Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Thousand-Year-Old Yeshiva in France

A thousand year old yeshiva in France

Posted: 09 May 2011 11:45 AM PDT
From YNet:

The courthouse of the French city of Rouen is an impressive gothic building from the 15th century. For hundreds of years – in fact, since its establishment, the place was used by the district judicial authority.

Even today, those who happen to reach the criminal ward, and not as one of the workers, can at least enjoy a colorful Renaissance ceiling.

About 40 years ago, archaeologists were surprised to discover under the building a historic structure dating back to 1100.

The archeological find was only revealed to the wide audience in the past year. It appears to be a yeshiva from the Middle Ages – the only one in Europe whose remains have been preserved to this day.

Rouen residents are very proud of the yeshiva, referring to it as "the most important Jewish archeological find in Europe."

The structure discovered under the courthouse proves that about 1,000 years ago, Rouen had an intellectually and commercially active Jewish Quarter.

Two phrases in Hebrew were found inscribed on the internal wall of the underground building: May the Torah Reign forever" and "This house is supreme".

The second writing made the researchers assume that the structure was a house which belonged to one of the community's rich members, a theory which was only raised after a suggestion that it was a synagogue was contradicted due to the absence of a typical eastern wall.

When American researcher Norman Golb of Chicago University delved deeply into the matter, a new light was shed on the walls. Golb, an expert on Hebrew manuscript materials, studied the structure in its initial discovery stages and established the thesis that it was a yeshiva.

Some interesting background material, that might answer why no one had heard of this in Jewish history:

[Golb]'s selection of the site of the yeshiva on Rouen's Rue aux Juifs was based on the fact that references to the building stop with the sixteenth century. This was the point at which the highly ornamented Palais de Justice was built. "I surmised that they had rased the Jewish center to make way for the new construction," Golb told me joust intelview.

Equally fascinating is the fact that Golb may have discovered why Rouen was overlooked as a center of Judaism during the Middle Ages. It may have been bypassed because Hebrew references to the city were misread by Latin scholars of the Middle Ages. Until the fourteenth century, Rouen was known as Rodom.

In surviving Hebrew manuscripts, the name Rodom is written like Rhodoz, a medieval city in southern France. What happened was that scholars, in recopying the manuscripts, often mistook the Hebrew letter samech for a final mem. Golb said he was fascinated by the possibility that the city they were really talking about and writing about as a "thriving Jewish community" was really Rodom or Rouen.

"I went back to the original manuscripts at the British Museum, and my suspicions were immediately confirmed," he said. Subsequent studies of manuscripts in Paris, Amsteidam, and Jerusalem revealed detailed maps, as well as descriptions of the Jewish quarter and of life in the city.

Today in Rouen, there are about 400 Jewish families engaged in professions and academic life, as well as industry and commerce. The Jews who came to Rotten in the 1960s from Algeria and Tunisia brought a Sephardic presence to the area.

This Is Zionism

Posted: 09 May 2011 08:54 AM PDT

Islamists vow to take over the world. In London.

Posted: 09 May 2011 07:51 AM PDT
From Daylife, in a photo taken Friday in London:

What, you mean you didn't read about this in your local newspaper?

Even the New York Times mentioned this... deeply buried in the very last paragraph of a 13 paragraph article where the other 12 paragraphs were about pro-Bin Laden rallies in Cairo. And even in the 13th talks as much about the English Defense League counter-rally as about this one.

Call me crazy, but I think a pro-Bin Laden rally in London is a bit more newsworthy than one in Cairo.

The only other news outlets to mention these signs and the mock funeral for Bin Laden in London are the Daily Mail and London Metro, with a Fox News blog quoting the Daily Mail.

(h/t Alex)

"Go, America, Go!"

Posted: 09 May 2011 06:52 AM PDT
Somehow, I don't think that the members of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, rallying against the US after the assassination of Bin Laden, quite understood how their slogan might come across:
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan gather for march against the US President Barack Obama in Karachi on May 6, 2011. Hundreds of Pakistanis took to the streets on May 6, cheering Osama bin Laden and shouting 'death to America' to condemn a unilateral US raid on their soil that killed the Al-Qaeda chief.


Hell, yeah!

(h/t Alex)

Jordan upset at Hamas/Fatah deal

Posted: 09 May 2011 06:01 AM PDT
Palestine Today reports that the Kingdom of Jordan is not happy about the Fatah/Hamas unity deal.

Jordan is mostly upset that they were not consulted beforehand .The kingdom has been harsh with Hamas elements in Jordan and the sudden about-face embarrassed the country.

As a result, Jordan refused to send any high-ranking officials to the Cairo ceremony and sent a note pf protest to Mahmoud Abbas.

Jordan is also upset at Egypt, both on not giving the kingdom a heads-up about the agreement as well as the interrupted supplies of natural gas due to saboteurs blowing up the gas lines towards Jordan and Israel in Egypt.

The newspaper describes the rift as a "crisis."

Peaceful PalArab weekend

Posted: 09 May 2011 05:21 AM PDT
Discovery of an honor killing, where the woman's uncle didn't like her choice in marriage partners.

The execution-style murder of an alleged "collaborator" with Israel.

Another execution-style murder in Al-Eizariya.

A man in Jericho was stabbed to death as well.

Sounds like Hamas is influencing things in the West Bank already!

The NYT continues to push nonsense

Posted: 09 May 2011 03:19 AM PDT
An editorial in the New York Times about the Hamas/Fatah unity agreement uses a couple of the usual NYT memes.

We have many concerns about the accord, starting with the fact that Hamas has neither renounced its legacy of violence nor agreed to recognize Israel. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said he remains in charge of peace efforts and the unity government will be responsible for rebuilding Gaza and organizing elections. Whether that is Hamas’s vision is unclear.

Also disconcerting are suggestions that Mr. Abbas may have privately agreed to replace his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who has done so much to build up the West Bank economy and institutions. There are big questions about the future of the two sides’ security forces.

The United States has spent millions of dollars helping the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority create a security force that Israel has come to rely on to keep the peace in the West Bank. Whether Hamas, which has terrorized Israel with rockets from Gaza, can ever be integrated into that force, or even work side by side, is a huge question.

Israel certainly has many reasons to mistrust this deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended tax remittances and is pressing Washington hard to cut off aid to the Abbas government. The Obama administration has reacted warily to the new pact but said its assistance will continue for now. Congress is talking tough.

It’s too early for a cut-off. The money is Washington’s main leverage on the new government. A cut-off would shift the political balance dangerously toward Hamas.

If the US would have clearly warned the PA ahead of time that a government that does not meet the long-standing preconditions of the Quartet will lose all its foreign funding, all of the above problems would never have come up to begin with. Why should the world embrace Hamas now when we saw what happened last time they had "unity" - leading to Gaza turning into Hamastan?

Other reconciliation attempts between Fatah and Hamas have imploded, but Mr. Abbas seems to believe this will advance his push to get the United Nations General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state. Above all, his sudden willingness to deal with his enemies in Hamas is a sign of his desperation with the stalled peace process.

No it isn't. It is proof that Abbas refuses to compromise with Israel and therefore is cunningly using the international community to accomplish by fiat the same goal without his being forced to tell his people that they will need to make concessions. There is no desperation here: just a very smart end-run around his making hard decisions.

Hamas’s goals are far harder to game, although there are reports of new frictions with Syria and a desire for better ties with Egypt’s new government.

The NYT covers world events, but cannot draw a line between the popular revolutions against authoritarianism in the Arab world and Gaza? Apparently, to the Times, the PA is an island of Western-style democracy in an ocean of Arab dictatorships.

In an interview with The Times last week, Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader, declared himself fully committed to working for a two-state solution. Just a few days earlier Hamas’s (supposedly more moderate) prime minister, Ismail Haniya, was out there celebrating Osama bin Laden as a “Muslim and Arab warrior.”

Hmmm. How can the New York Times resolve this seeming contradiction? Maybe it should go back and read Ethan Bronner's actual interview with Meshal, without Bronner's unprofessional and frankly dangerous assumptions, and discover that Meshal said no such thing!

Here's a rule to live by: When Hamas seems inconsistent between its words and actions, look for a loophole in their words. This is what a serious journalist must do, and it is something that the New York Times cannot seem to grasp vis a vis Palestinian Arab promises.

Huge skepticism and vigilance are essential. But more months with no progress on peace talks will only further play into extremists’ hands....

After Israel withdrew from Gaza, rocket attacks increased. After Israel killed some 750 Hamas terrorists in Cast Lead, rocket fire went down dramatically and Hamas started stopping other Gaza groups from firing rockets.

There were more suicide attacks in the immediate aftermath of Oslo - even before the second intifada - then there are today, after Israel went on the offensive to destroy the terror infrastructure in the West Bank.

Amazing how peace can result from war - another concept that the New York Times cannot grasp.

Washington needs to press Mr. Netanyahu back to the peace table. A negotiated settlement is the only way to guarantee Israel’s lasting security.

In the funhouse mirror image universe that the NYT resides in, it is Netanyahu who has refused to talk with Abbas, not the other way around. Their meme of an intransigent Likud leader is so ingrained that they cannot even get basic facts right.

The answer, to us, is clear. It is time for Mr. Obama, alone or with the quartet, to put a map and deal on the table. If Bin Laden’s death has given the president capital to spend, all the better. The Israelis and Palestinians are not going to break the stalemate on their own. And more drift will only lead to more desperation and more extremism.

The map and deal have been on the table before. The Palestinian Arabs rejected it, consistently. The Times' editors fantasies that Israel just needs to give a little more to obtain peace reflects nothing close to resembling reality.

But it does reflect that they believe Mahmoud Abbas' lies completely and uncritically. They believe he is a moderate, that he is willing to compromise, that his hands are tied, that he desperately wants peace with Israel. All of those assumptions - each demonstrably and provably false, as has been documented over the years - are what informs ridiculous NYT op-eds like these.

It certainly isn't based on fact.

(h/t David G)

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