Tag Archives: Israel

This Is Amazing: An App For Sites in Israel

This really is amazing.  Many thanks to Thomas Bolin for mentioning it on FB.

architipVisitors to Israel’s many archaeological sites are often told to come equipped with a camera, and an imagination. The camera is to take photos of themselves and their companions at these famous sites — and the imagination is supposed to help them visualize what many of the faded, ancient, and time-worn places looked like during their heyday.

There are loads of aids to help prompt those imaginations, from guidebooks to audio recordings to professional guides. But Architip, a new app created by a team of image and archaeology professionals, takes a decidedly high-tech approach to the issue. Using augmented reality (AR) technology, the app lets users see what sites actually looked like long ago, bringing to virtual life a view of the ancient world.

And further

Because each site needs to be mapped and augmented separately, Architip is being marketed as a “white label” engine, which will be used at specific sites. As a pilot, the Architip R&D team, led by Israeli AR and computer vision pioneer Sagiv Philipp, has mapped and “virtualized” the Tel Lachish archaeological site in central Israel. Tel Lachish was a fortified city surrounded by towers, and had many stately buildings, but looking at the site today, it’s hard to visualize the city as it was. With Architip, users can see the site in all its ancient glory just by holding up their smartphone’s camera at the location and looking at the screen.

“With Architip, you can see Tel Lachish as it was,” Benevisti said, “walking through its streets and seeing the reconstruction through your device.” All a user has to do is point their device at a specific point, and Archtip’s technology does the rest.

When fully developed this is going to be spectacular.  Read even more at the link above.

More Lebensraum

From Ha’aretz

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation overcame serious disagreements to approve a legal framework for moving the Bedouin into recognized communities; vote had been postponed two weeks to allow Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi to study the issue.

More Lebensraum.

[I know people don’t like that term but no one has yet explained to me how it is inaccurate. So, because it fits I’ll continue to use it].

Boy Talk About ‘Building a Fence Around the Law’…

From Facebook (via Jim Aitken)-

534297_10151543459749368_2099302270_nThe aeroplanes to Tel Aviv sometimes fly over cemeteries, which according to some rabbis is forbidden for a cohen (traditionally a priest; a person regarded as descendant from Zadok (Aaron).

The guy in the photo is a religious cohen flying from Cyprus to Tel Aviv inside a sealed plastic bag! I reckon that the oxygen is sufficient for such a short flight, or perhaps the plastic bag was sealed just before arrival in Israel’s territorial waters…

Keith Whitelam: Right on Obama’s Visit to Israel

Keith writes (on FB)

The references to ‘our ancient homeland’, ‘our ancient capital’, the story of the exodus, ‘the promised land’ or the use of the Dead Sea Scrolls as a title deed to the land in the speeches of Obama, Peres and Netanyahu show why it is so important to challenge this biblical view of history.

It is constantly used to justify Israel’s claim to the land and resonates powerfully with Israeli, American and western audiences. It is used to deny Palestine’s connection to the past and undermines any claims to the present.

There is no mention in Obama’s speeches to Palestine’s past. The cultural struggle for an alternative history of Palestine that shows how the past is connected to the present is crucial in countering the biblical view of history.

Well said indeed.  Folk interested in the topic will want to check out Keith’s book, Rhythms of Time where he does a far better job of discussing the actual history of Palestine than Obama.

Now Online- “With God on Our Side”

You MUST watch this video.  You must.

‘With God On Our Side’ takes a look at the theology of Christian Zionism, which teaches that because the Jews are God’s chosen people, they have a divine right to the land of Israel. Aspects of this belief system lead some Christians in the West to give uncritical support to Israeli government policies, even those that privilege Jews at the expense of Palestinians, leading to great suffering among Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike and threatening Israel’s security as a whole.

This film demonstrates that there is a biblical alternative for Christians who want to love and support the people of Israel, a theology that doesn’t favor one people group over another but instead promotes peace and reconciliation for both Jews and Palestinians.

The $3.99 price is more than worth it.  I bought the video for nearly $20 and I’d do it again.

Joe Zias’ Open Letter to Academics

Dear friends, colleagues

While some of you have known me for years, in many guises, curator, guide, films, colleague and as well as a friend , one thing which those whom have known me both professionally and personally will agree on is, like most academics, I have zero tolerance for academic misconduct. Religious fraud is bad enough but scientific/academic misconduct is like a virus in that irrespective of one’s religious view, ranging from atheistic to believer, it can affect us all. In the world of anthropology which is where I began my career there is little deliberate fraud, however in biblical archaeology where I have spent the last four decades it is replete with deception, manipulation, dishonesty for various reasons, some political, some religious and some financial. Being non-discriminatory I have taken a vocal stand against all three over the years, at times at the expense of my career which now is at stake here.

Israel is a small country and one’s reputation and name is continually under public scrutiny and in the end, the ultimate question is, have we contributed in some way to advancing science and archaeology? Alternatively, in the search for fame and fortune, which is the issue being discussed here, powerful media and personal interests from abroad have encroached upon what once was a honest profession. Science, religion and archaeology are at risk and in an attempt to silence academic critics a small but financially powerful group within the media has chosen to react via libel ligation (silencing lawsuits). Their primary effect is not legal action, but an attempt to silence public criticism and freedom of expression in order to advance their own parochial interests. The ideology of ‘silencing lawsuits’ is perhaps best illustrated by Scientology’s L Ron Hubbard who wrote “The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment …If possible, (can) ruin one utterly.”

As you are well aware, ‘where threats of libel begin, freedom of expression ends’ thus I’m in dire need of contributions to establish a defense fund to cover legal costs. If this cannot be met, then they win by default and science, archaeology and freedom of expression will suffer the consequences. Sorry to be so blunt but this is where it now stands, I have near total academic support from colleagues, but for what we have in integrity, they have in financial resources.

Have a look at the website I just put up www.joezias.org and for further information see the Time Magazine article by Nina Burleigh whom many of you may well know (unfort. Time says he is an archaeologist, he is not) and then the acerbic blogs which follow in order to have an idea where those suing me stand in the public eye.

The 2,000 year old tomb shown here in the Jerusalem snow has the world’s earliest NT inscriptions written in stone, accidentally discovered by myself and interpreted by colleagues in 2000.


Shalom and thank you for listening and your support.


Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Vile racism, Israeli style

“Ten… Nine… Eight… Seven… Six… Five… Four… Three… Two… One…War! War! War!’ A typical Beitar Jerusalem welcome, one of Israel’s biggest football clubs, on Sunday night from ‘La Familia’ the team’s hardcore fans who are in revolt over the signing of two Muslim players, two of just five non-Israeli players to ever play for the club which is identified with the country’s political right.

On Sunday night at the Teddy Stadium, home of Beitar Jerusalem, members of the club’s hard-core support, “La Familia”, were in place an hour before kick-off for the game against Maccabi Netanya. While most fans go to games to support their team, La Familia spent the game showering the club’s owner and his two new signings with a torrent of abuse.

And then

Israeli soccer fans in Jerusalem say that it wasn’t racism that made them walk out when one of their own players scored a goal over the weekend, but that it was “just a matter of being Arab” and they want to keep the team “pure.”

Sounds very much like Germany in 1933.

A Palestinian Woman is Assaulted While Israeli Security Looks On, Smiles, And Does Nothing

This is disgusting.  Decent people everywhere will be outraged and condemn this vileness.  Racists will applaud, wink, and excuse it.

285369_10151323313766295_1124661953_nFront page of Maariv newspaper, picture of a Palestinian woman assaulted by Israelis in a bus station as the security officer looks on and smiles. This is what occupation and discrimination do… See it, study it, understand that this is not an exception but a loud, shameful example of the indignity that is daily life of a Palestinian under Israel’s occupation. Following is Google’s translation of the Hebrew caption, as it appeared in the webiste:

“The woman stood at the station in Kiryat Moshe capital, suddenly several young women passing by began beat her and remove her head covering. Eyewitness told the nrg: “Young people were drunk and light rail security officer watched the incident with a smile and did not intervene” (Yossi me)” nrg.co.il  

Via Shara Jean.

The Rise and Fall of Archaeology in the Service of Ideology in Israel

It’s a new essay in Bible and Interpretation worth reading by Rami Arav. He concludes with this amazing claim-

A prominent Tel Aviv University archaeologist, Z. Herzog, complained a few years ago in an article in the prestigious Israeli paper Haaretz that despite the fact that archaeology has totally changed our current understanding of the Bible, nobody pays attention. The public is apathetic and indifferent. The glorious heyday of iconic archaeology has gone forever.

The situation in America is totally different. Archaeology- especially of Israel- is the golden child and looks like it will continue to be that for the foreseeable future.

More Taliban-esque Behavior From the Far Right of Judaism

Ophir Ben-Shetreet, a 17-year-old with a voice as outstanding as Sonenclar’s, is a leading competitor on Israel’s “The Voice.” One would think that she would be rewarded for her confidence, effort and talent. Sadly, that is not the case.

Ben-Shetreet is essentially being punished for having an exceptionally beautiful voice and wanting to share it with the world. The 12th grader has been suspended (with the agreement of her parents) for two weeks from her religious girls’ high school in the seaside city of Ashdod. Her offense? Singing in public.

The complaints against Ben-Shetreet’s singing on the popular TV show came from the parents of other students at her school. Ben-Shetreet’s suspension and required attendance at special Jewish law classes is supposedly meant to serve as a deterrent to her classmates – should they, heaven forbid, want to exercise their God-given vocal talent or just plain have some musical fun while within hearing earshot of a man.

That’s just WTTWD- what the Taliban would do- prohibit girls from exercising their talents in front of members of the opposite sex.  Because nothing says ‘faith’ like telling girls they’re supposed to stay hidden (either off the stage in front of men or behind the veil).

I feel sorry for these extremists.  They must lack all self control, poor things, because they can’t look at women without being driven into a frenzy of lust and so every measure must be taken to protect these gentle male flowers from the damaging glare of the feminine…  Poor, poor Taliban of the Jewish and Muslim persuasion: slaves of their own desires and willing to oppress any woman to keep those desires in check.

The Israeli Government is Lying About Iran

Here’s an object lesson that shows just how far some press—and even Israeli government officials—have gone down the rabbit hole on Iran issues by propagating a story reported on a conspiracy website. The dubious tale goes like this: there was a huge explosion at Iran’s main nuclear facility at Fordow, near the city of Qom, leaving hundreds of workers … trapped in the underground facility.

The facility is the source of much trepidation in Israel, where fears of insufficient military capabilities make the nuclear plant impenetrable to Israeli attack.

The report came from a completely unreliable character writing for none other than World Net Daily, a website most famous for being the most prominent hub of the “Birther” conspiracy theory positing that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim and not American (among other conspiracy theories about the Obama administration). What’s more, the story, thanks to a firm denial by American officials, reveals yet another rift between the Obama administration and Israel’s government over Iran—a rift that can be laid nowhere except at the feet of overeager Israeli officials.

Yup… That’s the way Bibi’s government works: duplicity, deception, and misinformation.  Notice the bits I’ve put in bold for emphasis.  And there’s more- which do read.

Israel Is an Apartheid State: So Says Amos Oz

First, this-

The writer and Israel Prize laureate Amoz Oz harshly attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Labor chairwoman MK Shelly Yacimovich.

Oz, a staunch Meretz supporter, made the comments at a parlor meeting at the home of friends in Tel Aviv. Speaking to about 30 academics who are considering voting for Meretz, Oz compared Israel to an apartheid state and made angry predictions about its future.

“In my mind, the Netanyahu government is the most anti-Zionist government Israel has ever had. It is doing everything so there will be not two states here, but one,” said Oz. “It is striking Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] blow after blow – violent morale blows, financial blows and political blows. It is strengthening Hamas more and more. Perhaps that is the intention, to stop the chance for two states. They believe that Jews can rule over an Arab majority for a long time. No apartheid state in the world has lasted without collapsing after a few years.”

Then further on, this

“The Labor Party has been crawling to Likud governments for 15 years now,” he said. “It crawled under Shimon Peres, it crawled under Amir Peretz. And what good did it do? How did it slow the rate of settlements? How did it stop the catastrophe of the abolishment of the state of the Jewish people?”

A fine piece altogether.  Hooray for a truth teller.

If You’re Looking for Something to do This Summer…

Maybe this is for you:

Located in a quiet rural setting within the western Galilee of Israel, only a ten minute ride from the historical town of Acco, with its Medieval and Ottoman old city, fishing harbor and traditional market, and the modern resort town of Nahariya, the site of Tel Kabri has what may be the earliest-known Western art yet found in the Eastern Mediterranean. …

The 2013 season will continue to focus on the Middle Bronze Age palace. Previous excavations at the palace have exposed large quantities of painted plaster while documenting the building’s history from its humble beginnings to its destruction three centuries later.

It’s June 23-August 1.

The NRA is the American Equivalent of Israel’s West Bank Settlers


Or as Bradley Burston more prosaically puts it- The NRA is America’s curse. And the settlements are Israel’s NRA.

It’s very hard to disagree.

The NRA and the settlements movements divide us as few movements can; Both have come to believe that they should in no way be curbed. Both have come to believe that they cannot be stopped.

Nay- it is impossible to disagree. What a fine, fine essay. Enjoy it. Learn from it.

Israeli Propaganda Hits a New Low

Every now and then, one reveals more than one intended. And gets caught in the act. Earlier today, there was a bit of a kerfluffle when Israel’s embassy in Ireland posted the following on its Facebook account:

A thought for Christmas…If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought….

Yeah, that’s a thought alright- a perverse one intended to paint the Palestinians in the worst of all possible lights.


Then, of course, the backpeddling-

It was removed from the page in a couple of hours, and replaced with this:

To whom it may concern: An image of Jesus and Mary with a derogatory comment about Palestinians was posted without the consent of the administrator of the Facebook page. We have removed the post in question immediately. Apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Merry Christmas!

Ah yes, Merry Christmas…

An Excerpt From Keith Whitelam’s Forthcoming “Rhythms of Time: Reconnecting Palestine’s Past”

From Chapter 2,  A Land Built of Bones

whitelam_bookThe history of Palestine has been forged in the shadow of empire: the Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian from the ancient past to the Ottoman, British and American of the modern world. The so-called great men, monarchies, and imperial powers have followed on from one another in the region, attracting most attention like the froth of the waves breaking on the shoreline. Yet underlying this surface movement, as Braudel termed it, was a substratum that moved slowly to the rhythms of time absorbing and dissipating the effect of the waves. 
It is this story, an essential part of Palestine’s past, that was ignored by western visitors and scholars in favour of the events and characters described in the Bible. So these centuries that are associated with the biblical stories have become Israel’s past and have been denied to Palestine and the Palestinians. As Carlo Levi said of Gagliano in his evocative and moving Christ Stopped at Eboli: 
No one has come to this land except as an enemy, a conqueror, or a visitor devoid of understanding. The seasons pass today over the toil of the peasants, just as they did three thousand years before Christ…
The lives of the inhabitants of the tombs of Afula, Dothan and Silwan are part of the rich tapestry of Palestine’s history as it moves to the rhythms of the land, beguiled by its attractions, and reaping its rewards in return for loving care. For those close to the land, it was ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ in that time worn phrase coined by the biblical writers. Their hopes are summed up in the words of the psalmist, ‘May there be an abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon.’ Or more recently, Raja Shehadeh when walking in the hills near Ramallah describes the abundance of wild flowers—‘most were in miniature, blue iris only a few centimetres high, pink flax also very close to the ground and the slightly taller Maltese Cross and pyramid orchids, a colourful but thin carpet covering the vibrant land’, and the terraced gardens with olive trees and flowers’— while pondering the lives of its former inhabitants:
As I walked up I looked at the unterraced hill to my left.  What would it take to clear this and terrace it, I wondered. What a feat it must have been to look at the wild hill and plan the subdivisions. How did they know when to build the terrace wall in a straight line, when in a curve and when to be satisfied with a round enclave where only a single tree could be planted? They must have been very careful to follow the natural contours, memorizing the whole slope before deciding how to subdivide it…. Where once there was a steep hill there was now a series of gradually descending terraces. In this way my ancestors reclaimed the wild, possessed and domesticated it, making it their own.
We need to see the inhabitants of the graves of Afula, Dothan and Silwan as ourselves, or fail to understand how their hopes, aspirations and fears unite us in a common humanity. The rhythms of time are ignored in the search for that which separates, defines, and makes exclusive. Palestine is, to adapt the words of Levi, a land built on bones, where the dead are passed into the living.

Get Tough President Obama, Get Tough

“Counterproductive.” That’s the adjective that National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor used to describe the Israeli government’s first reprisal for the U.N. vote on Palestine: announcing that Israel was moving ahead on plans for a neighborhood linking Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, and authorizing 3,000 new homes for Israelis beyond the Green Line. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, choosing her words as carefully, said the decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his senior cabinet forum had “set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”

Counterproductive.  Isn’t that sweet.  Bibi’s thirst for Palestinian land and his unending quest for Lebensraum is more than ‘counterproductive’, it’s evil.

Washington is a long way from Israel, culturally even more than physically. In the polite diplomatic tones of Washington, these statements were meant as harsh censure. But the Obama administration needs to know that something got seriously lost in transmission. Here on the east edge of the Mediterranean, the message was that President Obama was practically campaigning for Netanyahu’s reelection.

Mr President, if I may, Barack… it’s time to get a spine and tell Bibi that if Israel builds those housing units the US will take serious measures against it.  Serious measures meaning nothing will be left off the table.  The Bully Bibi only understands tough talk Mr Obama, so get tough.  For once.  And do read the rest of the sensible essay linked to above and quoted herein.

The World Grows Weary of Bibi’s Antics

Finally.  If only President Obama had the courage of the French.

For the first time, Britain and France may recall ambassadors in protest at Israel’s settlement construction. Moves against Israel will be made in next the few days following Netanyahu’s decision to move ahead on construction in E1 and build 3,000 housing units in settlement blocs east of Jerusalem, say senior European diplomats.

Again, if only Obama were as courageous as the French. As. The. French… When did America become less morally respectable than France? Less courageous? This is just sad.

Britain and France are poised to take action − possibly including the unprecedented step of recalling their ambassadors, according to senior European diplomats − in protest at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to move settlement construction ahead in the area known as E1, between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem. “This time it won’t just be a condemnation, there will be real action taken against Israel,” a senior European diplomat said.

Finally. It’s time for Netanyahu to suffer the consequences of his arrogance. Good for the Europeans. At least they have the sense to know right from wrong. We used to. We don’t anymore.

Build Your Own Facilities of War, Israel, and Pay Your Own Way

This is sickening.  Our budget deficit is growing by the second but we still have to foot the bill for an Israeli Air Force facility??? That’s absurd.  Let Israel pay for and build it’s own war facilities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is receiving bids to build a five-story complex for the Israeli Air Force, or IAF, near Tel Aviv.  The facility, mysteriously dubbed “site 911,” will be built under the auspices of the Foreign Military Sales program and is expected to cost the U.S. between $25 million and $100 million, according to a solicitation for bids posted on a U.S. government website.

Only U.S. construction firms are able to bid on this contract, and the deadline for proposals is December 3, according to the notice. The notice, first reported on by The Washington Post, includes structural plans that show the first three underground floors are roughly 41,000 square feet and will include classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3 and shock-resistant doors throughout.

Why do we – the American taxpayers – have to fund this???  Stupid Washington.  Stupid politicians.  We should all REFUSE to pay taxes until this kind of wicked waste stops.

Bibi’s Unbounded Evil

Bibi Netanyahu has approved 3000 additional housing units in the Palestinian territories in response to the vote of the United Nations.  And he wonders why Israel is isolated.  It’s a no-brainer Bibi- the vast majority of the world’s population thinks you’re a prat and your policies are immoral.

Israel is to build 3,000 new settler homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank after the Palestinians won recognition as a non-member state at the United Nations, an Israeli official told AFP on Friday.

Asked if he could confirm a report that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided tp build the 3,000 units in response to the Palestinians success at the UN, he said: “It’s true — in (east) Jerusalem and the West Bank,” without saying exactly where.

The decision was revealed in a tweet by the diplomatic correspondent of Haaretz newspaper, who said some of the homes would be built in E1, a highly-contentious area of the West Bank which links annexed east Jerusalem with Maaleh Adumim settlement.

Bibi is a spoiled evil child who retaliates when he doesn’t get his way.  Israelis voting for him vote for hatred.