tried to explain why many Arab singers would not work with a Jewish artist, even if he/she were not Israeli.  Levy was quite shocked by this remark.  Ben from Z-Word points out that the fact that this discussion was published in the newspaper is significant:

Both freely express themselves in a newspaper published in an Arab Gulf state, where journalists are more prone to depicting antisemitism as a political fabrication, rather than a genuine phenomenon.

And that, as they say, is where the real story lies.

Clark Hopkins on the Discovery of the Synagogue at Dura-Europos

July 29, 2008

“Once, when I was involved in a train wreck, I had no recollection of the moment between the shock when I was thrown from my seat and when I began to pick myself up from the bottom of the overturned car. So it was at Dura. All I can remember is the sudden shock and then the astonishment, the disbelief ….”

“Only a few details of that day are still vivid … I clearly remember when the foot of fill dirt still covering the back wall was undercut and fell away, exposing the most amazing succession of paintings! Whole scenes, figures, and objects burst into view, brilliant in color, magnificent in the sunshine, though dwarfed against the vast backdrop of the sky and the tremendous mass of the embankment, they seemed more splendid than all else put together … painting after painting came into view. The west wall faced the morning sun which had risen triumphantly behind us, revealing a strange phenomenon: in spite of having been encased in dry dust for centuries, the murals retained a vivid brightness that was little short of the miraculous.”

Israel at 60

July 29, 2008

The NY Post has has a whole spread on Israel at 60, including photos, opinion pieces and historical articles.  The picture of the surfer rabbi is particularly interesting.  Via Kumah.

Preservation of the Zion Gate

July 28, 2008

Preservation work on the Zion Gate has just been completed. The work included cleaning of the stones and restoration of stones which had been damaged in the Israeli War of Independence. The original shell and bullet damage has been preserved.

Israeli forces attempted to end the siege on the Jewish Quarter by storming the Zion Gate on June 6, 1948, but were forced to give up after three hours of fighting.

The Zion Gate in 1865, from Charles Wilson’s Photographs of the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem.

Jewish Quarter Residents Evacuating the Old City through the Zion Gate, May 1948.

Do Jews Support Christian Zionism?

July 27, 2008

According to an online survey conducted by J Street, 78% of American Jews said Jewish organizations should not form alliances with Christian Zionists.  The survey also showed that 75% support a two-state solution and that when asked about the most important issues for them in the upcoming presidential election, respondents ranked the economy, the war in Iraq, health care, national security, energy and the environment above Israel.  So maybe the Christian Zionists are more concerned with Israel than they are?

Read more at Ethics Daily.  Via Jim West.