A Mother and Daughter Discover a Maccabean-Era Oil Lamp

Dec. 14 2017

Hiking in northern Israel last week, a mother and her daughter discovered a clay oil lamp that experts have dated approximately to the 2nd century BCE—around the time of the Maccabees’ revolt against Greek rule. Daniel Eisenbud reports:

While making their way through the mounds near the historic area by the Jordan River Valley one week ago, Hadas Goldberg-Kedar, age seven, and her mother, Ayelet, first noticed the well-preserved pottery vessel near the entrance to a porcupine cave. Ayelet assumed the relic was left by antiquities thieves and contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit to report the find.

In short order, Nir Distelfeld, an inspector for the unit—which is dispersed throughout the country to prevent thieves from looting excavation sites—arrived and examined the lamp. [He] determined that the porcupine uncovered the rare find while digging its enclosure for the winter. . . .

“During this period, clay oil lamps began to be produced in formations: the upper and lower parts were produced separately and were then joined together,” said Einat Ambar-Armon [of the Israel Antiquities Authority]. “The new technique enabled the mass production of oil lamps, as well as the addition of a variety of decorations. In later periods, candles and other Jewish decorations sometimes appeared on the oil lamps.”

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More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah, History & Ideas, Maccabees

 

How Israel Can Best Benefit from Its Newfound Friendship with Brazil

Jan. 21 2019

Earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu was in Brazil—the first Israeli prime minister to visit the country—for the inauguration of its controversial new president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has made clear his eagerness to break with his predecessors’ hostility toward the Jewish state, and Netanyahu has responded positively. To Emanuele Ottolenghi, the improved relations offer an opportunity for joint cooperation against Hizballah, which gets much of its revenue through cooperation with Brazilian drug cartels. In this cooperative effort, Ottolenghi cautions against repeating mistakes made in an earlier outreach to Paraguay:

Hizballah relies heavily on the proceeds of transnational crime networks, especially in the Tri-Border Area [where] Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay [meet], but until recently, Brazilian officials were loath to acknowledge its presence in their country or its involvement in organized crime. [But] Bolsonaro’s top priority is fighting organized crime. Combating Hizballah’s terror finance is a vital Israeli interest. Making the case that Israel’s and Brazil’s interests dovetail perfectly should be easy. . . .

But Israel should be careful not to prioritize symbols over substance, a mistake already made once in Latin America. During 2013-2018, Netanyahu invested heavily in his relationship with Horacio Cartes, then president of Paraguay. Cartes, . . . too, had a genuine warmth for Israel, which culminated in his decision in May 2018 to move Paraguay’s embassy to Jerusalem. Most importantly, from Israel’s point of view, Paraguay began voting with Israel against the Arab bloc at the UN.

However, the Paraguayan side of the Tri-Border Area remained ground zero for Hizballah’s money laundering in Latin America. The Cartes administration hardly lifted a finger to act against the terror funding networks. . . . Worse—when critics raised Hizballah’s [local] terror-financing activities, Paraguayan ministers confronted their Israeli counterparts, threatening to change Paraguay’s friendly international posture toward Israel. [And] as soon as Cartes left office, his successor, Mario Abdo Benítez, moved Paraguay’s embassy back to Tel Aviv. . . . Israel’s five-year investment ultimately yielded no embassy move and no progress on combating Hizballah’s terror network. . . .

Israel should make the battle against Hizballah’s terror-finance networks in Latin America its top regional priority.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Brazil, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Latin America