The Most Potent Virus on Iranian Computers

It isn’t Stuxnet or even Flame, but…

The malware known as ‘Flame,’ that was described by the analysts who discovered it as a super-cyberweapon, is actually a tool for cyberespionage that has been running inside Iranian data centers and labs for as long as five years without being discovered or causing significant damage.

Contrast that with Stuxnet, an app designed to create damage and mayhem, which still hung around high-security facilities for a year or more, futzing with the speeds and sequencing of centrifuges refining nuclear fuel into weapons-grade material.

Contrast it, for that matter, with Windows, which causes huge disruptions every time a new version, a new Service Pack or even a significant set of new patches comes out (let alone with Windows-based malware helps someone steal data from usually not-so-secret installations) and you have a good case for stealth as a design goal.

One question that always hits me when malware like this surfaces: is it cross-platform or just for Windows computers?  That’s not an easy question to get a straight answer to, and the reason is simple: cybersecurity experts consider it to be a stupid one.  Of course it’s Windows!

Iran is a country under an array of sanctions and commercial restrictions.  It is also a country blessed with many intelligent, well-educated people (well, the ones that haven’t bailed out on them).  So why hasn’t the Iranian government built its nuclear and other capabilities on computers running a more secure platform like Linux, which is free?  Instead they have entrusted their plan to wipe Israel off the map to computers running an OS which is often pirated and whose security problems are a global joke.

Perhaps they figured that, if they stuck with pirated versions of Windows, they’d avoid problems with the updates.

It seems that the biggest virus on Iranian computers–and others–is Microsoft Windows itself.  Our country’s most potent secret weapon…

Ten Things She Doesn’t Get About Christians: My Reply to Emily Stone

I found Emily Stone’s list of ten things she doesn’t get about Christians intriguing.  So I set myself to answer these as follows:

  1. The Tipping Business.  That goes back to Finney, who made a very big deal about Christians tallying every monetary transaction they made to be exact to the penny, which has given rise to all the “short-change testimonies” we’ve heard.  So Christians look at tipping as being overcharged.  But Emily is right about the realities of restaurant server wages, which presuppose a gratuity.  So in shorting them a tip we’re short-changing them.
  2. Global Warming: Christians rightly regard global warming as a competing religion because that’s how its proponents have presented it and every other aspect of environmentalism to the public.  If we had put science education in the place it deserves in our society and had the proper debate to follow, our situation would not be the same.  The thing that bothers me about Christians attitude along these lines is the underlying want to prioritise lifestyle maintenance when New Testament Christianity doesn’t support it.  But that’s the product of prosperity teaching, and I dealt with that in a post by her husband a few weeks back.
  3. Presidency: American Christians have merged their faith in God and their relationship with the country to an extent that, when a person becomes President that doesn’t reflect their values (and this one certainly doesn’t), the reaction is unmitigated hostility.  If we would start by putting God first and realising that, as was the case in Augustine’s time, the “City of God” is distinct from the state, we would understand that God’s plan will move forward with or without this country or this President, and then perhaps we can take a more detached approach to the problem.
  4. Television: we are simply too eager (and too unwilling to put in the effort to be otherwise) to be a part of this culture to push the off-button on the remote.
  5. Feminism: I dealt with this here and in my more recent post on women in ministry.
  6. Abortion: I’ll leave it to my liberal Episcopal visitors to explain why they think it is their sacred duty to support abortion as a Christian.
  7. Pretty: “Beauty Pageant Christianity” is a bane.  It is largely an outgrowth of our Southern culture, and a lower-to-middle class one I might add.  I didn’t run into this obsession with physical perfection among the “beautiful people” I grew up with in Palm Beach to the extent I do where I am now, although I understand it’s now bubbled up there too.  It’s another one of those things where we’ve let the culture lead us than the other way around.
  8. Old/New Earth: As a specialist in an earth science, this has more than passing interest, and it was the subject that shoved this blog off seven years ago.  As someone whose Christian intellectual formation was Roman Catholic, the core problem is that Protestant Biblical hermeneutic has painted us into a corner on this issue.
  9. Homosexuality as the Worst Sin:  I’ve suggested ways to take a lot of the wind out of this war, but there’s two sides to this.  The LGBT community has demanded that it be at the centre of American life to the point where one’s attitude towards them determines whether one is a fit human being or not.  Well, they got everyone’s attention, and now those who won’t ascribe to this are being bullied.  That’s not a fun experience, and those who get it often retaliate in unlovely ways, in spite of Our Lord’s words.  The sooner Christians understand that they’re only getting into a fight someone else has picked, the better.
  10. Snobbery:  I direct my readers to my About page.  As an expert in the subject, I would differentiate snobs and sycophants who fawn over the big bucks in the church.

Well, this won’t make me any more friends than Emily’s original post, but so be it.

Book Review: Barbara Tuchman’s Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45

When we think of China today, we think of a nation growing very fast economically and taking its place as one of the great powers of the world.  Getting to that point–or getting to that point again, if one takes a long view of history–took a course of great suffering and several unexpected turns (how unexpected they were depends upon whom you are talking to). Understanding that course is essential to understanding where China and the Chinese are today, and a key reference is still Barbara Tuchman’s Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45.  Told through the career of one of this country’s unique generals, it documents not only the course of China itself from the end of the Qing Dynasty to the end of World War II but the course of American policy (civilian and military) and how that policy interacted with the realities of China to, at best, not hinder the Communist victory in 1949.

In reading this book, one needs to keep in mind its central purpose: to show that the “loss” of China in 1949 was not caused by pro-Communist people in our own government but by the realities of China in general and the Kuomintang (Nationalist) government in particular, led by Chiang Kai-Shek.  It’s easy to forget that the one event since World War II that has galvanised the American left more than any other was the “Red Scare” of the 1950’s.  That scare, in turn, was given life in no small measure by the fall of Nationalist China.  It’s supremely ironic, therefore, that the beginning of the reversal of American isolation of the People’s Republic of China was presided over by the left’s bête noire, Richard Nixon, a process begun shortly after the book’s publication.

On 10 October 1911 (the “double tenth”) anti-Qing revolutionaries staged a coup in Wuhan.  They chose as their leader Li Yuan-Hung, the regimental commander who was hiding under his bed.  Told that he was to lead the revolution or be shot, he chose the former, and the beginning of the end of China’s last imperial dynasty was at hand.

The following month Joseph Stilwell made his first visit to China.  The scion of an old prominent Yankee family, he was a West Point graduate and a career Army officer with a strong sense of duty and a dislike for many of the trappings of officer life.  He had a gift for languages, and learned Chinese before his first trip.  That knowledge made him over the long haul one of the most knowledgeable “China hands” the U.S. had at its disposal, albeit one whose language skills were not matched by his diplomacy.

In the collapse of the Qing dynasty, the system for governing the country was decapitated, which devolved the governing of the country to the provinces.  That was the source of the “warlord” system which dominated Chinese politics in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and led one observer to call the situation “democrazy”.  More to the point, Sun Yat-Sen, the founder of the Republic, characterised his country as not one China, but a “sheet of loose sand”.  The centripetal tendency of Chinese politics–not understood by Americans–is a reason the People’s Republic acts the ways it does towards dissenters, as they proved fatal to the Kuomintang.

After Sun’s death, leadership of the Kuomintang ended up with his brother-in-law, Chiang Kai-Shek.  A Chinese politician of the old school, Chiang attempted to pull things together through a system of patronage and playing one warlord/governor/general off against another and, in doing so, insure his survival.  The one group of people he had absolutely no use for were the Communists, doubtless because they opposed the moneyed classes which bankrolled him.  The history of the Kuomintang and the Communists is complicated, because in the beginning the Kuomintang modelled itself after the Soviet Communist Party and had Soviet advisors.  Chiang attempted to exterminate the Communists after formally splitting with them, which led to the famous “Long March” to Yenan.

Stilwell, after serving in France during World War I, was posted in China in various capacities during the 1920’s and 1930’s.  He supervised the building of a road near the Yellow River and got to meet many of the political figures of the time in North China (he was stationed in Beijing and Tianjin).  One of the more interesting was the “Christian Warlord” Feng Yu-Hsiang, who baptised his troops with a fire hose and taught them evangelicals hymns.  In addition to that, he also taught them trades and to treat the people properly, as the Communists were to do in Yenan a few years later.  Stilwell also found what just about everyone else who has visited China has found: some of the most charming and beautiful people on the planet.

Bringing up Feng brings up the subject of the missionary effort in China.  It’s easy to forget that China was the mission field par excellence for the last half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth.  But missions were vastly different.  In contrast to today, where American elites are as little inclined to be Christian missionaries as they are to serve in the military, the Christian mission was very much a Main Line effort, both in terms of the denominations and the family origins of the missionaries, including Franklin Roosevelt’s mother’s family.  Seldom have the U.S. ruling classes had so much foreign experience of any kind.  One thing that the elites of the day shared with those we have now is a childlike faith in the Chinese ability to embrace Western democracy, at that time through the effects of the mission work.  This system, with its mission stations and protections for foreigners extended to the missionaries, was criticised at the time, but both facilities and missionaries turn up often in the narrative.  At the end of the book, Tuchman states that Christianity did not address the needs of the Chinese, but later events have shown that the missionaries, having started the work, simply needed to step aside for the greatest Christian revival in human history.

Chiang’s method was a recipe for corruption.  It just might have triumphed, however, had it not been for one of the rude interruptions of history: the Japanese invasion of China, starting with the north in 1931 and moving southward through the decade and into the next.  When the United States was kicked into World War II by Pearl Harbour, Stilwell was assigned to the Chinese forces on the east side of Burma.  The Japanese were swift in their conquests in South-east Asia, swallowing up the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and ultimately Burma itself.  The British had never had a serious military challenge in most of their empire, and the Japanese basically overran Burma in short order.

Stilwell, caught with about a hundred others and trapped, opted to walk out of Burma.  He even refused the services of Robert “God is My Co-Pilot” Scott, who came to fly him out.  If he expected others to walk out, he did also.  So his party, many sick and wounded, set out on a miserable march northward.  It’s an epic that rivals the Communists’ trek in difficulty if not in distance.  Along with Stilwell was Baptist medical missionary Gordon Seagrave, whose Burmese nurses–singing Christian hymns and songs along the way–seemed to fare best.  The walk out exemplified much of what was best in Stilwell–his willingness to share the hardships of those under him, his devotion to duty irrespective of cost to himself, and his dogged determination to meet an objective.

Once out Stilwell had to face his two biggest problems: Chiang Kai-Shek and the British.  The latter were the usual obstacles to progress.  Their first goal was to keep their empire in general and their treaty-enforced place in China in particular, and often ran interference against Stilwell to fulfil both goals.  Stilwell in turn disliked the British and, in his style, wasn’t reticent about letting that out.

With Chiang things were more complicated.  Both Roosevelt and Stilwell were convinced that China was to become a great power, the former through his mother’s family experience and the latter through his own.  Roosevelt additionally wanted to help China’s entry into the world stage.  Chiang’s method of power holding, however, prevented him from seeing a successful military figure from emerging among his generals, to say nothing about the skimming from the top he was doing with American aid.  He turned his military strategy into a large delaying tactic, irritating the more proactive Stilwell to no end.  Most of the book is taken up with Stilwell’s struggles with “Peanut” (the code name for Chiang Kai-Shek) over military strategy.  Stilwell was able to get enough authority over enough troops–and trained many of them personally, as was his style–to win Myitkyina back from the Japanese and open up a larger flow of supply to China, both by air and land.

Chiang’s continued back-pedaling, however, combined with Stilwell’s ever-difficult relationship with the British, made follow-up of this victory difficult.  The result of this was a diplomatic “Hail Mary pass” if there ever was one: Roosevelt asked Chiang to make Stilwell commander over the entire Chinese army.  Chiang, shamed at the request, came back with his own request: remove Stilwell.  Roosevelt complied and Stilwell’s career in the CBI (China-Burma-India) theatre was at an end.

