Brit-Am Historical Reports (6 June 2016, 1 Sivan, 5776)
1. How running went from Victorian pastime to the most popular activity on Earth
By Vybarr Cregan-Reid
2. Ancient Asian Crops in MadagascarÂ
3. Shylock, the Merchant of Venice. Deconstructing what makes the Bard's play so problematic By Brandon Ambrosino
4. (a) Germans in WW1 Saved Some Jews in Order to Later Get Rid of More of them!
(b) Unlikely Saviors: How Germany Helped Save Palestine's Jews During WWI by Nir Mann
5. Do Not Eat Pig Meat. Interesting Article by Muslim.
WHY HAS OUR CREATOR FORBIDDEN THE EATING OF PORK?
1. How running went from Victorian pastime to the most popular activity on Earth
By Vybarr Cregan-Reid
2. Ancient Asian Crops in Madagascar
Ancient crops provide first archaeological signature of the westward Austronesian expansion Crowther et al.
The Austronesian settlement of the remote island of Madagascar remains one of the great puzzles of Indo-Pacific prehistory. Although linguistic, ethnographic, and genetic evidence points clearly to a colonization of Madagascar by Austronesian language-speaking people from Island Southeast Asia, decades of archaeological research have failed to locate evidence for a Southeast Asian signature in the islandâ€™s early material record. Here, we present new archaeobotanical data that show that Southeast Asian settlers brought Asian crops with them when they settled in Africa. These crops provide the first, to our knowledge, reliable archaeological window into the Southeast Asian colonization of Madagascar. They additionally suggest that initial Southeast Asian settlement in Africa was not limited to Madagascar, but also extended to the Comoros. Archaeobotanical data may support a model of indirect Austronesian colonization of Madagascar from the Comoros and/or elsewhere in eastern Africa.
3. Shylock, the Merchant of Venice. Deconstructing what makes the Bard's play so problematic
By Brandon Ambrosino
The Merchant of Venice, with its celebrated and moving passages, remains one of Shakespeare's most beautiful plays.
Depending on whom you ask, it also remains one of his most repulsive.
"One would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to recognise that Shakespeare's grand, equivocal comedy The Merchant of Venice is nevertheless a profoundly anti-semitic work,' wrote literary critic Harold Bloom in his 1998 book Shakespeare and the Invention of the Human. In spite of his 'Bardolatry,' Bloom admitted elsewhere that he's pained to think the play has done 'real harm' to the Jews for some four centuries now.'
Published in 1596, The Merchant of Venice tells the story of Shylock, a Jew, who lends money to Antonio on the condition that he get to cut off a pound of Antonio's flesh if he defaults on the loan. Antonio borrows the money for his friend Bassanio, who needs it to court the wealthy Portia. When Antonio defaults, Portia, disguised as a man, defends him in court, and ultimately bests Shylock with hair-splitting logic: His oath entitles him to a pound of the Antonio's flesh, she notes, but not his blood, making any attempt at collecting the fee without killing Antonio, a Christian, impossible. When Shylock realizes he's been had, it's too late: He is charged with conspiring against a Venetian citizen, and therefore his fortune is seized. The only way he can keep half his estate is by converting to Christianity.
It doesn't take a literary genius like Bloom to spot the play's anti-Jewish elements. Shylock plays the stereotypical greedy Jew, who is spat upon by his Christian enemies, and constantly insulted by them. His daughter runs away with a Christian and abandons her Jewish heritage. After being outsmarted by the gentiles, Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity, at which point, he simply disappears from the play, never to be heard of again.
The fact that The Merchant of Venice was a favorite of Nazi Germany certainly lends credence to the charge of anti-Semitism. Between 1933 and 1939, there were more than 50 productions performed there. While certain elements of the play had to be changed to suit the Nazi agenda, 'Hitler's willing directors rarely failed to exploit the anti-Semitic possibilities of the play,' writes Kevin Madigan, professor of Christian history at Harvard Divinity School. And theatergoers responded the way the Nazis intended. In one Berlin production, says Madigan, 'the director planted extras in the audiences to shout and whistle when Shylock appeared, thus cuing the audience to do the same.'
To celebrate that Vienna had become Judenrein, 'cleansed of Jews,' in 1943, a virulently anti-Semitic leader of the Nazi Youth, Baldur von Schirach, commissioned a performance. When Werner Krauss entered the stage as Shylock, the audience was noticeably repulsed, according to a newspaper account, which John Gross includes in his book Shylock: A Legend and Its Legacy. 'With a crash and a weird train of shadows, something revoltingly alien and startlingly repulsive crawled across the stage.'
Of course, Shylock hasn't always been played like a monster. There's little argument that he was initially written as a comic figure, with Shakespeare's original title being The Comical History of The Merchant of Venice. But interpretations began to shift in the 18th century. Nicholas Rowe, one of the first Shakespearean editors, wrote in 1709 that even though the play had up until that point been acted and received comedically, he was convinced it was 'designed tragically by the author.' By the middle of that century, Shylock was being portrayed sympathetically, most notably by English stage actor Edmund Kean, who, as one critic put it, 'was willing to see in Shylock what no one but Shakespeare had seen, the tragedy of a man.'
But just what exactly did Shakespeare see in the character? Was Shakespeare being anti-Semitic, or was he merely exploring anti-Semitism?
Susannah Heschel, professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College, says that critics have long debated what motivated Shakespeare to write this play. Perhaps Christopher Marlowe's 1590 Jew of Malta, a popular play featuring a Jew seeking revenge against a Christian, had something to do with it. Or perhaps Shakespeare was inspired by the Lopez Affair in 1594, in which the Queen's physician, who was of Jewish descent, was hanged for alleged treason. And of course, one has to bear in mind that because of the Jews' expulsion from England in 1290, most of what Shakespeare knew about them was either hearsay or legend.
Regardless of his intentions, Heschel is sure of one thing: 'If Shakespeare wanted to write something sympathetic to Jews, he would have done it more explicitly.'
According to Michele Osherow, professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Resident Dramaturg at the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C., many critics think sympathetic readings of Shylock are a post-Holocaust invention. For them, contemporary audiences only read Shylock sympathetically because reading him any other way, in light of the horrors of the Holocaust, would reflect poorly on the reader.
'[Harold] Bloom thinks that no one in Shakespeare's day would have felt sympathy for Shylock,' she says. 'But I disagree.'
Defenders of Merchant, like Osherow, usually offer two compelling arguments: Shakespeare's sympathetic treatment of Shylock, and his mockery of the Christian characters.
While Osherow admits that we don't have access to Shakespeare's intentions, she's convinced that it's no accident that the Jewish character is given the most humanizing speech in the play.
'Hath not a Jew eyes?' Shylock asks those who question his bloodlust.
Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
'Even if you hate Shylock,' says Osherow, 'when he asks these questions, there's a shift: you have an allegiance with him, and I don't think you ever really recover from it.'
In these few humanizing lines, the curtain is pulled back on Shylock's character. He might act the villain, but can he be blamed? As he explains to his Christian critics early in the play, 'The villainy you teach me I will execute.' In other words, says Osherow, what he's telling his Christian enemies is, 'I'm going to mirror back to you what you really look like.'
Consider general Christian virtues, says Osherow, like showing mercy, or being generous, or loving one's enemies. 'The Christian characters do and do not uphold these principles in varying degrees,' she said. Antonio spits on Shylock, calls him a dog, and says he'd do it again if given the chance. Gratiano, Bassanio's friend, isn't content with Shylock losing his wealth, and wants him hanged in the end of the courtroom scene. Portia cannot tolerate the thought of marrying someone with a dark complexion.
For example, according to A Demonstration To The Christians In Name, Without The Nature Of It: How They Hinder Conversion Of The Jews, a 1629 pamphlet by George Fox, conversion is not as simple as 'bringing others to talk as you.' In other words, says Osherow, the forced conversion of Shylock 'isn't how it's supposed to work according to early modern religious texts.'
Late American theatre critic Charles Marowitz, author of Recycling Shakespeare, noted the importance of this interpretation in the Los Angeles Times. 'There is almost as much evil in the defending Christians as there is in the prosecuting Jew, and a verdict that relieves a moneylender of half his wealth and then forces him to convert to save his skin is not really a sterling example of Christian justice.'
Though it's true that Shakespeare's mockery (however blatant one finds it) of the play's Christians doesn't erase its prejudice, 'it goes some way toward redressing the moral balance,' notes Marowitz. In other words, by making the Jew look a little less bad, and the Christians look a little less good, Shakespeare is leveling the moral playing field, which is perhaps what the play hints at when Portia, upon entering the courtroom, seems unable to tell the difference between the Christian and his opponent. 'Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?' she asks.
Now, with all of this in mind, is it accurate to label The Merchant of Venice an anti-Semitic play?
Indeed, a Jewish villain turns out to deserve our sympathy. His Christian opponents turn out to deserve our skepticism. And the play which tells their story turns out to be more complicated than we originally assumed.
4. Germans in WW1 Saved Some Jews in Order to Later Get Rid of More of them!
Professor Moshe Zimmermann, an expert on German history at Hebrew University,
in an interview on Israeli TV ("London et Kirschenbaum," Arutz-10, 5 June 2016) spoke about the Germans having saved the Jewish settlement in Palestine during World War-1.
At that time the Ottoman Turks ruled over the region. They were allied with the German Empire and with Austro-Hungary. The Germans and Austrians sent military experts, advisors, and officers to assist the Turks.
The Turks had been exterminating in the most sadistic manner almost a million Christian Armenians. The Germans had not intervened, on the contrary.
The Turks intended to expel the Jews from the region of Palestine and possibly to exterminate them in the process as they had done to most of the Armenians.
The Germans intervened and helped save the Jews of Palestine from extermination.
Professor Moshe Zimmermann gives several reasons as to why the Germans at that time helped the Jews:
Some of the Germans admired Jewish cultural achievements.
The Jewish lobby in Germany.
The Jewish-Zionist lobby in Germany.
The Germans in 1917 after making pease with the Bolsheviks in Russia had received virtual control of large portions of Eastern Europe. They hoped to retain it and make it permanent.
This entailed responsibility for a large number of JewsÂ who lived in that area. They hoped to alleviate this "problem" by sending as many as possible to Palestine. They therefore wished to preserve the existing Jewish population in Palestine
to serve as a foundation for more to come.
Unlikely Saviors: How Germany Helped Save Palestine's Jews During WWI
Palestine's Jewish community was threatened with deportation and death by Ottoman ruler Ahmed Jamal Pasha, but German diplomatic and military leaders helped foil his plans.
.... In four years beginning at the start of the World War I, this community shrank from 85,000 to approximately 45,000 or 50,000, at its end. Half the Jews who died were residents of Jerusalem, a third of the city's Jewish population.
The historiography, and writings by contemporary writers Avshalom Feinberg, Moshe Smilansky and Shlomo Zalman Sonnenfeld, underscore the terrible suffering experienced by Palestine's Jews during the war years, but the dimensions of the loss have never been properly investigated or documented.
Historical research mainly focused on the Zionist narrative, the establishment of the Zion Mule Corps by Jabotinsky and fellow Zionist activist Joseph Trumpeldor, the battles fought by the Jewish Legion, and the anti-Turkish Nili underground, which was spying on behalf of the British, and tended to disregard the catastrophe experienced by the country's long-time Jewish residents. In the generation that followed, research focused on attempts to evaluate the dimensions of the calamity, based on statistical approaches and demographic methodology.
Studies by the late Prof. Isaiah Friedman, who analyzed the war from the German perspective rather than through an Anglophile prism, examined the political repercussions of Ottoman policy on the Yishuv, a subject not adequately studied. The large quantity of documents he gleaned from archives of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Vienna and the German Empire in Berlin raise a question: Did Ahmed Jamal Pasha, one of the Ottoman rulers, intend to obliterate the Jewish community in Palestine, or the Zionist entity within it?
A second Armenia
On July 28, 1914, one month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, crown prince to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the Austro-Hungarian empire declared war on the kingdom of Serbia. Three months later, Turkey joined the axis of central European powers, and Jamal Pasha, one of the triumvirate of governors who controlled the Ottoman Empire (and its navy minister), was appointed commander of the Fourth Army and ruler of the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and the Hijaz).
The Ottoman regime suspected members of the Yishuv, and particularly the newly arrived Zionists, of disloyalty to the Sublime Porte in Constantinople. On December 17, 1914, Baha al-Din, the governor of Jaffa, issued a general decree of deportation of all foreign subjects who had not yet become Ottomanized. Panic spread throughout Jaffa over fears of an all-out massacre, until the intervention of the government of Germany.
From the start of the war, high-ranking members of the German diplomatic corps had supported settlement in Palestine as a way of enlisting the backing of world Jewry, and American Jewry in particular, on behalf of the German cause. They included the German foreign minister, Arthur Zimmermann, and Germany's ambassador in Turkey. Through pressure exerted by American Jewry and through Germany's intervention, Al-Din was dismissed in late December.
However, the sense of anxiety did not abate when Hassan Bey al-Basri (Hassan Bek) was appointed in his place. The latter was known for his brutal cruelty toward both Arabs and Jews. Upon his arrival in Jaffa, he declared his intent to eliminate the Jewish presence there, since he perceived it to be a foreign element that served the interests of foreign powers.
The participation of regiments of the Zion Mule Corps within the ranks of the British army in the battles of Gallipoli in 1915 and 1916 raised the indignation of Jamal Pasha. In September 1916, he exiled Arthur Ruppin, head of the Zionist movement's Eretz Yisrael Office, to Constantinople (notwithstanding Ruppin's German citizenship); in December he declared that all means must be used to suppress Zionism, and that Zionists were 'diligent and practical people, but due to their ideology, Palestine was liable to become a second Armenia.'
The big shift in the military arena began in January 1917, when the British army conquered Rafah, and intensified 10 months later when it occupied Be'er Sheva and Gaza. In advance of the battles of Gaza, 40,000 residents of that city were expelled from their homes. At the same time, Jamal Pasha expelled all the residents of Jaffa on the pretext that his forces had to make preparations to thwart an amphibious landing in the city by General Allenby's forces. However, while the Arabs of Jaffa were sent to the nearby orchards 'until it blows over' and were permitted to return to their homes a short while later, the city's 9,000 Jews (including Jews residing in Tel Aviv), were expelled to the Sharon region, the Galilee and elsewhere.
The agronomist, Nili member and Zionist activist Aaron Aaronsohn wrote from Cairo: "On April 1, the Jews were ordered to leave within 48 hours. About 300 Jews had been deported a week earlier from Jerusalem by the cruelest measures, at which time Jamal Pasha declared that the Jews, rejoicing at the approaching British forces would be short-lived. He would make them partners in the fate of the Armenians, Â Jamal Pasha would not issue a call for murders in cold blood. Rather, he would drive the population to starvation and death by disease."
About 10 days after the evacuation of Jaffa, Jamal Pasha convened the consuls and announced that he was compelled to evacuate the entire civilian population of Jerusalem within 24 hours, and transfer it to Jordan and Syria. Due to the firm opposition of consul Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein, the chief of staff of the Fourth Army, German authorities intervened and temporarily foiled the plan.
In November, with the advance of the British army, military command of the Palestinian front was transferred to the German general Erich von Falkenhayn, and von Kressenstein was placed in charge of the forces in Jerusalem, having been promoted to general. Von Kressenstein moved the Turkish, German and Austrian regiments out of the city and positioned them on the ridges of the surrounding hills. Simultaneously, Jamal Pasha again attempted to exploit the moment to get rid of the Jews.
Following exposure of the Nili spies and the charge of subversion against the Jewish community, and on the pretext that the evacuation of Jerusalem was necessary due to 'military requirements,'Jamal Pasha planned to expel all the city's Jews. Documents uncovered by Isaiah Friedman revealed that it was thanks to the firm intervention of General von Kressenstein on November 5 that the planned deportation of that community was thwarted.
Yaakov Thon, Ruppin's replacement, wrote to the Zionist General Council: 'If not for the strong hand of the German government, which protected us in our hour of danger, we would have suffered a mortal blow, To our great fortune, during these recent critical days, supreme command was placed in the hands of General von Falkenhayn. Had Jamal been responsible for events, he would have acted upon his threat and would have expelled the entire population, and turned the country into a pile of ruins.'
On December 9, 1917, the British army entered Jerusalem. Some 730 years of Muslim rule in Jerusalem came to an end.
'Jamal Pasha was the individual who initiated a politics of persecution of all of the non-Turkish nations in the Ottoman Empire, which led to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Greeks from their homes and to the horrific slaughter of the Armenians in Anatolia, in which over one million people fell victim.'
5. Do Not Eat Pig Meat
Interesting Article by Muslim.
WHY HAS OUR CREATOR FORBIDDEN THE EATING OF PORK?