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The Story of Israel’s National Emblem

Sept. 18 2017

Shortly after declaring independence, the Israeli government ran not one but two contests in its search for an official seal. The winning design, submitted by the Shamir brothers, featured a menorah with an olive branch on either side and the Hebrew word “Israel” beneath. The committee tasked with choosing an emblem asked the Shamirs to make one change: replace the stylized, modern-looking menorah with one modeled on the menorah depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome. Saul Singer writes:

Many, including particularly then-Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, vociferously objected to the use of this design because the menorah, which the Romans had proudly paraded as the ultimate symbol of Jewish defeat and degradation, represented the expulsion of the Jews from the land of Israel and the destruction of the Second Temple.

But the members of the committee and Israel’s provisional government, both of which unanimously adopted the design, believed the use of the Titus menorah would serve as an important metaphor for the rebirth of Israel: that after itself joining the Jews in exile, the menorah would now stand as testimony to the ultimate victory and eternal survival of the Jewish people. . . .

Because the ultimate design does not seem to reflect religious practice or belief—no verses from the Torah, no reference to the God of Israel—many argue that secularists prevailed [in choosing the seal]. In fact, however, the national emblem reflects one of the great . . . visions of the prophet Zechariah, [in which an angel shows him a menorah flanked by two olive trees].

Read more at Jewish Press

More about: Art, Israel & Zionism, Menorah, Second Temple, Zechariah

Hamas’s Dangerous Escalation in Gaza

June 22 2018

As Hamas has stepped up its attacks on communities near the Gaza Strip—using incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons—Israel has begun to retaliate more forcefully. In response, the terrorist group has begun firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Yoav Limor comments:

What made Wednesday’s rocket salvo different is that ‎unlike previous flare-ups on the border [since 2014], this time it ‎was Hamas operatives who fired at Israel, as opposed ‎to Islamic Jihad or the ‎rogue terrorist group in the coastal enclave. ‎Still, Hamas made sure the attack followed most of ‎the familiar “rules”—only [firing] at night and only at the ‎ communities in the vicinity of Gaza, and apparently while also ‎trying to minimize any casualties, to avoid further ‎escalation. ‎. . .

The first reason [for the shift in tactics] is Israel’s own change of policy ‎with regard to kite terrorism. It took Israel far ‎too long to define the incessant waves of incendiary ‎kites sent over the border as actionable acts of ‎terror, but once it did, the IDF began ‎systematically countering them, including firing ‎warning shots at terrorist kite cells and targeting ‎Hamas assets in Gaza in retaliation.‎

The second reason is Hamas’s own frustration and ‎distress in Gaza. Since the border-riot campaign was ‎launched on March 30, some 150 of its operatives ‎have been killed and the Israeli military has ‎carried out over 100 strikes on Hamas positions in ‎the coastal enclave, all while Hamas has nothing to ‎show for it. ‎In this situation, Hamas is searching for [some sort of victory] by declaring that “bombings will be ‎met with bombings,” as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum ‎said Wednesday, in order to portray itself as defending Gaza from ‎Israel.‎ . . .

Hamas is banking on Israel opting against a military ‎campaign in Gaza at this time so as not to split its ‎focus from the [developments in Syria], but it is sorely ‎mistaken if it thinks Israel will simply contain ‎kite terrorism or shy away from action given the new ‎equation it has presented. ‎At some point, Israel’s patience will expire.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security