Just in Time for Hanukkah, a Coin with Its Villain’s Face Is Discovered

Nov. 28 2022

In a recent search of the house of an individual suspected of stealing archaeological artifacts, Israeli authorities found a 2nd-century BCE bronze coin bearing a likeness of King Antiochus IV. Michael Horovitz writes:

Antiochus IV was a Seleucid monarch remembered in Jewish history for his promotion of Hellenization and suppression of religious observances. While he was battling the rival Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt for control of the Levant, Jewish zealots rose in revolt against Antiochus and the Hellenized high priest installed in Jerusalem’s Second Temple.

Antiochus returned from Egypt and attempted to quell the uprising. After his death on a subsequent campaign in Persia, Hasmonean rebels led by Judah Maccabee and his clansmen succeeded in wresting control of Judea from the Seleucid Greeks, restoring the Temple and forming a Jewish kingdom that ruled for a century. The Hanukkah holiday celebrates the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks and Hellenized Jews.

According to [the numismatist] Danny Synon, what is unique about the currency series that the bronze Antiochus IV coin is part of is that it was minted during what he calls an “economic experiment” conducted by the monarch in which he allowed four municipalities to mint their own local coinage. One side of the “municipality coin” usually featured a local god, said Synon, and the other side was engraved with an image connected to the local area. In the case of the recently recovered coin, one side features the king, and the other shows a ship and the name of the port city of Tyre.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy