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Miss Iraq Sarah Idan Cries During Visit to Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center

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By Aussie Dave - June 15, 2018

During her trip to Israel, the wonderful Sarah Idan, Miss Iraq 2017, visited the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center and met with Iraqi Jews. By all accounts (and as you will see from some of the below photos), she was very moved (to the point of crying) by the museum exhibitions, especially a seal on which was written the words “not allowed to return to Iraq” – to which she responded “I am ashamed.”

As part of the visit, Prof. Efraim Sadka spoke about how Muslim and Christian neighbors protected and saved the Jews in Baghdad during the “Farhud” – the Pogrom of 1941. Sarah was surprised to see the photo of Renee Dangoor – Baghdad Beauty Queen of 1947.

Read More: israellycool.com

 

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Israeli children counter flaming kites with peace balloons

 (Photo: Twitter screenshot, Nir Dvori)

(Photo: Twitter screenshot, Nir Dvori)

By TOI Staff - June 15, 2018

As the Hamas terror group threatened to launch 5,000 flaming kites and balloons at Israel on Friday, Israeli children at the Gaza border countered with a message of peace.

At Kibbutz Nir Am, which has had a number of fires sparked by burning kites flown from Gaza, children and residents launched balloons carrying candy towards the Palestinian enclave, Hadashot TV news reported.

Additionally, kibbutz members on Saturday will replant groves at Nir Am burned by the kites in a message of “they burn and we plant,” the network said.

Read More: Times of Israel

 

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3 initiatives awarded prize for Israeli-Arab peace efforts

 (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

(Photo: Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

By Rebecca Stadlen Amir - June 13, 2018

Three pairs of Jewish Israelis and Muslim Arabs were awarded the 14th annual Institute of International Education (IIE) Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East in Jerusalem today (June 13), recognizing their work toward advancing peace and reducing tensions in the region.

“This award recognizes innovation, and rewards those who are courageous and committed enough to work together to overcome the religious, cultural, ethnic and political issues which divide the Middle East,” said former IBM executive Victor J. Goldberg, a longtime IIE trustee who created and endowed the prize in 2005.

The three winners include Mosaica Religious Peace Initiative, the PeacePlayers, Middle East Tamra/Naharia All-Star team, and Change Agents. The prize awards $30,000 split among the three pairs of individuals involved.

Read More: Israel21c

 

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Iranians defy regime on Twitter, express support for Israel

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By TOI Staff - June 13, 2018

As thousands marched in Iran on Friday to mark the regime-led Quds Day — an annual day of protest against Israel — some Iranians launched a Twitter campaign to express support for the Jewish state.

The effort, under the hashtag #WeStandWithIsrael, was a call for peace between the two peoples. A photo shared on the social media platform encouraged users to tweet the hashtag at 9 p.m. Tehran time on Friday.

A Foreign Ministry official on Tuesday said the hashtag had featured in tens of thousands of tweets.

“The Foreign Ministry implements digital public diplomacy in social media networks in various languages, one of them being Persian,” the ministry’s Persian digital media manager Sharona Avginsaz said.

“In the last six months our Twitter page ‘Israel in Persian,’ intended specifically for Iranian civilians, has been gaining steam,” she told the Mako website, run by Hadashot news. “We have around 60 thousands followers, and our messages reach over 1.5 million people with that Twitter handle alone.”

She explained that though Twitter is banned in Iran, many Iranians have found ways to circumvent the restrictions.

Read More: Times of Israel

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King who? Rare sculpted head of mystery biblical ruler found in northern Israel

 (Photo: AP Photo/Ilan Ben Zion)

(Photo: AP Photo/Ilan Ben Zion)

By Ilan Ben Zion - June 9, 2018

AP — An enigmatic sculpture of a king’s head dating back nearly 3,000 years has set off a modern-day mystery caper as scholars try to figure out whose face it depicts.

The 5-centimeter (2-inch) sculpture is an exceedingly rare example of figurative art from the Holy Land during the 9th century BCE — a period associated with biblical kings. Exquisitely preserved but for a bit of missing beard, nothing quite like it has been found before.

While scholars are certain the stern bearded figure wearing a golden crown represents royalty, they are less sure which king it symbolizes, or which kingdom he may have ruled.

Archaeologists unearthed the diminutive figurine in 2017 during excavations at a site called Abel Beth Maacah, located just south of Israel’s border with Lebanon, near the modern-day town of Metula.

Nineteenth-century archaeologists identified the site, then home to a village called Abil al-Qamh, with the similarly named city mentioned in the Book of Kings.

During the 9th century BCE, the ancient town was situated in a liminal zone between three regional powers: the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus to the east, the Phoenician city of Tyre to the west, and the Israelite kingdom, with its capital in Samaria to the south.

Kings 1 15:20 mentions Abel Beth Maacah in a list of cities attacked by the Aramean King Ben Hadad in a campaign against the Israelite kingdom. 

Read More: Times of Israel

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From other end of world, group races to preserve Middle East’s Jewish heritage

 (Photo: Larry Luxner/ Times of Israel)

(Photo: Larry Luxner/ Times of Israel)

By Larry Luxner - June 5, 2018

ROCKVILLE, Maryland — Even at the time of the early Muslim empires in the 7th century, Jews had already been established in Arab lands for hundreds of years.

Vibrant communities flourished throughout the Middle East, with synagogues dotting the skylines of major cities from Algiers to Aleppo.

Over time, the Jews built up an extensive cultural legacy — a cemetery in Sudan; Hebrew-language inscriptions in Iraq; hidden fortresses of ancient Israelites in Saudi Arabia. Around the time of Israel’s establishment in 1948, however, things took a turn for the worse as Jews were forced to flee the Muslim-majority countries.

Now, as climate change, human development and terrorism threaten to obliterate what remains, one nonprofit organization is racing to safeguard this legacy before it’s too late.

Since 2010, Boston-based Diarna (“our home” in Judeo-Arabic) has used the latest in 3-D digital mapping technology alongside traditional scholarship and oral interviews to document more than 2,500 Jewish sites in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Many of these sites are found in Morocco (460), Iraq (352), Algeria (320), Yemen (301), Tunisia (231) and Syria (63).

“When I talk about Jewish fortresses in Saudi Arabia, I get blank stares. But this highlights a forgotten history and also the sensitive nature of the work we’re doing,” said Jason Guberman, Diarna’s co-founder and coordinator.

Read More: Times of Israel

 

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Israel sends relief to Guatemala after deadly volcano

 (Photo: ZAKA)

(Photo: ZAKA)

By Nicky Blackburn - June 4, 2018

Israel is sending emergency aid money to Guatemala after a devastating volcanic eruption that killed at least 25, injured hundreds, and left cities in the region covered in ash.

In a statement today, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced that it was sending $10,000 to Guatemala through its embassy there, for emergency supplies including medicine, food and blankets.

Israeli trained first responders in Guatemala are also on their way to help after the Volcan de Fuego erupted on Sunday, spewing molten rock, ash and black smoke into the sky, in what is thought to be the worst eruption since 1974, according to local experts.

The volunteers were trained earlier this year by Israel’s ZAKA International Rescue Unit. The three-day search and rescue course in Guatemala was designed to give local volunteers the necessary skills to offer immediate assistance to emergency forces in the event of a mass casualty incident in their communities or regions.

Read More: Israel21c

 

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CNN recommends Tel Aviv as the top place to visit this June

 (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

By Kate Mackay - May 30, 2018

Originally appeared here on CNN

(CNN) — Deciding where to travel in June can be tough. School is out in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Families are flocking to beaches and national parks, and prices for airfare and accommodations are rising steadily with temperatures in this part of the world. It can feel like there's nowhere to turn.

You'll likely encounter larger crowds and higher prices at most destinations with pleasant weather this month, but you needn't fret. We've done the travel research for you.

Whether you want to explore ancient ruins, hit the beach or the museum, kayak through a canyon or stay out all night in a vibrant city, here are five great places to visit in June:

1. Tel Aviv, Israel
Spring and fall are Tel Aviv's less-expensive shoulder seasons, but there's a reason summer is its most popular. Europeans, in particular, flock to Israel's Mediterranean coast this time of the year.

Israel's second most populous city of course has its fair share of historical and cultural points of interest. Tel Aviv's White City was named a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 2003. This area contains over 4,000 buildings built in the Bauhaus or International Style -- the most of any city in the world. Architectural tours can be taken through the Bauhaus Center. Read More

 

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Israel unveils plan to pump billions into neglected Arab areas of East Jerusalem

 (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

(Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

By AP - 1 June 2018

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel

The government on Thursday unveiled what it billed as a groundbreaking program to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in long-neglected Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

The “Leading Change” program aims to reduce the huge social gaps between the Palestinian neighborhoods and the overwhelmingly Jewish western part of the city. Palestinian neighborhoods suffer from poor infrastructure, neglect and subpar public services, and nearly 80 percent of the city’s Palestinian families live in poverty.

The program will invest NIS 2 billion, or $560 million, in three core areas: education, infrastructure, and helping Palestinian women enter the work force.

The money will be spent on a variety of programs, including nine pilot projects, in the coming five years, with the aim of attracting further government and private investment down the road. Read More

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Christian Misunderstandings of Gaza and Israel

 (Photo: Reuters + Marc Israel Sellem) 

(Photo: Reuters + Marc Israel Sellem) 

By Gerald Mcdermott - May 28, 2018

Originally appeared here in the Jerusalem Post 

In 2009 my photographer son and I walked across the Galilee, staying with Jews some nights and Arabs other nights. We were doing a photo essay for Christianity Today on what residents of the land of Jesus think about him today.

More than a few times Arab Christians pulled us aside, whispered to us not to write their names, and told us the same thing: “The media would make you think that the Israeli government is our biggest enemy. But that’s not true. Our real enemies are our Muslim cousins. They want to get rid of us Christians.”

Indeed, one lesson I learned from journey is to be wary of what the media tell us about Israel.

I wish Rich Mouw knew about some of this. Rich is a distinguished scholar and president emeritus of Fuller Seminary. He is a friend and ally on many issues, but I am afraid that his recent screed against Israel over the violence in Gaza was uninformed and, as a result, unfair. While desiring to help defend Palestinians, he perpetuates a false narrative that only hurts Palestinians.

President Mouw decries the way that some Evangelicals use Genesis 12:3 (“I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse”) to accept uncritically any and every action or policy of the Israeli government. I agree with Rich on that, and so do most Israelis I know. Unlike Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza, Jewish Israelis freely criticize their government in public and the media. So do the two million Arab citizens of Israel, whose Arab representatives in the Knesset regularly criticize Netanyahu’s government. Their Palestinian cousins who live in the West Bank and in Gaza don’t dare criticize their Palestinian governments for fear of torture and worse for themselves and their families.

President Mouw says it is “shameful” to celebrate the American embassy moving to Jerusalem while the Israeli military is “killing dozens of Palestinian protestors against Israeli policies.”

When I read these words written by President Mouw, I can only imagine that he is unaware of several critically important facts.
For example, he must not know that more than 80% of the killed protesters were Hamas soldiers. This was admitted publicly in a television interview by a senior Hamas official.

He must not know that these soldiers, who were told to dress in civilian clothes because of the presence of media cameras, were on their way to kill Jews. According to Palestinan journalist Bassam Tawil, this was no peaceful protest. They and the rest of the demonstrators were chanting, “Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!” They had machine guns, firebombs, airborne improvised explosive devices and grenades. One of their leaders, Yahya Sinwar, shouted to the media, “We will take down the border [with Israel] and we will tear their hearts from their bodies.” Hamas had posted maps for their soldiers showing the quickest routes from the border to Israeli homes, schools and day-care centers. Read More

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How Jesus died: Extremely rare evidence of Roman crucifixion uncovered in Italy

 (Photo: Ilan Shtulman)

(Photo: Ilan Shtulman)

By Amanda Borschel-Dan - May 30, 2018

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

A lesion on the foot of a 2,000-year-old skeleton discovered in a Roman burial site in northern Italy appears to constitute rare tangible evidence of execution by crucifixion, according to an interdisciplinary team of Italian researchers.

Although broadly attested to in historical writings — including the New Testament — it is only the second known archaeological proof of the particularly cruel form of capital punishment practiced by the Romans against criminals, as well as revolutionaries such as Jesus Christ.

The findings — published in the April 2018 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences under the title “A multidisciplinary study of calcaneal trauma in Roman Italy: a possible case of crucifixion?” — are based on new analysis of a skeleton that was discovered in 2007 during a salvage excavation of an isolated tomb.

“In the specific case, despite the poorly preserved conditions, we could demonstrate the presence of signs on the skeleton that indicate a violence similar to crucifixion,” co-author Emanuela Gualdi from the University of Ferrara told the Italian-language paper Estense. Read More

 

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Preschool Near Gaza Border Resilient After Mortar Shelling

 (Photo: Eshkol Regional Council) 

(Photo: Eshkol Regional Council) 

By Tamara Zieve - May 30, 2018

Less than an hour before children were due to arrive at a kindergarten in southern Israel on Monday morning, a mortar shell landed in the preschool yard.

Shrapnel was scattered across the area, the exterior walls sustained damage, and a tree was hit. But fortunately, the kindergarten was vacant.

Despite the close call, the message that kindergarten teacher Tovah Ludmer Gigi was keen to convey to the children was that their kindergarten is the safest place they can be.

“I told them that the kindergarten is the most protected place,” she told reporters outside the preschool, stressing the difference between the yard and the preschool building. “They know that if there is any danger while they are at home, they run to a shelter; here, the whole kindergarten is fortified.”

Read More: Jerusalem Post

 

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New Yad Vashem exhibit chronicles Jewish yearning for Israel during Holocaust

 A teacher and a student near a map of the Land of Israel in the Łódź ghetto, Poland. (Yad Vashem Archives Collection)

A teacher and a student near a map of the Land of Israel in the Łódź ghetto, Poland. (Yad Vashem Archives Collection)

By Tracy Frydberg - May 29, 2018

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

Yad Vashem’s new exhibit, “They Say There is No Land,” is a powerful narrative tracking the Jewish people’s 2,000-year desire to return to the Land of Israel. It was a yearning that became most urgent during the Holocaust.

The Jerusalem-based Holocaust museum created the exhibit in honor of the State of Israel’s 70th anniversary. The display highlights Israel’s historical and religious importance to the Jewish people, before turning to European Jewry’s connection to the land through Zionism between 1933 and 1948.

Holocaust survivors whose memorabilia is on display and museum curators met with members of the press Tuesday morning before the exhibit opened to the general public later in the day.

The contents of the exhibit — children’s artwork, letters to loved ones, photos and hand-drawn maps — hung on freshly painted navy walls and sat in glass cases still noticeably free of fingerprints. The collection presents a look at Zionism as a beacon of hope — freedom for a Jewish people helplessly trapped in Hitler’s grasp. Read More

 

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For the Jews of Arlington National Cemetery, American dreams were writ large

 (Photo: Matt Lebovic/The Times of Israel)

(Photo: Matt Lebovic/The Times of Israel)

By Matt Lebovic - Memorial Day 2018 

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

Until he died in 2003, Kenneth Poch was an amateur historian with a mission: to identify and record every grave where a Jewish service member had been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, home to 400,000 graves of veterans and their family members.

For years, Poch had been rattled when hearing people repeat the myth, “Jews don’t fight and don’t serve.” To shatter that misconception, the retired audio technician spent 15 years identifying the Jews buried at Arlington, best known for its Tomb of the Unknown Solider and the grave of President John F. Kennedy.

Complicating Poch’s mission, grave markers other than crosses were not permitted at Arlington until 1918. Even after stars of David were allowed onto the grounds following World War I, some Jews continued to be buried under crosses — including those grown accustomed to hiding their Judaism out of fear of discrimination, and some who had the decision made for them. Nothing was computerized. Read More

 

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For the First Time Ever: A Jewish-Christian Party To Run For Knesset

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By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz - May 23, 2018

Originally appeared here in BreakingIsraelNews.com

Avi Lipkin, a well-known lecturer who has spoken in over 1,000 churches, announced that he has formed the first joint Jewish-Christian party and intends to lead it in the next Knesset elections. A closer look at his motives reveals that this may be the wave of the future.

The acceptance of Lipkin’s Gush Hatanachi (Biblical Bloc) party application was announced on Wednesday. The party’s founding document reads:

“The Biblical bloc protects everyone who believes in the Bible and opposes the ethnic cleansing of Jews and Christians from the Land of Israel. The Biblical bloc represents parties all over the world who espouse Judeo-Christian, democratic Western culture.”

“The party will also work to strengthen Israel by formulating a program to improve public relations around the world by recruiting Jewish and Christian speakers and training them to improve Israel’s image in the world and protect Western democracy.” Read More

 

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Extremely rare 4th century BCE Jewish-minted coins unearthed in Jerusalem

 (Photo: Temple Mount Sifting Project)

(Photo: Temple Mount Sifting Project)

By Amanda Borschel-Dan - May 24, 2018

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

Three extremely rare Jewish-minted coins dating from the 4th century BCE were recently discovered by the Temple Mount Sifting Project, doubling the number unearthed in ancient Jerusalem to date. These coins are among the earliest testaments to Jewish minting in the Land of Israel.

But they’re easy to miss: The coins are only 7 millimeters in diameter and of an almost negligible weight. Made of silver, their design is based on the Athenian Obol and utilize its barn owl motif, representing the goddess Athena. However, instead of the Greek letters ΑΘΕ for Athens, they bear an inscription in ancient Hebrew — “yhd” or Judah.

The Sifting Project has uncovered over 6,000 ancient coins during its systematic meticulous study of thousands of tons of Temple Mount earth haphazardly discarded during unauthorized renovations of a subterranean mosque in the late 1990s. Read More

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US pediatricians go to Kenya with IsraAID

 (Photo: Tamar Lazarus)

(Photo: Tamar Lazarus)

By Abigail Klein Leichman - May 23, 2018

Originally appeared here in Israel21c

Marking its first joint Israeli-American medical specialist mission, Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAID arranged for a delegation of American pediatricians to join IsraAID’s ongoing medical program in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

According to IsraAID, Kakuma is one of the world’s oldest and largest refugee camps and is chronically understaffed. Kakuma houses more than 185,000 refugees from countries across the region, including South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in addition to a host community from the Turkana ethnic group. Nearly 60 percent of Kakuma’s refugee population is under the age of 18.

The mission participants, led by Dr. Michelle Sandberg and Dr. Sabrina Braham from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, landed on May 16 and were greeted by Israeli peers in the camp’s two hospitals and six clinics operated by the International Rescue Committee and Kakuma Mission Hospital. The US doctors also will train Kakuma’s medical staff.

“Major health issues affecting Kakuma’s residents vary, and have recently included malaria, lung infections, tuberculosis, HIV, malnutrition and cholera,” said IsraAID in a press statement. “By providing up-to-date training in pediatrics, the visiting physicians can make a real difference to the long-term prospects of Kakuma’s children.” Read More

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Paraguay becomes third country to open embassy in Jerusalem

 (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

(Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

By Raphael Ahren - May 21, 2018

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

Paraguay opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailing the country as a “true friend” of Israel, making it the third country to do so after the United States and Guatemala opened their embassies in the city last week.

In a ceremony in the capital’s Malha Technological Park, the prime minister and Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes together unveiled the new mission’s plaque, making the move official.

“A great day for Israel; a great day for Paraguay — a great day for our friendship,” Netanyahu said.

“You have done much for your country. Now you’re doing something for both our countries,” Netanyahu told Cartes.

Netanyahu recalled that Paraguay helped Jews escape Nazi Germany and supported the creation of the State of Israel.

“Paraguay, before but especially under your leadership, took a very bold stance in international affairs and refused to cooperate with the lies directed against Israel,” Netanyahu told Cartes. “We always remember that. Thank you Horacio. Thank you, and thank you Paraguay.” Read More

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10 unforgettable Bedouin tourism experiences in Israel

 (Photo: Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

(Photo: Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

By Jessica Halfin - May 17, 2018

Originally appeared here in Israel21c 

If experience-based travel is your thing, you may want to book some time with real people of the settled nomadic tribes of Israel’s North and South. The Bedouin claim to fame is extraordinary hospitality, so whatever adventure you choose is sure to be a cultural highlight of your Israeli journey, especially when set against the backdrop of the gorgeous desert or unimpeded starry night sky.

1. Kfar Hanokdim

 (View from Kfar Hanokdim. Photo by Joni Gritzner)

(View from Kfar Hanokdim. Photo by Joni Gritzner)

Located just outside Arad, Kfar HaNokdim is a unique Bedouin-inspired site on a beautiful desert mountain overlook.

Set up as a fully equipped modern camp with private cabins or wooden-floored sukkahs, hot showers and cold filtered drinking water, the site offers educational demonstrations on Bedouin hospitality, evening bonfires, camel rides, desert hiking treks and sunset jeep rides. Read More

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