Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Change in Currency

If you recall, it was suggested that Menachem Begin appear on a new printing of Israeli paper currency.

We now read:


In light of public reaction, the Governor of the Bank of Israel asks the Committee for the Planning of Banknotes, Coins and Commemorative Coins to reconsider its proposed list of personalities to appear on the planned new series of banknotes

The Governor of the Bank of Israel, Professor Stanley Fischer, has decided to ask the Committee for the Planning of Banknotes, Coins and Commemorative Coins to reconsider its proposed list of personages to appear on the new series of banknotes. This, in light of the public reaction to the list originally submitted by the Committee.

The Governor has advised the Minister of Finance accordingly, and has asked the chair of the Committee, Retired Supreme Court Judge Yaacov Turkel, to draw up a new list that will take into consideration the public reaction to the previous list.
The Bank advises that the new series of banknotes planned to be issued in 2012 is intended, among other things, to employ state-of-the-art technology to improve anti-counterfeiting measures; the new design of the banknotes is intended to increase the public's awareness of the personalities, symbols and values that played an important role in shaping the history of the State of Israel.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Visit of Youth From Abroad at the Center

Scenes of a visiting group of youth from South America photographed from the Hasten Family Library window overlooking the esplanade:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Educational Initiative Attacked

New study unit on pre-state fighters proves controversial

By Or Kashti

The Education Ministry is introducing a study unit on the 12 underground fighters who were hanged or committed suicide in prison during the British Mandate in Palestine.

The 12, known as "Olei Hagardom" ("those hanged on the gallows"), belonged to the pre-state militias Etzel and Lehi.

The program, intended for eighth and ninth grades, will include lessons plus a national competition for essays, poems and drawings on subjects such as "an imaginary conversation I had with one of Olei Hagardom in his last moments in prison" or "the last letter of a condemned man to his family."

The new unit is already proving controversial.

"Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is advancing ideological matters close to his heart in the education system," a ministry official charged. "His ideology is entering the curriculum."

"It's worrying that the Education Ministry is conveying a message sanctifying death and portraying it as sublime," added a senior university historian.

Until now, details of the 12 Olei Hagardom - nine Etzel combatants and three Lehi fighters - were taught as part of history lessons, ministry sources said.

In a letter announcing the new program, Sa'ar wrote, "I hope the program, recounting Olei Hagardom's devotion to the struggle for Israel's independence, will bolster the students' ties with their people and heritage ... and that their devotion will serve as an ideological model for our youth."

The ministry also instructed teachers to "encourage students to take part in the competition and guide them in presenting their projects."

The essays, poems and drawings entered in the competition will be evaluated by a committee comprised of Education Ministry officials and staffers from the Uri Zvi Greenberg Heritage Center and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

"It's important to learn about the ideology of Zionist leaders, like [Theodor] Herzl and [Ze'ev] Jabotinsky," said a veteran high school history teacher from Tel Aviv. "But in this program, the justification is the underground fighters' actions, and especially their end ... There are moral and philosophical questions that should be addressed when you teach 14-year-olds about people who chose to die rather than accept a pardon or negotiate with the British authorities."

"The new program embraces martyrdom and worships the victim for being a victim," added the senior university historian. "If they want to teach this subject, it must be in the context of the fight against the British. You can't start out by asserting that because they were hanged, they're martyrs. Their being victims does not justify turning them into a subject for study."

The education system intends to mark Jabotinsky Day next week, as required by a law enacted in 2005, the Education Ministry said Monday. Schools were instructed earlier this month to prepare ceremonies and special activities, including lessons about Jabotinsky's character and work. Sa'ar himself will give a civics lesson on Jabotinsky in a high school in the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Archaeological Discovery Near the Begin Center

DNA of Jesus-era shrouded man in Jerusalem reveals earliest case of leprosy

Burial shroud proves Turin Shroud not from 1st century C.E. Jerusalem

Jerusalem, December 15, 2009 – The DNA of a first-century C.E. shrouded man found in a tomb on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem has revealed the earliest proven case of leprosy. Details of the research will be published December 16 in the PloS ONE Journal.

The molecular investigation was undertaken by Prof. Mark Spigelman and Prof. Charles Greenblatt and of the Sanford F. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Prof. Carney Matheson and Ms. Kim Vernon of Lakehead University, Canada, Prof. Azriel Gorski of New Haven University and Dr. Helen Donoghue of University College London. The archaeological excavation was led by Prof. Shimon Gibson, Dr. Boaz Zissu and Prof. James Tabor on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The burial cave, which is known as the Tomb of the Shroud, is located in the lower Hinnom Valley and is part of a first-century C.E. cemetery known as Akeldama or 'Field of Blood' (Matthew 27:3-8; Acts 1:19) - next to the area where Judas is said to have committed suicide. The tomb of the shrouded man is located next to the tomb of Annas, the high priest (6-15 C.E.), who was the father in law of Caiaphas, the high priest who betrayed Jesus to the Romans. It is thus thought that this shrouded man was either a priest or a member of the aristocracy. According to Prof. Gibson, the view from the tomb would have looked directly toward the Jewish Temple.

No second burial

What is particularly rare about this tomb is that it was clear this man, which is dated by radiocarbon methods to 1-50 C.E., did not receive a secondary burial. Secondary burials were common practice at the time, where the bones were removed after a year and placed in an ossuary (a stone bone box). In this case, however, the entrance to this part of the tomb was completely sealed with plaster. Prof. Spigelman believes this is due to the fact that this man had suffered from leprosy and died of tuberculosis, as the DNA of both diseases was found in his bones.

Historically, disfiguring diseases - particularly leprosy - caused the afflicted individuals to be ostracized from their communities. However, a number of indications – the location and size of the tomb, the type of textiles used as shroud wrappings, and the clean state of the hair – suggest that the shrouded individual was a fairly affluent member of society in Jerusalem and that tuberculosis and leprosy may have crossed social boundaries in the first-century C.E.

Disproves Turin Shroud?

This is also the first time fragments of a burial shroud have been found from the time of Jesus in Jerusalem. The shroud is very different to that of the Turin Shroud, hitherto assumed to be the one that was used to wrap the body of Jesus. Unlike the complex weave of the Turin Shroud, this is made up of a simple two-way weave, as the textiles historian Dr. Orit Shamir was able to show.

Based on the assumption that this is representative of a typical burial shroud widely used at the time of Jesus, the researchers conclude that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem.

The excavation also found a clump of the shrouded man's hair, which had been ritually cut prior to his burial. These are both unique discoveries because organic remains are hardly ever preserved in the Jerusalem area owing to high humidity levels in the ground.

Social health in antiquity

According to Prof. Spigelman and Prof. Greenblatt, the origins and development of leprosy are largely obscure. Leprosy in the Old Testament may well refer to skin rashes such as psoriasis. The leprosy known to us today was thought to have originated in India and brought over to the Near East and to Mediterranean countries in the Hellenistic period. The results from the first-century C.E. Tomb of the Shroud fill a vital gap in our knowledge of this disease.

Furthermore, the new research has shown that molecular pathology clearly adds a new dimension to the archaeological exploration of disease in ancient times and provides us with a better understanding of the evolution, geographic distribution and epidemiology of disease and social health in antiquity.

The co-infection of both leprosy and tuberculosis here and in 30 percent of DNA remains in Israel and Europe from the ancient and modern period provided evidence for the postulate that the medieval plague of leprosy was eliminated by an increased level of tuberculosis in Europe as the area urbanized.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

He Was Beaten

There is a famous anecdote describing a meeting between Hanan Porat and other prominent settlers and PM Menachem Begin in the late 70's. At the time, Begin was under pressure from the Carter administration to "freeze all settlements activities" (yes, this goes back decades), so he encouraged the settlers to rush and take the land and explained: "after that, it would be easier for me to say [to the Americans] 'I was beaten!'"

Found here

RIP: Edward Sanders

Edward Sanders, an attorney and leader in the Jewish community who served President Carter as a special advisor on Mideast policy, died Monday at his Los Angeles home. He was 87.

The cause was cancer, according to his son-in-law, Stanley Witkow.Sanders gained prominence during the 1973 energy crisis when, as president of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, he challenged a letter from Standard Oil Co. to 300,000 stockholders that appeared to support a pro-Arab Mideast policy. He later became president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In 1976, he resigned the latter post to organize Jewish support for Carter's presidential campaign. In 1978 he was named to a new post as advisor to President Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance on Mideast policy and the Jewish community. He quickly became involved in planning the historic Camp David summit, which culminated in a signed accord between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Street Rennovations

Nahon Street woorks: