The Tomb of the Maccabees, Found at Last?

According to ancient sources, the burial site of the heroes of the Hanukkah story was marked with imposing stone pyramids. A 19th-century French archaeologist thought he had discovered the tomb at a site known as Horvat ha-Gardi, but his conclusion was soon called into question. Now, writes Robin Ngo, modern archaeologists are revisiting his work:

When . . . Victor Guérin excavated Horvat ha-Gardi in 1870, he found a large ashlar structure and a burial chamber, all covered with what he believed was a pyramid-like construction such as that described in the book of Maccabees. He contended that he identified seven tombs, one for each member of the Maccabee family. “The ruins of the tomb correspond perfectly to the tomb of the Maccabees as described in the historical sources,” Guérin wrote. . . .

Recently, the Israel Antiquities Authority decided to re-investigate the site of Horvat ha-Gardi. The aim of the project . . . is to “embark upon a campaign in search of the tomb of the Maccabees, in order to solve the riddle surrounding the place once and for all, and to do so utilizing the tools of modern research.” . . . The team re-exposed the burial chamber, huge pillars that could support a second story, a forecourt, and other related buildings.

Commenting on the investigation, [its directors] said, “The appearance of the place is impressive. . . . The archaeological evidence currently at hand is still insufficient to establish that this is the burial place of the Maccabees. If what we uncovered is not the tomb of the Maccabees itself, then there is a high probability that this is the site that early Christians identified as the royal funerary enclosure.”

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More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah, History & Ideas, Maccabees

How Israel Can Best Benefit from Its Newfound Friendship with Brazil

Jan. 21 2019

Earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu was in Brazil—the first Israeli prime minister to visit the country—for the inauguration of its controversial new president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has made clear his eagerness to break with his predecessors’ hostility toward the Jewish state, and Netanyahu has responded positively. To Emanuele Ottolenghi, the improved relations offer an opportunity for joint cooperation against Hizballah, which gets much of its revenue through cooperation with Brazilian drug cartels. In this cooperative effort, Ottolenghi cautions against repeating mistakes made in an earlier outreach to Paraguay:

Hizballah relies heavily on the proceeds of transnational crime networks, especially in the Tri-Border Area [where] Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay [meet], but until recently, Brazilian officials were loath to acknowledge its presence in their country or its involvement in organized crime. [But] Bolsonaro’s top priority is fighting organized crime. Combating Hizballah’s terror finance is a vital Israeli interest. Making the case that Israel’s and Brazil’s interests dovetail perfectly should be easy. . . .

But Israel should be careful not to prioritize symbols over substance, a mistake already made once in Latin America. During 2013-2018, Netanyahu invested heavily in his relationship with Horacio Cartes, then president of Paraguay. Cartes, . . . too, had a genuine warmth for Israel, which culminated in his decision in May 2018 to move Paraguay’s embassy to Jerusalem. Most importantly, from Israel’s point of view, Paraguay began voting with Israel against the Arab bloc at the UN.

However, the Paraguayan side of the Tri-Border Area remained ground zero for Hizballah’s money laundering in Latin America. The Cartes administration hardly lifted a finger to act against the terror funding networks. . . . Worse—when critics raised Hizballah’s [local] terror-financing activities, Paraguayan ministers confronted their Israeli counterparts, threatening to change Paraguay’s friendly international posture toward Israel. [And] as soon as Cartes left office, his successor, Mario Abdo Benítez, moved Paraguay’s embassy back to Tel Aviv. . . . Israel’s five-year investment ultimately yielded no embassy move and no progress on combating Hizballah’s terror network. . . .

Israel should make the battle against Hizballah’s terror-finance networks in Latin America its top regional priority.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Brazil, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Latin America