Mount Scopus

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Mount Scopus
הַר הַצּוֹפִים Har HaTsofim
جبل المشارف Ǧabal al-Mašārif
Skopusberg mit Universitaet.jpg
The Hebrew University campus and tower on Mount Scopus from the south
Elevation 826 m (2,710 ft)
Location
Location Jerusalem
Range Judean
Coordinates 31°47′33″N 35°14′39″E / 31.79250°N 35.24417°E / 31.79250; 35.24417Coordinates: 31°47′33″N 35°14′39″E / 31.79250°N 35.24417°E / 31.79250; 35.24417

Mount Scopus (Hebrew הַר הַצּוֹפִים Har HaTsofim, "Mount of the Watchmen/Sentinels"; Arabic: جبل المشارفǦabal al-Mašārif, lit. "Mount Lookout", or جبل المشهد Ǧabal al-Mašhad "Mount of the Scene/Burial Site", or جبل الصوانة "Mount al-Swana") is a mountain (elevation: 2710 feet or 826 meters above sea level) in northeast Jerusalem. In the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Mount Scopus became a UN protected Israeli exclave within Jordanian-administered territory until the Six-Day War in 1967. Today, Mount Scopus lies within the municipal boundaries of the city of Jerusalem.

Name[edit]

The ridge of hills east of ancient as well as modern Jerusalem offers the best views of the city, which it dominates. Since the main part of the ridge bears the name Mount of Olives, the name "lookout" was reserved for this peak to the northeast of the ancient city. Its name in many languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Greek and Latin) means "lookout." Scopus is a Latinisation of the Greek word for "watcher", skopos, the same as in "telescope" (tele- meaning far and skopos - watcher). Adding to the multi-layered meaning of the name, it is also said that in times in which Jews were not allowed to enter Jerusalem by the city's Roman or Christian authorities, they used to come and look at their former capital from this vantage point.

History[edit]

Antiquity[edit]

Overlooking Jerusalem, Mount Scopus has been strategically important as a base from which to attack the city since antiquity. The 12th Roman Legion camped there in AD 66.[1] In AD 70, at the conclusion of the same war, which led to the destruction of the Jewish Temple, Mount Scopus was used as a base to carry out the final siege of the city by the same 12th Legion, plus the 15th and 5th Legions, while the 10th Legion was positioned on the continuation of the same ridge, known as the Mount of Olives).[2] The Crusaders used it as a base in 1099.[citation needed]

Modern era[edit]

The exact location of Mount Scopus is not known. It is described by the ancient sources as being in the north-eastern part of the ridge that prominently includes the Mount of Olives, which dominates Jerusalem from the east. As the Zionist organisations decided to build a new Jewish institution of higher learning in Jerusalem, which eventually became the Hebrew University, they decided that it was unwise to try and ask for donations for a project designed to be built on the Mount of Olives, a location with mainly Christian connotations. The site chosen for the university did correspond approximately to the description of the ancient Mount Scopus, and so it was decided to name that particular peak Mount Scopus. The name became widely used and few Jerusalemites would nowadays know about this rebranding story of an old name. The ancient Mount Scopus cannot be far though from the modern one. In 1948, as the British began letting go of their security responsibilities, the Jewish enclave on Mount Scopus became increasingly cut off from the main sections of Jewish Jerusalem. Access to hospital and university campus was through a narrow road, a mile and a half long, passing through the Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.[3] Arab sniper fire on vehicles moving along the access route became a regular occurrence, and road mines were laid. When food and supplies at the hospital begun to dwindle, a large convoy carrying doctors and supplies set out for the besieged hospital, leading to an attack that became known as the Hadassah medical convoy massacre.[3] After the ceasefire agreement of November 30, 1948, which established the division of East and West Jerusalem, Israel controlled the western part of the city while Jordan controlled the east. Several demilitarized "no man's land" zones were established along the border, one of them Mount Scopus.[4] Fortnightly convoys carrying supplies to the university and hospital located in the Israeli part of the demilitarized zone on Mount Scopus were periodically held up by Jordanian troops.[5]

Hebrew University inauguration ceremony, 1917
Hadassah nursing school under construction, c. 1934

Article VIII of the 1949 Armistice Agreements signed by Israel and Jordan in April 1949[6] called for a resumption of "the normal functioning of the cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mount Scopus and free access thereto; free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives; resumption of operation of the Latrun pumping station; provision of electricity for the Old City; and resumption of operation of the railroad to Jerusalem."[6] In January 1958, Francis Urrutia, a representative of the UN Secretary-General, tried to persuade Jordan to abide by Article VIII, but without success.[5] In May 1958, Jordanian soldiers fired on Israeli patrols, killing a UN officer and four Israeli policemen. Ralph Bunche, assistant to UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld visited Jerusalem and Amman to find a solution, followed by Hammarskjöld himself, again unsuccessfully.[5] The Mount Scopus Agreement signed on July 7, 1948 regulated the demilitarised zone around Mount Scopus and authorized the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization to settle disputes between the Israelis and Jordanians.

Two Jewish-owned plots in al-Issawiya, known as Gan Shlomit or Salomons Garden, were purchased by Mrs. V.F. Salomons in 1934 and sold to the Gan Shlomit Company, Ltd. in 1937.[7] This land was surrounded by a fence, but clashes erupted when Arabs living on the other side of the fence sought to cultivate land, pick olives and carry out repairs on homes close to the fence. The Arabs were requested not to work closer than fifty metres from the fence unless prior permission was granted by the Israeli police.[7] There were two versions of the demilitarization agreement: one was initialed by Franklyn M. Begley, a UN official; the local Jordanian commander; and the Israeli local commander; while the other was not initialed by the Israeli local commander. Having two versions of the map was the cause of many incidents within the Mount Scopus area.[7]

Landmarks[edit]

Hebrew University of Jerusalem[edit]

Construction of the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University began in 1918 on land purchased from the Gray Hill estate. The dedication ceremony was held in 1925 in the presence of many dignitaries.[8] A design for the university campus by Sir Patrick Geddes positioned the university buildings on the slopes of the mount, below a domed, hexagonal Great Hall recalling the Star of David, as a counterpoint to the octagonal Dome of the Rock in the Old City.[9] This plan was never implemented, but Geddes designed the university Library, today the Hebrew University Faculty of Law on Mount Scopus.[9]

By 1947, the university was a solid research and teaching institution with humanities, science, medicine, education and agriculture departments (in Rehovot), a national library, a university press and an adult education center. The university had a student population of over 1,000 and 200 faculty members.[8]

Hecht Synagogue, Hebrew University[edit]

This massive building which looks more like a fort than a place of worship and prayer, was erected by the family of Mayer Jacob "Chic" Hecht (1928-2006), a Republican United States Senator from Nevada and U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas. It is noted for the unique arrangement of the Torah ark and the panoramic view of the Old City from a huge window.[10]

Bezalel Academy of Art and Design[edit]

Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is Israel's national school of art, founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz. It is named for the Biblical figure Bezalel, son of Uri (Hebrew: בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן־אוּרִי), who was appointed by Moses to oversee the design and construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:30).

National Botanical Garden[edit]

The Hebrew University Botanical Garden on Mount Scopus (also called: the Land of Israel Botanic Garden) was founded by botanist Alexander Eig in 1931. This garden contains one of the largest collections of Israeli uncultivated plants. This was the first home of Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo.[11] A cave in the garden has been identified as the Tomb of Nicanor of Alexandria, who donated one of the gates of Herod's Temple.[12]

Jerusalem British War Cemetery[edit]

The British cemetery in Jerusalem (Jerusalem War Cemetery) is a military cemetery for fallen soldiers of the British Empire, later known as the British Commonwealth of Nations, in World War I in Palestine. The cemetery is located on the neck of land on the north end of the Mount of Olives and west of Mount Scopus.[13]

2515 were buried in the cemetery fallen soldiers, of 2449 war dead, including 2218 British casualties. A total 100 fallen soldiers are unidentified.[13]

A memorial was placed in the cemetery to 3300 service personnel killed in operations in Palestine and Egypt who have no known grave.[14] In all, commemorated in this cemetery are 5815 service personnel of World War I. No casualties buried in the cemetery died after the war.

Hadassah Hospital[edit]

In 1939, the Hadassah Women's Organization opened a teaching hospital on Mount Scopus[15] in a building designed by architect Erich Mendelsohn. In 1948, when the Jordanians occupied East Jerusalem and blockaded the road to Mount Scopus, the hospital could no longer function.[15] In 1960, after running clinics in various locations, the organization opened a medical center on the other side of the city, in Jerusalem's Ein Karem neighborhood.[15] On April 13, 1948, a civilian convoy bringing medical supplies and personnel to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus was attacked by Arab forces. 78 Jews, mainly doctors and nurses, were killed in the ambush.[16]

Jerusalem American Colony Cemetery[edit]

The main cemetery of the Jerusalem American Colony located next to the Hebrew University.

Kiryat Menachem Begin[edit]

Kiryat Menachem Begin, named after former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and also known as Kiryat HaMemshala, is a complex of government buildings in East Jerusalem located between Sheikh Jarrah in the north, adjacent to Mount Scopus in the east and Ammunition Hill in the west. It serves as home to several government offices, along with the main government complex in Givat Ram. It also includes the National Headquarters of the Israel Police.

Brigham Young University[edit]

The construction of the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Mount Scopus initially sparked controversy due to concerns that the Mormons would engage in missionary activities. After the Mormons pledged not to proselytize in Israel, work on the building was allowed to proceed. The Mormon University, as it is commonly known, commands a panoramic view of Jerusalem and has won awards for its stunning architecture.[17]

Cave of Nicanor[edit]

The Cave of Nicanor is an ancient burial cave located on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, Israel. Excavations in the cave discovered an ossuary referring to "Nicanor the door maker."[18] The cave is located in the Botanical gardens on the grounds of the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Augusta Victoria Hospital[edit]

Augusta Victoria is a church-hospital complex located on the Mount of Scopus, Jerusalem. Augusta Victoria was built in 1907 as a center for the German Protestant community in Ottoman Palestine. The complex, completed in 1910, included the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension with a 65-metre belltower and a hospice for Christian pilgrims. During World War II, it was converted into a hospital by the British.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rome and Jerusalem; The Clash of Ancient Civilizations. Martin Goodman p.13
  2. ^ "The Jewish Wars" Josephus v 81 and 82
  3. ^ a b Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem!, 1972, pp.284-285, Simon & Schuster, New York ISBN 0-671-66241-4.
  4. ^ Mideastweb.org
  5. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Judaica, "Jerusalem," vol. 9, pp. 1497, Keter, Jerusalem, 1978
  6. ^ a b UN Doc S/1302/Rev.1 of April 3, 1949 Hashemite Jordanian Kingdom Israel Armistice Agreement
  7. ^ a b c Unispal.un.orgUnispal.un.org Report of the Firing Incident of May 26, 1958 on Mount Scopus UN Doc S/4030 17 June 1958
  8. ^ a b "The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - History". Huji.ac.il. January 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  9. ^ a b "Hadassah Magazine". Hadassah.org. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  10. ^ Hecht Synagogue: A fortress of faith overlooks Jerusalem
  11. ^ "More than just Mount Scopus - Israel Travel, Ynetnews". Ynetnews.com. June 20, 1995. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  12. ^ Haaretz Man bites history By Tom Segev
  13. ^ a b [1] CWGC Cemetery Report.
  14. ^ [2] CWGC Cemetery Report.
  15. ^ a b c NY Times
  16. ^ "Hadassah Convoy Massacre". Zionism-israel.com. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  17. ^ "Jerusalem - Beyond the Old City Walls". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. July 22, 1946. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  18. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, "Archeological and epigraphic notes on Palestine," Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, 1903, pp.125-131; Gladys Dikson, "The tomb of Nicanor of Alexandria," Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, 1903, pp.326-332

External links[edit]