That is why it is heartening to see Orthodox families visiting the public gallery. There is clearly a need and a desire among all Israelis to learn about ourselves, from how we started walking on two legs to how we learnt to speak and create art.
My colleagues and I designed the gallery to tell the story of humans and our remote ancestors over the past 7 million years in an approachable way. The focus is on similarities rather than differences: we emphasize likenesses in bones across species, and explain that chimpanzees and humans are about We show how we can glean knowledge about them from genetics, archaeology and fossils, many of which are found within a few kilometres of the museum.
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This indirectly highlights that a scientific approach to human origins requires evidence. Our challenge was to establish concepts in ways that will appeal to all Israelis Jews, Christians, Muslims and others, religious and secular.
We did not overload the exhibition with casts of fossils, which mean little to most people. Instead, we designed exhibits that visitors — mainly children — can interact with. For instance, in one activity designed to teach the importance of opposable thumbs, children attempt to rotate a screw using only their four fingers; in another, they are quizzed on whether they can recognize facial expressions. Everything is labelled in Arabic, English and Hebrew.
We show how ancient bones reveal social, cultural and biological aspects of past human societies, including the practice of violence, health conditions, diets, division of labour, ritual behaviour and ornamentation. We discuss research methods, such as ancient-DNA analysis, and how carrying out anthropological studies enables us to reconstruct daily life and major historical events.
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The EU and its major stakeholders ought to make some quick yet significant revisions in their policies, if they seek to amount a genuine contribution to higher regional stability and play a more intense role in it. In recent years, Europe-Israel ties have deteriorated dramatically and the EU position has weakened unprecedentedly.
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A growing distance between Washington and Brussels, alongside controversial steps related to the nuclear agreement with Iran, and a freeze in the political process between Israel and the Palestinians, have all led to loss of trust and mutual respect among the top echelon of the mainstream political leadership in Jerusalem and Europe. The EU has been too weak internally to achieve unanimity and exert effective pressure on Israel. The Israeli government found it sufficient to rely on its American partner, with several other world powers, including Russia, India and Brazil, next in line. The bilateral annual Association Council meetings have not convened for eight years and intergovernmental consultations between Israel and Europe's major powers have been downgraded, suspended or stopped altogether.
Now that Israel will either have a unity government, or a narrower coalition, led by former chief of staff Benny Gantz, new opportunities abound. Most of the candidates to become ministers in a future Israeli government realise there is no substitute for Israel to the European partner, neither in Asia nor in South America.
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A new government in Israel, together with responsible and pragmatic European leadership, can create fresh momentum, restore strategic dialogue and horizons, and cultivate a reinvigorated EU-Israel partnership, based on a new security paradigm and on mutual awareness to each side's interests, values and concerns.
A pragmatic European approach would include greater understanding of Israel's legitimate security concerns. It should lead to a new realignment with Washington regarding the Iranian nuclear programme , which now seems more likely in light of Trump's own attempts to negotiate directly with Teheran. Europe should also dilute expectations for a quick fix of the Palestinian crisis, mostly because it takes two to tango.
Additionally, Europe can help prevent escalation to war in northern Israel, while following the British annulation of the artificial distinction between Hezbollah's terrorist arm and its presumed political. Generally speaking, the EU should avoid controversial and damaging rhetoric and actions that alienate those in the centre political map of Israel.
It can jumpstart the process of upgrading relations with Israel, irrespective of progress in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Restoring bilateral consultations, periodic Association Council meetings, and maintaining tighter coordination with Jerusalem, would help moderates in future Israeli governments advance true partnership across the Mediterranean. This may also, indirectly, assist rehabilitating some of Israel's state institutions which have been under attack in recent years, such as the Supreme Court, the attorney general and the police.
Detaching the Netanyahu-era's alliance with Hungary's Viktor Orban and other illiberal regimes in Europe will serve both EU unity and Israel's integrity.
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Scraping the deal reached with Poland to rewrite the history of Second World War and exonerate Polish citizens who committed war crimes, falls under the same category. Israel and Europe should guarantee the construction of a natural gas pipeline connecting Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy. More broadly, Israel should do everything in its limited power to help keep Europe united and independent of Russia's grip, because, in the long run a divided Europe, drifting further away from the US is counter to Israeli interests. Developing understanding and building alliances within the European Commission can help Israel avoid unpleasant surprises such as the one with Horizon , when the commission demanded West Bank Israeli participants not partake in the program.
Commonalities between Europe and Israel span not only shared values, interests and weaknesses as liberal democracies, but include revived hope.
Learn which religions in the Middle East are under threat. This promise gave a new impetus to the need to preserve Hebrew customs and practices while the people lived in a foreign land. In fact, scholars believe that the Babylonian exile marks a crucial phase in the effort, begun by King Josiah many years earlier, to compile the many strands of Jewish history, ritual, and law into one comprehensive set of books.
These books—Hebrew Scripture—would enable families to retain their unique identity and continue the rich liturgical life of their fathers and forefathers.
Read Caption. By Jean-Pierre Isbouts.