Europe’s Oldest Painting of the “Real” Jerusalem

In medieval Christian art, it’s easy to find depictions of Israel’s ancient and modern capital. These were not based on the city’s actual layout at any given time, but instead on artists’ imagination. For this reason, the Cleveland Museum of Art touts a triptych by an anonymous Austrian painter, dating to around the year 1500, as an “exceptional” attempt at a “topographically accurate” cityscape. Menachem Wecker notes that the painting is itself based on a 1486 woodcut by the Dutch artist Erhard Reuwich—who had visited Jerusalem himself—and comments on its significance:

Many artists drew upon theological conceptions of heavenly and earthly Jerusalems, and it was easy—particularly for those who never visited the city—to think about the Holy Land as a symbol, rather than a real place. This remains the case today. No matter how much one reads in the news about Jerusalem, or no matter how many pictures one sees or how much time one spends on Google Maps “walking” old city streets, one can only approximate the sense one has of actually navigating Jerusalem.

When I see images like Reuwich’s [woodcut and the Jerusalem triptych], I think of abundant news story, even in major newspapers, that leave me scratching my head when they state that the Aqsa complex is Islam’s third-holiest site, without also noting that Jerusalem is central to Christianity and is the holiest city in Judaism. . . . I often wonder how many readers come away from those stories thinking that Muslims have revered Jerusalem from the start, and Jews and Christians are Johnny-come-latelys (or St. John-come-lately).

Of course, when one considers the history of Jerusalem and sets aside the different theological positions of the various faith groups, one is likely to conclude that Jerusalem was significant to Christians and Muslims respectively precisely because it was central to Judaism first. If not for all of the prophecies about the Holy Land in Jewish scripture, it is easy to imagine that Jesus, who was Jewish, would not have set out for Jerusalem, which would mean there would be no reason to require a church on a site that would be so central to his story. And if there had not been two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, and a long prophetic association with that city, would Mohammad have taken his night journey to and from [what is now] al-Aqsa? Doubtful.

The 1486 woodcut and ca. 1500 painting show a then-modern city superimposed on a biblical and ancient one, with Jewish, Christian, and Islamic holy sites nearly built on top of one another. All are pieces of the Holy Land puzzle, and although centuries have passed, quite a lot remains the same.

Read more at Rough Sketch

More about: Art, Islam, Jerusalem, Jewish-Christian relations

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security