Egypt Seizes a Collection of Odd Jewish Artifacts

Aug. 22 2017

Working in cooperation with Israeli authorities, Egyptian police interdicted at least one smuggler trying to transport six antique objects via Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Amanda Borschel-Dan describes some of these unusual items, most of which were dated to the 18th century:

Included in the trove was a cane with a handle carved in stone which depicts a bearded man wearing a yarmulke. . . . An additional find in the seized collection was a 29-page Hebrew book described by Egyptian authorities as “the commandments of Judas Iscariot.” . . .

Two images of pages from the book released by the [Egyptian] Ministry of Antiquities include esoteric “Hebrew” text, which appears to be a poor translation from some other language. The pages are black and white and decorated with what could be either scorpions or lobsters. In the center of each page is a poster-like block of text written in disjointed Hebrew.

One page is titled “To the level of” and uses modern Hebrew words, including matkon (recipe), which would date the page to within the past 100 years.

The second page, which is illustrated by a Greek goddess-like woman holding a menorah triton, roughly reads, “Learn how to rise above things, and this can be done if I weren’t strong,” in a Hebrew one might suspect was written through Google Translate.

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More about: Archaeology, Hebrew, History & Ideas, Manuscripts

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