The Archaeologist of Jerusalem Who Should Be Counted among Israel’s Founders

When Daniel Polisar first became aware of the archaeologist Eilat Mazar’s theory about where King David’s Jerusalem palace was located, he was immediately enthralled, and helped to raise the funds that enabled one of the most important excavations into the city’s ancient past. Mazar, who died this week at the age of sixty-four, eventually located a structure from King David’s time that fit the biblical description of the palace, in the place she had predicted. In a tribute to her, Polisar writes:

Though born a decade after the Jewish state was established, Mazar is seen by those privileged to know her as being among the country’s founders because she had that rare and unmistakable character of the generation of leaders who brought the state into being against all odds. She was driven by an instinctive love for the Land of Israel, felt deeply connected to the Bible without being traditionally religious, and embraced archaeology, with its alluring combination of the spiritual and the earthly.

Like [other members of] Israel’s “Greatest Generation,” Eilat was supremely confident and touchingly modest, naturally charming, and exasperatingly stubborn, totally committed to the national cause but even more devoted to her family, and undoubtedly crazy—in a good way, in the best way, what we Israelis refer to with admiration as a m’shuga l’davar [literally, crazy for one thing], someone who will do whatever it takes to achieve an impossible dream—not just once, but as a way of life.

Today, a decade and a half [after Eilat began the Jerusalem excavation], archaeologists debate whether the structure [she identified] better fits the Bible’s description of David’s Citadel or David’s Palace, but it is widely (though not entirely) accepted among scholars that the Mazar excavation provided compelling proof for a significant Israelite kingdom governed in the 10th century BCE from precisely that part of Jerusalem the Bible describes as the seat of King David’s rule.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Jerusalem, King David

Would an American-Backed UN Resolution Calling for a Temporary Ceasefire Undermine Israel?

Yesterday morning, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by Algeria, that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As an alternative, the American delegation has been circulating a draft resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” Benny Avni comments:

While the Israel Defense Force may be able to maintain its Gaza operations under that provision, the U.S.-proposed resolution also warns the military against proceeding with its plan to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel says that a critical number of Hamas fighters are hiding inside tunnels and in civilian buildings at Rafah, surrounded by a number of the remaining 134 hostages.

In one paragraph, the text of the new American resolution says that the council “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

In addition to the paragraph about Rafah, the American-proposed resolution is admonishing Israel not to create a buffer zone inside Gaza. Such a narrow zone, as wide as two miles, is seen by many Israelis as a future protection against infiltration from Gaza.

Perhaps, as Robert Satloff argues, the resolution isn’t intended to forestall an IDF operation in Rafah, but only—consistent with prior statements from the Biden administration—to demand that Israel come up with a plan to move civilians out of harms way before advancing on the city.

If that is so, the resolution wouldn’t change much if passed. But why is the U.S. proposing an alternative ceasefire resolution at all? Strategically, Washington has nothing to gain from stopping Israel, its ally, from achieving a complete victory over Hamas. Why not instead pass a resolution condemning Hamas (something the Security Council has not done), calling for the release of hostages, and demanding that Qatar and Iran stop providing the group with arms and funds? Better yet, demand that these two countries—along with Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon—arrest Hamas leaders on their territory.

Surely Russia would veto such a resolution, but still, why not go on the offensive, rather than trying to come up with another UN resolution aimed at restraining Israel?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship, United Nations