Kibbutzniks Are Fighting to Preserve a 2,000-Year-Old Ritual Bath

Over the past century, Israeli archaeologists have discovered several ritual baths, or mikva’ot, from the Second Temple period and the subsequent centuries—important testimony to the antiquity and continuity of Jewish ritual. When one such ancient mikveh was recently discovered in the Lower Galilee near Kibbutz Hannaton, archaeologists expected to document it and then allow it to be covered up by the highway now under construction. But some of the locals objected, as Rossella Tercatin writes:

[S]ome Hannaton residents are hoping to be able to transfer the whole structure to the kibbutz and to create a small archaeological park around it. The mission especially resonated with them also because Hannaton is already home to a very special ritual bath, the only one in Israel that is open to anyone . . . regardless of religion, sex, or age.

Archaeologists could date the mikveh to the Second Temple period thanks to the grey plaster coating the pool and the width of the staircase leading into it. [They believe] that the area was then [used either for the cultivation of] olive trees or for vineyards, producing the high-quality oil or wine used in the Temple. For this reason, the ritual bath could have been used by the farmers, who needed to immerse themselves regularly in order to avoid making their produce impure. Similar cases are discussed in the Mishnah, the foundational text of rabbinic Judaism, which would be compiled in the nearby city of Tzippori (Sepphoris) some 200 years later.

[The] two archaeologists carrying out the excavation which uncovered the ancient ritual bath are Israeli Arabs—one Christian, one Muslim.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: ancient Judaism, Archaeology, Israeli society, Kibbutz movement, Mikveh

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy