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


Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat