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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Prominent Temple archaeologists here accused the Israeli government of attempting to cover up its failure to properly supervise a dig in which Islamic Authorities were accused of destroying Temple Mount antiquities. Experts believe the discoveries included a wall from the Second Temple.

The archaeologists claim that the government’s release this week of some First Temple-period relics that it says were found during the Islamic dig was part of the cover-up. The government’s move followed a Supreme Court case charging that Israel failed to stop massive destruction of Temple antiquities.

The Antiquities Authority on Monday released relics it says were discovered by its archaeologists, including fragments of bowl rims, bases and body shards, the base of a juglet used for the ladling of oil, the handle of a small juglet and the rim of a storage jar.

“The [Israeli government] Antiquities Authority clearly and obviously allowed the destruction of antiquities,” charged Temple Mount archaeologist Eilat Mazar, speaking to WorldNetDaily. “What they did is the exact opposite of any proper archaeological supervision, and now they are showing what they say are important finds. They are covering up a major crime.”

Mazar and other archaeologists earlier this month petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to halt the Islamic dig on the Mount. Afterwards, the Antiquities Authority released its finds, claiming it had properly supervised the Islamic dig to ensure against the destruction of antiquities.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed last summer to allow bulldozers and other heavy equipment to dig a massive trench on the Temple Mount. The Wakf, the holy site’s Islamic custodians, claimed the work was necessary to replace electrical cables outside mosques on the site.

Allowing the use of bulldozers at any sensitive archaeological site is extremely unusual, particularly at the Temple Mount, which experts say contains sealed layers of artifacts as shallow as two to three feet below the surface. The Mount has never been properly excavated. Heavy equipment could easily damage any existing artifacts, say experts, who assert the area should be excavated slowly and carefully by hand.

“Perhaps the released finds were discovered in between the teeth of the Wakf bulldozers, but it’s ridiculous to say the Antiquities Authority supervised or conducted any proper dig,” said Mazar.

U.S. Aid to Terrorists

The U.S. has been arming, training, funding and coordinating security with known terrorists, including much of the senior leadership of the most active Palestinian terrorist organization, charges this writer’s new book, Schmoozing with Terrorists.

The book also documents how terrorists, including a terror chief, are part of the official team that receives and distributes American weapons shipped to Palestinians.

Since the late 1990′s the U.S. has been using bases in the West Bank city of Jericho to train militias belonging to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization, many of whom openly serve in the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

“I do not think that the operations of the Palestinian resistance would have been so successful and would have killed more than 1,000 Israelis since 2000 and defeated the Israelis in Gaza without these [American] trainings,” said Abu Yousuf, Brigades chief in Ramallah.

Rice in Controversial Photo Op

Incensing some officials here, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week met and held a photo opportunity with a man enthroned two years ago as Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem even though Israel fails to recognize his leadership.

The Israeli government has withheld support for Theofilos III, elected patriarch in 2005 amid charges of church irregularities, due to his position on canceling the sale to Jewish groups of church land comprising much of a key entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. Theofilos has also been quoted by church officials as opposing the sale of Jerusalem property to Jews.

Ownership of the land in question – two hotels that comprise a large section of the Jaffa Gate, the principal entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem – could be crucial in the future status of Jerusalem during upcoming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Previous U.S.-backed proposals have allotted Jewish owned sections of Jerusalem to Israel and Arab-occupied real estate to the Palestinians.

Rice met Theofilos and other church officials at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity. According to officials present, Rice was briefed about Israel’s position against recognizing Theofilos.

She then met with the Greek cleric and posed with him and other church officials for a photograph in what has been described as a clear gesture of support for Theofilos.

New Obstacles for Convert Groups

Infuriating some religious, nationalist and immigration groups, the Israeli government voted to heavily restrict approval of new immigrants who want to convert to Judaism and move to the Jewish state.

The bill requires each convert group to receive approval by a vote of the entire Israeli cabinet. Initiated by Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, the bill constitutes a major obstacle for many immigrant groups, including thousands of Indian citizens who believe they are one of the “lost tribes” of Israel and who have been seeking to return to the Jewish state.

Over a thousand members of the Indian group – the Bnei Menashe – moved in recent years to Israel, where they were successfully integrated into religious Israeli society, holding professional jobs, attending universities, becoming rabbinic leaders and serving in the Israeli Defense Force.

Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based organization working to bring the remaining 7,000 Bnei Menashe from India to Israel, slammed the decision, accusing Sheetrit of attempting to “prevent groups with historical ties to the Jewish people from returning to Judaism and moving to Israel.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book Schmoozing with Terrorists.

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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