Israel: Day 18

September 21, 2023 • 9:30 am

On Wednesday I spent about four hours at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and even that wasn’t long enough to see all the interesting stuff. There are four bits to peruse: archaeology (not just in Israel, but throughout the world), things reflecting Jewish life, art (including Impressionist and post-Impressionist painting), and, in a separate building (“The Shrine of the Book”), the Dead Sea Scrolls (only a bit of the original on display) and the Aleppo Codex (fully on display). As Wikipedia notes:

The Israel Museum (Hebrew: מוזיאון ישראלMuze’on Yisrael, Arabic: متحف إسرائيل) is an art and archaeological museum in Jerusalem. It was established in 1965 as Israel’s largest and foremost cultural institution, and one of the world’s leading encyclopaedic museums. It is situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, adjacent to the Bible Lands Museum, the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Its holdings include the world’s most comprehensive collections of the archaeology of the Holy Land, and Jewish art and life, as well as significant and extensive holdings in the fine arts, the latter encompassing eleven separate departments: Israeli Art, European Art, Modern Art, Contemporary Art, Prints and Drawings, Photography, Design and Architecture, Asian Art, African Art, Oceanic Art, and Arts of the Americas.

Among the unique objects on display are the Venus of Berekhat Ram, the interior of a 1736 Zedek ve Shalom synagogue from Suriname, necklaces worn by Jewish brides in Yemen, a mosaic Islamic prayer niche from 17th-century Persia, and a nail attesting to the practice of crucifixion in Jesus’ time. An urn-shaped building on the grounds of the museum, the Shrine of the Book, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and artifacts discovered at Masada. It is one of the largest museums in the region.

I’m surprised they don’t mention the Aleppo Codex, the oldest Hebrew Bible in existence (there are older versions in Greek), also a big draw to the Museum. But more on that later. I’ll include some labels with the object to avoid taking a lot of time simply to retype them.

The entrance to the Museum Complex, which (save the Shrine of the Book) is in several interconnected buildings, is long and spooky, and reminds me of the underground connection between the two parts of Terminal 1 in O’Hare airport:

The connecting tunnel at Terminal 1 at O’Hare in Chicago:

But there are a few mosaics on the wall to distract you (click descriptions to enlarge)

There were at least a dozen of these eerie coffins:

Here’s one:

A piece of pottery that caught my eye:

And I loved these lions from the sixth century BC. I show one below:

It doesn’t look very fierce! And it has hooves!

An Egyptian statue of the cat-shaped god Bastet:

Another Egyptian cat:

Two locks of hair found at Masada. Could they be from Jews who decided to commit suicide rather than be captured as slaves by the Romans? We don’t know, and, as I’ve noted, the “mass suicide” story of Masada may be fictional.

A big mosaic; I photographed only part of it:

The centaur is on the right.

A famous bit of cuneiform writing, which fascinates me:

On to Jewish Life. Here’s a Jewish wedding dress from Morocco:

And a carriage devoted solely to carrying coffins (Hungarian, 19th century):

A 19th-century Jewish marriage contract (“ketubah”). As one site explains:

The ketubah is a unilateral agreement drawn by witnesses in accordance with Jewish civil law, in which they testify that the husband guarantees to his wife that he will meet certain minimum human and financial conditions of marriage, “as Jewish husbands are wont to do.”

It is not a ceremonial document of scripture or prayer. That is why it is written in Aramaic, the technical legal language of Talmudic law, rather than in Hebrew, the language of the “Song of Songs.” Neither is it a state document establishing the new relationship of man and woman. It makes no mention of the confirmation of G‑d or of society. It is not an instrument of the privileged class, as in ancient societies, but one obligatory on every person. It is also not an affirmation of perpetual love. It is a statement of law that provides the framework of love.

The ketubah restates the fundamental conditions that are imposed by the Torah upon the husband, such as providing his wife with food, clothing, and conjugal rights, which are inseparable from marriage. It includes the husband’s guarantees to pay a certain sum in the event of divorce, and inheritance rights obligatory upon his heirs in case he dies before his wife.

It is not a mutual agreement; the wife agrees only to accept the husband’s proposal of marriage. It is assuredly not a bill of sale; the man does not purchase the bride. In fact, the ketubah represents the witnesses rather than husband or wife. Through this instrument they attest to the groom’s actions, promises, and statements, and to the bride’s willing acceptance of the marriage proposal.

I’m wondering whether the small letters at the lower left around the square are the signatures of the witnesses. Note both the Hebrew and the Aramaic.

NOTE: Joseph points out in the comments that the photo below is not a mezuzah but a megillah. I have crossed out what I wrote before and added what seems to be the correct information. This shows that I am not a very good Jew!

Below is a very fancy mezuzah, a container affixed to doorways in Jewish homes, each containing a klaf, a piece of parchment on which there’s verse from the Torah (see above). The scroll itself is a lot more important than the container, and, if prepared in the kosher way, can cost a lot more than the container (check Amazon).  When I owned a house in Maryland while I had my first job, there was a mezuzah attached to the front door frame, with the top pointing inward, as is the custom. That was one of my only concessions to religious Judaism, and I don’t have one now. Even secular Jews do it (see from the Wikipedia article below)

I didn’t write down the source or date of this mezuzah, but it’s very fancy, with a silver case and a very long handwritten klaf:

This is not a mezuzah, but a fancy megillah scroll in a silver case, which contains parts of the Bible read on special occasions (this one is small, about 6 inches long).  The Britttanica explains the scrolls:

Megillah, also spelled Megilla, Hebrew Megillah (“Scroll”), plural Megillot, in the Hebrew Bible, any of the five sacred books of the Ketuvim (the third division of the Old Testament), in scroll form, that are read in the synagogue in the course of certain festivals. The Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) is read on the sabbath of Passover week, the Book of Ruth on ShavuotLamentations of Jeremiah on Tisha be-AvEcclesiastes on the sabbath of the week of Sukkoth, and the Book of Esther on Purim. The reading of Esther on Purim is prescribed in the Mishna; other readings were introduced in post-Talmudic days.

The NY Public Library notes  that these are usually scrolls of the Book of Esther and are read on the Jewish holiday of Purim.

The Haggadah is a Jewish text, read on Passover, that contains the story of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. It is not lifted from the Old Testament but recounts a similar story of Exodus. It was written no earlier than 170 A.D.

The Birds’ Head Haggadah (below) is very famous, as it’s the oldest surviving Passover Haggadah from Ashkenazi Jews. As it says below, it was written about 1300 A.D. Wikipedia has a long article on it that gives theories for why all the humans have bird heads, as in the photo below.

The Birds’ Head Haggadah is so called because all Jewish men, women, and children depicted in the manuscript have human bodies with the faces and beaks of birds. Non-Jewish and non-human faces (such as those of angels, the sun, and the moon) are blank or blurred. Numerous theories have been advanced to explain the unusual iconography, usually tied to Jewish aniconism. The Haggadah is in the possession of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where it is on permanent exhibition.

Here’s a later Haggadah, apparently from Moravia, and written four centuries later:

The Torah is the archetypal document of Judaism, comprising the first five books of the Old Testament. It is written by hand on a scroll that is kept in the synagogue and read at least once a week. See below for more information. In the bar mitzvah ceremony of becoming a man, a Jewish boy must be able to read from the Torah. (I was never bar mitzvahed because I flunked out of Hebrew school.)

Here’s a section of a Torah from the Museum. The calligrapher has do do a good job because, as it says above, if you make a single mistake, the entire document becomes worthless and you have to start again from the beginning.

There are dozens of fancy Torah cases in the Museum; here are two.

Menorahs are Jewish “candelabras” that burn oil and there are two types. Temple Menorahs have seven branches for fuel and are rarely if ever lit. All temples have one, but it’s mostly symbolic.

Here’s one from Wikipedia with the caption, “Reconstruction of the menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem, created by the Temple Institute of Israel”

The more famous menorah is the Hanukkah menorah, which has nine branches with the middle one higher than the others. From Wikipedia:

Hanukkah menorah, or hanukkiah, is a nine-branched candelabrum lit during the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Eight of the nine branches hold lights (candles or oil lamps) that symbolize the eight nights of the holiday; on each night, one more light is lit than the previous night, until on the final night all eight branches are ignited. The ninth branch holds a candle, called the shamash (“helper” or “servant”), which is used to light the other eight.

The Hanukkah menorah commemorates, but is distinct from, the seven-branched menorah used in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Along with the seven-branched menorah and the Star of David, it is among the most widely produced articles of Jewish ceremonial art.

Why the extra branches? Here’s the classic explanation:

Miracle of the cruse of oil (Hebrew: נֵס פַּךְ הַשֶּׁמֶן), or the Miracle of Hanukkah, is an Aggadah depicted in the Babylonian Talmud as one of the reasons for Hanukkah. In the story, the miracle occurred after the liberation of the Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt, and it describes the finding of a jug of pure oil that was to be enough to light the lamp for one day, but that lasted for eight days.

Here’s one from with the caption “A Hanukkah lamp from Lemberg in The Jewish Museum of New York. “

The Museum has dozens of menorahs of all types from around the world: here’s a wall display (click to enlarge):

And there are a ton of paintings in the art wing. I photographed three by famous artists, though hardly their best work.

From Gauguin:

An early and rather crude van Gogh:

And a not-bad Kandinsky, who’s one of my favorite artists.

More art, this time from the New World:

There was a special and rather grim exhibit of the garb that Jews put on their dead when they’re buried.  This male garb has a hat.

I believe these are shrouds for Jewish women:

There was a detailed outdoor model, quite fascinating, of what Jerusalem looked like in the Second Temple Period (ca 516 B.C.-70 A.D.), starting when the Second Temple was built and ending when the Romans put the Jews to flight. The caption is below:

Below: the very large reconstruction, showing the city walls enclosing houses, shops, and, in the center, the Second Temple, which now remains only in the Western Wall and other stuff buried in the Temple Mount.

The structure in the middle of the Temple presumably held the “Holy of Holies“, the inner sanctum that held the Ark of the Covenant said to contain the Ten Commandment stones. Only one person could approach it, the head priest, and then only once a year. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews won’t even climb up the Temple Mount (allowed briefly a few times a week) for fear that they’d be stepping atop the Holy of Holies.

Click to enlarge:

There are two possible Western Walls here, so I took a picture of the two possibilities. Maybe a reader knows which one faced west.

Or is it this one?

The “Shrine of the Book” is famous mainly for holding the Dead Sea Scrolls, only one bit of the originals on display at once. (They’re alternated so they won’t fade.) They were written during the Second Temple Period and discovered in caves on the West Bank between 1946 and 1956. A bit about them from Wikipedia:

. . . the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered to be a keystone in the history of archaeology with great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the oldest surviving manuscripts of entire books later included in the biblical canons, along with extra-biblical and deuterocanonical manuscripts that preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. At the same time, they cast new light on the emergence of Christianity and of Rabbinic Judaism.  Almost all of the 15,000 scrolls and scroll fragments are held in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, located in the city of Jerusalem. The Israeli government’s custody of the Dead Sea Scrolls is disputed by Jordan and the Palestinian Authority on territorial, legal, and humanitarian grounds — they were mostly discovered following the Jordanian annexation of the West Bank and were acquired by Israel after Jordan lost the 1967 Arab–Israeli War — whilst Israel’s claims are primarily based on historical and religious grounds, given their significance in Jewish history and in the heritage of Judaism.

The Shrine building is striking, and is modeled to resemble the tops of the jars in which the scrolls were found. Fountains and a pool surround it.

The eerie underground entry to the exhibits:

And an original bit of a Dead Sea Scroll, many of which are in bad condition; the text was painstakingly reconstructed.  You can make out the Hebrew letters.

Below is a facsimile of the most complete scroll:

The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) is one of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947. It is the largest (734 cm) and best preserved of all the biblical scrolls, and the only one that is almost complete. The 54 columns contain all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the biblical Book of Isaiah. Dating from ca. 125 BCE, it is also one of the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, some one thousand years older than the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible known to us before the scrolls’ discovery.

The Aleppo Codex, written in Israel about 920 AD, is of comparable historical interest, and sits one level below the Dead Sea Scroll display. In this case you can see the original.

As I mentioned above, it’s the oldest extant version of the Bible in Hebrew, and has been used as a benchmark for accuracy by, among others, Maimonides. Much of it has gone missing, perhaps through theft.

Here it is on display:

And a close-up of the text, 1,100 years old:

Lovely gardens surround the Museum. Here’s an olive tree in case you haven’t seen one:

For some reason there are many rubber ducks on sale in the Museum Shop. Perhaps a reader can explain them to me.

Notice the variety, including devil ducks, surgeon ducks, Viking ducks, athlete ducks, and Santa ducks. What’s going on here? Is this Judaica?

Back in town: post-Rosh-Hashanah sale: mini shofars on sale for only five bucks!

And my customary lunch: a falafel sandwich with all the trimmings. I’ve had meat only once in Israel, and haven’t touched a drop of alcohol (I lose my desire to drink when I travel). I had a delicious meat lunch today, though, and you’ll see it in my next (and last) post from Israel.

Here are two women in he falafel shop. Their covered heads and long dresses led me to believe they were Orthodox Jewish women, but their clothing was strikingly attractive and stylish. I thus sent the photo below to a friend who had lived here, along with the question:

Are these women Jews (Haredim?). They have long dresses and big headscarves, but their clothes are pretty fancy.  They are buying falafel sandwiches.

And the reply:

Yes, they are. Fancy clothes are ok, as long as they cover. You are supposed to please your man for continuous procreation.

That made me laugh out loud, though it’s probably true.

UN Human Rights Council votes to ban Qur’an burning

July 14, 2023 • 11:15 am

I’ve added a new category label just for this post: “UN acting badly”. That’s because they act badly very often, especially in their constant funding of Palestine and its terrorists (via UNRWA) and repeated resolutions damning Israel (which also hearten Palestinian terrorists).

From we have a new report that the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) voted to ban Qur’an burnings, which of course is considered free speech in the U.S.  They also, to give the impression of fairness, banned burning of other religious books. As for secular books like On Liberty: crickets from the UN.

An excerpt:

The National Secular Society has warned a United Nations resolution to ban the burning of religious texts could be detrimental to human rights.

Members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) today voted in favour of a resolution for the “deliberately and publicly” burning of the Quran or “any other holy book” to be prohibited by law.

The UK voted against the resolution. In a statement yesterday, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “we do not accept that, by definition, attacks on religion, including on religious texts or symbols, constitute advocacy for hatred”.

Other states opposed to the motion included France, Germany and the USA, but they were outvoted 28 to 12. [7 countries abstained]

The resolution follows a high profile incident in Sweden last month, when Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika burned a Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm. Momika is an atheist formerly from Iraq’s persecuted minority Christian community.

The resolution was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has long supported efforts to curtail ‘blasphemous’ speech.

The OIC is an intergovernmental organisation of 57 states and claims to be the “collective voice of the Muslim world”. Although it stopped explicitly campaigning for a global blasphemy law in 2011, it has repeatedly spearheaded attempts to install “backdoor” blasphemy laws. The NSS warned the UN of the OIC’s attempts to use ‘hate speech’ laws to restrict free expression last year.

The resolution passed was amended to include the explicit provision that burning the Quran and other holy books should be banned. The original resolution did not include this statement.

This was a deeply divided vote, with most Western countries voting against the resolution and Muslim countries (and other nations like Cuba and UKRAINE) favoring the ban. Here’s how the vote went down:

More background from the Guardian:

Last month, an Iraqi-born protester caused outrage across the Muslim world after tearing pages from the Qur’an, wiping his shoes with some of them and burning others outside a mosque in Stockholm during the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The Swedish embassy in Baghdad was briefly stormed, Iran held off from sending a new ambassador to Stockholm and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned Sweden’s authorities and asked the Geneva-based UN human rights council to debate the issue.

Turkey also expressed its anger, citing “vile protests against the holy book” in Sweden as one of its reasons for withholding approval of the Scandinavian country’s application to join Nato. On Monday, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had agreed to set aside his veto and support the application.

Several similar protests had previously taken place in Stockholm and Malmö. Swedish police have received applications for more, from individuals wanting to burn religious texts including the Qur’an, the Bible and the Torah.

This of course is an abrogation of free speech (the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that burning the Constitution, U.S. flag, and other such documents is speech protected by the First Amendment). It’s also a form of “blasphemy law”, though I don’t think the UN has any power to enforce it. Still, it shows you how many countries, including UKRAINE, limit freedom of speech when that speech involves criticizing religious delusion.  You can burn The God Delusion or God is Not Great, of course, as the UN doesn’t care about that. But keep your matches away from religious scripture!

This is embarrassing in a world becoming increasingly secular.  Here’s some pushback from Britain’s National Secular Society:

NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: “Equating the desecration of religious books and symbols with incitement to violence is a pernicious attempt to impose blasphemy laws by stealth. The Islamic nations behind this resolution have long been more interested in protecting religion than protecting individuals.

“Speech and expression must be viewed in context. Crude attempts to impose blanket prohibitions clearly risk capturing and silencing legitimate expression and dissent.

“Democratic societies must find ways to combat intolerance and hatred without further restricting freedom of expression to meet increasing sensitivities of certain religious groups.”

Amen, brothers and sisters!

h/t: Dave

BBC reporter commits “blood libel” against Israel, saying that “Israel is happy to kill children”

July 6, 2023 • 10:00 am

The “blood libel” mentioned in the two articles below is a medieval antisemitic trope that’s explained by Wikipedia:

Blood libel or ritual murder libel (also blood accusation) is an antisemitic canard which falsely accuses Jews of murdering Christian boys in order to use their blood in the performance of religious rituals.

Often those “religious rituals” were said to comprise making the Passover matzoh (unleavened bread) with the blood of Christian children.  The reason why both articles below make the analogy of this BBC interview with “blood libel” is that the BBC reporter uses essentially the same anti-semitic trope: that Jews were happy to kill non-Jewish children. I don’t think making this comparison is too far off the mark.

So the short video below shows Anjana Gadgil, a hostile and anti-Israel BBC reporter (is there any other kind?) going hard after former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for the recent shootings of terrorists in Jenin. The raid into Jenin was meant to find terrorists responsible for some 50 recent deaths of Israelis, terrorists who holed up in the town. For a pretty objective view of the conflict, see the Reuters piece, “Why did Israel attack Jenin?

Three or four of the 12 Palestinian dead were between 16 and 18, but, as Bennett notes and which has now been verified, all of the Palestinians killed in the Jenin raids were terrorists, including those 18 and under. (Had nonterrorist civilians been called, you better believe that the PA would have announced it, but there has been no such announcement.)

And, as the article at the bottom says, it’s not a violation of international law to kill child soldiers—even if you think terrorists of that age are “child soldiers”.  It’s remarkable to me that the IDF went into Jenin targeting specific terrorist and got them all without any civilians being killed. Only Israel is that careful about who they go after in warfare. In contrast, the Palestinians target anybody, including Israeli civilians and children who are not “child soldiers.”

This is not a long video—8½ minutes long—and I urge you to listen to it to see the explicit and completely unhinged hostility towards Israel from the BBC.  Gadgil’s repugnant statement, “The Israeli forces are happy to kill children” occurs at 1 minute, 16 seconds in.

Bennett answers calmly and incisively.


I found photos of three of the four “children” that the Israeli forces were “happy to kill”:


And below are two articles—both invoking “blood libel”—defending Bennett against the BBC anchor. Click on either screenshot or on the links to the left:



Elder of Ziyon:

Here’s the text of the second piece, which is short:

Here is a blood libel from the BBC.

In response to Naftali Bennett saying that every single person killed in Jenin was a terrorist, the presenter said, as a fact, “Terrorists but children. The Israeli forces are happy to kill children.”

Bennett’s answer was good, but here is another case where news interviewers are either ignorant or willfully twisting international law.

Child combatants are still combatants under international law. No matter whether they were forcibly recruited, whether they are under 14, whether they are girls – once someone is shooting at a soldier they are legitimate targets, according to every article I can find on the subject.

In 2000, a group of child soldiers in Sierra Leone known (in the West) as the “West Side Boys” captured a patrol of British soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment along with their Sierra Leone Army liaison officer. Several of the British soldiers were held for two weeks before the British Army decided to free them in an operation that killed between 25 and 150 of the West Side Boys.

Was the deliberate, planned killing of those children a war crime? Of course not.

Absolutely no international law scholar disputes that the British Army had the right to free their fellow soldiers because they were held by combatants under 18. And no BBC reporter responded to the event by saying on the air, “The British Army is happy to kill children.”

No, only Jews are routinely accused of relishing the murder of children. The accusation is centuries old and it is as popular today in England as it was in 1144 when Jews were accused of happily murdering William of Norwich.

Unlike the West Side Boys, who were obviously children, the two “children” killed by the IDF in Jenin were heavily armed, fully grown near-adults. One was a member of Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades.

UPDATE: The BBC has tendered a tepid apology after Gadgil made a fool of herself attacking Bennett in the video above. The apology is quite lame, but the tone is expected given that the animus that the BBC harbors towards Israel:

BBC spokesperson told the JC: “BBC News has received comments and complaints concerning an interview with Naftali Bennett broadcast on the BBC News channel about recent events in the West Bank and Israel.

“The complaints raised relate to specific interview questions about the deaths of young people in the Jenin refugee camp.

“The United Nations raised the issue of the impact of the operation in Jenin on children and young people.

“While this was a legitimate subject to examine in the interview, we apologise that the language used in this line of questioning was not phrased well and was inappropriate.”

However, the corporation stressed the BBC covered the wider events in Jenin in an “impartial and robust way.”

I consider this tepid given the horrible things that the reporter said, implying that the IDF is a sadistic organization that likes to torture and kill children. A better apology would be a bit more contrite than just saying “the language used in this line of question was not phrased well and was inappropriate”. Perhaps something along the lines of “we are very sorry that the reporter implied that the IDF delights in killing children” would have been a bit more appropriate. But you can believe that this apology was issued through gritted teeth!

h/t: Malgorzata

Another Babylon Bee spoof of the Israel/Palestine conflict:

May 21, 2023 • 1:30 pm

First let me assure you that I KNOW that the Babylon Bee site is a spoof “fake news” site. It’s not hard to discern if you go there. But many of the articles are worth reading because they evoke a chuckle and are frequently anti-woke. Here’s one. First, though, I’ll add that it’s well known that the Associated Press, like much of the MSM, is biased in reporting against Israel and in favor of Palestine. If you think I’m making that up, read this article in The Atlantic by a former reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the AP.

Click to read, but I’ve reproduced the entire piece below (the Bee allows it if you don’t benefit commercially.)



GAZA – In an embarrassing blunder on camera, a Middle East reporter for the Associated Press Forgot to remove his green Hamas headband and ski mask before going live to cover Israel’s latest airstrike.

“This is a shocking war crime,” said AP’s foreign correspondent Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Mohammed. “Israel is now blatantly attacking journalists. Behind me is the building that was our Gaza bureau of operations before the evil Jews demolished it. Death to Israel. Allahu Akbar.”

The journalist quickly caught himself and realized he was still wearing his terrorist headgear before frantically ducking out of frame.

“Sorry folks, technical difficulties. As I was saying, Israel and its supporters in the United States have a lot to answer for in the deliberate targeting of the free press.”

He then tried to cut the feed but pressed the wrong button and blew himself up.

The Babylon Bee on Israel and Palestine

May 14, 2023 • 1:00 pm

NOTE:  Some readers thought that this was a serious website, or that I thought it was a serious website. Most people realize that the Babylon Bee is a humorous “fake news” website, and what’s below is made up–satire. But it does convey some of the truth.



Tomorrow is (wait for it) the U.N,’s commemoration of “Nakba Day,” (the word means “catastrophe” in Arabic), originally used around 1949 or so to mean the catastrophe caused by several Arab armies who couldn’t even manage to destroy Israel, and also caused many Palestinian Arabs to flee the country. That is, the original “Nakba” was the catastrophe CAUSED by Arab armies.

Later Yasser Arafat decided that the Nakba didn’t mean that, but referred to the catastrophe occurring when Jews announced their independent state and “expelled the Arabs”.

Tomorrow I’ll argue that the vast amount of that supposed “expulsion” was more of less voluntary, under orders from Arab leaders telling their people to get out of the way while their armies slaughtered Jews (no Arab country thought the Jews could possibly win), or Arabs fleeing after initiating fighting with Jews, but not, as the ideologues want you to think, the mass expulsion of Arabs from Israel because the Israelis didn’t want Arabs around.

What’s ironic about all this is that Israel was founded by a UN vote in 1947, came into being in 1948, and on that very day the legal country was attacked by 5 Arab armies with help from two more.

Well, until tomorrow. Here I reproduce from the Babylon Bee an article that, sadly, rings pretty true. The Bee gives you permission to reproduce whole articles so long as you don’t benefit commercially from doing so. And of course I don’t. It’s funny and sad and true all at once. The text is indented below the headline, which you can click on to go to the site:

JERUSALEM – Israel has tried to get along with Palestine and other neighboring countries, but a core disagreement between the two groups has increased tensions and made peace seem impossible. For many in the Middle East, what they want most of all is to kill Jews — which they see as a reasonable request. But a majority of Israel is made up of Jews who, first and foremost, do not want to be killed. And neither side is willing to compromise on these desires.

“We’re a simple people with a simple desire,” explained Bob Hamas, Palestinian founder of Hamas. “We just want to kill the Jews. We’re not dead set on how. Stabbings. Gunshots. Explosions. Pushing them into the sea. Any of those are fine with us, but Israel won’t allow any of those. Not even strangling. It’s keeping us from living our truth.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel and a “you can’t murder Jews” extremist, explained that from his point of view it was Hamas that was being unreasonable. “We just don’t want people to kill us, you know,” he said. “It’s the number one thing people say to me: ‘Hey, Ben, make sure no one murders us.’ And I know this throws cold water on what a lot of people out there want, but I am not moving from this position. No killing the Jews.”

Compromises have been attempted, but so far both sides have rejected them. When the “Kill the Jews” side was asked if maybe they could just beat up the Jews, they were adamant that only killing Jews would make them happy. And Israel, which has faced a lot of international pressure to allow some of their people to be murdered, has remained equally adamant in wanting no murder whatsoever.

“We just want peace between us,” said Bob Hamas. “I mean peace with some murder. A lot of murder. But it always seems like an unattainable dream.”

More biased reporting on Israel and Palestine

May 4, 2023 • 11:30 am

Once again we see the familiar pattern: Palestinian terrorists attack Israel (either attacking an individual Israeli or firing rockets at civilians), Israel then retaliates with targeted strikes on terrorists, and finally the mainstream media reports it as if it was an Israel-initiated strike. This article below, which appeared the other day at the Associated Press, is a good example. I’ll first give the headline, then below a bit of the actual report. Click this headline to read the story:

 Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip killed a 58-year-old man and wounded five others on Wednesday, Palestinian health officials said, even as the latest spasm of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the enclave appeared to ebb.

Israeli fighter jets struck targets in Gaza in response to salvos of rockets launched by Palestinian militants at Israeli territory on Tuesday. But after sunrise, the violence seemed to subside as both sides signaled they wanted to avoid a wider conflict.

The exchange erupted when a prominent Palestinian detainee died in Israeli custody after an 87-day hunger strike. The death of Khader Adnan, 45, a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group credited with popularizing hunger strikes as an effective form of activism, reverberated across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where he is revered as a national hero.

Note how the AP leads with the death of a 58-year-old man, as if he were surely a civilian at that age. But as I wrote at the first link above, Israeli attacks are targeted at terrorists, and their rate of killing civilians is far, far lower than the rate of Palestinian terrorists, who deliberately target civilians.

Finally, note that the Israeli army has the lowest rate of civilian deaths during military operations in the world:92.5% of Palestinians killed by Israel this year were members of terror groups or were actively involved in terror attacks (74/80 in 2023). Contrast this with the rate of Israeli civilian deaths killed by Palestinians.  The 92.5% is the lowest rate of civilian casualties in the history of urban warfare, and shows the care Israel uses when retaliating. (In contrast, the proportion of U.S. civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan were much higher, and more than 50% of Irish killed by the British in the 1969-2007 Operation Banner during the Troubles in Northern Ireland were civilians.)

These headlines are a way of implicating Israel as initiating violence when in fact that is vanishingly rare: Israel responds to violence by attacking terrorist targets. (Look at the eight headlines I posted a while back.)  This is the way that the mainstream media produces a narrative of Israeli aggressiveness; how many people read beyond the headlines? Once you recognize this pattern, it’s hard to see it as anything other than a tacit agreement among the media to demonize Israel. Why do they do this? You tell me.

What do these eight headlines about the latest Israel/Palestine clashes have in common?

April 7, 2023 • 9:15 am

In the past few days the conflagration between Palestine and Israel has grown hotter. Yesterday, in response to rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza, certainly launched by Hamas and probably Hezbollah as well, the Israelis retaliated by striking terrorist targets.  When I read the first headline below in the NYT this morning, I found it strange, as “Israel” is mentioned first as striking Lebanon, and only then do you hear that Israel’s strikes were in response to terrorist rocket attacks. Wouldn’t it seem more objective to say that rockets were launched from Gaza and Lebanon, and then note that Israel retaliated? But that’s almost never the way it’s reported. I collected a series of headlines from the mainstream media to demonstrate this.

New York Times:


That “subtle” inversion in the headline seems to place the blame on Israel by mentioning it first.

And then I decided to look up similar articles in the MSM I usually read. Sure enough, Israel was always mentioned first. Here are some examples. (Click all headlines to go to article.) I am not leaving out any headlines I looked up.



Associated Press:


Below: from the Washington Post (they don’t mention in the article that the “two killed” were Israeli civilians—two Israeli sisters in their twenties; their mother will probably die as well—killed by Palestinian terrorists in a gun attack on a car. Had the two killed been Palestinians, you bet that this would have been in the headline.

I’ll add that while the targets of Israeli responses are always military (terrorist tunnels, rocket-building facilities, rocket-launching sites, terrorist training camps), Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorists deliberately target civilians. Note as well that when striking either civilian areas or training camps (to avoid killing young trainees not yet terrorists), Israel gives advance warning of the strikes to avoid killing non-terrorists and to damage only infrastructure.  Hamas, of course, never warns when they fire rockets, for their aim is to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible.

Finally, note that the Israeli army has the lowest rate of civilian deaths during military operations in the world: 92.5% of Palestinians killed by Israel this year were members of terror groups or were actively involved in terror attacks (74/80 in 2023). Contrast this with the rate of Israeli civilian deaths killed by Palestinians.  The 92.5% is the lowest rate of civilian casualties in the history of urban warfare, and shows the care Israel uses when retaliating. (In contrast, the proportion of U.S. civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan were much higher, and more than 50% of Irish killed by the British in the 1969-2007 Operation Banner during the Troubles in Northern Ireland were civilians.)


More from CNN:


From The Guardian:

From the BBC:

See this article from Camera UK on how inadequate and biased the BBC’s reporting is when it comes to Israel and Palestine. An excerpt:

To summarise, just three of the 206 terror attacks which occurred during March [2023] were mentioned in BBC News website reports (two of which were about different topics) and that did not include the fatal attack in Tel Aviv.

Throughout the first quarter of 2023 the BBC News website reported 1.98% of the terror attacks which actually took place and 87% of the resulting fatalities.

With regard to BBC News website coverage of Israeli counter-terrorism operations, the corporation’s reporting continues to fail to adequately inform audiences how many of the Palestinian casualties were members of terrorist organisations and/or males involved in violence at the time.

Of the twenty-six Palestinian or Israeli Arab casualties during March, eight were killed while carrying out, or following, terror attacks. At least nineteen were affiliated with terrorist organisations.

Here’s a table of the attacks reported by the BBC, and there’s a longer table at the site of the Palestinian casualties who were members of terrorist groups. In contrast, the BBC reports every Israeli attack against the Palestinian Authority or Gaza, even those (most of them) in response to Palestinian terrorist attacks. One gets the impression, from the BBC coverage, that the IDF gets up every morning and says, “Let’s see: how many Palestinians will we kill today?” The BBC’s reporting is reprehensible; it’s surely anti-Israeli, which shades into anti-Semitism. We’re not even talking about Netanyahu here, but simply military clashes in response to terrorism.

From MSNBC, which mentions one Palestinian death but not the two Israelis killed (and a third gravely wounded) by Palestinian terrorists. At least the article mentions that the Israeli strikes were a “response”!

I found these headlines just by going to my own major sources within the space of five minutes; I bet other mainstream media followed suit.

As I said, this “inverted headline” calumny is characteristic of the history of reporting of Israeli/Palestinian clashes. Palestinians who attack Israeli civilians are valorized, Israelis who strike at military targets are demonized. Note that these headlines—here and in many former clashes—always take the same form: “Israel attacks” and then “in response to Palestinian rockets/attacks”.  This cannot be an accident, for it’s been true for decades. When damage is shown in photos (see above), it’s always damage to Palestinian infrastructure, even though there are plenty of pictures on Israeli sites of damage to Israel from Palestinian rockets fired at civilian targets (some of those rockets do get through the Iron Dome).

Why is the reporting done this way? It’s clear to anybody with neurons: to make Israel look responsible. But remember that Israel knows that if it kills civilians, or doesn’t launch surgical strikes on military targets, the eyes of the whole world will be on it, and it will once again be blamed for “excessive deaths.” But even with this military care, the mainstream media still participates in the demonization of Israel. That’s because the MSM—at least the venues above—lean left, and today the “progressive” Left holds Israel responsible for every clash or death in the area.

Now some of you who have kept up with the mess might say, “Well, yes, but the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians was Hamas’s response to an Israeli attack at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.” But that claim is also distorted, because you don’t have to dig deep to find out why Israeli police cleared the Al-Aqsa  mosque. The Palestinians inside had violated an agreement with Israel not to spend the night inside the mosque, and, beside that violation, Israel found out that rocks, fireworks, and other weapons had been stashed inside the mosque by Palestinians, ready to be used the next morning when Jews showed up to visit the mosque (also a Jewish holy site). See this article from the Jerusalem Post (see also here and here); an excerpt:

Temple Mount unrest comes amid violence in the region

The unrest comes amid clashes between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon that broke out shortly after clashes on the Temple Mount early Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday night, dozens of Palestinians barricaded themselves with fireworks, stones and rods in the mosque ahead of planned Jewish visits to the complex on the eve of Passover on Wednesday morning. Police entered the mosque to remove them and clashes broke out, with hundreds of Palestinians arrested.

Hours after the clashes, about 10 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel and a day later dozens of additional rockets were fired from Gaza and southern Lebanon towards southern and northern Israel.

Israel is the Left’s (and most of the world’s) Great Satan, and there’s only one explanation. It’s not rocket science.

h/t: Malgorzata

Rift between “progressive” and centrist Democrats in House bill on Iron Dome funding

September 24, 2021 • 9:15 am

After some squabbling within the Democratic Party, the House approved $1 billion funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome”, designed solely as a defensive measure to protect it from rockets fired from Palestine. To avoid Republican opposition to raising the debt ceiling, the Dems had to break this out as a separate bill. (Iron Dome funding has been going on for some years.)

There were 420 votes to fund, but nine dissenting votes on the bill—8 Democrats and one Republican—while two members voted “present”. Three of the “no” votes were “squad members” Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Presley, and Ilhan Omar, while, as usual, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waffled, as she was set to vote “no” as well, but then waffled at the last minute and voted “present” because she cannot bring herself to come out as anti-Israel along with her fellow “progressives”. Rumor has it that AOC wants to challenge Chuck Schumer for his New York Senate seat, and she won’t win in New York if she’s gets a reputation as anti-Israel. As the NYT reports:

Minutes before the vote closed, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tearfully huddled with her allies before switching her vote to “present.” The tableau underscored how wrenching the vote was for even outspoken progressives, who have been caught between their principles and the still powerful pro-Israel voices in their party. (A spokesman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment on her change of position.)

The Times’s original story, however, included the last underlined phrase below, couching the vote as a battle between the “principles” of the progressives and the “power” of “influential lobbyists and rabbis”. (The original version of the NYT is archived here.) I guess the paper realized this might not exactly be “objective” reporting since perhaps some of those Democrats who voted to support the bill might have principles, too. One person who clearly doesn’t, though, is the dissimulating and ambitious Ocasio-Cortez, forced to tears by her cognitive dissonance.

Here’s the only place I found the House members who voted “no”. The other “not present” is Georgia Representative Hank Johnson.

The vote now goes to the Senate, which will pass the bill.

Palestine is a right-wing country with right-wing policies

August 4, 2021 • 12:00 pm

We constantly hear from the opponents of Israel and Jews–they often call themselves “anti-Zionists”—that the Israeli government is “right wing”. And yes, there were right-wing policies under Netanyahu, but I surely wouldn’t characterize Israel in general as a right-wing country. It’s also called an “apartheid state”, but if you want to claim that there’s more apartheid in Israel than in the Palestinian Territories, I’d look upon that statement with contempt.

But to each their own taste. If you Google “Israeli far right,” though, you’ll find a lot of articles like this one, about the far right-government, even the new coalition. And not just “right wing” but far right wing.

I just did the same thing with Hamas (the militant organization that runs Gaza) and Fatah (the largest faction of the PLO, which includes President for Life Abbas). If you Google, say, “Right wing Hamas”, you will find. . . . exactly nothing. But if you look at policies of both Hamas and Fatah, you would have trouble finding anything which is not far-right, for the policies of both Gaza and the rest of Palestine include these:  no rights for LGBT people, no equality for women, no abortion, religious fanaticism, no religious freedom, hatred of apostates and atheists, loads of antisemitism, and so on. Are’t those stances of the right wing?

I asked Malgorzata if there was anything she would add, and this is how she responded:

Well, I would add  admiration for Hitler (Mein Kampf is a bestseller in Palestine; you see the Nazi salute given by both Hezbollah and Hamas, also by members of the in Palestinian Authority), and you can’t get more right wing than Hitler! There’s also the desire to build a theocracy (with the law based on shariah law taken from the God-given Qur’an), the deep conviction that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is authentic; and, of course, antisemitism—but that could be seen as a feature not exclusive to the right wing.

But I bet you haven’t seen anybody writing about “the far-right leader of Hamas” (or “of Fatah”).

Now why would that be?