Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Scary Seder with the Rivers

Joan Rivers and her daughter are flanked by the Hollywood actor/waiters they hired for their Passover (the top...way over!). Hat tip, or rather tip of the shtreimel, to Paula Froelich the Daily Beast for dining with a lady whose taste is all in her mouth. Moses has a lisp, Elijah gets drunk, and the self-promotion doesn’t stop.

You know you’re going to get an epic Seder when you’re greeted at the door by two goys in faux-fur Hassidic hats with greasy-looking fake Payos’ attached to them. It was also a pretty good sign that I had successfully arrived at Melissa and Joan Rivers’ house—as opposed to the other four Seders that were being held on that particularly dimly lit Pacific Palisades street Monday night.

“Come in! Come in!” Joan, dressed almost entirely in a sparkly outfit from her Joan Rivers Collection, cried. “Passover—such a happy occasion. We were passed over!Let’s just drink the wine instead of dripping it on our plate,” Joan said. “We’ll drip it in our throat instead…”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Adverts on Jerusalem's City Buses call for temple building, mosque elimination

Think there's a long wait for the bus? How about for the Apocalypse? These buses will give their riders pause before they board. Posters leaving out Al Aksa mosque are plastered on city buses with East Jerusalem routes, writes Abe Selig in today's Jerusalem Post. It's a messianic ad campaign which could provoke some messy consequences in these CHristian and Muslim neighboroods, but Third Temple activists keep seeking to hasten the appearance of the Messiah.

While tensions continue to simmer around the Temple Mount after riots in and around the capital’s Old City earlier this month, a new campaign calling for the construction of the Third Temple atop the holy site has made its way to the sides of 200 Egged buses in the city, which now sport posters featuring a picture of a rebuilt temple on the Mount, and nothing else.

The posters, which contain the phrase, “May the Bais Hamikdosh be rebuilt speedily and within our days,” were sponsored by the Our Land of Israel group, which is led by Rabbi Shalom Dov Volpo and activist Baruch Marzel, leave out the site’s current structures – namely the the Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

The campaign’s organizers chose to plaster the posters on buses whose routes take them through predominately Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

With regards to the campaign, Volpo said Israel is waiting breathlessly for the coming of the messiah and the rebuilding of the temple.

“The Arabs and President Obama know that the Temple will be built on the Temple Mount,” he said. “Instead of the temporary buildings that are there today.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Marzel said it was no mistake that the Islamic shrines were left out of the picture.

“We’re representing the truth, in front of everyone, and saying out loud what every Jew believes,” Marzel said. “That the Third Temple needs to be built immediately on the Temple Mount and that the mosque should not be there.”

“When we reach the end of the Pessah Seder tomorrow night, he continued, “we’ll say, ‘Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem.’ What does ‘rebuilt’ mean? It means with the Third temple intact.”

Marzel brushed off the furor the ads might elicit from the capital’s Muslims, saying, “It upsets them that we’re alive, and that we’re living here.

“If such a basic point is going to piss them off, then we mine as well say what we truly believe and what we pray for three times a day. That is to rebuild the holy temple on top of the Temple Mount, and tomorrow – not to wait any longer.”
(Hat tip to Juliette for noticing the campaign for "Next Year in a Rebuilt Jerusalem" campaign.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Slicing East Jerusalem's 'swiss cheese'

1. Gilo: 850 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Nov 2009

2. Pisgat Zeev: 600 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Jan 2010

3. Sheikh Jarrah: Municipality approves the building of 20 new apartments on the site of an old hotel

4. Ramat Shlomo: 1,600 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Mar 2010

5. Silwan: Demolition orders on 88 Palestinian homes built without difficult-to-get permits - Israel planning controversial renewal project

6. West Bank barrier: Making Palestinian movement between West Bank and Jerusalem harder - Israel says it is for security

Now the US is expected to abstain from the upcoming vote in the United Nations to denounce Israeli expansion settlement across the old Green Line border in East Jerusalem. The Beeb provides the map above to show exactly where the controversial building sites are to be located. And correspondent Tim Franks' report explores deep new ruptures between Israel and Britain, its erstwhile colonizer, amid the "howls and harrumphs" of Israeli public opinion. The Brits currently are being labelled "dogs" in a curiously Maoist phrase of contempt! Fallout from Bibi's trip to Washington continues; Haaretz is less than pleased. Click here to read their analysis

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bibi Snubbed by Barack Obama? Oy veh

A woeful diplomatic encounter in Washington between the leaders of Israel and Washington resulted in no official photo, no state dinner, and considerable paranoia and petulance on the part of the Netanyahu administration, obviously unaccustomed to being dressed down after basking in applause at a rapturous AIPAC meeting. News media in Israel are agog, and the Times of London weighs in from Washington about what really went down. See it here, and cringe at the range of informed or vile comments and talkback. As expected, the Israeli leadership has stuck to its guns, rolled up its flow chart and is adamant that no alterations in policy decisions about building in East Jerusalem will be made to suit US demands.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Targeted Assassination trainers go to India

Rumors are circulating that Israel’s Mossad is training 30 high-ranking Indian police officers in the techniques of targeted assassinations, to render the Maoist organisation “headless”. There’s talk in the press about the new hardware that has been bought from Israel: laser range-finders, thermal imaging equipment and unmanned drones, so popular with the US army. Perfect weapons to use against the poor.
Hat tip to writer Arundhati Roy, in Outlook.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Frum Europe with love... E. Fink (of nostalgia, black hats and frugal kugel)

Does the black hat have any holiness attached to it? Is there any meaning behind the black hat? No and no.

The fedora was standard issue for Europeans and Americans, Jews and non-Jews up until about 50 years ago. It was a style of dress that was appropriate for its time. Why do we cling to it today?

We cling to it like we cling to kugel. The black hat evokes the shtetl. There is a nostalgia associated with the black hat. It is a social phenomena.

So what's wrong with that? Nothing if that is where it ended. But the black hat has come to mean more than that. It has become like the handshake of the Freemasons. It is an entry into the exclusive club of orthodox Judaism. Shouldn't the entry into the club have more meaning than kugel? Wouldn't we be better off if entry was shmiras hamitzvos?

There are other problems. There is the idea that Jews are like Amish folks. We don't move on, we don't welcome change or adapt in outsider's eyes. Worse, we have started to think that we don't embrace change or adapt. See the latest bans on internet or the fear of joining the work force or pursuing advanced degrees. Orthodox Jews are becoming an anachronism and the black hat is the banner of stagnant thinking.

How about this one? Sephardim now wear black hats. To me that is blatant discrimanation. Sephardim wore turbans as their non-Jewish mediterranean neighbors did. Why should their anachronsitic head gear not be accepted and they have to adopt European anachronistic head gear. It just seems narrow-minded and bigoted.

Fast forward 100 years. Orthodox Jewish men will look as silly in their black hats as many of THOSE HAT WEARERS describe chassidic men. Those crazies wear hats from 200 years ago. We are only wearing 60 year old hats! /sarcasm/ Do you see how silly this is?

On a slighty more humorous note, hats are also associated with the Mob 'look'. Is it a coincidence that so many Orthodox Jews have been in the news (and the prisons) for their Mobster like behavior?

Then there is the halacha. The Mishna Brura paskens that when praying, a man must wear a hat. Does this give the hat holy status? Does this mean the hat is a requirement for effective prayer? Or perhaps it would have been just blasphemous to show up to shul with no hat as it would have been for Woodrow Wilson to leave the White House with no hat on his head?

Think about it this way: Would you go to an important job interview wearing a black hat? Is a black hat a normal way of "dressing up" in our society? Of course not? So why should we go to shul or for those that wear their hats at the supermarkets, go to the supermarket in a black hat?

Just because some social phenomena was a certain way in Europe 200 years ago does not make it Jewish or more Holy.

As it stands now, the black hat is the symbol of the yeshivish Jew. If you don't wear one you are saying "I am not one of you". That is a pretty drastic statement that one implies by not wearing a hat. So if you mind being labeled that way you probably should still wear that hat.

Personally, I don't mind all that much. I can still be frum without my hat and I don't feel like a gangster when I go out of the house.

(Black) Hat tip to Rabbi Eliyahu Fink of the Venice Beach shul for his musings.
Now WHETHER this coMmon sense attitude would go down in fedorable Jerusalem remains to be seen.

'From Jerusalem with Love... Naji' opens

This unusual play tells the story of Naji Bakker (Jamal Sa’id), a Jerusalemite who has recently been evicted from his house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Following his eviction, Naji discovers that he has an American sister, so, with the help of his friend Ramzi (Atta Nasser), he does an internet search and invites her to visit Jerusalem. When his sister (Nika Clelland) finally arrives, she finds that Naji has been living in the street outside his home in protest of the eviction, along with a few supporters, including his neighbor Fatima (Nisbat Sarhan), a guitarist from Jerusalem (Evan Azazian), and a young American actor (Arthur Lazalde). Naji’s sister tries to help him, but the plot thickens when another woman (Mik Kuhlman) appears on the scene and claims to be Naji’s real sister. A blood feud ensues in this delightful comedy about sisters, solidarity, and the true meaning of siblinghood.

It's not often you find Jerusalem and love in the same phrase these days. The play is a slice of real life, without the spin of realpolitik, and feels authentic. It even features an Armenian, an underrepresented minority in Old Jerusalem. Performances are at 19:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday, March 20-21 at Al Qasaba Theatre in Ramallah.

The premise is very timely in that those contested settler apartments in Ramat Shlomo, which kicked off the latest backbiting between Bibi and Hillary, will be built next door to Sheikh Jarrah. This play was produced by the Palestinian National Theater / Hakwati, and is sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Office of the American Consulate General in Jerusalem. If it's propaganda, it's mildly comic and down home. You be the judge.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Violence, injuries, arrests, delays and prevention of medical treatment

In East Jerusalem on Tuesday, the fieldworkers of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel took initial testimony from local medical teams regarding the day's events. It seems that brutishness is becoming standard as security forces brace for clashes with residents in East Jerusalem. Their data is based on initial testimonies, some of which were taken via telephone as events occurred, and others given in person. PHR-Israel's staff continues to collect testimony on the events that took place in East Jerusalem, and will provide updates as more complete and accurate information is collected.

Following is a Summary of the information of the information that has been gathered so far.
In view of this testimony, PHR-Israel intends to examine:

1. Why injured persons were taken to detention facilities despite the fact that their medical condition required that they be taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

2. The nature of the security forces' rules for dispersing demonstrations and rules of engagement and the relationship between these instructions and the large number of injured persons, particularly those injured by beating and rubber-coated metal bullets fired at short range.

3. Why an ambulance carrying an injured man from Abu Dis was held at the checkpoint for fifteen minutes although the man was bleeding and required immediate transfer to the hospital, even without prior coordination.

4. Why members of the Yasam Special Patrol Unit prevented medical treatment from being administered on-site by local medical teams.

5. Why firefighting teams were not allowed to enter the Old City.


Furthermore, throughout the day military and police vehicles blocked the routes leading to Moqassed Hospital. Emergency vehicles were subsequently forced to take alternative routes, doubling their travel time from the typical five to ten minutes, delaying transfer of injured persons to the hospital. The Red Crescent evacuated five injured persons to Alkhaldieh clinic located in the Old City, including three injured by tear gas fire, one hit in the chest by a rubber bullet and one suffering from trauma.

A female Old City resident of about 30 years of age lost consciousness after police forces entered her home, beat the house's residents and fired tear gas into the premises. The woman received first aid from paramedics from the Mount of Olives emergency services. She regained consciousness and was taken via Mount of Olives ambulance to Moqassed Hospital.

Hat tip to Reut at PHR-Israel for story above; the image below is one snapped near the Old City gates.

Naomi Klein sounds off on Mossad and madness

Click here for her latest; Naomi spelled backwards is, as you know, "I moan."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Purim video reveals racism embedded in Israeli state structure

If granted one simple wish to raise awareness in the US Congress about where America’s annual Israel subsidy goes, it would be this: before the next pro-Israel vote, members of Congress would sit down and watch YNET’s ninety second video of Israeli settlers holding a Purim Party in East Jerusalem in the neighborhood where Israel is forcibly evicting Arabs who have lived there for generations so Israelis like these can move in.

It’s not an atrocity, not the casual cruelty of soldiers at a checkpoint, or “at war” against a defenseless civilian populace in Gaza. These are Israelis far from the stresses of combat, Israelis in a festive mode. They are singing a song of praise for Baruch Goldstein, the American born Jewish doctor who shot and killed twenty-nine Palestinian worshipers in Hebron in 1994.

“Dr. Goldstein, Dr. Goldstein" their song goes, "Everybody loves you.”

Obviously, the songsters represent a very small slice of Israel opinion: very few Israelis would openly praise the slaughter of unarmed worshipers. And equally obviously, there are extreme racist nationalists in almost every country in the world. There are small groups of neo-Nazis In Germany, and other places.

But the truth is also this: in no other country which is an “ally” of the United States is the racist far Right more deeply embedded in the state structure, more encouraged and empowered by a freely-elected democratic government. Remember, these are the kinds of Israelis that the Netanyahu government is now, as part of official policy, moving into houses in the most symbolically rich and contested real estate of a city holy to three religions. They are the kinds of Israelis whom the government will then protect with troops and police, and whom prominent mainstream American Jews will subsidize with tax deductible contributions. They are, quite literally, the vanguard of Zionism today.

And because of America’s support for Israel, financial and diplomatic and rhetorical, the singing settlers are now a big part of the face of America itself, the face we show to the Arab and Muslim world. So, honorable members of Congress, watch a bit and see what our dollars are paying for. Ninety seconds is all I ask.
Guest post by Scott McConnell of Mondoweiss

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heat is on in the Holy Land after diplomatic debacle

The heat continues here…weather-wise as well as politically...and the Israeli Army has sealed off the West Bank for the duration of the Jewish holidays. I turn to Professor Shlomo Einstein for an interpretation. From the breaking of a hospitality gift under Bibi's elbow to the naming of a forest after Joe Biden's late mum, the diplomatic signals have been so mixed as to yield a fiasco.

The professor pondered and penned this:

What the media has not noted here/hear in the Holy Land of God's Chosen is that the shaming of a person in ordinary person who is struggling to survive or even the VP of the USA... is one of Judaism's major sins...a "No..No" for both God and man.

The warmth of my greetings remain as I continue to experience that I live among Sabbath misusers, people abusers...a group of ritual wretcheds.
SO…I will share a story I was told this week…a Hassidic tale…a tale by which to greet The Shabbat queen.

One day, after much internal weighing, saying, struggling... one of the Hassidic Rabbis shared with his followers that one might not have to experience…carry out the Sabbath on Shabbat. He was a learned, honest teacher.

And so…they all met one day during the week…dressed in the Sabbath clothes which one wears when one goes to God’s abode to pray…as one would in the secular world wear finery when invited to the Queen and/or King of England. Palaces are not just architectural outcomes…and surely not of one’s God.

And the prayers of the Sabbath were prayed and the special foods of the Sabbath were eaten…notwithstanding…or perhaps because of one’s poor economic condition…and songs and melodies of the Sabbath were voiced…and the peace and contentment of being apart from the daily struggles of survival were distanced…for the Sabbath moment…a long moment of a day…and the Sabbath was ended with the special prayers alive from so long ago…the special candle lit…the wine blessed…the aromatic spices inhaled and one returned to ‘the days of regularity’…to the problems and realities of survival…until…

The Rabbi was not simply able to ‘let go’ of what he and his followers had done. And so he went to another Hassid…one who could/would judge…described what he and his followers had done…not WHY…( there are and no doubt always will be WHYs) but rather WHAT.

And this learned man…having experienced so many Sabbath experiences did not judge…did not criticize…did not approve or disapprove. Rather he suggested that if indeed one experienced the Shabbat in its many dimensions and carried out the essence of this unique gift to mankind that calendar and chronology were not critical. Shabbat, after all, is not an institutionalized ritual to be documented…She is a gift to be experienced and celebrated in the best way that each of us can.

This week science, the secular DNA testing, which does not have to rest on the Sabbath, and the BBC…a 7/24 human creation… increased the Jewish People, who may want to know and to care, by approximately 80,000 Zimbabwen and South African Lemba; a tribe whose members abstain from eating pork, wear yarmulke-like skull caps, conduct ritual animal slaughter, has an oral tradition that links them to the ancient Jews, circumcise their male children, which is not a common practice in Zimbabwe, and even put a Star of David on their gravestones.

Interestingly enough the scientists and the media noted nothing about a Lemba Shabbat.
--guest post from Shlomo, who is not from the eponymous Ramat Shlomo!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Israeli Supermarket ad Mocks Dubai Assassins

Killer Prices? Oy veh. It's not top secret that one food chain inside Israel has dubious taste, at least in its commercials, reports the BBC.

An Israeli supermarket chain is using a spoof of surveillance footage showing the alleged assassins of a Hamas commander in a television advert.

The advert's fake grainy surveillance footage shows actors wearing elaborate disguises.

Dubai police released footage they said showed the assassins of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, some dressed for tennis, as they followed him through his hotel.

Israel's secret service is widely suspected of being behind the killing.

But the government says there is not enough proof that its agents were involved.

In the advert for Mahsanei Kimat Hinam shops, disguised customers prowl the supermarket's aisles and an actress wearing a wide-brimmed hat says she: "cannot admit to anything". The final line is: "We offer killer prices."

Advertising executive Sefi Shaked said the campaign was inspired by the original footage.

"We were fascinated by the technique of using surveillance cameras instead of high-production cameras, and the latest events in Dubai have given us a great opportunity," he said.

"It's a parody, a take-off of what happened in Dubai. All the Israeli television comedy shows have done it, so why shouldn't we?" he added.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Will future of Israel-Palestine become multi-ethnic and multi-religious?

In my view, it doesn't really matter if Netanyahu's slap in the face to [US Vice Prsident Joe] Biden derails the proposed indirect [peace] talks, writes the leftist journalist Juan Cole. The Likud-led government has no intention of allowing a Palestinian state, and there is now no place to put one. Israel-Palestine has unalterably entered the era of Apartheid (actually something worse), and it will spell both the end of dreams of peace in our generation, and probably over time the end of Israel as Netanyahu's generation knew it. The Palestinians cannot be left stateless (the legal estate of slaves as well as of Jews under Nazi rule, i.e. people with no legal rights) forever. If they can't have Palestinian citizenship, then they'll have to have Israeli citizenship. The future of Israel-Palestine is likely to become a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state like Lebanon. Ironically, it is Netanyahu who is in no small measure responsible for this likely outcome, the opposite of the one he aspires to.

Israelis claim a 'birthright' to do things like colonize Palestinian territory, based on romantic-nationalist reworkings of biblical narratives. But Canaan was populated for millenia before some Canaanite tribes adopted the new religion of Judaism, and it was also ruled, as Palestine, for centuries by Romans and Greeks, and for 1400 years by Muslims. The Palestinian Jews converted to Christianity and then to Islam, so they are cousins of the European Jews (who appear to have gone to Europe voluntarily as male merchants around 800 CE,, where they took local wives). European Jews are about half European by parentage and all European by cultural heritage, and it is no more natural that they be in geographical Palestine than that they be in Europe (where nearly two-thirds of their mothers were from and about a third of their fathers). From a Middle Eastern point of view, European Jews planted in British Mandate Palestine by the British Empire were no different from the million colons or European colonists brought to Algeria while it was under French rule from 1830-1962. (Algeria had been ruled in antiquity by Rome, and the French considered themselves heirs of the Roman Empire, so it was natural that people from Marseilles should return to 'their' territory. Romantic nationalism, whether French or Zionist, always has the same shape). I don't predict the same fate for Jewish Israelis as befell the French colons. Rather, I think they are likely to more and more resemble in their position the Maronite Catholics of Lebanon-- i.e. powerful and formerly dominant population-wise, but increasingly challenged by other rising communities.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Economic aliyah surges in Israel as US recession bites

Fed up with the tough job market inside the States, more young American Jews are choosing to wait out the recession in Israel, where the government heavily subsidizes their stay while they intern, learn Hebrew or volunteer. It harks back to the exodus of Argentine Jews to Israel during their meltdown in 2001-2. Reuters reports on this trend:

According to Masa, a group that organizes programs to Israel and is partially funded by the Israeli government, participation is up 50 percent since the fall of 2008. Today, Masa has more than 1,500 Americans working in Israel.

Masa's Aaron Goldberg said interest has been rising since the financial crisis, which gave them the idea for their "Israel: A Better Stimulus Plan" marketing campaign.

"Before the economic crisis, there wasn't that impetus to look beyond the traditional career path," said Goldberg, Masa's director of recruitment. "Now there are less jobs and less internships, so this becomes a great way to add something to your portfolio."

Jews are not the only ones seeking their fortune overseas. According to the Institute for International Education, the number of American students interning overseas has doubled since 2000.

"In tougher times, people are taking a look at how they can develop themselves further," said Paul Lakind, president of The Global Intern, a company in Randolph, New Jersey that arranges internships in Israel, as well as England, China and Italy. [Israel has government funds available for Jewish emigres and invests in Birthright and other feel-good propaganda visits.]

Since its founding, Israel has sought to attract Jewish youth to ensure its survival as a Jewish state [despite high birth rates among Arab Israelis and Palestinians]. But the recession has proven a good marketing tool.

Rachel Wolfson, 22, graduated last May with a degree in government and English but the Dallas resident could only find work selling shoes. To save money, Wolfson moved back in with her parents, but quickly grew frustrated.

"I feel like an undergraduate degree doesn't mean as much as it used to," she said. "And with the economy the way it is, I just decided to leave America."

Through Masa, Wolfson will intern for the political party New Movement-Meretz. The internship is unpaid, but Wolfson hopes the experience will improve her resume.

Her internship costs about $9,000, including air fare, room and board for five months. Masa gives her a $3,000 grant and suggested she have $300-$500 a month for personal expenses.

Unemployment is up in Israel, but the country was mostly spared the economic beating America and many other rich countries took. High-tech and biotech, Israel's top industries, are booming and many global firms now have a presence there, driving demand for college-educated English speakers. There is universal health care and new immigrants get tax breaks.

Although Masa's programs mostly focus on helping Jews get reacquainted with Israel, some other programs are open to non-Jews, especially those between 20-30 years of age.

Most programs are short-term, meant to immerse young adults in a foreign culture while boosting their professional skills. But some participants have decided to stay on after their internships ended, after receiving job offers.

Elliot Lazarus, a 30-year-old architect from Long Island will soon be relocating to Jerusalem with his wife and 5-year-old son, after spending last fall interning at two Jerusalem architectural firms. When he was initially laid off in December 2008, Lazarus was in despair. But with time, he came to think of his job loss as a new beginning.

"Most people can't just walk away from a six figure salary," he said. "I had to be shaken out of my comfort zone."

Unlike most participants, Lazarus is an orthodox Jew who long had a desire to live in Israel. But he says it took the economic crisis to push him over the edge.

On his blog "Recessioning in Jerusalem", he ruminates about his decision and more everyday pursuits, like haggling over the price of a haircut or jogging through the Old City at dusk.

For some, the appeal of Israel is religious. For others it's practical: life is cheaper there. But overwhelmingly, participants say they are surprised by Israel's work culture, which encourages flexibility and a better life-work balance.

"It was never a problem to ask my boss if I could come in late or leave early," recalls 27-year-old Rachael Freedman who interned at a Tel Aviv architecture firm after losing her job in 2008. "It's definitely more relaxed."

Since returning, Freedman has been hired back by her old firm, but Israel also left an indelible mark on her.

"I think about it every day," said Freedman, who considers herself a secular Jew. "I wake up thinking of Israel, at work I think about it, and hope to be there in the nearer future. There is just something about it that feels like home."

Digging for trouble - sacred and profane archaeology

Dig beneath Jerusalem's sacred stones in the name of science, and you'll incite threats and preemptive arrests. At the very least, insults and rocks will be hurled.
The recent convergence of archaeological projects in Jerusalem's oldest and most sensitive district has ignited Arab fury, prompted official Israeli denials, and sparked off an internecine row amongst archaeologists about the use of Biblical scripture in scientific analysis.

Any archaeological excavation close to the Old City walls quickly becomes a religious flashpoint and a focus for vicious politicking that can provoke Muslims, Jews and Christians around the globe. Like a baklava of multiple historic layers, strewn with jarringly anachronistic artifacts because building materials were recycled by successions of tight-fisted conquerors, these rich diggings at the heart of the Holy Land are dense, compact, and sweet with promise. Passions run high and devout Millenarianists who count down for the Rapture and Apocalypse keep tabs on the symbolism of it all, complicating matters further.

And when a pro-settler Israeli group funds the digs, while Arab residents fight to keep their homes from being bulldozed to make way for a Biblical theme park fit for tourists on futuristic segways, the tension rises. Time magazine reports the latest.