web analytics
December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

Statue of Egyptian Official Found at Tel-Hazor

Monday, July 25th, 2016

In a historic find, a large fragment of an Egyptian statue measuring 45 X 40 centimeters, made of lime-stone, was discovered In the course of the current season of excavations at Tel-Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Only the lower part of the statue survived, depicting the crouching feet of a male figure, seated on a square base on which a few lines in Egyptian hieroglyphic script are inscribed.

Hazor is the largest biblical-era site in Israel, covering some 200 acres, and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The population of Hazor in the second millennium BCE is estimated to have been about 20,000, making it the largest and most important city in the entire region. Its size and strategic location on the route connecting Egypt and Babylon made it “the head of all those kingdoms” according to the biblical book of Joshua (Joshua 11:10). Hazor’s conquest by the Israelites opened the way to the conquest and settlement of the Israelites in Canaan. The city was rebuilt and fortified by King Solomon and prospered in the days of Ahab and Jeroboam II, until its final destruction by the Assyrians in 732 BCE.

The archaeologists estimate that the complete statue would equal the size of a fully grown man. At present only a preliminary reading of the inscriptions has been attempted, and the title and name of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue are not yet entirely clear.

The monumental Egyptian statute of a high official from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, found in the administrative palace at Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. / Photo credit: Shlomit Bechar

The monumental Egyptian statute of a high official from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, found in the administrative palace at Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. / Photo credit: Shlomit Bechar

The statue was originally placed either in the official’s tomb or in a temple – most probably of the Egyptian god Ptah – and most of the texts inscribed on the statue’s base include words of praise to the official who may have served and most probably practiced his duties in the region of Memphis, the primary cult center of the god Ptah. They also include the customary Egyptian funerary formula ensuring eternal supply of offerings for the statue’s owner. This statue, found this year, together with the sphinx fragment of the Egyptian king Mycerinus (who ruled Egypt in the 25th century BCE) discovered at the site by the research team three years ago, are the only monumental Egyptian statues found so far in second millennium contexts in the entire Levant.

The discovery of these two statues, in the same building currently being excavated by the research team, indicates the special importance of the building (probably the administrative palace of the ruler of the city), as well as that of the entire city of Hazor.

According to Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has been conducting excavations at Tel-Hazor for over 27 years, Hazor is the most important site from the Biblical period. Shlomit Bechar, a doctoral student at the Institute of Archaeology who has been excavating at Hazor for a decade, is co-director of the Hazor excavations and director of the main excavation area.

In the course of close to 30 years of excavation, fragments of 18 different Egyptian statues, both royal and private, dedicated to Egyptian kings and officials, including two sphinxes, were discovered at Hazor. Most of these statues were found in layers dated to the Late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries BCE) – corresponding to the New Kingdom in Egypt. This is the largest number of Egyptian statues found so far in any site in the Land of Israel, although there is no indication that Hazor was one of the Egyptian strongholds in Southern Canaan nor of the presence of an Egyptian official at Hazor during the Late Bronze Age.

JNi.Media

Israeli Flag Burns Again in Cairo, But El-Sisi Limits Protest

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Egyptian journalists burned Israeli flags and shouted anti-Israel slogans in Cairo last week on the steps of the Syndicate of Journalists building.

The demonstration was held July 13 by Egyptian journalists to protest the visit to Israel and meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri on July 10.

It was the first such visit in nine years and a basic act of normalization for most countries. But in Egypt, it sparked outrage. Rumors that the two government leaders had enjoyed their time together only added fuel to the fire, so to speak.

Irate journalists were doubly upset that security forces from the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had not allowed their demonstration to get out of hand. Moreover, mention of the protest didn’t even make it to the media until a week had gone by.

Protesters at the time complained bitterly about the “many people who were going to participate” but who had not been allowed to “pass the barriers” because “they lacked press credentials to join the Syndicate event.” All were blocked, they said, by government security forces. Nevertheless, the demonstrators carried on.

“We came … to burn this despicable flag, the flag of the apes and pigs,” said the leader of the irate protesters. “Today we will burn a picture of the one called the ‘Prime Minister of the Zionists’ and that of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, and we will burn the Israeli flag.'”

The group of demonstrators is seen in a brief video of the protest posted on YouTube by Daily News Egypt newspaper, chanting and using a cigarette lighter to set fire to a bed sheet transformed into a crude effigy of an Israeli flag, and a few pictures, each with a big red “X.”

Their anger and frustration is clear, as is their hate, which seems directed nearly as much at their own president as it is at his Jewish northern neighbor.

Hana Levi Julian

Turkish Tourism Worst Casualty of Failed Coup, Terrorism

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Turkish Hoteliers Federation head Osman Ayık told the Hürriyet Daily News that Turkey must improve its reputation abroad in order for its troubled tourism sector to prosper again. “The confidence factor that Turkey projected abroad has eroded,” Ayık said. “There is a certain perception in Europe about Turkey and arrivals from the continent have seen a sharp decrease. We need to take steps to reverse that trend.”

Tourism is an essential part of the Turkish economy, employing 8% of the country’s workforce, and it has taken a severe blow from the failed military coup this past weekend, and earlier in this year of relentless terrorist attacks, with a 10% decline in arriving tourists in the first quarter of 2016. According to Euromonitor International, the number of international visitors to Turkey is expected to decline by 5.2% overall in 2016.

Since the coup attempt, the Federal Aviation Administration has not allowed US airlines to fly to or from Istanbul and Ankara, and has blocked all carriers, foreign and domestic, from flying into the US from Turkey even indirectly. The State Department warned US citizens to avoid travel to the tourism sites in southeastern Turkey, and the UK Foreign Office issued an advisory to its citizens against travel to Turkey because terrorism threats are still high there.

Roenen Karaso, a VP in Israel’s tourism company ISSTA, told The Marker that Turkey is “a dead destination. Today we’re talking about bottom prices for mini-vacations to Turkey for 40% less compared with last year. For instance, three nights in motels, all included, in Topkapi or Kremlin in Antalya (Turkey’s resort destination on its southern Mediterranean region, known as the Turquoise Coast for its blue waters) will cost a family (two parents with two children) $400, compared with $600 a year ago — and there are still no takers.”

Karaso said that even connecting flights, the bread and butter of Istanbul’s international airports which until the coup continued to thrive despite the threat of terrorism, “are starting to show a decline of about 10% in orders compared with the previous Sunday.”

For Russian, European and Israeli vacationers, Turkey is not in the cards this summer, which will go down as Turkey’s lost summer. Efraim Kramer, CEO of tourism website Eshet Tours, told The Marker that tourism rates in Turkey “have come down because the Russians have stopped traveling to Turkey, and the Germans and English travel there less as well. We’re seeing an international phenomenon of tourists from Christian countries avoiding Muslim countries — we’ve seen it in Egypt, Tunisia and Marocco, and now in Turkey, too.”

Ayık told the Hürriyet Daily News that “the most fundamental lesson to be learned is to be in harmony with the world. It is the gist of our job. Our sector is one that goes hand-in-hand with peace. That’s why Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s statement that we will increase our friends and decrease our enemies will have a positive reflection on our sector. No matter how beautiful your country might be, if you don’t get along well with your neighborhood that means serious trouble for tourism.”

JNi.Media

After 9 Years Egypt Foreign Minister Meeting Netanyahu to ‘Promote Peace Process’

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrives in Israel Sunday to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the first visit of an Egyptian FM in nine years. The PM told his cabinet meeting Sunday that he would meet with the visitor twice, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. Shoukry met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas two weeks ago.

According to Egyptian diplomats speaking to Ma’an, Shoukry’s visit will focus on Egyptian proposals to kickstart the peace process once again, as well as the French peace initiative. The man behind today’s visit, according to Netanyahu, was his special emissary, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, the chief negotiator on behalf of Netanyahu in the Israeli negotiating team.

According to a statement released by Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid, the Shoukry visit is the next step in a process begun by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who a few months ago called on all the parties in Israel to unite around the peace process with the Palestinians and on Arab countries to also enlist to promote the peace.

Since he has managed to expand his ruling coalition from 61 to 67 members, Netanyahu has been speaking freely about his desire for a regional political move, a topic he raised in his meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago, in Rome.

David Israel

A Meeting with Magda Haroun, Head of Egypt’s Jewish Community

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Hard to believe our trip to Egypt lasted only four days given all the meetings we jammed into it. Dr Omer Salem hosted Rabbi Yaakov Nagen of the Otniel Yeshiva, Fulbright Scholar Dr Joseph Ringel and myself for a tour of Cairo in March 2016, to help develop personal relationships, so needed between our peoples.

We assumed that theology was the real stumbling block between Muslim and Jew, and expected to enter into theological debate. We found, however, that the overriding concern of those we met was the quality of life for their Arab brethren in the Holy Land.

We also learned that misinformation abounds in Egypt concerning the various philosophies that led to the founding of the state of Israel. We frequently heard this phrase, ‘Israel was founded only to be a Jewish state.’ This is inaccurate both from a religious perspective and from that of the founders of modern Zionism. The Torah has an extensive framework for the inclusion of the non-Jewish “ger toshav”, based upon Talmudic tractate Avodah Zarah 64b -65a, and Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God.”

Regarding the oft-repeated statement, ‘Israel was founded only to be a Jewish state’ – Dr Joseph Ringel shares: “when I began learning Arabic, I was exposed to this perception in the Arab world.” And he was inspired to educate himself further. “The chief theorists for the Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl and Asher Ginsberg (pen-name: Ahad ha-‘Am) held that Arabs had an important rule to play in Jewish society in the land of Israel and demanded they be treated equally. Aspects of religious Zionism had a strong universal element believing that Zion would become the harbinger of the messianic age and the conduit for divine blessing to flow to the entire world. Socialist Zionists regarded Zion as a place to create an ideal equality between all classes and ethnicities – Arabs included. The fact that less conciliatory voices exist does not mean Zionism as a whole is tainted; indeed, the existence of violent people in any national or religious movement does not mean the entire movement is tainted.”

We thus need to ensure we are educated about the rights of the non-Jewish residents of the land of Israel, as enshrined both in Torah and in modern Zionist thought.

Most importantly, we must ensure these rights are a reality. This closes the loop with the above noted concern expressed to us in Egypt – the condition of their Arab brethren in the Holy Land.

Dr Ringel adds, “the point of dialogue is to face various perceptions, shedding light upon who we are, and learning from each other.”

Here is one example:

Magda Haroun, President of the Egyptian Jewish Community

Magda Haroun deserves credit. The head of what remains of Egypt’s Jewish community, she openly maintains her Jewish identity at self-sacrifice, and reminisces about a cosmopolitan, tolerant Egyptian past, the memory of which she insists must be preserved.

She graciously hosted us at the Shaarei Shamayim synagogue, Adly Street, Cairo. Hesitating a little before this small group of kippa-clad and scarf wearing orthodox Jews, she said, “I have views you probably will not agree with.” Rabbi Yaakov Nagen wisely responded, “we want to hear your views, if we wanted to hear only what we agree with. we could have stayed at home.”

First, some stories of Magda defending her Jewish identity in the face of rejection. When she was a child in school, the teacher denigrated Jews. The entire class turned to look at her, and she walked out. As a young adult, she requested a birth certificate, and the officials demanded her full contact information. When she asked why, they responded – “for security reasons,” as they suspected every Jew of spying for Israel. She refused to furnish the information, and left without a certificate. 1

She told us that upon her divorce, she retained her Jewish identity despite the threat that her husband, as a Muslim divorcing a non-Muslim wife, could take custody of their daughters at any time. She thus did not admit that she could not afford the girls’ expenses when he witheld financial support. She refused to give up her Jewish identity, even to rid herself of the constant threat she would lose her daughters.

Magda Haroun holds onto her dream, and her dream is this: Egyptian society will reclaim its cosmopolitan and tolerant heritage. Dr Ringel shared, “I studied the history of Jews in the Islamic world, and I know Egyptian Jews, some of whom were expelled, some of whom had traumatic experiences but some of whom have very strong memories. What I love about Egypt’s history is that it was such a beautiful culture. Egypt was a refuge for Jews from Yemen and from Russia, from Syria and Iraq. Yiddish was spoken here, both Karaites and Rabbinites lived here, and they all got along.”

Magda nodded enthusiastically, we were on the same page. She added, “Egypt was the land of refuge for people suffering all over the world. Look at Musa Ibn Maimon (Maimonedes), he was on the way to Palestine but he came through here and stayed here and died here.”

And she offers an inspiring humanitarian proposal. One of the Jewish cemeteries is under threat of falling into disrepair and neglect. It is located in the middle of the Bassateen slums. Magda’s dream is to get the Jewish community worldwide involved in renovating the slums, developing its schools and parks. “I cannot just build a wall around the slums. When the area will be developed, the residents of Bassateen will be the first to take care of the Jewish cemetery.” And they will feel positively about Jews as well.

I was in the company of visionaries. A great moment. Then we started getting out of step on two subjects: Magda’s view of the state of Israel, and the future of the remaining Torah scrolls in Egypt. But hang on, getting out of step during efforts at dialogue is to be expected.

Divisions in her School; Seeing her Relatives Emigrate

Regarding her view of the state of Israel, I wish to provide a bit of context first. Magda described what it was like as a child to suddenly have her schoolmates divided along religious lines. She studied in a French school, a lycee, and never knew who was Christian, Jew or Muslim, until they started imposing religion in the schools, after 1956. Then, they were divided up and sent to different classes to learn their own religion. No classes for Judaism, Magda was sent to the detention room.

Magda continues, “It was painful for me to see my relatives leave Egypt. They left for two reasons, the founding of the state of Israel and the rise of pan-Arabism. My father was a humanitarian, he loved humanity, in front of G-d, in front of each other, we are all equal. I never learned to make a difference

between black, white, poor, rich. When we were all divided up along religious lines at school, I said to my father that my Christian friends know what to do to make G-d happy, my Muslim friends know what to do to make G-d happy, what am I supposed to do? He led me to the mirror and said, ‘if when you look at yourself in the mirror, your eyes do not go down in shame, you know you have hurt no one, then you are making G-d happy.’ ”

Loyalty to Your Country – Even When that Country Betrays You

Magda made a statement that I would hear as a sentiment shared by other Egyptian Jews in days past: ”I was born in Egypt, I will live in Egypt and I will die in Egypt.”

That tenacity of identity and loyalty did not prevent the expulsion of the Jewish community from Egypt in the late 1950’s. Dr Ringel elaborates: the expulsions began under Nasser, following the 1956 war. Many Jews who lived in Egypt were not Egyptian citizens, as most of the Jews (with the exception of the indigenous Jewish population) hailed from foreign countries, which included Ottoman lands, Eastern Europe and Italy. Egypt was under de facto British control until after World War ll, despite some local autonomy, so that it made sense for these often multi-lingual families to acquire European passports. In addition, once autonomous Egypt began registering its population for citizenship, there was some discrimination against non-Muslims. In 1956, Nasser nationalized all foreign assets, and the fact that many Jews still only had European passports, despite their having lived in Egypt for a number of generations, made the expulsions easier to implement.

Magda said that a member of the Muslim brotherhood, Mr Essam El Eryan, did express regrets about the expulsions. “I thanked him for opening the Pandora’s box, but it is going to be very difficult for Jews to return, they left and put their roots in other countries already.”

And now there were six. Not six thousand or six hundred, but six Jews left in Egypt. But Magda was holding on, echoing a proud (though not very effective) Egyptian Jewish sentiment, determined to preserve the cosmopolitan ideal.

Haroun’s Demand: Egypt Must Honor its Jewish Heritage

When she became leader of Egypt’s Jewish community in 2013, Magda gave interviews in Egyptian newspapers and on television, with the conviction that Egyptian society be aware of its former thriving Jewish society and that the nation’s remaining Jews should be respected. She told us, “I walk in the streets and people know I am a Jew.” When I asked, “Do you feel safe in Egypt?” she responded adamantly “Of course I do!” She admits her sense of security is not shared by the other Jews who remain. “They are afraid of being suspected as spies for Israel.” So her stance is part reality, part ideological determination.

Magda said, “I have asked for help from Jewish communities around the world to preserve the Bassateen area because it is part of the heritage of this country. They want something in return.” She paused, her tone foreboding, grim, “they want the Torah scrolls.”

Dr Ringel explained, “they are afraid the Torah scrolls will go into disuse” and added that in order to achieve conciliation, the challenge of preserving both the Torah scrolls and the Jewish cemeteries should not be linked. Keep the issues separate. (He emphasizes that he was speaking as a private citizen in reaction to the information presented to him at the time and not representing any side.)

 

Dr Joseph Ringel with the Torah scrolls

Dr Joseph Ringel with the Torah scrolls

Keeping issues separate is probably a good rule of thumb in conciliation work. Right the wrong, improve a situation, without bartering. Deuteronomy 16:20 – “Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue so that you will live and take possession of the land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you.” The pasuk does not say to pursue justice as long as you get something in return. Psalm 43:15 – “Seek peace and pursue it.” According to the Midrash: “Seek peace, and pursue it means that you should seek it in your own place, and pursue it even to another place as well.” (Leviticus Rabbah 9:9)

Magda Haroun and the State of Israel

Magda does not take money from Israel nor does she use a Rabbi from Israel. Her position against Zionism is part of her conviction in a cosmopolitan, varied society, and that a state in the modern age

should not be based on religion. “Maybe it made sense in the sixth century, but not today.” And she joined in the street protests in Cairo, 2011, against an Islamic government.

Her stance may also be influenced by the fact that, according to physician and author Dr Wakif Moustafa, “There are still laws on the Egyptian statute that criminalize Zionism and, should any Egyptian citizen declare themselves a Zionist, they risk losing their citizenship.”

Her boycott of Israel may well soften. Sure makes me feel bad. Indeed, Egyptian leaders such as Dr. Aly ElSamman call for the softening of the tatbia – boycott – of Israel. “Tatbia is not logical or ethical, we have a peace agreement.” 2

As the tide changes and there are increased calls in Egypt towards warmer relations with Israel, perhaps the relations between Israel’s Jews and the remaining Egyptian Jews can warm up as well.

Magda’s view of the state of Israel was a challenge to me, though it must be understood that it is a nuanced view, and as Rabbi Nagen said, “if we wanted to hear only what we agree with, we could have stayed home.”

And a further challenge waited in the wings – see next article: Hitting a Wall, Building a New Bridge. You Need to Take that Risk.

{This two part article emphasizes the process of conciliation and its challenges, it is not an exhaustive piece on Ms Haroun’s views and personal history.}

For more information on Magda Haroun, see:

http://www.cairoscene.com/BusinessAndPolitics/Partial-Collapse-in-Jewish-Synagogue-in-Alexandria

http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/interview-magda-haroun-head-egypt-s-jewish-community

See also:

Egypt: The Elusive Arab Spring, Dr. Wakif Mustafa, Gilgamesh Publishing 2014

Rights of the Ger Toshav in the Land of Israel: http://www.wikinoah.org/index.php?title=Ger_Toshav

Rebecca Abrahamson

Poll: Saudis, Egyptians, Want Regional Peace, Shun Trump, Palestinian Deal

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Ahead of the 16th annual Herzliya Conference, the Institute for Policy & Strategy (IPS) at IDC Herzliya has released the results of two surveys conducted in Egypt and Saudi Arabia relating to the upcoming US Presidential elections.

The key findings of the polls were as follows:

Q: Should the next US President promote an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement or a regional peace agreement?

Egypt: 25.5% – Israeli-Palestinian Agreement 32.1% – Regional Agreement 42.3% – Should Not Promote Peace with Israel

Saudi Arabia: 18.9% – Israeli-Palestinian Agreement 41.6% – Regional Agreement 39.4% – Should Not Promote Peace with Israel

Q: Will the next US President change relations between the US and the Arab world?

Egypt: 31.7% – Change for the better 19.2% – Change for the worse 49.0% – No change

Saudi Arabia: 27.6% – Change for the better 27.4% – Change for the worse 45.0% – No change

Q: Was President Obama a good president for the Muslim world?

Egypt: 2.5% – Very Good 14.2% – Good 38.1% – Mediocre 24.5% – Bad 20.7% – Very Bad

Saudi Arabia: 2.6% – Very Good 17.5% – Good 36.1% – Mediocre 23.8% – Bad 20.1% – Very Bad

Q: Will the next US President cancel the nuclear agreement with Iran?

Egypt: 19.7% – Will cancel 80.3% – Won’t cancel

Saudi Arabia: 13.6% – Will cancel 86.4% – Won’t cancel

Q: Will the next US President be ready to send ground troops to fight ISIS?

Egypt: 32.3% – Yes 48.3% – No 19.4% – Don’t know

Saudi Arabia: 17.9% – Yes 58.1% – No 24.0% – Don’t know

Q: Which (Presidential) candidate do you prefer?

Egypt: 35.9% – Hillary Clinton 3.8% – Donald Trump 8.5% – Bernie Sanders 10.4% – Ted Cruz 41.4% – None of them

Saudi Arabia: 30.2% – Hillary Clinton 6.0% – Donald Trump 7.3% – Bernie Sanders 6.0% – Ted Cruz 50.3% – None of them

The polls were conducted in Arabic over the past 6 weeks using a random sampling from the regions of each country.

471 respondents in Egypt; margin of error +/- 4.5% 464 respondents in Saudi Arabia; margin of error +/- 4.6%

The 16th annual Herzliya Conference starts tomorrow, June 14 and runs through June 16.

JNi.Media

Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh’s Nephew Hospitalized in Israel

Monday, June 13th, 2016

The nephew of Hamas de facto prime minister Ismail Haniyeh was hospitalized over the weekend at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

The report, broadcast by Israel’s Channel 2 television news, did not include details of why the nephew was admitted. The report could not be independently confirmed.

Israel has confirmed that Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group has been “partnering” with the growing local Sinai Province branch of the now-international Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization, based primarily in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

Hamas has been providing medical aid, communications and technical support as well as assistance with funding resources to the group via its Gaza tunneling system, some of which snakes its way beneath the Egyptian border — and, at least until recently — under the Israeli border as well.

The Sinai Province group, once known as Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis, is also linked to the Muslim Brotherhood — as is Hamas — and is committed to toppling the Cairo government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hamas-pm-ismail-haniyehs-nephew-hospitalized-in-israel/2016/06/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: