Newsletter 59: Muslems in Europe
I'm forever telling people news of the past; memorable, big time, sensational events associated with the sites of Israel. But people are much more interested in the "no news" of the past; the unknown, unpublished bits of information. So for an interesting tour I always have to be on the lookout for these interesting bits of "no news".
I'm like an entomologist looking for tiny, weird and sometimes scary insects which are almost invisible because they hide in clearly visible humans, plants and animals.
Only when we have the obvious facts of news in our possession can we begin to search and discover the no news that is hidden there.
Walking through the underground cisterns of the City of David and marveling at the industriousness and ingenuity of our ancestors, with a couple of Israeli tourists from Bror Hayil, a kibbutz in the South of Israel, next to the Gaza Strip, I was reminded again of the preoccupation with the water in ancient Israel.
Prof. Eliezer Schweid, in his book "The Philosophy of the Bible as the basis of the culture of Israel" opened my eyes to the amazing distinction between a land where life depends on water from heaven and lands where life is nourished by water from rivers.
Israel, the Land of Canaan, according to Schweid is the chosen land of God because life depends on the seasonal dose of water from heaven. Not like Babylon and Egypt, the lands from where Jews left to go to the promised land, which are nourished by continually flowing rivers, seemingly not dependent on the direct bounty of God.
Without continually flowing rivers that would provide water digging a cistern to store up water was a basic necessity in Canaan. If you didn't dig a cistern you'd lose the water sent by God because it would flow rapidly down mountain sides into wadis and get lost in the sea.
The knowledge of digging cisterns and water tunnels was part of ancient Israelite culture. Cisterns were dug no matter how difficult the job and people sat patiently beside empty cisterns sure that the Lord would fill them.
Some of the most beautiful love stories of the Bible take place at water cisterns or wells. The story of Eliezer, Abraham's faithful servant who goes to find a wife for his master's son, Isaac, takes place by the well. Rebekah shows her kindness by drawing water for the servant and then for the camels as well.
This is the time of the year when we should have rain but hardly a drop has fallen. Throughout the country I ride past fields that have been ploughed and the farmer is waiting for the rains to come.
Summer has continued so long that I was surprised to find grapefruit. I shouldn't have been surprised because it's supposed to be Winter now and that's the time for grapefruit.
Winter is also the time universities start functioning again and it's back to the lecture hall for students and lecturers.
Yesterday and the day before, I felt lucky to have free time to attend lectures I'd written in my diary, but usually don't have time for because of work.
On Monday night I finally got to see Prof. Eyal Zisser, who I admire, I specially translated an article he wrote on the war in Lebanon (on my website news archive of 7/16/06). He's head of the Dayan Center of Middle Eastern studies at the Tel Aviv university.
Dr. Uriah Shavit, one of prof. Zisser's students gave a memorial lecture on "Islam in Europe". I am still a little dizzy from the information he gave us. Basically he gave a long list of Moslem teachers and their instructions how Moslems in Europe should proceed with converting non believers. Their methods range from penetration into European society by total assimilation and persuasion from within the lives of the non-believers to destruction and violence against non believers.
Most of his sources were in Arabic, but I'll be in touch with Dr. Shavit to obtain his sources in English and hopefully I'll be able to share these with anyone who is interested and feels strong enough to listen to them without getting overly distressed.
Last night being again workless I went to Tel Aviv to hear a lecture on Myth in the book of Genesis given by Prof. Loberbaum. He wasn't saying that the book of Genesis is a myth but the first few chapters are presented as if they are myths. He claims that the Bible deliberately describes the beginning of the world in the style of a myth so that humans will pay more attention to the reason why the world was created rather than to the historical, scientific facts of how it was created. We being created in the image of God, must, like God ask ourselves of everything we do "is it good?"
Wishing you a great No News Day