JBuzz Musings October 26, 2014: Women of the Wall’s historic Torah scroll smuggling reading at Kotel bat mitzvah

JBUZZ MUSINGS: ISRAEL/JEWISH CULTURAL BUZZ

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

They finally did it, feminist Jewish prayer group Women of the Wall (WoW) smuggled in a tiny Torah scroll on Rosh Hodesh Chesvan Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 for a bat mitzvah torah reading to the women’s section….READ MORE

Full Text JBuzz Transcripts April 27, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Speech at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Address by PM Netanyahu at Yad Vashem

Source: PMO, 4-27-14

יום ראשון כ”ז ניסן תשע”ד

Photo by  GPO

The last time I visited Yad Vashem I accompanied the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. We went through the exhibition rooms which present heartbreaking documentation of the destruction of European Jewry.

Today in my office, I met Fela, an 82 year old Holocaust survivor. It was important for her to tell me on this day of her memories as a child of seven who was forced to leave her two year old sister. Those memories are always with her. She told me, “I don’t remember what happened yesterday or the day before that, but as is the way of memories at my age, I remember the sad, tearful eyes of my two year old sister whom I left behind to die”.

I met Shalom, an 89 year old Holocaust survivor who told me how, aged 13, he left home at Mila 18 in the Warsaw Ghetto. Conditions in the ghetto were deteriorating. So he, a young boy, decided to leave. He said, “Mother objected and wailed but Father was quiet. He stood up, put his hands on my head, blessed me and told me to save myself”.

All the exhibition rooms here are filled with such heart-wrenching stories.

When we left Yad Vashem, I told the Prime Minister of Canada that my supreme duty as the Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that there will be no more memorial sites like this, that there will never be another Holocaust.

I have said here many times that we must identify an existential threat in time and take action against it in time.

Tonight, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I ask: Why, in the years preceding the Holocaust, did the overwhelming majority of world leaders and Jewish leaders fail to detect the danger in time?

In retrospect, all the warning signs were there: the strengthening of the Nazi regime year after year; the horrific anti-Semitic propaganda which grew stronger with each passing month; and the murderous attacks on Jews which began as spurts and became a giant wave.

In retrospect, a direct line connects the racial laws and the gas chambers.

Few world leaders, notably Churchill, understood the enormity of the threat to humanity posed by Nazism. Few among our leaders, primarily Jabotinsky, warned against the imminent destruction facing our people. But they were widely criticized, their warnings disregarded and dismissed as the rantings of doomsayers and warmongers.

How is it possible that so many people failed to understand reality? The bitter, tragic truth is this: It is not that they did not see. They did not want to see.

And why did they choose not to see the truth? Because they did not want to face the consequences of that truth.

During the 1930s, when the Nazis were gaining momentum, the trauma of the First World War was still fresh. Twenty years earlier, the people of the West experienced a terrible trench war, which claimed the lives of 16 million people. The leaders of the West therefore operated on the basis of one axiom: Avoid another confrontation at any cost. Thus they laid the ground for the most horrible war in history.

This axiom of avoiding conflict at any cost was adopted not only by the leaders. It was shared by the peoples themselves, and primarily by the educated elites.

In 1933, for example, the year Hitler rose to power, a meeting was held by the students of Oxford University, an institution which produced generations of British leaders. Following a heated debate, the students voted for a resolution stating that they “would under no circumstances fight for their King and Country”.

This resolution passed by an overwhelming majority a mere ten days after Hitler entered the Chancellor’s office in Germany. The message reverberated in Berlin.

This example illustrates the West’s feeble response to the rise of Nazism.

Month after month, year after year, more and more information was received in London, Paris and Washington about Nazi capabilities and intentions. The picture gradually became clear for everyone to see.

But they had eyes and could not see, they had ears but could not hear.

When you refuse to accept reality as it is, you can deny it.

This is precisely what the leaders of the West did. They dismissed the murderous Nazi rhetoric as internal German politics; they downplayed the seriousness of the danger of the Nazi military build-up, claiming that it was the result of the natural will of a proud nation that should be recognized and accepted.

The reality was clear, but it was enveloped in a bubble of illusions. This bubble burst when the Nazis launched their blitzkrieg on Europe and Africa.

The price of illusion and wishful thinking was very steep. By the time the leaders of the West finally acted, their peoples paid a terrible price. World War II claimed the lives not of 16 million people, the horrific number of victims during World War I, but of 60 million, including one third of our people, who were butchered by the Nazi beast.

Citizens of Israel, my brothers and sisters,

Has the world learned the mistakes of the past?

Today we again face clear facts and a tangible threat. Iran calls for our destruction. It is developing nuclear weapons.

This is the reason it is building underground bunkers for enriching uranium. This is why it is constructing a heavy water facility to produce plutonium. This is the reason it continues to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads which will threaten the entire world.

Today, like then, there are those who dismiss Iran’s extreme rhetoric as serving domestic purposes. Today, like then, there are those who view Iran’s nuclear ambitions as the result of the natural will of a proud nation, a will that should be accepted.

And today, like then, those who make such claims are deluding themselves. They are making an historic mistake.

Fateful talks are currently being held between Iran and the world powers. This time too, the truth is evident to all: Iran seeks an agreement that will lift the sanctions and leave it as a nuclear threshold state with the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons within several months at most.

Iran wants a deal that will eliminate the sanctions and leave its capabilities intact.

A deal which enables Iran to be a nuclear threshold state will bring the entire world to the threshold of an abyss.

I hope that the lessons of the past have been learned, and that the desire to avoid confrontation at any cost will not lead to a deal that will exact a much heavier price in the future.

I call on the leaders of the world powers to insist that Iran fully dismantle its capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons, and to persist until this goal is achieved.

In any event, the people of Israel stand strong. Faced with an existential threat, our situation today is entirely different than it was during the Holocaust.

Today, we have a sovereign Jewish state. As Prime Minister of Israel, I do not hesitate to speak the truth to the world, even when faced with blind eyes and deaf ears. It is not only my right, it is my duty. I am always mindful of this duty, never more so than on this day, in this place.

On the eve of the Holocaust, some Jews avoided speaking out to the world’s nations, fearing that the struggle against Nazism would become “a Jewish problem”. Others believed that if they kept silent, the danger would pass.

They kept silent, and disaster struck.

Today, we are unafraid to speak the truth to world leaders. As is written in the Bible: “I will speak of your testimonies before kings, and I will not be ashamed… listen, for I will speak the truth.”

Unlike the Holocaust, when the Jewish people were like a wind-tossed leaf and utterly defenseless, we now have great power to defend ourselves, and it is ready for any mission.

This power rests on the courage and ingenuity of the soldiers of the IDF and the men and women of our security forces. It is this power that enabled us, against all odds, to build the State of Israel.

Look at the remarkable achievements we have made in the 66 years of our independence. All of us – scientists, writers, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, employees, artists, farmers – the entire people of Israel, each one in their own field –  together we have built a glorious state. The spirit of the people of Israel is sublime, our accomplishments tremendous. Seven decades after the destruction of the Holocaust, the State of Israel is a wonder of the world.

On this day, on behalf of the Jewish people, I say to all those who sought to destroy us, and to all those who still seek to destroy us: You have failed, and you will fail again.

The State of Israel is stronger than ever. It is a state that seeks peace with all its neighbors and it pulsates with an iron will to ensure the future of our people.

“The people will arise like a lion cub and raise itself like a lion…and Judea will dwell securely”. (Numbers 23:24; Jeremiah 23:6).

 

 

JBuzz Musings October 23, 2013: American Jewish views of Israel, its government becoming more liberal, critical

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American Jewish views of Israel, its government becoming more liberal, critical

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Two surveys recently released in early October 2013 looked at the views of American Jews on Israel; one poll looked at the average Jewish Americans position, and the other looks at the position American rabbis take towards Israel. The first…

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JBuzz Musings September 25, 2013: Gilad Shalit receives warm welcome from Jewish community on Canadian Tour

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Gilad Shalit receives warm welcome from Jewish community on Canadian Tour (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Gilad Shalit completed the Eastern portion of his four city Canadian tour, having visited Toronto and Montreal on Sept. 16 and 17, 2013 respectively, receiving a warm welcome and greeted by large crowds at both synagogues where he spoke; Toronto…READ MORE

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JBuzz News May 10, 2013: Women of the Wall: Standoff at Kotel / Western Wall Over Praying by Women

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Standoff at Western Wall Over Praying by Women

Source: NYT, 5-10-13

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews joined a protest at the Jerusalem holy site, creating a standoff with a group of women praying there in garments traditionally worn by men….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 25, 2013: Jerusalem Court Upholds Ruling in Women of the Wall Case

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Jerusalem Court Upholds Ruling in Women of the Wall Case

Source: NYT, 4-25-13

Rejecting an appeal by the police, the court ruled that five women detained for wearing men’s-style prayer shawls and singing at the Western Wall were not disturbing the peace….READ MORE

JBuzz News November 20, 2012: Morton Weinfeld: How Do Canadian Jews View Israel?

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How Do Canadian Jews View Israel?

Source: Open Zion, 11-20-12

For all the talk of the Jewish vote in the recent U.S. elections, I can’t help but wonder how Canadian Jews are conceiving of their own political commitments towards Israel. Canada’s Jews have a more traditional profile on most ethnic and religious measures than their American counterparts. And last year’s Canadian federal election cemented the different political profiles of the two communities as Canadian Jews tilted rightwards.

Morton Weinfeld, professor of sociology at McGill University and longtime analyst of Canadian Jewry recently told me Canadian Jews, by many common metrics—ritual observance, visits to Israel, Jewish education, marrying other Jews, etc.—are more “Jewish,” as he put it, than American Jews. They are also more religiously traditional by denomination.

irwin-cotler-openz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Irwin Cotler, the Canadian Member of Parliament and former Minister of Justice on December 22, 2010 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Thaer Ganaim/PPO via Getty Images)

Among other differences, according to Weinfeld, Canada has a higher proportion of Holocaust survivors than does America, as well as a higher proportion of Jewish immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, where attitudes tend to be more traditional. Canadian Jews are also a relatively newer immigrant population compared to American Jews. One out of every four Jews in Canada was born elsewhere, compared to one in ten in the United States. All these factors lead Weinfeld to suggest that a newer and more traditional immigrant group—and one still directly touched by the Holocaust—may mean a more insecure group….READ MORE

JBuzz News November 5, 2012: Samuel Edelman: California State University Professor hosts Jewish Studies event on perceptions of Israel in universities

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CSU Professor hosts Jewish Studies event on perceptions of Israel in universities

Samuel Edelman, an emeritus professor of Jewish and Holocaust Studies at California State University, Chico, presented his research during an event hosted by the UA Center for Judaic Studies….READ MORE

JBuzz News October 23, 2012: Susan MacManus: Can Mitt Romney sway Jewish voters with ‘apology tour’ quip?

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Can Mitt Romney sway Jewish voters with ‘apology tour’ quip?

Every four years, the Republicans think they will make inroads with Jewish voters in Florida, says Susan MacManus, a professor at the University of South Florida. “And every four years it does not come to fruition.” Democrats have won at least 76 percent….READ MORE

JBuzz News September 23, 2012: Alan Dershowitz: Israel-backed event highlights Arab-Jewish refugees

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Israel-backed event highlights Arab-Jewish refugees

Source: Washington Times, 9-23-12

Because they had a homeland that would accept them, Israel,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said Friday during a symposium at the United Nations headquarters….READ MORE

JBuzz News September 9, 2012: Sergio DellaPergola: Study: Jewish Population Shrinking Outside Israel

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Study: Jewish Population Shrinking Outside Israel

Source: The Jewish Press, 9-9-12

The global Jewish population grew by more than 88,000 people over the past year, and now stands at 13.75 million, according to a new study published by Professor Sergio DellaPergola of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem….READ MORE

JBuzz News August 16, 2012: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science: Three Israeli Universities Rank in Top 100

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Three Israeli Universities Rank in Top 100

Source: The Jewish Press, 8-16-12

View of the Hebrew University campus at "Mount Scopus." Hebrew U. was ranked 53rd in the world.
View of the Hebrew University campus at “Mount Scopus.” Hebrew U. was ranked 53rd in the world.
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASh90

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science were ranked in the top 100 universities in Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s authoritative 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

The Hebrew University achieved the highest rank – 53rd, with the Technion in 78th place, and the Weizmann Institute coming in at 93rd. Significantly, this is the first time that more than one Israeli university made the top 100….READ MORE

JBuzz News August 8, 2012: Study at Hebrew University – without the Hebrew

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Study at Hebrew U. – without the Hebrew

Source: Haaretz, 8-8-12

Study at Hebrew U. – without the Hebrew. Israeli universities offer an ever-expanding selection of English-language higher education programs that cater to Jews and non-Jews alike….READ MORE

JBuzz News July 13, 2012: Matthew Grey: BYU Professor, Grad Help Discover Rare Mosaic in Ancient Jewish Synagogue

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BYU professor, grad help discover rare mosaic in ancient Jewish synagogue

Source: Phys.Org, 7-13-12

In late June, archaeologists discovered a rare mosaic floor in a synagogue in the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq, near the Sea of Galilee.  The discovery has garnered national headlines and been described by experts as a ‘stunning’ find, given the quality of the artwork and how rare the mosaic would have been at the time. BYU professor Matthew Grey and recent BYU graduate Bryan Bozung were part of the archaeological team that unearthed the mosaic. In fact, Bozung, now a grad student at Yale, made the initial discovery.  “Discovering a mosaic like this is one of the most exciting moments in an archaeologist’s career,” Grey said. “Uncovering a piece of art that no one has seen for 1500 years is an incredible experience.”…READ MORE

JBuzz News May 23, 2012: Archaeological Discovery Proves Bethlehem Part of Kingdom of Judah

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Discovery Proves Bethlehem Part of Kingdom of Judah

Archaeologists have discovered the first evidence outside of the Bible that Bethlehem was part of the First Temple era Kingdom of Judah.
Clay seals confirms Bethlehem part of Judah

Clay seals confirms Bethlehem part of Judah
IAA photo by Clara Amit

Archaeologists have discovered the first evidence outside of the Bible that Bethlehem was part of the First Temple era Kingdom of Judah.

The dramatic archaeological find was announced Wednesday, five days before Jews around the world celebrate the holiday of Shavuot and hear the recital of the Book of Ruth, which takes place in Bethlehem.

A half-inch clay seal was discovered at the ongoing excavations at Ir David (City of David) located across the road from the Western Wall.

The stamp, with ancient Hebrew script, is one of a group of seals used to stamp official documents that were to be opened only by authorized officials.

Three lines in the stamp state:

בשבעת (Bishv’at)
בת לכם (Bat Lechem)
[למל[ך ([Lemel]ekh)

The writing means that the stamp was sent from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem in the seventh year of his reign.

Eli Shukrun, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that it is unclear if the reference to the king is to Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah.

The stamps, or seals (called bullae), were used to seal tax shipments in the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth century and the seventh century BCE.

“The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat,” according to Shukrun.

He added,” This is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible, in an inscription from the First Temple period, which proves that Bethlehem was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly also in earlier periods”.

Bethlehem is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis (Bereishit) when it is named concernng the place of death and burial of the Matriarch Rachel.

Bethlehem also is mentioned in the Book of Ruth as the place where “the children of Judah dwelled,” including the family of Boaz, who is a central figure in the Book of Ruth, which takes place in Bethlehem except for the first few verses..

Bethlehem is cited in the Book of Samuel as the city where David was anointed as king and the location of his family’s home.

JBuzz April 18, 2012: Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2012

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Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2012

Source: Israel Embassy, 4-18-12

Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) is a national day of commemoration in Israel, on which the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust are memorialised. It is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 27th of the month of Nisan (April 18, 2012) and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom of marking a day. Places of entertainment are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.

The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on the television. Marking the start of the day – in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister, dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families, gather together with the general public to take part in the memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem in which six torches, representing the six million murdered Jews, are lit.

 

The following morning, the ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust. Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions. Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work.

Central theme for this year: My Brother’s Keeper – Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust

Documents and testimonies from the Shoah indicate that within the impossible reality into which Jews were thrust, mutual help and a commitment to the other were quite common. The individual had little chance of survival without the sense of togetherness, and this Jewish unity is what carried people and helped them endure another day.

“Unto Every Person There is a Name”

Six million Jews, among them 1.5 million children, were murdered in the Shoah while the world remained silent. The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name” is a unique project designed to perpetuate their memory as individuals and restore their identity and dignity, through the public recitation of their names on Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. By personalising the individual tragedies of the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and its collaborators, this project counters persistent efforts by enemies of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to deny the reality of the Holocaust and cast it as history’s seminal hoax.

“Everyone has a name” – Poem by Zelda
[translated from Hebrew]

Everyone has a name given to him by God and given to him by his parents.
Everyone has a name given to him by his stature and the way he smiles and given to him by his clothing.
Everyone has a name given to him by the mountains and given to him by the walls.
Everyone has a name given to him by the stars and given to him by his neighbors.
Everyone has a name given to him by his sins and given to him by his longing. Everyone has a name given to him by his enemies and given to him by his love. Everyone has a name given to him by his holidays and given to him by his work.
Everyone has a name given to him by the seasons and given to him by his blindness.
Everyone has a name given to him by the sea and given to him by his death.

“Unto Every Person There is a Name” is conducted around the world in hundreds of Jewish communities through the efforts of four major Jewish organisations: B’nai B’rith International, Nativ, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organisation. The project is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enjoys the official auspices of the President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres. In Israel, “Unto Every Person There is a Name” has become an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and at Yad Vashem with the participation of elected officials, as well as events throughout the country.

Lists of names

Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Blueprints

Auschwitz is universally recognised as the ultimate symbol of evil the worlds largest death factory. It is estimated that approximately 1.1 million people were murdered there, of whom a million were Jews. From a single camp in 1940, Auschwitz was transformed into a massive complex, including 3 main camps and 40 sub-camps. The establishment of the Auschwitz complex was a project that lasted years, and was never completed. In the course of the planning phase, SS draftsmen prepared hundreds of drawings and plans of the construction sites and the various buildings. These included detailed drawings of the gas chambers and the crematoria.

Over 4 million names in Central Database of Shoah Victims

The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names is a unique international undertaking led by Yad Vashem. It is the endeavor to recover the names and reconstruct the life stories of each individual Jew murdered in the Shoah. It is our moral duty to respect their last behest and remember them. We estimate that the number of Jews commemorated in the database to date is 4 million. The database is comprised of Pages of Testimony, historical documentation and additional sources.

Millions of names that appear in historical documents have not yet been identified or recorded in the database; many additional names still linger in the memories of survivors or in their family folklore. Building the database is a work in progress.

The Names’ Database enables visitors to search for the names of any of the over 4 million Shoah victims recorded to date. In addition, it allows users to submit new Pages of Testimony – special forms containing biographical details of individual victims – for those victims as yet unrecorded. About half of the names in the Database were obtained from the more than 2.5 million Pages of Testimony submitted to Yad Vashem over the past 50 years, nearly all of which have now been digitised. Other names have been gleaned from additional computerized lists, including deportation, camp and ghetto records.

Holocaust Remembrance Day Books

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) begins in the evening of Wednesday, April 18, 2012, and ends in the evening of Thursday, April 19, 2012 


Defiance

 

JBuzz News April 15, 2012: Richard Stamps: Archaeological dig is dusty history lesson at Khirbet Qeiyafa

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Archaeological dig is dusty history lesson

Early starts, hard work are rewarding, but not for those accustomed to cushy vacations

Source: Detroit Free Press, 4-14-12

[+] Enlarge. (3 pictures)   

A volunteer unearths an Iron Age vessel at Khirbet Qeiyafa, which is 18 miles west of Jerusalem. Such dig sites are often in need of volunteers and provide an adventurous vacation.

It’s 4 a.m. My eyes feel heavy. Today is my second day of digging.

I’m in Israel for a weeklong archaeological dig – not your regular vacation, but one that brought fulfillment and surprisingly more rest than I’ve gotten sitting on the beach.

Richard Stamps, a professor of anthropology, and Mike Pytlik, a special lecturer of archaeology and Jewish studies at Michigan’s Oakland University, each year lead a group of students on a three-week archaeological dig and tour of Israel.

Pytlik invited me to go along as a volunteer for a week.

Pytlik explained that this vacation wouldn’t have much relaxing, sightseeing or downtime. It would be dusty and messy, and accommodations wouldn’t include the boutique hotels I normally favor.

The sense of adventure and the chance to learn was enough for me to sign on. I filled out an application, included a $50 check and sent it to professor Yosef Garkinfel of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a renowned archeologist and director of the Khirbet Qeiyafa site, our destination.

It sits above the Elah Valley, the same valley where the Bible says David and Goliath met on the battlefield. It is believed to be the ancient city of Sha’arayim, an Israelite walled city that was part of the kingdom of David….READ MORE

JBuzz News March 1, 2012: Eran Kaplan: San Francisco’s only full-time Israel Studies professor gives his first lecture

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Bay Area’s only full-time Israel Studies professor gives his first lecture

Source: JWeekly, 3-1-12

Eran Kaplan, the only full-time Israel Studies professor on faculty at a university in the Bay Area, gave his inaugural lecture at San Francisco State University on Feb. 21.

Kaplan was hired in August 2011 as  the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair of Israel Studies at SFSU, a position that was endowed in 2008. He also works under the umbrella of the SFSU Jewish Studies department.

Eran Kaplan

Eran Kaplan

His first lecture, “Israel’s Summer of Discontent: Social Protests, Nostalgia and the Future(s) of Zionism,” was a two-hour talk co-sponsored by Lehrhaus Judaica and the JCC of San Francisco, where the lecture took place.After being introduced by SFSU President Robert Corrigan, Kaplan walked students and community members through an analysis of the social protests that shook Israel’s urban centers last  summer.

“I’m interested in seeing if they signify something beyond the immediate demands,” said Kaplan, a Tel Aviv native, in summing up the theme of his lecture. “Israel is one of the most interesting examples of a place that has seen a shift from collectivism and a state-controlled economy to a free-market, individualistic society. In the new century, with the new crises we face, I’m curious if the protests were in part about longing, in a sense, yearning for the security the old system once provided.”

Kaplan came to SFSU following a three-year tenure at Princeton University.

Next semester, he plans to teach classes on the Arab-Israeli conflict, modern Israeli society and Israeli film, he said. He is also helping to arrange visits from Israeli scholars and experts, such as Ha’aretz journalist Avirama Golan, who was in the Bay Area this week speaking at several locations.

Professor’s ‘Death to Israel’ Rant Sparks Controversy at Kent State University

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Professor’s ‘Death to Israel’ Rant Sparks Controversy at Kent State University

Source: Fox News, 10-28-11

Kent State Professor IsraelKent State University history professor Julio Pino, right, shouted “Death to Israel” at a presentation by Israeli consulate official Ismael Khaldi, seen in this flyer for the event.

A Kent State University professor allegedly with former ties to a jihadist website shouted “Death to Israel” at a public lecture delivered on the Ohio campus by a former Israeli diplomat.

The outburst came during a presentation this week by Ismael Khaldi, a former deputy counsel general at the Israeli consulate in San Francisco. During the question and answer period, KSU history professor Julio Pino launched a series of provocative questions at Khaldi.

At some point, the professor shouted “Death to Israel” and then stormed out of the building. The event was first reported by the KSU student news site KentWired.

KSU president Lester Lefton, who is Jewish, denounced Pino’s outburst, calling it “reprehensible and an embarrassment to our university.”

At the same time, he defended Pino’s free speech rights.

“It may have been professor Pino’s right to do so, but it is my obligation, as the president of this university, to say that I find his words deplorable and his behavior deeply troubling,” his statement read.

Pino, who is originally from Cuba and a convert to Islam, did not return calls for comment.

A Kent State spokesman confirmed the professor was once investigated by federal authorities. The university said they were also aware of allegations that Pino wrote stories for a now-defunct jihadist website.

And according to the Akron Beacon Journal , the professor eulogized an 18-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber in the Daily Kent Stater, the student-run newspaper.

And yet, the tenured history professor still remains employed by the university….READ MORE

Gabriel Barkai: Israeli archaelogists claim Palestinians attempting to rewrite Jewish history

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Palestinians are using archeology to advance their statehood bid. Prominent archaeologist Gabriel Barkai called it “cultural Intifada.”

The PA will seek World Heritage status for the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem, once the UN’s cultural agency (UNESCO) admits them as a full member. Hamdan Taha, the Palestinian Authority minister who deals with antiquities and culture, also listed Nablus and Hebron among 20 cultural heritage sites which he said could be nominated as World Heritage Sites….

Taha’s bid at UNESCO is supported by the Vatican Custody of the Holy Land, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Church. As th UN bid brings the Palestinians closer to an independent state, the historical and archeological claims are playing an increasingly prominent role in the building of the national consciousness.

Taha, who did his undergraduate work in Berlin, worked in Jericho with Paolo Matthiae, an Italian scholar who discovered Ebla, the Syrian site that is most famous for the “Ebla tablets.” In Herodion (Herod’s fortress in the Judean hills), Taha worked with Michele Piccirillo, a Fransciscan priest who has been one of the most famous Italian archaeologists. Taha gets funds and support from UNESCO, European governments and societies like the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a major Catholic association in Jerusalem….READ MORE

Alex Joffe: Israel Studies 101

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Source: Jewish Ideas Daily, 10-3-11

The modern American research university is a house of many rooms.  The field of Israel Studies, which has emerged in the past decade, occupies one of the newest—and smallest—of those rooms.  Israel Studies programs are meant to address a serious problem and take advantage of a large opportunity on campus.  What happens to them in the coming years will tell us something significant about Israel as a topic of study and about the American university itself.

Studying Israel  Jan Jaben-EilonJerusalem Post.  The growth of interest in Israel as a field of serious academic study is not just American but worldwide.

Multicultural Israel in a Global Perspective  Association for Israel Studies.  The Association for Israel Studies, in existence since 1985, plans its 2012 conference in Haifa.

Follow the Money  Alex JoffeJewish Ideas Daily.  Between 1995 and 2008, Arab Gulf states gave $234 million in contracts and about $88 million in gifts to American universities. What has their money purchased?

Jewish Studies in Decline?  Alex JoffeJewish Ideas Daily.  Retiring faculty are not replaced, less research money is allocated, and fewer students enter the field. Is there a future for the academic study of Judaism?

In American universities over the past 150 years and more, academic programs and departments have come and gone.  One reason is that increasing specialization is, to some extent, intrinsic to the pursuit of knowledge.  Departments such as physics and chemistry broke off from one another as their disciplines grew too large and complex to be confined within a single intellectual and administrative space.  There have been fractures in disciplines like anthropology, where scholars of culture and scholars of biology discovered that they could no longer bear one another.

More recently, specialization has also been fueled by demands, from the subjects of study themselves, for inclusion on the academic menu.  Since the 1960’s, we have seen a proliferation of ethnic and gender studies programs meant to bring the narratives of ignored or excluded groups into the larger discussion.  Jews and Jewish Studies programs in American universities have been among the leaders of this drive for inclusion through separation.

At their best, such efforts have created true and valuable diversity—in the sense of new streams of thought—within American universities.  They have also created walled-off compartments in which faculty can preach to choirs of student disciples (or simply to themselves) and the politicians among them can clamor for more resources, often by claiming past or present discrimination.  Unlike Jewish Studies programs, which are largely funded by Jewish donors, most ethnic and gender studies programs are paid for by the host universities themselves.  Such programs can perhaps best be characterized as having produced some scholarship and much politicking.

Israel Studies programs have a different provenance.  After World War II, U.S. universities saw the rise of “area studies,” in which scholars crossed the boundaries of disciplines like history, economics, and political science in pursuit of ‘useful knowledge’ about a geographic region or cultural area.  Middle Eastern Studies departments emerged as part of this trend.  They are long awash in funds from, among other donors, Arab governments.  Predictably, these departments have been dominated by scholars of the Arab and Muslim worlds.  As their subjects have increasingly become the focus of world conflict, these scholars have—perhaps inevitably, in light of the current university climate—become advocates…. READ MORE

Alex Joffe is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

 

The American Debate: Again, false GOP hopes for Jewish support

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Source: PA Inquirer, 7-17-11

Some things never change. Birds fly south for the winter, the sun rises in the morning, and conservatives persist in believing that Jewish voters will desert the Democratic Party and embrace the GOP.

Yeah, right. And the Beatles will reunite.

Republicans have predicted a mass Jewish Democratic exodus in every election cycle since the ’90s, claiming every time that it’s really going to happen. And I can understand why they would want it to happen. While Jews account for, at most, only 4 percent of the electorate, they are disproportionately concentrated in big swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.

Now the old Republican story line has been dusted off, yet again, in the wake of President Obama’s May 19 suggestion that Israel’s prewar 1967 lines should be the basis for peace talks with the Palestinians. Which means that this time, the long-anticipated exodus is really, really, really going to happen.

Supposedly, Jewish voters now realize that Obama is a threat to Israel, making the GOP their natural home. Mitt Romney stokes this notion by claiming that Obama “has thrown Israel under a bus.” Michele Bachmann said Obama had “betrayed” Israel, and Tim Pawlenty said that “Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand.” Republicans have also excitedly circulated a news story, on the Politico website, that says “many” Jewish Democrats have reached “a tipping point” with Obama….

But it’s never enough. Republicans are excited about a new poll that suggests only 43 percent of Jews will vote to reelect Obama. It turns out that the questions were skewed, by the cosponsoring Republican firm. To wit: “Considering what President Obama has proposed for Israel just over a year before his 2012 reelection campaign – a return to the 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem, and allowing the right of return for Palestinian Arabs to Israel – how concerned would you be about President Obama’s policies toward Israel if he were reelected and did not have to worry about another election?”

Actually, Obama has opposed a Palestinian “right of return” since 2008. The questioners simply switched his stance, in the hopes of ginning up that Jewish Republican trend.

Professor Benjamin Z. Kedar: Is Israeli archaeology an ‘old-boys club’?

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The Israel Antiquities Authority has been attacked for not doing enough to preserve the Temple Mount antiquities, on one hand, but also for supposedly being a tool of extreme nationalist groups.

Source: Haaretz, 7-12-11

Prof. Benjamin Z. Kedar has been chairman of the board of the Israel Antiquities Authority for 11 years. He is also the deputy chairman of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Kedar will leave his position at the authority at the end of July. Haaretz reported yesterday on an amendment to the Antiquities Authority Law, proposed by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, that would make it easier for her to find a replacement for Kedar. At present, the chairman of the Antiquities Authority board must belong to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Livnat’s bill would require only that the chairman be a “leading scholar in the field of history or archaeology.”

Senior archaeologists criticized Livnat on Sunday, claiming that the purpose of the amendment was to enable her to appoint archaeologists who are identified with the right or who will toe the establishment line. Livnat’s critics say the bill reflects the anti-intellectual winds blowing through the government ministries. Kedar rejects this interpretation, but cautions against amending the law….READ MORE

Alan M. Dershowitz: Yale’s Distressing Decision To Shut Down Its “Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism”

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At a time of increasing—and increasingly complex—anti-Semitism throughout the world, Yale University has decided to shut down the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, YIISA. Founded in 2006, YIISA is headed by a distinguished scholar, Charles Small, with an international reputation for serious interdisciplinary research. The precipitous decision to close YIISA, made without even a semblance of due process and transparency, could not have come at a worse time. Nor could it have sent a worse message.

I recently returned from a trip abroad—England, Norway, South Africa, among other countries—where I experienced the changing face and growing acceptability of anti-Semitism. Sometimes it hid behind the facade of anti-Zionism, but increasingly the hatred was directed against Jews, Judaism, Jewish culture, the Jewish people and the very concept of a Jewish State (by people who favor the existence of many Muslim States).

In England, a prominent and popular Jazz musician rails against the Jewish people, denies the Holocaust and apologizes to the Nazis for having once compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany, since in his view Israel is far worse. In Norway, a prominent professor openly criticizes the Jewish people as a group and Jewish culture as a collective deviation. In Johannesburg, the university severs its ties with an Israeli university, while in Cape Town a newspaper headline welcomes me with the following words, “Dershowitz is not welcome here” and an excuse is found to cancel a scheduled lecture by me at the university.

Throughout my visits to European capitals, I hear concern from Jewish students who are terrified about speaking out, wearing yarmulkes, Stars of David or anything else that identifies them as Jews.

In the United States, and particularly at American universities, matters are not nearly as bad. There are of course some exceptions, such as at several campuses at the University of California where Muslim students have tried to censor pro-Israel speakers and have been treated as heroes for doing so, while those who support pro-Israel speakers are treated as pariahs. The same is true at some Canadian universities as well.

One university that has been a model of tolerance, up until now, has been Yale, where Jewish and pro-Israel students feel empowered and comfortable, as do Muslim and anti-Israel students. Perhaps this is why the Yale Administration had no hesitancy in dropping YIISA. It can easily defend itself against charges of bias by saying, “Some of my best organizations are Jewish!” But this is no excuse….READ MORE

Canadian Reversal: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird backs Obama’s 1967-border proposal for Israel

In apparent reversal, Baird backs Obama’s 1967-border proposal

Source: Globe & Mail, 6-2-11

Canada wants Israel to use its 1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations with Palestinians seeking independence, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Wednesday, just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper is said to have prevented such language from being included in a G8 statement on the matter.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, right, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are seen at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 26, 2011. - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, right, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are seen at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 26, 2011. | Andrew Winning/ReutersSpeaking to reporters on Parliament Hill, Mr. Baird backed U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for Israel to either return East Jerusalem to the Palestinians and dismantle settlements in the West Bank or hand over other territory in compensation as part of the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

“We support, obviously, that that solution has to be based on the ’67 border, with mutually agreed upon swaps, as President Obama said,” Mr. Baird said.

Although such a solution is widely accepted among the international community and the United Nations, the Israeli government has no desire to share Jerusalem with an independent Palestine. It has continued a process of moving Israeli settlers into Palestinian territory. When Mr. Obama affirmed his support for the 1967 border, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu roundly rejected it.

Politicians in North America have also steered clear of references to the 1967 borders, wary of upsetting the Israeli community. Mr. Harper, a staunch supporter of Israel, refused to support Mr. Obama’s words previously, even though they reflected Canada’s official position. As recently as last week, he stuck to the position at the G8 summit, diplomats said….

Mr. Baird said his statement was not an about-face in Tory policy, but he appeared not to be familiar with Resolution 242, the 1967 UN declaration calling on Israel to pull its troops back.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae, who has an interest in foreign affairs, demonstrated his knowledge of the issue with a casual reference to 242.

“Go back to President Nixon, Mr. Kissinger, all that, all the efforts, the Madrid process, the Oslo process, all the events, the Annapolis process, more recently the effort that President Obama began. All these efforts since what, 40 years, are based on 242.”