Theme Week East Jerusalem – The Western or Buraq Wall

7 November 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Men's and women's prayer area © Daniel Case/cc-by-sa-3.0

Men’s and women’s prayer area © Daniel Case/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Western Wall, Wailing Wall, or Kotel, known in Islam as the Buraq Wall, is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of East Jerusalem. It is a relatively small segment of a far longer ancient retaining wall, known also in its entirety as the “Western Wall”. The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, with the Dome of the Rock/Qubbat As-Sakhrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in a large rectangular structure topped by a huge flat platform, thus creating more space for the Temple itself and its auxiliary buildings. For Muslims, it is the site where the Islamic Prophet Muhammad tied his steed, al-Buraq, on his night journey to Jerusalem before ascending to paradise, and constitutes the Western border of al-Haram al-Sharif.   read more…

Theme Week East Jerusalem – The American Colony Hotel

1 October 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Hotels, Union for the Mediterranean

© flickr.com - Alistair/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – Alistair/cc-by-sa-2.0

The American Colony Hotel is a luxury hotel located in a historic building in East Jerusalem which previously housed the utopian AmericanSwedish community known as the American Colony. The hotel belongs to The Leading Hotels of the World. The building was originally built and owned by Ottoman Pasha Rabbah Daoud Amin Effendi al-Husseini, who lived there with his harem of four wives. Soon after his fourth marriage, al-Husseini died. In 1895, the building was sold to a group of messianic Christians who arrived in Jerusalem in 1881 and set up a commune. Their leader was Horatio Spafford, a lawyer from Chicago and his wife, Anna. In 1896, the Americans were joined by two groups of Swedish settlers. This Christian utopian society became known as the American Colony.   read more…

Theme Week East Jerusalem – The Old City of Jerusalem

12 September 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Old City of Jerusalem - Temple Mount © Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

Old City of Jerusalem – Temple Mount © Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Old City of Jerusalem is a just about 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi) wide walled area in East Jerusalem and forms the core of the Middle East/Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until 1860, when the Jewish neighborhood Mishkenot Sha’ananim was established, this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem and Israeli right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unintentionally right in pointing out that Jerusalem is indivisible, as to this day the Palestinian old town remains to be a self-contained and undivided entity. The Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, the Temple Mount and Western Wall for Jews, and the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims. It was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger in 1982. Although the Mount Zion with the Abbey of the Dormition is located outside the city walls, it is occasionally seen as part of the Old City. In 2011, UNESCO issued a statement reiterating its view that East Jerusalem is “part of the occupied Palestinian territory, and that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved in permanent status negotiations.” The border between East and West Jerusalem, the City Line, which has survived to this day due to the repeatedly annulled Jerusalem Law by the UN, as part of the Green Line, runs between the Old City Wall and the Mamilla Mall in West Jerusalem.   read more…

Al-Khalīl or Hebron in the West Bank

31 January 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Hebron Market © flickr.com - amillionwaystobe/cc-by-2.0

Hebron Market © flickr.com – amillionwaystobe/cc-by-2.0

Hebron is a Palestinian city located in the southern West Bank, 30 km (19 mi) south of Jerusalem. It lies 930 meters (3,050 ft) above sea level. The largest city in the West Bank, and the second largest in the Palestine after Gaza, it has a population of 216,000 Palestinians, and between 500 and 850 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter. Muslims, Jews, and Christians all venerate the city of Hebron for its association with Abraham – it includes the traditional burial site of the biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Judaism ranks Hebron as the second-holiest city after Jerusalem, while Islam regards it as one of the four holy cities.   read more…

