Scotland and the Bar Kokhba Revolt

Aug. 29 2016

Archaeologists have long known that a fort once stood on the Scottish hill of Burnswark, and that large numbers of Roman soldiers once encamped on either side of it. Recently, they have become more certain of what occurred there: a massive Roman assault that marked the beginning of an invasion of the country in the year 140 CE. Part of the evidence involves the Bar Kokhba revolt, in which, a few years earlier, Rome crushed the last hopes of renewed Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. Willie Johnston writes:

Using metal detectors, it has been found that massive amounts of lead shot were fired [by slingshot] at the fort, and not in a way indicating target practice. More evidence is the known presence of General Lollius Urbicus, brought here from the Middle East to do the Emperor Antoninus’s dirty work.

John Reid, [an expert on the Roman presence in Scotland], says Urbicus had “previous” [experience]. “He made his name in the Jewish war that had taken place in Israel where legionaries had literally gone through the whole of Judea taking hill forts one after the other. . . . He was [thus subsequently] given the job of taking Scotland; we know that from Roman literary sources.” . . .

Many of the lead sling-bullets found at Burnswark have identical four-millimeter holes in them which, initially, was a mystery. . . [But] the effect of the hole became obvious when replicas were made and fired.

“You’d hear this screeching noise that you’ve never heard before or experienced before in your life,” explained the archaeologist Andrew Nicholson. . . . “You hear this keening sound through the air and the chap with the spear next to you drops dead and you wonder what on earth is doing it. You’d be utterly terrified.”

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More about: Ancient Rome, Archaeology, Bar-Kokhba, History & Ideas, Jewish history, Scotland


No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict