Union for the Mediterranean: Bon voyage!

12 January 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organization of 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 28 member states of the European Union and 15 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East (the western and middle part of the Middle East & North Africa region (MENA)) and Southeast Europe. It was created in July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with a view to reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 and known as the Barcelona Process. The Union has the aim of promoting stability and prosperity throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues, based on the principles of shared ownership, shared decision-making and shared responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main goal is to increase both North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region, in order to support the countries’ socioeconomic development and ensure stability in the region. The actions of the organization fall under three, interrelated priorities—regional human development, regional integration and regional stability. To this end, it identifies and supports regional projects and initiatives of different sizes, to which it gives its label, following a consensual decision among the forty-three countries. The region has 756 million inhabitants and is scenic, architecturally and culturally very diverse. Cities, lakes, mountains, beaches and national parks offer everything that promises fun, recreation and perfect vacations. The cultural offers are numerous. In addition to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are numerous galleries, museums, theaters and opera houses. Of course, there are plenty of shopping and entertainment possibilities. However, holiday pleasure is not untroubled in all countries. At present, Syria and Libya in general, Mauritania (Sahara and Sahel) and Lebanon (North Lebanon and the border regions to Syria and Israel), Palestine (Gaza Strip) should be partly avoided. In all other countries of the Levant and North Africa, increased caution, vigilance and prudence are recommended. At the end of each country portrait is a link to the U.S. Department of State, in order to be able to find out about the current security situation on the ground.   read more…

Portrait: Emperor Titus

21 November 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Château de Versailles - Bust of Titus © Coyau/cc-by-sa-3.0

Château de Versailles – Bust of Titus © Coyau/cc-by-sa-3.0

Titus was Roman emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman emperor to come to the throne after his own biological father. Prior to becoming emperor, Titus gained renown as a military commander, serving under his father in Judea during the First Jewish–Roman War. The campaign came to a brief halt with the death of emperor Nero in 68, launching Vespasian’s bid for the imperial power during the Year of the Four Emperors. When Vespasian was declared Emperor on 1 July 69, Titus was left in charge of ending the Jewish rebellion. In 70, he besieged and captured Jerusalem, and destroyed the city and the Second Temple so that the city became uninhabitable for over 60 years (the present day Old City was then the whole of Jerusalem). For this achievement Titus was awarded a triumph: the Arch of Titus commemorates his victory to this day. The influence on the later developments of Christianity and Judaism through the results of the Jewish-Roman Wars (First Jewish–Roman War, Kitos War and Bar Kokhba revolt) was considerable. While Christianity experienced a rapid worldwide growth, Judaism declined into Diaspora groups.   read more…

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…

Transatlantic relations

2 June 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

Atlantic Ocean © NOAA - www.ngdc.noaa.gov

Atlantic Ocean © NOAA – www.ngdc.noaa.gov

(Latest update: 18 November 2019) Transatlantic relations refer to the historic, cultural, political, economic and social relations between countries on both side of the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes specifically those between the United States, Canada and the countries in Europe, although other meanings are possible. There are a number of issues over which the United States and Europe generally disagree. Some of these are cultural, such as the U.S. use of the death penalty, some are international issues such as the Middle East peace process where the United States is often seen as pro-Israel and where Europe is often seen as pro-Arab (Arab–Israeli conflict), and many others are trade related. The current U.S. policies are often described as being unilateral in nature, whereas the European Union and Canada are often said to take a more multilateral approach, relying more on the United Nations and other international institutions to help solve issues. There are many other issues upon which they agree. This article refers to the relations between the EU (Culture of Europe, Economy of the European Union, History of Europe, and Politics of the European Union) and the USA (Culture of the United States, Economy of the United States, History of the United States, and Politics of the United States).   read more…

Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem

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

© Tango7174/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Tango7174/cc-by-sa-4.0

Abbey of the Dormition is an abbey and the name of a Benedictine community in Jerusalem on Mount Zion just outside the walls of East Jerusalem‘s Old City near the Zion Gate. Between 1998 and 2006 the community was known as the Abbey of Hagia Maria Sion, in reference to the Basilica of Hagia Sion that stood on this spot during the Byzantine period, but it resumed the original name during the 2006 celebrations of the monastery’s centenary. Hagia Maria Sion is now the name of the foundation supporting the abbey’s buildings, community and academic work.   read more…

The Israeli Independence Day

13 May 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Independence Hall in Tel Aviv © Deror avi

Independence Hall in Tel Aviv © Deror avi

The Israeli Declaration of Independence took place on May 14, 1948 or on 5 Iyar 5708, according to the Hebrew calendar, in the Independence Hall in the Israeli capital city Tel Aviv, mostly as a direct result of the Holocaust and the Évian Conference. On the same day, the British Mandatory Palestine ended. The Independence Day (Hebrew “Jom haAtzma’ut” for “Day of Independence”) was introduced in the following year 1949 as a reminder of the proclamation of the state by David Ben-Gurion.   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…

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