Friday, July 18, 2014
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
The pre-1948 currency, called the 'lira' or 'funt' in Hebrew and 'junya' in Arabic, is in demand by collectors. Both Jews and Arabs see it as a piece of history whose value will only rise.
By Ofer Aderet | Jul. 9, 2014 | 7:25 PM - Haaretz.com
While the region is ablaze again and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at a boil once more, there are those who are profiting from the conflict. The Kedem Auction House is reporting a significant rise in the demand for pre-1948 currency from (British) Mandatory Palestine. The demand comes from merchants and collectors alike.
Among those making inquiries are customers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf States. Some of these are Palestinians who emigrated from the West Bank, became wealthy and are now returning on "shopping expeditions," as they are called by the Auction House.
Such bills were first issued in 1927, a decade after the Balfour Declaration, in which the British Government declared its favorable view regarding the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. These bills replaced the Egyptian lira, which had been legal tender in Palestine until then. The new currency was linked to the British pound, and the notes were trilingual, including writing in Hebrew, Arabic and English. They were in use until 1948.
“Alongside the joy they evoked in the Jewish community, these notes aroused anger and grievance among Arabs, mainly due to the use of the Hebrew language, and the Hebrew name for the country, as well as the depiction of Jewish symbols and holy sites on the bills,” sources at Kedem say.
However, the passage of time has changed things. Now, many Arabs are interested in these bills for the opposite reasons. “There is now interest in these bills as part of a national struggle. They are collected in preparation for the establishment of the Palestinian State. This is something of a 'retro’ phenomenon of yearning for Palestine, as a symbol of what is to come,” says Mark Kaputkin, a coin expert and trader in a conversation with Haaretz. “They collect anything with the name ‘Palestine' written on it, including bills marked with ‘Anglo-Palestine Bank,’” he adds. The fact that this bank was owned by the Zionist Federation and later became the central bank of the nascent Jewish state doesn’t matter to these collectors.
According to Kaputkin, even Yasser Arafat used to walk around with half-lira and lira notes in his pocket, showing them off as support for his claim that Palestinians are the true owners of the land. “The Hebrew script will not be removed from these bills, since that would detract from their authenticity and value,” Arafat reportedly said.
In the catalogue issued by Kedem ahead of the July 16 auction, much space is devoted to these bills. Officials at Kedem explain that Arab customers purchase them in three ways: through Israeli Arab traders in Haifa, Jaffa and Nazareth, through dealers in Arab countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel such as Jordan and Egypt, and through websites.
The rising value of these notes indicates to some traders that the Palestinian state is imminent. A similar rise in value occurred in 1993 with the signing of the Oslo accords. Their price doubled in 2002 after the second intifada broke out. Their value also increased in 2004 along with the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and in 2009, after Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan University speech in which he supported a solution of two states for two peoples, and again in 2012 when the UN General Assembly gave the Palestinians observer status at the UN.
One of the bills that will go on sale next week is a ten lira note from 1939, with an opening price of NIS 26,000. The note bears the image of a famous 14th-century minaret in Ramla, dating to the Mamluk period. A decade ago similar bills were sold for around NIS 5,000. Two other one lira bills, also from 1939, will be sold as well, with an opening price of twenty thousand shekels. A decade ago they sold for one thousand shekels. “The reason for the astronomical leap in their value stems from the fact that they show the Dome of the Rock with the name Palestine above it,” says one official at Kedem. “Such bills are still given as gifts to sheikhs and other notables.”
Jewish merchants also express interest in these bills, since they are the first to derive from the territorial entity from which the state emerged, thus serving as important milestones on the way to independence. “These bills have become a small part of the conflict, and each side uses them as support for its positions and arguments," the officials says. "For Jews these bills are part of the road leading to the establishment of the state of Israel whereas for Palestinians they are a sign of hope for the establishment of Palestine. This is what makes these bills, which aren’t that old, something so special.”
Thursday, July 3, 2014
From: Tomas Young
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.
The Crucifixion of Tomas Young (TruthDig)