Categorized | Kramer_Steve, Middle East

Thoughts on ancient and modern Israeli conflicts

By Steve Kramer

Steve Kramer

ALFEI MENASHE, Israel — With everyone in the US and Israel either apprehensive, worried, or elated with the change of American administrations, the world turns. This week I was irritated enough by an article in the Boston Globe (which I read courtesy of the watchdog ( to write a letter to the editor, which will probably be ignored. 

Then I received an email questioning the violence of Israeli soldiers towards Arab rock throwers from a close friend dating back to my freshman year in college. My friend lives in metro New York and is interested in what goes on there and here. He hasn’t visited yet in the 25 years we’ve lived here, but there’s always hope.
Lastly, Michal and I saw the excellent exhibition, “In the Valley of David and Goliath,” at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum. It’s well worth visiting in person, or via the internet.
Here’s the letter I wrote to The Boston Globe [email protected] 1/30/17

Your article describing conditions in Hebron comes from a very skewed perspective. The authors write about one street in all of the heavily guarded, small Jewish section of the city, which is Judaism’s second holy city after Jerusalem. 

First, the Jewish neighborhood is heavily guarded because the Arabs would murder every Jewish resident (less than 1% of the city’s population) if not for the soldiers. This, in a city with a Jewish presence for thousands of years, interrupted by a massacre of Jews in 1929 and Jordanian occupation from 1948 until 1967, when Israel took control. 

Second, the authors neglect to mention that Hebron is the largest and wealthiest Palestinian city, with no Israelis except in the one small neighborhood of Jews. From this article, the impression is given that Hebron is full of Israeli soldiers everywhere and that the Arab population is suffering from occupation. In fact, the opposite is true in this large, prosperous Arab city.

Steve Kramer 
My New York  friend asked the question:
Can you explain why the NYC radio media reported yesterday that a Palestinian youth was killed by Israeli troops who fired live ammunition upon a crowd of youths that had thrown rocks?  This is the stuff that doesn’t help.  Would tear gas and rubber bullets have been sufficient?  I don’t sympathize with the Palestinians, but can’t reconcile what appears to be overly aggressive and deadly force responses, assuming this is true.  This wouldn’t be tolerated in the USA.  It doesn’t help Israel’s cause.
My answer: 
Many Israelis of all ages have been killed by rocks, pavers, concrete blocks, etc. They are deadly weapons. There are numerous riots in Arab neighborhoods which put our soldiers in danger of death. We use every kind of crowd control, including tear gas and rubber bullets, which themselves are occasionally lethal. Live fire is also a possibility when young soldiers fear for their lives, pursuant to strict rules of engagement. Every day some Palestinian Arabs try to martyr themselves, for Allah and to enrich their families, who will receive monthly checks based on the amount of carnage perpetrated by their family member, dead or incarcerated. These funds are supplied to them by the Palestinian Authority’s willing contributors, which includes the USA.

Look at to see how the news is constantly manipulated to put Israel in a bad light. 
Bob’s reply: 
Thank you for the explanation.  As with everything, riots and associated death are complicated and the details are never reported.  You’ve given some of the aspects which could explain.  This is but an example of how the media slants the public against Israel.
Then we saw a wonderful exhibit at the Bible Lands Museum, which certainly validates Jewish claims to Israel: “In the Valley of David and Goliath,” bringing Bible, Archaeology and the Land of Israel together in one venue.

The exhibition reveals artifacts unearthed within the last decade in Israel’s Elah Valley, illuminating this mysterious two-gated city from 3,000 years ago, found at a site known only by its modern name of Khirbet Qeiyafa.
Historians and archaeologists suspect that the Kingdom of David may have spread south, with the possibility that the city was established as a forward outpost against the Philistines to control the main road leading into the Judean hill country. To wit, one of the two gates heads east towards David’s capital of Jerusalem, while the other faces the road towards the Philistine cities. The exhibition highlights the remains of the city, its gates, homes, and fascinating artifacts, which will serve as clues and provide insights into our understanding.

The excavators at Khirbet Qeiyafa identify the site with Biblical Shaarayim, which means “two gates.” After David slew Goliath, the Israelites pursued the Philistines “on the way to Shaarayim” (1 Samuel 17:52). According to the Bible, Shaarayim must have existed during King Saul’s reign (King David’s predecessor), and finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa corroborate the chronology.
“In the May/June 2012 Biblical Archaeology Review, Gerard Leval adds to the discussion on the heavily debated Qeiyafa Ostracon [a piece of pottery with writing incised upon it] by reviewing Émile Puech’s translation and analysis for the first time in English. According to Puech, this translation of the Qeiyafa Ostracon ‘contained all of the essential’ components of the Biblical tale on the transition from Judges to the selection of Saul as the leader of a new Kingdom of Israel.’”
While there is no proof positive that this was a Jewish city, the absence of pig bones is a very strong indication that it was, because pig meat was common in non-Israelite communities. The very organized layout and fortifications of the excavated town suggest an outpost of a strong regional ruler, which quite likely could have been King David. 

Among the exciting artifacts on display are two intriguing epigraphs (inscriptions), which may be the oldest Hebrew writing yet discovered. Other revelations are unusual cultic shrines that were discovered in ritual rooms. Upon entering the exhibit, there is a very dramatic and unique carved stone cultic shrine, a model decorated with architectural elements that echoes the Biblical descriptions of King Solomon’s Temple and his Palace in Jerusalem.

The exhibit asks these questions and gives possible answers:

Who were the residents of this nameless city who abandoned it, never to return? Could they have been the subjects of King David in the earliest days of his kingdom? Can we truly link this city of two gates – one pointing towards Jerusalem and the other pointing to Philistia, with the biblical city of Sha’arayim? 
The excavations were conducted from 2007-2013, led by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, Yigal Yadin Chair of Archaeology at the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Incidentally, Prof. Garfinkel is a great skeptic when it comes to Biblical archeology, so it is with some irony that one contemplates what may have been found here.

Kramer is a freelance writer based in Alfei Menashe, Israel.  He may be contacted via [email protected]
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