Israel Launches Search and Rescue for Last Dead Sea Scrolls
“Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness.” (Isaiah 30:8)
For decades, antiquities robbers have sneaked into the caves of the Judean Desert and have stolen away portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, according to the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), which has launched a rescue mission to retrieve the final manuscripts.
“For years now our most important heritage and cultural assets have been excavated illicitly and plundered in the Judean Desert caves for reasons of greed,” says a statement by IAA Director-General Israel Hasson.
“The goal of the national plan that we are advancing is to excavate and find all of the scrolls that remain in the caves, once and for all, so that they will be rescued and preserved by the state,” he says.
The first stage of the rescue mission began two weeks ago with a search led by archaeologists Dr. Eitan Klein, Dr. Uri Davidovich, Royee Porat, and Amir Ganor at Nahal Tse’elim, where the Cave of the Skulls is located.
“The excavation in Nahal Tse’elim is an operation of extraordinary complexity and scope, and one that has not occurred in the Judean Desert in the past thirty years,” said a statement by Amir Ganor, the director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery. “There are hundreds of caves in cliffs in the area, access to which is both dangerous and challenging. In almost every cave that we examined we found evidence of illicit intervention and it is simply heart-breaking.”
“The loss of the finds is irreversible damage that cannot be tolerated,” Ganor added. “Despite the rigorous enforcement actions taken against the antiquities robbers, we still witness acts of severe plundering that unfortunately are possible in such large desert expanses.”
In November 2014, a band of robbers were caught red-handed 80 m (260 ft) above the Cave of the Skulls, at the top of the cliff, after an afternoon of plundering the cave.
Located 250 m (820 ft) above the base of the wadi on the side of a precipice, the robbers used sophisticated climbing and rappelling gear as they traversed a dangerously narrow goat path to reach the cave and then ascend to the top of the cliff for the night.
With artifacts in their possession that date to the Roman period and the Neolithic period, the pillaging villagers from Sa’ir, near Hebron, were arrested, sentenced, imprisoned, and fined 100,000 NIS each. (MFA)
“The antiquities robbers are plundering the Land of Israel’s history, which is something we cannot allow,” said Knesset Member Miri Regev, the Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport, in an IAA statement.
“It is our duty to protect these unique treasures, which belong to the Jewish people and the entire world. I will work to increase the punishment against those that rob our country’s antiquities,” she stated.
A thorough excavation of the Cave of the Skulls is now underway, conducted by experts from the Caves Research Center at Hebrew University, a team from the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery at the IAA, and more than 500 volunteers from around Israel, who are camping in the desert, according to the IAA. Additional volunteers have been turned away due to inadequate infrastructure. (MFA)
The Antiquities Authority, MK Regev, and the Heritage Project of the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs will be working together to promote the comprehensive rescue mission on all the caves along the Dead Sea and elsewhere in the Judean Desert.
Their goal remains to collect and preserve the ancient writings, some of Israel’s oldest remaining records in Hebrew, which have been dated between c. 250 BC and c. AD 68.
“The Dead Sea scrolls are an exciting testament of paramount importance that bear witness to the existence of Israel in the Land of Israel 2,000 years ago, and they were found close to the Return to Zion and the establishment of the State of Israel in the land of Israel,” Regev’s statement last week says.
Qumran caves in the Judean Desert where the Dead Sea Scrolls are located
Temple Mount Activist Glick Gets Knesset Seat
“This is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.’” (Zechariah 8:3)
Yehuda Glick, a 50-year-old activist for Jewish prayer and visitation rights on the Temple Mount, was sworn in as a Member of Parliament (MK) on Wednesday after being released from American citizenship the day before.
Glick’s appointment to leadership in the Israeli Knesset resulted from his being 33rd on the Likud political party’s candidates’ list in the 2015 elections.
While the Likud earned an “unusually large” 30 seats in the Knesset last year, Glick’s assignment could only come to pass after the promotion or resignation of other MKs in the party.
The latest shift, moving Glick into the 30th party position, came with the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon over a dispute with Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Arutz Sheva)
The American-born rabbi has become a public figure for Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, which, in a bid to preserve peace in the region, offers only Muslims the freedom to pray there. Jews, Christians, and others are banned from any expressions that could be seen as prayer.
“I am an extremist: an extremist for human rights,” Glick said. “We have to end this absurd situation that people are prevented from praying on the Temple Mount on the basis of their religion."
In this effort, Glick has been the Director General of the Temple Institute (2005–09), which he founded; Chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation (2009–present); and Director of HaLiba, the Initiative for Jewish Freedom on the Temple Mount (2013–present). (Temple Mount Heritage)
Glick’s message for religious and ethnic equality on the Temple Mount placed him in the cross hairs of a gunman from the Palestinian Authority in 2014, who called him an “enemy of Al-Aqsa” (the black-domed mosque on the Temple Mount), before shooting him four times in the chest.
Glick stated last week that he does not believe his verbal advocacy for Jewish prayer rights at the holiest site in Judaism should or does provoke Arab terrorism.
To the new Knesset Member (MK), the Temple Mount represents peace, which he told his Temple Mount security team on Monday when he ascended the Mount with his wife, Yafi, for the last time as a private citizen: “Know that everything that I do stems from the peace this place represents.”
Despite being the face of Jewish advocacy for the Temple Mount, becoming an MK blocks Glick’s access to the Mount under a ban instituted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in October. Glick is aware of the ban and said he will be “a team player” in observing it, even while setting “Jerusalem above my joy,” referring to Psalm 137:6.
Glick added that even if it costs him the same freedom, he will continue to advocate for the freedom of worship for the Jewish people on the Mount.
“Whether I can go is less relevant as whether the people of Israel can go,” Glick said Sunday. “Yehuda Glick is not my agenda. Even if I can’t go up for the next 25 years, if it becomes a place that is friendly to human beings and more and more people go up, people who want to respect and honor the place, then we’re fine.” (JPost)
Some political analysts warn that Glick’s appointment could provoke a reaction among Muslims. Dr. Motti Inbari, associate professor of religion at University of North Carolina at Pembroke, told Times of Israel that “the two appointments of [presumptive defense minister Avigdor] Liberman and Glick send a message of a harder line by the Israeli government.”
Glick commented, “I never really dreamed of [joining the Knesset], but I think it’s an important tool to promote the things I believe in."
Yehuda Glick on the Temple Mount
Netanyahu Asks France for Help With Direct Negotiations --- IMPORTANT!!!
“Then this city will bring Me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.” (Jeremiah 33:9)
Last week, while opposing the upcoming French peace summit that will not permit attendance by Israel or the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that France arrange a one-on-one meeting between him and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in France.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was in the region last week to build support for the French peace initiative, which will convene 20 nations, including the United States, to decide the best course of action for peace.
Netanyahu told Valls that peace could not be achieved through international conferences, but only through direct negotiations.
"I can tell you from long experience, I know how hard direct negotiations are, but this is how we achieved peace with Jordan and before that this is how we achieved peace with Egypt," he said. "And both peace treaties, achieved through direct negotiations, have stood the test of time. They've weathered many, many storms. And many lives have been saved because we sat around the table with former enemies directly, without preconditions, and we made difficult decisions."
Netanyahu called on Valls to help arrange direct negotiations rather than the indirect negotiations France has proposed.
"And if you really want to help launch peace, then help us launch direct negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas," he challenged. "I will sit alone directly with President Abbas in the Élysée Palace, or anywhere else that you choose. Every difficult issue will be on the table: mutual recognition, incitement, borders, refugees, and yes, settlements, everything.”
As Netanyahu offered last month, "I am ready to clear my schedule" to meet with Abbas.
Unfortunately, “the Palestinian leadership doesn’t see the French initiative as an inducement to compromise, but rather as a way to avoid it,” Netanyahu said. “In fact, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Hamdallah, let slip the other day his hope for an imposed timetable [for Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders], rather than a negotiated peace.”
“We want two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state," Netanyahu told Valls. "And I urge you not to let the Palestinian leadership shirk this difficult choice.”
Valls said he would welcome direct talks and would discuss Netanyahu’s proposal with French President Francoise Hollande.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, slammed Netanyahu’s offer to negotiate directly, telling Valls the next day that “time is short. Netanyahu is trying to buy time… but this time he will not escape the international community.”
In a comment that underscores Palestinian intentions, Jamal Dajani, the director of communications for Hamdallah, said before the meeting, “Direct negotiations with Mr. Netanyahu in the past have proven to be fruitless; why repeat the same mistakes?”
Meanwhile, France’s international peace summit, slated for June 3 without Israel or the PA’s presence, remains on the schedule despite strong Israeli objections.
“The aim [of the summit] is to bring the international community back for the sake of peace and a two-state solution, and to create the conditions for a renewal of negotiations,” Valls said.
Following the conclusion of the summit, France still plans to host a second conference in the fall with Israeli and Palestinian representatives in attendance.
In a meeting this past Wednesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said to Valls that both sides must “truly want to live side by side in peace in this land.”
“In the Middle East, there are no shortcuts. Reaching an understanding and an agreement requires direct negotiations out of mutual trust," he added.
“We are convinced that the only way to bring an end to this tragedy of 150 years between us and our cousins the Palestinians, is through direct negotiations,” Rivlin said.
“The Israeli people are in no doubt of your sincere and good intentions to bringing a solution to the conflict, but we are concerned that going through international channels will make redundant our demand of the Palestinian side, and the Palestinian president, to come and talk directly with us in order to find a solution, a lasting solution for peace between us and others living in this land,” Rivlin said.
Peace talks between Israel and the PA stalled in April 2014 after the collapse of a peace initiative led by the United States. The Palestinians claim Israel’s “occupation” has not ended and have ignored Israeli offers for discussing peace. Certain Palestinian elements have claimed that any land under Israeli control is the equivalent of occupation.
Swiss Bill Seeks to End Funding of Pro-Boycott NGOs
"I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light.” (Acts 26:17–18)
A Swiss lawmaker has sponsored a bill calling the country to stop financing groups that support boycotts against Israel.
The bill, which was sponsored by 34-year-old Christian Imark, was backed by 41 Members of the Swiss Parliament, according to a May 23 report in Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung.
The front-page story by Dominik Feusi reveals that the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has given millions of Swiss francs to non-government organizations (NGOs) that have rallied for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement or have been linked to actions or support for anti-Israel terrorism.
The bill cites a total of 44 NGOs as recipients of funding from the Swiss government that actually oppose negotiations for peace and support boycotts.
According to NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg in Jerusalem, Switzerland’s MPs and media outlets have not had access to the details of their country’s funding process.
Feusi’s “detailed and unprecedented article … reflects the concerns of many MPs in Switzerland, who were surprised to learn of the very negative and counterproductive impact of their government’s funding for radical anti-peace NGOs,” Steinberg told The Jerusalem Post.
Steinberg also stated that there has been a certain amount of “‘double dipping’, funding from different Swiss government agencies for the same NGOs, which was made possible by extreme secrecy.”
According to the NGO Monitor website, the Swiss are one of the core funders of “more than 20 radical NGOs involved in BDS, political warfare against Israel and, in some cases … anti-Semitism.”
The Swiss wealth has even been directed to the International Humanitarian Law secretariat at Birzeit University in Ramallah, which redistributes funds to these NGOs as it sees fit.
According to Steinberg, Switzerland’s funding process also “supports [Ramallah-based NGO] Al-Haq, the leader of the ‘lawfare’ campaign, and Breaking the Silence,” which according to the NGO Monitor website, has been “active in promoting ‘war crimes’ charges against Israel … based on anonymous and unverifiable hearsay ‘testimonies.’”
The website adds that several Breaking the Silence donors gave money in response to the group’s ability to gather a minimum number of incriminating ‘testimonies’ against the Israeli army.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry and the Municipality of Zurich also co-sponsored an event last June highlighting “testimonies” aimed at demonizing the State of Israel.
Last year, the Swiss FDFA contributed about $61,000 to Gisha, which “is known for fighting Israeli security measures; $71,000 to the Palestinian-operated legal group Adalah, which opposes Israel’s Jewish nature; and $182,000 to Islamic Relief Worldwide, which is believed to finance the Hamas terror group and was declared a “terrorist-supporting entity” by Israel in 2014,” reports JNS.
Imark’s bill appeals to the FDFA to withhold funds to organizations such as these. The Swiss Bundesrat, the government’s executive council, now has an obligation to respond to Imark’s motion. (Arutz Sheva)
Meanwhile, the fight against the BDS movement has also earned a win in Spain. The Ministerio Fiscal, a constitutional tribunal that handles issues of equality under the law, issued a non-binding recommendation to stop the active Israel boycott by the northern Spanish city of Gijon. (JTA)
The pro-Israel lobby ACOM sued the city of Gijon after it declared a boycott on Israel and stated that it is “a space free of Israeli apartheid.”
Ministerio Fiscal said Gijon’s boycott motion “jeopardize[s] the fundamental right to equality without discrimination on the basis of appearance, ethnicity and religion,” which “violate[s] the constitution as well as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.”
Meanwhile, in New York this past Wednesday, lawmakers on Long Island, led by Howard Kopel, unanimously passed a law that stops Nassau County from conducting business with BDS-supporting organizations.
“It is imperative that as a county, we demonstrate to other governments the importance of fighting against all practices of hatred and discrimination,” Kopel told The Jerusalem Post.
World Health Organization (WHO) Singles Out Israel As "Health Rights Violator"
“Let the assembled peoples gather around you, while you sit enthroned over them on high. Let the Lord judge the peoples. Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.” (Psalm 7:7–8)
As it did last year, the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) singled out Israel, accusing her of being a violator of “mental, physical and environmental health.”
The Arab-sponsored resolution was passed on May 24 with the help of votes from France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, among others.
The false charges of the resolution proposed by the Palestinian delegation and the Quwait delegation “on behalf of the Arab Group” specifically accused Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan and of withholding healthcare to Palestinian Arabs.
“The U.N. reached new heights of absurdity today by enacting a resolution which accuses Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, even as in reality Israeli hospitals continue their life-saving treatment for Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks,” said U.N. Watch Director Hillel Neuer in a statement.
Neuer expressed his disbelief that England, France and Germany voted for the resolution, while Israel’s Health Minister condemned the Palestinian delegation for hijacking the World Health Assembly, WHO's governing forum, in order to attack Israel.
“Israel provides health insurance for all residents,” protested Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.
“We guarantee a health insurance plan that is comprehensive and equitable. These services, which are embedded in the law, promise a high standard of care for all.” (Hamodia)
“The WHO is supposed to be a professional organization, and I am very disappointed that the Palestinian delegate chose to use this forum to attack Israel,” Litzman said.
Israeli Knesset Member Yair Lapid addressed the dishonest claims of the U.N. resolution titled “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” in a letter addressed to the WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, saying the resolution is “a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism.” (JNS)
“The resolution is based not on facts but on a hatred of Jews and the Jewish state,” Lapid wrote. “Your organization veered away from its mandate and waded into a campaign to delegitimize Israel.”
Lapid said the WHO should rather “focus on combating real health crises across the world.”
The resolution focused on Israel’s so-called violations in the Golan Heights while completely ignoring the players in the brutal Syrian civil war, likely to support broader efforts to take the Golan away from Israel and give it to Syria.
WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan on the second day of the World Health Assembly, May 24, 2016. (WHO photo by L. Cipriani)
The U.N. Watch website notes that the WHO “did not address Syrian hospitals being bombed by Syrian and Russian warplanes, or millions of Yemenis denied access to food and water by the Saudi-led bombings and blockade, nor did it pass a resolution on any other country in the world.”
Neuer also condemned the three European countries “for encouraging this hijacking of the annual world health assembly, and diverting precious time, money, and resources from global health priorities, in order to wage a political prosecution of Israel, especially when, in reality, anyone who has ever walked into an Israeli hospital or clinic knows that they are providing world-class health care to thousands of Palestinian Arabs, as well as to Syrians fleeing Assad.”
Of the countries present at the World Health Assembly, 107 voted for the resolution while eight voted against it, Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, Paraguay, Guatemala, Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea.
Eight more countries abstained, while another 58 national representatives were recorded absent during the vote.
Lapid has called on the WHO director-general, Chan, to repeal the resolution, which is set to appoint a fact-finding delegation that will report on “the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory” and “the occupied Syrian Golan.”
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