Israel in the News Nov/Dec 2013
Jewish History Unearthed Again
Recent excavations near the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem have unearthed a literal treasure trove, again confirming an ancient Jewish presence in the city.
Led by archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University, the excavating team found a total of 36 gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a special gold medallion containing the images of a menorah, a shofar, and a Torah scroll. Researchers believe the medallion was an ornament for a Torah scroll, perhaps the oldest such adornment ever found.
For Dr. Mazar, the discovery is sensational: “We have already made many discoveries in this area from the time of the first Jewish Temple. But the image of a seven-branched candelabrum has totally surprised us.”
Said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “This is a magnificent discovery. Nationally, it attests to the ancient Jewish presence and to the sanctity of the place; this is as clear as the sun and it is tremendous….This is historic testimony, of the highest order, to the Jewish people’s link to Jerusalem, to its land and to its heritage—menorah, shofar, Torah scroll. The essence of the Jewish people could not be any more succinct and clear.”
Israel Today (israeltoday.co.il)
Gastric Sleeve May Replace Bariatric Surgery
To replace bariatric surgery in the fight against obesity, students from the Biodesign program of the Hebrew University (HU) of Jerusalem, working with gastroenterologists, surgeons, and clinicians from Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, have developed a prototype for an insertable gastric sleeve called MetaboShield.
The sleeve can be inserted without surgery and is aimed at blocking the absorption of excess food in the intestines. But it could take five years until the device can undergo clinical testing and be approved for use.
Dr. Yaakov Nahmias, director of the HU Center for Bioengineering and cohead of the Biodesign pro-gram, stressed that MetaboShield could save lives, as users would not have to undergo general anesthesia and surgery, and many people who are very obese would be encouraged to undergo the safe insertion of the sleeve.
The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
Facility Turns Garbage Into Fuel
Amid the aroma of garbage at the Hiriya Recycling Park, government officials and executives have laid the cornerstone for a refuse-derived fuel plant that will transform half of the Dan region’s waste into usable fuel.
To provide a solution to the waste problem in Israel, the refuse-derived fuel (RDF) plant will take in daily 1,500 tons of high-calorific waste—such as wood, plastic, textiles, cardboard, and paper—and transform it into a usable fuel through a dry combustion process known as RDF. The RDF process will be able to generate green energy through a method that does not emit any pollutants or toxins, the project’s leaders said.
“This is a project that is going to generate a whole revolution in the treatment of waste in the Dan area and the whole of Israel,” said Gila Oron, head of the Tel Aviv region at the Interior Ministry.
The RDF plant will receive 540,000 tons of trash annually, making it the largest RDF plant in all of the Middle East and one of the largest such facilities in the world.
The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
Arabs Get Jewish Town
Eight years after Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza and northern Samaria, when 9,000 Jews in dozens of communities, including Homesh in Samaria, were thrown out of their homes, the government is now preparing to turn the area over to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Unlike the towns of Gush Katif in Gaza, the towns in Samaria were not handed over to the PA, and the IDF maintained a presence there. Since then, former residents and activists have sought permission to return, and dozens of Knesset members have signed onto a law that would allow the resettlement of the town by Jews.
But the office of the government’s legal advisor for Judea and Samaria announced that it would support transferring Homesh and other former Jewish towns over to the PA. Homesh is still in Area C of Judea and Samaria, meaning that it is under Israeli civilian and military control. But the government’s legal advisor said Israel no longer opposes the entry of PA Arabs into the town.
However, Israelis are still banned from the town, based on orders by the military government issued after the disengagement. Observers said that the move could be a precursor to the reclassification of the town as Area A or B, placing it under total or partial PA control.
TAU, Shanghai Research Center
Tel Aviv University (TAU) has established the first research center for Israel Studies in China, at Jiao Tong University (TJU) in Shanghai. JTU President Zhang Jie said the center aims to “achieve three main goals: Research on contemporary Israel and Sino-Israeli relations; promotion of academic and students exchanges; as well as technological cooperation.”
TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter said the project is “unique in terms of its focus on contemporary Israel” and will “open a window to the state of Israel, its history, law, economy and culture, for Chinese and international students.”
The installation of the research center also marked the launch of a photography exhibition titled “Jewish People in Shanghai,” which presents past and present Jewish life in Shanghai.
The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
More Trouble Brewing Over Temple Mount
The armed wing of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party has promised a new wave of terrorism if Jewish visits to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem do not cease, Israel Today has reported.
Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade calls Jewish visits to Judaism’s holiest site on Earth an “invasion…by settlers,” Israel Today said, and claims Israel is trying to lay the groundwork for rebuilding the Jewish Temple.
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem, claims Israel is trying to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque that occupies the southern portion of the Temple Mount. Israel Today reported that Hussein labeled Israeli policy that says Jews have a right to visit the Temple Mount as “dangerous” and an “insult” to Islam.
Meanwhile, Arutz-7 has reported that Israeli Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin is challenging the Israeli government’s 1967 decision to hand control over the Temple Mount to the Islamic “Waqf” trust.
Arutz-7 said Feiglin objects to the preferential treatment Muslims receive at Judaism’s most important site. Jews are forbidden to pray or perform religious rituals there out of deference to an Islamic complex built on top of the ruins of the two Jewish Temples.
Feiglin said that, far from deciding to hand the site over to the Muslim authorities, a number of ministerial committees clearly stated the opposite was true, Arutz-7 reported.
He cited a statement from 1968 by Israeli Cabinet Minister Yaakov Shapira that says, “We [the government] never announced that the Temple Mount belonged exclusively to the Arabs. We did not announce that it was forbidden for Jews to pray there, [and] we did not announce that it was forbidden for Jews to erect a synagogue there.”
Arutz-7 said Feiglin called for an end to the “discriminatory” practices against non-Muslims on the Mount and an end to the presence of Waqf “stewards” who help police identify and remove Jewish people suspected of praying.
Israeli MKs Will Go to Auschwitz
A delegation of 60 members of Israel’s Knesset, headed by Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, is scheduled to travel to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in Poland on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, for a tour and a unique discussion on the struggle against anti-Semitism.
Auschwitz was one of the Nazis’ most notorious extermination camps, where at least 1.1 million people—90 percent of them Jewish—died in the gas chambers, including more than 200,000 children.
The delegation will include Holocaust survivors, senior members of the Israel Defense Forces, Israel’s chief rabbis, and representatives of Israel’s student unions, representing a link between the past and the future.
To illustrate that anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish issue, senior government and parliamentary figures from around the world will be in attendance. Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, now 85, will be part of a delegation from the United States.
The event is the initiative of Jonny Daniels, a new immigrant to Israel from England, as well as founder and executive director of From the Depths, a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and “connecting the Jewish past with the Jewish future.”
Syrian Church Prefers Assad
It is easy to understand why Christians in Syria prefer the secular [Bashar] Assad regime. Under an Islamic regime, Christians would have two alternatives: die or leave, wrote Italian journalist Giulio Meotti recently in a column for Arutz-7.
Most rebels fighting the secular Assad government want a fundamentalist Islamic state. One member of the Islamic terrorist organization al-Qaeda, also fighting Assad, said the goal is first to get rid of Assad, then to get rid of the Christians.
“Only in America, and to a lesser extent Western Europe, is the myth of ‘freedom fighters’ trying to ‘liberate’ Syria still being peddled,” wrote Raymond Ibrahim, with the David Horowitz Freedom Foundation.
Meotti said thousands of Christians left the city of Qusayr after an ultimatum from mosques warned them to get out in six days. He said a parish priest calls the rebels “vampires who kill in the name of God.”
Wrote Meotti, “Adnan al Aroor, a [Islamic] Sheikh exiled in Saudi Arabia and one of the leaders of the civil war against Assad, urged his followers to ‘tear apart, chop up and give it to the dogs,’ this referring to the meat of Christians branded as ‘collaborators.’”