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:

Read more at New York Times

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


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount