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

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy