Monday, January 27, 2014

British Museum Expert: 'Real' Noah's Ark Would Have Been Round

A 3,700-year-old cuneiform text has the British Museum's top specialist on ancient Mesopotamian inscriptions convinced that Noah's Ark was most likely huge, round, made of wickerwork rope, and watertight material, the Guardian reported.

The expert, Irving Finkel, who decoded the weather-beaten clay tablet, with its 60 lines of tidy text, is one of the few scholars alive today who knows how to decipher script recorded on cuneiform or clay tablets.

Finkel is convinced this particular clay tablet is "one of the most important human documents ever discovered," the Guardian reported.

As for the craft described in the Book of Genesis, "I am 107 percent convinced the ark never existed," he said.

All civilizations have the myths. What is key, it seems to me, is what they say about the values of the particular civilization.

Finkel believes the idea that inspired the Biblical flood story originated in Mesopotamia. 

The authors of the Hebrew Bible were moved by hearing flood stories during their exile in Babylonia after the destruction of Jerusalem's First Temple in 586 BC.

Mesopotamia corresponds to today's Iraq, and smaller parts of Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Kuwait. Babylon was an ancient city of Mesopotamia.

"The flood story in Genesis basically overlaps with the Babylonian story. The two are interdependent, cut from the same cloth. The Judean intelligentsia knew Babylon's folk tales, but gave them a Jewish twist. The same holds for the similarity between the baby-in-the-bulrushes story of Moses and the story of the Assyrian king Sargon, whose mother also placed him in a reed basket," Finkel told me several years ago when I interviewed him here in Jerusalem.

The tablet Finkel analyzed is the only one found so far that offers precise dimensions and directions on how to construct the ark— which it says should be circular. The commands call for an ark that would be almost as big as a British soccer field, the Guardian reports.

Finkel does not say the craft actually existed but believes similar though smaller vessels did ply ancient waters, according to the Guardian. 

The tablet, which will be put on display at the British Museum, was first shown to Finkel in 2008 by Douglas Simmons, whose father, Leonard, brought it home to England after service in the Middle East with the Royal Air Force.

The clay tablet also portrays islands beyond the known world. The text says, that is where  the remains of the ark can be found.

Finkel details his flood theory in a book due out on Jan. 30, "The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood."

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Take Aways" From Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Session with Foreign Journalists Thursday Evening Jan. 18 Jerusalem


He's gearing up for next week's trip to Davos. Spoke about Israel as being safe, free and technically advanced.
His Davos speech will be entitled "Israel: Innovation Nation"
Israel committed to Negev and Galilee development.
Moving forward with rail link between Eilat and Ashdod – Red-Med link. Way to move Asian goods to Europe [via containers].
Committed to relocating advanced military bases to Beersheba.
[by prearrangement took one of just three questions from Xinhua] Israel is working on easing export restrictions to China.  Planning to offer China test desalination project for one Chinese city. Israel leads in this technology. Then, maybe, scale up to other cities.

Cyber warfare
Israel moving its biggest cyber defense bases to Negev.
Safe secure cyber environment is everyone's interest.
Beersheba will be capital of cyber efforts in years to come- the cyber capital of Israel – maybe bigger than that…

Israel faces three challenges: Iran, Iran's Hezbollah proxy, Iran's Hamas and Islamic Jihad Proxy
Iranian nukes: "We will prevent it" by ever means possible.

On Thursday's lightening, surprise visit with King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman:  It was an "excellent" meeting. The PM [in reply to query from Arab journalist, also by prearrangement] did not want to characterize Jordan's position on a continued Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley.
Israel's relation with Jordan also based on peace and security.

In Gaza: Israel will not accept "drip" & "drizzle" of rocket attacks. [Air Force retaliating as he spoke for attack aimed at Ashkelon.]  
Negotiations with PA: The main component of a Lasting Peace is Israeli Security. Otherwise it will unravel.
Jerusalem does not want a Hamasstan in Judea and Samaria [West Bank]
We're seeing an "Afghanistan" evolving in Syria.
There is a Hezbollahstan in Lebanon.
Myths: That the core of the ME conflict is the Palestinian Arab problem; that "settlements" are the core of the Palestinian-Israel conflict; that a Palestinian state is what is holding up peace.
Why did they attack us between 1948 – 1967 when there  were no settlements?
Why attack us after we pulled out of Gaza?
Israel is ready for a Palestinian state.
The Palestinians are not ready for a Jewish state.
An accord with Palestinians is contingent on (1) security and (2) recognition of Jewish state [in any boundaries].
In answer to [prearranged question from BBC] question about why release of Arab terrorists is invariably linked to building [within existing] settlements.
Must Jews live in settlement clusters. No new settlements are being announced, only some dwellings within existing settlements.
Netanyahu expressed irritation with EU calling in Israeli ambassadors after settlement-building announcement. "When was the last time the EU called in Palestinian ambassadors to talk about incitement?"
Or the involvement of Palestinian Authority security personnel in anti-civilian attacks against Israelis?
It is significant to Israel that Palestinians are not being held accountable for their behavior.
[Continued construction] "This was part of the understanding.  It was the deal. Unwritten. But everybody knew it."
This is not an obstacle. What do the Arabs wants an ethnically cleansed state?


Thursday, January 02, 2014

Despite Vast Resources Poured into the Effort , UK Islamist Extremists Snub Non-Violence Prison Program

I found this interesting but hardly surprising.

A British government program aimed at rehabilitating radical Muslim prisoners so that they abandon their philosophy of violence has largely failed, according to Sky News

The majority of prisoners convicted on terrorism charges related to their Islamist beliefs have refused to participate.

There are about 150 convicted terrorists in British prisons, 110 of them have rejected taking part in the "Contest" program. Contest seeks to persuade them to reconsider their beliefs and reject violence.

The prisoners hold views that are "very fanatical" and "entrenched," rooted in certainty that "it is the correct worldview and anybody who opposes it is the enemy of God," said Dr. Usama Hasan of the Quilliam Foundation. The group is partly funded by the British government.

Contest is part of a larger effort to counter radicalism among the country's 1.6 million Muslims. 

Britain says it invests significant resources in "stopping people from supporting terrorism," according to a 2013 government report. London provides funding to community-based Muslim groups to help them counter militant Islamic propaganda and "offer alternative views" to "vulnerable target audiences."

Government sources told Sky News that none of the hardcore "jihadist" in the prison system, among them Abdullah Ahmed Ali who had conspired to blow up airliners with liquid explosives, consented to participate in the anti-extremism initiative.

Some 40 prisoners, mostly lower level "foot soldiers" are presently enrolled in the program. However, 30 offenders who completed their sentences and did not take part in the program are now back on the streets, Sky News reported.

The Contest prison program is modeled after one pioneered in Saudi Arabia.

Something tells me the Saudi instructors are more persuasive. 

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