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  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
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On "Jerusalem" by Karen Armstrong ***

This basic history of the city runs from its known existence before becoming capital of ancient Israel to its current existence as capital of modern Israel. I picked it up chiefly for chapters 5-8, which cover the period from Jerusalem's resettlement by the Jewish people in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah to its destruction and re-creation as the city of Aelia Capitolina. These latter of these few chapters were excellent in giving a summary of the events; the former got caught up a bit too much, in my view, with concepts of the temple as exists in Ezekiel and other locations.Having read the sections I had the most interest in, I backed up to the start of the book, wherein Jerusalem was conquered by David. The city was, before then, a Jebusite town. And in fact, after David's conquering, it continued to be a Jebusite city, for he did not kill off its inhabitants. Armstrong sees many Jebusite ideas and beliefs as seeping into the Jewish faith at this time. In fact, Armstrong tends to view all faiths as sort of blending into one another, as I would expect, since she is a historian essentially of comparative religion--or at least this is how I've long viewed her work.As such, it was interesting to read biblical events as explained by a largely secular historian, who sees the role of God as one largely of cultural interpretation. The deliverance of Jerusalem in the time of Hezekiah, thus, is not a miracle but a case of luck: that the plague just happens to catch up with the Assyrian forces when they are on the verge of total victory.Similarly, the Jewish and Israeli people are not really one from well before the time they split up after Solomon's reign. Armstrong brings out how David moved the capital to Jerusalem, probably, because it was more centrally located and "new," thus not giving the feel of Judah having "taken over" Israel. Solomon's excessive taxes of Israel both in money and labor are what drive Israel away, and Rehoboam's intention to maintain said system are what seals the deal. Israel is the stronger nation, and of course, it creates its own holy place to avoid being linked to Judah.From there, Armstrong covers the familiar material I was looking for a nice summary of, until, of course, Rome obliterates Jerusalem and outlaws Jews from entering it. This policy weakens and strengthens over time, but eventually the Jewish people are prevented from entering Jerusalem due to Christian animosity to them.Ironically, given today's situation, it is the Muslims who essentially open Jerusalem to the Jewish people again, though the Muslims do end up building a mosque on the Temple Mount that will prevent any rebuilding of a temple in the same location again. The Crusades once again close the city off to those of other faiths, and when the Muslims retake it, rather than seeking revenge, as they desire to do, they give in to pleads for mercy and let the Christians walk. (The Christians, who earlier had eschewed the idea of holy places then started to reverse that trend, which seems so with each group that takes the city.)During all these times, various sites are newly associated with old events--this is where Abraham did this, where David lived or was buried, where Christ did this, where Mary did that, and so on. Some of these places well might be legitimate, passed on via generations by people who knew, but most appear to have been invented for various idealistic reasons. It makes one question history within the city.Eventually, the Muslims are overtaken by Byzantium and the Turks (themselves Muslim), who are overtaken by the British, who finally concede the land to the Zionist movement. The latter is helped to fruition by Hitler, as Jews escape Europe to the Holy Land. Even then, the intention was not necessarily to take Jerusalem but to share it, but war with Jordan and Egypt essentially put Israel in charge of the city, and interest holders who earlier saw no reason for a retaking of the city, who had learned to practice Judaism in diaspora and accept it as such, now viewed it as God-given and essential to the faith. Tensions have remained ever since, even within Israel--with some seeing no reason to share the city with those of other faiths and some quite the opposite.This is where, in essence, Armstrong lays down her thesis, her final points: That the city is most at peace when communities are tolerant of other faiths, as in the time of David or some periods of Muslim rule.

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."
Mark Twain

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By definition, the modern practice of history begins with written records; evidence of human culture without writing is the realm of prehistory.