Archive for March 2009

Bible, Archaeology and Zionism

March 31, 2009

Eric Meyers’ article “Israel and Its Neighbors Then and Now: Revisionist History and the Quest for History in the Middle East Today” has been posted on Bible and Interpretation. The article discusses the relationship between the Bible, archaeological and textual research and modern-day ideologies about the history of Israel. He concludes:

Peace will not be found in contesting history; it will be through learning to live together or side-by-side, as did the Canaanites who escaped from Egypt or from the Canaanite city-states, to ally themselves with their disenfranchised brothers and sisters who had also gone down to Egypt and returned. In a way, both Israelis and Palestinians have a legitimate claim to parts of the land. Whether either side will find in the historical record, written or archaeological, a paradigm for pluralism or justification for accepting the other remains the true challenge for today in the Middle East. Maybe the politicians and statesmen ought to look to the Golden Age in Spain or to the Ottoman Middle Ages, when toleration of Jews, Christians, Muslims and others led to unprecedented eras of accomplishment in art, science, and philosophy. So may it be in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, and throughout the Levant.

Balfour Declaration

March 30, 2009

Why did the British commit to supporting the creation of a Jewish National Home? What were they trying to gain? Watch this COJS video with Ron Zweig.

Concert Players Condemned

March 29, 2009

The leaders of Jenin have condemned the concert where Palestinian children played for Holocaust survivors in Holon. According to the Jerusalem Post they explained their opposition thus:

Adnan al-Hinda, director of the Popular Committee for Services in the Jenin refugee camp, said that the participation of the children in the concert was a “dangerous matter” because it was directed against the cultural and national identity of the Palestinians.

He accused “suspicious elements” of being behind the Holon event, saying they were seeking to “impact the national culture of the young generation and cast doubt about the heroism and resistance of the residents of the camp during the Israeli invasion in April 2002.”

Hindi claimed that the organizers “misled” the children by promising to take them on a free trip to Israel and teach them music.

Ramzi Fayad, a spokesman for various political factions in the Jenin refugee camp, also condemned the participation of the teenagers in the Holocaust event, saying all the groups were strongly opposed to any form of normalization with Israel.

“There can be no normalization while Israel is continuing to perpetrate massacres against our people,” he said.

A bunch of teenagers went to play the violin in a senior citizens’ club. The NY Times reported it as a feel-good there-may-yet-be-hope-for-peace story, so the leaders of Jenin felt the need to make it very clear that they are not interested in peace. They want to perpetuate terrorism and martyrdom over education and normalcy, and they will probably succeed. One shudders to think where these young violin players will be in ten years.

Palestinian Children Play for Holocaust Survivors

March 26, 2009

The New York Times reports that a group of Palestinian children played a violin concert in a club for Holocaust survivors in Holon, near Tel Aviv. The children are residents of Jenin and do not speak Hebrew or know much about the Holocaust. The members of the club speak only Hebrew and their native European languages and know that Jenin is a place which breeds terrorism. But apparently music transcends all that and succeeded in building a bridge between two worlds for a few hours.

“We are here to play,” Wafaa Younis, 51, the Israeli Arab orchestra director, told the rapt audience. “I do not believe in politicians, only musicians and these children.”

The Silent Exodus

March 24, 2009

Check out this video on the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands. Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel most of the Arab states expelled their Jews. Today there are almost no Jews left in Arab lands. This expulsion ended a long tradition of persecution of Jews. (More on this topic can be found on the COJS website. See Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands.)

What Does a Bible Scholar Do?

March 24, 2009

The Society of Biblical Literature has posted the first in a series of interviews of Biblical scholars (audio). The series is called “What does a Bible scholar do?” and the first interview is with Lawrence H. Schiffman. Upcoming interviews include Carol Bakhos at UCLA, John Strong at University of Missouri, Brigitte Kahl at Union Theological Seminary and Shawna Dolansky at Northeastern University.

HT Jim West.

The Gaza Problem

March 23, 2009

Nonnie Darwish, a former resident of Gaza, says the difficult conditions in Gaza are a direct result of the Palestinian policy of keeping their people down in order to garner sympathy in the international community. According to her, the Palestinian governments are more interested in perpetuating a “refugee” situation then in helping the Palestinian people.

Rupert Murdoch, in a speech given at the AJC, said Israel had two handicaps in the recent Gaza war. The first was the need to reign in its military because it is accountable to a democratically elected government. The second is the superiority of Hamas propaganda over Israeli PR.

And, last but not least, Eamonn McDonagh complains that the Israeli army was held to a standard in Gaza not required of other armies. The American army has killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and the reactions have been understanding. But the Israeli army is expected to live up to greater ideals or else this is seen as “evidence of the basic illegitimacy of the Zionist enterprise.”

The thread running through all three of these opinion pieces is the idea that the Palestinians have honed the art of propaganda to perfection and that Israel suffers militarily by losing the public relations war. Although the Israeli government seems to have become aware of this and started to fight it, there is still a long way to go. Even many Israelis have been convinced by Palestinian propaganda and the rest of the world has clearly bought the Hamas line. This makes it difficult for Israel to defend itself and an insecure country cannot afford to make compromises. If Hamas really wants peace it needs to provide Israel with security first.

Jerusalem Documentary

March 22, 2009

PBS will be showing a documentary about Jerusalem on April 1. The show is called Jerusalem: Center of the World and claims to bethe first documentary of this scope to delve into the historical facts and religious beliefs that have led so many thousands to live and die for this city.”

More information is available on the PBS website.
HT Jim West.

Yemenite Jews to Emigrate to the US

March 19, 2009

The United Jewish Communities is working with the US State Department to get visas for 110 Yemenite Jews. The Satmer community in Kiryas Yoel in New York asked the US government to help save the remaining Jews who are being threatened by Islamic radicals.

The Jewish Agency objected to this move on the grounds that the Yemenite Jews should make aliyah to Israel. But the Yemeni government has refused to provide passports for Jews on their way to Israel. In theory, these Jews could land in the US and go from there to Israel, but the UJC plans to provide them with money for absorption in America, so the chances of any of them leaving are slight.

Full story in the Jerusalem Post.
HT Religion and State in Israel.

Seven Jewish Children

March 19, 2009

The Guardian reports that the BBC rejected a play entitled Seven Jewish Children. The 10-minute play shows seven adults talking about how they would explain seven moments in Jewish history to their children. The play was shown at the Royal Court and was criticized by British Jews as portraying Israeli parents as “inhuman triumphalists”.  BBC received an unsolicited manuscript of the play and decided that it was not right for its audience.

Radio 4’s drama commissioning editor Jeremy Howe said that he and Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer thought Churchill’s play was a “brilliant piece”.

But Howe wrote: “It is a no, I am afraid. Both Mark [Damazer, Radio 4 controller] and I think it is a brilliant piece, but after discussing it with editorial policy we have decided we cannot run with it on the grounds of impartiality – I think it would be nearly impossible to run a drama that counters Caryl Churchill’s view. Having debated long and hard we have decided we can’t do Seven Jewish Children.”