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Jews and Arabs unite to try to save Jerusalem’s Hill of Evil Counsel from being turned into luxury flats  

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 04:00

In another city, the fight over the hilltop property plot might be an unremarkable planning battle, pitting profit-driven developers against unhappy local residents. But Jerusalem is no ordinary city and the Hill of Evil Counsel is no ordinary hill.  The hilltop is so called because it is the spot where Caiphas, the Jewish high priest, decided to betray Jesus and hand him over to the Romans for crucifixion. It is a key site in the New Testament and the birthplace of the centuries-old anti-Semitic trope of Jews as “Christ killers”.  Now, Jews, Muslims and Christians are fighting to keep the area from being turned into luxury flats.  The Hill of Evil Counsel, which has sweeping views of Jerusalem’s Old City, had been administered for hundreds of years by the Greek Orthodox church, which owns huge swathes of property in the city, including the land on which Israel’s parliament is built upon.  In recent years the church has gone on a controversial land-selling spree, taking in millions of dollars from property deals. In one of the deals, it agreed to sell a 110-year lease for the hilltop to Michael Steinhardt, an American financier and David Sofer, a London-based Israeli businessman. Theodore Friedgut, a retired Canadian-Israeli professor, has lived on the site for more than 50 years and will lose his home if development goes ahead Credit: Quique Kierszenbaum The developers plan to cement over the open space - once used by British military bands for practices - and build apartment buildings, where the flats and their epic views will likely end up in the hands of wealthy foreigners who visit Jerusalem a few times a year.  The developers’ project, and the church’s decision to sell them the lease, have infuriated local residents.  “The Greek church have no right to lease it and to destroy it. They are supposed to protect it, not sell it off the highest bidder,” said Sarah Sallon, a British-Israeli doctor who has lived in Jerusalem for 30 years. “‘This magnificent view is all of our heritage and we fight for it as a group of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.” Sarah Sallon has been involved in trying to stop the development going ahead Credit:  Quique Kierszenbaum / Telegraph A church official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the current Greek patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos, had inherited a mountain of debt from his predecessor, who was forced from power in 2005 and exiled to a small room in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre compound.   “We did not wake up one morning and say: Hill of Evil Counsel, lets develop that area. We came into power with a big problem and with 40 million shekels (£8.7 million) in debt connected with the area and we had no choice. We had to deal with it,” he said.  The church relies on income from its property portfolio to survive, the official added.  The Abu Tor neighbourhood where the hill is located is divided between Israeli and Palestinian residents and was a frontline during the 1967 war. Israeli troops once used the second floor of a hilltop monastery to look down on Jordanian forces below. Abu Tor literally means “father of the bull”, after one of Salahedin’s generals who according to legend rode a white bull into battle against the Crusaders.  The Greek Orthodox church has administered the site for hundreds of years  Credit: Quique Kierszenbaum / Telegraph Palestinian families from the eastern part of Abu Tor said they joined with their Jewish neighbours in opposing the plans, and were worried an entrance road planned for the development might force some of them out of their homes. “We will join any demonstrations against this,” said Nawal Zakaria Bazalamit, the 74-year-old matriarch of her family.     A law firm representing the developers did not respond to a request for comment.  Opponents of the plans don’t know if they will prevail against the well-heeled developers. Theodore Friedgut, a retired Canadian-Israeli professor of Russian history, has lived on the hill for more than 50 years and remembers surveyors coming immediately after the 1967 war, looking for potential opportunities. “We saw there was interest in develop all the way back then,” he said. But Mr Friedgut points out that misfortunes have befallen those who have previously tried to commercialise the site.  In the 1980s a consortium tried to take over the Hill of Evil Counsel in partnership with the church, but the project collapsed and the two sides fought a bitter legal battle.  Another time, a Greek priest allegedly began to put pressure on the few families who lived in rent-controlled houses on the hill, demanding they pay more. According to locals’ stories, he drowned in the River Jordan soon after, not far from the spot where Jesus is said to have been baptised.


President Trump To Release JFK Files

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 02:52

President Trump announced on Twitter that he will be releasing the classified JFK files on Oct. 26. The move will allow thousands of documents detailing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to be released to the public.


Soda tax supporters try to pivot from Chicago setback

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 01:46

US public health advocates are hoping to pivot after a major setback in Chicago, where local lawmakers repealed a soda tax after only two months following fierce industry-backed lobbying. On October 11, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, which includes Chicago, nullified the penny-an-ounce levy, which was seen as a means to discourage consumption of sugary drinks that can lead to obesity, diabetes and other ills. "It's a setback," said Jim O'Hara, director of health promotion policy at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.


Bannon faults George W. Bush for 'destructive' presidency

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 01:29

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Former White House adviser Steve Bannon on Friday depicted former President George W. Bush as bumbling and inept, faulting him for presiding over a "destructive" presidency during his time in the White House.


Donald Trump Says Public Spats With Lawmakers Can Help His Agenda

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 23:40

President Donald Trump may be using his public spats with Congress as a whip to get his agenda moving.


Australian police offer record reward in serial killer cold case

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 23:11

Australian police offered a record $4.75 million in rewards Saturday to catch the serial killer or killers behind the murders of six Melbourne women in the 1980s. The women, ranging in age from 14 to 73, disappeared in separate incidents as they traveled on foot around Melbourne over an 18-month period in 1980-1981. The police in Victoria state, where Melbourne is located, announced on Saturday six rewards of AUS$1 million ($780,000) each for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever was behind the murders.


These Are The Three Richard Spencer Fans Arrested For Attempted Homicide In Gainesville

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 22:04

GAINESVILLE, Fla. ― About five hours before his companion allegedly fired a bullet toward several protesters, and a day before police charged him with attempted homicide, Colton Fears, in an interview with HuffPost, laid out the grievances that had brought him to town.


The U.S. Army Has a Deadly New Sniper Rifle

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 21:37

Heckler & Koch showed off its M110A1 7.62mm semi-automatic sniper rifle this week. Despite a brief period of ambiguity wrought by budget-jousting among lawmakers in Congress, the Army’s new and improved sniper rifle is alive and well. Heckler & Koch showed off its M110A1 7.62mm semi-automatic sniper rifle, selected for the Army’s Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) program on the floor of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference and exposition in Washington this week, a first up-close-and-personal look at the lightweight rifle.


The Most Common Financial Mistakes To Avoid

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 20:46

Whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck or managing a healthy nest egg, there are certain classic money blunders you’ll want to avoid.


Stop Criticizing Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin Says So.

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 20:35

If you want to be a good American, listen to Vladimir Putin and stop criticizing Donald Trump.


Tiger Kept At Truck Stop For 17 Years Dies, But The Legal Battle Isn't Over

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 20:25

The tiger at the center of a years-long legal battle between animal rights activists and a Louisiana truck stop owner has died, but the owner’s desire to get another tiger means the fight likely isn’t over.


7 Misleading Things EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Said In His Interview With Time

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 19:31

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s tense look broke into a toothy grin at the end of a 22-minute interview with Time Magazine when the reporter called his response to a question “good, but lawyerly.”


Betty Price Wonders If People With HIV Should Be Quarantined

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 19:04

WASHINGTON — Georgia state Rep. Betty Price (R) — the wife of Tom Price, who resigned last month as President Donald Trump’s health secretary amid investigations into his frequent use of private planes — wonders if isolating people with HIV would help stop the disease’s spread.


Off-duty officer killed in Vegas shooting left funeral notes

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 18:39

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — A Las Vegas police officer and U.S. Army veteran who was among 58 people killed in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history provided instructions ahead of time for those at his memorial not to mourn, a pastor told the crowd at his funeral on Friday.


Trump US Attorney Interviews Raise Eyebrows

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 18:22

Rachel Maddow reports on Donald Trump meeting with candidates for U.S. attorney positions in the districts that would have jurisdiction over Trump's affairs, which isn't illegal but is unusually enough to draw concerned attention.


Iraqi forces complete Kirkuk province takeover after clashes with Kurds

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 18:21

By Maher Chmaytelli and Raya Jalabi BAGHDAD/ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi forces on Friday took control of the last district in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk still in the hands of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters following a three-hour battle, security sources said. The district of Altun Kupri, or Perde in Kurdish, lies on the road between the city of Kirkuk - which fell to Iraqi forces on Monday - and Erbil, capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq that voted in a referendum last month to secede from Iraq against Baghdad's wishes.


Murder-suicide seen in desert deaths of California couple

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 18:17

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A young couple whose disappearance in the blazing summer heat of Joshua Tree National Park launched an urgent search died in a murder-suicide, Southern California authorities said Friday.


Maker of Bosch Expands Dishwasher Recall to 663,000 Models

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 18:15

The manufacturer of Bosch and other dishwasher brands today recalled 469,000 dishwashers because the power cord can overheat and catch fire. The recall is an expansion of a two-year-old recall th...


The Latest: Navajo leader supported death penalty in case

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 18:09

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing of a man charged in the killing of a Navajo Nation girl (all times local):


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