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A Temple Mount Tragedy

7 Nov

By Dr. Steven Derfler

One of the major points of contention between Israel and the Arab/Moslem World is over the most sacred piece of real estate on the planet. At 37 acres, the Temple Mount is the focal point of prayer and contention for the three western religious traditions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While Christianity has Rome, Constantinople and Jerusalem vying for spiritual ‘seniority’, and Islam has Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, Judaism has Jerusalem, and Jerusalem, and Jerusalem.

However, traditionally, the role of the holy city, and in particular the Temple Mount, has been widely, if not grudgingly, recognized in importance by each of these traditions to the other.

It has only been in the last century, a result of ‘a Twice Promised Land’ coming out of World War One (ok, blame it on the British!) that we find disinformation and the re-writing of history taking place. But the greatest activity has taken place in the 21st Century.

The Waqf, the Islamic religious authority that was granted control of the Temple Mount by Israel decades ago, decided to ‘remodel’ a series of stables beneath the Mount, create a mosque, and then an internal entry from just north of the Al Aqsa plaza. In doing so, tons of debris, filled with archaeological treasures pertaining to the history of the Temple Mt, were unceremoniously dumped with no regard for context into the Kidron Valley; all in spite of Israeli law that forbade such activity unless overseen by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

To make matters worse, many stones, some dating to the Tenth Century BCE, were re-used and modified for their building activity.

Archaeologist Eilat Mazar said: “There is disappointment at the turning of a blind eye and the ongoing contempt for the tremendous archaeological importance of the Temple Mount . Using heavy machinery and with little documentation, can damage ancient relics and erase evidence of the presence of the biblical structures. Any excavation, even if for technical reasons, must be documented, photographed and the dirt sifted for any remains of relics.”  Dr. Gabi Barkai slammed the way the excavations were being carried out stating that “They should be using a toothbrush, not a bulldozer”.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, rejected the Israeli charges. “We don’t harm the antiquities, we are the ones who are taking care of the antiquities, unlike others who destroy them.” Yusuf Natsheh of the Islamic Waqf argued that “remains unearthed would be from the 16th or 17th century Ottoman period”. He said al-Aqsa compound as an important religious institution. “We regret some Israeli groups try to use archaeology to achieve political ends, but their rules of archaeology do not apply to the Haram; it is a living religious site in an occupied land.”

In 2004, debris was transferred to camps set up at Tzurim Valley National Park, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. Here a sifting project was begun; and over the years the Temple Mount debris dump in the Kidron Valley was moved to the sifting site (a total of 322 truckloads, to date).

Objects testifying to the Jewish nature of the Temple Mount platform were dismissed by the Waqf. The Waqf was widely accused of attempting to hide evidence of the existence of the Jewish Temples, which many Palestinian leaders say never existed. That debate continued to rage. “The Aqsa Mosque was an Islamic mosque since the world was created,” said Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, in November, 2015. “It was never anything other than a mosque.

However, this flew in the face of what Islamic leaders said themselves about the Temple Mount earlier in the 20th Century.

But prior to 1948, even their own 1925 Wakf guidebook stated that the Dome of the Rock is situated on the universally accepted site of King Solomon’s Temple. “The site is one of the oldest in the world… its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”

Abbas himself called Israeli history in Jerusalem “illusions and legends” and “delusional myths,” referring to the “alleged Temple.”

The destructive partisan biases in UNESCO were clearly evidenced in the fall of 2016, as it would vote to ratify a resolution denying Jewish ties to Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount. An affront to science and history, the resolution, which refers to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Al-Haram Al-Sharif – ostensibly eliminating its connection to Judaism and Christianity – was expected to be approved by the committee comprised of 21 member states at its 40th session.

As UNESCO approved a resolution that ignored a Jewish connection to The Temple Mount, the Israel Antiquities Authority produced a rare papyrus fragment from the 7th century BCE, written in ancient Hebrew; that mentions Jerusalem. Archaeologists interpreted 2 lines of text as a shipping document reading, “From the king’s maidservant, from Na’arat, jars of wine, to Jerusalem.”

And even more importantly Israeli archaeologists revealed the existence of an ancient Muslim inscription testifying to the fact that the original name of the Dome of the Rock, Qubbat al-Sakhrah, was “Beit al Maqdis” بيت المقدس — “Beit Hamikdash” in Hebrew, aka the Jewish Temple — during the early Muslim era, Makor Rishon reported Friday. According to archaeologists Assaf Avraham and Peretz Reuven, the inscription is dated to the 10th century CE.

It’s time for the western world, Jews, Christians and Moslems of good faith, to recognize the sanctity and legitimacy of the Temple Mount for all religious traditions, and accept the archaeological, historical and spiritual record with dignity and respect.

 

 

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Honor Shimon Peres; Buy Israeli

28 Sep

14441153_10155239980063572_4096406518751730687_nShimon Peres grew up with Israel. He moved to the British Mandate of Palestine in the early 1930’s and has been a change maker in the modern Jewish country since it was born.

On Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 we lost a true Zionist and a true peace activist for the Jewish people and the people of Israel.

In his last video message before his death, he urged everyone to buy Israeli goods. Visit one of our older blogs to see HOW and WHERE to buy Israeli

Shimon Peres’ last video statement

May his memory be for a blessing. z”l

 

 

Interfaith Missions to Israel

22 Jun

For the past 4 years, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee has invested in relationships with the Christian community through community programming and interfaith missions to Israel. This year, we had the opportunity to travel to Israel with another Federation community from the Heart of New Jersey. This unique trip consisted of clergy and leadership from Jewish, Presbyterian, Reform Church, Baptists and Episcopal communities. To read about this trip, click on this article

Below are quotes from two local leaders who traveled to Israel with the Jewish Federation on the mission highlighted in the article:

“Beyond the blessing of biblical locations and narratives coming alive in sight and context, the interfaith trip was a marvelous opportunity to explore deeper conversations and questions (even tough ones) about Judaism and Christianity’s heritage.  The trip also opened my eyes to the greater reality of everyday life in Israel – what it is and isn’t.  How refreshing to see and hear stories of hope and understanding – appreciating the effort to recognize and respect our common human dignity, regardless of background, and the desire we all have to make a better life for future generations.  I learned a lot and am forever grateful for such an educational and inspirational trip.”     – Rev. Michael Todd, Church of the Holy Spirit, Osprey, Florida

 

 

“Israel faces many complex challenges. So often in American mainstream media and around the world, Israel is painted in a negative light, despite the fact that they are daily confronted by an enemy that seeks to destroy their existence. Traveling there and getting to see and hear first-hand about these challenges and the strides Israel is trying to make, was such an affirmation of this bias in media. Truth matters – whether that’s here in America or there in Israel. We need to see both sides of the story and understand that what Israel is facing is complicated. One of the purposes of this trip was for us to see for ourselves what is taking place, to dispel the misconceptions we so often see.  I believe the trip accomplished this.” – Dixie Cline, Director of Development, CareNet Manasota, Bradenton, Florida

Israeli President Rivlin’s Message on Independence Day

11 May

May 10th, 2016

In honor of the upcoming national days, President Reuven Rivlin sent an Independence Day message to Jewish communities and friends of Israel around the world.

 

In his message – which can be viewed here – President Rivlin spoke of his memories as a nine year old child, seeing the flag of Israel raised for the first time as the flag of an independent, sovereign state, he said, “Today, each time I see the flag flying, it fills my heart with pride and joy. As Israel turns 68, we can look with pride, at our past, and must look to the future with hope. The State of Israel was born out of a hope of 2000 years. It was born with the bravery of dreamers who worked to turn their dream into reality. Their spirit stays with us today. In the past year, I have visited many different places across this wonderful country, I have seen this spirit, this joy and pride, which still pushes us forward.”

 

The President spoke of the terrible price of terrorism and said, “Sadly, over the last year Israel has faced a wave of terrible terror attacks which has brought much pain, and left many painful scars. I sat in the houses, of the families who lost loved ones, soldiers and civilians, I felt their pain, and shared in their tears.” He stressed, “Terror will not overcome us, even though it may take a terrible price.” 

 

The President highlighted the importance of celebrating diversity in Israel’s democracy, “Real independence, means the freedom of expression, to celebrate and enjoy the diversity of voices of all the people in Israel, as different as they may be; whether we agree with them or not. An inclusive nation, which knows to debate and discuss with respect and understanding.”

 

The President concluded, “Our Independence Day is a day to celebrate. It is a day to lift the flag high in the knowledge that our hope will lead us to find the way to overcome the challenges, and to spread a message of understanding and respect between one another. And while around our borders, and even inside our borders, blow the terrible winds of radical Islam, we are sure of our path and of our ability and right to build here our national home, with security and prosperity.”

Why Are Jews the Only Minority We Don’t Protect On College Campuses? (repost)

6 May

*The following is a repost of an article that originally appeared in the Huffington Post on May 5th, 2016. To read the original please follow this link http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/on-my-campus-jews-are-the-only-minority-we-dont-protect_us_572a9b98e4b046ff51c08a44 

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by Michael Sitver

Last week, some students at University of Chicago, where I attend, proposed a resolution to our College Council to divest from Chinese weapons manufacturers, in protest of China’s severe human rights abuses and its long-standing occupation of Tibet.

Members of the council were quick to condemn the resolution, and for good reason. The members noted it was political, and disrespectful to Chinese students. Other members noted that Chinese students should be given time to respond to the presenters with a counter-presentation. One representative even suggested that the College Council issue an apology to Chinese students for even considering the resolution. The resolution was tabled indefinitely.

Curiously, when a few weeks earlier the same College Council passed a nearly identical resolution condemning Israel, no one suggested an apology. These same representatives argued why it was their moral imperative to condemn Israel. They were determined to push this through at all costs, and despite requests, they didn’t even offer the other side an opportunity to present.

Over the past few weeks I have been told that Jews “don’t count” as a minority. I have been accused of using anti-semitism to justify oppression. All I want to know is why my campus doesn’t treat anti-semitism with the same rigor with which it treats any other forms of bias.

When Jews stood before the council, and asked that it recognize the Jewish right to self-determination, a basic right for all people, people in the room laughed. One representative noted that “If we were to affirm the right to Jewish self-determination … it takes away from the intent of the resolution”.

Students in the room that day called us racists and murderers and “apartheid supporters”, for even thinking we, as Jews, could have a voice in the discussion over the one small state we call our own. A Jewish student was chided “You are racist and you are against me and my family’s existence”. It was uncivil, and unproductive, but the council-members did not once that day condemn the personal nature of these attacks, or defend the rights of the opposition to make their case.

At one point, a student questioned the presenters, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), about their organization allegedly holding a moment of silence for Palestinians who were killed while trying to murder Jewish Civilians. One of the presenters confirmed the moment, then responded without missing a beat “Palestinians have a right to honor their martyrs”.

If the killing of any other ethnic group had been celebrated, the University would make grief counselors available. It would send out mass emails of condemnation. They would suspend the organization responsible, and possibly the students involved in it. The organization would certainly not have any credibility to present to the student government. Since the victims were Jews though, their celebration of murder went unchallenged. The representatives never even brought the issue up.

On the third slide of the presentation in favor of the resolution, presenters claimed that voting against the resolution would mean “maintaining a system of domination by Jews”. The presenters were relying on one of the most common, long-standing, overtly anti-semitic tropes to make their case, and our representatives said nothing.

On the very next slide, the presenters shared a series of maps which MSNBC once famously referred to as deceptive, and “completely wrong“. The maps (inaccurately) depict border changes between Israelis and Palestinians from 1946-200. What’s most striking is the label though: “Jewish land versus Palestinian land over time”. Not one representative questioned the label. Not one representative questioned the map. The only thing they were willing to question was the right for some state of Israel to exist, and the right to Jewish self-determination.

 

COURTESY: UOFCDIVEST
There were about 500,000 Jews in Israel in 1948, but if you saw this map you would never guess that. This also uses “Jewish” in place of “Israeli”.

Student after student at that first meeting stood to explain to representatives how political and contentious the BDS movement was. They pointed out the movement’s ties to terror and anti-semitism. Some suggested the representatives compromise and call for divestment, but drop the explicit ties to the BDS movement. On this issue, finally, our representatives spoke out.

“As a voting member, I don’t think it’s my job to appease people who don’t support BDS”.

On the China resolution, representatives were quick to point out that it “minimize[d] this issue into a political ploy”. When it came to Israel though, the Council was happy to attempt to speak for its 5,000 constituents without hearing from the other side. They even violated procedure to shut out student voices one meeting, to expedite the vote. The one student they allowed to speak at the meeting was an activist in favor of the resolution.

One representative pointed out to the council that “this [BDS resolution] is being passed a week after a presentation for 15 minutes from one side of the debate, and the opposition … was never formally given time before College Council”. Another pointed out that “it is disingenuous to say that we have moral voice to represent the students and speak on this issue”. That didn’t stop the same representative who seemed so concerned about minimizing the struggles of the Chinese people as a political ploy, from voting for another political ploy.

Their coldness in minimizing the struggles of Jews, living with a legacy of being expelled and exterminated, was mind-boggling to me.

Then again, these biases, and suppressions of speech shouldn’t surprise me, given the system that these Representatives work in. They control $2 million in funding for events and clubs, and they wield that power to silence dissenting voices.

When SJP held events in support of the divest resolution, one of the sponsors was University of Chicago’s own Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

This week is Yom Hashoah, which commemorates the six million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis during World War II. On this day of remembrance, we say “Never forget. Never again”. Yom Hashoah also commemorates an international commitment not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Sadly, fifty-three years after this day was first honored, we seem to be forgetting those lessons. As a campus we’re remarkably tolerant of gender, race, and sexuality in general. Why is it that we’re so uncaring about this one, very real form of racism?

Update (4/05): One thing I didn’t originally emphasize enough is how grateful I am to the 4-5 representatives on the council who genuinely recognized what this resolution was, and spoke and stood against it. I’ve tried my best throughout this article not to name names, but I do want thank those representatives.

Sources:

 

Anti-Semitism is happening and we can’t hide from it.

3 Feb

TODAY:
• French Police are stabbed while guarding a Jewish center in Nice, France.  – Ynet News
• A Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS is shown in a video to be burned alive in a cage.  – Daily Mail
YESTERDAY:
A Muslim couple in British Columbia, Canada who calls themselves “al-qaida Canada” plead ‘not guilty’ to charges of a bomb plot against British legislature in 2013. – National Post
SUNDAY:
Confirmation that the second Japanese journalist has been beheaded by ISIS via photographic evidence of his headless body. – CNN
SATURDAY:
The Jewish fraternity house on the campus of UC Davis was vandalized with swastikas. – NBC
FRIDAY:
A student government resolution to divest from Israel as part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on the campus of University of California, Davis passed prompting a student who sits on the UC Davis student senate to post “Hamas & Sharia law have taken over UC Davis” accompanied with a photo, post vote, while waving a Palestinian flag. – Free Beacon

death-to-israel picture
This is the world we live in and these are just the weekend’s news items. It’s horrifying, cringe-worthy, disgusting and unfortunately becoming less dramatic. We need to make sure that this kind of news doesn’t become less dramatic. We intend to scream from the top of the roof that this is not the world we want to live in. This is not the world we’ve contributed to. This is not the world of rational members of society.

But that’s the catch. Rational members of society. That’s us. That’s people who prefer life over death. So, in the names of Daniel Pearl, Steven Sotloff, James Foley, Peter Kassig, Haruna Yukawa, Kenji Goto, Jordanian soldiers, the Kurdish people, Afgani police officers, UC Davis’ AEPi brothers, the French Jewish community and so many more, let’s stand up together against the irrational members of society. We will not sit in our comfortable homes believing that it won’t affect us because every day that we do that, another group of westerners are recruited to join the global fraternity of the irrational.

Write to your elected officials. Urge them to work with our partners around the world to stop this manifestation of hate. Get contact information for your officials (and a sample letter), local media contacts as well as world news sources and more at:

www.SarasotaLovesIsrael.com

WATCH: This this simple but painful 5-minute video chronicles exactly what is happening on college campuses today from the people who have seen it and lived it.

 

We Stand with the people of Israel

Interfaith: Mutual Honor & Respect

3 Dec

Heller IAI Interfaith MissionThis year, the Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative (IAI) will be led by our first ever Executive Committee comprised of 7 Jewish and 7 Christian pro-Israel leaders in our community. After celebrating our 18-month long Israel@65 festivities in 2013 which brought together thousands of both faiths we realized that so many people in the Sarasota-Manatee community share a love of the State of Israel – just like we do. Also in 2013, Heller IAI implemented an interfaith mission to Israel that included 18-members of the Christian community
Faith2faithWith friendship and partnership between our faiths we bridge religious gaps and come together on one of our core values; Zionism. This is demonstrated through our events. In 2014, we had a program called “Faith to Faith; Christians and Jews Working Together for Israel”. We had 5 panelists of both faiths in a rousing and energetic panel that enabled the audience to leave the room with solid ways to be pro-Israel in their daily lives. Another instance was our “Interfaith Passover Seder”. It became apparent to us that many Christians celebrate the Passover Seder as a way to commemorate their gospel that Jesus’ last Passover Seder was his “Last Supper”.

 

Interfaith Cross and Star“As a Christian, I have kept Passover for many years out of love and respect for my Lord and Israel, but this event was like nothing I have experienced. I was so touched by the honor and respect shown by the Jewish Community to us as Christians.” -Shirley Fenton, co-Chair of the Interfaith Passover Seder

 

 

 

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100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

 

100 Days of Impact started on September 22 and will run through the end of 2014. Each week we will demonstrate the the collaborative impact that we and our donors make locally and globally.

MAKE A DONATION

You are the Jewish community. This is your Federation. Together, we do extraordinary things!