Sealed in a Jar for 3,000 Years: Traces of Earth’s Magnetic Field!


The tax-man cometh: Iron Age Israelite jar handle with royal seal.

They didn’t call it the “Iron Age” for nothing!

It turns out that, locked inside the ceramic fabric of bits of ancient pottery, are the fingerprints of our planet’s magnetic history. Newly detectable via scientific technology, the patterns of magnetic field fluctuation now emerging have proved more “choppy” — indeed inexplicable — than we ever imagined. It is truly one of the least understood of all geo-physical processes.

The magnetic minerals present in the potters’ clay were frozen in time at the moment when each piece was crafted and fired, creating a unique record.  The same phenomenon is present in rocks, of course, at the time of their formation, but those datum points are measured in eons. With ancient pottery, however, the relatively rapid evolution of styles, plus the impressed seals of a progression of known rulers, makes possible a rather precise timeline.

Among the authors of the just-published source article (in the journal PNAS) is Erez ben-Yosef, an Israeli archaeologist from Tel Aviv University. For the full story and all the connections, see this piece published today on the NPR web-site:



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When Jews Act Like Nazis: Israel’s ‘Alt-Right’ is alive and well

Independent journalist Jonathan Cook highlights what is not a new phenomenon at all but has simply re-emerged in recent years under a new flag and different leadership. With Israel’s mainstream political discourse taking on an ever more fascist tone, such groups only grow in legitimacy — and are winked at — as they become mirrored by the society-at-large. It is worth noting that, while the incitement and attacks are aimed mainly at Israel’s Arab citizens and residents, it extends to the country’s Christian communities as well.

The article, found on-line, is reproduced in its entirety below; the title of this post (above) is mine.

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Lehava: Israel’s ‘racist lynch mobs’ attacking Arabs

The far-right group stokes hatred and incites followers to violence against Palestinians, say analysts

Four youths in black T-shirts, bearing a distinctive yellow-flame insignia, approached “A” in July as he got out of a taxi in central Jerusalem to meet friends. They asked him the time. Suspicious of his accent, they confronted him directly: “Are you an Arab?”

“The moment I said, ‘yes,’ one of them punched me in the eye. The others jumped on me and started hitting me all over my body. There were many people in the area, but no one took any notice or tried to help.”

“A” managed to break free and fled to a nearby restaurant, where a friend worked, and hid inside. “If I hadn’t been able to run away, they would have killed me,” he said.

His filmed testimony is one of several taken of Palestinians in Jerusalem who have been violently assaulted recently by far-right Jewish activists. Fearing reprisals, most of the victims agreed to testify only on condition that their real identities were not disclosed.

The attacks were carried out by an extremist group called Lehava, or Flame in Hebrew, an acronym for the Organisation for the Prevention of Miscegenation in the Holy Land. Run by a rabbi, Ben-Zion Gopstein, Lehava rejects any interaction between Jews and Palestinians. Continue reading

Posted in Israel-Palestine Scene, JERUSALEM, Palestinians, Politics, Racism | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

VIDEO: The Rock of Jesus’ Tomb Exposed

As a follow-up to my previous post, the ongoing restoration of the Edicule within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has seemingly reached something of a climax: the removal of the marble cover-plate protecting the bedrock burial bench of Jesus’ Tomb. The present Edicule was built in 1810 following a destructive fire; the previous major restoration was carried out in 1555. Thus, it is a historic unveiling.

This latest development is featured in a short video released by the Friancscans this past Friday, November 4th (click on the link below). What the restorers and technicians have documented is an earlier, partially broken marble slab (or two?), presumably from the Crusader period, inscribed with a cross. Beneath that, the surviving bedrock of the original tomb chamber is visible.

Below are two screen-capture images from the Terra Santa News video: The first is an overhead photo by National Geographic (reportedly producing a special to be aired next year) showing the removal of the top-most slab in progress. The second image is of a detailed drawing of what was revealed underneath.


Removal of the marble cover-plate. (Photo: National Geographic)



Artist’s rendering of the broken Crusader-era marble slab(s) and the bedrock surface beneath. [CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]

The question remains: how much further can or will the researchers go? It seems that full documentation of what remains of the original, rock-hewn tomb structure lies well beyond the scope of this generally conservative restoration of the 1810 structure. Some pertinent questions–ones that will probably never be answered–are: How was the original bedrock tomb configured; what kind of burial niche(s) did it feature, if any (as a “new”, perhaps unfinished, tomb); and how/how much was all that altered in the creation of Constantine’s 4th century church? Related: How much damage was actually done to the exposed rock by over-eager pilgrims over the course of several hundred years, before the walls and superstructure of the shaped bedrock tomb-shrine were demolished in the year 1009?

For more background on these terms and concepts, see my extended article on the history of the church, HERE.

To view the 5-minute video, click on the following link:

UPDATE / 10 DEC 2016

More good information on the exposure of the rock is found in an article published on-line by National Geographic on 31 OCT.

Posted in Antiquities, Archaeology, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem Antiquities, VIDEOS | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ of Israel’s Citizenship Laws: 7 minutes with Jonathan Cook

In this short video segment, Nazareth-based journalist, author and guide Jonathan Cook helps us understand the history and legally entrenched intricacies of “citizenship” within the state of Israel, vis-a-vis Jews worldwide, Arab-Israeli citizens, and the stateless Palestinians of the Occupied Territories.

Drawing partly on his own personal journey — he’s a British national who married an Arab-Israeli citizen and finally, despite many roadblocks, gained Israeli citizenship —  Cook unravels some of the profound, institutionalized inequalities embedded within Israeli “democracy”.

Posted in Israel-Palestine Scene, Modern History, Occupied Territories, Palestinians, Racism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Report from the Trenches of “Globalization” and “Free Trade”

Maybe the terms “Globalization” and “Free Trade” cause your eyes (like mine) — understandably — to glaze over. If so, award-winning independent journalist Sandy Tolan, drawing on his broad experience immersed in other cultures, offers a primer on what these concepts (which sound like they should benefit everyone) really entail, who really wins and loses. Hint: It’s about much, much more than “American jobs”.

Using as a springboard this summer’s ‘Brexit’ vote in Britain (to detach that country from the European Economic Community), Tolan leaves theory behind, cuts through the corporate-driven neoliberal blather, and takes a hard look at the real impacts on real people. His special concern is for the most vulnerable, those left struggling in forgotten corners of our planet, far from the corporate boardrooms. Lamenting the fact that right-wing nativists (on both sides of the Atlantic) have often dominated the pushback against “free trade”, Tolan attempts to reshape and reclaim the whole conversation.

Beyond his wide experience, Tolan really does his homework– so, if you have time, the embedded links will provide much valuable background.

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Brexit’s ‘Meaning’? Globalization Sucks.

After decades reporting from around the world, the author concludes the EU, NAFTA, and similar schemes have brought many people more misery than prosperity.

Sandy Tolan

by SANDY TOLAN / 30 June 2016

For the past 35 years I’ve traveled as a journalist through the broken, impoverished back roads of globalization, from Mexico to Egypt, from Ecuador to Central America to Bulgaria to American Indian country, where the free trade wisdom of the political and investment class has brought precious little wealth, or even “stability,” whatever that means, to ordinary people on the ground.

And so I am more than a little skeptical of the simplistic explanation that pro-Brexit voters were simply racist old people with no regard for their grandchildren.  Like rust-belt refugees in the U.S., these people obviously saw nothing beneficial coming from the disastrous trade and debt agreements, from NAFTA to the Greek and Spanish austerity arrangements, so smugly promoted by the likes of Blair, Cameron, Merkel and the Clintons.

Sure, racist and xenophobic fear-mongering, echoing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, played a significant role in Brexit.  And yes, the vote provides a dangerous opening for xenophobic political movements in Europe and the U.S.

But far less understood is the legitimate fury of voters who are sick of being ignored and patronized by false promises of free trade and global integration.  Commentaries decrying the ignorant commoner who failed to take heed of the “the opinions of economists and business leaders” assume that such advice was somehow worth heeding.

Based on my three-plus decades navigating the flotsam of globalization, I see little evidence for that.

In 1990, a free trade evangelist in the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa assured me that  George Bush the Elder’s “Enterprise for the Americas” would lower trade barriers, bring jobs to Central Americans and facilitate cheap exports like melons and shrimp to the U.S.

Who cashed in? Continue reading

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Parsing America’s New Military Aid Giveaway to Israel

Award-winning independent journalist Jonathan Cook analyzes and puts in context the latest package of American military aid to what is already by far the strongest and most advanced military in the Middle East. Amounting to $38,000,000,000 over 10 years (beginning in 2019), it is far more than the US gives to any other nation on earth, for any purpose– almost $500 per year for every Israeli man, woman and child.

Really, it’s a win-win deal– but only if you consider it a plus that America further enhance its shameful role as the world’s #1 merchant of death. Cook calls it a “triple boon to the US weapons industry”, beyond representing a blatant taxpayer subsidy of America’s arms makers, the country’s most powerful lobby. Politically, Netanyahu, Obama, and Hillary Clinton all stand to benefit from the deal, as Cook explains.

Oh, yes, there is one clear loser: It is, not surprisingly, the Palestinian people– and any lingering hopes they might have for ending the nearly 50-year Israeli occupation, achieving their basic human rights, or indeed even putting the brakes on their systematic dispossession.

The original article is found on-line HERE, along with Cook’s bio, publications, email subscription, etc.

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Palestinians lose in US military aid deal with Israel


The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Mr Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Mr Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal. Continue reading

Posted in Israel-Palestine Scene, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Modern History, Occupied Territories, Palestinians, Politics, The Occupation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Has Israeli “democracy” passed its tipping point?

Israeli expulsion law ‘violates all rules of democracy’

Critics fear the new legislation is designed to empty the Knesset of its Palestinian parties

by Jonathan Cook  – 24 July 2016

Jonathan CookIsrael’s parliament, the Knesset, awarded itself a draconian new power last week: A three-quarters majority of its members can now expel an elected politician if they do not like his or her views.

According to Adalah, a law centre representing the fifth of Israel’s population who are Palestinian citizens, the so-called expulsion law has no parallel in any democratic state. The group noted that it was the latest in a series of laws designed to strictly circumscribe the rights of Israel’s Palestinian minority and curb dissent.

Others fear that the measure is designed to empty the Knesset of its Palestinian parties.

“This law violates all rules of democracy and the principle that minorities should be represented,” Mohammed Zeidan, director of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth, told Al Jazeera. “It sends a message to the public that it is possible, even desirable, to have a Jewish-only Knesset.”

The four Palestinian parties in the parliament, in a coalition called the Joint List, issued an open letter on Friday warning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government “want a Knesset without Arabs”.

Zeidan noted how quickly that could happen: “It would only require one Palestinian legislator to be expelled and there would be enormous pressure on the others to resign their seats in protest.”

Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian Knesset member (MK) for the Joint List, said the law created “MKs on probation”, intimidating them into silence or “good behaviour”. Its effect, he added, would be to strip tens of thousands of voters of the right to representation.

MKs ‘on probation’

Those advancing the law, including Netanyahu, have done little to conceal their intention to use the measure against only Palestinian MKs. The Joint List has 13 seats and is currently the third-largest faction in the 120-seat Knesset.

The legislation’s immediate target is Haneen Zoabi, a politician with the Balad party who is reviled by most Jewish MKs. The measure was originally termed the Zoabi Law.

Late last month, in a dramatic prelude to the law’s passing, more than a dozen Jewish MKs stormed across the chamber towards Zoabi as she made a speech concerning the Israeli government’s reconciliation pact with Turkey. She had to be protected by Knesset guards.

She had outraged the MKs by referring to the “murder” of 10 humanitarian activists by Israeli commandos in 2010. The Israeli navy attacked an aid flotilla, in which Zoabi participated, as it sailed in international waters from Turkey to Gaza. The incident led to the split with Ankara.

Rather than criticise the Jewish MKs, Netanyahu said Zoabi had “crossed every line” with her comments against the commandos and there was “no room for her in the Knesset”.

Similarly, opposition leader Isaac Herzog called for all of Zoabi’s speeches to be censored from the Knesset TV channel.

Dangerous escalation

Celebrating the law’s passage, Netanyahu posted on social media: “Those who support terrorism against Israel and its citizens will not serve in the Israeli Knesset.”

Zeidan said the new law was a “dangerous escalation” in a wider trend of suppressing dissent and inciting hatred. “We are entering a new era. Before, there were racist laws and policies, but now we are heading rapidly towards outright fascism.

“The constant incitement against the Palestinian minority from the prime minister down moves this on to the street, where there will be more violence and more attacks from the Jewish public on Palestinian citizens.”

Zoabi was reported to have refused a Knesset bodyguard this month, even though the level of threats against her required it, according to Israeli police.

Proceedings against a politician can be initiated with the backing of 70 MKs. An expulsion will be carried out if 90 MKs find that the politician either incited racism or supported armed struggle against Israel. There is no definition in the legislation of what constitutes “support”.

The Knesset will be able to take into account the legislator’s statements – and the majority’s interpretation of them – and not just actions or stated aims, noted Adalah.

Until now, a politician could be removed from the Knesset only if convicted of a serious crime.

Fear of kangaroo court

Netanyahu spearheaded the legislation in February after Zoabi and her two Balad colleagues in the Knesset, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas, met a dozen Palestinian families from occupied East Jerusalem whose sons had been killed either during lone-wolf attacks or in clashes with security services. The three MKs promised to help put pressure on the government to return the bodies for burial.

Israeli officials claimed the visit was tantamount to support for “terror”. The three were suspended from the Knesset for several months. Under the new law, they could be permanently expelled.

Zahalka, leader of the Balad party, said Palestinian MKs would face a “kangaroo court, where hostile MKs serve as judge and jury”.

He said the Joint List faction was preparing to send a letter to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an organisation representing 170 parliaments worldwide, urging it to oust the Knesset from membership.

Given the large majority needed for an MK’s expulsion to take place, some have claimed the new law will be nearly impossible to implement.

Zahalka disagreed. He told Al Jazeera: “If you see a gun in the first act, you know it will be used in the last act. And so with this law. When we have the next ’emergency’ or the next war, Jewish MKs – even those who now criticise the law – will rally to expel those who are outside the consensus.”

Record suspension

Zoabi has found herself repeatedly rounded on by almost all the Jewish parties in the Knesset.

In the summer of 2014, during a major Israeli attack on Gaza, the Knesset’s ethics committee suspended her for a record six months – the longest period then allowed.

During an Israeli radio interview, she had criticised Palestinians behind the abduction of three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank, but refused to call them “terrorists”. The Israelis were later found dead.

Zahalka said Palestinian MKs now faced an “extraordinary” situation. “In every country, parliamentary immunity confers on legislators greater rights than ordinary citizens to help them carry out their parliamentary duties,” he said. “Only in Israel will elected representatives have more restricted freedom of speech and action than ordinary citizens.”

The expulsion law follows the outlawing last year of the northern Islamic Movement, the largest extra-parliamentary movement among the Palestinian minority in Israel. Its head, Sheikh Raed Salah, is considered a spiritual leader to a large section of the community.

At the time, Netanyahu hinted that the Islamic Movement was linked to “terror” activity. Leaks from government ministers to the Haaretz newspaper, however, revealed that the Israeli security services had found no such ties.

Battle against Arab parties

Zeidan observed that the Israeli right had been waging a battle to rid the Knesset of Palestinian parties for some time.

Over the past 15 years, the Central Elections Committee, which is dominatedby Jewish parties, has repeatedly tried to ban Palestinian MKs from standing for election. However, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the decisions on appeal.

In 2014, the government tried a different route. It passed a Threshold Law, raising the proportion of votes needed to win a place in the Knesset. The threshold was set too high for the four small Palestinian parties to clear it.

The move, however, backfired. The parties responded by forming the Joint List and became one of the largest blocs in the Knesset after last year’s general election.

It was in this context, noted Zeidan, that on the eve of the election, Netanyahu made his much-criticised comment warning that “Arabs are coming out in droves to the polls”.

Asad Ghanem, a politics professor at Haifa University, told Al Jazeera that the expulsion law might realise for Netanyahu his stated goal of discouraging participation by the Palestinian electorate. Turnout had fallen to barely more than half of the minority’s voters before the Joint List’s creation in time for the 2015 election.

“If we see these attacks on Arab representation in the Knesset continue,” Ghanem said, “then voters may conclude that enough is enough and that it is time to withdraw from the political game.”



MORE >>>

If you’ve read this far, have a look at Jonathan Cook’s follow-up post of August 1, 2016 which broadens the picture of what it means to be a Palestinian citizen of the State of Israel:

Palestinians inside Israel are under attack

And this, his September 2016 post detailing Israel’s creeping criminalization of political activity among its Arab-Palestinian citizens:

Palestinians in Israel warn of bid to ‘criminalise’ political activity



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