Arab–Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict

6 January 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, General, Union for the Mediterranean

© Oncenawhile

© Oncenawhile

(Latest update: 14 September 2019) The Arab–Israeli conflict is the political tension, military conflicts and disputes between a number of Arab countries and Israel. The roots (European colonial period, Ottoman Empire, widespread Antisemitism in Europe, Jews in the Russian Empire, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (Jewish land purchase in Palestine), Theodor Herzl, Jewish National Fund, timeline of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, World War I, Sykes–Picot Agreement (San Remo conference, Mandate for Palestine, UN Charter, Chapter XII – International Trusteeship System, Article 80 (commonly known as the “Palestine Article” used by both conflict parties, Israel and Palestine, to create the wildest interpretations, speculations and conspiracy theories to assert the respective alleged right to the total land area), McMahon–Hussein Correspondence), Balfour Declaration, World War II, The Holocaust (International Holocaust Remembrance Day), Évian Conference, Mandatory Palestine, Forced displacement, and United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine) of the modern Arab–Israeli conflict (or the history of collective failure) are bound in the rise of Zionism and Arab nationalism towards the end of the 19th century. Territory regarded by the Jewish people as their historical homeland is also regarded by the Pan-Arab movement as historically and currently belonging to the Palestinians, and in the Pan-Islamic context, as Muslim lands. The sectarian conflict between Palestinian Jews and Arabs emerged in the early 20th century, peaking into a full-scale civil war in 1947 and transforming into the First Arab–Israeli War in May 1948 following the Israeli Declaration of Independence (Nakba). Large-scale hostilities mostly ended with the cease-fire agreements after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War, or October War. Peace agreements were signed between Israel and Egypt in 1979, resulting in Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and abolishment of the military governance system in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in favor of Israeli Civil Administration and consequent unilateral, internationally not recognized, annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Even when the text is about 97 pages long, it is just a summary. The multitude of links point out that there is a lot more to learn in detail. At first, it is a timeline of the major developments in the region and it leads to today’s challenges. The starting point is the view of the international community, especially the European Union and North America, on the conflict, enriched with excursions into the ideas, convictions, believes, and thoughts of the direct and indirect involved parties to the conflict.   read more…

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Theme Week Palestine – Nablus

30 December 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

An-Najah University © Guillaume Paumier/cc-by-3.0

An-Najah University © Guillaume Paumier/cc-by-3.0

Nablus is a city in the northern West Bank, approximately 49 kilometers (30 mi) north of Jerusalem, (approximately 63 kilometers (39 mi) by road), with a population of 147,000. Located between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center, containing the An-Najah National University, one of the largest Palestinian institutions of higher learning, and the Palestinian stock-exchange.   read more…

Theme Week Palestine – Al-Bireh

29 December 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Manara Square, border between Ramallah (left) and Al-Bireh (right) © Abutoum

Manara Square, border between Ramallah (left) and Al-Bireh (right) © Abutoum

Al-Bireh is a city in the central West Bank, 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) north of Jerusalem. The city borders Ramallah to the west. To the north is the Israeli settlement Beit El, to the east another Israeli settlement called Psagot and to the south al-Am’ari Refugee Camp and Kalandia. It is situated on the central ridge running through the West Bank and is 860 meters (2,820 ft) above sea level, covering an area of 22.4 square kilometers (8.6 sq mi). Because of its location Al-Bireh served as an economic crossroad between the north and south, along the caravan route between Jerusalem and Nablus. The city has a population of approximately 40,000. Al-Bireh is the second largest center of Palestinian administration after Gaza. Besides the governor’s headquarters, it also hosts a considerable number of governmental, non-governmental, and private organizations, including the Ministries of Transportation, Supply, Information, Public Works and Higher Education, as well as the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Due to its proximity with Ramallah, the cities form a single constituency for elections to the Palestinian National Authority.   read more…

Theme Week Palestine – Beit Jala

28 December 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Saint Nicholas Church © SalibaQ/cc-by-sa-3.0

Saint Nicholas Church © SalibaQ/cc-by-sa-3.0

Beit Jala is a Palestinian Christian town in the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. Beit Jala is located 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the western side of the Hebron road, opposite Bethlehem, at 825 meters (2,707 ft) altitude. In 2007, Beit Jala had 11,758 inhabitants. About 75% of the population were Christians (mostly Greek Orthodox) and about 25% Muslims. A crypt, dating to the 5th or 6th century C.E. was located under the Church of St. Nicolas. In the Crusader era, the village was called Apezala, and the Church of Saint Nicholas was possibly rebuild during that time. In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund‘s Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Beit Jala as: “A large and flourishing village of white well-built stone houses, on the slope of a steep hill. The water supply is artificial, with a well in the valley below. The population is said by Pere Lievin to amount to 3,000, of whom 420 are Catholics, and the rest Orthodox Greeks. There is a Greek and a Latin church in the village. There are remarkably fine groves of olives round and beneath the village, and the hill is covered with vineyards which belong to the place.”   read more…

Theme Week Palestine – Beit Hanoun

27 December 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

© Lencer/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Lencer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Beit Hanoun is a city on the northeast edge of the Gaza Strip with a population of 49,000. It is located by the Hanoun stream, 6 km north of Gaza City, 5 km east of Beit Lahia, and just 6 kilometers west of the Israeli town of Sderot. There are twelve secondary, primary and agricultural schools in Beit Hanoun and an agricultural college which is related to al-Azhar University – Gaza. There is a medical center and hospital in the city and several clinics mostly managed by the United Nations.   read more…

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