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Cui bono? Advantages and disadvantages of a „peaceful“ outburst of violence.

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The „useful victims“ of Hamas

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On May 14, 2018, the inauguration of the US American Embassy in Jerusalem took place, whereby President Donald Trump fulfilled one of his election campaign promises. The announcement of the move from Tel Aviv and the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital provoked controversial reactions. „…Therefore, I have determined that it is time to recognize officially Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (…) Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital.  Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.“

 

PM Netanyahu repeatedly exhorted  in these words: „In order to promote peace, move your embassies to Jerusalem“. Guatemala will move on Wednesday following the appeal, Paraguay will be moving the embassy to the capital in the course of this month… (and did so today!!) Honduras and the Czech Republic are planning to move gradually. The former US American ambassador in Israel, S.E. Dan Shapiro also said that moving the embassy to Jerusalem might help to put an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  On June 4, 2008, after becoming a presidential candidate, Obama declared to AIPAC: „Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.“ By now what he wanted has become clear, he wanted the votes of Jewish Americans – and he got them, 80% at his first election and 70% at the second.

President Trump obtained only 20% of their votes.  So, it is no wonder that 80% of American Jews are against the move. Nevertheless, it is beyond question for them that Jerusalem is the eternal indivisible capital of Israel. But they are afraid that America is thereby endangering its up-to-now important role of mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. President Trump mainly addresses his evangelical and mostly pro-Israeli voters. Election promises are a political matter, and not to keep them is certainly no trivial offense:  it means defrauding the voters.

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Jerusalem is celebrating. Out of 86 invited delegations, only 32 accepted the invitation. Out of 28 EU members, only the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary accepted. The Austrian ambassador took part in the event at the Foreign Office but was absent from the inauguration itself. This is a typically Austrian solution.  Was it due to reasons of state? Was it a EU dictate? A BDS dictate? Or a little bit of both?! How embarrassing!

While in Jerusalem there are celebrations, in the territories of Judea and Samaria there are protests against the Embassy inauguration, though the numbers are much lower than expected. Some 5,000 people marched with green and black flags from Ramallah to the border crossing Qalandyia near Jerusalem. There were individual attacks but no rioting. The border crossings between the territories of Judea and Samaria and Israel remained open all day long.

What the Jewish and Arab inhabitants think of the Embassy’s move and what should be the capital of a Palestinian State when it is established, was a question asked by i24 News. Some of the numbers are astonishing.

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The death toll in Gaza was preposterous. The number of participants – around 40,000 – was much lower than the Hamas terrorists expected. To them this probably meant that they had to compensate for the lack of manpower by special aggression.

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And here it is, the UN Security Council’s harsh complaint against Israel. No word, not the least remark against the Hamas terrorists, the actual cause of this day’s horrible events. At 4 pm, the Security Council announced that today or tomorrow an initiative by Kuwait would be discussed. The result is known beforehand; the travel expenses should be saved and spent on charitable institutions.

In the morning, Hamas again made financial promises: 100 US$ for anyone nearing the fence, and 1,000 dollars for any break-through. The place and manner of payment was not published. Anyway, where does the money paid in Gaza come from? In Islamic Law, there is the notion of „blood money“ (Diya). That is the money by which the victim’s family is compensated by the perpetrator’s family. The law is still valid in Iran today…

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Jason Greenblatt und Maj.Gen. Yoav Mordechai in one of the Hamas tunnel © COGAT

In February, US chief negotiator in the Near East, Jason Greenblatt, already pointed out that the money paid by Iran to the Hamas terror organization only accelerates the spiral of violence and is no help at all to the Palestinians. One billion US Dollars flowed into the terror funds. The Hamas terrorists invested that money exclusively in the construction of tunnels and the purchase of arms.  All in order to attack Israel.

At the time, he had already warned the Palestinians not to leave the negotiating table. Now the latter announced that they would no longer accept any contact with the USA. Maybe they have thereby closed the last door that still had a small crack open.

In recent weeks, several Hamas members were arrested. Their detailed interrogation by the Internal secret service confirmed a picture that was long known.

Young people, ideologically misused for years, but also children, women, even invalids, are being sent forward. Their tasks have been known since the beginning of the „protests“. They must by all available means disturb the peace at the border and give the impression that it is a popular rising. Almost any means are allowed. Injuries, even death are condoned. The actual masterminds, in civilian dress, remain in the background. Sometimes, like last Friday, there may be a media-effective picture of one or the other of them. They give their orders by modern communication methods. Between this line and the excitable youngsters, stand the „combatants“. Their time comes once the smoke is thick enough and the breach in the fence big enough. Then they can perpetrate their lethal job in Israel, among the population.

Until now, the IDF was able to prevent any serious break-through into Israel. After fire was opened on IDF soldiers in several instances, the IAF destroyed training camps of Hamas terrorists in the north of the Gaza Strip. Because of the tense situation, the IDF is getting ready to counter missile attacks from the Gaza Strip. Several Iron Domes have been set up along the border.

At 6 pm, the Hamas leadership asked the protesters to leave the border area.

There is hope that the Nakba Day will be more peaceful.

The last day’s terrible balance: 62 dead and far more than 1,000 wounded.

Qui bono? There is only one answer to the question – it helps no one!

 

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya, emjay@inter.net.il

 

 

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Gaza VII – Fly little bird!

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The women of Gaza have assumed an important new protest task. They sit in the tents by candlelight and write on little pieces of paper. Always with the same message:

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In principle, this is a truly peaceful kind of protest. After all, homing pigeons have been used as rapid and dependable mail carriers since antiquity. That is how Ramses II announced his inauguration and how Julius Cesar reported on the rebellious Gauls and called his soldiers to arms. Acre surrendered to the crusaders without a fight after the latter had intercepted Saladin’s homing pigeon announcing help for the hard-pressed city.

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Camera-pigeon WWI – © Bundesarchiv
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Carrier pigeon, selling price € 500

Carrier pigeons are expensive. Their price can reach several hundred Euros. Moreover, they have a problem. They always find their way home to their nesting place but cannot go to new destinations. Where will the peace doves of Gaza fly? Maybe they are simply intended to give moral support to the protesters and entertain them.

If that had been the intention, then here is another example of an unsuccessful „entertainment“ attempt: Three extreme-right activists from Israel tried to send an incendiary kite towards Gaza, in order, so to say, to reciprocate – to cause a conflagration there. The attempt failed [probably because of the prevailing west wind blowing from Gaza to Israel], but the fire that erupted on the Israeli side was extinguished by fire fighters before causing important damage. Ran Karmi Buzaglo, a known activist, and his two companions were briefly detained and interrogated. After being released, he assured his listeners that the action’s objective was „to amuse and raise the morale of the residents of the region who are harmed by the kite terror.“What an expensive, dangerous and mindless action!

Meanwhile, the IDF had an unconventional idea for fighting the incendiary kites. Cheap and efficient! Small model airplanes controlled by joysticks and equipped with extremely sharp blades on their wings are guided towards the kites and cut the steering lines. The kites fall to earth and any damage occurs in Gaza. According to IDF reports, seven kites were brought down on Friday.

The terror attack with the gravest consequences occurred for the second time at the Kerem Shalom border crossing. This single supply crossing for the Gaza Strip is the daily transshipment point for the delivery of goods and relief aid.

Besides the gas pipes leading to Gaza and the administration building, additional infrastructure has now been destroyed on the Palestinian side of the crossing. The damage is estimated at 9 million dollars. Defense minister Liebermann said on Saturday that the crossing would be closed until further notice. The significance: no fuel, no gas, no medicine, no food, no building materials.

Despite the destruction of the main infrastructure and the resulting closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing, six trucks with urgently needed medical supplies will cross over today.

On May 12, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing for four days. Generally, this crossing is a one-way street to enter Egypt, to allow students to travel to university, allow sick people to get care and workers with a working permit to leave Gaza.

The situation is getting even more serious for the inhabitants of Gaza. I feel an immense pity for those people, most of whom want only one thing – to live in freedom, peace and self-determination. Moreover, there is almost no one in the world to stand up and denounce the injustice. On the contrary, the aid continues to flow without ever reaching those who need it.

Yahya Sinwar, a leader of the Hamas terror organization in Gaza, said in his first big press conference, that in the following week hundreds of thousands of Palestinians would break through the border and march to Jerusalem. ‚What’s the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?‘ He and other leaders are ready to die for their struggle.

Israel will do everything to prevent this from succeeding. This week there were about 15,000 protesters at five locations along the border to Israel, but the IDF believes that next week there might be 17 locations from which the protesters could start. The IDF presence has been reinforced. Nevertheless,they are concerned that the troubles could extend to East Jerusalem as well as to Judea and Samaria.

Special attention and readiness will be necessary for the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, May 14,  the next day being the Nakba Commemoration Day (Day of Catastrophe).

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That’s how real freedom-fighter look like – Ismail Haniyeh!

Neither did Ismail Haniyeh waive the opportunity of addressing words of encouragement to theinsurgents in the north of the Gaza Strip. „We’re expecting the great march on the 14thand 15thof this month – the entire Palestinian people will be out on the streets of Palestine,„.  He himself has gone to Cairo to meet the Head of the non-military intelligence service, Abbas Kamel.

Before leaving, he stressed that he would of course be back in Gaza before the start of the protests on Monday. He may wish to be the first to throw himself heroically at the fence…

Several days ago, Hamas suggested indirect negotiations to achieve a long-term truce. Note well: a truce, not an armistice! However, as a matter of principle, the term used is of no importance. Here again one must assume that it is a taqiyya, the web of lies which causes every agreement to fail before the ink is dry.

The offer: no more terror, end of the „blockade“, extensive infrastructure projects, exchange of prisoners.

The intermediary is Egypt.

Israels‘ demands: stop arms development, stop tunnel construction, and demilitarize the most militant Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Israel says that the negotiations can start after the end of the Nakba Day and the March of Return.

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However, the agreement is probably obsolete by now. During the night, the IDF for the first time blasted a tunnel that had not yet reached Israeli territory. The tunnel, in proximity to the Erez border crossing, had been discovered some time ago. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in his Twitter account:  #HamasKillingGaza.The Hamas terrorists certainly do everything possible to torture their people. If they are not stopped, Gaza will soon be unviable.

Not because of Israel, but because of the terror regime which, with the support of many countries, lives in the lap of luxury while destroying its people.

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya, emjay@inter.net.il

 

 

Gaza VI – The Workers‘ Friday

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Some people believe that a stone propelled by a sling is just a toy and has no more effect on the human skull than the landing of a fly. Whether we believe the story about David and Goliath or push it away into the realm of legends is not important. Since the other day, Friday 4, we know that a well-hit drone can be shot out of the sky. Suddenly the story about David becomes more credible! The IDF confirmed the success of those shots, immediately underlining that the loss of the drones may be regrettable but does not represent any security risk.

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Parts of the Israeli UAV

The two „shooters“ who succeeded in shooting down Israeli drones launched with the aim of filming the situation that was barred from view by black smoke at the Gaza border, were acclaimed as heroes. Debris were proudly presented. There was jubilation, laughter, dancing. Almost like after the success of a terror attack. Eager amateur filmmakers and press collaborators filmed the scenes, but not very clearly. Only a small point can be seen spinning down to earth. A celebration in Gaza, but without parades and no sweets, as is the case for lethal terror attacks.

The women were otherwise occupied. Their main mission is usually to supply water and food to the „combatants“ of the „peaceful protest“. Some of them also stay in contact with the „social media“ groups who support them virtually. They are based in the tents that were erected at some distance from the border. However, in their newly found female self-confidence – or should it be called badly defined feminism? – they also wanted to be at the frontline. „Some say that we cannot do what the men can do. Others fear that we may be injured. Others again support us“, reports Aya Abeid. „I was at the fence twice and raised a Palestinian flag. This is a location where almost nobody dares to go. I also threw stones at Israeli soldiers“. Is there nobody to tell this 18-year-old to stay at home? Jehad Abu Muhsen, 48, also wants to contribute to the struggle: „Two or three times a week I come with a donkey cart and bring tires. That is what I can do to help“. None of these „courageous women“ has been killed up to now, but some of them have been injured.

However, flying fire kites have caused considerable damage to Israeli agriculture. Despite the fact that all kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip constantly patrol the area, and fire fighters are on constant alert, it is not always possible to extinguish the fires immediately.

 

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Over 800 dunams of agricultural fields have been consumed by fire and will remain unusable for years. A burning wooded area could only be extinguished thanks to a large-scale operation of several fire-fighter units. Here also, it will be years before the area will be reforested. As far as the region’s farmers are concerned, it means a total loss of income. The tax authorities and the finance ministry speak of compensation. However, despite promising to act bureaucratically, it will take months before any money is paid. The regional authorities are indignant about the Supreme Court. „Instead of dealing with our problems, they prefer negotiating with leftist human rights organizations demanding that the soldiers be handcuffed. But throwing stones and fire kites are also crimes. Both have already caused damage and will continue to do so. Besides the economic damage, they also endanger human lives“. The IDF is still struggling to find ways and means of catching the incendiary devices before they land in Israel territory.

Avichai Edri, head of the IDF Spokesman’s Arab-language communication office, informed the Gaza people along the border: „The burning kites are not something we do not see. We take the issue most seriously. Exploding kites are no children’s toys. From the IDF’s point of view, Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in Gaza or is sent off from there. Inhabitants of Gaza – Hamas is misusing you and sucking you into a vortex of terror. On the „Workers‘ Friday“ as Hamas is calling it, we suggest: stop working for Hamas, and start to work for yourself and solve your own problems“. An appeal that will again fall on deaf ears.

 

On Friday, the terrorists – I cannot call the protesters by any other name now – started on their latest act of madness. They set fire to the facilities at the important border crossing Kerem Shalom. It is through this crossing in the south of the Gaza strip that Israel supplies tons of material to Gaza every day. By forcibly penetrating the Palestinian part of the crossing, the administration offices were set on fire, the fuel tank, which operates the generators as well as the gas pumps, was destroyed. The damage it caused created long-term breaks in supplies to the Gaza Strip. It will be weeks before normal operations can be fully resumed.

This damage, by the way, concerns Israel only indirectly. It is rather their own people who will suffer. Is it out of weak-mindedness, destructive frenzy, delusion?

The IDF addressed the usually young terrorists over the existing loudspeaker system: „Hamas sent you here, you are just a boy! Study, look for a job! Hamas will not take care of you!“

Yesterday, there were between 7,000 and 10,000 protesters – more than double the number in the two previous weeks.

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President Abbas, who is not one to use mild and peacemaking words, demanded last week – „Keep young men away from the border, move the children away from there, we do not want to turn into a nation of handicapped people“.

A few weeks ago, the leader of the Hamas Terrorist Organization, Ismail Haniyeh, demanded of the inhabitants of Gaza to continue their protests at the border with Israel, even at the price of casualties. „Gaza has entered a new stage of peaceful popular resistance“. Was this exactly what President Abbas meant when he said: „Hamas has begun to adopt popular resistance by peaceful methods. I congratulate them for accepting the fact that peaceful resistance is much more effective“?   

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya

emjay@inter.net.il

Giro d’Italia 2018 started in Jerusalem, in honor of four Italian „Righteous among the Nations“.

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The Giro d’Italia, the world’s second most important bicycle race after the Tour de France, is organized since 1909. Several times the Giro started abroad, but never outside of Europe.

The first leg started on Friday, May 4 in Jerusalem. On Saturday, the way led from Haifa through Acre, Zichron Yaacov and Caesarea to Tel Aviv. The longest distance was covered on Sunday, when the third leg went from Be’er Sheva to Eilat. On Tuesday, May 8, the race continues on Italian territory, before ending on Sunday, May 27 in Rome.

In Zichron Ya’acov, preparations have been under way for weeks. Last week, several cyclists were able to cycle the road under „the conditions of the competition“ for a test race. The road was decorated. Hundreds of spectators applauded heartily whenever a cyclist succeeded in struggling up the hill from the valley. The mood was so good that one could not hope for anything better when the actual spectacle took place.

The weather forecast for the coming days was good, the prevailing heat and strong winds, Sharav conditions, were expected to diminish. The forecast for Saturday was only 24°.

Why is this Italian national event held in Israel in 2018?

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Gino Bartali  during a Swiss Championship in Zürich. (1946 or 1948)

The reason is a man named Gino Bartali. He was born on July 18, 1914 in Ponte a Ema (Tuscany). The hamlet benefits solely from this famous citizen, to whom even a small museum is dedicated.

Gino Bartali is also called „the cycling monk“. As a devout Catholic – as were many people in Europe’s countryside – he was the mystic among the racing cyclists. He was taciturn, secretive and stubborn. Any awards from a race were shared among the team immediately upon receipt. He completed each stage with a prayer. In 1937, he joined the Third Order of Carmelites as a layman.

When he won the 35thTour de France in 1948, he said that winning the Biarritz-Lourdes stage was an omen. This was the first race partially broadcast on French television. Two thousand Parisian households were able to follow the finish and the award ceremony.

Ten years separate this second success from his first victory of the Tour de France. Those were the years of Nazi Terror that cost so many people their lives.

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Because of his friendship with Elia Dalla Costa, then Archbishop of Florence, he established contact with the Catholic Resistance. With the Nazis takeover in 1943, Italian Jews were deported to concentration camps. Together with the Chief Rabbi of Florence, Nathan Cassuto, the nuns in a convent of the Order of Saint Clare in Assisi, and two printers, Luigi Brizi and his son Trento, Elia Dalla Costa had created a Resistance network in Assisi. Around 800 Jews were provided new papers printed in Assisi and were thus able to flee. Gino Bartali served as courier. Even though no cycling races took place at the time, it was credible that he – hoping the war would soon end – would start training again. In the frame of his bicycle, he hid the cleanly rolled-up documents. He rode alone, under the Nazis‘ eyes, more than once encountering dangerous situations, often risking his life. On some days, he covered over 300 km.

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© Screenshot Yad Vashem
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© Screenshot Yad Vashem

 

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Nathan Cassuto and his family

Nathan Cassuto was taken prisoner by the SS in November 1943 and deported to Auschwitz with his wife. His wife survived and immigrated to Israel. She was killed during the War of Independence in an attack on ambulances. Their two children survived the war hidden with a Christian family in Florence.

In the cellar of his house in Florence, Gino Bartali hid several Jewish families for whom he provided traveling papers. The people he helped toflee never saw him. Food was brought by his wife, who did not know her guests were Jews.

He seldom spoke about his heroic feats. He repeatedly told his eldest granddaughter, Giola, at an early age about the important things in life: „Humility, honesty, modesty. There are medals one pins to the soul rather than to the lapel.“

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Gino Bartali died in Florence on May 5, 2000. He, as well as Archbishop Elia Dalla Costa and the two printers, Luigi and Trento Brizi, were awarded posthumously the title of „Righteous among the Nations“ by Yad Vashem. This year, on May 2, Gino Bartali’s granddaughter, Giola Bartali, received from Avner Shalev, President of Yad Vashem, the certificate in which her grandfather is named honorary citizen of the State of Israel.

 

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya

emjay@inter.net.il

 

From Tel Megiddo to Armageddon

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„And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.“ (Book of Revelation 16.16)

Har Megiddo, the Mountain of Megiddo, had often been a place where destinies were determined. After fleeing Egypt followed by 40 years of wanderings, the Israelite people are no longer the god-fearing nation Moses likes to consider them. Again, and again, they violate divine law. Their punishment is apparently constant threats by neighbors avid for conquest. In such moments of danger, the Israelites, who are still a long away from having a common State, remember God and beg for help.

Time and again, God sends humans, often judges, to save the nation. Among the known judges, Deborah is the only woman to be acknowledged as such. She surmounts the prevailing patriarchal structure and struggles to gain an independent life.

Deborah orders Barak to take a great army to war against the Canaanite king Jabin. The battle is to take place at Mount Tabor, which can be seen from Megiddo. Barak begs Debora to go to war with him, even though in that case he would not himself enjoy the victory. He must accept the fact that the death of Jabin’s army chief Sisera will be brought about by a woman. Thanks to Sisera’s death, the Israelites can once again rid themselves of foreign domination for some time.

The song which describes not only the battle, but above all the strong woman Debora, is one of the oldest texts in the Tanach and was probably created around 1200 BCE.

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Earlier, on April 26, 1457 BCE (21stShmeu I / 21stday of the first hot month according to the Egyptian calendar) another big battle had taken place near Megiddo. Hatshepsut (1495 –1457 BCE) was one of the four known female Pharaohs. She was the Regent for her stepson Thutmose III and was Pharaoh during the most peaceful period in ancient Egypt. During her lifetime, only one important campaign took place, which ended with the conquest of Gaza around the end of her reign. Thutmose III typically had himself crowned in Gaza during his army’s march north.

Since only a very short time had passed between Hatshepsut’s death and the battle in Megiddo, one may assume that Thutmose III possibly murdered her and had the campaign prepared while she was still alive. After a perfectly successful attack against the defenders, the Egyptian army suddenly encountered passive resistance – the defenders had retreated into the fortress. Elaborate water and tunnel systems, which are serviceable to this day, provided them with water and food for a certain time. The Egyptians had to besiege the fortress for nine months before they succeeded in conquering it. Instead of murdering the defeated Syrian princes or taking them prisoner, Thutmose III demanded high tribute payments. The conquest of Megiddo was the last of the conquering campaigns against Syrian territories.

There were 34 battles in and around Megiddo.

The last decisive battle took place between the Ottoman Empire and Great Britain on September 19 and 20, 1918. It was the last big battle of World War I in the Near East. It is interesting that the British also followed the road through the narrow pass from the south-west in the direction of Megiddo, as Thutmose III’s army had done. After two days, the Ottoman army was defeated, and, under the command of General Allenby, the British established their headquarters on the West Bank.

In between battles and wars, Megiddo had a partially contemplative dream.

The topographic situation between the Mediterranean Sea to the West and the Arab desert to the East, with easy access from the south through the Negev Desert up to Lebanon and on through Turkey to Europe, it was perfect for the most well-known trade routes of antiquity. The Silk Road, the Spice Road and the Incense Road all passed near the intersection point at Megiddo.

The oldest testimonials of permanent settlement in the city go back to around 4,000 BCE. In 3,000 BCE, the city was already well fortified. However, around 918 BCE the city was destroyed. In the centuries that followed, it became part of Egypt, of the Kingdoms of Israel, Assyria, Persia… Each conqueror built a new layer on top of the existing ones, so that during time, a typical Tel (artificially created mound) developed. Archaeological excavations have been made in Megiddo for over one hundred years.

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The circular path over the plateau of Megiddo is like a path leading through human history. Near the entrance, a moving model depicts the various layers. The archaeologists have counted at least 20 layers. Those either were destroyed by wars and fire or fell to ruin in periods when there was no settlement there. At certain places, the individual layers can be easily discerned, at others the individual layers have fallen into each other and can only be surmised.

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Leftovers from an entirely different culture – Southern Palace
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Parts of the Southern Palace
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Har Tavor

From the northern gate, one reaches the Southern Palace (Area L), a zone that was excavated around 1960. One notices that the buildings were made of carefully hewn ashlars, although the processing of the stone blocks is not quite as sophisticated as it was later at the time of Herod. At the end of the palace area, one can look over the wide plain of Jezreel up to Mount Tabor. The Hebrew meaning of the word Tabor is „navel“. It indicates the special significance of the mountain in various cultures. In the Torah, it is mentioned as a place of cult, the Canaanites prayed there to Ba’al, for Christians it is the place where Jesus appeared to three of his disciples in transfigured form and met with Moses and Elijah. On the horizon to the left, one sees Nazareth and an hour away, a small village called Bethlehem Haglilit [of the Galilee]. I am not alone in surmising that it was here and not in far away Bethlehem near Jerusalem that Jesus was born. That should be rather obvious!

Today, at noontime, a rising buzzing sound, reaching an incredible crescendo, is the sign that fighter planes are returning to the near-by airbase Ramat David, one of the three biggest in the country.

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© Hanan Isachar/ALAMY (Discover Magazin)

One of the most fascinating parts of the Megiddo excavation is situated between the Southern Palace and the quarter set aside for craftsmen and merchants (Area K). Here, small houses stand in a row, like a small city created on a drawing board. All houses have four small rooms built around a patio. What is interesting are family graves, mostly erected in circular buildings, which are part of the house. Under the floor of one house, 22 skeletons from the Middle Bronze Age (2200 – 1500 BCE) were found.  Repeatedly, one layer was built over another, so that many finds from early times have been relatively well preserved.

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Between the Southern Palace and this residential district lies the most visually spectacular zone (above Area J). One layer after the other has been carefully removed. On the rocks in the background, the individual layers can be seen in this crater-like zone. Some of them are easily perceivable, while with others, one needs to look closely in order to recognize the various layers.

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What is impressive is the round altar, used by the Canaanites as a ritual place, dating back to the early Bronze Age (3500 – 2200 BCE). It is probable that later generations felt that this was a „place of power“, which explains why more ritual places were built on this altar hill.

On the way there, additional, relatively small houses attest to Megiddo’s rich life. In some of them one sees the remains of old baking ovens. The broken clay pots suggest that the „city of red brick“ as this part of the excavations is also named, may have been destroyed by an earthquake. Since the clay pots were found in the ovens, their period of origin can be easily classified. Thus, it is possible to delineate the moment in time when the earthquake took place.

Infrared spectroscopic analysis suggests that the fires caused by the earthquake met existing active fireplaces. Professor Ruth Shahack-Gross from the Haifa University on behalf of the Weizmann Institute, investigated how fast and at what temperature those easily manufactured bricks were destroyed. She subjected the completed bricks to high temperatures in an oven and discovered that after only 2 – 3 hours, depending on their size – they were heated to 600°C and broke. This would have been about the prevailing temperature when Megiddo succumbed to the flames. This earthquake, as proven by the excavations, was the end of the Canaanite period of the city.

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An excavated area at Tel Megiddo from 2014 shows a stone-paved floor that has fire-blackened sediment. The wall consists of collapsed red and yellowish mud bricks.  Credit: Ruth Shahack-Gross

 

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A further testimonial, this time of extensive agriculture, is the grain silo (Area Q). A particular feature of the building is that on one side of it, narrow steep stairs wind down, and on the other side, there is the pendantwinding up. Whoever moved grain there could do so without fear of being hindered by „oncoming traffic“.

 

Pferdetränken in den Ställen des Salomon (Meggido)

The last highlight of the walk through old Megiddo is a visit to the horse stables (below Area Q). They were big enough for 450 horses and were built as individual stalls each with its own food box. They have been known as „Solomon’s Stables“. However, recent research shows that they were built some time later under the regime of King Ahab.

There are always new findings, the most spectacular of which has just been published. Under the working name „Tomb No. 50“, a burial chamber was discovered. Three skeletons, almost completely preserved, decorated with jewels and surrounded by rich grave offerings, were found in the main chamber. Immediately beside it, there is an ossuary with the bones of six more people, though these had been buried with much less loving attention. Rich reserves of food provide the security that nothing will be lacking in the afterlife. Both the clay pots found in the burial chamber and those in the overlying layer indicate the Canaanite period around 1700 BCE. This was the time when the Canaanite domination in Megiddo reached the height of its power but was soon afterwards violently ended by Thutmose’s army.

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A screenshot from a 3D model depicting the exterior of the Megiddo tomb chamber and corridor before opening. The chamber is visible at the bottom right-hand corner where two large slabs are leaning against each other. (Adam Prins)
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Interior of Tomb 50, an undisturbed burial chamber from some 3,600 years ago at Megiddo, looking toward the south corridor. (Robert S. Homsher) 

It is evident that members of the King’s family, or perhaps the family itself, were buried here. One of the skeletons was identified as that of a 40-year old man, the other as that of a woman in her 30s, and the last one could be the skeleton of an 8 – 10 years old child. The proximity to the royal palace also suggests that this is the case.

The tomb remained hidden and closed for 3600 years; no grave robbers came to steal the treasures as happened so often to the tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt. Thutmose III was not so lucky. When his tomb was discovered in 1898, Victor Loret found only the coffin, some broken furniture and statues. His badly preserved mummy, presently kept in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, was moved to a necropolis to the north of Thebes.

© esther scheiner, israel, including pictures, if not otherwise indicated.

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya,

emjay@inter.net.il

The Day of the Masks – Gaza IV

ב“ה

Guy Fawkes, the only man to ever enter the British Parliament with honest intentions.

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On November 5, 1605, Fawkes planned a bomb attack on the English King James I and the whole Parliament. The attack failed. Fawkes avoided enforcement of the judgement by falling off the scaffold where he was to be hanged and breaking his neck.

In 2002, the British chose him as number 30 of their hundred most significant compatriots.

In 1982, a comic entitled „V for Vendetta“ was published and was made into a film in 2005. The story takes place in fictional London around the year 2030. V, a masked freedom fighter, fights the authoritarian State with two objectives: he wants to bring about a socio-political revolution and to take personal revenge.

The mask worn by him in the comic and in the movie, is reminiscent of Guy Fawkes, whose image has been modified over time. In his lifetime he was considered a terrorist, which he was according to our present perception of the law. Later he was labeled a „liberal anarchist“. Nowadays, those who use the mask, both as a symbol and as camouflage, consider him a freedom fighter who fought for individual liberty.

Now the masks have reached Gaza. They cover faces or the back of heads.  Somebody seems to have made a mass order. On Amazon one can find the white imitation masks for less than 5 Euro. For the originals, which are yellowish, one has to pay a bit more or use a 3-D printer. Neither should be a problem for members of Hamas in the well-networked Gaza Strip.

Only about 3,000 protesters came from Gaza on the fourth Friday (April 20) to the border fence. During the preceding days, they had moved the tents, in which they want to stay until May 15, about 50 meters towards the border.

The highest national protest authority wrote in the Arab newspaper Al-Resalah: „Moving the tent city serves as a continuation of the national program „March of Return“ and the end of the occupation. It is a strong message from our people to the world around us, that we continue with the aim of reaching our legitimate and continuous objectives. Moving our camp is a first step“.

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On Friday morning, the IDF distributed fliers over Gaza. Besides pictograms of forbidden weapons and explosive charges that may in no case be brought near the border, the fliers contained sharp warnings to the inhabitants of Gaza.„You are participating in violent disturbing activity. Hamas is exploiting you to perform terrorist attacks. The IDF is ready for any scenario. Do not go near the border and do not try to damage it. Abstain from bearing weapons and performing acts of violence against Israeli security forces and civilians. Keep away from terrorist groups as well as from those who are prepared to use violence. The IDF will proceed against any attempt to damage the fence or any part of it. This applies also to damage to military equipment. Hamas abuses you to promote its own interests. Do not follow their instructions which endanger your life. You can behave differently. Your future lies in your own hands“.

Israel tries everything to avoid „useful victims“ of Hamas!

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Several days before, the Islamic Jihad had published a video showing Israeli soldiers in the crosshairs of Palestinian snipers. It was the second video of the kind, with the difference that this time COGAT Chief, Major General Yoav Mordechai, and the Head of the Southern Command, Major General Eyal Zamir, appeared there. The video was filmed from a house in Gaza. The message at the end of the film said:„You are murdering our people in cold blood and are feeling secure. But the magnifying scopes of our snipers are already pointed at your commanders“. 

Regrettably, on Friday there was a tragic death that is now subject to an intensive investigation by the IDF.

Should the stills and videos of the Palestinian reporters prove to be true, it means that 15-year-old Mohammad Ayoub was killed by a head shot. Until now it was considered certain that the use of live ammunition is allowed only and exclusively after such command has been given by the immediate commander. The shot may be no more than knee-high, so that the person shot is unable to fight but may not be killed.

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The sole credible witness up to now is the boy’s mother who had forbidden him to take part in the protests. Shortly after the fliers were distributed, he simply ran away, she said. He had told his aunt he would come home within an hour.

An Israel TV station reported that he tried to damage the border fence and had already crossed the first barbed wire barrier. A Palestinian reporter told APA that the boy was standing 150 m behind the barrier and was seeking shelter.

We shall not discuss here the fact that the military restricted zone is 300 m, of which the Gaza inhabitants had been informed.

Neither shall we discuss here the question of what a 15-year-old boy was doing there. Or those who love their children so little that they let them go to war.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman put the blame for the boy’s death on Hamas: „The Hamas leaders alone bear the guilt for the boy’s death, those cowardly leaders hiding behind women and children whom they send forward as human shields. In the meantime, they can go on to calmly dig their tunnels and prepare for terror attacks against Israel“.We understand the correlation only when we look again. While the whole world is accusing Israel like a mantra, nobody sees what else is happening in Gaza. The main scene becomes a sideshow.

The coordinator for the peace process in the Middle East, Nicholay Mladenov, commented:  „Shooting children is outrageous! In what way can killing a child in Gaza today help the peace process? It cannot help! … It only causes fury and further killings. Children must be protected against violence, not submitted to it. And they must not be killed! This tragic incident must be painstakingly investigated“.

 

It is true that it does not help! How can we shoot children?  Shooting innocent children is a crime. But if the child is turned into a weapon and is misused by fanatics and terrorists? How to perceive the weapon’s age? The only possible protection would be to leave children out of the game. But they are not granted such protection.

The Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, appealed to the UN to once and for all condemn Hamas for time and again misusing children as shields of their terror activities. „Hamas promotes violence against Israel by all means, such as Molotov cocktails and other things that cause damage, so as to break down the border and afterwards enter into Israel. I appeal to the UN representatives to condemn Hamas both for their use of violence and for their unscrupulous misuse of women and children whom they expose to violence“. 

 

© esther scheiner, Israel

©translated by: Translations International, Herzliya

emjay@inter.net.il

 

 

 

The day of the flying kites – Gaza III…

ב“ה

… a glance backward and a cautious look ahead

In order to increase the entertainment value of the protests officially named „March of Return“, which were to extend over several weeks, something very special had been planned for Friday, April 13.

A large number of colored kites would fly from Gaza over the border to Israel. They were supposed to be big and colorful and to carry a very special cargo: small burning jerry cans which would ignite the corn fields of the kibbutzim near the border. As reinforcement, Molotov cocktails were to be thrown, that would explode upon impact, also causing fire. The consequence of such fires would have been enormous economic damage for the farmers. The summer corn is dry and almost ripe, but it still needs some time. „Farmers who must harvest now would lose a lot of money. At the moment, the corn can only be used as animal feed“ stated one of the farmers concerned. But after neither the throwing technique nor the wind brought the success the demonstrators hoped for, the fire department was able to extinguish any small fires quickly.

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The bitter complaint of the PA Transport Ministry’s spokesman, Mohammed Hamdan, in an interview once again describes Israel as the cause of all economic problems in Gaza: “We have been informed by the Israeli side that imports of tires have been halted until further notice. There is no doubt stopping tire imports will have a negative effect on Palestinians in Gaza especially considering there is shortage of them there. We are going to exert all efforts so that Israel reverses its decision.”

The number of participants on Friday – about 10,000 protesters – was again lower than the previous week and they were far less that expected. According to Palestinian sources, on Friday there was one dead and almost 1,000 injured, among them two journalists and fourteen medics. According to Ma’an News, nine people were wounded by live ammunition, others suffered from smoke poisoning or injuries caused by rubber bullets. The IDF confirmed one dead and 200 injured, differences in numbers that we have known since Gaza 2014 (Strong Cliff).

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In memory of Yasser Murtaja, the reporter who was shot during the second protest Friday (April 6), big posters with his picture and name were put up at several places. His funeral, with the participation of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, had already become a martyr worship. „Reporters without Borders“ accused Israel to have purposely shot the reporter while he was performing his duties as a journalist. Murtaja had become famous for working with drones. It is said that on that very Friday he operated a drone which flew over Israeli territory, bringing back informative pictures. The case is still being intensively investigated.

Only additional enquiries will show whether or not he was actually a high-level Hamas terrorist, as alleged. A spokeswoman of the US Department of State declared that as far as she knew, Yasser Murtaja was being investigated to know whether he was qualified to receive grants from the US Agency for International Development (US-Aid). As a matter of routine, the IDF is always questioned about any potential candidates. It is possible that there were no files on Yasser Murtaja.

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What an elderly man on crutches is doing inside the restricted military area, in the middle of a group about to attach explosive charges to the border barrier is beyond the scope of my comprehension. This perfectly orchestrated picture could bear the caption: „Peaceful protesters and their leader already marked by heroic fighting preparing the attack.“ The press is documenting the completely inoffensive behavior. The title is somewhat voluminous, but this is not unusual with modern-day pictures.

A glance back to the history around 1948. The Arab-Palestinian narrative, that serves time and again whenever Palestinians insist on their right of return and which UNRWA likes to support, is called Naqba – meaning catastrophe. This term stands for the violent expulsion of Arabs from their homes, their villages and towns which formed the foundation for the unique proliferation of 750,000 refugees in 1948 to more than 5 million today.

In his book published in 2016 „Refuting the Anti-Israel Narrative„, Jeremy Havardi lets politicians and other opinion leaders speak in order to correct the distorted image prevailing around the world. Yitzchak Ben Gad had published his book „Politics, Lies and Videotape“ in 1991, where he dealt with the subject even more comprehensively.

Abu Mazen (a member of the PLO executive committee) is quoted: „The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny. But instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, imposed upon them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews had been forced to live in Eastern Europe…“(Falestin el-Thawra, Beirut, March 1976)

An appeal by the Histadrutand the Jewish Workers Committee Haifa of April 28, 1948, urged the Arabs on posters to stay: „Do not destroy your houses by your own hands, do not relinquish your sources of revenue. Do not fall into an unavoidable catastrophe by fleeing without reason. If you leave, you will end up in poverty and misery. Here in Haifa, you and your families will find wide open doors for work, life and peace. Honest and peace-loving workers! The Haifa workers Council and the Histadrut invite you for your own good to remain in the city and resume your usual work“!

In his memoires, the Jordanian King Abdullah accuses the Palestinian leadership of being responsible for the refugee problem. „It is the tragedy of the Palestinians that most of their leaders lied to them with false and unfounded promises. They told them they are not alone, and that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Moslems would immediately and wondrously come running to help them“. (Yehoshofat Harkabi, Arab Attitudes To Israel, Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1972, p. 364).

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On the evening of Wednesday, April 18 2018, one hour after sunset, the end of Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day) marks the beginning of the 70th birthday of the Jewish State of Israel. Fourteen Israeli citizens are invited to solemnly light the torches. Among them this year we find Mowafaq Tarif, whose family has been amongst the spiritual leaders of the Druze community since 1753.

 

 

imagesMargalit Zinati was born in the village of Peki’in in the Galilee in 1931. Her family’s genealogical tree can be traced back to the period of the Second Temple. At the time, there was a vital Jewish community in the village. In 1938, they were coerced by the British to leave the village, and they moved to Hadera, where they felt they were „exiled“. Her family was the only family amongst them who went back to live in the village after two years. Margalit never got married, in order not to have to leave the village, as tradition demanded. She is now the last Jew living in this community inhabited by Druze and Arabs.

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Aviezri Siegmund Fraenkel is a well-known Israeli mathematician who became famous for his numerous projects. He developed one of the first big computers at the Weizmann Institute and built an all-encompassing electronic collection of Hebrew texts. In 2014, one of his grandsons, Naftali Fraenkel, together with two other young people, was kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists.

70 years, in the course of which the relations between Israelis and Palestinians steadily worsened. The Jewish catastrophe, the Shoah, ended when Nazi terror came to an end and the State of Israel was founded in May 1948. That date is considered by the Palestinians as the Naqba, their own catastrophe. And they accuse us, of being responsible for it. It is time not to rewrite history, but to accept it anew.

That is the only way that one day, the dream dreamed by Ben Gurion and the other co-signers of the Declaration of independence, will come true: „Even in the middle of the murderous attacks that we have been confronting for months, we address the Arabs living in Israel with the appeal to keep peace and to participate in the constructions of the State based on full civil equal rights and representation in all temporary and permanent State organs.

We extend our hand in peace to all our neighbor states and their inhabitants for peaceful coexistence and appeal for cooperation and mutual assistance with the independent Hebrew nation in its homeland“. 

But the hand that is extended needs to be seized! And we are regrettably a long way from that.

And again – greetings from Palliwood!

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© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya,

emjay@smile.net.il