1999 AND 2005 EXPEDITIONS TO ISRAEL AND EGYPT
1ST STOP ISRAEL, THEN TO EGYPT TO TRY TO PREVENT A WAR
INTERNATIONAL TORAH CODES SOCIETY (ITCS)
I presented my Experimental Report about the Ark's location before Dr. Rips and the Torah Codes Society on Monday, May 10th, 1999. I’d never met or heard him before, and was struck by the similarity between his voice and mannerisms and those of Albert Einstein.
I didn’t come to Jerusalem with any delusions that Rips would publicly endorse my findings, and was pleased enough to learn that he found my statistical approach to Codes analysis “promising” even if he was troubled by my findings about the Ark’s site which ran counter to rabbinical understanding that is somewhere under Temple Mount. Rips an Orthodox Jew living in a city dominated by rabbis.
I once got onto a bus in this city, looked around and thought, How very odd these people look. All the men had black hats, white shirts, black suits and peiachs (side locks of hair). I had on a cowboy hat (it was 1979 – before the first Indiana Jones movie and five years before I became a modern Orthodox Jew). After a while, I noticed that the men on the bus were staring at me dressed as I was. How very odd, they must have thought. What kind of mishuganuh (crazy person) is this? Can he be a Jew? I’m certain, as I sat around the room full of black hats at the ITCS, they didn’t think too much more of my Indiana Jones hat. I was always proud to wear a military uniform, but saw no reason to lose my individuality when not serving my country. When civilians succumb to peer pressure to dress in one manner only, and to think in one manner only, creativity will likely suffer. Whereas the universe wasn’t created perfect and Judaism sees its mission in terms of fixing the problems, the faith should be in the business of promoting new, positive, and creative approaches to problem solving, not stifling them.
The final handshake of my meeting with father Robert O'Toole at the
Dr. Robert Haralick informed me that my presentation had been nearly cancelled by Rabbi Silman of the religious court in B’Nei Brak. A meeting with the rabbi had been requested by “the committee” which was represented by Dr. Moshe Katz. He was concerned by my belief that the
First Congress of the
International Torah Codes Society
Monday May 10, 1999
9:00 AM - 9:20 AM Opening Ceremony and Blessing
9:20 AM - 10:10 AM Computing ELS Joint Placement Prof. Robert M. Haralick
10:10 AM - 10:40 AM Hybrid Measurement Schemes Prof. Ilya Rips
10:40 AM - 11:00 AM Coffee Break
11:00 AM - 11:30 AM The Death of
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM Elokim-Din Nachum Bombach
12:00 PM - 1:45 PM Lunch
Use and Misuse of Codes
The Roffman Paper
1:45 PM - 2:30 PM Ark of the Covenant Barry Roffman
2:30 PM - 3:15 PM Panel Discussion
- Codes and Halacha
- Involving Anything Unknown
3:15 PM - 3:30 PM Coffee Break
3:30 PM - 4:15 PM Replication of the Famous
Rabbis’ Experiment Doron Witztum
4:15 PM - 4:45 PM Rabbis and Cities Harold Gans and
4:15 PM - 5:15 PM Sons of Hamen Dr. Alex Rotenberg
5:15 PM - 5:45 PM Mishnayot Dr. Moshe Katz
5:45 PM – 7:30 PM Dinner
Tuesday, May 11, 1999
9:00 AM - 9:45 AM Best Star Team Methodology Prof. Robert M. Haralick
9:45 AM - 10:15 AM Evaluation of Long Expressions Dr. Alex Rotenberg
10:15 AM – 10:45 AM The Misleading Statistics in the
Torah Codes Opponents’ Experiments Nachum Bombach
10:45 AM - 11:00 AM Coffee Break
11:00 AM – 11:45 AM The Clustering and
Dialogue Mode Dr. Leib Schwartzman
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM Goral
12:15 PM - 1:45 PM Lunch
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM Open Discussion
New Software Tools
Finding Structures in Codes
3:00 PM - 3:15 PM Coffee Break
3:15 PM - 4:15 PM Sons of Yaakov Prof. Ilya Rips
4:15 PM - 4:30 PM The Encampments of the Exodus Art Levitt
4:30 PM - 5:00 PM New Experiment Specifications Prof. Robert M. Haralick
5:00 PM – 7:30 PM Dinner
7:00 PM - 7:15 PM Opening and Blessings
7:15 PM - 8:15 PM Historical Perspective Dr. Moshe Katz
8:15 PM - 8:45 PM The Torah Code Controversy Prof. Robert M. Haralick
8:45 PM - 9:00 PM Break
9:00 PM - 9:30 PM Summary and Highlights Prof. Ilya Rips
9:30 PM - 10:30 PM Questions and Answers
After my presentation the Torah Codes Society informally voted to exclude consideration of any matters not in accordance with halacha. This unfortunate decision moved the Society out of the function of a scientific body and placed it squarely in the realm of a religious forum dressed in quasi or pseudo science garb. OF NOTE FOR THE UPDATED RECORD: NINE YEARS LATER, DR. RIPS SENT ME A DEEP APOLOGY FOR THIS ACTION. He specifically admitted that the oppostion to me was "foolish."
The apprehension of what they had just witnessed back then in 1999 was more than apparent. It was audibly expressed: “We fear that while you will prove the Codes right if you succeed, you will bring great damage to our cause if you fail to locate the
Only Dr. Katz attempted a feeble excuse for not including my paper in the conference report. “We can only accept papers based on Torah Codes, and your paper adds the concept of chapters and verses rather than limit its scope just to the 304,805 letters of the Torah.” What he forgot, of course, were the following words in his own COMPUTORAH book published in 1996, “Moses was like a scribe, copying what he had seen onto parchment, while God’s voice taught him the spacing of words, verses, and paragraphs…”
One of the papers by Dr. Alex Rotenberg dealt with the sons of Haman. Haman is the man spoken of in the Book of Esther who tried to exterminate all the Jews in the
Dr. Haralick is a wonderful man who has done much to assist me with my research and who has even worked hard to develop computer software to standardize my probability calculation techniques. This is flattering, and I know that he stuck his neck out to get my paper onto the agenda at the conference, and returned in 2002 to push my enhanced findings again. At the 1999 conference he acknowledged that the ITCS moved out of the realm of pure science when it voted to proceed only in accordance with Jewish law. I was, however, troubled in ’99 by his Best Star Team Methodology presentation on the second day of the conference.
The archenemy of the conference was a man named Professor Brendan McKay. He claimed to have found similar encoding in a non-religious book. He also believed the original WRR study was selective in a biased manner with respect to findings included for publication – a fatal experimental flaw. Therefore he had concluded that the Torah Codes were bogus. McKay wasn’t at the conference, but he was at the focus of Haralick’s concerns.
Dr. Haralick was of the opinion that McKay had also manipulated his data to make encoding seem to appear in what should have been only a Control book. He was quite concerned by McKay’s charge that the original WRR study had also manipulated data. There were obviously strong and bitter feelings between the two opposing camps of thought, and Dr. Haralick spoke in terms of “our team” vs. “their team.” There were also comments to remind everyone that statistics could be found to back either case. This, when taken with repeated comments about how some statistical measures were more favorable than others only served to underscore the necessity of hard, physical evidence. While the Torah Codes Society voted to bar predictive reports in the future, without such tests, as I informed them, nobody is going to take the Codes seriously – nor should they. “Snake Oil,” I reminded Harold Gans, was the charge leveled against the Codes by some critics, and snake oil they would seem if the so-called experts could not agree amongst themselves, let alone others, as to appropriate and extraordinarily clear measures of success.
When it became clear that the purpose of most of the Society (with the notable exception of Dr. Haralick) was no longer to investigate the truth of the phenomena, but to promote the certainty of its existence, I bid the group a fond farewell and headed for the Egyptian Embassy. The meeting there in Tel Aviv with Yasser Abed and Amin Mohsen was a very friendly one. They were fascinated by what they saw and optimistic about capitalizing on the tourist aspects of the search and its notoriety. But both were concerned about
I had first been to the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv on May 13th, 1999. Amim Mohsen and Yasser Abed had assured me that it would take them six or seven days to get a response from
There were no calls from him despite my unsuccessful efforts to get through many times until May 23rd. Concerned by the difficulty of the trip on my family and by the mounting costs ($16,000 without even counting two months of lost wages), I left word at the Embassy that I would depart for
Amin finally returned my call. He informed me that he had read my report and had forwarded a recommendation for government support to
The bus left for
My wife has more courage than I. She had the guts to ask our Egyptian bus driver to stop smoking. While the border crossing at Rafiah is generally closed now in 2008, in 1999 you knew you’d arrived when the following events occured:
(1) Arab adults and children were fighting over who gets to carry your luggage into the customs building (thus earning a large tip by Egyptian standards);
(2) Perspiration started to not just roll, but pour down your legs;
(3) The flies were all over you;
(4) The toilets in public areas generally had no seats (or toilet paper), and
(5) You were waiting for unexplained reasons and periods of time for your bus to start rolling.
After paying the exit tax on the Israeli side of the border at Rafiah (which had a separate Palestinian authority section), we proceeded to drive a few hundred feet to the Egyptian checkpoint. It’s easy to fly into
There were supposed to be just two buses to get to
The previous time that my wife and I took this twelve-hour bus ride was on a round-the-world trip in August, 1990. We were going from
The military escorts each led and followed us for approximately 20-mile intervals. Then a new group of guards took over for the next segment of the trip. There must have been over a hundred men required to get the buses safely between the border and
I don’t think my son was bothered as much by the smoke as he was by all the men who kissed him. David was a cute six-year old then, and he quickly learned this is how Arab men show their appreciation of each other. Fortunately, I’m not as cute as David.
We had a fleeting glimpse of
From my Cairo Sheraton hotel room I could see men with bullet proof jackets standing behind metal barricades with machine guns at the ready. If the goal of the Fundamentalists had been to turn
By Thursday, May 27th in
We wanted to take a bus straight to Tel Aviv that day, then thought we could sail directly from
I bought our Tel Aviv bus tickets that morning and had a few hours to kill before our 3:30 PM departure. Was there a good library in town that could provide better maps or charts of the area than I had so far?
I hired a taxi driver. His first two stops were a waste of time and money (conventional bookstores, not libraries). But after my second rejection he finally caught on when I stressed the chart I had. We were quickly off to a government chart office where the scene was truly reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie. I had to temporarily surrender my passport to get into the place. Old, musty, dusty, and poorly lit, the rooms were filled with ancient charts and scribe-like workers.
To my delight, the worker pulled two 64 year old, vintage 1935 charts that exquisitely covered the area from El Arish to what I though was El Zuaba ever since begining my search in 1997. But not so pleasant, however, was that the prime chart spelled the area of concern as El Zuqba substituting a letter “Q” for the “A” sought throughout my experiment until that moment. There was a Bir El Zuabatiya 20 nautical miles away at 31° North, 33° 25’ East so initially I had hope that there was just a spelling mistake present on the 1935 Cairo map.
It quickly became apparent that the Bir El Qals area would move up a notch as the suspect site for Baal Zephon. This is when I first learned of the fortress of Katib el Qals. There was also (in 1935) a 60 meter mount (Mons Casius) on the coast within about 200 meters of what was then a 31° 13’ North, 33° 4’ East suspect coordinate. There was also a fishing camp a few miles away on the lake side of the barrier island at 31° 12’ North, 33° 2.75’ East.
At 31° 9’ North, 33° 4’ East, the original entry latitude for the experiment, the site on the Zuaba (Zuqba) peninsula was seen to be only about 110 meters from a large body of water measuring approximately 1,100 meters by 100 to 200 meters in 1935. There were two much larger bodies of water on the peninsula within 400 to 600 meters of the first lake. The latter two salt marshes were marked as fordable. The northern of these two marshes is Mallahet Ugret Selima. It would, two years later, become the focus of ELS Map Figures 5 and 6. The southern marsh is Mallehet El Mapia. or Mallahet El Sapia (it varies between maps found so far). No significant ELS maps were produced in conjunction with El Mapia or El Sapia, and it appears that all these marshes or lakes may, at times, become connected and at other times may dry up completely. As there was realistically no way to obtain the Qatia chart without having gone to
There were two buses to Tel Aviv that day. We had already missed the first departure at 5:30 AM. The second one left at 3:30 PM with an arrival time of 2 AM or later. The thought of arriving in Israel at that time with nine remaining pieces of luggage and a sleeping six-year old on my shoulder wasn’t a cheery one, especially because we had no hotel reservation. Could we stop for the night in El Arish some thirty miles east of the suspect area? I wondered. The answer was yes, then no, then yes again just before the bus arrived in El Arish. The Oberoi hotel there was pleasantly located on the beach, and the bus ride took just five hours from
On Friday morning, May 28th, I explained my need to meet with Egyptian military personnel to the hotel manager, Ragab Abd El Karim. He told me that everything was closed for the Muslim Sabbath, but promised to call the military for me on Sunday. I then agreed to stay a few days to give their military a chance to check me (and hopefully my coordinates) out.
If you’ve got to be stuck someplace for a few days, El Arish is a wonderfully idyllic place to be. Our room was located directly on a beautiful beach. There we enjoyed the gentle song of waves rolling in at night, not the maddening blast of millions of fancy car horns that dominated the polluted
The hotel was almost entirely empty, but the one American that I did meet (Richard Ainsworth) had GPS equipment in his room to help him navigate the desert sands while not working at his job in
I was curious to see how his equipment matched up the prime suspect coordinates with more accurate
A marine equipment store in Florida had previously quoted the course from Jerusalem to the obstruction at 31° 16’ North, 33° 3.5’ East as being 261° True with a one-degree margin of error. The heading based on the positioning of the first letter of
The course from the
After morning prayers on Saturday, May 29th, I found a previously unseen Hebrew map of
Nobody in the area was familiar with Zuqba or Zuaba. They erroneously told me the patch of desert in question was Zaraniq. Although Zaraniq has ancient ruins, it and
The discovery that 31° 9’ North, 33° 4’ East was probably Zuqba, not Zuaba, knocked some of the wind out of my sails at a critical time. It seemed to undo plots not shown on this site for the sake of brevity. These plots formed a substantial part of my findings prior to the foray into
Sunday morning, May 30th, with a good chunk of my best finds temporarily sunk by the q in Zuqba, I went to the Northern Sinai Government office. The task was to concentrate on Figure 1 that had improved somewhat with one Zuqba transliteration, to focus on Baal Zephon, and the Treasures in the Sand plot (page 90 in my Ark Code Book). I also had to show them why it was in their interest to either cooperate with me or to check out the site on their own.
I almost didn’t get into the North Sinai government office because I forgot to carry my passport, but my
Crossing Katib El Qals is the phrase He threw it into the water and the water became sweet. This is the only time in the Torah that sweet water is mentioned. Further, Katib El Qals is directly above Ark of the Covenant’s non-wrapped occurrence at Numbers 10:33. This corresponds to a course of 180 degrees from the fort to 31° 9’ North, 33° 4’ East. It matches what’s seen on a map.
My emphasis then was on the obstruction 2.9 nautical miles north of Katib El Qals. Mahmoud and Gammal both appeared afraid to personally go near the site for a swim or “fishing expedition” without direction from
After accepting the report (with my warning about the Zuqba problem), the men tried to introduce me to the regional governor. He wasn’t in so I was next shown into the Minister of Tourism’s office. There Minister Hassan was most interested in the atomic holocaust plots.
Hassan didn’t speak much English. He required an interpreter, but the man summoned had English skills only a shade better than his. “How many people believe in your idea in
“My ideas are just being published now,” I told him. Then, to give him the large numbers that he seemed to demand, I added, “But there are many millions of Christian Americans who believe something awesome is about to happen within the next year or so (the year 2000 was big in Christian thinking then). An
“What is the name this war that is predicted?” Hassan demanded next.
“World War Three, Nuclear War,” I responded after he wouldn’t accept the idea that I had no other name for it. He didn’t seem to understand the word nuclear until a picture of an atomic explosion was drawn for him.
“Islam is a religion of peace!” he declared. “Why should we start a nuclear war?” I explained that Drosnin spoke of
“Who else will be in this war?” he asked angrily. “The
“Did the Israelis give you permission to come here?” he wanted to know.
“Why should I ask them for permission? I’m an American citizen. I don’t have to ask the Israelis for anything,” I replied. It wasn’t likely that the Israeli military would listen to me anyway, but they might listen to Rips and he had seen the nuclear plots and the link with my experiment. I felt that I could count on him to relay the essential data to Mossad, the Israeli spy network if the quality of physical data uncovered in
“Why didn’t you go to our embassy in
Hassan then tried to stress that the war I warned of was a war between Judaism and Islam. I could have argued the point, but chose to focus on the idea that Allah had provided a way to prevent the war, that it would not, according to the Codes, actually be executed.
While Hassan’s final response was that he could not provide any assistance without instructions from
“You must get the backing of your State Department or your embassy,” he insisted. It took a while to get across the concept that this would probably not be forthcoming without the kind of evidence that only he or his military could obtain with a simple dive at the area in question - a dive that I am still personally attempting to get permission for as the year 2008 draws to a close.
It was apparent that Hassan eventually understood that the site did need to be checked by Egyptian security forces. Finding either a submerged fortress wall, or the gold box that I had told him about could prevent the war.
Before departing from
I didn’t reach my desired coordinates in 1999. If I were a single man, I would have toughed it out. But I’m a married man and at the time I was saddled with my six-year old son. Decent hotel rooms there cost three to four times what they do in the
While the above was not my first choice, it was the only sane one for the time. “I will hide My Face,” God wrote in Deuteronomy 31, the prime latitude chapter. The area indicated by the Code is truly remote with access strictly controlled by Egyptian military forces who usually don’t speak English very well (if at all).
The ‘99 trip was never intended to be more than presentation of my Report in
Others who read my findings will eventually travel to the site even if it’s risky to do so. There will always be treasure hunters and there is surely no greater treasure than the
Did I prevent a war on the ’99 trip? Who can say? Drosnin may have altered the time line by clueing in Netanyahu about his assassination risk in
If the Egyptians did investigate the site and found the Ark or Baal Zephon underwater at 31° 16’ North, 33° 3.5’ East, they may well have acted to prevent the war in 2000, but opted to keep it their secret.
As the 9th of Av (August 10th) approached that year there was great anxiety for Codes buffs. The summit between Yassir Arafat and Ehud Barak failed over the difficult issues of
It’s possible that the Egyptians found the
Although Hafez Asad is dead, we still aren’t out of the woods with respect to the Armageddon plot, because another Asad (Bashar) rules in his place. Bashar Asad rejected all attempts at a settlement by the Barak government too. Barak offered him return of the Golan Heights with
While Egypt may elect to closely guard the secret of the Ark, if they haven’t killed Hafez Asad they would do well to let the world know what they have found (if anything). Today