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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Finding Moses (Part I)

Friday, September 21st, 2012

As the year draws to a close we have the book of Deuteronomy before us week after week, reviewing many of the halachos and reminding us of our harrowing trek through the wilderness. Moshe Rabbeinu is the stern narrator, guiding us to the very edge of the Promised Land, a final step he will never take. He pleads with God to let him enter the Land to no avail. Finally, “Moses, servant of Hashem, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of Hashem. And He buried him in the depression, in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, and no one knows his burial place to this day. (Deut. 34: 5).” We complete our reading of the Torah with tears in our eyes for our faithful teacher, prophet and leader, whose life seems to end in angst and frustration. What was the inner life of our brave and tenacious leader?

Moses at the Red Sea (detail) (ca. 235) fresco at Dura Europos Synagogue
Courtesy National Museum, Damascus, Syria

He was everywhere and then mysteriously disappeared in early Jewish Art. In all of the ancient synagogue mosaics that have survived from the first 500 years of the Common Era, not one depicts Moses. And yet in the Dura Europos synagogue murals, created around 235 CE in what is now Syria, we see Moses depicted no less than eight times, easily the most represented figure in all the 28 narratives depicted. We see his rescue from the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter in extensive images at Dura featuring Pharaoh, his royal court, the midwives, Yocheved and Miriam, as well as a mysterious female figure fetching the baby Moses from his floating basket. Higher up on the synagogue wall multiple images of Moses are seen; heroically leading us out of Egypt, parting the sea and bringing the sea back to destroy the Egyptian army. Further along he proudly presides and towers over the Miraculous Well (Numbers 21:16-20) that sustained us after Miriam dies. Moses sustains us and then, in this ancient visual narrative, disappears. His poignant death is not even alluded to.

In Ravenna, Italy there flourished a school of Christian mosaic decoration between the 5th to 7th centuries that have yet to be surpassed in beauty and opulence. These churches and monuments formed the capital of the Byzantine Church in Italy, most notably the Basilica of San Vitale (548). These extensive and lush mosaics in the polygonal apse (altar) depict the Empress Theodora on one side and the Emperor Justinian on the other. Immediately adjacent to them are the biblical episodes of Abraham and the Three Angels and the Sacrifice of Isaac opposite the sacrifices of Abel and Melchizedech to God. Significantly, Moses is prominently featured three times. He is tenderly guarding his father-in-law’s sheep and right above that is removing his sandals before what appears to be the Burning Bush conflated with the fiery Mountain of Revelation. On the other side is Moses accepting the Law from the Hand of God. In each image Moses is smiling and clean-shaven, depicted with a halo and in typical Byzantine Roman garb that is, for that matter, much like many of the figures in Dura Europos three hundred years earlier.

Moses Tending Sheep and at the Burning Bush (548) mosaic at St. Vitale
Courtesy Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

While for us these narrative episodes depict the beginning of our redemption as a people and the Covenant at Sinai, for Byzantine Christians the meaning was considerably more complex, almost certainly colored by the interpretations of typology. This form of Christian biblical analysis seeks to synthesize events in the Hebrew bible with the Christian scriptures, notable the belief that much of the Tanach is but an allegory that predicts the life of Jesus. Therefore Moses tending sheep foreshadows Jesus as the Good Shepherd, a humble Moses called by God predicts Jesus calling his humble disciples and the giving of the Law at Sinai reflects the new Christian covenant. This was a prominent form of Christian exegesis to give Jewish subjects an explicit Christian meaning from the time of the early Church, flourishing in the Middle Ages and prevalent up through the Protestant Reformation. Parenthetically it should be noted that Jews have used typology as a means of exegesis from the time of the Mechilta of Rabi Ishmael, a 3rd century midrash on Exodus, not to mention the fact that the Ramban was quite fond of this method of analysis based on the maxim, “ma’aseh avot siman levanim.” But one example of this is on the verse; “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years.” …that Jacob’s descent into Egypt alludes to our present exile at the hand of the ‘fourth beast,’ which represents Rome.” (Ramban on Genesis 47:28.) The simple faith of Moses here depicted does not even hint at his tumultuous past nor the burdens of leading a stiff-necked people.

Netanyahu: Europe Must Intensify Sanctions, Declare Hezbollah a Terrorist Organization

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

JERUSALEM, Israel, Sept. 5, 2012–Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi this afternoon, reiterating his call on the international community to “set a clear redline for Iran” as well as for economic sanctions “to be intensified.”

While Netanyahu said “we appreciate the efforts that you have made and that others in Europe are making” he asked that Europe “declare Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, a terrorist organization.”

Milan’s Jews Condemn Meeting of Right-Wing Movements

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Milan’s Jewish community has condemned a meeting of European extreme right-wing movements held at a Milan hotel Friday and Saturday.

In a statement, the Milan Jewish community expressed “alarm” at the meeting, which is to include representatives of  Hungary’s Jobbik Party, the French National Front and Britain’s British National Party, among others.

They all form part of an alliance of “national” parties across Europe. Italy’s far-right movement, the Fiamma Tricolore (Tri-color Flame), is hosting the meeting.

“These organizations want to turn back the clock to the darkest period of European history,” the statement said. “The democratic institutions in the city must prevent it.”

It called on Italian authorities to see if there were provisions under Italy’s anti-racism and anti-incitement laws to “cancel this worrying gathering, even at the last minute.”

The Italy-Israel Association issued a similar statement, and the Jewish member of parliament from Milan, Emanuele Fiano, presented a note to the Interior Minister expressing concern that Milan would be the scene of a “meeting of European neo-fascist forces that, as always in history, try to take advantage of the difficult social situation to propagate their ideologies of hatred and death.”

Foster Son of Jewish Mom Leads Italy to Final

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Mario Balotelli, who scored two amazing goals against Germany June 28, to take Italy into the Euro 12 soccer championship final against Spain on Sunday (which they lost 4-0, and were totally outclassed by the world champion) – grew up as the foster son of a Jewish mother.

Balotelli talked about his adoptive Jewish mother when the Italian national squad visited Auschwitz ahead of the start of the games (Many teams did it this year, possibly because the games were held this year in both Poland and the Ukraine. It’s probably a good thing to let the players know what their hosts are capable of.)

JTA reported that “a white supremacist website called Stormfront attacked Balotelli, who is black, with vicious racist and anti-Semitic insults.”

He's black and Jewish -- I wish he played for Israel...

He’s black and Jewish — I wish he played for Israel…

“He’s black and Jewish he should play for Israel not Italy,” wrote one commenter on Stormfront, as reported by JTA.

I searched the Stormfront site, a huge message board system, really, for the comment, which, frankly, didn’t register as so vicious and racist on my scale. But all I found there was another picture of Balotelli and his mom, with the statement: “Filthy disgusting nation wreckers.”

There was another message, celebrating the fact that JTA gave Stormfront a plug…

Oh, those Nazis and Jews, when will they ever learn to get along…

I’ve been a fan of the Italian team since 2006, when they made millions of Germans cry at the semifinals, scoring two consecutive goals in the last two minutes of an overtime period. This year, thanks to Mamma Silvia Balotelli’s kid, they did it again to the Germans, and made my day.

“At the final whistle, the Italy striker embraced Silvia Balotelli, who brought him up from the age of two after he was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants,” reported the website Footballcracy.

“After the game, when I went to my mum I said ‘these goals are for you‘,”Balotelli told reporters. “I waited for this moment for so long and I wanted to make my mamma happy. Tonight was the most beautiful of my life – but I hope that this Sunday is even better.”

Well, it wasn’t, Italy lost to Spain, 4-0 in Kiev, Ukraine, to my chagrin, too.

An article on Moked, the website of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called the embrace “an emotion for all Italians and a special emotion for Italian Jews.”

JTA reported that Balotelli, who plays for Manchester City, was born Mario Barwuah to Ghanaian immigrant parents in Palermo. He suffered from health problems as a small child and eventually his financially strapped parents placed him in the care of Francesco and Silvia Balotelli.

A writer in the Italian Jewish monthly Pagine Ebraiche called Balotelli “the symbol of the commitment that brings together the experience of immigration, of acceptance and of success. But [he is] also a tribute to his adoptive mother, the Italian Jew who welcomed the child and whose family suffered during the dark years of the Shoah.”

See? It all comes together in the end. Wish they’d have beaten Spain, though, payback for 1492.

Eurocrisis: Russia Offers Its Services

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Europe’s politicians will not admit it openly but they are afraid that the dire economic situation in countries such as Greece and Spain might lead to revolution. In two weeks’ time, the Greeks will go to the voting booths again. The far-left Syriza party is leading in the polls. During the past months, violence has hit the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki. Desperate people are committing suicide in public, reminding Europe’s leaders that the so-called Arab Spring, which toppled many Arab regimes, was triggered in December 2010 by the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia.

Later this month, Greece needs a new round of €5.2 billion in bailout funds from the other European Union countries. In return, the Greeks must pass €14.5 billion worth of austerity measures. With a newly elected Greek parliament unwilling to introduce them, however, and with Greek politicians threatening to annul prior loan agreements, other countries are unwilling to come forward with new funds. Meanwhile, Greek citizens are moving their money out of the country, exacerbating the situation of Greece’s banks. The prospect of a bankruptcy of Greece, and of the country leaving the eurozone, seems ever more likely. Grexit – as the European media call the scenario of Greece leaving the euro – is a possibility. But how will the Greek people react? If the level of anger and frustration keeps rising in Greece, the country might descend into chaos.

The situation is equally unstable in Cyprus. The economic situation of this strategically located country is inextricably intertwined with that of Greece. A collapse of Greece will drag Cyprus along with it. Economists expect that to keep Cyprus afloat, it will need between €25 and 50 billion from the other EU countries. If the EU does not provide the money, others might. Last December, Russia already gave Cyprus a bilateral loan of €3 billion. Russia is definitely capable of bailing Cyprus out. The Russians, however, are likely to want something in return. If Russia steps in, the strategic situation in the entire Eastern Mediterranean could change. Given the large gas supplies in the waters around Cyprus, Turkey, too, is interested in gaining a stronger foothold in Cyprus. Can Israel tolerate this?

Greece and Cyprus are not the only countries in Southern Europe that are heading for political instability. In Portugal, Spain, and Italy there have also been street protests in response to austerity measures. The EU is particularly worried about Spain. Last week, the Spanish Socialist former Prime Minister Gonzalez said that his country is in a “state of total emergency.” Spain is heading full speed for a debacle.

Last month, panic-stricken Spanish citizens withdrew more than €70 billion from Spanish banks and moved it to foreign safe havens. While Greece is confronting Grexit, Spain is already in the grip of what the European media call Spanic. The Spanish banking sector is about to collapse. Bankia, Spain’s third largest bank, urgently needs the Spanish government to bail it out with €21 billion. Bankia, a state-owned institution which was formed last year out of the ruins of seven regional banks which could no longer shoulder the huge losses of the Spanish real estate crash, is virtually bankrupt. To save the Spanish banks, however, the debt-ridden government in Madrid needs at least €90 billion.

Meanwhile, with youth unemployment higher than 50%, Spain’s younger generation has no prospects whatever. They have nothing to lose and, hence, can be easily persuaded to rebel against a political system that seems incapable of offering them hope for a better future. This is a politically dangerous situation, which the United States should be taking into account. The whole of Southern Europe might soon be in turmoil.

If Spain goes down the drain, Italy is bound to follow. And if Italy, the third largest economy in the EU, goes, France is likely to go as well. The Europeans are preparing for disaster. In May, economic activity in the eurozone countries, including France and Germany, contracted at the fastest rate since June 2009.

Last week, the heads of government of the eurozone countries met in Brussels for their 19th emergency gathering since the eurocrisis began two years ago. Spain, Italy, and France have stated that they want the European Central Bank to intervene by issuing eurobonds, pooling the sovereign debts of all 17 eurozone countries.

Earthquake in Italy; At Least 3 Dead

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

At least three people are dead after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck northern Italy at 4:04am on Sunday.

Powerful aftershocks shook the area, which was littered with toppled buildings.  At least three were killed after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck across a large swath of northern Italy Sunday at 4:04 a.m. The epicenter of the quake, Italy’s strongest in 3 years, was near Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of the Po River Valley.

Two of the victims died when factories they worked in – one ceramics and one polyester – collapsed on top of them.  Another woman, believed to be German, died of a heart attack.

Several historic sites, including castles and churches, were badly damaged by the earthquake.

Who Will Suffer As A Result of Euro Policies? The Jews.

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The European Union, and especially its common currency, the euro, is on the brink of collapse. The Greeks, unable to form a government after the May 6 elections, will have to go to the polls again next month. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is rapidly losing support. If she cares about her reelection next year, she had better push Greece out of the eurozone rather than keep that country afloat with German taxpayers’ money. If Greece leaves, the whole euro edifice might come down – a better outcome than the present situation, in which extremist parties on the Left and the Right (all of them anti-Semitic) are rapidly gaining electoral support at the expense of mainstream parties which keep clinging to the failed project of the common European currency.

A recent program on German television revealed that former German Chancellor Kohl had exchanged the strong D-mark for the crisis-prone euro because he wanted to atone for Germany’s role in the Second World War. Contemporary Germans, however, are not inclined to pay for the Greeks and other southern Europeans to make up for their grandfathers’ role in the Second World War.

The euro project was flawed from the beginning. It lumped various countries with widely divergent economies, cultures, and languages together in a single monetary union, imposing a “one size fits none” monetary policy on 17 countries which have little in common but the fact that they are all located on the European continent. It is as if the U.S. were to renounce the dollar for the ‘amro,’ a common currency with countries as different as Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina.

In this fashion, a prosperous and industrious northern European country such as Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe, renounced the D-mark for a euro, which also included a nation such as Greece, where corrupt politicians lied and cheated about the country’s dire economic situation.

A documentary on German television last week revealed that the political class in Europe knew that the Greeks were cooking the books, but did not care. The euro was a political project. Former European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein admitted as much in the documentary. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl renounced the D-mark for a euro which was to include as many countries as possible. “Kohl was a romantic as far as the EU was concerned,” Bolkestein said. “For Kohl, European unification was the way for Germany to atone for the Second World War. That is why he wanted to have as many countries in the eurozone as possible, whether they qualified or not.”

Bolkestein admitted that he had misgivings about the inclusion of countries such as Greece in the eurozone. In the same documentary, Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011, admitted that the financial crisis in Greece, which is currently dragging the euro down with it, could only have happened because the EU refused to see the obvious. It was an eye-opening documentary that enraged many Germans viewers.

The euro crisis is leading to a general dissatisfaction of the Europeans with the governing political class, whether left, the right, or center. In less than one and a half years, 10 of the 17 government leaders of the eurozone have been brought down or voted out of office. This happened in February 2011 to Ireland’s centrist Prime Minister Brian Cowen; in April 2011 to Finland’s centrist Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi; in June 2011 to Portugal’s socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates; in September 2011 to Slovenia’s socialist Prime Minister Borut Pahor; in October 2011 to Slovakia’s center-right Prime Minister Iveta Radicova; in November 2011 to Italy’s center-right Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Greece’s socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou and Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Jose Zapatero; in April 2012 to the Netherlands’ center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte; in May 2012 to France’s center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy.

All ten of them fell — directly or indirectly — as a result of the eurocrisis. It is generally expected that the same fate will befall Germany’s center-right Chancellor Angela Merkel in next year’s German general elections. Merkel is Helmut Kohl’s successor as leader of the Christian-Democrat Party CDU. In last Sunday’s state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous state, where almost a quarter of all Germans live, the CDU lost its position as the biggest party in the state to the Socialists. The CDU lost a quarter of its votes, while the Pirate Party, some of whose leaders acknowledge that the party is infiltrated by neo-Nazis, entered the NRW state parliament.

The largest European countries – Germany, France and Italy – which were (or, in Germany’s case, are) led by center-right politicians, are shifting to the left. In countries where the left has lost the leadership, the extreme-left won significantly in the elections.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/who-will-suffer-as-a-result-of-euro-policies-the-jews/2012/05/14/

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