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The Mysterious Squiggles on Israel’s National Emblem

The emblem of the state of Israel, officially adopted in 1949, features a menorah surrounded by olive branches on either side with the word Israel (in Hebrew) at the bottom. The menorah itself rests on a two-tiered base, containing six odd-looking figures. After determining these drawings’ significance, Elon Gilad finds himself confronting another mystery. (Free registration required).

The menorah . . . on the emblem is a stylized version of the menorah carved in relief on Titus’ Arch in Rome. The arch was built in 83 CE to mark the victories of the deceased emperor—including the conquest of Jerusalem. . . . Simply, those scribbles on the emblem are simplified versions of the ornamentation on the base of the menorah that is depicted on the arch.

The paint on the relief faded away centuries ago, and the stone engraving itself has worn over the ages. Yet we can still see that these designs portray a host of mythological creatures.

But the Ten Commandments state, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” Is it possible that a menorah with graven images really stood in the Temple? On this, researchers are divided. . . .

Other depictions of the Temple menorah are not particularly helpful. The most ancient image of it found to date is well known to Israelis—it appears on the “tails” side of the contemporary ten-agorot coin. That menorah is a copy of coins minted by King Antigonus II Mattathias, the last Hasmonean king, in 37 BCE, just over 100 years before the menorah arrived in Rome. The menorah in these coins [has] a base . . . much smaller than the one on Titus’ Arch, having only one level, not two. Nor can any designs be seen adorning it.

The differences may be due to the medium: ancient coins are often highly symbolic representations of the original. But it could also mean that sometime between 37 BCE and 70 CE, the menorah, or at least its base, was changed. . . .

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Archaeology, Hasmoneans, History & Ideas, Israel, Menorah, Ten Commandments

Hamas’s Dangerous Escalation in Gaza

June 22 2018

As Hamas has stepped up its attacks on communities near the Gaza Strip—using incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons—Israel has begun to retaliate more forcefully. In response, the terrorist group has begun firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Yoav Limor comments:

What made Wednesday’s rocket salvo different is that ‎unlike previous flare-ups on the border [since 2014], this time it ‎was Hamas operatives who fired at Israel, as opposed ‎to Islamic Jihad or the ‎rogue terrorist group in the coastal enclave. ‎Still, Hamas made sure the attack followed most of ‎the familiar “rules”—only [firing] at night and only at the ‎ communities in the vicinity of Gaza, and apparently while also ‎trying to minimize any casualties, to avoid further ‎escalation. ‎. . .

The first reason [for the shift in tactics] is Israel’s own change of policy ‎with regard to kite terrorism. It took Israel far ‎too long to define the incessant waves of incendiary ‎kites sent over the border as actionable acts of ‎terror, but once it did, the IDF began ‎systematically countering them, including firing ‎warning shots at terrorist kite cells and targeting ‎Hamas assets in Gaza in retaliation.‎

The second reason is Hamas’s own frustration and ‎distress in Gaza. Since the border-riot campaign was ‎launched on March 30, some 150 of its operatives ‎have been killed and the Israeli military has ‎carried out over 100 strikes on Hamas positions in ‎the coastal enclave, all while Hamas has nothing to ‎show for it. ‎In this situation, Hamas is searching for [some sort of victory] by declaring that “bombings will be ‎met with bombings,” as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum ‎said Wednesday, in order to portray itself as defending Gaza from ‎Israel.‎ . . .

Hamas is banking on Israel opting against a military ‎campaign in Gaza at this time so as not to split its ‎focus from the [developments in Syria], but it is sorely ‎mistaken if it thinks Israel will simply contain ‎kite terrorism or shy away from action given the new ‎equation it has presented. ‎At some point, Israel’s patience will expire.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security