Technology Borrowed from NASA Has Led to the Probable Discovery of an Unknown Dead Sea Scroll

Israeli researchers, using sophisticated imaging technology first developed by the American aerospace program, have deciphered the text on heretofore illegible fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Ruth Schuster and Nir Hasson explain:

For the sake of posterity, digitalization, and research, all [the scrolls] are being photographed in high resolution under different types of light, which among other things brings previously unseen writing invisible to the naked eye, as well as some ink stains, to light. [One fragment’s] handwriting differs from previously found scroll fragments, [the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Oren] Ableman explains. Its uniqueness leads him to speculate that there may be a whole scroll that has disappeared, or at any rate, not been found yet. . . .

The writing on many of these fragments is just a few letters rather than complete words or sentences. Even so, Ableman could tell which scrolls most of the fragments were from, generally speaking. . . .

[The one exception] is written in ancient paleo-Hebrew, which could not be attributed to any one of the known manuscripts. This raises the possibility that it belonged to a still unknown manuscript. [Researchers] haven’t done carbon-dating on the fragment, but this form of blocky paleo-Hebrew was the script commonly used in the First Temple period. That said, some scrolls were still being written using that ancient script in the late Second Temple period. Even among the paleo-Hebrew fragments, there are signs that help the researchers distinguish differences between First Temple and Second Temple texts, and certain features of the handwriting indicate that this fragment dates to the late Second Temple period.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: ancient Judaism, Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew alphabet, History & Ideas, Technology

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy