Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A World-Historic Find in Jerusalem. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

A World-Historic Find in Jerusalem. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, February 2010. Also here.

In Arabic, Jerusalem is Jewish. By Simcha Jacobovici. The Times of Israel, August 14, 2013.


The greatest threat to the hopes of those who think parts of Jerusalem should be off-limits to Jews comes not when Jewish-owned buildings go up in the city, but rather when Jews start digging into the ground of East Jerusalem. Because the more the history of the city is uncovered, the less credible becomes the charge that Jews are alien colonists in what the media sometimes wrongly refer to as “traditionally Palestinian” or “Arab” Jerusalem.

That’s the upshot from the release of an amazing archeological dig conducted just outside Jerusalem’s Old City. The excavations conducted by archeologist Eilat Mazar in the Ophel area revealed a section of an ancient city wall of Jerusalem. According to the press release from the Hebrew University, under whose auspices the project was carried out, the dig uncovered the wall as well as an inner gatehouse for entry into the royal quarter of the ancient city and an additional royal structure adjacent to the gatehouse as well as a corner tower. While ancient buildings are not uncommon in the city, the significance of this discovery is the fact that these edifices can be dated to the 10th century before the Common Era — the time of King Solomon, credited by the Bible for the construction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Pottery found at the lowest levels of the dig is dated to this era.

Even more telling is the fact that bullae — seal impressions — with Hebrew names were found, as well as seal impressions on jar handles inscribed with the words “to the king,” which means they were employed by the Israelite state in that time. Inscriptions on the jars, which Mazar says are the largest ever found in Jerusalem, showed them to be the property of a royal official.

Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman funded the dig. They are a New York couple whose funding is supporting both the dig and the preservation of the site for public viewing as part of the national park that exists around the Old City walls. You can view pictures of the site here.

The significance of this extraordinary find is that it provides new proof of the existence and power of the Davidic monarchy, the Israelite state that it led, and the more than 3,000-year-old Jewish presence in Jerusalem. These new discoveries, along with those of a previous dig in a different area of the city of David, contradict contrary Palestinian claims that the Jews have no claim to the area. They also debunk the assertions of some Israeli archeologists who have sought to portray the kingdom of David and Solomon as an insignificant tribal group and not the regional empire that the Bible speaks about. Indeed, Mazar believes that the strength and the form of construction required to build these structures correlates with biblical passages that speak of Solomon’s building of a royal palace and of the Temple with the assistance of master builders from Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon). Moreover, contrary to those who speak of the Jewish presence in the city as a passing phase in ancient times, the discovery of Jewish seals, which speak directly of an Israelite state, proves that what Mazar has found are not the remains of a Jebusite fort conquered by the Jews but rather of a great city built by David and his son Solomon.

While finding ancient Jewish artifacts as well as the traces of Solomon’s city in Jerusalem may seem nothing out of the ordinary, for the last century and a half, a great many academics and intellectuals have attempted to put down the existence of the ancient Jewish kingdom — which has always served as a symbol of Jewish nationhood — as a religiously inspired fiction. This deconstruction of both biblical literature and history has sought to undermine the very idea of the historical truth about ancient Israel, as well as the notion that Jewish nationhood had its roots in the past. This has been put to use by anti-Zionists and Arabs who have thought that if they could destroy the idea of King David’s existence as a historic figure, they could delegitimize modern Israel. Thus, Palestinian propagandists and the Palestinian Authority itself, which has steadfastly denied any Jewish connection to the Old City, the Temple Mount, or even the Western Wall, have copied revisionist scholarly work doubting Jewish history and incorporated that work into their negotiating position about the city’s future. The Muslim religious authority that controls the site of the Temple Mount has vandalized the area, destroying a treasure trove of antiquities in the ancient place because its officials fear that any find revealing the Jewish origins of the place will undermine their fallacious claims that seek to portray Jews as foreign occupiers in their own ancient capital.

It serves the purposes of the enemies of modern Israel to pretend that there is no such thing as biblical history or an ancient kingdom of Israel. But what Eilat Mazar and her colleagues have done is to illustrate once again just how deep the roots of Jewish Jerusalem run. Three thousand years.

Palestinians Build a Settlement. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

Palestinians Build a Settlement. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, August 11, 2013.

Another Sign the Middle East Talks Are Fake. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, August 12, 2013.

Tobin (Palestinians):

Though it was entirely unintentional, the New York Times deserves credit today for pointing out the hypocrisy of critics of Israel’s settlement building. No, the paper hasn’t reversed its policy of treating the presence of Jews in the heart of their ancient homeland as wrong or an obstacle to peace that is reflected on its news pages as much as it is on their editorial page. What they did was something more subtle than that and will require some context for their readers to understand. They published a feature about the Palestinians doing something that Israel hasn’t tried in more than two decades, the building of an entirely new city in the West Bank.
What’s wrong with that? Actually, nothing. If the planners of Rawabi own the land where they are constructing a town north of Ramallah, then why shouldn’t they build new homes and places of business for Arabs who want them? But the story about the effort and the travails of the planners—who are, ironically, under attack from Palestinians for their efforts to cooperate with Israel and Israeli businesses and contractors to get the job done—should remind us that doing so is no more of an obstacle to peace than the builders of homes for Jews.
The point about the West Bank that cannot be reiterated enough is that the conflict about ownership of the land is one in which both sides can muster arguments in their favor. Should the Palestinians ever reject their culture of violence and delegitimizing of Jewish rights to any part of the country, peace will be possible and the land will have to be divided, however painful that would be for both sides. Such a negotiation would be difficult but, assuming that the Palestinians were ever actually willing to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn, it would not be impossible. And since it is likely that if such a partition were ever to take place, Rawabi would be part of the Palestinian state, then why would Israelis complain that building on the site would make peace impossible?
Of course, Israelis aren’t making such a protest, any more than they speak out against the building going on in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem or any other place in the West Bank.
But when new homes are built in existing Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem or in those towns and communities in the major settlement blocs in the West Bank that everyone knows would be retained by Israel in the event of a peace accord, they are bitterly condemned by the Obama administration, the Europeans, and the liberal media.
In fact, Israel hasn’t done anything on the scale of Rawabi in many years. Outside of scattered hilltop camps with trailers, it hasn’t actually built a new settlement since the Oslo Accords. What Israel has done is added new housing developments to existing places. But the Arabs have done the same and in the case of Rawabi, they are seeking to expand their hold on the land by establishing new facts on the ground that strengthen their claims.
Of course, Israel’s critics assert that Arabs have a right to live in Rawabi while the Jews don’t have a right to live in “stolen land” on the West Bank. That argument rests on the fallacy that history began in 1967 when Israel came into the possession of the West Bank as a result of a defensive war. But in fact, the “West Bank” (a name for the territories of Judea and Samaria that only came into existence when the Kingdom of Jordan illegally occupied the land to differentiate it from their territory on the East Bank of the Jordan River) is part of a territory set aside by international authorities for a Jewish homeland where Jews, as well as Arabs, had rights. Though the international community has sought to abrogate Jewish rights there, they cannot be extinguished in this manner. The resolution of the dispute over the land requires a negotiation in which each side must be prepared to compromise rather than, as the Palestinian Authority continues to do, simply dictate.
Contrary to the claims of Israel’s critics, if both sides continue doing as they are now and building at the same pace, peace won’t be any easier or harder to reach in the future than it is now. The same boundaries will be there to be drawn with Jews and Arabs on Israel’s side and Arabs only on the Palestinian side (as Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have repeatedly made clear), then as they are now. The building of new settlements, whether Jews or Arabs populate them, won’t stop peace if both peoples truly want it. Israel has already demonstrated that it is prepared to do so, as it has repeatedly offered and made territorial withdrawals while the Palestinians have never given up their maximalist demands that aim at Israel’s destruction, not coexistence. The reason the Palestinians focus on settlement building as a threat to their future is not because these places are actually obstacles to peace but because they are opposed to Jews living in anywhere in the country.
Rawabi also demonstrates the priorities of Israel’s foes. Many of them are, as the Times makes clear, opposed to it, because building it undercuts the attempt to boycott Israel. Much like the efforts to prevent the descendants of the 1948 refugees from being resettled so as to keep them as an issue to hold over Israel, they’d rather keep Palestinians from having a new town so long as it doesn’t mean doing business with Jews.
If the Palestinians that will live in Rawabi and elsewhere in the West Bank truly want peace with Israel and to gain self-determination in exchange, they will get it. Moreover, if Palestinians persist in building on lands they are likely to keep and Israel keeps building in those places they will retain, it won’t put off peace by a single day. Let’s hope that, like its Jewish counterparts in Maale Adumim and Ariel, Rawabi will raise the quality of life for its inhabitants. Perhaps in doing so it will undermine the efforts of those Palestinians that continue to foment the hatred of Jews and Israel that remains at the core of the conflict.

Are French Women Perfect? By Anne Penketh.

Are French women perfect? The myths of foreign beauty . . . By Anne Penketh. The Independent, August 12, 2013. Photo Gallery.

French women aren’t effortlessly perfect – they just fake it! Gallic beauty myths busted by one of their own in Le Figaro magazine. By Deni Kirkova. Daily Mail, August 13, 2013.

French women lie about gorging on buttered baguettes - and they smoke. “Natural” blondes scour salons for best colourists. Invest in expensive anti-wrinkles creams from age of 25. Work hard to keep up with new trends.

A French woman’s real beauty secret? Fake it. By Katy Young. The Telegraph, August 13, 2013.

Why French women look younger than their British counterparts. By Katy Young. The Telegraph, March 21, 2013.

Thanks to an early uptake of anti-aging skincare, studies say French women look on average seven years younger than their British equivalents by the time we reach 40.

The French woman is “an American dream.” By Peggy Frey. Le Figaro, August 12, 2013. Google translation. French original.


Are French women perfect? Judging by the piles of American and British books attempting to nail their je ne sais quoi, it would appear that the rest of us are filled with a mix of envy and insecurity when contemplating France’s glamorous fair sex.
The way they walk, the way they dress, the way they do their hair, and the way they raise their families. It has all been put under the microscope in books ranging from French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano to Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé. Le Figaro decided to get to the bottom of the French feminine mystique and came up with a startling conclusion – it’s all a lie. Or “an American dream.”
The journalist Peggy Frey set about exploding the myths, one by one, starting with the “natural beauty” of the French woman.
Her trim figure? Don’t believe the myth that French women never diet, says Le Figaro. It’s true that they never talk about dieting, just “being careful”. If you consider that almost half of French women smoke it’s hardly surprising that their appetites are suppressed.
Her sexy appearance? The paper quotes from a recent study showing that French women spend €97 on lingerie – or only a fifth of what American women spend. As for her “natural” blonde highlights, they come straight out of a bottle, except that the French woman is likely to have spent months finding the right hairdresser and will never give you the address.
Forget the image of a French cook slaving over a hot stove, preparing dishes whose recipes were handed down from generation to generation. The modern French woman spends two minutes 30 seconds heating up dishes in the microwave.
Her exquisite innate fashion tastes? Don’t be duped. Not everyone has the wherewithal of a TV presenter like Laurence Ferrari – who comes as close as anyone to the stereotypical “perfect” French woman – and most people make do with “putting on a bit of everything and any old thing … in any old way.”
According to the paper, the secret of French women is “to do everything falsely: [they are] falsely coiffed, falsely dressed, falsely fatal.”
To sum up, the French woman is a wizard of pretence. “What she does is to apply the motto: less is more – in almost every domain. A talent which apparently not everyone has!” the paper concludes.
France itself has been so in thrall to its image of women that a real woman is used as the model for the Marianne national emblem whose bust stands in every town hall. The models for past Mariannes include actresses such as Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve. But even the French seem to be doubting the strength of their own myth: this year, the Marianne on the nation’s stamps was inspired by a Femen activist (Inna Shevchenko) from Ukraine.

TV newscaster Laurence Ferrari, who at age 47 typifies the ideal of the fashionable,
 ageless French woman.

Casualties of Syria’s War Find Medical Salvation in Israel. By Inna Lazareva.

“I lost consciousness in the blast. When I woke up I was in a hospital in Israel”: Casualties of Syria’s war find salvation in an unlikely place. By Inna Lazareva. The Independent, August 8, 2013.

Why Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Will Fail. By David Suissa.

Why peace talks will fail. By David Suissa. Jewish Journal, August 7, 2013.


The conventional wisdom is that the revived Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are doomed to fail. The popular reason cited is that “the maximum the Israelis can offer is less than the minimum the Palestinians can accept.”
From a pragmatic view, that may well be true, but I think there’s an underlying emotional reason why these talks are doomed to continue the failures of the past.
No one wants to negotiate — let alone compromise — with a thief.

For several decades now, the Palestinians have successfully sold the world and themselves on the narrative that Israel stole their land. This has given them zero incentive to compromise.
Over time, as this unchallenged narrative has taken on the aura of accepted truth, it has undermined all attempts to reach a final peace agreement, as well as expose Israel to a global campaign of boycotts and condemnations.
To make matters worse, whenever there is more settlement construction, the perceived level of “criminality” has only gone up.
I get why Israel never made a big deal of challenging the “illegal occupation” narrative. Because it has already shown its willingness to dismantle settlements for the sake of peace, it probably figured, “Why bring up this red herring? What purpose would it serve?”
Israel’s mistake was to overlook a crucial  truth of the Middle East: Honor trumps all. If you don’t defend your honor, you’re worthy of contempt, not respect. It’s not a coincidence that Palestinian leaders have consistently used contemptuous language in accusing Israel of every possible sin.
Concentrating on pragmatic issues while ignoring this emotional poison is like cooking a rotten fish with a tasty tomato sauce. Eventually, you’re bound to bite into the fish.
We saw another example last week of how dismissive the Jewish world can be about defending Israel’s honor.
A petition signed by 1,000 jurists from around the world was delivered to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton asserting that the E.U. is wrong in holding that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal, and that the term “1967 lines” does not exist in international law.
Remarkably, I couldn’t find any mention of this initiative in the Jewish media, except for the right-wing Israeli news site Arutz Sheva.  No coverage in the mainstream media; no supportive statements from major Jewish organizations.
The jurists who signed are certainly no slouches. As reported on Arutz Sheva, among the signatories are former Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman, former U.N. Ambassador Meir Rosen, Britain’s Baroness Ruth Deech, and law professors Eliav Shochetman and Talia Einhorn, as well as legal scholars from more than 20 countries around the world.
It’s well known that when prominent Jews release public statements encouraging Israel to make “courageous concessions for peace,” they get major coverage.
But apparently, when prominent jurists release a statement defending Israel’s honor, it’s not even worth a news mention.
Even if you’re a J Street-supporting peacenik whose definition of Mashiach is the two-state solution, this state of affairs should trouble you. It’s bad for peace.
However impractical you might think it is to defend Israel’s honor and assert her land rights, in this case there is one very practical advantage: If you have a legal right to the land, it makes your concessions worth something. The concessions of a thief are worthless.
Sadly and ironically, Israel could have made a compelling legal case regarding her land rights. The settlements may be a bad idea, but that hardly makes them illegal.
As the man behind the initiative, Alan Baker, explained to Arutz Sheva, “It is true that most of the world thinks so [that the settlements are illegal], but that does not make it true legally. Legally, the clause in the Geneva Convention that they use to say that settlements are illegal was not intended to refer to cases like our settlements, but to prevent the forced transfer of populations by the Nazis. This is not relevant to the Israeli settlements.”
Baker is Israel’s former ambassador to Canada and legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, who was also a member of the three-person committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Edmond Levy, which pronounced last year that Judea and Samaria were not occupied territory.
Beyond the issue of the strategic or moral wisdom of Israeli settlements, the Levy committee showed there’s plenty of evidence supporting Israel’s legal right to settle the disputed land — including binding international agreements that predate the United Nations and were never abrogated.
In their well-intentioned zeal to challenge the wisdom of these settlements, the pro-Israel peace camp has tragically reinforced the enemy’s narrative that the settlements are a criminal enterprise. The real tragedy is that it’s probably too late now to correct this libelous narrative.
At this moment, it’s clear that external conditions — such as the presence of Hamas, the wide gap between the parties and the instability of the region — mitigate against the success of the peace talks.
But we should never underestimate the power of internal, emotional conditions.
Because even if external conditions were to improve, one human truth will remain: As long as you enter negotiations with the mark of “thief” on your forehead, good luck trying to get the other side to compromise.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Plays History Teacher on Berlin Wall Anniversary.

Merkel plays history teacher on Berlin Wall anniversary. AFP. Yahoo! News, August 13, 2013.

Netanyahu Tells Kerry That the Palestinians Are Inciting Against Israel. By Dan Williams.

Netanyahu tells US mediator Palestinians inciting against Israel. By Dan Williams. Reuters. Yahoo! News, August 11, 2013.

Abbas: Arabs in Israel; No Jews in Palestine. By Jonathan S. Tobin. NJBR, July 31, 2013.