Monday, February 17, 2020

Even Seen the Hebrew Letter Samekh from the 12th Century BCE?

Coming out of a team of archaeologists led by Professor Yosef Garfinkel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology and Professor Michael Hasel at Southern Adventist University in Tennessee, we now have a view of extensive ruins of a Bronze Age-era Canaanite temple dating to the 12th century BCE uncovered in National Park Tel Lachish. (Their academic article is here; I am working from the press release).

The layout of the temple is similar to other Canaanite temples in northern Israel, among them Shchem/Nablus, Megiddo and Hazor.  The front of the compound is marked by two columns and two towers leading to a large hall.  The inner sanctum has four supporting columns and several unhewn “standing stones”.

Credit: D. Rosenberg

In addition to archaeological remains, a trove of artifacts including, bronze cauldrons, 

Credit: T. Rogovski

Hathor-inspired jewellery, 

Credit: T. Rogovski

daggers and axe-heads adorned with bird images, scarabs, and a gold-plated bottle inscribed with the name Ramses II.

Credit: C. Amit/IAA

Of particular interest was a pottery sherd engraved with ancient Canaanite script.  There, the letter “samek” appears, marked by an elongated vertical line crossed by three perpendicular shorter lines.  

Credit: T. Rogovski

This makes it the oldest known example of the letter and a unique specimen for the study of ancient alphabets. 

We can only hope more will be revealed of the Biblical narrative as it comes out of the ground.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Music of Palestine

A song copyrighted January 1945, Palestine

and catalogued here.

and another Dixieland jazz song, "Leena from Palestina".

Some of the lyrics:

In the Bronx of New York City
Lived a girl, she's not so pretty
Lena is her name.
Such a clever girl is Lena
How she played her concertina
Really, it's a shame.
She's such a good musician
She got a swell position
To go across the sea to entertain.
And so they shipped poor Lena
Way out to Palesteena
From what they tell me, she don't look the same.
They say that Lena is the Queen o' Palesteena
Just because she plays the concertina.
She only knows one song,
She plays it all day long
Sometimes she plays it wrong,
But still they love it


Monday, February 10, 2020

How Many Jews Reside in Post-67 Jerusalem?

I have posted about this before but as a figure of 325,000 has been published, I think a review of the most up-to-date figures should be reviewed.

From the Jerusalem Institute Yearbook for 2019, with 2017 figures (Jewish growth rate is 1.5% annually).

Their over all figure is 215,900.

Their breakdown by neighborhoods:

I can't come up with more than 225,000 Jews, even rounding off upwards.

I think a detailed explanation is required to justify a difference of some 100,000 Jews.

And don't get me wrong. I hope I am proven wrong.


Sunday, February 09, 2020

Then and Now, A Concise Perspective: Baker vs. Trump

It is therefore high time for serious political dialogue between Israeli officials and Palestinians in the territories to bring about a common understanding on these and other issues. Peace and the peace process must be built from the ground up. Palestinians have it within their power to help define the shape of this initiative and to help define its essential elements. They shouldn't shy from a dialogue with Israel that can transform the current environment and determine the ground rules for getting to, for conducting, and, indeed, for moving beyond elections.

We should not hide from ourselves the difficulties that face even these steps here at the very beginning. For many Israelis it will not be easy to enter a negotiating process whose successful outcome will in all probability involve territorial withdrawal and the emergence of a new political reality. For Palestinians, such an outcome will mean an end to the illusion of control over all of Palestine, and it will mean full recognition of Israel as a neighbour and partner in trade and in human contact.

Let the Arab world take concrete steps towards accommodation with Israel, not in place of the peace process, but as a catalyst for it.

And so we would say, "End the economic boycott. Stop the challenges to Israel's standing in international organizations. Repudiate the odious line that 'Zionism is racism."'

For Israel, now is the time to lay aside, once and for all, the unrealistic vision of a Greater Israel. Israeli interests in the West Bank and Gaza, security and otherwise, can be accommodated in a settlement based on Resolution 242. Forswear annexation; stop settlement activity; allow schools to reopen; reach out to the Palestinians as neighbours who deserve political rights .

For Palestinians, now is the time to speak with one voice for peace. Renounce the 'policy of phases' in all languages, not just those addressed to the West. Practise constructive diplomacy, not attempts to distort international organizations, such as the World Health Organization. Amend the covenant. Translate the dialogue of violence in the intifada into a dialogue of politics and diplomacy. Violence will not work. Reach out to Israelis and convince them of your peaceful intentions. You have the most to gain from doing so, and no one else can or will do it for you. Finally, understand that no one is going to deliver Israel for you.

Today, Remarks by President Donald Trump, the White House, January 28, 2020

My vision presents a “win-win” opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security...This is the first time Israel has authorized the release of a conceptual map, illustrating the territorial compromises it’s willing to make for the cause of peace.  And they’ve gone a long way.   This is an unprecedented and highly significant development...We will form a joint committee with Israel to convert the conceptual map into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved.  

We will also work to create a contiguous territory within the future Palestinian State for when the conditions for statehood are met, including the firm rejection of terrorism.  (Applause.)

Under this vision, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s undivided –- very important — undivided capital.  But that’s no big deal, because I’ve already done that for you, right?  (Laughter.)  We’ve already done that, but that’s okay.  It’s going to remain that way.

And the United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory that my vision provides to be part of the State of Israel.  Very important. 

And, crucially, the proposed transition to a two-state solution will present no incremental security risk to the State of Israel whatsoever.

We will not allow a return to the days of bloodshed, bus bombings, nightclub attacks, and relentless terror.  It won’t be allowed.  Peace requires compromise, but we will never ask Israel to compromise its security.  Can’t do that.

As everyone knows, I have done a lot for Israel: moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem; recognizing — (applause) –- recognizing the Golan Heights — (applause) — and, frankly, perhaps most importantly, getting out of the terrible Iran nuclear deal.  (Applause.) Therefore, it is only reasonable that I have to do a lot for the Palestinians, or it just wouldn’t be fair.  Now, don’t clap for that, okay?  But it’s true.  It wouldn’t be fair.  I want this deal to be a great deal for the Palestinians.  It has to be.

Today’s agreement is a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state of their very own.  After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have — and “last” for a lot of reasons...

This map will more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem where America will proudly open an embassy.  (Applause.)  No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes.  (Applause.)

Israel will work closely with a wonderful person, a wonderful man — the King of Jordan — to ensure that the status quo of the Temple Mount is preserved and strong measures are taken to ensure that all Muslims who wish to visit peacefully and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque will be able to do so...

Our vision will end the cycle of Palestinian dependency upon charity and foreign aid.  They will be doing phenomenally all by themselves.  They are a very, very capable people.  (Applause.)  And we will help by empowering the Palestinians to thrive on their own.  Palestinians will be able to seize the new future with dignity, self-sufficiency, and national pride.

To ensure a successful Palestinian state, we are asking the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful co-existence.  (Applause.)  This includes adopting basic laws enshrining human rights; protecting against financial and political corruption; stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace; ending the incitement of hatred against Israel — so important; and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists.  (Applause.)

Perhaps most importantly, my vision gives the Palestinians the time needed to rise up and meet the challenges of statehood.  I sent a letter today to President Abbas.  I explained to him that the territory allocated for his new state will remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years...President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries will — we will be there.  We will be there to help you in so many different ways.  And we will be there every step of the way.  We will be there to help...In truth, Jerusalem is liberated.  (Applause.)  Jerusalem is a safe, open, democratic city that welcomes people of all faiths and all places.

It is time for the Muslim world to fix the mistake it made in 1948 when it chose to attack, instead of recognize, the new State of Israel.  It’s time.  (Applause.)

...But America cannot care more about peace than the stakeholders in the region.  There are many Muslims who never visited Al Aqsa, and many Christians and Jews who never visited the holy sites in the West Bank described so vividly in the Bible.  My vision will change that.  Our majestic biblical heritage will be able to live, breathe, and flourish in modern times.

All humanity should be able to enjoy the glories of the Holy Land.  This part of the world is forever connected to the human soul and the human spirit.  These ancient lands should not be symbols of conflict but eternal symbols of peace.


Sunday, February 02, 2020

For the Record: Jared Kushner - "They've Screwed Up"

"...And so the question then comes down to the Palestinian leadership. Right? They've been saying that they're victims for a long time.

They're doing fine. There's been a lot of corruption, a lot of mismanaged funds. You know, a lot of the leadership is great. They're rich, their friends are rich, their families are rich. But the Palestinian people have been stuck in this cycle.

