An Ancient Mosque in Northern Israel May Be the Oldest Unearthed Anywhere

Jan. 26 2021

In the years after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the city of Tiberias emerged as a center of Jewish life and learning, and remained so into the early Islamic period. It also experienced a renaissance of Jewish life under Ottoman rule. Now, after eleven years of painstaking excavations of one of the city’s ancient mosques, a team of archaeologists led by Katia Cytryn-Silverman has discovered an even older mosque beneath it, likely built in the 7th century. The Times of Israel reports:

Cytryn-Silverman, of the Hebrew University, said it is the oldest mosque in the world that can be excavated. Other ancient mosques are either still being used or have had other mosques built on top of them, hindering research. It has [thus] been difficult to know exactly what the original buildings looked like.

A clue to when the older mosque was built came from earth used as filling in the foundation, which was brought in from elsewhere. By consulting with an archaeologist in Yemen, Cytryn-Silverman was further convinced that “the construction technology used at the ancient mosque, a simple and pragmatic style uncharacteristic of the region, apparently first came to Israel at the start of the Arab conquest in the 7th century.” She said the technology itself may have originated in the Arabian Peninsula.

Following the Arab conquests of the region, . . . Tiberias became the capital of Jund al-Urdun, the Jordanian military district, making it a political and economic center. The site is close to the remains of a Byzantine church that was in use from the 5th to the 10th centuries, and which archaeologists say was the largest in the Galilee. They believe a large synagogue may have stood alongside it.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Galilee, Islam

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank