After being invited into their home for a wonderful conversation with Sally and Jonathan Cook, award-winning British author and journalist who reports from Nazareth on the Middle East, who shared with us what he is currently working on.
He talked about the war in Gaza and about Israel’s weapons and their consequences. I need to rely here on the notes from his blog, as I couldn’t write fast enough to get all he said. “Experts point out that Israel is often not checking whether its shooting is accurate. It gives every indication of not taking any precautions to ensure it is hitting only military targets (or rather targets it claims are military in nature) – that recklessness makes it fully culpable of committing war crimes. But we also have experts who make the point that much of Israel’s precise weaponry is not precise at all. Military analysts and human rights observers say the IDF is still using unguided, indirect fire with high-explosive shells, with a margin of error of up to 300 metres, plus a lethal radius of up to 150 metres and an injury radius of 300 metres. So that’s a killing and injury zone of close to half a kilometre from the intended “precise” site of impact, in a territory that is only a few kilometres wide. In short, the main shell Israel is using in Gaza is entirely imprecise. Set aside what Israel is trying to do in Gaza. Let’s assume it is actually trying to hit military targets rather than being either reckless about hitting civilian targets or deliberately trying to hit civilians, as much of the evidence might suggest. Even if we assume total good faith on Israel’s part that it is trying to hit only Hamas and other military sites, it is clear it cannot do so even with the weaponry it has. The inherent imprecision of its arsenal is compounded many fold by the fact that it is using these weapons in densely built-up areas. So when are we going to hear Human Rights Watch or the UN’s Navi Pillay stop talking about proportionality or Israel’s potential war crimes, and admit Israel is committing war crimes by definition?”
Nazareth has numerous churches, Christian schools and monasteries all spread out on the side of the “U” shaped hill. Up top on the hill is the Salesian monastery, down below to the left is the Malkian Church (an offshoot of the Catholic Church), and in the foreground right is a new International Center dedicated do Mary the mother of Jesus, supervised by a French Catholic order.
When excavating for this Center in 2009, they discovered a 1st C home. Here it is uncovered, 4 rooms altogether. In the foreground of the first picture is the hole of the cistern, the lower floor was used for the animals. Most of these homes used caves and added rooms built into the ground. Nazareth in Jesus’ day was a backward town of about 50 families, who when they wanted to “go into town” went to the city of Ziphora, about 10 kilometers NE.
This Church of the Annunciation, dedicated in 1955 on the site of where Mary had her angel visitor who said she was going to experience something pretty amazing, is built upon many others, with the first one from the 4th C underneath, in the grotto (behind the communion table). I went to an evening meditative worship of lessons and music there last night.
A stones throw away from the church is the synagogue from which Jesus read these words of Isaiah, found in Luke 4.16-21, “When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.”