Archaeologists Release Pictures of the Elaborate Artwork at a 5th-Century Synagogue

Nov. 20 2018

In 2012, an excavation at the ancient city of Ḥuqoq in northern Israel turned up a 1,600-year-old synagogue decorated with intricate mosaics depicting biblical and midrashic scenes. Archaeologists are still working to uncover the images, but photographs of some of their latest discoveries have been made public and can be found at the link below. James Rogers writes:

The mosaics depict Noah’s ark, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the fish, and the Tower of Babel, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Portions of the mosaics have been revealed before, but this is the first time the artifacts have been shown in their full glory. . . .

“Although the story of Jonah was popular in early Christian art, this is the first time it has been found decorating an ancient synagogue,” the excavation’s director, Jodi Magness, wrote in an email. “The Ḥuqoq version is unusual in showing three large fish swallowing Jonah, and representing the storm winds (in the upper left corner) as harpy-sirens—half-female, half-bird creatures from Greek mythology.”

Magness also notes that the panel depicting the Tower of Babel shows different construction activities around the tower, such as the quarrying of stone, woodworking, and the use of a giant pulley. The mosaic provides important evidence for ancient building techniques, she explained.

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More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Jewish art, Synagogues

 

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror