Archiv der Kategorie: Allgemein

Christian Imark’s motion against financial support of Palestinian Terrorism


We Swiss love our direct democracy. We are, undisputedly, world champions in keeping the politicians we voted for on their toes. Several times a year, we are called to cast our votes online or in the polling booth , in order to state our opinion regarding a certain subject. Regardless of the resulting vote, until that time and subsequently, our representatives are required to deal intensively with the issue. Our politicians, on all levels – State, Canton or Commune – must fight for their place on the list.

Until now, Christian Imark, SVP, a member of the National Council since 2015, behaved in the way newcomers usually do. First, he thought, then he acted.


Last week, he succeeded in his biggest and most spectacular political breakthrough – no more tax money for anti-Israeli and/or pro-Palestinian NGOs. The Federal Council had recommended that the motion be denied, but the Council of States and the Lower Chamber did not accept the request and endorsed the motion by a great majority.

What is the issue?


For many years, EDA, the Swiss Foreign Affairs Department, has repeatedly been the focus of criticism. Long-term contacts with the terrorist organization, Hamas, are not in keeping with the image of a clean Switzerland. At the classy „Center for Humanitarian Dialogue“ in Geneva, Hamas representatives can freely meet representatives of the Western World. Behind closed doors of course.

In this case, it was with EDA representatives led by Foreign Minister Burkhalter. The contacts were „practically inherited when he took over the Department from Micheline Calmy-Rey (71) in 2012“

EDA Information Director, Jean-Marc Crevoisier: „We do not publish our partners‘ names, otherwise we would endanger the work of those institutions.“ However, he confirms that, „in order to promote the dialogue in the region“, they are cooperating with partner organizations. The Department’s attitude is clear: whenever possible, Switzerland tries to promote a dialogue between conflicting parties.“

In July of 2014, PA President Dr. Mahmud Abbas, in a letter addressed to Foreign Minister Burkhalter, had asked that a conference of the partners of the Geneva Conventions be urgently organized. Our Foreign Minister did not deny the possibility of talks with the radical-Islamic Hamas; however, he underlined that they can only take place under certain conditions. , Hamas must recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist.

Talks with Hamas? Is that possible as such? As far as National Councilor Alfred Heer (SVP) is concerned, it is clear that supporting Hamas is counterproductive, the attempt of making the terrorist organization Hamas socially acceptable to the West.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter (FDP) announced his resignation, shortly after the motion was adopted. Coincidence or calculation? Was he really serious when defending Israel’s right to exist as a State?

But not everything paid for by EDA is hidden from the public. Time and again, numbers are revealed that are shocking. David Klein mentions in his article „EDA and the children soldiers of Hamas“ of March 18, 2017:

All in all, Switzerland has paid 476 million Francs to UNRWA to date. Between 2014 and 2017 alone, EDA transferred some 60 million Francs, and between 2017 and 2020, another 80 million are scheduled to be transferred. That is probably why EDA president Didier Burkhalter only dealt superficially with Imark’s criticism and instead exploited his speaking time to justify the exorbitant financial assistance for UNWRA, though Imark’s motion does not mention it at all.

Dominik Feusi shows here that payments are not only effected directly via EDA. „Switzerland supports an exceptionally large number of non-government organizations in Israel and Palestine -with more than 35.6 million Francs. The Helvetic Department for Foreign Affairs (EDA) alone financed 57 organizations in 2015, as shown in an official listing made for BaZ (Basler Zeitung). Additional organizations are being paid more Swiss money than a year earlier.

This in addition to contributions also streaming into the region from federal funds indirectly via Swiss Help Organization, such as, for instance, the Help Organization of the Evangelical Churches (Heks). – not exclusively but in the main, the Swiss money goes to organizations, which in the decades long conflict between Israel and the Arabs have campaigned against the State of Israel or supported those who do.“

EDA does not disclose all the recipients of payments. In 2014, five NGOs remained anonymous, in 2015, three. The question regarding why that is so, why EDA’s secrecy seems expedient, only receives a vague reply from EDA „It might cause damage to Swiss foreign policy.“

Hillel Neuer from UN Watch describes Switzerland’s donating activity in further detail: Swiss money has also been paid to the anti-Israeli NGO „Breaking the Silence“ (BIS). This NGO accuses IDF soldiers of violating human rights and delegitimates Israel wherever possible. The fact that the statements on which BIS base themselves are in part proven falsifications hardly interests the activists. They know that whatever enters the minds of easily manipulated people is practically impossible to correct.

Money is also transferred directly to the PA, to be distributed from there among so-called funds for development aid and social assistance. A considerable part of the money is then used by the PA, without any further external influence, to transfer pensions to terrorists or their families. Consequently, Switzerland has been using our tax money to finance Palestinian acts of terror against Israel.

On April 26, 2016, Christian Imark, supported by 41 members of Parliament, submitted a motion to the Swiss National Council „The Federal Council is required to adapt the relevant legal instructions, ordinances and rules in such a manner that Swiss public funds aimed directly or indirectly for development cooperation may no longer be assigned when the non-government organizations (NGOs) supported are involved in racist, anti-Semitic and hateful actions or BDS campaigns (boycott, capital deduction and sanctions). Hateful actions include campaigns by NGOs that can be considered to be provocations by rivaling groups or sovereign states. BDS campaigns are boycott, capital reduction or sanctions against rivaling groups or sovereign states.“

A detailed listing of all payments can be found here

An excerpt from the position of the Federal Council, which eventually led to the recommendation to deny the motion: „Switzerland supports only organizations whose engagement corresponds to our foreign policy as stated in the Federal Constitution. (…) The Federal Council is of the opinion that those rules fulfil the motion’s purpose and therefore, it believes that an adaptation of legal instructions is unnecessary. (…) The Federal Council advocates a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, achieved by way of negotiations. It recognizes the State of Israel within its 1967 borders and is in favor of a viable, continuous and sovereign Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital“.

On March 8, 2017, the National Council adopted the motion, on June 13 it was followed by the Council of States. The oral justifications for both votes can be found here 

A long overdue step for Switzerland! And a courageous step for a young parliamentarian, who – together with the 41 co-signatories – adopted a clear position that is against antisemitism and pro-Israel!

©Esther Scheiner, Israel

©Translated by Translation international, Herzliya

Sabre Rattling and Morning Dawn against Terror


Forget everything you heard about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel has been the scapegoat that must pay for the fact that within Islam, two feuding groups have been confronting each other without any possible solution: the Sunnis and the Shiites. Both sides have unlimited reserves of accusations and insinuations demonizing Israel. The general belief is that without the Jewish State, there would only be peace in the entire region.

I shall not explain in detail the differences and the commonalities between Sunnis and Shiites, this is a tremendously vast field!

Around the world, approximately 90% of Muslims belong to the Sunni denomination. The majority of Shiites live in Iran, Bahrain and Azerbaijan. They comprise large parts of the population in Lebanon, Yemen, Kuwait, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

grün sunniten rot schiietn balu ibaditen Oman


A majority of Shiites believe that the 12th Imam, the Mahdi, who disappeared in 941 CE, will come back at the end of time as the Savior. This belief is so strong that the Government of Iran is only a deputy government and has stated this even in its Constitution.

„In the Islamic Republic Iran, during the absence of the 12th Iman (may God hasten his reappearance), the mission and authority of leadership in matters of the Islamic community devolve upon the just and pious, who is fully aware of the circumstances of his age; courageous, resourceful, and possessed of administrative ability, will assume the …“. 

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic Iran, 1979 (article 5)

The terrible omens by which the 12th Imam will introduce the End of Time can be examined here.

Tradition has it that Shiites, who yearn for this event to take place as soon as possible, can shorten the remaining time by bringing about the big final battle. This yearning is reflected in Iran’s policy. The aim of their efforts is the complete destruction of Israel.

This type of cult is not found among the Sunnis. They prefer the idea of the Caliphate, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demonstrated to us with his policy for months.

A few weeks ago, President Trump made a speech in Riyadh, which may serve as a small piece of the puzzle in understanding present events.

[…] “Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred.

And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples.

God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East – and maybe, even all over the world.

But this future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it.[…]

The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.

Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death. […]

If we do not act against this organized terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism’s devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered. […]

It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you. […]

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH. […]

As we deny terrorist organizations control of territory and populations, we must also strip them of their access to funds. We must cut off the financial channels that let ISIS sell oil, let extremists pay their fighters, and help terrorists smuggle their reinforcements.

I am proud to announce that the nations here today will be signing an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism, called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center – co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, and joined by every member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is another historic step in a day that will be long remembered. […]


Those words were a follow-up to deeds. Trump was granted the honor of dancing the most famous dance in Arab countries with representatives of the Al Saud family: The Dance of the Sabre. He was not very good at it, he did not really succeed in swinging the sabre. But at least it brought a smile to Melania’s face, something we regrettably did not see very often during their visit to the Middle East.

Only a few days later, some wonderful things happened, in particular in the Orient, but also in Europe.

Denmark froze the substantial amount of US$ eight million intended for 24 Palestinian and pro-Palestinians NGOs. An unnamed amount was also terminated, which had been intended for the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WTAC). This was in reaction to the fact that the money would not have reached the above-named projects, but were earmarked to go to a Youth Center named Dalal Mughrabi. In 1978, Mughrabi, at the age of 19, was one of the 11 terrorists who killed 38 and injured 76 more during the Coastal Road Attack of 1978.

Denmark is now demanding the return of an additional US$ 500,000 that were already paid.

Norway and the UN have also demanded the return of money already paid and requested that the logo of the Norwegian representation office already affixed to the building be immediately removed.

Immediately after his entry into office, President Donald Trump cancelled the US$ 221 million which President Obama had ordered to be transferred at the end of his term at the White House. They have been freed by USAID to be distributed among humanitarian and infrastructure projects in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. Reports from the USA say there is no new date for their payment.

After the PA paid out approximately 1.12 billion euros in „charity“ – in other words, support for terrorists and their families – during the last four years, it now seems that a new way of thinking is slowly taking shape. Starting one week ago, money is no longer paid to 270 former Palestinian prisoners living in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, five terrorists who are still in prison in Israel no longer receive any support, nor do 47 Hamas employees living in Samaria and Judea. Nothing is known about the background. It was apparently only a technical error and the money was paid later. This is at least what Maan News has reported, although it has not been confirmed by the Israelis. Today, Sunday, July 11, the Knesset is scheduled to vote on a new procedure making it possible not to transfer or to transfer to the PA significantly reduced custom duties collected by Israel. This is in reaction to the fact that it has become ever more evident that this money was used to pay terrorists and their families so-called „charity“.

The current reality is that the Palestinian Authority not only rewards the murder of Jews, but also encourages it. The more you murder, the more you get. That is how their reward system is built. This must be stopped not only because it is immoral, but also because it is an obstacle to peace on both sides.“

And then the big bang: a completely new alliance, which until recently would have been inconceivable, seems to be in a emergent state. Exactly as suggested by Trump in his speech – I purposely avoid the word „demanded“.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and, only hours later, also Yemen froze their relations with Qatar. The Maldives joined the boycott against the very rich tiny state on the Arab Gulf. Mauritania and Jordan followed one day later.


The consequences for the country which can no longer be reached by land are numerous. Qatar Airlines, one of the world’s luxury airlines, is being boycotted internationally and has been grounded. Air space over the neighboring countries is mostly closed to incoming and departing flights. The airlines of the countries participating in the boycott no longer fly to Doha. Doha’s super modern airport is considered to be the turnstile of air travel in the Near and Middle East.


What is the reason for this apparently sudden and completely unexpected boycott? Qatar has long been considered the principal country supporting terror and extremism. There is active political terror tourism between Doha and Gaza. All Hamas executives who could afford to leave Gaza’s sadness far behind are living a life of incredible luxury in Doha. Tailor-made summer suits simply look better in the luxurious environment on the Arab Gulf than in dusty Gaza. There, one would have to admit to preaching water and drinking wine. In Doha, one is among friends.

This has now come to an end. Qatar has to defend itself and is currently alternately blaming Israel and/or the USA for being the cause of their dilemma. Fake news. Nothing else. Only the Qataris are at fault. And since in principle they have to admit this themselves, they are now expelling many Hamas leaders as soon as possible. Popular and welcome guests have become personae non gratae. Citizens of other countries have been given up to two weeks to leave the country.

Attempts are being made to deescalate the situation. The food reserve is sufficient for more than a year. Prices are stable and the Government has taken all measures necessary for supplying the needs of the population.


Does this mean that everything is okay on the Arab Gulf? Qatar is preparing for the 2022 Soccer World Championship. Although they won the tender, things have not worked out well to date, not to mention the justified criticisms regarding the construction and preparation work.


Five years are a long time for someone who decides to grow daisies. But for a project worth billions, five years are nothing.

In light of the principle that everyone should be given the opportunity to achieve something seemingly impossible, I will mention the Saudis once again. In April, the country that does not believe in women’s rights was elected to the UN Commission on Women’s Rights. This choice – understandably – sparked an unprecedented political whirlpool. And currently, the Saudis are scheduled to become a partner, a partner against terrorism. When weighing the values against each other, in my opinion, the fight against terrorism is of greater importance. This is what has been threatening us all worldwide and on a daily basis. This is what must be fought against.

The following video illustrates a humoristic aspect of the subject of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

P.S. As we learned only last weekend, during the course of the extension jobs in two schools in the Gaza Strip, UNWRA discovered underground tunnels, although there are no entrance and exit points within the schools. UNWRA strongly condemned the existence of such tunnels and stressed: „It is absolutely unacceptable that pupils and teachers are exposed to risks in this manner. Construction work and the existence of such tunnels are not compatible with the UN conditions which may not be breached.“ UNWRA decided to seal the tunnels. Hamas refuted the accusations and said that no resistance operations had taken place in the area.

For too long, UNWRA and its Commissary General Pierre Krähenbühl have been firmly shutting their eyes. It is much easier to accuse Israel, to lie and to attack objectives in Gaza without clear reason, than to look for the fault in their partner, the Hamas.

© esther scheiner, Israel

©Translation by Translation International, Herzliya, Israel

Donald J. Trump and the Jerusalem Day


Was it a coincidence? We all know that there are no coincidences. Was it inept planning? Politicians and their helpers (almost) never err. Was it intended? But who did they want to deceive? We’ll simply leave it at the following assumption: The G7 Summit had been fixed for May 26 and 27 long before Trump was elected, and the NATO Summit in Brussels had been fixed for May 25 months ago. In between, Pope Francisco had barely one hour left early on the morning of May 24 for a brief talk.

Consequently Donald J. Trump’s first visit to Israel had to take place on May 22 and 23. He personally probably couldn’t have cared less. But for diplomats, politicians and logisticians the date was a challenge.

Screenshot 2017-05-26 16.34.43
Marine One is landing at the Old Railway station

First of all, there was the program as planned, which, however, did not remain unchanged at any point. Parts of it were simply cancelled, others were amended or newly added. There were also some incomprehensible decisions. For example, Marine One, the presidential helicopter, has the dimensions of a middle-sized tour bus. This should not have been an impediment for landing on the plaza in front of the Knesset. But instead, they chose a parking space next to Jerusalem’s old train station, in the middle of a residential area.

Screenshot 2017-05-27 12.10.55
Places Trump visited in Jerusalem and which have been sealed for all traffic

So that on a large scale, for two days, for one day, for a few hours, with or without breaks, Jerusalem was closed to all traffic. There were busses, but it was not clear when and where they would be going. People who could afford it, stayed home on Monday and Tuesday.

Israel is well known for the fact that often only few hours separate two consecutive celebrations. This was the case on May 23. In the evening, only a few hours after Trump’s visit to the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem Day was formally opened. While on the day before the whole area had been spic and span, as well as empty, and even the LifeCam’s were turned off, now once again it was tightly packed with chairs and large screens.

Immediately after Trump flew away in the direction of Ben Gurion Airport from which he flew on to Rome, Jerusalem was back to normal.

Never before had the program of a working visit by a president been planned more parsimoniously. Only thirty hours remained for him and his entourage to have talks, make speeches, learn something about the City and its proven Jewish history at each of the sites visited, and to make politics.

It certainly was something special that he was there one day before Jerusalem Day. In every speech, he stressed the fact that Jerusalem and Judaism belong together and are inseparable from each other – as opposed to the opinion so vehemently and wrongly represented by UNESCO on behalf of Islamic countries.

Did you ever see the Old City as empty as here?

Jerusalem is a less than pinhead sized point on the map of the world, a city of 800,000 inhabitants, i.e. not exactly one of the world’s metropolises. The city of which it is said: „God gave ten measures of beauty to the world, nine of them to Jerusalem“. The city is beautiful and rough, attacked again and again, but it always succeeds in getting up and redesigning itself.

Here follows a short outline of Jerusalem’s history:

Around 3500 BCE the first known settlement

Around 1400 BCE first mention of Jerusalem as „Urusalim“ and Beth Shalem“ in the Armana letters

Around 1200 BCE the Canaanites (Jebusites) conquer the city

1000 BCE King David conquers Jerusalem and makes it into the capital of the United Jewish Kingdom

960 BCE King Salomon erects the first Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount.

586 BCE Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and the First Temple, the first Exile

539 to 516 BCE the Babylonian Kingdom, Jerusalem included, is governed by King Cyrus II

516 BCE Return from Exile, construction of the Second Temple

332 BCE Alexander the Great conquers Judaea and Jerusalem

Until 164 BCE supremacy of Ptolemy and the Seleucids in the Jewish theocratic Jerusalem, though religious rites are forbidden


164 BCE Revolt of the Maccabees, re-consecration of the Temple. This event is commemorated to this day by the Chanukah Holiday

129 BCE Final collapse of Ptolemy and the Seleucid Kingdom, Jewish territories regain their autonomy.

63 BCE the Roman general Pompey conquers Jerusalem

Jerusalem 65
AN „original map“ of Jerusalem 65 CE (National library Jerusalem)

70 CE Destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple, Second Exile

135 CE Jerusalem becomes a Roman City by the name of Aelia Capitolina

614 CE the Persians conquer Jerusalem

629 CE Byzantine Christians conquer Jerusalem

638 CE Calif Omar conquers Jerusalem

661 – 974 CE Jerusalem is ruled by Arab clans who feel they are Mohammed’s heirs.

691 CE Construction of the Temple of the Rock

1099 CE the first Crusaders conquer the City

1187 CE Saladin succeeds in re-conquering it

1229 to 1244 alternate rule by Crusaders and Arabs

1250 CE Muslim Caliphs destroy the doomed city’s wall

1517 CE Jerusalem is integrated into the Ottoman Empire

1538 CE Suleiman reconstructs the city walls

1917 During World War I Jerusalem is placed under British Rule

1948 The end of the British Mandate

May 15, 1948 Foundation of the State of Israel. On the same night the War of Independence began, triggered by Egypt, Saudi-Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. 15 months later the war was over. Israel was able to keep its national territory. Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the territories of Judea and Samaria, later (1950) annexing East Jerusalem. The ceasefire line determined between Israel and each of the Arab States is nowadays called the „Green Line“. A requirement repeatedly made by Arabs during the so-called peace talks as if by rote, is that Israel retreat behind this border. This requirement will not be satisfied in this manner. The definite border will be subject to negotiations in the course of peace talks. De facto however, this border was in existence until the end of the Six Days War.

1967 The Six Days War ended with the Liberation of East Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation, as well as the territories of Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, Sinai and Gaza. Shortly thereafter, East Jerusalem was annexed, but the status of the Golan as well as of Judea and Samaria are still disputed. The concept „Occupied Territories“, for which there is no basis in international law, is most certainly incorrect. The Sinai was returned following peace talks between Egypt and Israel, and Israel completely pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 – with the well-known disastrous consequences for Israel.

On June 10, 1967 Jerusalem was reunified. That was the end of the last foreign rule of our capital. Let us hope that it will be forever!

For the 50th commemoration of the liberation we were given two wonderful gifts.

The Parliament of the Czech Republic recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while at the same time sharply condemning the latest anti-Israel resolutions of UNESCO. Russia also recognized West Jerusalem as our capital.

But let us return to President Trump. I wish I had written my blog earlier and that I did not have to see the pictures which were shown on the screens in endless loops during the other visits of President Trump and his family in Europe.

I would have liked to only remember the pictures we saw during his visit here. However stiff the greetings upon arrival, all the heartier the farewell. It was almost as if the Netanyahu family was making a date to meet the Trump family on their next weekend trip.


But the most moving picture was that of Melania taking President Rivlin’s seriously ill wife Nechama by the hand to help her walk. To Nechama’s credit it must be said that despite the fact that the visit was not an official State visit, but only a working visit, she spared no effort in welcoming them.

So what remains of her husband, the President? Some wonderful speeches with great words, parts of which I would like to quote.

Today we confirm the indestructible bond of friendship between Israel and the United States – a friendship built on a mutual love for peace, our common belief in human dignity and our mutual hope for a durable peace for Israel. We want Israel to live in peace. 

Best friends for now and for ever!!

Peace can never occur in an environment in which violence is tolerated, supported and rewarded. We must resolutely and with a common voice condemn such deeds. Peace is a choice we must make daily – and the United States are here in order to help realize this dream for young Jews, Christians and Muslims and for all the children of the region. We shall then be able to enjoy a secure and shining future, in a secure and shining world. 

„Jerusalem is a holy city. Its beauty, its splendor and its heritage are like no other place in this world. And what a heritage, what a heritage. The bond between the Jewish Nation and this Holy Land is ancient and eternal. It looks back thousands of years to King David’s Kingdom. And now, his shield, the Star of David, is proudly waving on Israel’s blue and white flag“.

Time and again Israelis have experienced the hate and terror of brutal violence. Israelis being murdered by knife-waving terrorists and by bombs. Hamas and Hezbollah shoot rockets on Israeli communities, where school children are trained to run to shelters, in panic but still as fast as possible, as soon as they hear the sirens. ISIS is aiming at Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues and stores. Iranian leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction. But not with Donald J. Trump, believe me 

This place and the whole nation are a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people and the hope that light is shining on the way out of darkness. Persecutions, oppression, death and destruction – the Jewish People survived them all. It has become successful. It is extraordinarily successful in so many fields. And it enriches the world. The State of Israel is a strong and growing reminder of the solemn promise we are herewith repeating and confirming: never again! From the depth of suffering the Jewish People has created a mighty nation, and the Star of David waves proudly over the country. 

Those are big words and strong commitments. Trump is only at the beginning of his term, and there has never been such a polarizing president. Admittedly, it is not easy for people to like him.

Regrettably he did not offer us the biggest gift of all, as we hoped. The US Embassy will probably remain in Tel Aviv, although the Ambassador himself will have his office in Jerusalem. Maybe the time is really not yet ripe for it.


© esther scheiner, Israel

© translated by Translations International, Herzliya, Israel



The Jerusalem of Science and Culture


Barbara Pfeffer Billauer


1616-17 painting by Peter Paul Rubens, showing the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek as recounted in the Genesis 14.

On October 12, 2016, the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization, commonly known as UNESCO, adopted a resolution that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount by referring to in the resolution exclusively by its Arabic name. As describe by the UK Guardian, (and echoed by many other newspapers including the Boston Globe): “ UNESCO’s tendentious semantics play into an ongoing propaganda campaign by the Palestinian Authority to “de-Judaize” the identity of Jerusalem, the foremost Jewish city on earth. UNESCO erred by allowing itself to be dragged into this controversy.”

It is no surprise that the resolution passed: The resolution, proposed by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan passed with 24 of the 56 member governing council voting for it, six against and  26 abstensions. Of the 24 who favored the motion, at least 9 (more than a third) have heavily Muslim ties and only one little country is Jewish.

What is surprising, however, is that UNESCO would violate its own charter and raison d’etre to wade into the political fray, that it would allow itself to be hijacked by the current prevalence of Arab states on its governing board to self-immolate — and that it that it deliberately fostered international dissention by enacting a resolution in direct contravention of one of its enumerated goals. What is disappointing is that UNESCO would abandon its designated mission of impartiality and wade into political turf. And what is disappointing is the rather impoverished and pedantic and pedestrian Israeli response.

As its name implies, UNESCO is charged with employing scientific, cultural and educational initiatives as a means to bridge divides, “to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration” in these areas — rather than create them. Specifically, it is charged with (inter alia) the promotion of cultural diversity, translations of world literature, international cooperation agreements to secure the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites)

Immediately after the vote, Israel’s ambassador to Unesco criticized the committee’s stance, predictably arguing that : “You have just adopted a [resolution] against historical truth and one that stands in complete and utter contradiction to all values,” without further amplification. In response, Palestinian officials insisted that because the resolution refers to issues at Muslim places of worship it justified the language.

It must be noted that the Palestinian response reflects the current state of affairs and ignores the historical or cultural associations of the site. It reflects, in essence, a snapshot in time, ignorant or irreverent of the past or possible future. Language itself can be polarizing –as occurred here. The fact that the locus under discussion houses Muslim places of worship is part of the conundrum. Stating that this fact justifies use of the language is of course a boot-strap argument. Many Jews (and Christians) would like to see the Temple Mount as available to them as a prayer site, as in fact was the situation centuries ago.  As the The Economist explains in The trouble at Temple MountNov 17th 2016: by A.L.G. “Ultimately the right to pray implies a right of ownership.” But perhaps The Economist got it wrong; perhaps the right of ownership implies the right to pray – and it is for this reason the Palestinians are so intent on creating the aura of ownership – to guarantee their right to prayer at their third holiest site  – denying Jewish worshippers the right to pray at their holiest of sites.

Nevertheless, what is truly troubling is that the Scientific and Cultural legs of the organization were amputated. When deciding how to refer to the site – would it not have been important to see how scientists and cultural icons referred to and regard the site? Before a country casts a vote, should they not have enquired how their own luminaries and heroes saw the site- from a historical vantage point? In that designating “world heritage sites” are part of the organizations mandate – isn’t the world heritage of the Temple Mount a consideration to be used in constructing the language of the resolution?

So what, indeed, would the great scientists and cultural icons have said?

Of course Albert Einstein (invited to be the President of Israel and instrumental in the founding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to which he willed his literary assets) and Aaron Aaronsohn (the discoverer of primordial wheat) would have been shocked. Both were avowed Zionists, and both were instrumental in the founding of the Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital. But of course, both Einstein and Aaronsohn were Jewish, and hence must have been biased and their sentiments discounted, right? (An anti-Semitic comment, perhaps, but then again, isn’t anti-Semitism is the root of the issue)?

So let’s look at some “unbiased” cultural and scientific icons as the figured through history, and determine their views of the Temple Mount. Let us recall that the “liturgy” “lore” and tenets of Freemasonry rest in large measure on veneration of Solomon’s Temple on the Temple Mount –not any Arabic name thereof. Let us examine see has who pledged allegiance to Freemasonry and embraced its tenets –venerating the notion of Solomon’s Temple being built on the Temple Mount.  In fact, many countries who voted for the resolution or abstained boasted luminaries who were freemasons: (Freemasonry emphasizes the metaphorical Temple of Solomon, and concentrates on the symbolic aspects of its physical construction relying on Biblical Sources, teachings from Templars from ca. 1446 AD and Kabbalistic writings).

Arabs of Muslim belief who were Freemasons:

(Algeria voted for the resolution)

  • Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani in Egypt.
  • Muhammad ‘Abduh and Shaykh Abdullah Quilliam, the Grand Mufti of Egypt

(Egypt voted for the resolution)

Cultural Icons who were Freemasons: Nat King Cole, Cecil B. DeMille, . Arthur Conan Doyle, Duke Ellington, Clark Gable, Mozart, both Gilbert and Sullivan,  Goethe, Burl Ives, Al Jolson, Rudyard Kipling, Franz Liszt, Willie Mays, ,Felix Mendelssohn, Richard Pryor, Sugar Ray Robinson, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Gustave Eiffel, Sir Walter Scott, John Steinbeck,

Freemason Politicians: Winston Churchill; Práxedes Mateo Sagasta (1825–1903), Prime Minister of Spain (Spain abstained); Antonio López de Santa Anna, Mexican general and President;(Mexico voted for the resolution)

Philosophers who were Freemasons: Marquis de Condorcet, the mathematician, and philosopher; Denis Diderot. And Voltaire. Three of the greatest philosophers were French Freemasons, yet France abstained in voting.

Freedom Fighters, Champions of Liberty and Human Rights Advocates: Henry Dunant, Red Cross Founder co-winner first Nobel Peace Prize; Lafayette; Madame de Xaintrailles, heroine of the French Revolution. Three of the greatest freedoms fighters were also French; and as mentioned above France abstained.

  • Swami Vivekanada, Hindu reformist/ revivalist Leader (1863–1902). Notably India abstained.

Freemason Scientists: Enrico Fermi, Nobel Prize winning physicist, Alexander Fleming, Edward Jenner,  Benjamin Franklin, Booker T. Washington, and Christopher Wren.

The American Experience with Freemasonry

The American association with Freemasonry (The United States voted against the resolution) is exemplified by its eleven Freemason Presidents (including George Washington), along with high level court justices (including the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Jay, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall). Jesse Jackson, John Hancock, and Paul Revere were Freemasons.  Benjamin Franklin, also a Freemason, arguably the most famous scientist of his day and the father of the importance of science in diplomacy, proposed that the national insignia of America contain the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. These luminaries would have been appalled to see reference to the Temple Mount and its Jewish roots expunged by referring to the site solely in Arabic terms.

But the connection between culture and science and the Temple Mount is even more graphic and runs deeper. Solomon’s Temple and the Jewish ties to Jerusalem have been a favored theme among the most prominent of artists: The UNESCO resolution not only denies the Jewish ties to the site, but also the cultural connection as existed through our collective artistic heritage:

The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon. by Edward Poynter 1890 

Not only did the artistic community venerate the Jewish ties to the Temple and to Jerusalem (the incident depicted in Rubens portrait of Abraham being welcomed by Malkitzedek as described in Genesis, reveals Malkitzedek as the King of Salem (remaned Jerusalem by Abraham after the Sacrifice). True, Abraham is the father of both the Islamic and Jewish traditions – but then shouldn’t the resolution have reflected this?

The view of the Scientific Icons

And what of the scientific community?  What was their view?  At least five of our greatest scientists were freemasons. And perhaps one can discount the views of Albert Einstein, arguably the greatest scientist of all time, under a prejudicial construct of his Jewish roots. But what about the other candidate for the “Greatest Scientist of All Time” – Sir Isaac Newton.

As described by Gardner, Laurence (2007). Written at USA. The Shadow of Solomon: The Lost Secret of the Freemasons Revealed. and  Snobelen, Stephen D. „A time and times and the dividing of time: Isaac Newton, the Apocalypse and A.D. 2060.“. The Canadian Journal of History. pp. 537–551,, Newton’s views of the Temple Mount, both past and future, are well-documented. His depiction of the Temple of Solomon –takes its cues from the prophetic Book of Ezekiel. In his Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, (London 1728) Newton devotes a chapter to the subject, and diagrams part of “the Temple of Solomon,” Newton believed that the temple was designed by King Solomon with privileged eyes and divine guidance and represented a sublime mathematical blueprint, as well as providing a time-frame chronology of Hebrew history.

As described by Kelly J. Whitmer, there were at least three large-scale wooden models of Solomon’s Temple publicly exhibited between 1660 and 1730 in several Northern European cities, including Hamburg, Amsterdam, London and Halle- facts which the UNESCO resolution decapitulates.

And as to the recent exhibit at the Max Planck Institute,  entitled  Solomon’s Temple models as scientific objects (MAX-PLANCK-INSTITUT FÜR WISSENSCHAFTSGESCHICHTE Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the UNESCO resolution is simply an insult to an important and venerated scientific establishment.

In its quest to bend to the political muscle of a plurality of its members, UNESCO abandoned its roots, insulted its icons, and made a mockery of science history and cultural heritage. There is more here at stake than simply ratifying the Jewish passion and claim to its holiest of sites. There is a duty to reflect an everlasting Truth, Truth as exhibited through the ages, through history (e.g., the Templars renditions) and not bend to the current whims of some heavy-handed political strong arms.

© Barbara Pfeffer-Billauer


We made sure that President Trump received this message before his meeting with Abbas


Shurat HaDin presented to the US President Donald Trump the Palestinian terror against Israel, and received fake information from the President of the PA Mahmoud Abbas. (Published with permission of Shurat HaDin)

May 2, 2017


The Honorable Reince Priebus

White House Chief of Staff

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

Washington, D. C. 20500

Re:     Meeting between President Trump and Palestinian Authority

President Mahmoud Abbas

Issue of PA paying stipends to terrorists


Dear Mr. Priebus,

We are attorneys for the families of American citizens who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in Israel during the recent wave of violent attacks. Our clients include the family of Taylor Force, a West Point graduate and American army veteran, who was murdered in Tel Aviv during a university visit to Israel in March 2016. We also represent the family of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a 13 year old American citizen who was stabbed to death while asleep in her bedroom in Israel in July 2016. And we represent the family of Richard Lakin, a 76 year old retired teacher and peace activist from Connecticut who was stabbed to death on a passenger bus in Jerusalem in October 2015.

We write on the occasion of the upcoming meeting between President Trump and Palestinian Authority (“PA”) President Mahmoud Abbas to ask that President Trump raise during that meeting the issue of stipends paid by the PA to convicted terrorists and the families of terrorists killed in the course of committing a terrorist attack, including suicide bombers. The payment of these stipends provides an economic incentive encouraging further acts of terrorism and rewarding past terrorism. President Trump should insist that payment of such stipends immediately be halted.

Each month the PA pays terrorists incarcerated for murder of innocent civilians a monthly stipend. In instances where the terrorist is killed in the attack, the PA provides a similar monthly stipend to the family of the terrorist. The amount of the sums paid to these imprisoned terrorists is determined in part by the number of years of their jail sentence, which means that the most heinous and most violent criminals receive the largest stipends. Bashar Masalha, the terrorist who murdered Taylor Force, is sentenced to life in prison and receives as such a monthly stipend from the PA.

Mohammad Tra’ayra, the thug who stabbed Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her sleep, was killed by security guards at the scene, but his family continues to receive a stipend too. Balal Abu Gaanam, the terrorist who stabbed and murdered 76 year old Richard Lakin, is serving three life terms and receiving a stipend from the PA.

The official PA policy of providing cash payments and inducements to those who have targeted innocent victims such as our clients has caused the American families we represent untold anguish, frustration and anger. The fact that these murderers are glorified and held dear in Palestinian society compounds the acute pain and suffering inflicted upon these families by the grievous loss of their loved ones. By paying these stipends, the PA sends a powerful message to the terrorists and their families that they are honored, cherished and supported officially by the PA government and the Palestinian people, and young Palestinians are encouraged to regard the terrorists as heroes and emulate their behavior.

No civilized nation should pay stipends to loathsome criminals who deliberately target innocent victims, including sleeping children. Yet the United States is the largest provider of foreign aid to the PA. The foreign aid received from the US frees up other PA assets to pay these terrorist stipends. Since money is fungible, US foreign aid to the PA in effect subsidizes the PA terrorist stipends. We submit that subsidizing terrorist stipends is contrary to the principles that President Trump stands for.

Mr. Abbas has stated publicly that he intends to discuss the issue of Palestinian statehood with President Trump. Our clients find such a request incongruous, to say the least, coming from a leader who blatantly subsidizes terrorism, glorifies and rewards the perpetrators of heinous acts of terrorism, and thereby displays such disdain for the rule of law.

On behalf our clients, we respectfully request that President Trump demand from Mr. Abbas an immediate end to of the PA’s policy of paying stipends to terrorists.

Respectfully yours


Robert J. Tolchin, Esq.

United States Counsel to Shurat HaDin-Israel

Law Center


Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Adv.


Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Robert Tolchin (r) and Mika Lakin

During the meeting between President Trump and President Abbas, the doors were closed to the press. As a daily routine Press Secretary Sean Spicer gave a short overview:

The two leaders made their own statements just a little bit ago.  But to give you a few additional details, some of the topics that were discussed during their meeting and the lunch were: advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace; preventing incitements to violence, particularly media outlets directly associated with the Palestinian Authority; strengthening efforts to combat terrorism, including defeating ISIS; measures to empower the Palestinian economy and provide economic opportunity for the Palestinian people.  And, additionally, the President raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue. 

Nabil Shaath
Nabil Shaat

Minutes after the official statement was published the world could learn about the palestinean truth of ths issue

Senior Palestinian Authority official has rejected the “insane” demand that it end its policy of providing social welfare payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists jailed for carrying out attacks against Israelis.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath on Thursday told Israel Radio the demand was intentionally designed to sink any potential for renewed US-led Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He told the radio station that the Palestinian prisoners were victims of Israel’s control over the West Bank.

“It’s absurd to request that we stop paying the families of prisoners,” he said. “That would be like asking Israel to stop paying its soldiers.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the salaries paid to imprisoned terrorists by the PA constitute a major obstacle to peace.

On Tuesday, three GOP senators urged the US president to push the Palestinian leader on the PA’s cash payments.

During a joint statement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House after the Wednesday meeting, Trump only subtly referenced Palestinian violence, saying there could be no “lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate.”


Abbas, for his part, asserted “that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”

Also Wednesday, Ahmad Majdalan, a senior PLO official and adviser to Abbas, told Israel Radio that in May 2014, Netanyahu’s chief negotiator Yitzchak Molcho, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and US secretary of state John Kerry signed a document allowing the Palestinians to pay salaries to prisoners’ families from the Palestinian Liberation Organization fund instead of from the Palestinian Authority treasury.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday rejected the claim, calling it “another Palestinian invention, which never happened, which was intended to distract from the discussion of the demand to stop the Palestinian Authority funding terrorists.”

Full text Eric Cortellessa, Times of Israel


You may find more information about the PA cash payments to terrorists and/or their families in my blog of Dec 18th 2015 .



Petra – a rock in the anti-Israeli breakers


Wednesday, July 30, 1997, 13:15, Jerusalem. Petra woke up on the „wrong“ side of the street opposite the Machaneh Yehuda Market. She was expecting guests from Canada in the evening, and during a break in her work, she wanted to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables. She was caught in the double attack by two Hamas terrorists, in which 16 people were killed, 168 severely wounded, Petra among them. Today, her serious wounds to arms, hands and face have healed, thanks to her iron discipline and good medical care, although she had to fight for five long years in order to return to life.

In 1951, Berlin had not yet been physically divided. The Federal Republic had been in existence since May 2, 1949 and the GDR since October 7 of the same year. Until the final border would be established between the two German States, including extensive barriers, the border could still be crossed in both directions.

West Berlin was still licking its wounds. The healing process started very slowly. Changes were felt at first in the inner city, and then slowly the progressing normalization could also be seen in the outer districts. In the GDR, the „World Youth Festival“ was held again in August 1951. Ernst Honecker opened the proceedings by describing what would be presented as a propaganda festival for the Soviet Union. „Long live the leader and banner bearer of world peace, the teacher of youth in all countries, our beloved Josef Stalin“.

The district of Charlottenburg, which had become part of the city in 1920, includes the favored quarters around the ruins of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Kudamm, the Zoo Railway Station, the exhibition grounds and the now lively region around Kant Street. Jewish life also took place within the triangle between Fasanen Street, Joachimstaler Street and Pestalozzi Street.

It was in this awakening city that Petra Heldt was born in 1951 and graduated from high school in 1971.


This was the period of the 1968 student unrest, which swept over practically the whole of Europe. A revolt against the establishment, against the outdated relic of the Weimar Republic. But also against downplaying the issue of the guilt of their parents‘ generation during the Nazi period. Petra is not certain that she was influenced by those subversions. „But would I have read my Bakunin outside this period? I don’t know“.

The churches also hesitantly started a new orientation, which originated in Latin America. Accepting the criticism of the ruling church hierarchies, the Liberation Theology shifted its focus on the state of the oppressed population to the forefront of the Exegesis. There were excommunications and preaching interdictions. Often, following the change, priests filled political positions in order to strengthen the demands of people with awakening awareness from dictatorships and church authorities.

The criticism which was the spirit of the time seems to have been so stimulating for the young intellectual woman that, during her university studies, she took the time she needed to find her way and her actual objective, and to widen her knowledge. It may not always have been immediately evident how she would absorb all that towards her objective. What was the practical use of knowing how to decipher Sumerian cuneiform script? Or Aramaic, or earlier letters? In historical Palestine Aramaic was the vernacular and it appears in the writings of the Talmud and the Midrash, as well as in some of today’s Jewish prayers.

Her studies led her to the universities of Berlin and Heidelberg (comparative religious studies and languages of antiquity in the Levant Region), to Amsterdam and finally to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Petra did not see her future as the pastor of a community or a school. From the start of her studies, she saw her future in research. Ordination as a protestant pastor was never an issue. Would an ordained pastor who is at the same time a researcher fit better into the picture of the official church than someone who acted as a researcher only, thereby maintaining her autonomy? In any event, in 1985, she bowed down and was ordained in Berlin.

Petra had been living in Israel since 1979. She studied Talmud and Midrash with one of the most important German speaking rabbis of that time, Tovia Ben Chorin, and from him she learned about many daily writings such as the Siddur (the everyday prayer book) and the Machzor (the prayer book for the Jewish High Holidays).

Unknown-1At that time, she also met her husband, Malcom Lowe. At the time Malcom, together with his colleague and friend David Flusser, was investigating the „synoptic problematics“ of the three early Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. This field of religious and bible studies is about researching to what extent and which of the three gospels was used as the source for the two others. Early Christian written changes in formulation, order and emphasis only allow a vague idea of the orally transmitted story behind them. Uncovering it is exciting and shows a completely different picture of early Christianity.

In 1980, Petra presented her master’s thesis at the Church University in Berlin. Its title was: The Reading of “ Ani” and “Ebion” in the Writings of Qumran. Both terms appear several times in the fragments of the Qumran rolls and are often used in the meaning of „poor“. The Judeo-Christians around the year 100 CE called themselves „Ebionites“ to differentiate themselves from the „Nazarenes“. The name which at first was meant to be a proud description of the group, fell into disrepute. The reference to Jesus who had a very special relationship with the poor faded into the background. They were looked upon critically if not worse by their neighbors. Though they considered themselves to be Jews, Jews did not accept them as such. They saw Jesus as the Messiah and were against animal sacrifices, which were usual until the end of the Temple period. Christians of non-Jewish origin rejected them for being against Paul’s missionary work and not recognizing Christ’s atoning death as such. The Last Supper, a central point in Christian theology, became a Jesus commemoration.

In 2002, she obtained her PhD from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem after presenting her thesis: The Reading of the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians 4, 21-31 in the Writings of the Early Church. A Study in Patristic Exegesis. The fact that Petra chose this subject is not surprising against the background of her master thesis. One of the main topics of her research focused on the Jews‘ influence on early Christianity. One of the significant people at the time was Paul, who used to perform intensive missionary work during his travels and tried to counter the influence of Judeo-Christian missionaries. In his epistles, he insists on the fact that Christian Salvation can only be attained through the Christ’s expiatory sacrifice, thereby opposing contrary tendencies in the early Christian community.

We need to consider Petra’s professional background in at least a few points in order to understand her aspirations for the present and the future.

She has been living in Jerusalem with her husband Malcom for 38 years. This is more than half her life up to now. The couple does not live in East Jerusalem as the mainstream would expect, but in the middle of old Jerusalem. Arnona, founded in 1938, is one of the southern parts of the city. In 1967, the war front was in the middle of the area, which then had to be abandoned. Arnona is now on its way to becoming one of the suburbs very much in demand. Here, at the highest point in town, the air is simply better, the view down to the Dead Sea unbeatable. Somewhere in its center a large building plot is kept open, which is supposed to be where the US American Embassy will be constructed.

The neighborhood has a mixed population, orthodox and secular Jews live in classic 1980s buildings. Nobody minds Petra playing the piano or „singing so loudly that the walls shake“. The apartment is the charming retreat of two pleasant scientists. There are books everywhere; the shelves are often accessible from both front and back. No enlightening literature can be found. Malcom looks for a certain book and finds it easily. But the books are not overwhelming, on the contrary, they are tempting and invite one to rummage; regrettably there is not enough time.

Petra does not want to look back at the past. „It is of no importance whatsoever“, she says. She looks forward.

She considers it her mission to restore to their rightful place the correct images of Israel which have been shifted in the minds of young, easily manipulated people. To make the close connection between the ancient Christian and Jewish religious cultures visible again. Those connections are further lost by the fact that official Christian visitors no longer have Israel on their program or, if they do, only marginally. Those visits are nowadays made almost exclusively in Judaea and Samaria. One of the most dangerous troublemakers is the Arab pastor Mitri Raheb, who denies Christ’s Jewish roots. His activities are strictly anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. Nevertheless, he succeeds repeatedly to persuade visitors of all political persuasions of the truth of his intentions. Here again corrective care is needed insofar as any visitors get to Israel at all.

Petra travels tirelessly on speaking trips, training sessions, discussions, and of course, there are her publications. Her deepest wish is that Israel will never become a Muslim-influenced terror State. The latest UNESCO resolution, denying Israel any connection to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, is a step in the wrong direction. As is the recognition of historical sites in Jewish history as being „pre-Palestinian“ or even „Palestinian“.

„Antisemitism in the form of Anti-Israelism“, as per Petra’s gloomy prediction, „is now growing in every direction and, like each generation, ours will have to stop this anti-biblical spirit. Jewish and Christian voices warn about the Muslim demand to destroy Israel. The Shoah is the ultimate reminder to protect life. Wherever the Church Authorities are failing, individual Christians must fill the void“.

This is a mission requiring much strength, in particular because the official church opinion may not agree with everything.

Friday, April 14, 2017, 12:45, Jerusalem. Jews are celebrating Passover, Christians are observing Good Friday. Jerusalem is expecting over 150,000 visitors for the weekend. Hannah Bladon, an exchange student from Birmingham, will shortly complete her time in Jerusalem. In the crowded tram, she leaves her seat to a pregnant woman. Next to her stands her murderer. Hannah will not survive the terrorist attack.

csm_78806_78824_01_58c49dfe49The attack on her own life in 1997 did not cause Petra to be traumatized. But the Good Friday attack shook her profoundly: Hannah was a student of hers.

„Hannah was one of the few students with whom I had built a special relationship. What she did at the end of her life, when she gave her seat to a pregnant woman, that was Hannah, always helpful. I am so shaken by her death; I cannot yet believe it is true:“

But still, Petra does not look backwards: she looks to the future, where she feels her mission lies.




©esther scheiner, Israel

© translated by: Translation International, Herzliya

Unequal neighbors, but still neighbors



Jisr az-Zarqa could be a beautiful place. It is the only purely Arab settlement in Israel lying on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. To the north, it borders on the fish ponds of Kibbutz Maagan Michal, to the south on the city of Caesarea. To the northeast lies the „Taninim (Crocodile) Stream National Park”. The last living crocodile was killed there at the end of the 19th century, and since that time visitors no longer need to fear for their lives in the region. „Crocodile Stream“, the border between Jisr az-Zarqa and Maagan Michael, is one of the cleanest rivers in Israel. The name Jisr az-Zarqa means „Bridge of the Blue (= the blue river)“. For the thin trickle of water that reaches the coast, this label is rather questionable. It is only noticeable as a stream during the few weeks of the rainy season each year. To the east, the settlement borders on a highway.

Jisr 1

In the 4th century, BCE there was a city here by the name „Crocodilopolis“. Some remains can still be explored in the national park. In 1834, around 700 colonizers came here with the army of Muhammad Ali, who wanted to conquer the country for himself as vice-king following the revolt of the peasants against the Egyptian rulers.

The majority of the original population were members of the Bedouin Clan Ghawarina, who came from the Jordan Valley at the end of the 19th century and settled in the malarial swamps that made the coastal strip uninhabitable. When Jewish families started settling in the region of today’s Zichron Yaacov from 1882, on an extensive strip along the coast and the foothills of the Carmel that had been legally acquired by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, they employed the Bedouins living in the swamps to drain them.

At the entrance to the Zichron Yaacov cemetery, a plaque reminds us that a great number of the first settlers were struck down by malaria, but the Bedouin seemed to be immune to the malaria pathogens.

The project was completed in 1928. In gratitude for their invaluable help that had made permanent settlement possible, the Bedouin were given a strip of land bordering on the former swamps. The strip encompassed 12,000 dunams, about 150 ha, lying on a hill near the beach. That was how the boundaries of Jisr az-Zarqa were determined.

And that was the beginning of the first problem, which the village has not yet been able to resolve.


Even when in other similar cases one says that a settlement „lies between…“ in this case it can only be called cynical. Nowadays there is only one way of reaching the village. The much too narrow and much too low path passes under a bridge, which has been decorated by art loving inhabitants. But the ceramic has long ago been damaged by the trucks who leave their marks in the cement.

Once upon a time there was a second bridge that was built for Emperor Wilhelm II’s visit in 1898. It spanned the estuary of the Crocodile Stream and was intended for the Emperor to travel from Haifa to Jerusalem without getting his wet feet. There is no documentation showing whether he ever rode over the bridge and its former location can only be discerned from the ruins.

The second problem started with the alleged total expulsion of the Arab population from their villages and towns by Jews during the 1948 war, referred to by the Arabs as the „Nakba“ (catastrophe).  In fact, in most cases, the Arabs were told by their own leaders to leave their settlements, the underlying idea being that the Jews would be defeated and expelled within a few days, and then the population that had run away would be able to return and take over, with big and profitable benefits.  That decision did not produce the desired result. The army of the young Israeli State won the war, and around 750,000 Arabs – whether due to the intervention of their own compatriots or expulsion by the Jews – lost their homes.

Those 750,000 refugees have now, 69 years later, become more than 5 million. They are being taken care of by the UN organization, UNWRA, and are financed by taxpayers‘ money from all over the world as well as by donations from anti-Israel NGOs.

One tends to forget that, at the same time, in 1948, 780,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries. They came to Israel and were completely integrated into society as rapidly as possible, without the assistance of any special UN organization.

But the Arabs were not forced to flee everywhere. In the two villages Jisr az-Zarqa and the neighboring Fureidis, the mayors of Binyamina and Zichron Yaacov saw to it that the inhabitants remained in their homes. Fureidis, which lies a few kilometers further inland, developed into a prosperous township. The population of both settlements is similar in size, but Fureidis has almost twice the area.

The third problem was the good relationship between those two Arab settlements with their Jewish neighbors during the period of the British Mandate. While the inhabitants of Fureidis were soon forgiven by the Palestinians for this circumstance, the people in Jisr az-Zarqa are still being condemned as collaborators.

The fourth problem is the ethnic composition of the population. Both Jews and Arabs have been calling them „black“ and „Sudanese“ for decades, despite the fact that the population includes Bedouins, Jordanians, Iraqis, Syrians, Egyptians as well as Sudanese. They are referred to as Africans, or even swamp dwellers, and until recently there were practically no marriages between the inhabitants of Jisr az-Zarqa and those of other Arab settlements.

Due to all those circumstances, the village has not been able to develop and become a modern town.

There has not been any connection to public transport. Those who want to take a bus must walk several kilometers to the next bus stop. The sea has long been overfished, so that the fishermen sometimes come home with such a small catch that it is barely enough for their own consumption.

Until a few years ago there was only a primary school in the village. Those who wanted to go on to high school had to take into account long rides on the school bus. Now at least there is a Junior High School, but still the number of dropouts and illiterates is very high. Only a few have completed a college education.

There are no empty building plots. If a family increases in size, a second or even third floor is added onto the existing one.

The crime rate is high. Israeli taxi drivers try to avoid trips to Jisr az-Zarqa.

Conditions of life in the village are not really favorable to achieving economic success. The village is the at the bottom of the gross social product scale.

Villa in Caesarea sold by Sotheby

Caesarea, one of the richest communities in Israel, demonstratively separated from its poor neighbor a few years ago. In a cloak and dagger operation a barrier was built between the two municipal areas, allegedly in order to reduce the muezzin’s volume, which had been disturbing the holy rest of the villa owners five times a day. More probably it was in order to hide the naked poverty from their eyes.

Actually the village has good potential. The beach leading gently down to crystal clear water could be developed. The Israel Trail, leading from the far north to the far south, goes through Jisr az-Zarqa.


A few years ago, a guesthouse was opened in the village – an ideal layover for backpackers. The idea originated with Neta Hanien, a Jewish Israeli lawyer. Ahmad Juha, the owner of an ice-cream parlor and coffee shop, was the partner who managed to open the closed doors of the uncooperative villagers. The two of them played with the idea, collected the necessary amounts through crowdfunding. The plan seems to have succeeded. The small hostel with two sleeping halls and two double-rooms has been adopted by backpackers.

Movie crews have come twice to the village, looking for the „perfect location“ to make a movie about the „refugee camp in Gaza“.

But this alone will not save Jisr.

Twice the name of the settlement has been mentioned in the media during recent years: Once, when the possibly oldest woman on earth, Mariam Anmash, died in 2012 at the age of 124. Her Israeli ID gave 1888 as the year of her birth;  the day and month were not given, as they were unknown. She left ten children and about 300 grandchildren and great grandchildren.


The second time was in 2016:  when the Israeli National Soccer League player Taleb Tawatha went to play for Eintracht Frankfurt, he was mentioned in Wikipedia as a „famous citizen“ on the Jisr az-Zarqa page.



Not much good resulted from a school trip when children from Caesarea visited the neighboring village of Jisr az-Zarqa. The trip was organized by the „New Way“ organization, which is firmly established in the Ministry of Education’s program. The village children showed the children from Caesarea their mosque – so far so good. They also showed them their prayer rituals. Whether invited to do so or not, the Jewish children knelt on the prayer rugs and bowed during prayers according to Islamic ritual. Grown-ups are free to decide to what extent they wish to open up to new experiences. Children are easily influenced, and may not understand the consequences of such decisions. So this was a rather problematic incident, which became scandalous when account was taken of the fact that one of the notoriously anti-Israeli NGOs, the „NIF“ (New Israel Fund) had supported New Way with US$ 94,000 in the year 2015 alone. Hopefully Minister Naftali Bennet will get the message and will immediately put an end to cooperation with „New Way“.

It is also to be hoped that the relationship between these neighbors will not deteriorate following this incident provoked by NIF.

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translation International, Herzliyah