Archive for November 2008

Nariman House Part II

November 30, 2008

Nine Israelis were killed at Nariman House, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka, 28.  The only terrrorist captured alive said they specifically targeted the Chabad House in order to kill Israelis as vengeance for the “atrocities” against the Palestinians. Many of the victims were also U.S. citizens, including Rabbi Holtzberg.

As we near the beginning of a new presidential term in the United States, it is imperative that the war on terror be top priority for the U.S. government.  Innocent people living as far away from the Middle East as India have been victims of the insidious Palestinian propoganda and the Islamic terror which has gained so much power in the last decade.  Indians, Jews, Israelis, Americans, Brits – no one is safe.  This is a worldwide problem which must be fought on all levels – intelligence, military and educational.

There are no words to express the horror of the terror attack on Mumbai and this is what terror aims for – to scare us, make us feel that no place is safe and bring uncertainty into our lives.  This is the reality which Israelis have been living with for years, and which the Amerians, the British and now the Indians have experienced too.  This is the reality which must be eradicated from the world, the sooner the better.

Nariman House

November 27, 2008

The hostage situation in Mumbai continues.  India’s news sources are reporting 10-12 Israeli hostages in the Nariman House, which is the Chabad house of Mumbai.   The rabbi and his wife who run the house are among them, although there baby son has been evacuated.  The army is currently attempting to storm the house.  There were 6 terrorists in the house, but one has already been killed.  Gunfire and explosions have been heard numerous times in the area.  Updates to come as events unfold.

UPDATE: Unbelievably, Friday morning the situation still has not been resolved.  The Trident hotel has been emptied of terrorists and the hostages freed.  The Oboroi hotel guests are being evacuated.  The Chabad House is still under siege and there is fighting in the area.  The Indian army hopes to finish all operations within a few hours.

A Must-Read Op-Ed

November 27, 2008

Eli Kavon makes a great case for the importance of Zionism in the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.  He argues that Zionism was the best solution to the crisis of European Jewry before the Holocaust.  The theology which had worked for two thousand years – expecting and praying for a Messiah to arrive and redeem the Jewish people – led to a passivity which was ultimately fatal.  The establishment of the State of Israel gave new meaning to Jewish identity after the Holocaust, when disillusionment with Judaism could have taken over and led to mass assimilation.

Today, Zionism and Israel still remain a central part of most Jews’ identities, whatever their religious affiliation.  Israel is grappling with many questions relating to its identity, and Jews the world over are looking to Israel for the answers.  On of the central issues is, of course, how Jews interact with the rest of the world while still maintaining a unique identity.  On a national level, how does Israel stay a Jewish state while creating a mutually beneficial relationship with its Arab neighbors and residents?

As the title of this post suggests, this is a must-read article.  Now that you have read a summary, you can read the whole thing at The Jerusalem Post.  And let us know if you agree with him.

War on the Web

November 25, 2008

Hamas is declaring war on Israel over the internet.  A new project, called “The Digital Intifada,” has two main objectives: creating anti-Jewish and anti-Israel websites, and hacking into Israeli websites – both governmental and non-governmental.  According to Israel National News:

“The Digital Intifada” announced several objectives for future anti-Israel propaganda work, including the production of anti-Zionist computer games for children, online pro-Palestinian forums, a digital library dedicated to labeling Jewish Israelis as “occupiers”, and coordinating online battalions of digital fighters to war with Israel and Israel’s allies and supporters.

Try Googling a term related to Israel and you will likely find anti-Israel sites at the top of the page.  Misinformation about Israel is all over the web.  The only way to fight it is by writing the truth.

The Wakf Denies the Existence of the Jewish Temple

November 23, 2008

Not that this is an unusual occurrence these days, but the Wakf arranged a rare tour of the Al-Aksa mosque for 40 foreign journalists in which the tour guide told the journalists that there was insufficient archaeological evidence to support the existence of a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount.  The guide, Muhammad Abu Aktesh, said the only evidence which might suggest a Jewish Temple is the The Place of the Trumpeting, 4 CE.  He conveniently did not mention the wealth of textual information about the Temple or the fact that the Muslim Supreme Council acknowledged the existence of the Temple in 1929.

Discoveries at Herodium

November 20, 2008

Archaeologist Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University announced yesterday that 2 more sarcophagi have been uncovered in Herod’s tomb at Herodium.  Although it is impossible to determine which of the sarcophagi belonged to Herod, Netzer is sure Herod was buried here.  Remains of a small theater have also been excavated.

More information:

The Hebrew University press release
The Jerusalem Post
COJS: Tomb of King Herod the Great, 4 BCE

Something to Watch

November 20, 2008

If you live in the United States you can watch the PBS show “The Bible’s Buried Secrets” online at the Nova website.  The show is two hours long, but don’t worry – they have split it up into segments.  If you don’t live in the US, you will have to be satisfied with Dr. Jim West’s review of the show.  Or you can read about the film on the Biblical Archaeology Review site.  The review is written by Kenneth Atkinson, who concludes:

The producers have done a magnificent job summarizing over a century of biblical archaeology and biblical scholarship in two hours. The film strikes a balance between the old-fashioned biblical archaeology approach, which tried to prove the Bible’s historicity, and the extreme skepticism of some minimalists, for whom the Bible contains little factual history. The documentary reflects the view of most mainstream biblical scholars and archaeologists, namely that the Bible, although a theological work, does contain some historical memories of the ancient Israelites.

I Am a Zionist Because…

November 18, 2008

Daniel Levy, the director of the Middle East Initiative at the New America Foundation, tells the Atlantic that he considers himself a Zionist for three reasons:

1. He immigrated from the UK to Israel, and has made his home in Israel.

2. He believes that Jews have the right to self-determination.

3. Israel is central to his Jewish identity – national, cultural and religious.

And there you have it – yet another definition of Zionism. Is this your definition of Zionism?

Are There Any Zionists Out There Anymore?

November 17, 2008

Every once in a while, someone writes an article about what it means to be a Zionist today, and whether there is even such a thing in the 21st century.  The latest article on this subject appears in Haaretz in honor of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Jerusalem.  The focus of the article is on aliyah.  Orthodox Jews are making aliyah in much greater numbers than secular Jews, although they make up a much smaller percentage of the population in the United States.  And Americans who make aliyah are called crazy by the native Israelis they meet when they get to Israel.  It is no longer considered shameful to emigrate from Israel, and Israelis don’t use the term “Zionism” because it has been appropriated by anti-Semites and Jewish right-wingers.

Particularly interesting:

“I absolutely think ‘Zionism’ is a dirty word to Israelis,” says Anita Shapira, a history professor at Tel Aviv University’s Chaim Weizmann Institute for the Study of Zionism and Israel. “‘Zionism’ has been appropriated by the right and vilified by anti-Semites on the left. The time has passed for this term.”

Shapira, who prefers the term “Israeli patriotism” to “Zionism,” says the majority of Israelis are secular Zionists who want a Jewish and democratic state in Israel. They just don’t want to refer to themselves by using the Z-word, she says, in part because of its association with what she calls the “religious extremism” of the right.

Archaeologist “Digs Up” an Archive

November 17, 2008

Zachi Zweig announced that he made an interesting discovery in the British archaeological archives at the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem.  Although we have no written historical evidence of a Byzantine structure on the Temple Mount, R.W. Hamilton uncovered and photographed a Byzantine mosaic on the mount.  He carried out excavations in the ’30s in conjunction with repair work undertaken by the Wakf.  The mosaic floor was evidently part of a public building, possibly a church.  Hamilton noted that underneath the mosaic was a mikveh from the Second Temple period.  This evidence is significant because no excavations have been undertaken on the Temple Mount since the establishment of the State of Israel.

Read more at The Jerusalem Post.