Extreme weather boosts creativity

Samuel Johnson wrote that “When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather.” The good doctor wrote that in 1758, long before the conversation of Englishmen was informed by the hyperbolic outrage of London’s present tabloids. Just lately it seems he might amend his phrasing to “their only talk.” The British are in […]

Big acts cancel, Israel’s opera goes on

MASADA, Israel — A parade of bejeweled camels, elaborately costumed warriors and prancing horses crossed the stage. Jerusalem had fallen to a conqueror from the east. The high priest predicted disaster and the wrath of a vengeful deity. Three hours later, with searchlights flitting across the rugged face of this ancient fortress, the Jews were […]

Israeli settler sect: Messiah is coming

GIVAT ONAN, West Bank—On this windblown outpost in the hills north of Jerusalem, a small group of Israeli settlers strives to bring the day of redemption promised, as they believe, in the Bible. A controversial sect shunned by nearby Israeli settlements, the Brothers of Onan believe that by “spilling their seed” on the land of […]

Everyone comes back to Jerusalem

Everyone comes back to Jerusalem. I don’t know why, I really don’t. It’s too hot. The people can be offhandedly mean, and they drive as though they want to kill you. It isn’t a very pretty place once you look close. Oh and, yes, sometimes it gets violent. With shocking self-obsession, it thinks the eyes […]

In Bethlehem, the Third Intifada approaches

Rain on the streets of Bethlehem can’t cool simmering tension. By Matt Beynon Rees – GlobalPost BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A writer seeks the surprise of a “man bites dog” story. The most violent times of the Second Intifada, which took place under the leaden winter skies of early 2002, gave me mine. I wrote […]

Suffering 101

Palestinians and Israelis take an eternal debate into the classroom, leaving the UN stuck in the middle. By Matt Beynon Rees – GlobalPost JERUSALEM — In the Book of Lamentations, the people of Jerusalem cry out against the destruction of the city: “Is any suffering like my suffering?” The answer, of course, is: No. Ever […]

Oldest Bible? Tell it to the Samaritans

UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph reports the discovery of a portion of a Bible from 350 AD in the library of the monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai. The Codex Sinaiticus is written in Greek on animal skin and the newspaper calls it “a fragment of the world’s oldest bible.” Well, I hate to […]