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Excerpt: Solomon’s Island

The Internet says the Lost Temple of Israel is hidden in the South Pacific. A reporter went to investigate.

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Speared reef fish for sale in Kadabina, Malaita, Solomon Islands. (Matthew Fishbane)
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My Hunt for Solomon’s Temple

The Internet says the ruins of the First Temple are in the South Pacific. Matthew Fishbane went to find them.

Israel at the Ends of the Earth

Why do island nations like Palau and Nauru vote with Israel at the U.N.? Israeli aid has something to do with it.

For about 4,000 years, until the arrival of gun-bearing Europeans, the tribes that populated the islands of Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia maintained a balance of offense and defense that basically precluded the possibility of large-scale political units. In the intervening years, Solomon Islanders have not lost their taste for tribal piercings, markings, and imaginative hairstyles. Mohawks, blowouts, dreadlocks, half-crowns, tonsures, cornrows, shaved-tops, birds of paradise, and naturally blond afros grace the heads of men and women alike. They speak a host of local tribal languages and a lingua franca of Pijin whose simplified syntax and phonetic spelling were a gift from missionaries, who helped contribute words like “pikinini”—which here means “child.” The possessive form—a shortening of the construction “belongs to me” or “belongs to you”—becomes blong me, blong iu, which is in turn in speech shortened to just blo, such that everywhere you walk, you hear people telling each other blo me, blo iu. A giant billboard along Mendana Avenue advertising baby formula exhorts Solomon Islanders to Luk aftam gud helt blo pikinini blo iu.

As remote as they are, the Solomons are also used to the idea that they are a pivot on which history turns. From August 1942 to February 1943, when the Japanese fully withdrew from the islands, some 31,000 imperial soldiers and more than 7,000 Allies were killed in fierce land, sea, and air battles. What they did mattered to the outcome of the war. Dozens of Allied and Japanese military ships, transporters, and cargo vessels, and hundreds of planes rest between Guadalcanal, Savo, and Florida, on the seabed of what American soldiers dubbed Iron Bottom Sound. Over time, the hundreds of wrecks sprouted coral gardens, havens for some of the earth’s most astonishing forms of life.

In 1978, the Solomon Islands were granted independence, but remained within the British Commonwealth, making the new country a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of England as its figurehead. A series of ineffective prime ministers then quarreled, stole, blundered, and strangled the untapped potential of land and sea that is as close to a terrestrial paradise as we are likely to see before death. A 1920s colonial prospectus put it best: “The soil and climate of the Solomon Islands are admirably suited for the growth of every kind of tropical production. … Coconuts grow there faster, and more luxuriantly, than in any other part of the world. Hurricanes are unknown. … Here is a rich, fertile country, with nearly every natural advantage.”

As remote as they are, the Solomons are also used to the idea that they are a pivot on which history turns.

But poverty clung to the people. Jobs were scarce. The colonial systems of copra and cocoa farming allowed middlemen and wholesalers to hoard profits. Crippled by remoteness, producers were only as good as their ability to reach shipping. Sovereignty in many ways became the country’s most valuable asset. Soon, whaling countries were offering to build bridges and repair airports; Taiwan, needing leverage in the international community, built health centers and kept a watchful eye on the price of tuna. Tribal rivalries festered. Non-governmental agencies also proliferated, as the Solomon Islands languished in the ranks of the 40 poorest countries in the world.

In the late 1990s, high unemployment and complex internal migrations plus severe tribalism, “land alienation,” and incompetent post-colonial governance led to general unrest and instability. A loose band of marauders known as the Isatabu Freedom Movement, or Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army, started to target Malaitans, who though ethnically indistinct from Guadalcanalese, were technically settlers and resented for having grown into a working-class majority in Honiara.

Malaitans responded by forming into the Malaita Eagle Force, led by a dread-locked, dark-skinned man named Jimmy “Rasta” Lusibaea who, like Solomon’s Temple, is something of a legend on the Internet. In 2000, he captured Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa’alu and forced him to resign. He rallied his troops under a modified Solomon Islands flag that included the Star of David—a black warlord fighting for Israel in the South Pacific.

By 2003, despite the Townsville peace agreement in 2000 and the contested elections in its wake, the country was bankrupt and the capital in full-blown chaos, with militants and less organized gangs roaming the streets and raiding the national treasury to pay for beer. The Solomon Islands prime minister made a desperate appeal for international aid. Under the aegis of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), a security force of several thousand troops landed and effectively began to run the country. Representatives of 14 other Pacific nations also participated under Operation Helpem Fren. RAMSI is only this year finally handing over full command to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force; for a year New Zealand troops have been on a farewell tour, performing the Haka war dance. Charged with “ensur[ing] the safety and security of Solomon Islands,” RAMSI has presided over amnesties, weapons collection, looting control, contested elections, anti-Chinese rioting, health and development projects, economic reform, tax collection, among other civic activities.

Into this post-conflict environment parachuted an Israeli development expert named Yoel Siegel, whose photograph I’d spotted on a website, in which he is seen posing between a pair of rotund Melanesians below a banner strung across an empty tropical road. The sign reads:

The Israel Development Experience 2nd–10th November 2010
Auki, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands

After changing a precious wad of U.S. dollars into Solomon dollars, imprinted with warriors, shields, ceremonially carved posts, and mythical sea turtles, I bought a cell phone from an Australian telecom outfit, and as the attendant handed me the device over the counter, I noticed my first Star of David—no more than the size of a bottle cap, it appeared between her thumb and forefinger. It was a moment before I realized it wasn’t a pen doodle, but an unprofessional tattoo, and that the twin lines above the star made it look like the flag of the Jewish State, a resemblance that turned out to be entirely intentional, and an important part of my story.

***

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I heard the Palestinian authority has already claimed the Solomons and has asked the UN to condemn the jews for claiming Muslim holy sites for their own.

But Hamas is challenging the PA’s claim to the Solomons. They’re organizing a demonstration; you know, lots of unemployed male bodies belly-to-back, side-by-side, sweating, fists waving, chanting, marching in lockstep . . . .

Why fight over a lousy sliver of desert, when your people can have a tropical island?

I thought this article was going somewhere it really didn’t i thought he was going to start talking about the recently confirmed to be 20,000 year old megalithic site at Gunung Padang, java, indonesia. now if that turned out to in some way be a jewish site from 20,000 years ago, then i’d say history needs to be rewritten, just the fact that they found something in Indonesia that shows proof of high civilization durring the ice age on a lost continent then yeah Atlantis and mu, are all verified now. indonesia was once a long land mass connecting asia to Australia (and you can see the connection to this day on google earths sea floor maps)and the continent of zealand which also sunk when the ice age ended and sea levels rose. the earliest account of Atlantis was from Plato and he got it from Egyptian priests, It’s much more likely that atlantis was in the pacific and indonesia since a trade route from the atlantic to egypt would require circumnavigation of africa and thats not practical, they could’ve gone through the straight of gibralter as the legand describes but if that were the case why didn’t they make contact with the greeks but they did with the egyptians, no its more likely that egyptians had a trade route going up and down the gulf of suez along the north coast of the indian ocean and to indonesia(atlantis)

Wow, so the article is meant to be about some possible Israeli history and connections with the island but you spend maybe a paragraph talking about it. Then you blather on about the countries recent history and the traits of the people. While it’s great that you’re getting out to see these places, your article seems so confused. By the way: “most remote member of the British Commonwealth” is a load of rubbish, they have far more remote and isolated islands dotted around the world.

Thanks for your note, Liam. In case it isn’t clear by the display copy, this is an excerpt.

gee I guess then that evil moon G_D haShem did have a temple but NOT in palestine.. what a shocker I ask to re-examin that torah of hate and inbreedin gof talomudic porn teaching as well .. through hasbara even the holoHOAX is started to be real in that little mind of the goyim

Artemis1000 says:

God protect the Solomon islanders from the same fate as the Palestinians.

Adiva Sotzsky says:

I am just back from Israel and celebrating Yom Yerushalayim where a very spirited group of folks from Papua were dancing and singing up Ben Yehuda street waving the Israeli flag and singing Israeli songs— this article helps put this awesome experience into perspective— thanks

2000

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Excerpt: Solomon’s Island

The Internet says the Lost Temple of Israel is hidden in the South Pacific. A reporter went to investigate.

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