Reuters blog archive
from Africa News blog:
Israel this week started deporting a planeload of migrants to South Sudan early on Monday, the first of a series of weekly repatriation flights intended as a stepping stone to dealing with much greater influxes of migrants from Sudan, Eritrea and Ivory Coast.
About 60,000 Africans have crossed into Israel across its porous border with Egypt in recent years. Israel says the vast majority are job seekers, disputing arguments by humanitarian agencies that they should be considered for asylum.
Many in Israel see the Africans as a threat to public order and to the demographics of the Jewish state. Street protests, some violent, have put pressure on the government, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of Africans "flooding" and "swamping" Israel, threatening "the character of the country".
The government has seized on the few hundred South Sudanese migrants, whose de facto refugee status was rescinded by an Israeli court this month, and whose government, sympathetic to Israel, is happy to take them back
Could two of the nails used to crucify Jesus have been discovered in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem? And could they have mysteriously disappeared for 20 years, only to turn up by chance in a Tel Aviv laboratory?
Jerusalem's Anglican bishop, a Palestinian, is engaged in a legal battle with Israel over its refusal to extend his residency permit. An Anglican official, who declined to be named, said Israel's Interior Ministry had written to Bishop Suheil Dawani and accused him of improper land dealings on behalf of the church and the Palestinian Authority, allegations he denies. A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry declined to comment, citing an upcoming court hearing.
Dawani was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem in 2007, and as a non-Israeli was required by Israeli authorities to obtain temporary residency permits. These were granted to him in 2008 and 2009, but not last year. Born in Nablus in the occupied West Bank, Dawani lives with his family in East Jerusalem. Both areas were captured by Israel in a 1967 war. Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the conflict in a step that is not internationally recognized.
(Photo: Muslims pray in the street during Friday prayers near an overcrowded mosque in the Rue des Poissoniers in Paris on December 17, 2010/Charles Platiau)
Far-right political parties in Europe are stepping up their anti-Muslim rhetoric and forging ties across borders, even going so far as to visit Israel to hail the Jewish state as a bulwark against militant Islam.
Marine Le Pen of France's National Front has shocked the French political elite in recent days by comparing Muslims who pray outside crowded mosques -- a common sight especially during the holy month of Ramadan -- to the World War Two Nazi occupation. Oskar Freysinger, a champion of the Swiss ban on minarets, warned a far-right meeting in Paris on Saturday against "the demographic, sociological and psychological Islamisation of Europe". German and Belgian activists also addressed the crowd.
(Photo: Jews pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 15, 2010/Baz Ratner)
The U.S. State Department has condemned an official Palestinian report last week asserting that Jerusalem's Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites, is not Jewish. Al-Mutawakil Taha, deputy information minister in the Palestinian Authority, published a five-page study last week disputing Jews' reverence of the shrine as a retaining wall of the compound of Biblical Jewish Temples destroyed centuries ago and saying it is a "Muslim wall and an integral part of al-Aqsa mosque and Haram al-Sharif."
"We strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Tuesday. "We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land," he added.
(Photo: Students protest near Hebrew University in Jerusalem on October 27, 2010 against the bill to give more state funds to Torah students/Ronen Zvulun)
Israeli university students have demanded that the government drop plans to pay stipends to ultra-Orthodox Jews who study the Torah but do not work.
Protests over the so-called Yeshiva bill in the past week highlight growing Israeli resentment of the 600,000 ultra-Orthodox "haredim", who live almost entirely off state welfare benefits.
(Photo: Sections of the Dead Sea scrolls at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, May 14, 2008/Baz Ratner)
Scholars and anyone with an Internet connection will be able to take a new look into the Biblical past through an online archive of high-resolution images of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls.
Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the custodian of the scrolls that shed light on the life of Jews and early Christians at the time of Jesus, said on Tuesday it was collaborating with Google's research and development center in Israel to upload digitized images of the entire collection.
In the land where Jesus lived, Christians say their dwindling numbers are turning churches from places of worship into museums. And when Christian pilgrims come from all over the world to visit the places of Christ's birth, death and resurrection, they find them divided by a concrete wall. (Photo: Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal at a checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 24, 2009/Ammar Awad)
Members of the Abu al-Zulaf family, Palestinian Christians, have left the hills and olive groves of their village near Bethlehem for Sweden and the United States, seeking a better life than that on offer in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
A new Jerusalem exhibit displaying a million years of history in the Holy Land offers Bible buffs and skeptics alike a chance to say: "I told you so!" The Israel Museum, fresh-faced after a three-year, $100 million upgrade, offers an unparalleled look into the development of monotheistic religions, while leaving plenty of room for both science and faith. (Photo: A statue of the Emperor Hadrian at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem July 20, 2010/Baz Ratner)
The museum's more devout visitors may feel vindicated by a collection of three-thousand-year-old weapons used by ancient warriors in the Battle of Lachish, verifying the fighting as depicted in the Bible. The scientifically minded can point to a set of 1.5 million year old bull horns on display around the corner, by far predating Earth's creation as described by the book of Genesis.
from AxisMundi Jerusalem:
The rare sense of space and calm that marks out the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City is both its blessing and its curse. The acquisition of the land, and construction of the beautiful St. James Cathedral at its heart, speaks volumes for the abilities of this small ethnic diaspora from the Caucasus to secure favour from the Ottoman sultans who partitioned the walled holy city in the hope of a bit of peace from religious rivalries.
But the limited, and shrinking population of the Armenians has made their Quarter an object of envy and desire for other groups, not least the fast-expanding Jewish Quarter next door, which has been massively rebuilt during 43 years of Israeli control after being ravaged during the period of Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967.