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Posts Tagged ‘Bethlehem

Part 5. Ten Myths on Israel: Not how a “Democratic State” behave (by Ian Pappe)

No, Israel Is Not a Democracy

The Occupation Is Not Democratic

By lan Pappe

From Ten Myths About Israel, out now from Verso Books.

June 12, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –  Israel is not the only democracy in the Middle East. In fact, it’s not a democracy at all.

In the eyes of many Israelis and their supporters worldwide — even those who might criticize some of its policies — Israel is, at the end of the day, a benign democratic state, seeking peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing equality to all its citizens.

Those who do criticize Israel assume that, if anything went wrong in this democracy, then it was due to the 1967 war.

The Occupation Is Not Democratic

Given Israel attitude towards two Palestinian groups — the refugees and the community in Israel — the Jewish state cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be assumed to be a democracy.

But the most obvious challenge to that assumption is the ruthless Israeli attitude towards a third Palestinian group: those who have lived under its direct and indirect rule since 1967, in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

From the legal infrastructure put in place at the outset of the war, through the unquestioned absolute power of the military inside the West Bank and outside the Gaza Strip, to the humiliation of millions of Palestinians as a daily routine, the “only democracy” in the Middle East behaves as a dictatorship of the worst kind.

The main Israeli response, diplomatic and academic, to the latter accusation is that all these measures are temporary — they will change if the Palestinians, wherever they are, behave “better.”

But if one researches, not to mention lives in, the occupied territories, one will understand how ridiculous these arguments are.

Israeli policy makers, as we have seen, are determined to keep the occupation alive for as long as the Jewish state remains intact.

It is part of what the Israeli political system regards as the status quo, which is always better than any change. Israel will control most of Palestine and, since it will always include a substantial Palestinian population, this can only be done by nondemocratic means.

In addition, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Israeli state claims that the occupation is an enlightened one.

The myth here is that Israel came with good intentions to conduct a benevolent occupation but was forced to take a tougher attitude because of the Palestinian violence.

In 1967, the government treated the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a natural part of “Eretz Israel,” the land of Israel, and this attitude has continued ever since.

When you look at the debate between the right- and left-wing parties in Israel on this issue, their disagreements have been about how to achieve this goal, not about its validity.

Among the wider public, however, there was a genuine debate between what one might call the “redeemers” and the “custodians.

The “redeemers” believed Israel had recovered the ancient heart of its homeland and could not survive in the future without it. In contrast, the “custodians” argued that the territories should be exchanged for peace with Jordan, in the case of the West Bank, and Egypt in the case of the Gaza Strip.

However, this public debate had little impact on the way the principal policy makers were figuring out how to rule the occupied territories.

The worst part of this supposed “enlightened occupation” has been the government’s methods for managing the territories. At first the area was divided into “Arab” and potential “Jewish” spaces. Those areas densely populated with Palestinians became autonomous, run by local collaborators under a military rule. This regime was only replaced with a civil administration in 1981.

The other areas, the “Jewish” spaces, were colonized with Jewish settlements and military bases. This policy was in the end to leave the population both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in disconnected enclaves with neither green spaces nor any possibility for urban expansion.

Things only got worse when, very soon after the occupation, Gush Emunim started settling in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, claiming to be following a biblical map of colonization rather than the governmental one. As they penetrated the densely populated Palestinian areas, the space left for the locals was shrunk even further.

What every colonization project primarily needs is land — in the occupied territories this was achieved only through the massive expropriation of land, deporting people from where they had lived for generations, and confining them in enclaves with difficult habitats.

When you fly over the West Bank, you can see clearly the cartographic results of this policy: belts of settlements that divide the land and carve the Palestinian communities into small, isolated, and disconnected communities.

The Judaization belts separate villages from villages, villages from towns, and sometime bisect a single village.

This is what scholars call a geography of disaster, not least since these policies turned out to be an ecological disaster as well: drying up water sources and ruining some of the most beautiful parts of the Palestinian landscape.

Moreover, the settlements became hotbeds in which Jewish extremism grew uncontrollably — the principal victims of which were the Palestinians.

Thus, the settlement at Efrat has ruined the world heritage site of the Wallajah Valley near Bethlehem, and the village of Jafneh near Ramallah, which was famous for its freshwater canals, lost its identity as a tourist attraction.

These are just two small examples out of hundreds of similar cases.

Revealed: sketches that show the inspiration for Banksy’s ‘alternativity’ in Bethlehem

. Sunday 17 December 2017

The traditional stage is familiar from thousands of primary school Christmas celebrations. Mary kneeling by a manger, angels with haloes on sticks, a diminutive king with an outsized crown.

But behind the actors and audience loom the menacing concrete slabs of a vast barrier wall, (Wall of Shame, making Palestinians invisible to Israelis) and the spotlights of the stage are augmented by searchlights from a watchtower housing snipers and machine guns.

The sketch, published exclusively in the Observer, is part of the latest Palestinian territories project by Banksy, the anonymous but ubiquitous street artist who has spent more than a decade travelling to both the West Bank and Gaza to make art and occasionally stir up controversy.

This Christmas, he teamed up with the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle ( Slumdog Millionaire director) and Palestinian Riham Isaac to stage a nativity play in the shadow of Bethlehem’s barrier wall, the type of playful but highly political art that has become his trademark.

The one-off performance of an “alternativity”, with angels who send their tidings of joy through text message rather than personal visitations, was watched mostly by local families and journalists.

But a documentary about the project will run on BBC2 on Sunday evening, bringing a much larger audience for the play and the questions it raises about what the Christmas message of peace means in a region mired in conflict.

Banksy rarely talks about the motivation behind his work but the sketch of the stage and a series of other images shown here for the first time give some clues to his inspiration and the evolution of his artistic plans.

Evolution of Cherub Wall by Banksy in Bethlehem.
Pinterest
 Evolution of Cherub Wall by Banksy in Bethlehem. Photograph: http://www.banksy.co.uk

One set shows how he planned a prominent new artwork for the wall. The first is just jottings on a photograph, showing his first thoughts on location and shape; then a pencil sketch on tracing paper gives a better sense of the design, two cherubs trying to prise apart concrete panels with a crowbar.

In the final piece, one angel hides its face behind a bandana, and the other wears a beanie.

They floated just over the mock security gate that the audience had to pass through for the evening’s show, after the Palestinian co-director asked for Banksy to replace a looming Trump mural.

In another black-and-white sketch, a shepherd stands outside his modest hut, gazing at a sprawling maze and the looming barrier wall that hides his destination, a small mosque. It is perhaps a nod to the many daily frustrations and humiliations of life in the Palestinian territories, where the wall is just the most obvious physical manifestation of the restrictions the residents face, which Boyle explores in the film.

In a third drawing, tourists stream out of buses into the nearby Church of the Nativity, turning their backs on the wall – and the Walled Off hotel Banksy opened beside it. A final map shows borders of Gaza and the West Bank replaced by barrier walls.

Banksy convinced Boyle to fly out to Bethlehem to direct the play, probably one of the smallest productions the Slumdog Millionaire director has worked on in decades.

The Bristol-born artist presumably hoped that the combination of his name, Boyle’s reputation and the unusual nativity show itself would attract the kind of viewers who would not normally settle down to an hour-long programme about the Israel-Palestine conflict on a Sunday evening.

Whatever his reasons for taking part, Boyle was an inspired choice. Engaging and honest about how little he knows about the region, he takes the viewer with him on an exploration of the restrictions and indignities of life in Bethlehem and other parts of the West Bank.

The documentary is also honest about Palestinian ambivalence towards Banksy, his hotel and his latest project, which stops it from feeling like part of the vast publicity machine that has turned the artist into a virtual industry.

At the start of their collaboration, Isaac warns Boyle that they may struggle to find actors, or even an audience, for the play.

Palestinians find the barrier menacing and try to stay away, and parents worry about spending an evening near a wall whose very existence some have tried to hide from their younger children.

Just before the performance, Banksy left another Christmas message on a doorway nearby. “Peace on Earth”, with a Christmas star beside it, noting that “terms and conditions apply”.

The sketch, published exclusively in the Observer, is part of the latest Palestinian territories project by Banksy, the anonymous but ubiquitous street artist who has spent more than a decade travelling to both the West Bank and Gaza to make art and occasionally stir up controversy.

This Christmas, he teamed up with the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and Palestinian Riham Isaac to stage a nativity play in the shadow of Bethlehem’s barrier wall, the type of playful but highly political art that has become his trademark. The one-off performance of an “alternativity”, with angels who send their tidings of joy through text message rather than personal visitations, was watched mostly by local families and journalists.#AndiVincent

Danny Boyle’s BBC Two documentary explores the problems he encountered directing the artist’s contemporary reworking of the Christmas story
THEGUARDIAN.COM

Photographs of Palestinians and Palestine before first Jewish settlement in 1920

Images of Palestinians being all Palestinian, doing Palestinian things and wearing Palestinian clothing in a ‘land without a people for a people without a land’? 

Do you know that the first Jewish settlement was established in 1920 by a Rothschild and the Jews were brought from East Europe to work the plantation as slaves  and in abject conditions?

Or as the people who lived there liked to call it before being displaced and occupied: Palestine.

31 Unbelievable Photographs Israel Doesn’t Want You To See!

August 10, 2014

1. BEDOUIN WOMAN

Bedouin Woman

2. WOMEN FROM NAZARETH

Women from Nazareth

3. RAMALLAH FATHER AND SONS

Ramallah Father and Sons

4. RAMALLAH WOMAN

Ramallah Woman

5. JAFFA WOMAN, 1889

Jaffa Woman, 1889

6. BETHLEHEM GIRL

Bethlehem Girl

7. BETHLEHEM WOMAN

Bethlehem Woman

8. BETHLEHEM WOMEN

Bethlehem Women

9. BETHLEHEM SISTERS

Bethlehem Sisters

10. BETHLEHEM WOMAN

Bethlehem Woman

11. JERUSALEM MAN

Jerusalem Man

12. GAZAN MEN

Gazan Men

Yes, it says “Natives of Gaza, Palestine”.

13. RAMALLAH WOMAN

Ramallah Woman

14. RAMALLAH FAMILY

Ramallah Family

15. RAMALLAH WOMAN

Ramallah Woman

16. BEERSHEBA BEDOUIN

Beersheba Bedouin

17. WOMAN & CHILD FLEEING PALESTINE DURING THE NAKBA

Woman & Child fleeing Palestine during the Nakba

1948

18. 100 YEAR OLD MAN

100 Year Old Man

19. BETHLEHEM WOMAN, 1940

Bethlehem Woman, 1940

20. JERUSALEM

Jerusalem

21. DEMONSTRATION AGAINST ZIONIST COLONIZATION/BRITISH RULE, 1920

Demonstration against Zionist colonization/British rule, 1920

22. DOME OF THE ROCK, JERUSALEM

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

23. SEA OF GALILEE FISHERMAN, 1930S

Sea of Galilee Fisherman, 1930s

24. EARLY 1900S DEMONSTRATION IN JAFFA

Early 1900s Demonstration in Jaffa

25. JERUSALEM BETWEEN 1898 AND 1914

Jerusalem between 1898 and 1914

26. JERUSALEM

Jerusalem

27. JERUSALEM GRAIN MARKET

Jerusalem Grain Market

28. NABLUS

Nablus

29. BETHLEHEM

Bethlehem

30. THE GREEK PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM, 1940

The Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, 1940

31. JERUSALEM POTTER, 1934

Jerusalem Potter, 1934

Via buzzfeed

WATCH: PALESTINE IN 1896

Lives of Palestinians in pictures

If you are considering a visit to Palestine and had never traveled there before, you need not imagine that going there is quite dangerous.

In the mainstream media, images of conflict permeate, along with the tragedy that is expressed afterwards.

While it may be interpreted as a melancholy environment, where an endless dissension between two people groups continues, there is still the spirit of life.

One that each human participates in, whether in an conflicted area or not.

East-Jerusalem based photographer Tanya Habjouqa has focused her work on photographing the Palestinian communities of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

She captures a way of life that is not always seen by the public eye. Her series is titled “Occupied Pleasures,” and displays the Palestinian community enjoying the pleasures of life as any person would.

 posted this April 8, 2014

The Rarely-Seen Lives of Palestinians

Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa

palestine pleasure5

Teenage girls try on dresses for an upcoming dance at their private school in Ramallah.

Bodybuilders in Gaza show off the results of their work.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine1

The images are striking yet simple and garnered her a World Press Photo award. Regarding the Occupied Pleasures work, Habjouqa says:

More than 4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, where the political situation regularly intrudes upon the most mundane of moments. Movement is circumscribed and threat of violence often hangs overhead.

This creates the strongest of desires for the smallest of pleasures, and a sharp sense of humor about the absurdities that a 47-year occupation has produced.

This is an exploration of the moments where ordinary men and women demonstrate a desire to live, not just simply survive.

A family and friends play cards on the roof in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp of Bethlehem
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine9

A yoga class in the outskirts of Bethlehem in the village of  Zataara.
Tanya-Habjouqa2_palestine

Students from the  Al-Quds University javelin team finish up one last practice before the summer holiday begins.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine4

A few boys enjoy a cool break from the heat in a small kiddie pool in the West Bank village of Kufr Ni’ma.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine7

Two young women enjoy the view on the way up to the “Mount of Temptation” in a cable car in Jericho.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine8

Young men enjoy some shisha in the natural setting of Ein Qiniya. A few Israeli settlements are nearby.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine10

On the way to the Eid Celebration, a man enjoys a cigarette on the last day of Ramadan in the West Bank.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine3

Some women model at the Intercontinental Bethlehem for upcoming designer Nadya Hazbunova.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine13

The Gaza Parkour team practices in a cemetery on the outskirts of their refugee camp in Khan Younis, Gaza.
palestine parkhour

After final high school examinations, youth in Gaza flock to the sea and to the fun fair to let off steam
palestine pleasure2

Two furniture makers take a break in a pair of plush armchairs (of their creation) in the open-air in Hizma, against Israel’s 26-foot high Separation Wall.
palestine pleaure

14 year old Sabah Abu Ghanim, Gaza’s famous girl surfer, waits to catch a wave
palestine surfing

A young fiancee goes wedding dress shopping in Gaza. Her future husband is working in Libya, where she hopes to join him.
palestine wedding

A mobile toy store van cruises along the Gaza beach highway.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine5

A young boy takes his donkey for a swim, and attempts to get him out near Gaza’s Deir al-Balah refugee camp.
Tanya-Habjouqa2_palestine 3

A family enjoys a picnic in Ein Qiniya, the nearest nature spot for families in Ramallah
palestinian pleausre 12

via featureshoot

Shawn Saleme is a full time writer for Visual News.

Having traveled to over 45 countries, his international escapades continue to influence his writing and perspective. When not in a foreign territory, he makes his home in his native San Francisco Bay Area. Become friends with him on Facebook and invite him to share drinks and stories with you.

Read more at http://www.visualnews.com/2014/04/08/rarely-seen-lives-palestinians-photographed-tanya-habjouqa/#8y9IuYgvElL2sQf8.99

 

Of Sand and Land: Women to keep up the struggle (June 4, 2009)

 

            It is 1968. Syria is undergoing a state of socialism after the humiliating defeat in the war of June 1967.  Aida is forty years old and has so far five kids; the oldest boy is 16.  Aida got lost boarding a bus and the family had hard time locating their mother.  Aida had to confess that she is illiterate and could not read the name of the stop stations.  The eldest boy was angry and refrained to talk to his mother because Aida had given him the impression that she could read.  Actually Aida used to get herself busy in the kitchen when asked about school homework.  One day, one of Aida’s daughters brought her the good news: the women syndicate is opening a school for the grown up illiterate.  A year later, Aida is helping her younger babies with their homework. (You may read my post “The Blemish”)

            The Union of Women in socialist Syria was very active and opening schools and artisan shops all over Syria and encouraging women to learn about their legal rights and responsibilities.  One lady teacher said “The Bedouin women are the brightest.  They are like blank pages needing to be filled.  The Bedouin women come to school with dignity and confidence wearing multilayer of colorful and bright clothes, compared to the drab and plain clothes of urban older illiterate women; the Bedouin women proudly shake the gold bracelets on their forearms.”    

 

            It is mid July 1967.  Nada is trotted by three urchins, bare footed and oversized blouses.  Nada is heading to the “potable” water truck; a long file of women waiting for their turn.  Nada lives in tent #56, street #7 of a makeshift refugee camp 40 kilometers of Amman.  Nada lived a week ago in a house by the foot of a hill and tended a small garden across from the Jordan River in the town of Bethlehem.  Nada’s husband Kamal is back to Amman for the nth time searching for a job.  The eldest daughter Amina is ten and attending the refugee’s school tent run by refugee instructors.  The eldest son Farid is twelve: Farid is not seeing life in roses; life to Farid will be scarlet red: he is getting military training with the Fedayyins after school.  What was taken by force will be recovered by force: International Diplomacy has proven its efficiency 20 years earlier when Nada’s parents were chased out of her home in Jafa, never to return.

            The Israeli soldiers kicked her door in Bethlehem while sitting for supper.  The neighbor called wolf “they are going to blow the house”; the same kind of “caring” neighbor who called wolf 20 years earlier.  Nada is wearing her gold bracelets on her arm with pride: her husband and parents loved her and she showed her loving pride. It cannot look any poorer around the camp but Nada’s Palestinian robe with golden brocades fits a princess.

 

            Mounira is a young and fragile looking woman; she is a delicate flower sitting on a oversized couch in a villa in the Capital Amman.  Mounira was chased out of her land in Palestine; her husband has been studying and working in the USA for two years now and is asking her to join him. Mounira is a militant with Al Fatah, the new Palestinian resistance organization in the Diaspora.  During the failed incursion of Israel in the village of Karama on the borders in Jordan in 1969 Mounira and 15 other women fighters and nurses joined the battle when they heard the news on the radio.  The Palestinian fighters could not believe their eyes; the militant women fighters can late but resumed the task of taking care of the wounded and the transport to nearby hospitals.

 

            Cairo, Egypt 1968. Basna is a young social assistance.  She says: “the emancipation of women in Egypt might have progressed quickly. Our husbands do not consider us vulnerable and need protection but still not as equal.  Marriages are still based on economy: the man wants to know how much the job of his prospective wife will compensate his misery salary.  Many women rent their flat and could enjoy the luxury of not moving in with their mother-in-law.  Men are consulting their wives on important decisions, especially in financial matter.  Thus, as social assiatant I have to figure out courses on how to educate women in handling money and family accounting.  A few years ago, the eldest girl had to sacrifice education for the cadet because of lack of resources.  Many school girls have to supplement university expenses by prostituting with rich people in between courses.

           

Note: These accounts were extracted from a French book published in 1970 by Laurence Deonna who reported on the conditions of Palestinian refugees after the June 1967 war.

Of Sand and Land: Women to keep up the struggle (June 4, 2009)

It is mid July 1967.  Nada is trotted by three urchins, bare footed and wearing oversized blouses.  Nada is heading to the “potable” water truck; a long file of women waiting for their turn.  Nada lives in tent #56, street #7 of a makeshift refugee camp, 40 kilometers of Amman.

Nada lived a week ago in a house by the foot of a hill, and tended a small garden across from the Jordan River in the town of Bethlehem.  Nada’s husband Kamal is back to Amman for the nth time searching for a job.  The eldest daughter Amina is ten and attending the refugee’s school , in a tent run by refugee instructors.  The eldest son Farid is twelve: Farid is not seeing life in roses; life to Farid will be scarlet red: he is getting military training with the Fedayyins after school.

What was taken by force will be recovered by force: International Diplomacy has proven its inefficiency, 20 years earlier, when Nada’s parents were chased out of her home in Jafa by the sea, never to return.

The Israeli soldiers kicked Nada door in Bethlehem while sitting for supper.  The neighbor had been calling wolf  for ever: “they are going to blow the house”; the same kind of “caring” neighbor who called wolf 20 years earlier.

Nada is wearing her gold bracelets on her arm with pride: her husband and parents loved her and she showed her loving pride. It cannot look any poorer around the camp but Nada’s Palestinian robe with golden brocades fits a princess.

Mounira is a young and fragile looking woman; she is a delicate flower, sitting on an oversized couch in a villa in the Capital Amman.  Mounira was chased out of her land in Palestine; her husband has been studying and working in the USA for two years now, and is asking her to join him. Mounira is a militant with Al Fatah, the new Palestinian resistance organization in the Diaspora.

During the failed incursion of Israel in the village of Karama on the borders in Jordan in 1969, Mounira and 15 other women fighters and nurses joined the battle when they heard the news on the radio.  The Palestinian fighters could not believe their eyes; the militant women fighters came late, but resumed the task of taking care of the wounded and transporting them to nearby hospitals. (To be continued)

Note: These accounts were extracted from a French book published in 1970 by Laurence Deonna who reported on the conditions of Palestinian refugees after the June 1967 war.

Who are the Israelites?  From Abraham to the Macabe Kingdom (Chapter one); (March 19, 2009)

 

Note: It might turn out to be a lengthy essay: I will split it in a series of small chapters.

 

There is huge confusion and out of matter relations between the abstract belief concepts among the Christians and the context of their religion.  No wonder that Christianity generates as many splits as abstraction can sustain.  Without firm comprehension of the customs and traditions in the Levant and the geographical, historical, and religious context the Christians, in the entire spectrum of sects, will stay disoriented and out of touch with their identity.  It is beneficial to set the geographical and historical background of the Levant (mainly, current Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria).

I will have, reluctantly, to skip thousands of years of major civilizations in the Near East and Mesopotamia in order to focus on the subject.  Thus, I start from the period that Abraham and his successive clans settled in the Land of Canaan, then the period that the Hebrews of Moses sneaked in Palestine, then the Kingdom of David and Salomon that lasted less than a century, then the split of Salomon’s Kingdom into 12 districts or tribes, then the schism between the Samaritans and the Hebrews of Judea, then the deportations of the Samaritans and then the Hebrews of Jerusalem to Babylon, then the contribution of Cyrus of Persia to the reconstruction of the temple of Jerusalem in the 6th century BC, then the Seleucid Dynasty that lasted two centuries, then the revolt of the Macabeans and their Kingdom that lasted less than a century, then the conquest of Pompeii, the Roman General, to the Levant, then the advent of Jesus Christ, the first Christian communities, the conclave of Nicee (Turkey) in 425 during Emperor Constantine, then the establishment of the Ashkenazi Hebraic Kingdom in the Caucasus till its destruction in 950, then the schism between Papal Rome and Constantinople around the year 1000, then the Crusaders’ campaigns that lasted a century, then the schism between Papal Rome and Martin Luther and Calvin in late 15th century, then the emergence of the various sects in England and then in the USA such as the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Baptists, and the New Conservative sects in the south of the USA, and finally, the re-colonization of Palestine by the Central Europe Ashkenazi Zionists in the 20th century.

 

Period one: Abraham was very familiar with the customs, traditions, and culture of the Land when he decided to settle in Canaan. Abraham was a genuine leader of the Land.  He paid the tribute, the tithe, to the highest priest of the Land Melki Sadek and recognized the high sacerdotal rank of Melki Sadek who worshiped El (pronounce Eel) as the all unifying God of the Land. Issac and Jacob also paid the tithe to the highest priest of the Land.

For example, Abraham had no piece of land in Canaan; his clan let their goats and sheep graze in unclaimed lands. As there was a death in the family Abraham resolved to prepare for his burial; he sent a third party to ask Afroun son of Sohar of the tribe of Hath for a small piece of land to bury the dead. Abraham said: “I am a guest in your land. Could you give me a swath so that I may bury what is in front of me?”  Every village had a burying ground facing east and guests, by the custom of hospitality, could be enjoying the same facilities. Afroun replied: “Abraham you are a reverend and I shall bury the deceased in the best of our graves” Abraham had set his mind to settle in Canaan and wanted his own burial ground, thus he asked to buy a piece of land.  Afroun replied: “A land of no more than 400 silver shekels should not be an obstacle” Abraham got the hint and sent the amount.  This polite and diplomatic negotiation is part of the Levant customs thousand of years before Abraham came to Canaan.

 

Period two:  Moses led all the strangers in Egypt who were ordered to leave because they supported the previous monarch Akhenaton. The tribes of Moses were swelled by other foreigners who left in a hurry with “unleavened bread”, meaning at night. Those Egyptian Hebrew tribes were not familiar with the culture and traditions of the Land.  They occupied land by the sword and committed genocide in every town they entered. For example, “Joshua (Yashou) son of Noun entered the town of Makid, and exterminated its inhabitants as he did with the king of Hebron (Ariha), then progressed to Lebna, then Lakish, then Horam, the Ajloun, then Habroun, then to Dabeer and killed the kings, destroyed the towns, slaughtered the handicapped, the babies and even the animals; any breathing inhabitant was massacred in these towns and villages”

The God of the Hebrew was called Jehovah, sort of a totem to discriminate themselves from the tribes of the Land.  The God of the Land was El and all the other minor Gods were sorts of patron saints to syndicates and towns that felt the need for an identity.  The Hebrew wanted Jehovah to establish a Kingdom on earth in any way available because their culture was different from the culture of the Levant.

Solomon got to appreciate the culture and civilization of the Land.  He cooperated and negotiated with the King of Tyr Ahiram to build the temple in Jerusalem and also to build a sea fleet.  The fleet was wrecked at its first attempt to take to the sea; they say “Les Hebraiques n’avaient pas the pied marin” (they had not the mariners’ feet). In fact, no Kingdom in Judea ever controlled the sea coast.

The Hebrews in Judea sank into abject materialism and developed 640 Laws to regulate their daily life.  Thus, the Hebrews of Moses viewed the inhabitants of the Land as their enemies to be subjugated and cowed into submission for the loot. The detailed gory tales in the Bible are mostly from that bloody period.

 

Period three: The original Jews of the Land and the indigents before the settlement of the Hebrews of Moses where chased out of Judea.  They regrouped in Samaria and Galilee “of Nations” and formed their own fiefdoms which were called Israel or the “Tribes of El” in Aramaic.  The “tribes” of Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali settled in Galilee and merged with the culture of the land. 

The Hebrews of Judea considered the districts of upper and lower Galilee as “Goyim” or gentile of many “Nations” but they viewed the Samaritans as Jews hostile to the strict Hebraic Laws and worshiping El instead of Jehovah. For a palpable political appreciation you may consider the split between the Sephardim and the Ashkenazi in current Israel. The Ashkenazi of Central Europe dominate the economic and policy making; a fresh immigrant from Europe can contemplate to rise quickly in the political and economic landscape while the Jews of the Arab and Moslem World have to fight the good fight for the crumbs. It is of no wonder that the Ashkenazi decided for Hebrew to be the national language that in no way compared to the versatile and rich Yiddish German/Slavic language they used to write and communicate with.  Hebrew was simply selected for its political connotation.  Galilee generated four prophets though the Pharisee caste mocked Jesus saying that “no prophets can come from Galilee”.

 

Period four: In 167 BC, the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epifanus banned the worshiping of Jehovah, forbid circumcision, and ordered burning the Bible; those decrees were executed efficiently and occasionally by harsh measures. Only the Hebrews of Judea revolted against these decrees; they were led by the priest Matatia of the Hashmonid tribe. Matatia’s son Judah, nicknamed Macabe (the handler of ax), resumed the revolt until he vanquished the Seleucid King.  From 166 to 63 BC the zealot Macabe Kingdom ruled the Land. In 103 BC, Aristopoulos, son of Simon Macabe, ordered every citizen to be circumcised and to abide by Moses’ Law.  Consequently, the non-Jews of Galilee were subjected to these rules, including the ancestors of Jesus Christ who lived in upper Galilee (current south Lebanon).  It is worth mentioning that much later, in 132 AC, Emperor Adrian banned circumcision and the Hebrews in Judea revolted; the revolt of Barcoba (son of the star) was squashed and the remaining Jews experienced the greatest dispersion.

During the Hellenistic period, God El was called Helios (the Greek added an H before an E at the beginning of a word; for example Heliopolis means the city of El)

The Virgin Mary is from the town of Qana in Lebanon; Book Review; (March 17, 2009)

The reverend Father Youssef Yamine has recently published a book in Arabic “Jesus Christ was born in Lebanon”. 

The manuscript is of 730 pages and divided into four big chapters:

1. The other Bethlehem in the district of Phoenicia,

2. Who is Christ historically?

3. The Bethlehem of Canaan in the New Testaments, and

4.  Christ was born in the district of Phoenicia, and the Virgin Mary is from and was born in Qana (Lebanon). 

This voluminous book is packed with documentation, references, maps, and archeological facts.  I will reserve details in a series of notes at the end in order to recount smoothly the biography of the extended family of Jesus.

 

The story of the birth of Jesus goes as follows.

Joachim Omram and Hanna, the parents of the Virgin Mary, were from the village of Qana (ten kilometers south-east of the city of Tyr and at an altitude of 85 meters).  This town of Qana was called Qana of Upper Galilee and was within the district of Phoenicia during the Seleucid and early Roman Empires).  Joachim was one of the eminent personalities in the town of Qana and the region.  He was a priest and had been frustrated because he could not secure any descendents.

Joachim (Yuwakeem) took his sheep to a remote area and fasted and prayed for 40 days. Hanna was also frustrated with this extended absence and decided to take off her black cloth and washed her hair and went out in the garden. 

Hanna received an apparition that she will soon get pregnant and that Joachim is on his way home.

Mary was born in Qana and her parents dedicated her to the Great Temple on Mount Carmel (Mount Carmel was also in the district of Phoenicia). 

When Mary was 3 years of age, she was interned in the monastery of the Great Temple in Carmel.  Mary was one of the 12 virgins of the elite families in the region to be dedicated to serve in the temple and she was named “The Pigeon of Eel (God)“. (The Jews in Judea never allowed girls to serve in temples).

Joseph (future husband of Mary) was also from Qana and one of Mary’s relatives; he was one of the superintendents at the temple and he cleaned, painted and did the various tasks of maintenance.

Mary and Joseph got married and Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem Tifone by the Carmel, close to the famous city of Dora by the seaside and north of current city of Haifa, within the district of Phoenicia (not in the Bethlehem of Judea). 

Mary visited her aunt Elizabeth in Galilee who was 6 months pregnant.  Jesus was presented to the Great Temple of Mount Carmel for sanctification. Jesus was lost in the same temple discussing with the priests when he was 12 of years. Jesus studied in the schools of Mount Carmel.

Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem by the Carmel. The town of Nazareth did not exist yet and the area was called Nazareth. When Joseph died Mary returned to her hometown of Qana where her father and grandparents were buried.

Jesus spent his youth in Qana. 

Jesus was called “Jesus of Mary” to distinguish him from the other Jesus.  Mary was also called “the sister of Jacob“:  Hanna had remarried after the death of Joachim and gave birth to 4 offspring; the eldest son of Hanna was apparently Jacob.

           

In the wedding of Qana, where Jesus showed his miraculous power of transforming water into wine, Mary was in her own town and it is Jesus who was invited and came up from Lake Tiberias to join the wedding. 

After the wedding, Mary and the brothers of Jesus (Jacob, Joseph, Simon, and Judah) followed him down to Cafarnaom (Capernaum) by the Lake and stayed there for a few days and then joined Jesus’ party from then on. 

            Qana of Upper Galilee (The Galilee of Nations) was the location where the disciples gathered for a while after the dilapidation of the first martyr Etienne. 

 Note 1: Mary received the “Good Tiding” from the Archangel while serving in Mount Carmel. Jesus was elevated to Heaven on Mount Carmel. The first church was built on Mount Carmel. 

A church was constructedt in the town of Qana by the disciples and the Moslems venerate the tomb of Joachim called “The tomb of the prophet Omran“. 

Qana was an important town for many centuries before Christ, and it became the main resting place of the disciples before venturing any further.

When Israel bombarded south Lebanon in 1996 for 15 days, one of the missiles made a large crater, 4 meters off the tomb of the prophet Omran.  The excavations uncovered a buried church and the tombs of the family of Omran.

Note 2: Qana is famous today because Israel massacred over 100 civilians and gravely injured 120 when her bombs targeted a UN compound in Qana in 1996.  Israel hit that same town again in 2006 and killed 50 more civilians.  

 

Note 3: I may conjecture that Mary retained the title of Virgin because she earned it serving as one of the virgins in the Great Temple.  There is this tradition in the Levant to bestow the title of nun and priest for even those who later relinquished their sacerdotal duties.

 

Note 4:  I may be bold to offer another conjecture.  Joachim was sterile and Hanna was impregnated by her relative who later became her second husband.

 

Note 5:  Jesus was not Jewish. His family and ancestors were forced by the Jewish King Arestopoulos to abide by Moses’ Law and be circumcised since the year 103 BC.

The Jewish historian of the Jews Josephus never mentioned Jesus or the crucifixion: Jesus was not considered a Jew!

 

Note 6: Jesus was highly educated.  He could speak Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. He studied Law and taught Law at the university in Sidon (Lebanon)

 

Note 7:  The name Jesus is also called Emanuel (Amanueel) which mean “Eel (God) is among us”. Thus, “God was made human“.

 

Note 8: The astrophysicist Reznicoff confirms that the Comet Halley that showed the way to the sages crossed Galilee and not Judea.

 

Note 9:  Jesus was born in the year 7 BC and Caesar’s census was done in the year 10 BC, 3 years before Jesus birth.

 

Note 10: Herod the Great learned about the birth of the “King of the Jews” from the magies as he was boarding a ship in Akka (Acre) to Rome. 

No historian ever confirmed the mass killing of males of two years and less during the reign of Herod.

 

Note 11:  There are indications that Jesus entered Jerusalem for the first time when he was crucified. 

No wonder that Jesus experienced a cultural chock when he witnessed business and usury transactions within the temple.

Jesus got hold of a whip and chased out the merchants and turned their tables over and declared: “It is said that the temple is the house of God and not a cavern for thieves”.

 

Note 12:  Jesus was also called Rabbi (Rabuny) which means teacher in Aramaic.  Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let anyone call you Rabbi since you have only one teacher in Christ and you are all brethren”

 

Note 13:  Jesus wore the same long white robe that the Essenes sect of Mount Carmel wore; the consecrated members were called “The White Brethren” and they were famous as healers. 

The Essenes had many branches in Galilee and a prosperous one in Alexandria (Egypt) and had places for welcoming travelers and the sick. 

John the Baptist, who never left the region of Galilee, baptized with water as of the Essenes traditions and baptized Jesus.

Note 14:  Israel bombed Qana twice: Once on April 18, 1996 on a UN refugee compound and a second time in July 2006.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party's photo.
Syrian Social Nationalist Party's photo.

‫#‏قانا‬ | 18 نيسان 1996


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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