One thing that Tuchman attempts to explore was Stilwell’s regard for the Communists.  He was so frustrated with Chiang that he was certainly ready to consider working with them, but Chiang blocked that relationship.  Stilwell didn’t see the Chinese as much Communistic, which probably elicited snickers when the book was published but has proven correct, especially since the death of Chairman Mao.  (The Soviets were never really sold on Chinese Communist orthodoxy’s purity, which is one reason it took so long for them to back Mao and his party and why they were shown in the door in China.)  Stilwell also saw China as a great manufacturing power, this before Japan led East Asia on its export-driven road to success after World War II.

Tuchman remains one of this country’s great historians, although occasionally one gets lost in her battle descriptions.  It was a special pleasure reading a book that showed signs of a serious editor at work, which is more than we generally get these days (such as this).  She wrote when many of the principals in the story were still living (Stilwell himself died of cancer in 1946) and had a better feel of what a World War II narrative should be like than we do now.

My only regret is that I did not read this (and many other books like it) before my foray into China in 1981.  It is a tribute that Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 remains the definitive narrative on the subject forty years after its first publication.  It is an era that is too easily forgotten, but it’s too important of a moment in American–and Chinese–history to set aside.

Yes, it Can be Proven Whether Elizabeth Warren is Cherokee or Not

Michael Tomsky of the Guardian is simply wrong about this:

So if Warren’s mother told her there was Cherokee blood, and if one little rivulet of Cherokee blood going back generations makes one a Cherokee, which legally it does, then she’s Cherokee, at least as far she knows. Now she has to prove this? You have to go back five generations to get to 1/32nd. It’s entirely possible that such a thing can’t even be proven.

We have reached the point where, with genetic testing, it can be proven.  The problem is that Elizabeth Warren doesn’t want the downside risk of failure, as noted here.  It’s that simple.

Tomsky is correct about the rules of engagement: any Cherokee (or any other Native American tribe) ancestry makes one Native American.  Whether that’s good is another debate; I don’t think our obsession with identity politics is moving us forward.  But I am amused at this:

As you may have read when this story broke, the current head of the Cherokee nation, Bill John Baker, is also just 1/32nd Cherokee. He is also, by appearance, completely white. You could mistake him for a Tea-Party Congressman.

Back in Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia, many of the people who have Cherokee ancestry are also deeply politically and religiously conservative, so at a Tea Party gathering in any of these places. the tribe may be well represented, depending upon what part of the state you’re in.

But that brings up another hilarious point:

She has simultaneously fended off Tim Geithner, who hated her diligence on the TARP question, and Republicans, who went banshee about her precisely because she was effective and unassailable. They never laid a glove on her (and boy, they tried). If doing all that after growing up poor in the Dust Bowl doesn’t convey character about someone, then nothing does.

The reason Elizabeth Warren is the way she is stems from where she came from, not in spite of it.  It’s tempting to say that she’s in the wrong political party, as she’s switched.  Right at the moment, she’s in the wrong political system to be a populist.  If you look at things from the perspective of “back home” the Tea Party and other conservatives have little use for the moneyed elites.  The reasons why they have not careened into socialism as a result of this is twofold.  First, socialism involves centralising the economy, and the root problem from the perspective of the provinces is that our economy and money system is too centralised as it is.  The second is that embracing socialism involves embracing a class-stratified view of life, which Republicans up to now have avoided (although it did become an issue during the primary).  There are also complex religious and ethnic issues involved, but they’re best dealt with elsewhere.

But Elizabeth Warren has attempted to take “Dust Bowl” populism and export it to Ivy League levels.  That, in my opinion, is a recipe for failure, akin to serving God and Mammon at the same time.  That’s why the people of Massachusetts should stick with Scott Brown and let Warren rediscover her roots in a more meaningful way.

The Unabomber Only Did What The Rest Wish They Had

Old Ivy is a little chagrined over the career accomplishments of this Class of ’62 member:

Harvard University alumni attending their 50th class reunion this week are getting updates on classmates, but one person stands out among those sharing news about career moves, retirements and grandkids — Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Kaczynski graduated in 1962 and is locked up in the federal Supermax prison in Colorado for killing three people and injuring 23 during a nationwide bombing spree between 1978 and 1995. In an alumni directory, he lists his occupation as “prisoner” and says his awards are “Eight life sentences, issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, 1998.”

The main difference, however, between the philosophy that Kaczynski acted upon and that which was at the heart of ’60’s radicalism is not the philosophy but the implementation.  Unlike Kaczynski, who went to the mountains and practiced long-distance terrorism, most of the ’60’s radicals like Bill Ayers went mainstream in their methodology (not without hiccups) and many of those who fill our elite in government and the non-profit sector (and that includes education) reflect that.  They did this because they realised what Kaczynski did not–that tactics such as they used in the late 1960’s and 1970’s didn’t serve to implement the changes they wanted but only put their opponents on alert.

But the question we must answer is this–irrespective of the methodology, would the results of their success be any different?  One thing we know is the same–the Ivy Leaguers are in the thick of it.

If We Had Been a German Colony, We Would Have Been Further Down the Road

I’ve mentioned on occasion that, where I teach, the full-time faculty in my discipline is entirely African.  We recently had a faculty retreat and, before we got underway with the matters at hand, we discussed various items.  One of them was the subject of Americans keeping lions as pets, which the Africans found understandably unbelievable.

My colleagues are both East and West African.  One of them is from Tanzania, so I took the opportunity to ask her whether any of her family had fought with Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck during World War I.  No, she said, but some of her in-laws had ancestors that had.  The Africans were surprised that I even knew about the subject.  Since most of you don’t either, some explanation is in order.

During the nineteenth century Africa was divided up amongst the various European colonial powers, including Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Germany.  Since the German Empire wasn’t united until 1871, they were on the trailing edge of colonial formation, but in characteristic fashion they caught up.  The most significant colony was German East Africa, which became Tanganyika and then merged with Zanzibar to become Tanzania.

The British (primarily) managed to dispatch most of Germany’s African possessions without much trouble, but German East Africa was another matter.  At the start its colonial governor, Heinrich Schnee, was inclined to keep the place neutral, as were his counterparts in British Kenya.  But both militaries were itching for action, and pretty soon the British invaded German East Africa.

It was an ill-advised move.  von Lettow-Vorbeck, the German commander, had put together a Prussian-trained and disciplined army of Africans.  In addition, his strategy became not so much to hold the colony (impossible at any rate) but to tie down British troops and supplies against their being used against the Fatherland in France and Italy.  In that he was successful; outnumbered consistently, he ran the British (whose forces died more from disease than in battle) all over East Africa, only surrendering in Zambia when the Kaiser threw the towel in back home.

von Lettow-Vorbeck’s success with African troops against the greatest colonial power in the world made a deep impression in East Africa, doubtless inspiring the independence movements that followed after World War II.  It was a supremely “yes, we can” moment for the region, one which, sadly, has not been replicated on these shores the last three and a half years.

But recalling German rule in Africa brought up a discussion of which European power’s colonial legacy was the best.  The British came out the worst in the discussion; the impression was that the British objective was to take the money and run (which sends to the bottom a lot of self-serving Anglophile “good bull” I was raised on).  The French came off better, which explains why a country like Algeria, whose war of independence with France was exceptionally bitter, still conducts its higher education and much of its life in the language of Bossuet and Chateaubriand.  But an interesting wrap was put on the discussion when my Kenyan department head stated that, had they been a German colony rather than a British one, they would have been further down the road, i.e., towards development and participation in the world at large.

The two World Wars and all of that went with them have obscured the fact that the Germans’ ability to build a successful, efficient society and economy are amazing, especially considering the overhead of their social welfare system.  The Germans’ biggest problem always has been that they know that fact; had they presented a more humble face to the rest of humanity, much of the bloodshed and hostility they have experienced might have been avoided.  von Lettow-Vorbeck’s experience demonstrated that the German ethic was transferable, when properly implemented and with the right people.  (I think that Volkswagen, for example, is having an interesting time doing this with the Scots-Irish in Tennessee).

That transferability is in some ways the crux of the Eurozone’s problem.  De Gaulle felt that the purpose of European union was to keep the Germans down, the French in and the British out, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.  Germany is the economic engine of Europe; in some ways the Euro is the mark on steroids.  Unfortunately the German ethic never “trickled down” to places such as Italy and Greece, who themselves took the money from the currency unification and ran.   Unfortunately the crash of 2008 ended the fun, and now Europe lurches towards the crisis that could be the undoing of a lot more than the Eurozone.

The basic problem is that the Eurozone is a disparate collection of civilisations, with different ethics and different ways of doing things.  With separate currencies coexistence is possible; with one it is not.  This country isn’t immune to such disparities, but has one federal government to go along with the currency.  It hasn’t hurt that the Southern states, the economic laggards of the Union, have traditionally taken a parsimonious “didn’t take ’em to raise” attitude towards social welfare, which progressives may find intensely distasteful but at least hasn’t put them in hopeless debt and exorbitant taxation.

At this point, for the status quo to work, the laggards on the other side of the pond have two choices: either allow the Germans to send some present-day fiscal von Lettow-Vorbecks to bring things back into order, or cut loose.  The Africans might find German leadership an inspiring memory, but places like Greece and Italy, birthplaces of Western civilisation, don’t.  This may explain in part why Africa, for its problems, is on the uptick and Europe isn’t.  (The memory of the last time the Germans actually did this doesn’t help either).

Cutting loose, however, has inspired a shame-honour reaction amongst the Eurocrats that would do the Middle East proud.  In addition to shattering their careerist dreams, jettisoning one or more countries from the Eurozone would be an abject admission of failure, another setback in their attempt to fill the God-shaped void in their lives (a void identified by the Frenchman Pascal, whose name adorns the SI unit of pressure) in the wake of the failure of Marx, Freud, Sartre and the like.

The Germans, however, are a reminder of a simple fact that escapes the entitlement-mentality immersed West: if you want a successful economy, you must organise yourself, your people, your politics and your finances properly.  Failure to do so will result in…failure.  That is what we’re facing these days, and the sooner we come to grips with this, the sooner we’ll be moving down the road again ahead of the can rather than behind it.

Underscoring the Dangers of Mao Tai (and Vodka)

The idea that Mainland China and Taiwan should be connected by a 124-km long tunnel got this reaction:

“The tunnel proposals were made after banquets and alcohol,” Hu Sheng-Cheng, an economist at Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s most renowned think tank, told Asia Times Online when flatly dismissing the tunnel idea. Taiwan must already spend huge sums for weaponry to deter China, which has more than 1,000 missiles aimed at the island, so that any talks on the project are totally unrealistic, he said.

The alcohol he was doubtless referring to was mao tai, the potent Chinese colourless liquor which they use for toasting during banquets.  They drink it in thimble-size glasses.  Depending upon the banquet, there can be a few thimbles full or many.  Mr. Hu obviously thinks that, at the banquet where this idea was floated, there were many.  (For the role of banquets in Chinese business, click here.)

But the Chinese are not to be outdone in this regard by the Russians, the championship drinkers of two continents.  There are dangers here too, as noted in this 2008 post:

Evidently someone at Mexican ad agency Teran|TBWA was consuming some of their client Absolut’s product when they produced this:

Reminds me of something my Russian representative told me one time.  He confidently declared that “In Russia, there is a saying that, ‘There is no agreement without vodka.’”  He paused, thought, then added, “And that’s why there are some really stupid agreements!”  (To see an example of what happens with agreements after vodka, click here.)

An Overview of Jerusalem

I recently came across a fascinating book entitled The Handbook of Palestine by H.C. Luke and E. Keith-Roach.  Produced in 1922 by the British Mandate government which had just taken control of the country after a long Ottoman Turkish rule, it’s a fascinating snapshot of the Holy Land beginning its transition to the State of Israel and the other claimants of the land.  I plan to reproduce some of the more interesting parts of the book on a sporadic basis.

This post is an overview of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem’s unique history can only be touched upon here in outline. We have seen (Part I., § 3) that Urusalim appears among the cities of Palestine in the fifteenth century b.c.; and as Jebus the city was captured by David from the Jebusites about 1000 b.c. Enlarged by Solomon and embellished with the First Temple, it became, after the division of the kingdom, the capital of Judaea. In the reign of Rehoboam the city surrendered to the Egyptian King Shishak, who despoiled Temple and Palace of much of their ornaments.

King Hezekiah endowed his capital with a water-supply and, at the approach of Sennacherib, repaired the fortifications. Jehoiakin surrendered it to Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the Temple and carried away to Babylon the king, together with thousands of the principal inhabitants. The attempt of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, to revolt led to the destruction of the city in 587 and to the second deportation of its inhabitants. After the return of the Jews from the Captivity in 538 the Second Temple was built by Nehemiah.

The Maccabean period has been referred to in Part I.; then came Herod the Great, a mighty builder, who aspired to renew in Jerusalem the glories of King Solomon. He built the Third Temple, erected a sumptuous royal palace protected by the towers Hippicus, Phasael and Mariamne, and endowed his capital with municipal buildings, theatre and a circus for gymnastic games.

The subsequent vicissitudes of Jerusalem are so entirely bound up with the general history of Palestine (of which a sketch is given in Part I.) that it is needless to recall them here. The next outstanding date after the city’s capture by Titus in 70 a.d. is its surrender to ‘Omar in 637. The Arabs treated the inhabitants with clemency, and permitted them to remain in the city on payment of the kharaj (poll-tax). The Khalif Harun al-Rashid is said actually to have sent the keys of the Holy Sepulchre to Charlemagne; and we have seen in § 1 above that the Carolingian Emperors sent contributions for the support of Christian pilgrims proceeding to Jerusalem.

The Arabs named the town Beit al-Maqdes (“house of the sanctuary”), or, more shortly, al-Quds (“the sanctuary”), and its present Arab name remains Quds al-Sherif. The oldest known plan of Jerusalem is contained in the mosaic map of Palestine discovered in 1897 at Madaba in Trans-jordania, and dates from about a century prior to the capture of the city by the Arabs.

The Crusading period has been dealt with in Part I. In 1517, as we have seen, Jerusalem surrendered to the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Selim I., and in 1542 the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in their present form by Suleyman the Magnificent. In 1862 the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII., visited Jerusalem and did much to bring about the constitution of the Palestine Exploration Fund. For the improvements wrought in Jerusalem since the British Occupation, see Part I., § 7.

It is not proposed here to describe or even to enumerate all the monuments and sights of Jerusalem, or to attempt to enter into the vexed question of its topography; this must be left to the guide-books. It must suffice to indicate the outstanding objects of interest of a city, where almost every stone has its history and significance.

The principal monuments are the Haram al-Sherif; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, together with the remains of the basilica of Constantine; the walls, gates and citadel; the Wailing Wall of the Jews; the Armenian cathedral; the Caenaculum or tomb of David; the Jewish tombs in the valley of Jehoshaphat; the Crusaders’ Church of S. Anne; the Ecce Homo arch and adjoining remains; the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin and the Garden of Gethsemane; and the Mount of Olives. The old city within the walls, that ” city compact together ” with its vaulted suqs (bazaars) and narrow streets that have undergone no change for centuries, with its steep alleys flanked in many cases by masterpieces of Saracenic architecture, may well, however, be regarded as the greatest monument of all, unique in its compactness, in its appearance of hoar antiquity, and in that homogeneity which it is the aim of its present administrators jealously to preserve.

The Haram al-Sherif is the platform, artificially prolonged towards the east and south on substructures known in part as ” Solomon’s Stables,” upon which stood the Temple of Solomon and its successors. In the centre of the Haram area is an outcrop of the naked rock, now . surmounted by the beautiful mosque known as the Dome of the Rock. This rock can probably claim a greater continuity of religious tradition than any other spot in the world. On it there stood in all likelihood the altar of burnt-offerings of the First Temple; traces of a channel for carrying off the blood, which are visible in the rock, would appear to confirm this theory. Here, or hereabouts, stood Hadrian’s Temple of Aelia Capitolina; here the Khalif ‘Omar built a small wooden mosque, which subsequently gave place to the present masterpiece of Moslem architecture; on the rock, finally, the Crusaders erected an altar when they converted the mosque into the Templum Domini.

The Dome of the Rock (in Arabic, Qubbet al-Sakhra),1 was built by Khalif ‘Abd al-Melek towards the end of the seventh century, and was probably restored by the Khalif al-Mamun in the ninth century, and again in 913. The dome itself, consisting of two concentric wooden vaults, was erected by the mad Khalif Hakim in 1022 in the place of the original dome, which had collapsed six years previously.

The mosque is in the form of a flat-roofed octagon surmounted by a drum, on which is borne the dome. The outer surface is covered, as regards the lower part, with marble slabs, as regards the upper, with a brilliant series of coloured tiles added by Suleyman the Magnificent in 1561. It is of interest to record that the original kilns in which these tiles were manufactured were discovered in the Haram precincts after the British Occupation, and that potters from Kutahia have been brought to Jerusalem under the auspices of the Pro-Jerusalem Society to make tiles in the old manner to replace such original tiles as have been destroyed by weathering in the course of centuries.

The interior of the building is a marvel of colouring and decoration. The roof of the octagon is richly decorated in green, blue and gold; the drum is adorned with sumptuous mosaics by Byzantine artists of the tenth and eleventh centuries; the stucco incrustation of the inner dome produces a most rich effect with its red and golden tones. Not the least beautiful feature of the interior lies in the coloured glass of the windows. The rock itself is surrounded by a screen of wrought iron, placed there by the Crusaders when they converted the building to Christian use. The inscription on the inside of the drum records its construction in 72 A.H. (691 A.D.) by ‘Abd al-Melek, whose name was excised from the inscription and replaced by that of al-Mamun one hundred and twenty years later.

Many traditions, Moslem and Talmudic, attach to the rock, which is believed to hover over the waters of the flood and to be the centre of the world, the gate of hell, the scene of the sacrifice of Isaac, and much else of a fantastic nature. According to Moslem belief it was from the rock that Mohammed was translated to heaven on the back of al-Buraq, his magic steed of the human face.

To the south of the Dome of the Rock stands its tiny prototype, the Dome of the Chain, built by ‘Abd al-Melek as a treasure-house to contain the money which he had set apart iox the reconstruction of the Haram area. At the southern end of the Haram rises the celebrated Mosque al-Aqsa, the “more distant” shrine, to which God conveyed the Prophet in a single night (Sura xvii., i). The Aqsa mosque in its present form occupies the site of Justinian’s Church of the Panagia, and, despite almost complete reconstruction by the Khalifs and their successors, retains, in outline at all events, much of its original character of a Byzantine basilica. The dome, which is of wood, covered with lead without, is handsomely decorated in a manner similar to the dome of the Qubbet al-Sakhra. Its mihrab and pulpit have been referred to in § 1 above. A staircase in front of the narthex of the mosque leads down to the southern substructures and to the vestibule of the old Double Gate; ” Solomon’s Stables ” are entered from the south-east corner of the Haram area.

Enclosing and overlooking the Haram on the west and south are a series of superb madrasas and other Saracenic buildings of the highest merit {cf. § 1 above); the Suq al-Qattanin (bazaar of the cotton merchants), which forms the principal entrance to the Haram area, is the most important of the old vaulted bazaars of Palestine and Syria, and was preserved from imminent destruction in 1919 through the efforts of the Pro- Jerusalem Society. The minaret in the north-western corner of the Haram rises on the remains of the Antonia tower.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre2 stands in the north-western corner of the old city, but is concealed from view by the many Patriarchates, monasteries, chapels and other ecclesiastical buildings, which cluster round it and only leave open to view the southern fa9ade. Originally a group of small separate churches, rising on the holy sites in the fourth century and after, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre received its present form from the Crusaders, who erected one large Romanesque church to embrace the chapels covering the several sites. In 1799 a great part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt, only to be destroyed almost entirely by fire in 1808; another comprehensive rebuilding followed in 1810, Of its two conspicuous domes, the larger westerly dome, surmounting the Rotunda and the Sepulchre itself, was constructed of iron lattice girders under Russian auspices in 1868. The eastern dome is part of the Crusading building, and appears to have escaped untouched the reconstruction of 1810; it is probably the largest dome of its type ever built in Palestine. The belfry is twelfth-century work, but has lost its topmost story.

The two-storied Romanesque façade is interesting: the lower story forms a double portal, the lintels of both doors being adorned with admirable bas-reliefs of the twelfth century. The upper story encloses windows.

The interior is divided into two principal parts, the Rotunda and the old “Chorus Dominorum,” now the Orthodox cathedral. The Rotunda, whose central object is the small shrine covering the Tomb of Christ, dates in its present form, together with its dome and the shrine of the Sepulchre, from the nineteenth century, although the design and dimensions have been meticulously preserved from the earlier buildings. On the other hand, the “Chorus Dominorum” and transept date from the twelfth century, the vaulting over the transept being of particular interest as the earliest known example of the diagonal rib, a feature which differentiates pure Gothic from Romanesque. The chapels of Golgotha are reached by steps leading upwards from the east of the porch; the interesting chapel of S. Helena is at a lower level and is reached by a flight of steps descending from the ambulatory. From S. Helena’s chapel another flight of steps leads down to the chapel of the Invention of the Cross.

What renders the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of outstanding interest, apart from its sanctity in the eyes of a large portion of mankind, is the fact that it is shared by representatives of most of the Churches of Christendom. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Armenians, Jacobites, Copts and Abyssinians have their appointed chapels and rights within its walls (formerly also Georgians and Nestorians), and in it is celebrated almost every known form of Christian liturgy and ritual. During Holy Week and at the other great festivals of the Christian year it offers to the spectator a diversity of Christian ceremonial visible nowhere else under one roof.

Adjoining the Holy Sepulchre to the south-east is the Orthodox monastery of Abraham, in one of whose chapels the Church of England has the right to celebrate services; below this, again, is the modern building belonging to the Russian Palestine Society, which encloses important remains of the “Martyrium” of Constantine.

The oldest part of the Walls is that which is also the enclosing wall of the Haram area; much of this is Herodian, but is partly concealed by immense masses of debris. The walls received additions at the hands of the Romans and the Byzantines, and were comprehensively restored by Saladin, not a little of whose work survives. The city walls, apart from the Haram section, owe their present form in the main to the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. The Gates, beginning with the Damascus Gate, and going eastwards are: the Damascus Gate, Herod’s Gate, S. Stephen’s Gate, the Golden Gate (an elaborate Byzantine structure within the Haram area, built by the Empress Eudocia in the fifth century and walled up by the Turks in 1530; the Gate through which the Palm Sunday processions entered the city during the Crusades), the Dung Gate or Gate of the Magharbeh, the Zion Gate, the Jaffa Gate, and the modern opening known as the New Gate. Adjoining the Jaffa Gate is the Citadel, a massive fortress of five mighty towers, probably occupying the site of Herod’s Palace. The Citadel in its present form dates from the beginning of the fourteenth century, with six- teenth-century additions. But the drafted blocks of the foundations are of much earlier date, and the north-east tower probably corresponds with the tower of Phasael of the Herodian structure. Much work has been done by the Pro-Jerusalem Society in repairing the Citadel and in clear- ing up the debris with which the interior and the moat were encumbered.

The Wailing Wall of the Jews is an ancient section of the western Haram wall, and is much resorted to for the purpose of prayer by pious Jews, particularly on the Sabbath, when the festal dress of the Ashkenazim offers a picturesque spectacle.

The Armenian Patriarchate and Cathedral, the largest conventual enclosure in Palestine, occupies with its hospices, schools and gardens the greater part of the south-western quarter of the old city. The Cathedral of S. James the Less, with its rich treasury, is of considerable interest, and is lined with Kutahia tiles of an unusual figured type.3

Within the Armenian compound is shown an interesting old chapel regarded as occupying the site of the house of Annas; while to the south of the Zion Gate is the Armenian Monastery of Mt. Zion with the traditional house of Caiaphas and the tombs of the Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem. The house of Annas is also known as the ” Convent of the Olive Tree ” (from a very old olive believed to have sprung from the tree to which Christ was bound), and, together with the house of Caiaphas, is decorated with tiles similar to those of the Cathedral.

The Caenaculum or Tomb of David (al-Nebi Daud), to the south of the Zion Gate, is a venerable shrine known in the Middle Ages as “Mater Ecclesiarum” because considered to be the house of the Virgin Mary and the place where the Last Supper was celebrated. The existing monument is a Gothic church built, probably by Cypriote masons, in the middle of the fourteenth century; after being in the possession of the Augustinian Canons and afterwards of the Franciscans, it passed in 1547 into the hands of the Moslems, in whose ownership it has remained. The “Upper Chamber” is accessible to non-Moslem visitors, but the lower room, alleged to contain the Tomb of David, is shown only to Moslems.

The Valley of Jehoshaphat (Valley of the Kidron; Wadi Sitti Maryam) runs along the eastern boundary of the city, which it separates from the Mount of Olives, and has been from time immemorial the burial-place of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Of particular interest are the Jewish monuments of uncertain dates known as the Tomb of Absalom (a remarkable rock-cube surmounted by a superstructure terminating in an oddly shaped spire), the so-called Tomb of Jehoshaphat, the Grotto of S. James, and the Pyramid of Zacharias. Below these tombs the valley leads past the village of Siloam (Silwan) until it is joined at right angles by the Valley of Hinnom.

Among the most complete remains of the Crusading era are the Church of S. Anne, inside S. Stephen’s Gate, and the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin, outside it on the road to the Gethsemane. The former was built by the Queen of Baldwin I. in the twelfth century, was offered to and refused by the British Government after the Crimean War, and was then presented to Napoleon III., by whom this well preserved Gothic building was intelligently restored.

The Church of the Tomb of the Virgin is in its present form the handiwork of Queen Melisende, whose tomb it contains.

The adjoining Garden of Gethsemane is divided into shares belonging respectively to the Latins, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Russians, and the Armenians. The early Christian basilica recently excavated in the Latin Garden of Gethsemane has been referred to in § 2 above.

The Ecce Homo Arch is probably part of a Roman or Byzantine triumphal arch, whose northern end has been ingeniously incorporated within the church of the “Dames de Sion.”

The Mount of Olives (in Arabic, Jebel al-Tur) stands 2,680 feet above sea-level, and is crowned by a number of churches and convents, of which the most ancient is the small octagonal Church of the Ascension, dating from the fifth century (see § 1 above). Other buildings are the Orthodox Convent of Galilee; a modern Russian convent with its conspicuous view-tower; and a group of Latin buildings, including the Church of the Paternoster.

Dominating the northern end of the Mt. of Olives is a massively constructed German Protestant Hospice, built by William II in 1910 and now the Government House of the Palestine Administration.

The most satisfactory of the modern buildings of Jerusalem is the Anglican Cathedral and Close of S. George with its small and attractive cloister, built for the late Bishop Blyth by Mr. George Jeffery. Conspicuous are the German Catholic Church of the Dormition outside the Zion Gate (its design based on that of the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle), and the Lutheran Church of the Muristan, embodying fragments of the mediaeval Church of S. Maria Latina.

One and a half miles west of the Jaffa Gate lies the ancient Orthodox Monastery of the Cross, for many centuries in the possession of the Georgians.

1See E. T. Richmond, The Dome of the Rock and its present Condition, Oxford 1922.

2The most recent English work on the Holy Sepulchre is Jeffery, A Brief Description of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, and other Christian Churches in the Holy City, with some account of the mediaeval copies of the Holy Sepulchre surviving in Europe, Cambridge, 1919.

3These tiles are described and illustrated in C. A. Nomicos…

The Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem

I recently came across a fascinating book entitled The Handbook of Palestine by H.C. Luke and E. Keith-Roach.  Produced in 1922 by the British Mandate government which had just taken control of the country after a long Ottoman Turkish rule, it’s a fascinating snapshot of the Holy Land beginning its transition to the State of Israel and the other claimants of the land.  I plan to reproduce some of the more interesting parts of the book on a sporadic basis.

In this post we will look at the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem.

The History of the Bishopric. — The Jerusalem Bishopric is the oldest of the twenty-one dioceses throughout the world which do not come within any ecclesiastical province, but are directly under the metropolitical jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Indeed, the ‘Jerusalem Bishopric Act,’ passed in 1841 to sanction the consecration (in England) of Bishops for places outside the British Dominions, was used not only for the first consecration of an Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, but under its provisions all other such Bishops have since been consecrated, the King giving his Mandate to the Archbishop of Canterbury in each case.

The aims and procedure of the founders of the original Bishopric in 1841 are not without interest.

The failure of several attempts on the part of Lutheran Germany to secure episcopal orders through Rome led King Frederick William IV. of Prussia to approach England with the purpose of founding a Bishopric in Jerusalem in the hope of attaining that object, and in 1841 it was founded. Its income was provided by £6oo a year, the interest of an endowment fund raised in England, and a further £6oo, the interest of a capital sum set aside from the privy purse of the King of Prussia. The nomination to the See thus provided for was alternately with England and Prussia; the Archbishop of Canterbury nominating for England to the Crown, and having the right of veto on the Prussian nomination.

The Bishopric, as then founded, was unpopular with many churchmen on account of its connexion with a non-episcopal communion, and from their failure to appreciate the difference between episcopal jurisdiction as exercised in the West, where it is territorial, and in the East, where several Bishops rule in the same area, each over members of their own communion. This led to the unfounded fear that there was an intrusion on the rights of the Orthodox Patriarch as Bishop of Jerusalem.

A further failure to obtain episcopal orders for the Lutherans resulted in the withdrawal of Prussia from the contract (together with the portion of income guaranteed by the King) on the death of Bishop Barclay in 1881, when the Bishopric fell into abeyance for nearly six years.

After considerable inquiry and much careful thought Archbishop Benson revived the See as an Anglican Bishopric; and Dr. Blyth, then Archdeacon of Rangoon, was consecrated Bishop of the Church of England in Jerusalem on the 25th March, 1887, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem having said that it was ‘necessary that a Bishop of the Church of England…should be placed in this Holy City.’ Ever since that date the Anglican Bishopric has been growing more and more part of the religious life of the city, until it now holds a position which is unique in opportunity for promoting a good understanding among its many Churches.

The Aims of the Bishopric. — The aims of the Bishopric may be summed up as follows:

“To represent the Anglican Church as worthily as possible amongst the other Churches represented in the Holy City; to cultivate relations of friendship and sympathy with the ancient Churches of the East, always remembering the Redeemer’s prayer, ‘that they all may be one’; to provide churches and chaplains for Anglican communities within the diocese; and to present the Christian Faith in its fullness to non-Christians and to commend the Faith by two special means, the training and education of the young and the healing of the sick.”

The Bishop’s Mission, known as the ‘Jerusalem and the East Mission,’ is taking a prominent part in the education of young Palestinians, both by means of its own schools and by joint action with other societies in carrying on the English College for young men and the British High School for Girls in Jerusalem.

Jurisdiction of the Bishopric. — The Bishop’s jurisdiction extends over the congregations and interests of the Anglican Church in Palestine and Syria, in part of Asia Minor and in the Island of Cyprus. Until the end of 1920 it also included Egypt and the Sudan, but those countries were then formed into a separate, independent diocese under the Bishop of Khartoum. In addition to the Cathedral Church of S. George the Martyr in Jerusalem, built by the late Bishop Blyth, there are other churches and British or Palestinian clergy and congregations in Jerusalem, Gaza, Jaffa, Ramleh, Bethlehem, al-Salt (Trans-jordania), Ramallah, Nablus, Haifa and Nazareth, besides various other places in the country districts and also in Cyprus and Syria. Much of the work is carried on by the Church Missionary Society and the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews.

List of the Anglican Bishops. —

  • Michael Solomon Alexander, 1841-1845;
  • Samuel Gobat, 1846-1879;
  • Joseph Barclay, 1879-1881;
  • George Francis Popham Blyth, 1887- 1914;
  • Rennie Maclnnes, 1914-.

The English Order of S. John of Jerusalem — This Order is represented in Palestine by an admirable ophthalmic hospital overlooking the Valley of Hinnom in Jerusalem. The Order has fitted up the Chapel of S. John of Jerusalem in S. George’s Cathedral, in Jerusalem, and enjoys, through the courtesy of the Orthodox Patriarch, the privilege of celebrating services in the crypt of the Orthodox Church of S. John the Baptist in the old city.

Courts for Christians and Jews

I recently came across a fascinating book entitled The Handbook of Palestine by H.C. Luke and E. Keith-Roach.  Produced in 1922 by the British Mandate government which had just taken control of the country after a long Ottoman Turkish rule, it’s a fascinating snapshot of the Holy Land beginning its transition to the State of Israel and the other claimants of the land.  I plan to reproduce some of the more interesting parts of the book on a sporadic basis.

In this post we will look at courts for Christians and Jews, as we did for Muslims earlier.

One thing appended in the original is the registration of marriages.  Each religious group registered its own marriages under British rule.  This is also interesting in view of the current spat over same sex civil marriage.

The non-Moslem Communities exercise jurisdiction in matters of marriage, divorce and alimony, and inheritance over the members of their community, and the judgments given by their religious courts in these matters are executed through the Execution Office of the Civil Courts.

The Courts of Christian Communities have:

  1. exclusive jurisdiction in matters of marriage and divorce, alimony, execution and confirmation of wills of Palestinian members of the Community;
  2. exclusive jurisdiction in any other matters of personal status of such persons, where all the parties to the action consent to their jurisdiction;
  3. exclusive jurisdiction over any case concerning the constitution or internal administration of a waqf constituted before the Religious Court according to the religious law of the community.

A Rabbinical Council composed of two Chief Rabbis — one for the Sephardic and one for the Ashkenazic communities — and six Rabbinical members together with two lay Councillors, was elected in February, 1921. This Council, which constitutes a Court of Appeal from the Rabbinical Courts of the Jewish Communities in the towns and villages, is recognized by the Government as the sole Rabbinical authority.

The Rabbinical Courts have:

  1. exclusive jurisdiction in matters of marriage and divorce, alimony, execution and confirmation of wills of Jewish Palestinian subjects;
  2. jurisdiction in any other matter of personal status of Jewish persons, where all the parties to the action consent to their jurisdiction;
  3. exclusive jurisdiction over any case as to the constitution or internal administration of a waqf constituted before the Rabbinical Court according to Jewish Law.

Under the Turkish regime the registration of marriages and divorces was carried out by the Census Office (Nufus). Under the British Administration the registration is carried out by the religious authority which celebrates the marriage, a copy of the certificate being sent to the Governor, who keeps a register of all marriages and divorces in his Province. For the Moslems mazuns (registrars) have been appointed in each District by the Qadis, who are alone qualified to celebrate and register marriages. For the Christians the Patriarchates and for the Jews the Rabbinical Council, are responsible.