In Israel, Ancient Date Palms Bloom Again

When listing the agricultural bounty of the Land of Israel, the Hebrew Bible repeatedly mentions dates as one of the fruits that grow there in abundance. A group of Israeli researchers recently announced that they have successfully grown date palms using ancient seeds that had been found in the Judean desert. Stuart Winer and Sue Surkes write:

Dozens of seeds were gleaned from archaeological collections gathered at locations in the dry Dead Sea area, including the Masada hilltop fortress built by King Herod the Great in the 1st century BCE and the ancient site of Qumran, famous for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s. Six saplings grew from 32 seeds sown; the plants have been dubbed Adam, Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith, and Hannah.

“Germination of 2000-year-old seeds of Phoenix dactylifera from Judean desert archaeological sites provides a unique opportunity to study the Judean date palm, described in antiquity for the quality, size, and medicinal properties of its fruit, but lost for centuries,” the researchers wrote. . . . Radiocarbon dating revealed the seeds used for the project came from a period spanning the 4th century BCE to the 2nd century CE.

Israel’s popular Medjool and Deglet Nour dates were brought to Israel from Iraq and Morocco by Jews in the early part of the last century. The only cultivated dates already present [previously] were limited plantations of sire dates planted by the Ottoman Turks.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Israeli agriculture

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy