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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

 

Putting Aside the Pious Lies about the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Jan. 23 2018

In light of recent developments, including Mahmoud Abbas’s unusually frank speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leadership, Moshe Arens advocates jettisoning some frequently mouthed but clearly false assumptions about Israel’s situation, beginning with the idea that the U.S. should act as a neutral party in negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. (Free registration may be required.)

The United States cannot be, and has never been, neutral in mediating the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is the leader of the world’s democratic community of nations and cannot assume a neutral position between democratic Israel and the Palestinians, whether represented by an autocratic leadership that glorifies acts of terror or by Islamic fundamentalists who carry out acts of terror. . . .

In recent years the tectonic shifts in the Arab world, the lower price of oil, and the decreased importance attached to the Palestinian issue in much of the region, have essentially removed the main incentive the United States had in past years to stay involved in the conflict. . . .

Despite the conventional wisdom that the core issues—such as Jerusalem or the fate of Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines—are the major stumbling blocks to an agreement, the issue for which there seems to be no solution in sight at the moment is making sure that any Israeli military withdrawal will not result in rockets being launched against Israel’s population centers from areas that are turned over to the Palestinians. . . .

Does that mean that Israel is left with a choice between a state with a Palestinian majority or an apartheid state, as claimed by Israel’s left? This imaginary dilemma is based on a deterministic theory of history, which disregards all other possible alternatives in the years to come, and on questionable demographic predictions. What the left is really saying is this: better rockets on Tel Aviv than a continuation of Israeli military control over Judea and Samaria. There is little support in Israel for that view.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, US-Israel relations