Archive for the ‘Jewish’ Category


French and Saudi archeologists make a discovery that the Saudis are keen to keep buried. The pre-Islamic period in Arabia which is now commonly referred to in Islamic folklore as jahaliyyah was in fact a period when a Jewish kingdom flourished in what is present day Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Which makes the Saudis and Israelis- particularly the Sephardi’s- cousins.

The discovery of the oldest-known early Arabic writing in Saudi Arabia, from ca. 470 CE, evidently caused some consternation, given its Christian context.

By Ariel David

In 2014, researchers from a French-Saudi expedition studying rock inscriptions in southern Saudi Arabia announced they had discovered what could be the oldest texts written in the Arabic alphabet. But they did so very quietly, perhaps because the context of the texts is something of an embarrassment to some.

The dozen or so engravings had been carved into the soft sandstone of the mountain passes around Bir Hima – a site about 100 kilometers north of the city of Najran, which over millennia has been plastered with thousands of inscriptions by passing travelers and officials. Conveniently, at least two of the early Arabic petroglyphs that were discovered cited dates in an ancient calendar, and expert epigraphists quickly calculated that the oldest one corresponded to the year 469 or 470 CE.

The discovery was sensational: the earliest ancient inscriptions using this pre-Islamic stage of Arabic script had been dated at least half a century later, and had all been found in Syria, which had suggested that the alphabet used to write the Koran had been developed far from the birthplace of Islam and its prophet.

Yet the announcement of the discovery was subdued. A few outlets in the French and Arab media tersely summarized the news, hailing the text as the “missing link” between Arabic and the earlier alphabets used previously in the region, such as Nabatean. Most of the articles were accompanied by stock photos of archaeological sites or other ancient inscriptions: it is almost impossible to find a picture of the inscription online or a reference to the actual content of the text.


President Barrack Hussein Obama is challenging Israel’s right-wing government to stop its settlements, which are killing prospects for peace — let’s raise a massive global chorus to help him overcome powerful opposition in Israel and the US:

Sign the petition

West Bank settlement maps show how Palestinians are only allowed to live in small parts of their land:

Well, it was truly a remarkable speech by President Barrack Hussein Obama in Cairo, committing personally to building peace in the Middle East. Unexpectedly, his first move is to directly challenge the new right-wing government of America’s ally Israel — pressing them to stop their self-destructive policy of settlements (illegal colonies set up on territory recognised by the US and the world as Palestinian).

This is a moment of rare crisis and opportunity. Obama’s bold strategy is facing powerful opposition, so he’s going to need help around the world in the coming days and weeks to strengthen his resolve. Let’s start right now — by raising a massive global chorus behind Obama’s statement that the settlements in occupied territory must stop.

We’ll advertise the number of signatures in key newspapers in Israel, as well as in Washington DC (where some are trying to undermine Obama in the US Congress). Read Obama’s words now and add your signature to them at the link below, then forward this email to friends and family so they can do the same:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_stop_settlements

There is broad agreement that the settlements are a significant barrier to peace, a view also shared by a silent majority of the Israeli public. Combined with a network of roadblocks and barriers, these colonies now blanket the West Bank, seizing territory and forcing Palestinians to live effectively as prisoners in smaller and smaller pockets (see map at right).

Until this problem is tackled, it seems impossible to build a viable Palestinian state or any kind of lasting peace. For Arab states deciding what more they themselves can do for peace, stopping the settlements has become a crucial test of Israel’s seriousness.

We’ll need to urge the other parties to take bold steps too. If we can help Obama to stay the course on settlements, shift Israeli policy and encourage the Palestinians and key Arab states also to stretch out their hands, a new beginning for the Middle East is possible.

But none of this will happen without a growing global movement of citizens taking action to support it. Read Obama’s words, add your signature and spread the word today:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_stop_settlements

With hope and determination,

President Obama’s speech (full text):
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/us/politics/04obama.text.html?_r=2

“Obama Takes Tough Stance on Israeli Settlements”:
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/story/1070944.html

“Israeli Settlement Growth Must Stop, Says Clinton”:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/28/world/middleeast/28mideast.html?bl&ex=1243656000&en=b27e2280187214a9&ei=5087%0A

Agence France Presse reports on Israeli and Palestinian responses to the speech

Al-Jazeera – “Obama Seeks New Start with Muslims”

Yediot Aharonot – “Ministers Split Over Obama’s Cairo Speech”
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3726367,00.html


The full text of Obama’s speech can be found here.


The British Library has put online the moving and often disturbing testimonies of Jewish migrants and refugees to the UK, many of whom survived Nazi concentration and labour camps.
Over 440 hours of life story recordings explore 66 personal experiences of persecution across war-torn Europe and the impact of the Holocaust.

The issues cover Anti-Semitism before the Second World War; Pre-war refugees and the “Kindertransport”; Ghettos and concentration and labour camps; Survival in hiding; Resistance and liberation; Searching for family in the aftermath; Building a new life in Britain and The legacy of the Holocaust.

Besides providing academic researchers the world over with access to valuable source material, the Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust resource will also support primary and secondary education, supplementing the study materials and lesson plans provided by the British Library’s Learning team.

The testimonies now available are drawn from a major oral history programme – The Living Memory of the Jewish Community – which between 1987 and 2000 gathered 186 audio life story interviews with Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their children.

It was initiated by National Life Stories based in the British Library’s oral history section and funded by a number of organisations including the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, the John S Cohen Foundation and the Porjes Charitable Trust.