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“In the fall of 2016 I began filming a documentary about the battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State. I made a promise to myself and to my crew: Whatever risks and obstacles the war unpredictably produced, we would reach the burial ground of the prophet Jonah on the Tigris River—right in the middle of the city.
The goal was met. Though the site was buried in rubble and ash, one of our film’s scenes would show the final resting place of the most enigmatic and provocative biblical prophet. When my crew and I deemed our mission accomplished, we savored a double satisfaction: We had covered the first half of the war to destroy ISIS and also rediscovered an important site in the biblical narrative and Jewish history.
Then down came a bolt from the blue. It took the form of a phone call from the French human-rights activist Hugues Dewavrin. For the entire reign of ISIS, my friend told me, a certain Omar Mohammed had remained in Mosul, chronicling the devastation of his city on the blog, Mosul Eye.
This immensely talented “citizen historian” was madly in love with his city. His then-unsigned posts drew the attention of every journalist in the vicinity, as they knew he could provide reliable information on daily life in Mosul.
In late June, Omar Mohammed posted some astonishing photos. In the heart of the old city, in the very spot where the jihadists planned to make their last stand, appeared a synagogue. Mohammed tweeted that he had found some strange inscriptions in Hebrew carved into blue stone and needed volunteers to transcribe and translate them. The internet took it from there.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"The biggest topic in British political circles on Monday wasn’t the country’s impending departure from the European Union. It was milkshakes..."
"I often disagree with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., but I've been disturbed by the idea that he should be run out of the Republican Party just because he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses."
"The Icelandic band Hatari, whose members are quite vocal in their animosity towards Israel, held up Palestinian flags... Madonna, likewise, had two of her performers wear Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes."
"To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, I turn to movie critic Roger Ebert's old review of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." (Trust me on this one.)"
"The money is already here—and has been for years. In the midst of a housing crisis, an injection of cash into the superheated real-estate market seems likely to cause an uptick in evictions and displacement."
"Parents concerned about YouTube debate whether to let their children have their own channels; some forbid it, others send them to summer camp..."
"‘I Had Completely Lost the Knack for Staying Alive..." Warmer weather brings daffodils, rhubarb at the farmer’s market — and, for some, despair."
"With his new book, Howard Stern proves that his rightful place is among the prophets and moral visionaries, not the ‘shock jocks’"
"I’m terrified of parenting in the anti-vaxxer age: Anti-vaccine propaganda isn’t just harmful to children. It threatens to erode our entire sense of community."
"...doctors are starting to think more about specific nutrients that feed tumor cells. That is, how what we eat affects how cancers grow..."
"...it represents an impressive achievement: a victory of humankind against the chaos that pervades the universe."
"If trends continue, in 20 years the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. The United States will see a continuing decline in overall numbers, with a growing observant Jewish population..."