3/6/2015

ISIS is supplying us with weekly doses of unbelievable and incomprehensible atrocities. Honestly, it is unclear to me what is driving them . . . but that is for another day.

Very far behind their killings and murders of people and, indeed, entire cultures and sects, come their attacks on cultural religious icons and destructions of antiquities.

Recently, this behavior garnered some headlines.

It is obvious that if we had a choice to have ISIS demolish a statue or to burn a person alive we would say let them demolish a statue; but we do not have this choice. In terms of its effect on human evolution, our heritage, the destruction of cultural icons and antiquities is significant. The demolition by the Taliban of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan in Afghanistan 14 years ago was devastating.

The burning of the library in Alexandria 2,000 years ago was a tremendous loss of culture, science, art, and knowledge was, of course, much more significant; and we will never know what positive —maybe even lifesaving—effects on human development having access to such a treasure of knowledge and history could have made.

Two and a half years ago I raised the alarm about Santa Katarina. The monastery of Santa Katarina in Sinai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The monastery itself, built supposedly where Moses received the Ten Commandments, is a holy place for Christianity and of great interest to Judaism. However, its most significant importance is in the fact that it houses the second most important library (after the Vatican) of works and knowledge from the area of the beginning of modern civilization—2000 years ago. It has scrolls, codices, and manuscripts in Greek, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Hebrew, Georgian, and Aramaic texts.

The loss of this archive of amazing historical significance and one which, due to its secluded and remote location, has NOT been researched anywhere closely enough, would be devastating to the world.

The Middle East does not march according to the quarterly statements, immediate gratification type of culture lived by those of us in the West. As the famous saying goes, “We in the West have the watches, but they in the Middle East have the time.” So the fact that nothing untoward has happened in Santa Katarina in the last two and a half years since my raising the alarm does NOT guarantee that nothing will. Given the 2000 years of history it contains, it does not much matter if the destruction will come now or in 10 years’ time.

While nothing happened in Santa Katrina in the last two and a half years, a lot has happened in Sinai, specifically, and in the Middle East in general. Sinai has become much more of an active front for Islamic extremism activities and ISIS has planted its seeds there too. It is only a matter of time before they who are beheading Christians and threatening “Rome” by depicting it in a video with the black flag of ISIS flying over the Vatican, will decide that destroying the monastery and setting on fire the library and its contents will add a perverted jewel in their crown, needed by their, again perverted, reading of Islam.

Why is no one doing anything about it? Why is the Vatican silent about it? Is it because they cannot get over the fact that the monastery is a Greek Orthodox one and not Catholic??? Why is this place not secured by strong presence of military forces of Egypt, UN, and possibly even Israel?

Where is the Twitter # campaign or Facebook page to protect/save Santa Katarina?

This is NOT the most important thing in the world—there are many, many more terrible issues that go unsolved—but this is one that can be solved relativity easily and at a very limited cost. In the realm of cost benefit analysis it is very worthwhile doing!!

I repeat my call to #SaveSantaKatarina!