What Is a 2,000-Year-Old Marble Dolphin Doing in the Negev?

The archaeologists who discovered a statue not far from the Gaza border are themselves unsure how it got there, writes Ilan Ben Zion:

Alexander Fraiberg, head archaeologist [of the team that discovered the dolphin], said he believes the sculpture dates to the Roman era, but was incorporated into a later, Byzantine-era paved floor. . . .

“It’s interesting because the statuette was lying face down, so it was impossible to see its appearance,” he said. Experts believe that the dolphin, standing about sixteen inches high, may have been part of a larger sculpture, possibly a life-size statue of a god or goddess. . . .

“The mystery,” said Fraiberg, “is where the statue came from, who destroyed it, when, and under what circumstances, and who brought the piece with the dolphin to the site.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Byzantine Empire, History & Ideas, Negev


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy