Photo: Ron Cantrell

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gaza Provokes Israel

Will we see another Israeli War in 2008? Gaza's rocket barrage is being taken advantage of by Hezbollah who are amassing thousands of troops on Israel's north border. The unprovoked Summer War of 2006 was declared an Israeli loss by Israel's government. This was Hassan Nasrallah's cue to prepare for another onslaught against Israel. The perfect "reason" for Nasrallah to go ahead was the assassination of Imad Mugniyah, a terrorist king-pin supported by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. We must support Israel by doing what we can to influence our government's support.

Click the link below to view this Vlog on this subject.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Dome of the Rock - A Hijacked Church?

Muhammad’s hijacking of a Messiah from Jews and Christians seems not the only item hijacked by Islam.

Three years ago, I wrote the book, The Mahdi – Hijacked Messiah, to document Islam’s stealing of a Messiah concept by Muhammad.

Now, my participation on one of Israel’s most interesting archaeological excavations has revealed another major hostage taking by Islam.

Ramat Rachael’s archaeological area, where I’m working this August, takes in the ruins of an interesting church that sits right on the Road of the Patriarchs (now known as Hebron Road). The Kathisma Church is an octagonal structure, built in 456 A.D., which shape is unusual for a church as most are built in the shape of a cross. Sitting square in the center of the church’s octagonal perimeter is an outcropping of solid bedrock some 20 ft. square and several feet high.

The Kathisma Church is where tradition has it that on route to Bethlehem, Mary’s labor pains caused the couple to rest under the shade of a date palm. Joseph is unable to reach the ripe fruit so attractive to Mary, so the tree lowers its fruit to nourish the mother-to-be, and a spring issues forth from under the tree to save their lives in the desert.

Whether one believes the tradition about the church is immaterial. The fact that the tradition predates the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem is the point. The church has a mosaic floor commemorating the story with a date palm flanked by two smaller palms (either symbolizing Joseph and Mary, or the other two crosses on Calvary).

The hijacking of this church’s structure and symbolism is eye-opening. The Dome of the Rock which sits on the Temple Mount is built in the same architectural design, including the bedrock outcropping in the center and an identical date palm mosaic adorns the inside of the dome. As in the church, the date palm is flanked by two other palms. The date of the dome’s construction is 691 A.D., over 200 years later.

The early date of the church and the mosaic are confirmed by Israel’s Antiquities Authority after excavation in 1992. The widening of Hebron Road revealed the church and the dating of the structure brought new and puzzling comparisons to the Islamic structure on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Ron Cantrell

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Cheers signal a "New Find"

Each day Kibbutz Ramat Rachel Archaeological excavation has delivered up new treasures for those of us digging there. Bad attitudes due to the “way too early” hour for beginning the dig fades as the first cheer of the day goes up from one of the dig areas. Each cheer means that at breakfast, news of the find that caused the cheer will be shared with all.

Digging begins at 5:30 am. Breakfast break is 9:00 am.
Though the Kibbutz and surrounding area now are known as Ramat Rachel, Jeremiah 41:17 reveals the name as "Chimham" near Bethlehem.

"And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt" (Jeremiah 41:17).

II Kings refers to the area as the "garden of Uzza:"

"And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead."
vs 26 "And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza; and Josiah
his son reigned in his stead" (II Kings 21:18).

Cheers from the last two days (week two of four) have been from three special yields.

1) A seal impression on pot handle resembling something between an "M" and an "X."

2). A crude ram’s head who’s purpose is yet to be decided by the archaeologists,

3) A great Byzantine oil lamp with a very clear Greek inscription.

This site will become a top tourist attraction as they are now adding walk ways and information signs in order to make a visit to the area a memorable learning experience.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Digging through the Bible

It has to be one of my favorite slices of Israel. On the south hill of Jerusalem, almost exactly between Jerusalem and Bethlehem lies a most interesting archaeological site, yet it is rarely visited by tourists.

I have been digging with the Tel Aviv University this week on their 2007 season. The hill’s height provides a 360 degree view of the saddle in the mountain ridge in which Jerusalem rests.

After a 40-year break in archaeological digging at Ramat Rachel in Jerusalem, the Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with Heidelberg University in Germany, is renewing exploration at the site. The work has continued exposing remnants of a king’s palace from the First Temple period and the hidden layers of 7th and 8th century B.C.E. In addition, it has explored the stratigraphic continuity of layers from the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Abyssid periods.

One of my wild imaginations includes King Nebuchadnezzar and the possibility of his presence on this hill. The site may in fact have been an administration center for Babylon’s conquering hoards. Nebuchadnezzar came here to Israel three times. On his first visit, news arrived that Nabopolasar, his father, lay dying. He and a handful of his soldiers cut across from Lachish to Babylon rather than follow the Euphrates River back as was normal. The burning desert between Israel and Babylon could not support the needs of an army, but a few men with a guide could make the trip quickly.

Almost daily a cheer arises from one of the half dozen teams as they unearth a jar handle marked with a “lmlk” seal. “Le Melek” is the designation meaning for “For the King.” These special jars were taxation vessels and their contents were destined for the palace of the reigning king. These seals come in varying designs depending upon the period of their stamping.

Probably one of the most interesting finds this week is a top section of a Greek oil lamp bearing an acronym standing for “Jesus illuminates all men,” (photo above).
Each day uncovers new finds and each one seems more exciting than the day before. I’m thankful for the weekend break, but already day dreaming of the next find.

For a "Who's Who" of the archaeological excavation see this site:'s%20who.htm

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Israel Baseball League

THERE IS ACTUALLY FUN in the midst of the stresses of the Middle East. The fascination with baseball has been building in Israel for over two decades. Now, Israel is playing hard ball – literally. The newly formed Israel Baseball League is playing daily this ball season. They also boast an impressive website and lots of baseball paraphernalia. My favorite page is "Baseball in the time of our forefathers," a funny look at modern baseball with a biblical view.
Though I love baseball, I have not attended a major league baseball game for over 20 years. This week, my son treated me to a game for my birthday, a real father-son evening. Baseball here is a bit surreal. To arrive at the field, we had to travel through the Ayalon Valley - where the sun stood still for Joshua. The game was played in Gezer- one of the most important international cities of the ancient world and the gateway to the hill country of Israel. And now the battle is won by slugging the ball over the back fence!

The game began an hour before dusk. Uneventful in any country but Israel. As the sun approached the horizon, the sports announcer came across the PA system saying that a minion would be meeting behind the bleachers in a few minutes. A "minion" is at least ten Jewish men needed to officially pray the evening prayer. As the game continued on, prayers could be softly heard between strikes and balls. Even Orthodox Jews love baseball.

Israel’s league has some real gold, panned from U.S. Ball teams. The manager of the Modi'in Miracle team happens to be Art Shamsky, ball player for the New York Mets years ago. Taking advantage of the “ground-floor” inaugural season of the IBL, I requested a signed poster, baseball card, and hard ball, signed by Art - and received them all! More “ground-floor” fun for us was remaining behind after the game end and being asked by Modi'in Miracle team members to help set up the batting cage for the next day. In grateful thanks, they gave us a ride to Tel Aviv later that evening. My car was in the garage and we had really had to finagle to arrive from Jerusalem at rural Kibbutz Gezer where the game was played. Now my the only difficulty I have is to decide which team to favor. I am leaning toward the Modi'in Miracles.

Another surreal facet to Israeli baseball – the team who call Modi'in home – the city where those brave enough to resist the Syro-Greek Empire and save Judaism. Without that rebellion, Joseph and Mary would not have had Nazareth in which to play their roles in the redemption story.

Go Miracles!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Unraveling Sudan & Darfur

Israel is rescuing refugees from Sudan, housing and feeding them, and offering some of them jobs. These refugees have literally "walked" from Sudan across the wilderness of Egypt (top photo: Ron Cantrell), running across the border into Israel. The plight of the Sudanese refugees is straight out of the dust of history into our present times, and the State of Israel is to be commended for stepping up to the challenge they are facing.

Each refugee family have a horrific story to tell. Many of their personal tragedies have been featured on recent Israeli news broadcasts tearing at the compassionate hearts of Israeli's who are anxious to do their part to ease their suffering. A number of Israeli-based NGOs are hard at work to help the refugees.

(right) A beautiful Sudanese child separated in Egypt from her parents, rescued by the efforts of Israeli's, and reunited in Israel.

(left) Egyptian security guard on the Egyptian-Israeli border

It is difficult to understand all the dynamics of the Sudan situation, but learning the foundational roots of the conflict will help us to understand the present crisis. Movie moguls and authors have been educating us for years about the history of Sudan. It is simply hard to apply the education until something arrests the attention and the plight is brought into focus. Genocide in Sudan has done that. Although the problem in Sudan is not religious but ethnic it does have a religious element as well. Sorting things out is not easy.

Darfur is only half the Sudanese crisis.

A Look Back
Alan Moorehead, an Australian author living in Britain in the early 1900s, wrote two books on the subject: The White Nile and The Blue Nile (see "Ron Cantrell Bookstore" right column). Sudan is covered in The White Nile story. The sources of the Nile River lie deep in North Africa. The Blue Nile originates at Lake Tana in Ethiopia while the White Nile originates in the Sudan.

Moorehead’s book The White Nile is a lively history of the Victorian search for the source of the river including the extraordinary tales of Richard Burton, John Speke, General Charles Gordon, as well as the famous meeting of Livingstone and Stanley, a classic, originally published in 1960. Vivid descriptions of Zanzibar, the last days of Khartoum and the building of the Suez Canal are the book's theme. The death of Sir Charles Gordon in Khartoum is described. Zanzibar, the island off the east coast of Africa, was the slave market of Muslims raping north African tribes for strong men and women to be sold for gold. Khartoum was the city of destiny for the slave trade. The market for slaves was not only Zanzibar, but a river ran west from Sudan to the coast where the New World could be stocked with kidnapped and enslaved Africans. Thus, the provision for America’s slavery tragedy.

Roots of Islamists in Africa
These are the root issues of what Sudan is today. The problems stem back centuries. They are ethnic in nature as Muslim Arabs have sought with violent determination to turn Sudan into an Arab Islamic nation. That makes both African Muslims (Darfur) and African Christians (south Sudan) fodder for the Arab Islamic killing machine. Therein lies the religious element.

Picking up on Alan Moorehead’s story, the English movie called the Four Feathers weaves a romantic period story set in the late 1800s. It is a platform upon which the viewer can become well acquainted with the historical issues. Mooreheads story in The White Nile provided the plot for the Four Feathers. The Islamic expectation of a messianic figure that would arrive on the scene at the end of time lies behind the movie. However, if you don’t know that Islam is expecting such a personage, the message escapes you. This Islamic-expected messiah is known as the Mahdi. A clue to the ethnic facet of Sudan lies in the character of Abu Fatma played by Djimon Hounsou in the Paramount film. Playing a black African Muslim, his plight was as tenuous as the British because he was African and not Arab.
Djimon Hounsou plays Abu Fatma who tries to help a renegade British soldier who has set out to warn his comrades of the Mahdi's intentions and war methods.

Chaos, Violence Heralds a Messiah
The heralding of this Islamic Mahdi is a growing concern since Iran’s President Ahmadinejad continues to make reference to his soon coming, declaring that the Mahdi's mission is to aright the world and make Islam the last standing religion. Evidently in the 1800s, an Arab named Abdul Muhammad declared himself to be the Mahdi and set in motion a diabolical plan of violence and chaos, recognized by Islamic theology as the signs following the messianic arrival. He slaughtered infidels, including Britain’s General Charles Gordon and all his men in Khartoum.

Today, Sudan’s capital city is still the launching pad for Arab Islamic genocide, both in Darfur and in south Sudan. Millions of innocent have been slaughtered to the point of survivors walking across burning deserts from southern Sudan to find freedom. Over 2,000 Sudanese refugees have made their way through Egypt and escaped across the Israeli borders.

A Refuge in Israel
Each day, more refugees from Darfur and southern Sudan run for the safety of Israel, dodging Egyptian bullets, confident that the Jewish State will treat them humanely. They are calling Israel their "last hope of refuge." In recent months, numbers of them have been housed and hired by an Eilat hotel chain. IDF soldiers and Israeli university students are the ones initially caring for the needs of the refugees as they come across the border and are relocated to communities in the Negev. Doctors from local hospitals are donating their services to treat the refugees for shock and other medical needs. Hotels, kibbutzim, and youth hostels are giving the families a place to rest as Israel considers a short term solution. They are anxious to find a safe resting place. We received a request from the Sudanese Christian refugees for Bibles through our adult children who live and work alongside them in Eilat. I recently made trips from Jerusalem there and brought Bibles to them. It broke my heart to hear one recipient tell us that the Bible was the best gift he had ever had . . . "much better than money." How much we take for granted.

Saving Darfur & the West
At present, we are working with Israeli's who want to bring comfort and relief to these who have suffered at the hands of Islamists in Sudan.

May our governments be bold with a unified strength to put an immediate end to the Islamic killing of the black Africans. May we in the West heed the lessons of history, and recognize the roots of regional conflicts (i.e., Kartoum) in order to understand the murderous violent eruptions of angry Muslims confronting us today.
View film we recently posted on YouTube:

Please consider making a donation for the Sudanese Refugees in Israel today. You can donate through our PayPal account (right column). As always, 100% goes to the refugees. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Israeli Concessions, Arab Rejections

ISRAEL, EGYPT, AND THE JORDANIANS have a keen understanding of ancient Middle East traditions that escape the West. Some traditions are quaint lending to the "land far, far away" feeling experienced by tourists that visit. Other traditions, however, cause wars.
The nations of the world have suffered disappointment after disappointment imagining with good intentions a Middle East peace solution. More than one U.S. President has had aspirations of being the leader that could quell regional tensions. Israeli concessions have been extensive during several administrations, only to be rejected outright by the Palestinians.

Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah hit the nail on the head in a famous speech caught in the documentary by Honest on the danger of militant Islam called Obsession. According to Nasrallah, the United States was responsible for the “unmarriageability” of Palestinian men. This accusation was masked by his normal screaming reactionary method of public address and easily overlooked or dismissed as absurd. However, it is the key to Middle East peace, asserting that regional peace is absolutely impossible without first removing Israel from the map.

Because of this tradition, Middle East peace will never happen.

Once A Palestinian Refugee
The problem centers around a Muslim Arab tradition regarding refugees. It answers why only displaced Palestinians have been relegated to poverty-stricken refugee camps for almost 60 years when other refugees of the world have been absorbed into host cultures. It centers around real estate holdings of Middle Eastern men. According to Islamic tradition, when a man is driven away from land given him by Allah, he is an outcast, unmarriageable, and this status is upon his children, and his children’s children permanently. The UNRWA supports this claim by clearly defining in their charter that descendants of Palestinian "refugees" remain refugees.

Under the Israeli administration of Ehud Barak, 92% of the West Bank, and up to 75% of the Old City of Jerusalem, including five Arab villages east of Jerusalem were offered to Yasser Arafat. The world caught its breath at the concession. Arafat found no problem in saying “No!” There was one small snag in the deliberations. It is known as the “Right of Return.” That clause means that Arabs who ran from their homes in Israel proper upon the radio urging from Egypt, Syria, and Jordan - who have been kept in refugee camps as pawns in this ancient chess game - would have the right to return to their properties in Israel proper. This would be above and beyond even the establishment of a Palestinian State. In effect, two Palestinian States would be in the making: The land Israel has been forced to give, e.g., Gaza and the West Bank, and the millions (according to Arafat’s calculations) who have been born to the 600,000 Arabs that fled in 1948.

Now, let’s leave the past in the past and consider Israel’s offer to Jordan this week. Israel stuck the idea of a Confederation consisting of the State of Jordan undergirding the future State of Palestine. Don’t forget that until the 1967 Six Day War, the West Bank was Jordan, not Palestine. King Abdullah’s reaction this week was caustic. “We reject the formula of confederation and federation and we believe that proposing this issue at this specific point in time is a conspiracy against both Palestine and Jordan!” The King added that he was "fed up talking about this issue.”

The United States think tanks have suggested that the idea of establishing a "federation" or "confederation" with Jordan was likely to be supported by a large number of Palestinians. Of course it would! Arafat declared Palestinian Statehood in Jordan in September 1970, and, voila! Black September. The late King Hussein’s reaction was massacre of his Palestinian population.

However, this move to create a confederacy would place the major problem of Palestinian holdings on King Abdullah’s plate. He then would be responsible to see to it that the “right of return” would be in any concessions that Israel would make.
If any tradition needs to be brought into the new millennium, it is this idea that a man is not a man without “his land.” A Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Edward Luttwak, in a recent article suggested to just “leave the Palestinians alone.” He believes they need to adopt "realistic solutions" and cease toying with "dreams" (this ancient tradition). And, says Luttwak, “if they do not help themselves, they will get nothing.”

The final piece of this complex puzzle has to do with borders and land. One need only to look at a map of the Middle East before the League of Nations took pen to paper after WWI. The demographics of the area was an empire known as the Ottoman Empire. The nations were created by the stroke of a pen to reward Arab clans that had aided the British in the conquest of the area from the Turks. Even the fledgling State of Palestine (the original name of the Jewish homeland) included in what is now Jordan. That gift was sliced to make way for Hussein who was to receive Lebanon, but an ugly uproar from France left him out. The solution was to cleave the Jewish State in half. Amazing that everyone was thrilled at that time with the Jewish land package. British papers widely published the back-slapping festivities at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. (Click below for a presentation of the history produced by

Names too should be considered. Arabs of this region rejected British attempts to label them "Palestinians." It was the Jewish people who referred to themselves as Palestinians. The first Jewish newspaper was in fact, The Palestine Post, now called The Jerusalem Post.

The next phase in this drama undoubtedly will be the Israeli approach to Egypt to take their place in this complex issue. After all, it was Egypt who broadcast to the Islamic world that they had taken Gaza and were headed to Tel Aviv in 1967. Although they were lying, it galvanized Syria and Jordan, moving them into a war against Israel in which they were embarrassingly defeated. Sinai fell to the Israeli’s, Jordan’s West Bank fell to the Israelis, Syria’s grip on the Golan Heights was ended.

Even now, concessions are still forth coming from Israel. And, once again as it was so aptly put by the Israeli Statesman Abba Eban, “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”