So the question for the international world is, are we going to continue to tolerate this. But what we've now put together for them is a real offer on the table. You talk about the borders -- right now under this plan that we've proposed, they can double the size of the land that they have available. They can have $50 billion of investment, which will lead to over a million Palestinian good-paying jobs. It could double the size of their GDP.

So again, what I've been fighting against is an illogical construct created by people who had no interest in solving a problem. And what we've tried to do is attack that by putting out a very detailed, logical solution...'re going to see more and more pressure put on Palestinian leadership to do it.

What we've -- look, right now, what's Palestinian leadership? You're talking about them like they're great diplomats. What are they calling for? They're calling for a day of rage. Who do you know that runs a state that when they don't get what they want they call for a day of rage? That's not how people who are capable of running a state work.

So again, the Palestinian leadership have to ask themselves a question, do they want to have a state, do they want to have a better life. If they do, we have created a framework for them to have it and we're going to treat them in a very respectful manner. If they don't, then they're going to screw up another opportunity like they've screwed up every opportunity that they've ever had in their existence. 


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Someone Had It Right in 1921

June 14, 1921,
House of Commons,

From Colonel Josiah Wedgwood's speech -

...I naturally subscribe to everything that the Noble Lord opposite and the right hon. Gentleman have said about Sir Herbert Samuel. Both the right hon. Gentleman and the Noble Lord have imbibed in their stay in Palestine some of the atmosphere of that country. No doubt since the Armistice, or perhaps before it, the military atmosphere there was anti-Jew and pro-Arab. They moved in the society of the effendis, the ex-Turkish officials owning large acres; the old lords of the country. They liked them. They got on with them. They listened to their views, and when the Noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman get up in this House and tell us what are the views of the Arabs about the Jews, how bitterly hostile they are, they are voicing the views of the Arab effendis, the old officials of the Turkish Government. These people hate the Jews, and for a perfectly good and sufficient reason. The Jews go in from Rumania, Russia, Poland, and go in not only as Jews but as outposts of Labour ideals, of Western ideas of civilisation, they plant themselves down in Palestine. The first thing the Jew does is to start a trade union. The next thing he does is to try and get the uneducated and unskilled Arabs to join him in raising wages. There is nothing on earth that any governing class hate more than the ignorant, stupid, slavish proletariat getting ideas as to what wages it ought to get. These wretched Jews, these Bolshevik Jews, start telling the Arabs they ought to get more wages when they are working on Government contracts. Hitherto the effendis have had the time of their lives, getting the Arabs to work for them and swindling them of their pay. This sort of thing has gone on in these Eastern countries for countless centuries. Now that the westernised Jews go into the country and teach that this is not what the working classes ought to put up with the effendis do not like it. They pass it on to the Noble Lord (Earl Winterton) at dinner. The officers of the British Army burn with zeal when they think of it. Naturally, of course, they, like the effendis, like to get their labour cheap; they do not like these new ideas; their life becomes more expensive.

Sir F. BANBURY Do not the Jews get their labour cheap in Russia at the present time: they pay nothing at all?

Colonel WEDGWOOD The right hon. Baronet does not understand. The Jews here are an Eastern race. The Jews in Palestine are the pioneers of Western civilisation, breaking in upon the immemorial slumber of the ages. It is these horrible new Europeans that are the victims of the pogroms! It is not the Arab cultivator that hates them. He works in with the Jews quite nicely, is good friends with the Jews and does not quarrel with them. The Noble Lord, I think, really ought to know that most of the Arabs are pastoral, not cultivators. They wander to and fro on the earth, and are not likely to be injured by close connection with the Jewish element. It is not the poor country Arab at all who counts for much. The people who count are these financial Arabs who have been in the custom of swindling the inhabitants of Palestine. They hire the cheap labour, and are in favour of killing off the new agitators and emigrants. All these things work up together, and the effendi uses, them for his own purpose to stir up the low class Arab into murdering the Jews—and that is the history of pogroms all over the world.

§Mr. ORMSBY-GORE The hon. and gallant Gentleman refers to the Levantines.

§Colonel WEDGWOOD The Levantine in a red fez. He stirs up the "black hundreds" to butcher the Jews, and on the first occasion of these riots the Government immediately stopped the influx of more Jews into Palestine. That is the worst possible policy to pursue. That is putting a premium on the pogroms. If you stop more Jews going in, that is exactly what the effendis want—to keep Palestine a preserve for the old ideas. When you give these people what they want in return for murdering the Jews you are likely to require more than 5,000 troops there. Unfortunately, Sir Herbert Samuel gave in to the Arabs. I hope if he has to choose again he will pay a little less attention to the evidence that is being concocted to prove that Jewish agitators 309and Bolsheviks came straight from Lenin at Moscow.

There is one way in which you can protect the Jews without throwing any administrative charge upon the revenues or the taxpayer of this country, and without increasing the garrison of 5,000 English troops; and that is by simply allowing the Jews to form a defensive force of their own. They had an excellent regiment during the War. That regiment did admirable service. At the end of the War the military administration, as it then was in Palestine, immediately disbanded it. Let them form their own regiments. The Palestinian Jews and the Zionist organisation are perfectly prepared themselves to find the money for the equipment for the troops. Give them a chance to defend their own settlements and we shall hear much less of this danger spot in the East. It is not necessary to fear that they will attack the Arabs. The Jews are a most peaceable people. They know the minority is always unwise to attack the majority. At the present time all the police of that country are Arabs. These Arab police stimulate others to assist in massacring the Jewish inhabitants. The danger for the Jews is very real. I submit to the Government they should take every step they can to assist in the formation of territorial forces to protect the Jews, and at the same time to relieve the taxpayers of this country from an expense which otherwise will fall upon their shoulders. Meanwhile the right hon. Gentleman has my blessing. I could wish that years ago he had been appointed to the Colonial Office instead of the War Office. We might have saved millions at both offices. Wherever he is he becomes the stormy petrel for his own department, and I cannot help thinking that it would be well that the rest of the Government should come to take his new view, that after all, peace is the principal necessity for the inhabitants of this country.


Friday, January 24, 2020

A Letter Sent But Not Published

To the Jerusalem Post Magazine:

There is a pitfall is writing a negative letter about a book based only on a review column while not even leafing through the book and I fear Marion Reiss has taken a tumble (Letter, Dec. 20). She is angry at Janet Levy for noting Rafael Medoff's charge against President Roosevelt that he was antisemitic, Reiss calling it "gratuitous" and without "substantiation". 

But Medoff's The Jews Should Keep Quiet does indeed prove it from FDR's own writings and decisions. It's all in the book and he has published portions of his factual proof in columns even in the JPost which she also seems not to have read.

Worse, she discounts the claim based on one act of kindness Eleanor Roosevelt did for her aunt. Mrs. Roosevelt was her own person and often disagreed with her husband's policies, especially regarding Jews and Israel. is Moreover, Reiss surely knows FDR was a philanderer who carried on an affair with his secretary Lucy Mercer. There was Marguerite 'Missy' LeHand and Dorothy Schiff as well. Is that the type of person an Orthodox woman really would presume couldn't be an anti-Semite?

Can I suggest Reiss be civil, cease hurling epithets and search out historical accuracy by at least reading Medoff's book?

BTW, Marion Reiss is a frequent letter-to-the-editor writer at the paper.


How Helpful was the British Mandate?

I have just managed to read the introductory chapter of  Matthew Hughes' "Britain's Pacification of Palestine: The British Army, the Colonial State, and the Arab Revolt, 1936-1939 (Cambridge Military Histories) and discovered the name  el-Asi, the nom de plume of Assistant District Commissioner Aubrey Lees. He served in various administrative offices during 1929-1938 in Haifa, Gaza, Hebron and Jaffa dealing with matters of land settlement.

Lees was kicked out of the Mandate administration for his too pro-Palestinien Arab views and for criticizing the Palestinian Government's attitude towards alleged Jewish atrocities and he was eventually imprisoned by Britian during World War II as a fascist. In 1939 he was accused of expressing anti-Semitic views and refused a reappointment back in Palestine and he continued his anti-Semitism in England.

Hughes, quoting an internal US Consulate General report from January 11, 1930 (867N.00/77-330 [Reel M#1037/1], NARA II), notes there were many British Mandate officials who had 'no real sympathy' for Jewish claims to Palestine and felt an injustice was being donw to the local Arabs. That is a repeat of the 1918-1920 period when British Military Government officers, before the Mandate was in place, almost succeeded in sabotaging the Jewish national home project at its start, including prodding Arabs to riot and kill Jews.