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>JN March 24, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 56
Hi-Tech Comes to the West Bank
By Susan Sappir (VOA-Ramallah, West Bank)
Some hi-tech companies are working with economically depressed
communities in Israel and the West Bank to share their computer and
Internet knowledge with young people to try to better their
lives. Cisco Systems - a leading Internet networking provider - is
reaching two very different groups of young people.
Information technology has revolutionized modern economies and
business. But along with the rapid spread of personal computers
there is a growing problem of those left behind without access to
computers or the Internet. The gap between the computer-age `haves'
and its `have-nots' has been dubbed the `digital divide,' and has
been addressed by national and international leaders.
In an effort to bridge this gulf, some of the world's leading
hi-tech companies are devoting a portion of their resources to
education. One such firm is Cisco Systems, the company that
provides 85 percent of the world's Internet infrastructure.
The Cisco Networking Academy already operates in 60 countries,
including many developing nations. The program trains students to
become IT professionals to fill an estimated 800,000 unfilled jobs.
Cisco says there will be three million more high tech job openings
in the next five years, and that within a decade, one billion jobs
will require Internet skills.
The Networking Academy operates through secondary schools or
colleges, which then become learning centers for other schools or
colleges in their areas. Once an academy is established, Cisco
provides it with a computer laboratory, and a curriculum delivered
over the Internet.
The Palestinian Bir Zeit University is located in the West Bank
town of Ramallah. After many years of Israeli occupation, Bir Zeit
is now part of the Palestinian Authority. The rapidly expanding
university plays an important role in training a skilled work force
for the Palestinian economy.
The "across borders" is a project designed to link Palestinian
refugee camps in the region together, starting from refugee camps
in Palestine and refugee camps outside. The idea is to put a
computer facility in each refugee camp and link those camps
together. The computer facility will be used for training,
ranging from literacy programs to professional programs similar to
this Cisco training program. And the facility will also be used to
give the refugees an opportunity to communicate, to build a refugee
website to record their history, their stories, and will allow
them to recreate the life or the places they came from, virtually.
Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibited in Chicago
By Michael Leland (VOA-Chicago)
Some of the world's most-studied written words are on display in
Chicago. Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls can be seen through
June 11th at the city's Field Museum of Natural History. The
scrolls were discovered a little more than 50 years ago, and have
been called one of the most significant archaeological finds of the
The Chicago exhibit contains portions of 15 of the scrolls,
including five that have never before been displayed outside
Israel. Ariel Orlov is a Field Museum exhibit coordinator.
"The biblical texts represent the oldest surviving copies of the
books of the Old Testament, of most books of the Old Testament.
This is a chance to see, for instance, Deuteronomy or Leviticus in
their oldest surviving copies that have yet to be discovered."
She says the scrolls were discovered in 1947 near Qumran, along the
northwest shore of the Dead Sea. "A young shepherd, a Bedouin
shepherd, was grazing his flock in the cliffs and mountains
above the Qumran ruins and happened to throw a stone into a cave.
He heard it shatter a pot -- he heard the sound of breaking pottery
-- so he went inside to investigate. He found some of the Dead Sea
Between 1947 and 1956, eight nearly-complete scrolls were
discovered in about a dozen caves in the region. More than 100,000
fragments, believed to come from 800 different scrolls, were also
found. Some fragments were a meter long, others only a few
Anthropology professor James Phillips, of the University of
Illinois at Chicago, says the fragments on display contain other
well-known biblical passages. "The Deuteronomy scroll we have here
happens to have the section with the Ten Commandments. Also, the
psalm scroll we have here has psalms that are not found in the
Hebrew Bible, but are found in the Christian Bible. Some of these
documents become canonical [officially approved] and others do
Some of the sectarian writings describe community laws that pertain
to the people believed to have written the scrolls. Many scholars
believe the authors were a group called the Essenes, who lived in
Qumran and who distanced themselves from their fellow Jews. Other
scholars believe the scrolls were written in Jerusalem and hidden
in the caves above Qumran to protect them from invading Romans in
the year 70 CE. The scrolls are believed to have been written over
a 350-year period, from roughly 250 BCE. to 70 CE.
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