A brilliant young Harvard Ph.D. faces jail for impersonating a Bible scholar—and rival of his father [more inside]
From the BBC blog of documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis: "Save Your Kisses For Me: How the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Israeli Right became co-dependents in an abusive relationship." Includes images / film clips from the BBC news archive. [more inside]
The Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land is a comprehensive spatially-referenced database of current archaeological knowledge of all periods of Levantine history and prehistory. Spatial search is a good entry point, as are the Palestine Exploration Fund historic maps. You can also search by time period or dig into the many ancient Empires of the area. Or just look at everything in the database. The site is a work in progress, but a cool one powered by a consortium of over 30 professional archaeologists. May require Google Maps. via
Forty years on. After a quick buildup, the Six Day War started 40 years ago today and reshaped the Middle East. At the time, Israel's quick win looked like a triumph, but after 40 years the war is still being fought and it looks like it may have been a pyrrhic victory.
Massive tunnels for peace. Russia is considering building a tunnel under the Bering Strait that would include pipelines, high-speed rails, and a highway, though earlier plans have not gotten far, at least for the last ten millennia. Another large tunnel project under consideration that hopes to encourage mutual understanding is the Red-Dead Canal, which would irrigate the deserts of Jordan and Israel, generate electricity, and refill the Dead Sea using water flowing from the Red Sea to the lowest point on Earth.
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
Bridging the rift. A joint Israeli/Jordanian biological research centre straddling the border between the two nations is set to become operational in the near future. Scientists from Cornell and Stanford are involved as well. See what it'll look like (big PDF), and learn why studies of biosalinity and other forms of extreme biology are important.
Hamas accepts Saudi peace plan:
"There has been generation after generation (of war). Now there is a generation who needs to live in peace, and not worry about their safety," said [Hamas executive Ismail Abu] Shanab. "So it is a generation that wants to practice living in peace and postpone historical issues. We speak of historical Palestine, and practical reality."Since their official position is that "Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason" (Hamas Charter, Article 32), this is a dramatic change in policy indeed. I'm gobsmacked; this is utterly unbelievable, yet apparently real. And genuinely hopeful IMHO. What do you think?
The only moral and practical answer that there has ever been to this question: partition, territorial compromise, a two-state solution, the establishment of a Palestinian state in most of the occupied territories with security arrangements in the Jordan Valley and identity arrangements in Jerusalem. An analysis that I can live with from The New Repuclic.
Will Amman cut off diplomatic relations with Israel? Jordan in turmoil over mideast chaos. I knew the U.S. gave some 3 billion to Israel yearly, and 2 billion to Egypt, but I had known we are also generous to Jordan too, though the total amount unknown. to me. It was of course Jordan who had the West Bank under their control but gave it up after the '67war, while also absorbing many Palestinians. Now it seems the chickens are coming home to roost. Thus another country that may soon topple its rulers in this volatile area of the world.
What now? Fashion profiling? (NYT) For the third time in 48 hours, an alert Israeli foiled an attempted suicide bombing on Tuesday. Near the West Bank settlement of Mehola in the Jordan Valley, a bus driver, Shalom Drei, thought a man climbing onto the second step of the bus looked suspicious. "He wore an aviator's jacket, zipped all the way up," Mr. Drei told Israeli television. "It looked strange to me." Mr. Drei pushed the stranger back off the bus, then, as the bus pulled away, the man exploded.