Thursday, September 30, 2010

Archaeologists find theater box at Herod's palace

Frescos discovered in the Herodium complex, in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010. Israeli archaeologists have excavated a lavAP – Frescos discovered in the Herodium complex, in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, Tuesday, Sept. 21, …

JERUSALEM – Israeli archaeologists have excavated a lavish, private theater box in a 400-seat facility at King Herod's winter palace in the Judean desert, the team's head said Tuesday.

Ehud Netzer of Jerusalem's Hebrew University said the room provides further evidence of King Herod's famed taste for extravagance.

Herod commissioned Roman artists to decorate the theater walls with elaborate paintings and plaster moldings around 15 B.C., Netzer said. Its upper portions feature paintings of windows overlooking a river and a seascape with a large sailboat.

This is the first time this painting style has been found in Israel, Netzer said.

Herod was the Jewish proxy ruler of the Holy Land under Roman occupation from 37 to 4 B.C. He is known for his extensive building throughout the area.

The team first excavated the site — sitting atop a man-made hill 2,230 feet high — in 2007. Netzer described the site as a kind of "country club," with a pool, baths and gardens fed by pools and aqueducts.

But archaeological evidence shows the theater's life was short-lived, Netzer said. Builders deliberately destroyed it to preserve the conic shape of the man-made hill.

After Herod's death in the 1st century B.C., the complex became a stronghold for Jewish rebels fighting Roman occupation, and the palace site suffered significant battle damage before it was destroyed by Roman soldiers in A.D. 71, a year after they razed the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Israel passes Nazi-seized drawing to owner's heir

September 29, 2010 - 2:06pm
In this image distributed Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010 by the Israel Museum, an image of an 1920 drawing by Swiss artist Paul Klee . The drawing was seized by the Nazis during World War II and has completed a 73-year journey from the hands of its original German Jewish owner to the collection of a Jewish charity in Britain, Israel's national museum said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Israel Museum)
Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM (AP) - A Swiss artist's drawing seized by the Nazis during World War II has completed a 73-year journey from the hands of its original German-Jewish owner to the collection of a Jewish charity in Britain, Israel's national museum said Wednesday.

The convoluted passage of Paul Klee's drawing, from its seizure to the present destination, reflects an ongoing quest by Jewish organizations to restore artwork stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners.

Klee's 1920 drawing, "Veil Dance," was part of the private collection of Harry Fuld Jr., a Jewish telephone maker who fled Nazi persecution in Germany in 1937.

Fuld had left his art collection with a shipping company, expecting it would follow him to his new home in England, but the collection never left. In 1941, under a law seizing the property of Jewish citizens who had left Germany, it fell into Nazi hands.

After the war, a Jewish organization that seeks out Jewish-owned art seized by the Nazis found the painting and _ unaware who it belonged to _ handed it in 1950 with about 1,200 other works to Israel's national museum for safekeeping.

And there it remained for 60 years _ often displayed in exhibitions _ until earlier this month.

Fuld died in 1963, willing his estate to his housekeeper, Gita Gisela Martin, who donated it in 1992 to the U.K. branch of Magen David Adom, the British fundraising arm of Israel's emergency service. Neither knew where the drawing was.

Meanwhile, further research was done in Israel on the drawing's provenance. When the identity of its owner and heirs was established, the Israel Museum agreed to give it up.

Museum director James Snyder said Wednesday that although the drawing was an important part of the museum's 18-piece Klee collection, he was "gratified" to see it go to a charitable cause.

Over the years, the museum has returned some 20 such pieces claimed by heirs, including Edgar Degas' charcoal drawing "Four Nude Female Dancers Resting" in 2005, which belonged to a Dutch art dealer who died while fleeing the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands.

Klee's style was influenced by expressionism, cubism and surrealism. Along with his friend and colleague, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, he taught at the German Bauhaus school whose work the Nazis denounced as "degenerate art" and shut down in 1933.

(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Former Gaza settlers moving into desert community

Former Gaza settlers moving into desert community

JERUSALEM — It took five years, but on Monday, five families who lost their homes when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 moved into their new houses — not far from their old ones.

Israel evacuated 21 settlements in Gaza as part of its unilateral pullout. Most of the 8,500 Gaza settlers refused to cooperate with the government's resettlement plans, and many are still living in temporary housing.

The town of Halutza in Israel's southern Negev desert, just four miles (seven kilometers) from the Gaza border, is the first independent community built for the former Gaza settlers. In the first stages, 200 families are beginning to move in, but plans are to expand the town to include about 1,800 families.

A main feature of the new town is its attempt to fit into the environment, according to Isaac Blachor of the Jewish National Fund, a veteran world fund-raising group that deals with forestry and community building and is funding the infrastructure development.

The community is implementing several green measures, such as using recycled water for growing organic crops and constructing two solar power stations. Planners also intend to build an industrial zone to attract high-tech companies to provide jobs for the town's projected population of 150,000.

The town is springing up in a mostly barren desert area next to the Egyptian border.

"The importance of Jews settling here can't be (over)estimated," Blachor said, hoping its presence would help cut down on smuggling of contraband and people into Israel across the largely unprotected border.

Rabbi Eli Adler, a teacher with eight children, planted trees in barrels outside his temprary home nearby to make an easy transition to his new house. The construction has taken four years longer than he anticipated, he said, because builders had to clear land and install basic infrastructure such as sewage and power lines.

Gaza continues to affect the residents. Since the Israeli pullout, Gaza militants have pelted Israeli communities with thousands of rockets and mortar shells.

Therefore, according to the plans, all homes in Halutza will be equipped with bomb shelters and reinforced roofs to protect against rocket attacks.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cycling in Athens, Ohio - 10 Reasons

By Claudia Schwarz,
from Austria - Europe
SUSI Scholar, 2010

5 Reasons why you should ride a bicycle in Athens, Ohio:

  1. Hockhocking Adena Bikeway: A most beautiful ride from Athens to Nelsonville along the Hocking River with an amazing scenery and several interesting things to see and explore, e.g. the company town Eclipse (home to Jana's charming Soul Food Cafe), two mobile home parks, Beaumont/Salina (the site of former salt and coal mines), Robins Crossing Living History Site (with students and community members practicing crafts and imitating life in the 1850s), and Rocky Factory Outlet.
  2. It's a very easy and quick way to get around.
  3. Independence (which also means you can go shopping on your own schedule).
  4. Keep in shape or at least get some exercise.
  5. Meet interesting people!

5 Reasons why you should not ride a bike in Athens, Ohio:
  1. The bikeway is great, but most other streets are in a terrible condition and badly damaged, which can be quite ... challenging.
  2. It's dangerous. Car drivers are apparently not really used to bikes on regular streets and may get you into awkward or even dangerous situations (I know, cars are more powerful but all the rules still apply, right? And please, don't keep driving behind me when there is plenty of space to pass safely!).
  3. Hills can be really steep in this area, especially the one to the University Courtyard.
  4. There is limited space in your backpack to carry home shopping items.
  5. It makes you want to get a car (or motorbike) for your next excursion.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The worst predetors of our independance are ourselves

Julien M. Niyingabira

Journalism independence and being passionate about seeking the truth were the two major lessons that I have taken from Ohio University sessions. I was burning to bring them back in my daily editorial calls with an expectation to grow good journalists. The time without working with my journalists has not been an eternity but in it so many things have happened and invited some weak and young minds to dramatically change.

A few days ago, the elected Rwandan president sworn in. The very day of the presidential oath taking, I held an editorial meeting with journalists. The first idea discussed upon were to point out all political events that have marked the first seven-year mandate of the president. We had to develop some elements in Rwanda's diplomatic relations with other countries like DRC, France and Spain. We had to recall the international arrest warrants issued by French and Spanish judges. We had to talk about the opponent from the yet-to-be-registered political party etc. Most of the things we had to tackle on are considered by the current Rwandan government to be leeches on its skin.

"This will make a good story but I don't feel I want to be one of the group to be assigned to it," one of the journalists told me. And I said "Why?" I couldn't imagine how he doesn't realize the opportunities in doing something in this big coverage project. But the journalist told me that he would rather adhere to "Singiza Ministry" than not to. The word Singiza in Kinyarwanda means "worship". And in some jokes they make on dependent journalists from state-owned media outlets, they call them "men from singiza ministry"

Back to our heartache editorial meeting, the very journalist was trying to challenge me saying that a good journalist is neither the deceased nor the one in prison. "the very first condition to be a good journalist is to be alive."

I understood him. Some journalists who are very critical to the government have been once in a while imprisoned and one editor from a critical newspaper has been shot dead in his car in front of his house's gate. Again, most of the journalists at Radio Salus are young people, who still pay attention to keep away from life threats. But I personally don't feel that all the things that we should call dangerous to report on are really ones. That's why I think that self censorship is far more dangerous and carrier ruining than a state-established censorship.

Finally the documentary was produced. A very good piece of almost 5 minutes. At the last newscast's presentation, the presenters joined me in my office: "this was a great newscast but I'm afraid we have gone too far," She told me. And I proudly said "We have gone too far in telling the truth we should rejoice for that".

Today I had a day-off, and since the doc was aired I have received the reinforced version of the same compliments from Butare population: "We like Radio Salus, we love our journalists, you are intellectuals, why don't you teach other radio stations to do what you do?" etc, etc. I would instead expect something like "TO HELL RADIO SALUS" but we really don't deserve it.

"Tell the truth, tell it all, tell it now"