Or if “heresy” is not really part of your vocabulary, then think: Idolatry. Or, if your world-view falls outside any religious framework, just consider it a troubling delusion held by millions of your fellow citizens. However you categorize it, this phenomenon is dangerously distorting American foreign policy, inciting conflict, and blindly denying the human rights, and human worth, of an entire people half a world away. (Perhaps surprisingly, the documentary featured here was produced with the assistance of, inter alia, the Israel Film Council, Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation, and the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport.) In any event, view the thought-provoking film (free) HERE:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, on 27 DEC 2022 various Israeli government entities and settler organizations made a surprise announcement: Jerusalem’s lower Pool of Siloam is to be excavated and exposed in its entirety in the coming months, and ultimately opened to tourist traffic. Beginning in 2004, the northern section of the pool has already been excavated and connected with adjoining ancient features — stepped streets, an underground drainage channel and, most notably, Hezekiah’s Tunnel. All of these have been open to tourist access, under settler control, for several years, while the greater (southern) extent of the pool remained in the hands of its longtime owners, the Greek Orthodox Church — until now. Now, based on some supposed “agreement” with the Greeks — as yet totally opaque — the state and its settler agents have forcibly taken control of the place.
Will you invest 12 minutes in a deeper understanding of the everyday realities facing the native Christians of Jesus’ homeland, particularly those of the Bethlehem region? Their numbers have been shrinking steadily over the past seven decades, and the reasons may not be self-evident.
Hint: It’s not due to persecution from their Muslim neighbors — that is a red herring and a mostly invented narrative, promulgated both by the State of Israel and, sadly, by many Western Evangelical Christians. In fact, all Arab Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza — Christian and Muslim alike — face the same basic existential challenges: Living as a state-less people, burdened under a 55-year-long belligerent military occupation (the UN’s term, not mine), and hemmed in since 2002 by a detestable Separation Barrier, with all the elements of control and creeping dispossession those conditions imply.
On-screen you’ll meet a young Palestinian theologian, an artisan and shopkeeper and other ordinary residents, the pastor of Bethlehem’s foremost Protestant church — and visitors from overseas who’ve dared to take an honest look behind The Wall and take to heart what they see there.
Also highlighted is the Nassar family and their 30-year ordeal to retain possession of their ancestral family farm a few miles southwest of Bethlehem. I’ve written before about the Nassars and their Tent of Nations project, and their perseverance and inspired creativity in the face of unimaginable state-sanctioned oppression.
Well, if you’re ready to invest, here are the 12 minutes — CLICK HEREto view the video.
An interesting photo essay published online by NPR the other day provides a reminder that the Dead Sea, a truly unique geographic feature and ecosystem, is still on the path to oblivion. Its shrinkage still stands at an alarming one meter or more per year — that’s the actual vertical drop in the water level, not the advance of the shoreline, which is greater.
Several solutions have been suggested over the past few decades, including canal-pipeline schemes (Med-to-Dead, Red-to-Dead) to connect the lake to other regional bodies of water, but none has been pursued thus far. The only real solution, in my opinion — which has never been seriously considered — is to restore the Jordan River/ Sea of Galilee system to its natural, free-flowing status, instead of ruthlessly tapping it to meet the water needs of the surrounding countries — Israel, Syria and Jordan — which was already well underway by the mid-1960s.
Anyway, I was shocked to learn that The Ein Gedi public beach, traditionally one of the most popular bathing spots on the Sea’s northern basin — has now been completely closed, apparently for some time! The reason: dangerous sinkholes related to the dissolution of salt-beds beneath the shore areas, a phenomenon already becoming a problem 20 to 30 years ago.
One curious fact which I learned in my seemingly long-ago tour guide training: The Sea’s southern basin is today a completely separate body of water, with it’s own dynamics. Consisting solely of a series of evaporation pans for the commercial extraction of minerals, even its floor stands many meters above the surface of the northern basin, with the differential increasing all the time. In other words, it’s actually rising as water is pumped up and out of the northern basin into the southern, simply exacerbating the shrinkage of the former. In the south, the floors of the evaporation impoundments are constantly rising, from the accumulation of unwanted minerals that precipitate out. This situation is managed, after a fashion, by periodically dredging this material and piling into massive salt-berms that serve to contain the ever-rising water level! It’s really quite curious, and rather counter-intuitive.
So, whenever you see present-day photos of hotels near the Dead Sea shoreline, and bathers lounging near the water on a flat beach — it’s the southern basin. At least that was the situation 15 years ago, and I presume it’s the same today.
A recent book on Jerusalem, focusing on the walled Old City, seeks to not only demythologize the place but shed light on many of its untold stories, both old and new. It is by British journalist, travel writer and broadcaster Matthew Teller and entitled Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City.
For a nice sample of the contents of this work, see the REVIEW published a few months ago on the “Jerusalem Story” web-site. The site is well worth a visit in its own right, offering glimpses of Jerusalem life, culture, history (and politics) you will not encounter just anywhere (you can subscribe to their web-log and be notified of new offerings by email).
Spoiler alert: The notion of the “Four Quarters” Teller traces to a mid-19th century visitor who imposed a British-colonial way of looking upon the city’s mélange of ethnicities, languages and religions. Not only is it an artificial construct, Teller says, but one largely foreign to the people who actually live there, both then and now!
The rest I will allow you to discover on your own. Happy reading!
Youseff Munayeer, a non-resident fellow at the Arab Center Washington, recently published an essay in the journal Foreign Policy entitled “The Long Arm of Israeli Repression”. Echoing similar analysis from numerous other media outlets, he deals with Israel’s recent decision to designate several human rights groups as “terrorist” organizations, putting it in league with the world’s other most repressive regimes. Munayeer writes, in part:
Ensuring that European and North American decision-makers hear less and less about Israel’s human rights violations has always been the repression network’s overarching goal. […]
It doesn’t matter if the allegations are entirely bogus, the point is to put human rights defenders themselves on the defensive, smear their reputations, and attack or intimidate their donors. […] As the director-general of [Israel’s] Strategic Affairs Ministry once acknowledged, “We are not fighting with facts. We’re not fighting by telling the truth.”
To read the entire piece, visit the FP website, HERE…
Many of my posts point via links to articles from Haaretz newspaper on-line. Most links should still work, however in 2012 Haaretz began offering much of its new content by subscription only. BUT anyone can access up to 6 articles per month for FREE by registering (not subscribing), at www.Haaretz.com. If you experience problems in this area, please let me know!
"Anyone with half a brain and half a heart--unless he or she willfully chooses not to know, not to see--will sooner or later figure out just what has gone on in this country historically, and what continues to go on every day. One need only look at the prevailing paradigm of Power and Control: who has it and how they have used it, who has been aggrandized and who, even now, are being dispossessed. Once decent people begin to understand these things--and it's not that hard--they will not, indeed they cannot, remain silent." -- ANONYMOUS
to be tough, try kindness
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." -- FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT
“If you fear making anyone mad, then you ultimately probe for the lowest common denominator of human achievement.” — JIMMY CARTER
“Travel makes you speechless, then it turns you into a storyteller.” — 14th century Moroccan traveler IBN BATTUTA
if you are neutral
"If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has his feet on the tail of a mouse and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." -- DESMOND TUTU
always take sides
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Holocaust survivor & Nobel Laureate ELIE WIESEL
denigrating the Holocaust
"After the Holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything." -- Israeli Prime Minister GOLDA MEIR, to MK Shulamit Aloni
I’ll be long gone
"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." — GEORGE W. BUSH, Washington D.C., May 12, 2008
“When you see something that’s wrong, eventually you have to do something about it.” --ROSA PARKS
behind the veil
"Once you see behind the veil, you cannot un-see what lies there." --ANONYMOUS
whoever sees a wrong
"Whoever sees a wrong and is able to put it right with his hand, let him do so; if he can’t, then with his tongue; if he can’t, then with his heart. That is the bare minimum of faith." -- Attributed to the Prophet MOHAMMED, in one of the hadith.
"I know what it feels like to be discriminated against, to be oppressed, and I can’t stand idly by when I see there are problems... Anyone that stands idly by becomes complicit in what is going on." --Holocaust survivor and peace activist HEDY EPSTEIN (1924-2016)
if you don’t think
“If you don’t think too good… don’t think too much.” — (The late, great) TED WILLIAMS
you shall know the truth
“You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you odd!” --FLANNERY O’CONNOR
"There is a world of pleasure in contrariness." -- WENDELL BERRY, American thinker, writer and activist