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Religions clash over Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — not that that should be news.. also Egypt, Israel, Saudi ]
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Tablet DQ 600 Jerusalem bomb & covenant

The bomber described in the upper panel, above, has a somewhat strained notion of revenge, it seems to me, though no doubt it makes sense to him. And you can tell that the button ad in the lower panel is from a Christian Messianic rather than a Jewish site, because it includes the spelling “God” rather than “HaShem” or “G*d”. And do those who have put the ad together truly suggest that God, G*d, HaShem has literally signed the covenant you’d be signing if you pressed the button?

Muslims, with some history behind them, claim the Noble Sanctuary / Al-Aqsa as their third holiest site. Jews, with some history behind them, claim the Temple Mount – the same plateau — as their holiest site. Gershom Gorenberg in his book, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount terms it “the most contested piece of real-estate on earth”.

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Here’s an intriguing suggestion from Henry Siegman, The Truth About Jewish and Muslim Claims to Jerusalem, writing in the NYT back in 2000 CE —

When the sages of the Talmud had irreconcilable differences over a point of theology or law, they decided to defer a decision to the Messiah, when he comes. It is a legal fiction referred to in the Talmud as teiku. Teiku isthe only solution to the issue of sovereignty over Jerusalem’s holiest site.

Of course, that wouldn’t stop the current violence, nor solve the blockages in negotiations, nor hasten the coming of the messiah — but we can dream, can’t we?

And PM Netanyahu of Israel recently greeted the visiting Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry… while a Saudi general, Anwar Eshki, visited Israel with a posse of businessmen to talk up the Saudi peace Initiative.

Clinton Comey?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — with a side dish of Tzipi Livni ]
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Ckinton Comey
photo credit: Greg Nash via The Hill

I’ll be socratic here, asking questions to illuminate my hunches.

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I’m seldom fully convinced by anything that comes from the left and reads the way I’d expect the left to read, and seldom convinced by anything that comes from the right and reads the way I’d expect the right to read, so I don’t take the left’s assertions downplaying H Clinton’s security behavior with reflex belief, and on the whole I’m inclined to follow John Schindler, who — both as an ex-NSA analyst and as a regular at The Observer — takes a very hard line on Clinton’s security behavior, writing just a couple of weeks ago under the title, The Coming Constitutional Crisis Over Hillary Clinton’s EmailGate.

I also follow War on the Rocks, though, and was struck a while back by a post there from Mark Stout, drawing some interesting distinctions in line with its subtitle, “A former intelligence analyst who worked at both the CIA and the State Department explains how different approaches to classifying information sits at the heart of the scandal that threatens to undo Hillary Clinton.”

Which does somewhat complicate matters, while somewhat helping us understand them.

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I’m neither an American nor a lawyer, and as someone who is generally inclined more to bridge-building than to taking sides in any case, I don’t feel qualified to debate the Comey-Clinton affair – but was interested to see emptywheel’s Marcy Wheeler, whom I take to be leftish, coming out today describing Comey’s decision as an “improper public prosecutorial opinion”. She writes:

Understand, though: with Sterling and Drake, DOJ decided they were disloyal to the US, and then used their alleged mishandling of classified information as proof that they were disloyal to the US ..Ultimately, it involves arbitrary decisions about who is disloyal to the US, and from that a determination that the crime of mishandling classified information occurred.

Comey, in turn, seems to have made it pretty clear that “Secretary Clinton or her colleagues“ were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” – specifically:

.. seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received.  These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending emails about those matters and receiving emails from others about the same matters.

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Is there, in your views, special treatment in this matter for persons of high rank present here?

livni

And out of curiosity, if so, do you see a similar case of special treatment for persons of high rank over in the UK, known to be substantially less Israel-friendly than the US, where Scotland Yard wanted to question Tzipi Livni about alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza under her watch as Foreign Minister, and “after diplomatic talks” Livni was “granted special diplomatic immunity”?

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On the one hand, I don’t like show-trials, trials-by-press, banana courts or mob justice, and far prefer just laws justly applied – and on the other, I can understand that the scrutiny those in high office find themselves under can render them legally vulnerable in ways that may unduly influence their decision-making – and justice may be platonically blind, but is not always uniformly applied in practice. Such, it seems to me, is the human dilemma.

What say you?

Which ground is holy?

Friday, July 1st, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a question of what makes “holy ground” holy? ]
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which place is holy

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Upper panel, Ramadan Confrontations Test Restraint on Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade:

For the first twenty days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, an unusual calm prevailed on Jerusalem’s Holy Esplanade – known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary or the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This was largely a result of Israel and Jordan implementing four commitments agreed eighteen months ago to keep the peace through mutual limits on access.

Yet on 26 June, the beginning of the most sacred and sensitive part of Ramadan, Israel changed an informal, recent additional restriction on access to the site. Violence broke out. It exposed once again the root of the controversy: diverging perceptions between Israelis, Jordanians (whose Waqf charitable foundation administers the Esplanade) and Palestinians over who should be able to visit the site and when.

In the last five years Israel had prevented the entry of Jews and other non-Muslims during precisely the last ten days of Ramadan. This was in order to reduce the risk of escalation when Muslims worshippers often number many tens of thousands. This year, however, Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan allowed non-Muslim entry on the 10th day before the end of Ramadan.

Erdan was not just facing pressures to reverse the ban on access after a quiet start to the month. Israeli decision-makers also saw it as correcting of a temporary and self-imposed constraint. They feared that the de facto ban would become part of the informal status quo. Jordanians and Palestinians, for their part, saw it as a violation of what had become an established norm.

Lower panel, In Israel, followers of different religions help each other keep the faith:

Stuart Levy, a nurse at a Jerusalem hospital, updates his ward’s work schedule several times a week, with staffers’ vacations, birthdays and more religious holidays than many people know exist.

“We have 18 hospital beds, and on any given day we may have an Orthodox Jew next to a devout Muslim next to a Catholic next to a Druze next to a Russian Orthodox patient,” said Levy, head nurse of the oncology/hematology ward at Hadassah Medical Center-Ein Kerem. “And many of our staff are religiously observant.”

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that began on June 7, Levy asks Jewish nurses to work evening shifts whenever possible to allow Muslim nurses to break their fasts at home. Non-Jewish nurses reciprocate by working on Jewish holidays.

While many may think Israel is a land of conflict, the hospital is but one example of inter-religious harmony, a pocket of peaceful co-existence.

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Echoing Exodus 3:5, in which Moses is about to move towards the burning bush, Acts 7:33 reads:

Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.

What makes ground holy? And specifically, which of these two sites in Jerusalem is hallowed, and how?

Doctrinally, the Esplanade is Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, and Islam’s third holiest, the Noble Sanctuary.

But what if sanctity is a movable feast, invoked by the deeds of those who are present at a certain place and time?

At times it seems as though surgery heals what prayer tears apart

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Christina Rosetti:

quote-tread-softly-all-the-earth-is-holy-ground-christina-rossetti-37-10-65

The friend of my enemy is my what?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — or to quote the Stones, sympathy for the devil? ]
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blank 600 Syria Israel Russia

Sources:

  • Kyle Orton, Russia Needs the Islamic State to Save Assad
  • Al-Masdar News, Israeli Intelligence chief: We do not want ISIS defeat in Syria
  • How Syria becomes Palestine

    Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on borrowing the atrocities of others for propaganda advantage ]
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    and:

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    It’s not as though this is the first time I’ve seen this done, nor is Syria > Palestine necessarily the trajectory — see for example this DoubleTweet from Phillip Smyth, Photographic enantiodromia at the Zaynab shrine?.


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