The Israeli Farmer Reviving Biblical Flora

In ancient times, the production of myrrh—a spice derived from the balsamon tree—was a major industry in the land of Israel. Guy Erlich, a farmer at a kibbutz located between Jericho and the Dead Sea, is seeking to bring back the balsamon along with other biblical plants. Ruth Eglash writes:

While frankincense endured, myrrh almost disappeared after the fall of the Roman Empire. The balsamon tree . . . no longer grew on the banks of the Dead Sea, where ancient Hebrew farmers had [once cultivated it], although various species of the plant—known scientifically as commiphora—were found in other places in the Middle East as well as in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

[E]ight years ago, Erlich heard about the legendary balm of Gilead, a species of myrrh even more powerful [than the standard variety] and once abundant on the Dead Sea’s shores that provided medicine and incense used during the time of the Second Temple.

With effort, Erlich managed to acquire some.

Today, he has more than a thousand commiphora plants, its relation the boswellia (whose resin is used to make frankincense), and numerous other types of biblical greenery growing on an expansive plantation.

His plot of land, on the outskirts of [his] kibbutz, sits way below sea level in the humid and dusty Jordan Valley. There, the land is sandy and salty because of its proximity to the Dead Sea. Erlich works alone; hired help is too expensive.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Dead Sea, Hebrew Bible, Israel & Zionism, Israeli agriculture

The State Department Seems to Be Covering Up Palestinian Incitement

July 26 2017

Last week, the U.S. State Department released its annual report on global terrorism in the year 2016, and, for apparently the tenth consecutive year, the report defended the Palestinian Authority in language identical or nearly identical to that used in years before. For example, the 2016 report notes that “The PA has taken significant steps during President [Mahmoud] Abbas’s tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence.” That same sentence also appeared in the department’s reports for 2015, 2014 and 2013. Similar repetition of language from those years and years earlier can be found across the report.

What’s going on? “Two prominent former Israeli diplomats are charging that the State Department is recycling parts of its old reports in order to whitewash the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) incitement to violence,” Rafael Medoff writes, quoting the former Israeli diplomat Alan Baker:

[According to Baker], State Department officials seem to be “taking previous reports and copying them, making slight changes where they consider it relevant,” instead of objectively assessing the PA’s most recent behavior.

Baker said that not only has the PA failed to take “significant steps” against incitement, but “the opposite is the case—their own actions, statements and publications, naming streets and squares after terrorists, formally paying fees to terrorist families, all point to a distinctive step backward in violation of Palestinian commitments pursuant to the Oslo Accords.”

The result, Baker said, is that “the Palestinians see it as a license to continue and as support for their struggle. If the State Department closes a blind eye, this is tantamount to giving a green light.”

[According to a second Israeli diplomat], the State Department slants its reports about the PA because the department “fears that its own words will be used to buttress congressional efforts to cut aid to the PA. . . . ”

Read more at JNS

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Politics & Current Affairs, State Department