Jerusalem As It Was and As It Is,|
1843 by Karl Johann Ball, p.115:
DESCRIPTION OF MODERN JERUSALEM.
Although the circumference of the ancient Jerusalem was, according to Josephus, about four miles, that of the modern city has been ascertained by accurate measurement not to exceed 12,978 feet; which difference is not surprising, as not only is the southern half of Mount Zion now without the walls, but also on the north the circuit of the ancient walls, which is about three quarters of a mile from the modern ones, formerly enclosed a considerable district, now lying without.
The modern walls were, as has been already noticed, built by the Sultan Solyman in 1542; they are forty feet high, and three broad, and have at regular intervals towers 120 feet high. They have on the whole an imposing appearance, being built entirely of hewn stone, with ramparts and battlements.
The gates are —the Jaffa or Hebron Gate, on the west; the road from which leads, on the right to Jaffa, and on the left to Bethlehem and Hebron; it consists of a massive square tower.
On the north is the Damascus Gate, called Bab el Amud, or the "gate of columns," by the natives. It is more ornamented than the other gates; the road hence leads to Damascus and northern Palestine.
Eastward of this, but still on the north side, is a small portal, in a tower of the city, called Herod's or Ephraim's Gate, which has however been lately closed up.
East of the city is St. Stephen's Gate, so called from an open space in front of it, where Stephen is said to have been stoned. It is called the Gate of the Tribes by the Mahommedans, and St. Mary's Gate by the native Christians; and is supposed to be the Sheep Gate mentioned in Scripture, Neh. iii. 1. Four lions are sculptured over this gate on the outside. It leads to Kedron, and the Mount of Olives; and over the latter to Bethany and Jordan.
Somewhat more southward, in the eastern wall, which encloses the mosque on Moriah, lies the Golden Gate; which has long been blocked up, because the Mahommedans, who call it the Eternal Gate, believe that a king shall one day enter through this gate, who shall take possession of the city, and become lord of the whole earth. Through this gate, Christ is said to have made his entrance into the city from the Mount of Olives.
Further on, in the southeast corner of the city, is a small entrance in a low square tower; which must have been a long while unused, since no trodden path, either within or without, leads to it.
On the south side of the city, in the valley between Moriah and Zion, is a small gate called "the Dung Gate," (Nehemiah it. 13), now blocked up; and upon Zion, over which the southern wall of the city crosses, is the Zion Gate, called "David's Gate" by the Mahommedans, which leads only to that part of Zion lying without the walls, and to the valleys of Jehoshaphat and Hinnom.
The principal streets of Jerusalem intersect each other at right angles; they are narrow and badly paved, yet being mostly situated on a declivity, are cleaner than those of most eastern towns.
The houses are of stone or clay; they are mostly low and irregular, without chimneys, and built with flat roofs, from the middle of which a cupola frequently rises. The windows are small, and often provided with iron trellises and wooden blinds, towards the streets, that the women may not be seen by passers by.
In order to become acquainted with the most important buildings of the city, let us enter by the Western or Jaffa Gate, and we have then on our right, directly to the south, the citadel of Jerusalem, 540 feet long and 162 wide, situate on the walls of the city, and called also the Pisan castle, and the fortress of David. It is an irregular combination of several square towers, encompassed on the inner side next the city, by a low wall, and on the outer or west side by a deep ditch.
A square tower, 70 feet wide, and 56 high, at the north-west angle, particularly attracts attention. It is called the Tower of David; and although its upper portion is of modern origin, its lower one bears evidence of great antiquity, and is beyond doubt a remnant of the tower of Hippicus, built by Herod.
Proceeding southward up the hill of Zion, we come to St. James's Church, the principal church of the Armenians, built on the spot where the Apostle James, son of Zebedee is said to have been beheaded by Herod; the building is devoid of taste, and filled with hideous pictures, but is richer and more magnificent than any other in the City. The adjoining convent of the Armenians has more than one thousand apartments for the reception of pilgrims, and is said to be the richest in the East; near it is shown the house of Hannah, with an Armenian chapel.
Upon the hill of Zion, without the walls, we are shown the house of Caiaphas, where is situate the Armenian church of the Redeemer, on the altar of which the true stone of the door of the Holy Sepulchre is said to be placed.
Near this is the Ccenaculum, in which it is said the Lord's Supper was instituted, the Holy Ghost poured out, and the Virgin Mary died. This building was formerly a Church, called Zion, or St. Mary's church, and belonged to the Franciscans; it is now a mosque, and the Mahommedans say that it stands over the grave of David.
The room where the Lord's Supper is said to have been instituted, is about 60 feet long, and 25 wide; and its roof is supported by two columns. In earlier times a Franciscan monastery also stood here.
Upon Mount Zion are the burying-places of the Armenians, Greeks, and Latins, as well as that of the American missionaries. There also the Protestant church is now in course of erection, a chapel having already been built for the performance of Divine service in the meantime.
The remaining part of this hill of the City of David, once entirely built over—the wall then passing round its southern side—is now arable land, where wheat is grown; so literally has the prophecy Micah iii. 12, and Jeremiah xxvi. 18, been fulfilled.
Upon Mount Zion, within the walls, lies also a Syrian convent; and on its eastern declivity, and in the valley between Zion and Moriah, is the Jewish quarter, the dirtiest and worst part of the city.
The chief building of Jerusalem, the mosque on Mount Moriah, is accessible to no Christian. Whoever is found there must either die or become a Mahommedan; because the Turks think that, according to 2 Kings viii. 30—50, every prayer made there is granted; and that Jews and Christians, if they were to enter therein, might pray that Jerusalem and the Temple might be restored to them. Permission to enter the mosque has been granted to only a very few individuals, as a great favour; and among these, an English physician, named Richardson, who had cured the governor of a disease in the eyes, was, in the year 1818, allowed, out of gratitude, to enter it four times.
The following description is principally taken from his narrative :—
On the top of the mountain is a square, called Haram esh Scherif (the noble Sanctuary), 1489 feet long, and 995 wide, bounded on the south and east by the walls of the town, and on the north and west, towards the city, by a wall of its own, which on the west is as much as sixty feet high.
Several gates lead from the city into this court. In the midst rises a platform fourteen feet high, paved with a bluish white kind of marble. Upon this stands the mosque, which is called Kubbet esh Sukhrah, i.e. the dome of the rock; or, according to others, Sakhara, i.e. fastened. It forms an octagon, each of whose sides is sixty feet long.
The lower part of the building is overlaid with white marble, and the upper with white, yellow, green, and blue tiles; and the whole inscribed with sentences from the Koran. Four doors lead into the interior. There are six windows in the sides that have doors, and seven in the others. The walls, in the inside, are white. Three columns, each twenty feet high, stand on each of the eight sides, and sixteen columns support the dome.
An iron trellis, between these columns, runs round the central space of the mosque. Here the Mahommedans pray, with their faces turned southward, towards Mecca. In the midst of the space surrounded with the trellis, lies a stone, upon which the Mahommedans say that the prophets prophesied; and that Gabriel held it down when it would have flown away, and fastened it to this place (hence the name Sakhara, or "fastened "), so that the marks of Gabriel's fingers are yet to be seen on it.
The native Christians believe this, or another kept there, to be the stone on which Jacob slept at Bethel (Gen. xxviii. 11) upon which the Destroying Angel who appeared to David sat; and which contains within it the Ark of the Covenant, hidden by Jeremiah.
The dome of the mosque is ninety feet high, and its diameter forty feet. It is covered with variegated tiles, and commands a magnificent view of the whole city. On the south, the enclosed space of the Haram esh Scherif contains also the mosque El Aksa—i.e. "the most distant;" because, with reference to the mosques of Mecca and Medina—which, with this, are the three most sacred places of the Mahommedans—it is the most distant from Arabia. It owes its origin, as we have already seen, to the Caliph Omar, who converted the then existing church of St. Mary into a mosque.
The presentation of Christ in the Temple being assigned to this spot, it was also formerly called the Church of the Presentation. In its vicinity the remains of subterraneous arches are also yet to be seen. Between the mosques Sakhara and El Aksa, is a marble basin or well, surrounded with olives, orange trees, and cypresses besides many things accounted holy by the Mahommedans. In every part of the ground, wherever the turf has been thrown up, are to be seen fragments of marble pillars; and the famous stone which projects from the eastern wall over the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and on which the Mahommedans say that Mahommed will one day be enthroned, and judge the world, is nothing else than the shaft of a broken column, thus embedded in the wall.
The southern part of Moriah, lying outside the walls of the mosque, which was anciently that part of the city called Ophel, inclines towards the south with a steep slope : it is ploughed up, and planted with olive and other fruit trees.
At the north-western angle of the wall, surrounding the square Haram esh Scherif, is the house of the Governor of Jerusalem, which contains the remains of the old Fort Antonia. Pilate is said to have lived there; and as it is situated in the "Via Dolorosa," we shall here take the opportunity of describing this the principal street of Jerusalem; of which, with its several stations, numerous models are to be found in all Roman Catholic countries.
It begins at St. Stephen's Gate, and leads over, the hill Bezetha; the buildings upon which are, for the most part, only low houses and hovels, while its north-eastern part, within the walls of the town, is covered with fields, gardens, and olive trees. There are also comparatively but few traces of ancient buildings to be found here. The house of Simon the Pharisee is pointed out near the ruins of the church of St. Mary Magdalene. It belongs to a Turk, who, however, allows ready access to Christians.
Entering the city from the Mount of Olives, through St. Stephen's Gate, and proceeding along the Via Dolorosa, we have the Sakhara mosque on the left; and a large reservoir, supposed to be the Pool of Bethesda, but more probably a trench which was thrown up for the defence of the Fort Antonia, lying close to its walls behind it. It is now quite dry, and is partly filled up with rubbish; yet, in other parts, still so deep, that the tops of trees growing at the bottom do not reach the level of the street. Opposite this pool, on the right of the Via Dolorosa, and over the grotto in which Anna is said to have brought forth the Virgin Mary, is a ruined church, with pointed arches, of the time of the Crusades...
TIME Magazine, July 5, 1948, p. 28:|
ISRAEL: House Divided
The old LST nosed in toward the shores of Israel. She called herself the Atalena now, and aboard were 750 supporters of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi and enough weapons and ammunition (so the Irgun boasted) to arm a brigade of 6,000. In defiances of the U.N. truce and of the Israeli government, the Irgun intended to land the arms.
"Bitterest Blow. On the beach at Kfar Vitkin, 20 miles north of Tel Aviv, waited slight, sharp-eyed Menachim Beigin [Menachem Begin] and a force of his bully boys, to help unload. But Haganah, now Israel's official army, was waiting too, with orders to stop them. Result: a short, sharp civil war of Jew against Jew, which Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion last week described as "the bitterest blow."
The terrorists got part of their arms ashore at Kfar Vitkin. But in the fight they lost six killed, 20 wounded, while Haganah suffered two dead, three wounded. Beigin boarded the ship, ordered it southward. At midnight the Altalena rammed on to the beach at Tel Aviv for another attempt. When noon came, an assault boat with a few steel-helmeted Irgunists ventured toward the beach, and despite Haganah fire set up a small beachhead. But when Haganah turned the mortar fire on the Altalena, and smoke began to pour out amidships, the rest of the Irgunists jumped over the sides, swam for shore.
"If We Go Down..." Correspondents and U.N. observers had been watching from deck chairs on the balcony of the beachside Kaete Dan Hotel. Many departed hastily, expecting the Altalena to blow up. Other civilians were evacuated from the waterfront. But boxes of ammunition went off without serious damage. Next morning the Altalena was a smoldering hull.
Ashore, the fighting stopped. Irgunists withdrew to their grey stone fortress headquarters in Tel Aviv. Then they got orders from Beigin to go underground. From a secret radio Beigin screamed defiance at the "mad dictatorship" of the Ben-Gurion government, called on Irgunists to leave Israel's army. "If we go down," shrilled Beigin, "we will see to it that the state of Israel sinks with us! If I am killed, the fury of my soldiers will know no bounds. They will avenge me, and I fear that the youth of Israel will be wiped out in a single night."
Irgunist Beighin had embraced the philosophy of violence years ago as a law student in Poland, there had joined the youth organization of the Zionist Revisionists. In World War II the Russians arrested him as an "anti-social element" in Poland, exiled him to hard labor in Siberia, later released him to join the Polish army. When his unit reached Palestine, Beigin deserted and went underground with the Irgun. The British put a price of £2,000 on his head.
Moderates of Ben-Gurion's socialist party, the strongest in Israel, had been willing to accept a limited Zionist state in the hope of achieving peace and order. Revisionists scorned such compromise, demanded all of Palestine and Transjordan. The insignia of the Irgun (an outgrowth of the Revisionists) flaunted an arm holding a rifle above an outline of the old double Palestine-Transjordan mandate. Proclaimed its motto: Rak Kach (Only Thus). By terror and sabotage, the Irgun argued, the British could be driven from Palestine and the Arabs restrained. Irgun had specialized in both terror and sabotage.
Unended Danger. The problem for Ben-Gurion was not just to supress terrorism, but to convince Israelis that the terrorists' promises of victory through violence were deceptive. Last week he demanded and got a vote of confidence (24-7) from the Council of State. Said he: "The incident may be closed, but the danger hasn't ended.... It would be a mistake to depend upon the army alone [to supress terror]. The entire people of Israel are called upon to overcome the danger." Terrorists had flourished during the British mandate. Now, said Ben-Gurion, Israel must unite to eradicate them.
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Ehud OLMERT became prime minister in March 2006; he shelved plans to unilaterally evacuate from most of the West Bank following an Israeli military operation in Gaza in June-July 2006 and a 34-day conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon in June-August 2006. OLMERT in June 2007 resumed talks with the PA after HAMAS seized control of the Gaza Strip and PA President Mahmoud ABBAS formed a new government without HAMAS. OLMERT in September 2008 resigned in the wake of several corruption allegations, but remained prime minister until the new coalition government under former Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU was completed in late March 2009, following the February general election.
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