Tag Archives: Holy Land

Forbes: Peace Through Profits — Inside The Secret Partnerships That May Save The Middle East

By Forbes Corporate Communications, Forbes Staff New York, NY (July 24, 2013) — As Israeli and Palestinian politicians lurch towards talks, entrepreneurs have been quietly taking action. The Forbes cover story, Peace Through Profits (p. 72), takes readers inside the secret business arrangements that may save the Middle East, detailing hundreds of clandestine meetings, investments and partnerships.  One group of entrepreneurs, brought together by , is speaking a common language: tech management. Nearly 100 times over the past two years, Israeli high-tech experts have come together in the hope of making Israel’s “Startup Nation” economic miracle a cross-border affair.  Dozens of businesses are quietly – and in some cases secretly – collaborating across the Holy Land.     , like Cisco, is working to improve the Palestinian IT sector, and it has established meet-ups.  And in late May, brought 100 Palestinian and Israeli tech leaders to its new Tel Aviv headquarters for an afternoon of speeches, introductions and deal making. Where the sides differ is in their thinking about how all this relates to a future peace. …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Israel at 65: Success still plagued by uncertainty

In 65 years, Israel has surpassed the dreams of its founders, emerging as the Middle East‘s strongest military force, a global high-tech powerhouse and a prosperous homeland for the Jewish people.

Yet it remains a divided society, and its most intractable problem — peace with its Arab neighbors — has yet to be resolved.

On the eve of the 65th anniversary of its creation, the Jewish renaissance in the Holy Land remains a work in progress.

Dominating the short term is Iran‘s nuclear program, which Israel believes is aimed at developing an atomic weapon that could be used against the Jewish state, despite Iranian denials. Unrest along Israel‘s borders is equally worrisome.

Over the longer term, reaching peace with the Palestinians remains elusive, with the sides unable to agree even on how to restart negotiations. Palestinians consider creation of Israel a catastrophe that caused a stubborn refugee problem.

The 46-year occupation of Palestinian territories also ignites domestic and international tensions. Without a partition, Arabs could one day outnumber Jews, threatening Israel‘s democratic nature.

Israel began observing its annual Memorial Day on Sunday evening, honoring fallen soldiers and victims of militant attacks. At 8 p.m., air raid sirens sounded nationwide to mark a minute of silence. A two-minute siren was set for Monday morning.

At sundown Monday, the country abruptly shifts its mood to mark its 65th Independence Day with fireworks, military processions and picnics. The transformation from grief to joy is an annual ritual meant to show the link between the sacrifices and the accomplishments.

“Today there are also those who rise up against us and threaten to destroy us. They did not succeed in the past, and they will never succeed,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Memorial Day ceremony Sunday. Netanyahu’s older brother, Yonatan, was killed in a military operation in 1976.

Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, marking the date each year on the Hebrew calendar. Since then, it has been in a constant state of conflict with its neighbors, most recently eight days of exchanges last November with Palestinian militants firing rockets from the Gaza Strip. It has signed peace treaties with just two Arab nations, Egypt and Jordan.

Yet the country

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/YGWTcgvam-Q/

Palestinians building museum to tell their story

Palestinians on Thursday began construction of the West Bank‘s largest museum devoted to their history, planning to tell diverse stories of Palestinians in their land and of millions who live abroad.

The museum represents a step in the Palestinian quest for statehood by creating a repository for 200 years of history, alongside galleries and space for debates about the Palestinian cause, said director Jack Persekian.

“I am hoping that this museum would be able to give the opportunity for many Palestinians to tell their stories. We are looking at a museum that doesn’t have one particular narrative line that it wants to consecrate through its exhibits,” he said.

The privately funded museum, which has government support, is the biggest such project the Palestinians have undertaken in terms of scale, space and budgets.

Persekian hoped the museum would tell stories not just of Palestinian Muslims and Christians, but also of Jews who lived in what was Britain-administered Palestine before Israel was founded in 1948.

“We would like to think about (the museum) in an inclusive way,” he said.

The museum draws attention to the conflicting narratives at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For Jews, the establishment of Israel reinforced the homecoming of an exiled people with ties to the Holy Land going back thousands of years. Palestinians refer to the establishment of Israel, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who either fled or were driven from their homes, as their “nakba,” or catastrophe.

Israel has dozens of museums with vast collections of biblical texts and artifacts connecting the Jewish people to the Holy Land. Palestinians have about 30 museums in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, the areas where they hope to establish a state, but nothing on the scale of the new project.

The $15 million first phase is scheduled to take two years to build and cover 3,000 square meters, or 32,000 square feet, of space. The planned glass and stone building was designed by the Dublin-based architectural firm Heneghan Peng, which is also building the new Egyptian national museum.

Dozens of Palestinian officials attended the laying of the museum’s foundation stone on Thursday on a grassy hill near the Palestinian university town

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/IluUsoWFHKY/

President Obama Marks the End of Easter Season at Prayer Breakfast

By Megan Slack

Watch this video on YouTube

Today, the President and Vice President marked the end of the Easter season with a prayer breakfast at the White House.

President Obama said that this year was particularly special for him because he visited the Holy Land just before Easter, including the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.

There, I had a chance to pray and reflect on Christ’s birth, and His life, His sacrifice, His Resurrection, the President said. “And I was reminded that while our time on Earth is fleeting, He is eternal. His life, His lessons live on in our hearts and, most importantly, in our actions. When we tend to the sick, when we console those in pain, when we sacrifice for those in need, wherever and whenever we are there to give comfort and to guide and to love, then Christ is with us.

So this morning, let us pray that we’re worthy of His many blessings, that this nation is worthy of His many blessings. Let us promise to keep in our hearts, in our souls, in our minds, on this day and on every day, the life and lessons of Christ, our Lord.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at The White House

Christians in the Holy Land celebrate Easter

Catholics in the Holy Land are celebrating Easter with prayers and services.

Worshippers prayed Sunday in the ancient church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, built on the site where tradition holds Jesus was crucified, briefly entombed and then resurrected.

Christians believe Jesus was resurrected on Easter. Roman Catholics and Protestants, who follow the new, Gregorian calendar, celebrate Easter on Sunday. Orthodox Christians, who follow the old, Julian calendar, will mark it in May.

Protestants held Easter ceremonies outside Jerusalem’s walled Old City at the Garden Tomb, which some identify as the site of Jesus’ burial. Another service was held at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Jesus’ traditional birthplace.

…read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Good Friday events in Holy Land kick off with mass

Hundreds of Christians are marking the crucifixion of Jesus in the Holy Land.

Worshippers have packed Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulcher church, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, buried and resurrected, for a morning mass that started Good Friday events.

Roman Catholics and Protestants will walk in processions following Jesus’ footsteps in Jerusalem’s Old City later in the day. And a mass at a church in Bethlehem, built atop the site where Jesus is believed to have been born, takes place in the evening.

Pilgrims and tourists from around the world descend on holy sites in Jerusalem for Easter week.

Christians believe Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and resurrected on Easter Sunday. Orthodox Christians, who follow the older, Julian calendar, will this year mark Good Friday in May.

…read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

European women marry, give hope to Samaritans

The Samaritans, a rapidly dwindling sect dating to biblical times, have opened their insular community to brides imported from eastern Europe in a desperate quest to preserve their ancient culture.

Five young women from Russia and Ukraine have moved to this hilltop village in recent years to marry local men, breathing new life into the community that has been plagued by genetic diseases caused by generations of intermarriage.

Husni Cohen, a 69-year-old village elder, said the marriages are not ideal, since there is always a risk that the newcomers may decide to leave. But in a community whose population has fallen to roughly 360 people, he saw little choice.

“If this is the only solution to our problem, we must take this road. We Samaritans don’t have enough women to marry, so I can’t tell our young men not to marry and not to start a family,” he said. He warned, however, that if the families don’t adhere to the Samaritan religion and traditions, “then our future is in danger.”

For Alla Evdokimova, so far, so good. She left Ukraine, married and joined the community two years ago. “I came here and found a big family,” said Evdokimova, 26.

The Samaritans have lived in the Holy Land for thousands of years. They are probably best known for the parable of the Good Samaritan in the New Testament Book of Luke. Samaritans believe themselves to be the remnants of Israelites exiled by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. They practice a religion closely linked to Judaism and venerate a version of the Old Testament, but they are not Jews.

In the fourth and fifth centuries, the Samaritan population is thought to have topped 1.5 million, but religious persecution and economic hardship had nearly erased it by the early 20th century. Today, there are 750 Samaritans — split between communities in the Israeli city of Holon, near Tel Aviv, and near the West Bank city of Nablus on Mount Gerizim, the group’s holiest place and site of its yearly Passover sacrifice. The Samaritans, who hold both Israeli and Palestinian residency rights, try to steer clear of politics.

Their numbers have been further reduced by the decision by 10 women in recent years to marry outside the community, resulting in excommunication. Today, males outnumber females roughly three to one.

With a limited pool of potential partners, it is common …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Pope Francis reaches out to Jews

Like his predecessor, Pope Francis reached out to Rome‘s Jewish community at the very start of his pontificate, pledging to continue to strengthen the increasingly close ties between Catholics and Jews.

Just hours after he was elected the first non-European pope in history, Francis sent a letter to Rome‘s chief rabbi Riccardo di Segni, saying he hoped to “contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics” have seen since the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

Jewish leaders welcomed the election of a pontiff seen as an ally when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Israeli President Shimon Peres said Francis would be a “welcome guest in the Holy Land” while Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, said the new pope “always had an open ear for our concerns.”

“By choosing such an experienced man, someone who is known for his open-mindedness, the cardinals have sent an important signal to the world,” Lauder said. “I am sure that Pope Francis I will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths.”

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, as he was known before he became pope, showed as Buenos Aires archbishop an inclination to expand interfaith outreach to Islam and Judaism, and made efforts to further close the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with the Orthodox churches.

He was widely praised for his aid to Buenos Aires‘ Jewish community following the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Center that killed 85 people. Iran has been blamed for the attack, but denied any links. A joint Argentine-Iranian “truth commission” is studying the evidence.

“We hope that his word and his example contribute to the achievement of harmony brotherhood and peace among all peoples,” the Italian Rabbinical Assembly said, pledging to do its part to foster dialogue between Jews and Catholics “with mutual respect for their respective identities.”

Francis’ predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, worked toward reconciliation between Catholics and Jews during their papacies.

Benedict’s first official act as pope was a letter to Rome‘s Jewish community and he became the second pope in history, after John Paul, to enter a synagogue. However, he met harsh criticism when he lifted the excommunication of a bishop who turned out to be a Holocaust-denier.

Lauder said the World Jewish Congress, …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

The Jesuits, veterans of tense times with Vatican

While the Vatican has picked the highly disciplined Jesuits as advance men for planning papal pilgrimages and to run its worldwide broadcasting network, the notion of a Jesuit pope is still being absorbed in the Holy See.

Before Pope Francis, no one from the nearly 500-year-old missionary order had been pope.

Previous popes have punished Jesuit theologians for being too progressive in preaching and teaching. The last pontiff, Benedict XVI, sent a polite but firm letter inviting the order’s worldwide members to pledge “total adhesion” to Catholic doctrine, including on divorce, homosexuality and liberation theology.

So, just what is the Society of Jesus, as the Jesuit order is formally called, and what makes it so appreciated yet so feared at times by the Vatican?


Seven men, who bonded together as they took their first religious vows of chastity and poverty in Paris in 1534, founded the Company of Jesus. It later changed its name to the Society of Jesus.

Principal founder was St. Ignatius of Loyola, and companions in the venture included St. Francis Xavier, whose evangelical zeal inspired, along with Franciscan founder St. Francis of Assisi, the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in his pontifical name choice, Pope Francis.

Visitors in Rome can see the four small rooms where Ignatius spent his final years, including the bedroom where he died and the dining room where he chatted with missionaries before they set out for India or the Americas.


The order counts some 19,000 members worldwide, making it the largest male religious order in the world.


The founders first hoped to go to the Holy Land to convert Muslims, but when Turkish warfare foiled those plans, they headed to Rome instead. Their order’s constitution won papal approval in 1540.

The Jesuits set off to foreign lands where they zealously toiled as missionaries. Francis Xavier and Matteo Ricci, an Italian who helped introduce Christianity to China in the 16th century, were among them. In Latin America and North America, the Jesuits were nicknamed “Black Robes” …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Old Catholic orders fade as monks and nuns age

The nuns of “Le Creche,” the only orphanage in Bethlehem, have raised generations of children in this biblical town.

But only four aging nuns remain, down from a dozen 30 years ago, and the Roman Catholic church is struggling to replace them. In the meantime, they have hired a professional staff to do jobs once solely performed by nuns.

“I am happy for the life I have chosen,” said Sister Elisabeth Noirot, 58, of the Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, one of the Holy Land‘s largest and oldest Catholic orders, which runs the orphanage. “But it is in the hands of God if others will follow.”

Similar scenes are occurring across the Holy Land, where hospitals, schools and charities are feeling the effects of a dwindling population of monks and nuns to run them. In some cases, they have hired increasing numbers of lay people and professionals to cover the shortfall. In others, well-established orders have handed over emptied, coveted properties to newer Christian groups.

“We are going through a long period of passage, of transition,” said the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, head of the Franciscan order in the Middle East and a top church official in the Holy Land. “We are changing in different ways. We have not to be desperate.”

The shrinking numbers of apostolic orders, where nuns and monks undertake a charity or service, mirror a similar trend in the Christian population in the Holy Land and the broader Middle East.

Less than 2 percent of the population of Israel and the Palestinian territories today is Christian, down from more than 7 percent around the time of Israel‘s independence 65 years ago, according to Naim Ateek, director the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, a leading Christian think tank.

Several factors are behind the decline, including higher birthrates of Jews and Muslims and an exodus driven by continued Israeli-Palestinian violence and better opportunities in the West. In some instances, particularly in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, Christians have been subject to intimidation by a minority of Muslims.

Before retiring, Pope Benedict XVI expressed deep concerns about Christians in the Middle East. On his final foreign trip, a visit to Lebanon last September, Benedict warned that a Middle East without Christians “would no longer be the Middle East.” The plight of Catholics in the cradle of Christianity is sure …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

At 900 years, Knights of Malta confronts modernity

Matthew Festing — aka His Most Eminent Highness The Prince and Grand Master of the Knights of Malta — bounds into the sitting room of his magnificent Renaissance palazzo sweaty and somewhat disheveled, and asks an aide if he should take off his sweater to be photographed.

Garrulous and self-effacing, Festing embodies some of the paradoxes of a fabled Catholic religious order that dates from the medieval Crusades: Steeped in European nobility and mystique, the order’s mission is humility and charity — running hospitals, ambulance services and old folks’ homes around the globe. It has many trappings of a country, printing its own stamps, coins, license plates and passports, and yet — a stateless state — it rules over no territory.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta‘s world headquarters, down the block from the Spanish Steps and with an Hermes boutique on the corner, features reception rooms draped in oil portraits of grand masters past and a gem of a chapel where King Juan Carlos of Spain was baptized by the future Pope Pius XII. On the ground floor, it runs a health clinic that, while private, provides free services for anyone who can’t pay.

“It is, I suppose, a series of contradictions,” Festing told The Associated Press ahead of the order’s 900th birthday this week. “I’m on the inside of it, so it doesn’t seem to be contradictory to me, but maybe it is.”

And as the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, as the group is officially called, celebrates the anniversary on Feb. 9 with a procession through St. Peter’s Square, a Mass in the basilica and an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, the ancient order is confronting some very modern-day issues.

Once drawn exclusively from Europe‘s nobility, the order is trying to shed its image as a purely rich man’s club while still tapping the world’s wealthy to fund its charitable work. And though its military past is well behind it, the order is waging real legal battles to fend off what it says are impostors seeking to piggyback on its name to con people out of money.

Festing, a 63-year-old Briton and former Sotheby’s auctioneer, is expansive about the unusual attributes of his organization of 13,500 Knights and Dames who make promises be good Christians and fund the order’s humanitarian work.

“On the one hand it’s a sovereign entity. On the other hand it’s a religious order. On the other hand it’s a humanitarian organization. It’s a complicated mixture of things,” he says in an interview in the gold silk brocaded state drawing room between meetings with parting Vatican nuncios and visiting ministers, diplomatic receptions and silent prayer.

The order traces its history to the 11th century with the establishment of an infirmary in Jerusalem that cared for people of all faiths making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. It is the last of the great lay chivalrous military orders like the Knights Templars that combined religious fervor with fierce military might to protect and expand Christendom from Islam’s advance during the Crusades.

In February 1113, Pope Paschal II issued a papal bull recognizing the order as independent from bishops or secular authorities. That “birth certificate,” as Festing calls it, is the legal basis for asserting the order’s sovereignty and the reason for Saturday’s anniversary celebrations at the Vatican.

Festing himself is a “Professed Knight” — the highest rank of members who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The poverty vow seems a bit relative in this context: Knights on the order’s governing council have their own private apartments inside the palace, complete with a valet and driver for cars that carry either diplomatic plates or the order’s own SMOM plates. Wine from the order’s own vineyards is often served.

Pope Benedict XVI is among the professed knights, though he’s an exception since professed knights aren’t ordained priests and traditionally descend from noble blood.

Festing, whose family traces their ancestry to 14th and 16th century knights, was elected grand master in 2008. It’s a title he holds for life and is equivalent to the rank of cardinal, though he can’t vote in a conclave to elect a pope.

Currently there are about 60 professed knights and Festing hopes to increase their numbers as he seeks to expand the rank-and-file base to a younger generation of equally Catholic but not necessarily noble classes around the globe.

“It’s not exactly out of date, but you can’t maintain that in the 21st century,” he says. “In general terms, in the old countries of Europe, we maintain the nobiliary requirement to an extent. But only to an extent. But in places like Australia, Central America, North America, Southeast Asia, it’s all done on a different basis.”

Members are still expected to chip in when natural disasters strike or wars erupt. Contributions in the tens of thousands of dollars (euros) are not unusual. Members also volunteer, bringing the sick to the shrine at Lourdes or pitching in at a one of the order’s clinics, like the maternity hospital it runs in Bethlehem just a few steps from Jesus’ traditional birthplace, where most of the patients are Muslim.

One perk of membership in the top ranks, reserved for men only, is the fabulous uniform: bright-red military-style jacket, with sword, spurs and epaulettes for official duties, a dark cloak with a white, eight-pointed Maltese Cross on the front for religious services.

All told, 98,000 members, employees and volunteers work in aid projects in 120 countries; the overall annual operating budget can run to euro 200 million, Festing says.

“We certainly don’t want to be, and in fact we’re not a sort of rich man’s club,” Festing insists. “To a sort of an extent you could say, ‘Well maybe they are, slightly.’ But that’s not the basis of it, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten in.”

That elite reputation, however, combined with the order’s genuine relief work, has earned it a level of prestige that few organizations can match. Governments, the European Union and U.N. agencies finance the order’s humanitarian operations; it has observer status at the United Nations and diplomatic relations with 104 countries — many in the developing world where such ties can help smooth the delivery of aid.

But the prestige has come with a price: Copycat orders have sprung up claiming to be the Knights of Malta or an offshoot that may or may not legitimately trace its origins to the group. These “false orders” prey on people eager to contribute to a Catholic charity thinking it’s sanctioned by the Holy See.

The con jobs are sometimes so good that even the Vatican has been fooled. In October, the Vatican issued a public reminder that it recognizes only two ancient equestrian orders — the Order of Malta and the Equestrian Order of the Holy See Sepulcher of Jerusalem — after a group purporting to be the knights obtained approval to host a ceremony within the Vatican walls, Festing said.

“It was entirely innocent,” on the part of the Vatican, said Festing. “But it wasn’t actually us, it was somebody else.”


Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Holocaust items put on display for remembrance day

When Stella Knobel’s family fled World War II Poland in 1939, the only thing the 7-year-old girl could take with her was her teddy bear. For the next six years, the stuffed animal never left her side as the family wondered through the Soviet Union, to Iran and finally the Holy Land.

“He was like family. He was all I had. He knew all my secrets,” the 80-year-old said with a smile. “I saved him all these years. But I worried what would happen to him when I died.”

So when she heard about a project launched by Yad Vashem, Israel‘s national Holocaust memorial and museum, to collect artifacts from aging survivors, she reluctantly handed over her beloved bear Misiu, Polish for “teddy bear,” so the memories of the era could be preserved.

“We’ve been through a lot together, so it was hard to let him go,” said Knobel, who was widowed 12 years ago and has no children. “But here he has found a haven.”

The German Nazis and their collaborators murdered 6 million Jews during World War II. In addition to rounding up Jews and shipping them to death camps, the Nazis also confiscated their possessions and stole their valuables, leaving little behind. Those who survived often had just a small item or two they managed to keep. Many have clung to the sentimental objects ever since.

On Sunday, Knobel’s tattered teddy bear was on display at Yad Vashem, one of more than 71,000 items collected nationwide over the past two years. With a missing eye, his stuffing bursting out and a red ribbon around his neck, Misiu was seated behind a glass window as part of the memorial’s “Gathering the Fragments” exhibit.

The opening came as other Holocaust-related events took place around the world.

In 2005, the United Nations designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking 60 years to the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

Israel‘s main Holocaust memorial day is in the spring, marking the anniversary of the uprising of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, against the Nazis.

To coincide with the international commemorations, Israel released its annual anti-Semitism report, noting that the past year experienced an increase in the number of attacks against Jewish targets worldwide, mainly by elements identified with Islamic extremists.

At Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the lessons of the Holocaust have yet to be learned. He accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons with the goal of destroying Israel.

“What has not changed is the desire to annihilate the Jews. What has changed is the ability of the Jews to defend themselves,” he said.

Yad Vashem showcased dozens of items, each representing tales of perseverance and survival. They included sweaters, paintings, diaries, letters, dolls, cameras and religious artifacts that were stashed away for decades or discarded before they were collected and restored.

Yad Vashem researchers have been interviewing survivors, logging their stories, tagging materials and scanning documents into the museum’s digitized archive.

Aside from their value as exhibits in the museum, Yad Vashem says the items are also proving helpful for research, filling in holes in history and contributing to the museum’s huge database of names.

“Thousands of Israelis have decided to part from personal items close to their hearts, and through them share the memory of their dear ones who were murdered in the Holocaust,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. “Through these examples, we have tried to bring to light items whose stories both explain the individual story and provide testimony to join the array of personal accounts that make up the narrative of the Holocaust.”

For 83-year-old Shlomo Resnik, one such item was the steel bowl he and his father used for food at the Dachau concentration camp. His father Meir’s name and number are engraved on the bowl, a reminder of how hard they had to scrap for food. “We fought to stay alive,” he said.

Approaching the glass-encased display, Tsilla Shlubsky began tearing. Below she could see the handwritten diary her father kept while the family took shelter with two dozen others in a small attic in the Polish countryside. With a pencil, Jakov Glazmann meticulously recorded the family’s ordeal in tiny Yiddish letters. His daughter doesn’t know exactly what is written and she doesn’t care to find out.

“I remember him writing. I lived through it,” said Shlubsky, 74. “Abba (Dad) wasn’t a writer, but with his heart’s blood he wrote a diary to record the events to leave something behind so that what had taken place would be known.”

She said it pained her to part with the family treasure.

“I know this is the right place for it and it will be protected forever,” she said. “Now is the time and this is the place.”


Follow Heller on Twitter at (at)aronhellerap

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Israel's Netanyahu appears poised for third term

With no viable alternative in sight, incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to secure a third term in office following Tuesday’s general election.

Netanyahu wraps up four years of relatively stable reign, in which he boasts of pushing the Iranian nuclear threat to the top of the international agenda, deterring terrorism against Israel and keeping its economy afloat despite a worldwide recession.

But critics point to a stalemate in peace talks with the Palestinians, an expansion of West Bank settlements and a rift with President Barack Obama that have characterized his term. A protest movement against the country’s high cost of living has cut into his public support, and the huge deficit his government has run up promises tough budget cuts following the election.

Even so, the country’s splintered opposition parties and their largely inexperienced leaders have little hope of unseating him.

Together with his three-year term as premier in the late 1990s, Netanyahu, 63, has now served longer than any other Israeli prime minister besides the country’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion.

Yet he has little to show for it on the diplomatic stage. The reason, academics explain, is Netanyahu’s stand-pat approach: He has refrained from taking bold, yet criticized, steps like those of his predecessors — Ehud Barak‘s peace offers to Syria and the Palestinians or Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

“He’s succeeded in doing nothing and therefore he can’t be blamed for anything,” said Reuven Hazan, a professor of political science at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. “The problem is that the status quo doesn’t hold in the Middle East. Things change and time isn’t working in our favor. Something has to be done and this inaction doesn’t help us.”

Since being elected, Netanyahu has sent mixed messages on a variety of fronts. He grudgingly accepted the notion of a Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank, and imposed a partial freeze in settlement building to allow a resumption of peace talks. But he also questioned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas‘ commitment to peace and angered the world with renewed settlement construction.

It’s part of the mystery of Netanyahu: Is he a pragmatist who plays to his base with hard-line rhetoric or an ideological hard-liner who pays lip service to international opinion?

The answer is unlikely to be found in his next term. Polls show his Likud earning just over a quarter of parliament’s 120-seats, so Netanyahu will likely form a coalition government that could include hard-line and religious parties opposed to territorial concessions.

On the other hand, with a re-elected Obama and an impatient European leadership expected to put more pressure on him, he may be interested in building a moderate coalition.

Either way, his supporters seem drawn to the tough image Netanyahu has cultivated in dealing with world pressure.

“He’s not afraid of Obama. He cares about the people of Israel and represents the Jewish and Zionist interest better than anyone else,” said Shlomo Lipshitz, a 51-year-old religious Jerusalemite.

Gabi Magzimov, 36, said Netanyahu was the strong leader Israel needed to stave off international pressure.

“He provides security and he wants peace, but not at any price,” he said.

The son of a prominent historian, Netanyahu has a keen sense of Jewish history. In his speeches, he often refers to the Jews’ ancient link to the Holy Land and how modern Israel can survive in its hostile region only by never letting down its guard.

Netanyahu followed his older brother Yonatan’s footsteps in the elite Sayeret Matkal military commando unit. Yonatan died in 1976 while commanding a raid that freed Israeli and Jewish hostages from a hijacked plane at Entebbe, Uganda. His death became etched in Israeli lore, catapulting the Netanyahu family into the national spotlight.

Netanyahu, often referred to by his nickname, ‘Bibi,’ spent part of his youth in the United States, where he acquired his American-accented English, and later completed two degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, represented Israel as a diplomat in Washington and ambassador at the United Nations.

In Israel, he rocketed up the Likud ranks and beat out several veterans to take over the party after the retirement of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. In 1996, he won a narrow election victory to become Israel‘s youngest prime minister at age 46.

His three-year term was marred by political deadlock, internal strife and scandals involving his influential wife, Sara. He was voted out and replaced by Barak. He then dramatically retired from politics, wrote his fifth book and made considerable money on the lecture circuit.

He returned to public life in 2002 to serve as Sharon’s foreign minister and finance minister. He criticized the 2005 unilateral Gaza withdrawal but voted for it several times in parliament, before resigning from the government to protest the pullout.

After serving as opposition leader, he recaptured the premiership in 2009 and established a broad coalition government that granted him unprecedented political backing.

“We’ve seen a political learning curve. He’s improved from his first time around,” said Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. “He has a legacy when it comes to the economy: more than anyone else in Israel, he is identified with liberalizing the economy and shifting the country toward capitalism.”

There, too, Netanyahu exhibited his practical side, with populist moves like promoting free education and dental care for children and raising the minimum wage.

One of the main achievements of his second term was securing the release of a Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas militants for five years. The deal included the freeing of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds of convicted killers. That emboldened Hamas and ran contrary to Netanyahu’s previous opposition to negotiating with terrorists. The exchange, though widely popular, further enhanced his reputation as someone who was easily pressured and whose beliefs were flexible when balanced against his political survival.

He also carried out an eight-day offensive against Gaza rocket squads last November but agreed to a cease-fire that many say helped Hamas.

Inbar said Netanyahu was a man of “most impressive skills and a wonderful communicator” who has proven a steady hand in power and willingness to compromise. He doubted he would emerge as a grand initiator in his third term.

“The chance for major changes is not great,” he said. “I don’t think that is his way.”


Follow Heller on Twitter (at)aronhellerap

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Israel museum to exhibit reconstructed tomb in first major exhibition on biblical King Herod

By hnn

JERUSALEM — Israel’s national museum said Tuesday it will open what it calls the world’s first exhibition devoted to the architectural legacy of biblical King Herod, the Jewish proxy monarch who ruled Jerusalem and the Holy Land under Roman occupation two millennia ago.

The display includes the reconstructed tomb and sarcophagus of one of antiquity’s most notable and despised figures, curators say.

Modern day politics are intruding into this ancient find. Palestinians object to the showing of artifacts found in the West Bank. The Israeli museum insists it will return the finds once the exhibit closes….


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Source: FULL ARTICLE at History News Network – George Mason University

Sen. Rand Paul In The Mideast: ‘… I Am Not Anti-Israel’

By Breaking News

Rand Paul 4 SC Sen. Rand Paul in the Mideast: ... I am not anti Israel

JERUSALEM — On the seventh day of his Holy Land tour, Sen. Rand Paul continued to walk a fine line between expressing support for Israel while avoiding the impression that his support for the Jewish state is uncritical and self-serving.

The Kentucky senator shares his father’s limited government principles but says his eight days in Israel — one of which included a meeting on the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and, in Amman, with Jordan’s King Abdullah II — are designed to show he is not anti-Israel. Some Jewish Americans and born-again Christians often accused former Texas Rep. Ron Paul of indifference to Israel’s security.

“I’ve been accused of that, too, and part of the reason I’m here is to show I am not anti-Israel,” he said in a speech to the 53 people traveling wit him — most of them Christian conservatives but including some prominent Jewish Americans.

Many American evangelicals are as firmly pro-Israel as most Jewish Americans. He would need the support of both to make a successful run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 — a run that some of those accompanying him here say he is launching with this trip.

Mr. Paul will also need the allegiance of many of his father’s libertarian-minded supporters, and they will look askance at any indication that the Kentucky Republican is putting Israel’s interests ahead of America’s in order to cultivate the evangelical and conservative Jewish vote.

Read more at The Washington Times. By Ralph Z. Hallow.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Western Journalism

Analysis: Israel left wing sees Jewish state's end

An apocalyptic tone has crept into Israel‘s hitherto muted election season, with opposition leaders and others sounding increasingly desperate warnings that a few more years of rule by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s heavily favored right wing might well destroy the Jewish state.

The idea is that by holding onto the lands Palestinians want for their state — and continuing to settle them with Jews — the Israeli right is marching blindly toward a future in which Arabs could outnumber Jews in the country and ultimately take over.

Perhaps the most strident proponent of this message is former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who four years ago led peace talks with the Palestinians and recently founded a new party whose primary message is that the Zionist project is in danger. “Netanyahu is leading us toward the end of the Jewish state,” she said in a statement Friday. “Israelis must choose between extremism and Zionism. Israel is in great danger and everyone must wake up now.”

Outgoing opposition leader Shaul Mofaz, a former military chief and defense minister, warns at campaign appearances that Arabs will soon outnumber Jews in the Holy Land and the main strategic priority must be to partition the land to prevent the emergence of a “binational state.” Leaders of the main center-left Labor Party say much the same.

Netanyahu’s majority depends on his Likud party in coalition with other nationalist and religious groups known as the “right.” Despite all its bewildering complications, the political spectrum ultimately resembles something of a two-party system.

The prime minister and his supporters have argued that Israel must not act in haste and many on the right stridently oppose any territorial concessions on the lands Israel captured in 1967 — the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians want to set up their state.

The author Amos Oz, who has long been viewed as an oracle of sorts in Israel, called the governing coalition “the most anti-Zionist in the history of Israel” for ignoring the demographic issue.

“If there will not be two states here, neither will it (even) be a binational state — it will be an Arab state,” he was quoted by Haaretz as saying on Friday. “They believe Jews can rule an Arab majority (but) no apartheid nation in the world survived without collapsing in a few years.”

Netanyahu himself has at times conceded the logic of the argument: Israel proper has 6 million Jews living alongside almost 2 million Arab citizens; with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza thrown into the mix, the populations divide about evenly and the Arab birthrate is higher. Hence, if Israel insists on ruling the entire Holy Land, Jews will be in the minority.

Even as the tipping point approaches, Israel continues to add to the Jewish settler population in the West Bank, which together with the Israelis who live in adjacent east Jerusalem now number a half million. Israelis on the left fret that too many settlers will make a partition impossible in a few years. Under this narrative, partition is not an Israeli “concession,” which must await Palestinian promises of peace — but rather a life-saving surgery for the Zionist enterprise.

The demographic message resonates with many Jewish Israelis who — like the founding fathers of Zionism a century ago — view themselves as an ethnic group and consider Israel its nation-state. And it seems widely supported among the country’s secular elites — in academia, the business world, major media organizations and even in the senior echelons of the security establishment.

Israel‘s security chiefs must generally clam up while in office, but outbursts by the recently retired have been striking: Yuval Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet security police, excoriated Netanyahu for missing a chance to pursue peace with the moderate Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas; Meir Dagan, who headed the Mossad spy agency, has portrayed the premier as a dangerous adventurer who might drag Israel into war with Iran; and former military chief Gabi Ashkenazi was so widely touted as a leader-in-waiting for the left that a law was passed freezing security officials out of politics for just long enough to keep him out of the current election season.

In an interview with the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, Diskin warned that the current lull in Palestinian violence was in danger because it depends on the Palestinian Authority‘s security cooperation with Israel — and Palestinian leaders “will not be able to be seen over time as the protectors of the Israeli interests while Israel, from their perspective, every day steals more lands, builds more (Jewish) settlements, and pushes away their dream of a state, chopping up the territory into parts that it will be very difficult to connect.”

“I don’t know whether it is possible to achieve peace, but with these moves we are certainly diminishing even the small chance that is left,” Diskin said.

Yaron Ezrahi, a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said it was “not surprising that in Israel the officers are more moderate … as men of war who lost (friends) they become pragmatists because they all sense very clearly the limitations of power.” But he warned that the broad support of a country’s elites for a given political argument would not necessarily translate into a persuasion of the masses.

Indeed, most polls show the right-wing bloc led by Likud as likely to win perhaps 65 of the 120 seats, enough to keep Netanyahu in power — even though studies suggest most Israelis would support a formal two-state solution if one were offered.

There are several reasons that account for this contradiction and compel so many Israelis to put the demographic issue aside.

First, Israel pulled out of the tiny but crowded Gaza Strip in 2005, removing all settlers and soldiers and cutting off its almost 2 million people from Israel with a fence. Thus many Israelis feel they won some “demographic time” and dumped the troublesome territory — yet the Palestinians see Gaza as linked to the West Bank and they consider it still occupied because Israel controls air and sea access to it.

Second, the vast majority of West Bank Palestinians live in autonomous zones set up in negotiations during the 1990s. There the Palestinian Authority enjoys a measure of self-rule, with its own services to citizens, its own police and various trappings of quasi-statehood — enabling Israelis to view this population as not exactly under occupation and already somewhat separated from Israel. They note that Israel has not formally annexed the West Bank, the implication being that even though the territory has Jewish settlers who can vote in Israeli elections — it is not Israel.

But the reality is messy: dozens of islands of autonomy surrounded on all sides by the 60 percent of the West Bank still fully controlled by Israel, with Jewish settlements dotting the territory and Israel controlling Palestinians’ movements between the zones and into and out of the West Bank. With the settlements in place, a reasonable-looking map is already difficult to envision.

Perhaps most damaging for the left, Israelis appear to have lost faith that the lands can be traded for peace, because even when their leaders proposed what they considered far-reaching offers no deal was reached. That happened under Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2001, and again when the government of Ehud Olmert proposed a state on almost all the Palestinian territories in 2008.

One poll conducted several weeks ago showed 60 percent of Israeli Jews support a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinians — but 67 percent believe that “no matter which parties prevail, the peace process with the Palestinians will remain at a standstill for reasons not connected to Israel.” The poll of 601 people had a 4.5 percent margin of error.

Some — like columnist Elia Leibowitz — argue for a unilateral pullout from at least part of the territory, if a deal is unattainable. “The fateful question now facing Israel is Hamlet’s: To be or not to be,” Leibowitz wrote in Haaretz. “The option of Israel ‘being’ exists only if it withdraws from all the occupied territories.”

But the unilateral model has been discredited in the eyes of many by the example of Gaza where the Israeli handover was followed by a takeover by the Islamic militant group Hamas and years of cross-border rocket barrages.

“As opposed to the voices that I have heard recently urging me to run forward, make concessions (and) withdraw, I think that the diplomatic process must be managed responsibly and sagaciously and not in undue haste,” Netanyahu said last week. He notes that he has offered peace talks but the Palestinians insist on a settlement freeze, which is politically difficult for a right-wing government.

The sense that they have run out of options — and yet that something has to give — has some on the left predicting the world will step in.

“Maybe we need to hit rock bottom, to be on the verge of international sanctions or a (foreign) military intervention before change can happen,” said Liora Norwich, a 30-year-old in a Tel Aviv cafe, concluding that in this sense a Netanyahu victory could be for the best.

And critically, the demographic argument alienates the Israeli Arabs who are crucial to any hopes of assembling a majority in the electorate against the right.

Among that group as well, the idea that a separation is no longer possible is increasingly heard.

“Every day that passes, with the expansion of settlements … closes the window of opportunity and sends people thinking about another option: the one-state solution,” prominent Arab legislator Ahmed Tibi said.

Contemplating such as Arab-majority state, Tibi added: “That’s probably the only option in which I will be prime minister.”


Dan Perry has reported on the Middle East for two decades and currently leads AP’s coverage in the region. Follow him on www.twitter.com/perry_dan . Associated Press writer Ariel David in Tel Aviv contributed to this report.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News