Piecing Together an 8th-Century Letter from a Jewish Merchant in China

The ancient city of Dandan-Uiliq, abandoned centuries ago, is located in the Xinjiang region, where Communist China is currently carrying out one of its most brutal campaigns of persecution. Once the city was an important stop along the Silk Road. In 1901, an excavation of the ruins of a Buddhist monastery there revealed an ancient letter written in Hebrew script. At the time of its writing, Persian-speaking Jewish merchants were involved in trade across Eurasia, from southwestern Russia to the Chinese heartland. Ursula Sims-Williams explains how another recent discovery helped make sense of the document:

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Read more at British Library

More about: China, Jewish history, Persian Jewry

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Do More Harm Than Good

Aug. 12 2020

With its size, budget, and remit greatly expanded following the 2006 war between Israel and Hizballah, the United Nations International Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is tasked with keeping both sides’ forces out of the southern portion of the country. While the IDF has indeed abided by the armistice, UNIFIL has failed spectacularly at compelling Hizballah to do the same. Eugene Kontorovich argues that, unless the peacekeeping force can be reorganized so as to be effective, it would be better to scrap it, or at the very least reduce its size:

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Read more at Kohelet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations