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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Bar Ilan University’

Shaked Blinks First But Wins Advantage in Contest with High Court President

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

The mark of a statesman—or, in this case, a stateswoman—is their ability to retreat momentarily for the sake of future victories. In her very public and very aggressive contest against Supreme Court President, Justice Miriam Naor, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) collected her winnings and stepped back, knowing she was not yet prepared to pay the full price of a complete victory.

Shaked is spearheading several concurrent moves, all of which have provided the context for a proposed bill by Yisrael Beiteinu MKs—with Shaked’s blessings—to deprive the Supreme Court members of the Judicial Appointments Commission of their veto power over Supreme Court candidates. The moves the Justice Minister was advancing behind the cover of the new bill were a Netanyahu cabinet request for a 7-month delay of the decree to demolish the Amona community in Samaria; a new Regulation Act to compel Arab claimants who prove they own the land belonging to Jewish communities to accept market value as compensation; and a list of appointments to the Supreme Court which the current Court members loath.

Last week, Justice Naor lost her cool, sending a leaked letter to Shaked telling her the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission bill was tantamount to placing a gun on the table. On Sunday the two women met and Shaked eventually consented to putting a temporary lid on her bill — depending on how well the court would deal with her proposed appointments to replace four retiring justices—that’s 4 out of 15—in 2017.

Shaked’s candidates are considered brilliant, and they are also critical of the judicial activism of the court over the past 40 years, since the Likud party for the first time won a decisive electoral victory and relegated the Labor party to what eventually became a perpetual seat with the loyal opposition.

There’s Prof. Gideon Sapir from Bar Ilan University, who has voiced his loud criticism of the high court for neglecting the national component in their decisions. Sapir was harsh in his criticism of the court’s support for the uprooting of Gush Katif’s Jews in 2005.

Then there’s Judge Yosef Elron, who enjoys the backing of Finance Minsiter Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) who is a member of the appointments committee, and also the support of the two members of the bar on the committee. The justices don’t like Elron and prefer to appoint in his place an insider, one of their own, Ron Sokol, the son-in-law of former Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or.

Shaked’s list of 28 candidates also includes Professor Aviad Hacohen, who writes the judiciary column for Shledon Adelson’s daily Israel Hayom, as well as Tel Aviv District Court Judge George Karra, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Chaled Kabub, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Dr. Michal Agmon-Gonen, Central District Court Judge Menachem Finkelstein, Haifa District Court Judge Yael Willner, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Ruth Ronnen, Central District Court Judge Prof. Ofer Grosskopf, Central District Court Judge Michal Nadav, Jerusalem District Court Judge Tamar Bazak Rappaport, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Gilad Neuthal, Official Receiver General Prof. David Hahn, Adv. Asaf Posner, Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Dr. Kobi Vardi, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Shaul Shohat, Nazareth District Court Judge Asher Kula, Jerusalem District Court Judge Nava Ben-Or, Jerusalem District Court Judge Ram Winograd, Jerusalem District Court Judge David Mintz, Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Sobel, Jerusalem District Court Yigal Mersel, Prof. Haim Sandberg, and Prof. Shahar Lifshitz.

Shaked’s final four will likely include two rightwingers, an Arab and a centrist woman, such as Judge Tamar Bazak Rappaport, who also serves, as Vice Chairman of the Anti-Trust Tribunal, which deals with issues of cartels, monopolies and mergers.

Of the two rivals, Shaked turned out to be the one speaking softly and holding a big stick behind her back. Naor was loud and blustery, and it looks like she got her way — for now. But Shaked did not put down her big stick, and in the long and exhausting struggle the country’s judiciary will be undergoing soon, she likely plans to bring home a few wins.

David Israel

American, Israeli Archaeologists Attack Authenticity of ‘Jerusalem Papyrus’

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

The authenticity of a rare and important find that was exposed in an enforcement operation of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery recently, and touted as the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing, has come under attack by two respected archaeologists.

Christopher Rollston, a renowned classics scholar teaching at George Washington University, wrote in his blog last week that “the fact that the papyrus itself has been carbon dated to the 7th century BCE certainly does not mean that the writing on the papyrus is ancient. In fact, it really means nothing. After all, ancient papyrus is readily available for purchase online (check the web and see!), thus, no modern forger worth his or her salt would forge an inscription on modern papyrus. Rather, he or she would purchase some ancient papyrus online and then write a text on it.”

Such forgeries are frequent, writes Rollston, and so “for anyone to conclude that this (or any) inscription must be ancient because the papyrus is ancient is quite naïve.”

Professor Aren M. Maeir, an archaeologist from Bar Ilan University, wrote on his blog on Friday that he is “not sure that it is real or a fake, but various issues are problematic. I would very much like it to be authentic – but first – doubts must be dispelled.” Prof. Maeir added that a better authentication is paramount “in light of the strong indications that many of the recently acquired fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls may be fakes – indicating that there are some very good forgers working out there – some of whom seem to have an in-depth knowledge in epigraphy, paleography and related issues.”

Speaking at the ninth annual conference on archaeological discoveries in Jerusalem and its environs that was held at the Hebrew University last week, Prof. Maeir attacked the IAA for its premature announcement before thoroughly examining not only the papyrus, but the ink as well. “I believe you, but not everyone will believe,” he said. “How do we know that it’s not fake [and intended to be sold on] the antiquities market?”

Prof. Rollston points out that “the Jerusalem Papyrus is from the antiquities market and it has been floating around on the market for a few years now. It was not found on an actual archaeological excavation. I saw some good images of it a few years ago in Jerusalem.” He cautions that “there are many modern inscriptional forgeries on the market, as I have argued in various publications, for some fifteen years now. … The money that modern forgers and dealers can make on modern forgeries is astronomical, consistently in the five and six figure range. The motivation is strong. In this case, this papyrus was seized, but that does not mean that it could not have been produced in the modern period with the intent of marketing it.”

Prof. Maeir makes a similar point: “The lack of sufficient details on how the papyrus was obtained, due to the need of the IAA Anti-theft Unit to protect its sources, is understood from an operational point of view (and I fully believe them about this), but it creates an aura of secrecy and lack of credibility around this. And if in fact the papyrus was known for several years to other scholars as well, this makes the background of its discovery even more obscure.”

But while Prof. Maeir is urging a more substantial effort to prove the age of the ink on the papyrus, Prof. Rollston insists even that would not necessarily prove anything, since “the capacity is present for faked inks to be produced in the modern period that yield an ancient C-14 date. Moreover, of course, a clever forger might simply purchase some ancient inscription on the antiquities market (e.g., one with mundane content and so not a high-value inscription) and then carefully scrape the ink from that inscription and then mix that (dry) ink with water and then use that ink in a modern-forgery with sensational content.”

Prof. Shmuel Achituv of Hebrew University argued against the fraud accusation by both scholars, telling Ha’aretz he believes the fact that the papyrus was folded over when it was seized goes a long way to suggest it is not a forgery. “Would a forger purchase an ancient, dry and brittle papyrus, write on it text in a font that fits the seventh century BCE, and then fold it up and tie it with a rope, risking his entire effort would be damaged?” Prof. Achituv asked.

Achitov also suggested that two Hebrew words on the papyrus, “Yerushalma” and “Na’arata” (“her maidservant”) are rare and would not have been used by a forger, “even if he is well versed in Scripture. If I were a forger, I’d pick a more impressive text,” he said.

Both critics of the papyrus each have a possible personal agenda in this debate, which does not necessarily mean that they’re wrong. Prof. Maeir objects to what he terms the “geopolitical considerations” which, as he told students at Brigham Young University in Utah, “played a large role in early excavations shortly after the state of Israel was formed in 1948. Many archaeologists were looking specifically to help establish the ancient legitimacy of Jewish claims to the land of Palestine, which had been occupied by the Turks for centuries before World War I.”

Prof. Rollston was fired from the Emmanuel Christian Seminary in Tennessee after clashing with the seminary leadership over his controversial column in the Huffington Post condemning female discrimination in the Bible. The seminary argued that he would offend students and turn off donors. Rollston wrote, back in 2012, that “gender equality may not have been the norm two or three millennia ago, but it is essential. So, the next time someone refers to ‘biblical values,’ it’s worth mentioning to them that the Bible often marginalized women and that’s not something anyone should value.”

JNi.Media

Archaeologists Restore Second Temple Courtyard Flooring with Help from Mathematician

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Archaeologists from the Jerusalem-based Temple Mount Sifting Project are confident that they have successfully restored a unique architectural element of the Second Temple: a series of regally decorated floor tiles that adorned the porticos atop the Temple Mount, which were likely featured prominently in the courtyards of the Second Temple during the rule of King Herod in Jerusalem (37 to 4 BCE).

Frankie Snyder, a member of the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s team of researchers and an expert on ancient Herodian style flooring, said he succeeded in restoring the ornate tile patterns “using geometric principles, and through similarities found in tile design used by Herod at other sites.” Snyder, who has an academic background in both mathematics and Judaic Studies, explained that “this type of flooring, called ‘opus sectile,’ Latin for ‘cut work,’ is very expensive and was considered to be far more prestigious than mosaic tiled floors.”

Assortment of Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

Assortment of Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

“So far, we have succeeded in restoring seven potential designs of the majestic flooring that decorated the buildings of the Temple Mount,” said Snyder, who noted that there were no opus sectile floors in Israel prior to the time of King Herod. “The tile segments were perfectly inlaid such that one could not even insert a sharp blade between them.”

“It enables us to get an idea of the Temple’s incredible splendor,” said Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. The restored tiles will be presented to the general public on September 8, at the 17th Annual City of David Archaeological Conference.

Zigzag Module, Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

Zigzag Module, Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

“This represents the first time archaeologists have been able to successfully restore an element from the Herodian Second Temple complex,” said co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project Zachi Dvira.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project was established in response to the illegal removal of tons of antiquities-rich earth from the Temple Mount by the Islamic Waqf in 1999. It is located in the Tzurim Valley National Park, and is supported by the City of David Foundation and the Israel Archaeology Foundation. The initiative is run under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University and the Israel Parks & Nature Authority.

To date, approximately 600 colored stone floor tile segments have been uncovered, with more than 100 of them definitively dated to the Herodian Second Temple period. This style of flooring is consistent with those found in Herod’s palaces at Masada, Herodian, and Jericho, as well as in majestic palaces and villas in Italy, also attributed to the time of Herod. The tile segments, mostly imported from Rome, Asia Minor, Tunisia, and Egypt, were created from polished, multicolored stones cut in a variety of geometric shapes. A key characteristic of the Herodian tiles is their size, which corresponds to the Roman measurement of one foot, approximately 29.6 cm.

Herodian floor tiles Opus Collection / Courtesy City of David

Herodian floor tiles Opus Collection / Courtesy City of David

The possibility that large expanses of the Temple Mount during the Second Temple were covered with opus sectile flooring was first raised by archaeologist and director of the Jerusalem Walls National Park with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority Assaf Avraham in 2007.

Avraham’s theory was based on a description given by the Romano-Jewish historian Josephus (1st Century CE) who wrote, “… the uncovered [Temple Mount courtyard] was completely paved with stones of various types and colors…” (The Jewish War 5:2). Additionally, Talmudic literature records the magnificent construction of the Temple Mount, describing rows of marble in different colors — green, blue and white.

“Now, as a result of Frankie Snyder’s mathematical skills, we have succeeded in recreating the actual tile patterns,” said Dr. Barkay, stressing that “this represents the first time that we can see with our own eyes the splendor of the flooring that decorated the Second Temple and its annexes 2,000 years ago.”

Barkay related that in describing the Temple that Herod built, “the Talmud says that ‘Whoever has not seen Herod’s building has not seen a beautiful building in his life,'” so that although our generation has not yet merited to see the Temple in its glory, “with the discovery and restoration of these unique floor tiles we are now able to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Second Temple, even through this one distinctive characteristic.”

Since the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s inception in 2004, more than 200,000 volunteers from around the world have taken part in the sifting, representing an unprecedented phenomenon in the realm of archaeological research.

JNi.Media

Massive Traffic Jams Collateral Damage of Internal War in Likud

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

The normal start-of-the-week traffic jams have been more severe than usual Sunday morning, as a result of the limits on train service across the country. Police report severe traffic delays on route 1, connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and both cities to Ben Gurion International Airport. Traffic on the coastal highway, Route 2, is unusually heavy from Caesarea to Tel Aviv. The inner highway, Route 4, is likewise jammed all the way from Holon to Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, to Ra’ana in both directions. Route 5 connecting the coastal highway with Ariel in Samaria is also jammed. Route 20, which cuts through downtown Tel Aviv is jammed, too. Route 65, connecting Hadera with Afula through Umm al-Fahm in the Arab Triangle is also at a standstill.

On Saturday, the Israel Railways Corporation announced that essential infrastructure works that were not carried out on Shabbat by decree of Prime Minister Netanyahu would be done Sunday, thus paralyzing most of the train service until 7 PM. The stoppage came against the background of Haredi party resistance to carrying out work on Shabbat, and the apparent capitulation of the prime minister, but judging by what the Haredi press had to say Sunday morning, this was more a provocation by Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) than an actual crisis.

The daily Yated Ne’eman cited MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) who accused Katz of acting out of revenge rather than caring for the services of his ministry. “The abominable conduct of Yisrael Katz proves that he does not care about danger to life, and not about the train, only about politics and his need to take revenge against the prime minister,” Gafni said.

Train service has been greatly curtailed Sunday morning. The IDF has added buses to transport soldiers returning to base from their Shabbat break. IDF representatives will guide confused soldier to the right buses. Israel’s inter-city bus companies have increased their active fleets Sunday to help passengers, which, of course, contributes to the traffic jams on the highways.

Leftwing parties Meretz and Labor called for protest rallies at the dark train stations Saturday night, but only a few hundred protesters showed up at the Tel Aviv rally, and only a few dozens at the Haifa event. The real fight over the train works and train service is being waged inside the Likud Party, between Prime Minister Netanyahu and his rebellious Transport Minister and Likud Secretariat Chairman Yisral Katz. (See: Coalition Chair: No Coming back from Netanyahu Vs. Transport Minister Crisis)

JNi.Media

NASA, Israel Space Agency Working Together on Reaching Mars

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

NASA administrator Charles Bolden says the space agency is going to be working together with Israel on reaching the planet Mars in the next 20 years.

Bolden spoke at Bar Ilan University earlier this week about NASA’s journey to Mars, and tonight (Tuesday, June 7) he’s slated to receive an honorary doctorate from the university.

Approximately 250 experiments take place in each 6-month expedition on the International Space Station, Bolden said.

Now the NASA administrator has told Bar Ilan University that he is talking with the Israel Space Agency about participating in those experiments.

Bolden says the leadership at the U.S. space agency believes life existed on Mars at one time, and that it was very similar to that of Earth. Today that is not the case, ho wever, and NASA is trying to figure out why.

Hana Levi Julian

800 Jewish Mothers from 10 Countries Renaissance in Israel

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

More than 800 Jewish mothers from 10 countries on Monday celebrated their Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) life-changing journey to Israel at a mega event at the Wohl Center, Bar Ilan University, organized in partnership with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

Headlining the event was Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), who discussed the future of the Diaspora-Israel relationship, the role of women in strengthening ties between the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and current issues facing Israel. “Being a Jew has a meaning – we have a mission – to fix the world,” Bennett told the gathering, adding that “Israel is an exemplar to the world.”

Also speaking at the mega event was Sivan Yaari, the founder and CEO of Innovation Africa, and Zohar Raviv, the international vice president of education for Taglit Birthright Israel.

The Jewish mothers journeyed to Israel from Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Germany, Mexico, Panama, South Africa and the US. A few Israeli mothers participated as well.

Featuring the theme “Beginnings,” the JWRP’s “Momentum” trips empower women, inspiring them to engage with Israel and Israelis, connect to their Jewish identities, develop new leadership skills and – ultimately – build their own communities back home. The Momentum trips stretch from the mystical Galilee city of Tsfat to the ancient desert mountaintop fortress Masada, and feature extensive itineraries and curricula from Jewish values to contemporary Israeli society.

JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik, referring to the Momentum participants, said: “We always say the last day of the trip is the first day of their journey. For the very first time, we will be saying ‘l’hitraot’ (see you later) to 400 Jewish mothers finishing their trip, while welcoming hundreds more who literally just landed. There are no words to describe the power of 800 Jewish mothers under the same roof, with all of the energy, emotions and inspiration. They return to their families ready to lift them into a new commitment to Israel, their Jewish values and their home communities.”

The JWRP and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs recently announced an historic partnership to dramatically expand the JWRP’s life-changing trips for more than 5,600 Jewish mothers from 26 countries. The landmark partnership for 2016 and 2017 will also allow JWRP and the Ministry to involve women from Jewish communities facing increased threats of anti-Semitism and economic hardship, especially in Argentina, Cuba, the former Soviet Union, France, the US, and Canada.

Since 2009, more than 7,300 Jewish mothers from 150 partner organizations in 26 countries spanning several continents including Australia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America have experienced the Momentum trips. Participants commit to getting involved in activities when they return home, including community events, Israel engagement programs, Jewish education, global learning, leadership development and Momentum Israel missions for husbands.

David Israel

Egyptian Amulet Bearing Name of Pharaoh Found in Soil from Temple Mount

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

A rare amulet, more than 3,200 years old, bearing the name of the Egyptian ruler Thutmose III, Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty who reigned from 1479 – 1425 BCE, was discovered at the Temple Mount Sifting Project located in Jerusalem’s Tzurim Valley National Park in soil discarded from the Temple Mount, and was only recently deciphered by archeologists. The project is conducted under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University, with the support of the City of David Foundation and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Thutmose III was one of the most important pharaohs in Egypt’s New Kingdom and is credited with establishing the Egyptian imperial province in Canaan, conducting 17 military campaigns to Canaan and Syria and defeating a coalition of Canaanite kings at the city of Megiddo in 1457 BCE,” stated Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “Thutmose III referred to himself as ‘the one who has subdued a thousand cities,’ and it is known that for more than 300 years, during the Late Bronze Age, Canaan and the city-state of Jerusalem were under Egyptian dominion, likely explaining the presence of this amulet in Jerusalem.”

The amulet was discovered by Neshama Spielman, a twelve year-old girl from Jerusalem who came with her family to participate in the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “While I was sifting, I came across a piece of pottery that was different from others I had seen, and I immediately thought that maybe I had found something special,” said Spielman. “It’s amazing to find something thousands of years old from ancient Egypt all the way here in Jerusalem! Celebrating Passover this year is going to be extra meaningful to me.”

The Passover festival, commemorating the Biblical account of the ancient Israelites Exodus from Egypt, will be celebrated later this week.

Egyptian amulet bearing the name of the Egyptian ruler, Thutmose III. – Credit: Zachi Dvira

Egyptian amulet bearing the name of the Egyptian ruler, Thutmose III. – Credit: Zachi Dvira

Since the project’s inception in 2004, more than 170,000 volunteers from Israel and around the world have taken part in the sifting, representing an unprecedented phenomenon in the realm of archaeological research.

The small amulet is in the shape of a pendant, missing its bottom part, measures 21 mm wide, 4 mm thick and its preserved length is 16 mm. A loop on top allowed it to be strung and hung on the neck. The raised decoration displays a cartouche — an oval frame surrounding Egyptian hieroglyphics bearing the name of the Egyptian ruler. Above the oval framing is the symbol of an eye, and to its right are remnants of yet another hieroglyphic symbol depicting a cobra of which parts of the head and tail are preserved.

While Egyptian scarabs bearing the name of Thutmose III have previously been discovered in Jerusalem, this represents the first time his name has been found in Jerusalem adorning an amulet. “Objects bearing the name of Thutmose III continued to be produced in Egypt long after the time of his reign, reflecting the significance and lasting impression of this king,” said Barkay.

The amulet can be reconstructed based upon the discovery of an identical pendant found in Nahal Iron in northern Israel, announced in 1978,” said Zachi Dvira, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “Along with that pendant, which also bore the name of Thutmose III, was another amulet bearing the name of King Seti I, an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled Egypt during the late 14th – early 13th centuries BCE. This seems to indicate that both pendants date to the same time period, namely the late 14th – early 13th century BCE.”

The research of the amulet was conducted by Israel Antiquities Authority Egyptologist Baruch Brandl.

“A discovery such as this is particularly symbolic at this time of year, with the Passover festival just a few days away, and represents greetings from the ancient past,” said Assaf Avraham, archeologist and director of the Jerusalem Walls National Park from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Neshama Spielman, 12 years-old from Jerusalem, holding the amulet bearing the name of the Egyptian ruler, Thutmose III. – Credit: Adina Graham

Neshama Spielman, 12 years-old from Jerusalem, holding the amulet bearing the name of the Egyptian ruler, Thutmose III. – Credit: Adina Graham

The Temple Mount Sifting Project, under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University and with the support of the City of David Foundation and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, was initiated in response to the illegal removal of tons of earth from the Temple Mount by the Islamic Waqf in 1999 without any archaeological supervision.

“Since the Temple Mount has never been excavated, the ancient artifacts retrieved in the Sifting Project provide valuable and previously inaccessible information. The many categories of finds are among the largest and most varied ever found in Jerusalem. Even though they have been extracted from their archaeological context, most of these artifacts can be identified and dated by comparing them with those found at other sites,” said Dvira.

In addition to the ongoing sifting of the earth illegally removed from the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf, The Temple Mount Sifting Project has focused its efforts on the enormous tasks of processing and studying the finds and preparing them for scientific publication. Presently, more than half a million finds are still waiting to be processed and analyzed in their laboratory.

JNi.Media

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