Israeli Schoolchildren Discover a 7th-Century Engraving of a Hanukkah Menorah

April 17 2018

Participating in a project organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority, thousands of students joined adult volunteers in helping to prepare a new hiking path through the historic Galilee—discovering, in the process, a number of ancient and medieval artifacts. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

[The] pupils participated in archaeological excavations at sites including Usha, the first seat of the Sanhedrin in the Galilee following the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-136 CE. Previous excavations of the small Galilee town . . . have uncovered remains of a thriving community, including building foundations, a mosaic floor, rock-hewn tombs, wells, wine presses, and an oil press. . . . During the [current] excavations, more evidence of settlement was discovered, including an intact 1,400-year-old oil lamp engraved with an eight-branched menorah, such as one would use during the holiday of Hanukkah. (The menorah of the Temples, and the symbol of the state of Israel, only has seven branches.) . . .

Additionally . . . the team uncovered clear signs of the glass industry that is recorded in ancient Jewish sources as having been located in the vicinity of Usha, [and that] was one of the most important centers of glass manufacturing during the Roman [period]. The quality [of the glass produced there] was considered very fine—the discovered blocks are still crystal clear—and would have been exported throughout the empire. . . .

[One] high-school student, Ilai Yonah, . . . uncovered a gold coin bearing an inscription from the period of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman empire and builder of Jerusalem’s city walls, who died in 1566. Only two others exist in the State Treasury.

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More about: Archaeology, Galilee, History & Ideas, Menorah, Ottoman Empire

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror