January 23, 2006

The Phenomenon of “Formerly”

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:35 pm by yisraelmedad

Asking my sister at which hotel she and her family were staying on a recent visit she made to Jerusalem, I found myself nonplussed. She said she was at the Inbal and, for a moment, I couldn’t recall if that was an old or new hotel.

At the beginning of the summer, thanks to the fact that my wife Batya is on the teaching staff of the Binyamin Yeshiva High School at Bet El (even though she has suffered periodic extra-curricular activities such as ducking bullets there and on the way), I was able to spend an enjoyable Shabbat at a really new hotel, the Olive Tree (in the new hotel compound across from Meah She’arim that was recently stoned by protestors following the closure of the Orient House – itself a former hotel). But the Inbal? And then it came to me that this was the former Laromme.

Being a bit impish by nature, I then treated my sister Dina to a list of other “formers”: the Dan Panorama is the former Moriah; the Jerusalem Renaissance is the former Ramada Renaissance; the David Citadel is the former Hilton and the Crown Plaza also is the former Hilton. I could go on but I presume the point is understood. Not that hotels change owners but that to be a credible Jerusalemite, one has to know what former status a building or location possesses if one is to be considered truly knowledgeable and genuine.

The ability of knowing the “former” also comes in handy when tracing geneology. Moshe Sharret was formerly Shertok and David Ben-Gurion was formerly a Green. Benjamin Netanyahu’s grandfather was formerly Milokowsky but there is no familial, nor ideological, connection with Ronni Milo also formerly Milokowsky. Ariel Sharon was formerly Scheinerman but Menachem Begin was always Begin although in the Irgun underground years, he carried documents which identified him either as Hans Klinghoffer and Israel Sassover. As for myself, my surname, Medad, was formerly Winkelman and we needn’t repeat the joke about how the Yiddish-speaking Sean Fergeusson came by his name.

I live in Shiloh which the Arabs call Seilun. But Seilun itself, as are many Arab place names, simply preserved the former name of Shiloh. Nablus, an Arabic linguistic corruption of Neapolis, was formerly Shchem. Returning to Jerusalem, Peace Now has campaigned to remove Jews from Ras El-Amoud which the Jewish residents currently call Maaleh Har HaZeitim but which was formerly just plain Jerusalem. Gush Shalom wants all the Jews out of what the Arabs term El-Chalil but what most everyone else knows was formerly Hebron. No one on the Zionist Left is as yet demanding that the Tel Aviv University, the former Arab village of Sheikh Munis, be returned.

The Arabs and their global supporters want Israel to remove itself from the West Bank which was formerly, in official British, American and United Nations maps and correspondence, Judea and Samaria. Moreover, they want to create another Arab state to be called Palestine which also was formerly Judea and Samaria (as even the Christian New Testament makes clear in Mark 1:5 and Acts 8:1) until the conquering Romans came up with the original “make it a former” idea by calling the country first, provincia Judaea, and then dividing it into three units, on both sides of the Jordan River called Palestina Primo, Secundo and Tertio.

It was Ehud Barak who said, in response to the denial by Yasser Arafat that the Temple Mount ever existed on Mount Moriah, that when Jesus turned over the moneychangers’ tables on Mount Moriah, he wasn’t in a mosque but the Jewish Temple, and the Second one at that. It took the news agencies several months to note that the Haram E-Sharif was not “also known as the Temple Mount” but the reverse from a chronological perspective.

It would be my presumption then that with all our progress and development, one should never ignore nor seek to eradicate the “former”.

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