The Mystery of Jerusalem’s Cave Synagogue

For many decades, historians and archaeologists have argued about the location of the “cave synagogue,” known only from medieval texts. Now they many have finally found it, writes Nadav Shragai:

The only part of the synagogue’s story about which there is consensus took place in the first half of the Hebrew month of Av [July or August] in the year 1099, when Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders. Jews and Muslims fought shoulder-to-shoulder for the city, but were eventually defeated, and the Crusaders slaughtered the residents of Jerusalem. . . . According to Gilo of Paris, a 12th-century poet, the Jews took the lead in defending Jerusalem and were the last to fall. The Muslim historian Ibn al-Qalanisi says that the Jews of the city fled to the Cave Synagogue, where the Crusaders burned them alive, a story corroborated by the 12th-century Arab writer Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi.

The archaeologist Dan Bahat, who excavated and researched the Western Wall tunnels, thinks that he has discovered the location of the Cave Synagogue. He believes that it lies “in the area of Warren’s Gate,” underground, which is why it is known as the “cave.” Warren’s Gate is named after the English researcher Sir Charles Warren (1840-1927) and is one of four gates that in the Second Temple era led from the Western Wall to the Temple Mount. In the past, it opened to a tunnel that was dug eastward under the Mount and ended in stairs leading up to the Temple Mount plaza.

Bahat thinks that in the early Muslim period (638-1099) the Jews of Jerusalem established their main synagogue near the gate because of its proximity to where they believed the [Temple’s] Holy of Holies was located beneath the Dome of the Rock.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Crusades, Jerusalem, Synagogues, Temple Mount

 

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