An Israeli Diver Discovered a Crusader Sword at the Bottom of the Sea

Oct. 20 2021

Not long after Israeli archaeologists announced the unprecedented discovery of a Crusader encampment south of Tel Aviv, a diver named Shlomi Katzin came across a shell-encrusted crusader sword on the floor of the Mediterranean, along with centuries-old anchors and pottery fragments. The sword dates to the time of the Third Crusade, which lasted from 1188 to 1192. Eduardo Medina reports:

The water off the Carmel coast remains the same temperature year-round, which helped preserve the iron in the sword. Because the iron was oxidized, shells and other marine organisms stuck onto it like glue. . . . The sword would have been expensive to make at the time and viewed as a status symbol.

In England, the launching of the Third Crusade, which coincided with the coronation of Richard I (“the Lionheart”), was accompanied by some of the country’s worst massacres of Jews, most notably in the city of York. By contrast, unlike previous crusades, it did not spark anti-Semitic violence in Germany, thanks to the intervention of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Frederick did, however, levy a special tax on Jews to help fund his Middle Eastern venture, in exchange for his protection.

In a short video, Jacob Sharvit of the Israel Antiquities Authority displays the sword and explains its significance:

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Archaeology, Crusades, Mediterranean Sea, Middle Ages

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy