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Introducing New Podcast Series: An A-Z of the Holy Land: from Arab to Zion

Published January 06, 2021 by Dr Ed Kessler MBE

Nowhere is the subject of peace and understanding, or more realistically, violence and misunderstanding, more evident than in discussions about the Holy Land, whether in synagogues, churches, mosques, political debates, university seminars, or on marches and demonstrations. Those with skin in the game tend to pursue partisan agendas deploying caricature as a rhetorical tool, ignoring what is a complex web of communities, beliefs and traditions to focus on the destructive clash between Israel and Palestine.

Our series explores the ancient and unending complexities of a strip of land along the Mediterranean. Which term do you apply to a land that became the birthplace of the Hebrew Bible? It lies at an extraordinary location, offering the only available land route between Asia and Africa. To the west is the Mediterranean Sea, to the east a mountainous, virtually impassable stony desert. Located between Mesopotamia to the North and Egypt to the South whoever controlled that strip of land controlled the major land route for trade or military activity between the great empires that rose and fell.

What is that land called? Israel? Palestine? Promised Land? Occupied Land? Mark Twain suggested, 'you pays your money and you takes your choice' and his answer has the benefit of simplicity – but obscures a complex reality.

In this A-Z, Ed Kessler followed Christian convention and chose 'Holy Land', or Terra sancta as first used in 13th century, to describe this small piece of real estate, about the size of Wales.

The one shared characteristic of conflicting parties is their fervent belief in the holiness of the sites in this land, the events which have taken place there, and the promises that have been given. Where they diverge is in their interpretations of what is essentially the same heritage. The series will explore the real consequences of holding particular places, as well as people and times, to be holy.

Ed presents an authoritative and balanced account of this complex subject, offering clarity in place of the chaos in which it is usually mired. For many, the Holy Land means only the seemingly endless clash between Israel and Palestine and the loud contestation of the unbending advocates of each cause. Apart from a detailed knowledge of the subject, he will offer personal and playful insights into meetings he has had met with some of the main players in the region over the years, thus helping to bring the subject to life.

This series of podcasts will not be tribal. At least, it will not pander to the tribal conflicts that rage around Israel and Palestine. But it will help the listener understand the tensions between global and national identity. Its loyalties will be global. Its instincts, hopeful.

Come on a journey from biblical times to the modern day, exploring the connection between religion, history and politics and reflect on one of the most intractable conflicts in the last 100 years. It will be sort of 'Long View' of the factors which have led to the current regional instability as well as an insight into the forthcoming re-running of elections in Israel.

The challenge for you – the reader/listener – is to avoid assumptions about even those who appear to share your own beliefs in the following 26 episodes as complex, and potentially, as contentious as this A-Z of the Holy Land.

The new podcast series with Dr Ed Kessler MBE - A-Z of Holy Land: from Arab and Zion - commences on Tuesday 12 January 2021.



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