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How Isaac Newton’s Theological Writings Found a Home at Israel’s National Library

When Cambridge University decided it had no use for the great physicist’s extensive non-scientific papers, it handed them over to Sotheby’s auction house. But on the day they were auctioned, in 1936, almost nobody showed up. Zachary Solomon writes:

[The very same day], down the street, Christie’s was holding an auction of their own for Impressionist art. In the end, only two people came for Newton’s papers. One of them happened to be the noted economist John Maynard Keynes. The other: a Jewish expert on Middle Eastern affairs named Abraham Shalom Yahuda. The two split the pot: Keynes took the alchemy writings, Yahuda the theology.

When Yahuda died in 1951, his collection transferred to the National Library of Israel. And what a collection indeed: featured among Newton’s papers are works on mysticism, exegeses, projections for the end of days (mark 2060 on your calendar), maps, and illustrations. The papers show his belief that secret knowledge was contained in talmudic descriptions of the Temple.

Read more at Jewniverse

More about: Astrology, History & Ideas, Mysticism, National Library of Israel, Rare books, Science, Science and

Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations