Category Archives: Modern Middle East

Israel – Gaza and the Iron Dome – Inspired by a Toy Car?

I usually don’t comment on modern Middle Eastern themes, but some of the readers of this blog are also interested in recent developments between the Hamas of Gaza and Israel.  It is widely reported that the “Iron Dome” missile defense system that Israel has deployed has been very effective (90% success rate) in dealing with significant missile threats from Gaza.

Israel 21ci has posted an interesting article entitled “15 things you didn’t now about the Iron Dome.”

Iron dome

Among them are tidbits such as:

  • “A toy car sold by Toys R Us inspired developers . . . .”
  • The Iron Dome . . . only intercepts . . .a rocket if it is deemed a critical threat.”


Go figure.



Yom Kippur War – 1973 – Declassified Documents

This coming Yom Kippur will be the one 40 years after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.  At that time I had recently arrived in Jerusalem with my wife Mary and my 11 month old son John to assume the position of Dean at the then Institute of Holy Land Studies (now the Jerusalem University College).

Today (September 12, 2013) the Israelis have released many documents concerning the commission that investigated the decisions of the Israeli leadership that led up to that war—in which the Israelis were ultimately successful, but initially was catastrophic for the Jewish state.


Israeli Knesset from the Israel Museum

For this new information I suggest a recent edition of The Times of Israel:

Golda Meir: ‘My heart was drawn to a preemptive strike, but I was scared’.
Account of King Hussein’s 1973 war warning still deemed too harmful to release.
Three years too late, Golda Meir understood how war could have been avoided.

On that fateful Yom Kippur our family was out strolling below the Knesset with Continue reading

Saint Peter’s Church in Antioch Has Reopened

In January 2015 I was told that Saint Peter’s Church has reopened to the public!

In April (2013) I revisited Antioch on the Orontes (= Syrian Antioch) as part of a personal tour in the area.  Not many tour groups visit the area but when they do one of the “must see” places is “Saint Peter’s Church” — where Christians have worshiped since the fourth or fifth centuries A.D.


St. Peter’s Church in Antioch on the Orontes
Click on Image to Enlarge

While there, people usually reflect on the fact that there followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:19–26) and from there famine relief was sent to Jerusalem (Acts 11:27–30).  Paul began all three of his missionary journeys from Antioch (Acts 13; 15:35–41; 18:22–23).

I knew that the church was under repair but I drove up to it any way in order to get a fresh/clear image of Antioch from that vantage point.  Well, the “repair” is under way and the church, and even the approach to it, is closed—and rocks Continue reading

Flooding at Miletus in Turkey (Acts 20:38)

Mark Wilson of the Asia Minor Research Center in Antalya Turkey comments that due to heavy rains the site of Miletus, including the grounds of the new museum and the 600 year old Ilyasbey Islamic Complex.  This is due to the flooding of the Büyük Menderes River (the ancient Meander River).


The flooding of the South Agora
On the right (south) is the Ionic Stoa

The apostle Paul visited Miletus, modern Balat, at the end of his third missionary journey – about A.D. 57 (Acts 20:38).  From there he summoned the elders from the church at Ephesus, 28 mi. [45 km.] distant (as the crow flies), and after speaking to them – this is the major speech recorded on his third journey – they had a tearful parting as Paul headed for Jerusalem where he would be taken prisoner.  Miletus is also mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:20.


Ilyas Bey Islamic Complex = Mosque
At Miletus — Constructed 1404


Lion from the Bath of Faustina displayed on the grounds of the Museum at Miletus

To view, and/or download, 31 high resolution images of Miletus Click Here.
These images are for personal use and there is no cost
and no registration is necessary.

The Kishon River to Live Again

The Kishon River is well-known to readers of the Bible in conjunction with the stories of the prophets Deborah (Judges 5:21) and Elijah (1 Kings 18:40).


Due to pollution that began during the British Mandate and continued up until recent times, the Kishon River became so polluted that it was declared “dead.”  Israel 21c has an interesting article (“Kishon River: From poison to pristine“) on how the river is already making a “come back” and that more restoration is in store for the future.


View looking north, from Mount Carmel, down on the Kishon River, Helkath (?), the western end of the Jezreel Valley and the western end of Lower Galilee

Israel Defense Forces Web Site

Some of the readers (stumblers–on–to) of this “blog” might be interested in the Israeli Defense Forces web site.  It has some very interesting information on the current activities of the Israeli military.


Weather in Israel and the “Health” of the Kinneret (Sea of Galiee)

All of us who have traveled in Israel and the surrounding countries are well-aware of the importance of the winter rains for the well-being of the inhabitants of the area, local agriculture, and the water supply in general.

If you wish to “keep up” on how the Sea/Lake of Galilee (the Kinneret) is doing a “fun” place to go is the Kinneret Bot where the water levels of the lake are reported frequently (especially when it has been raining).

Blog01In addition, the Israel Meteorological Service maintains a web page (available in Hebrew and English) where current conditions and weather forecasts are available.  In the winter I find myself looking at the home page, the three day forecast, and also at the “Rain Forecast Maps.”  I the summer I tend to look at the “Heat Stress” tab under “Observations” (what is the HS at the Kinneret?  Masada?@#!).

Blog02These two sources may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I have found them interesting and thought some of you might as well.