Yemen’s Millennia-Long Connection to the Land of Israel

Jan. 30 2020

While it has often been assumed that the queen of Sheba mentioned in the book of Kings was an African potentate, today most scholars locate her territory in what is now Yemen. Her famous visit to Jerusalem reflects the very long history of commerce and travel between the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula and the Land of Israel. Reviewing an exhibit at Israel’s Bible Lands Museum about this relationship, Eliana Rudee writes:

Through the trade of incense and aromatic plants like myrrh and frankincense—used in Temple worship, and worth the value of gold and silver in the contemporary market—the area that is now Yemen became a key hub in ancient Near Eastern trade.

This trade route [later] made it possible for Yemenite Jews to make the journey to the land of Israel. Though the trek was 1,500 miles, which often took two whole months to complete, there was extensive commercial trade between the two lands, and the bones of Yemenite Jews were often taken to Israel to be buried.

By the end of the 4th century CE, the kings of Himyar (south Arabia’s last major kingdom before the advent of Islam) adopted a monotheistic religion inspired by Judaism and became known as the “Jewish Kingdom of Himyar.” [It] was destroyed in 525 CE by armies from the Christian Ethiopian kingdom of Axum.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Book of Kings, King Solomon, Land of Israel, Yemen, Yemenite Jewry

 

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