The Ancient Wheat of Mount Hermon Served at Modern Tables

Hagai Ben Yehuda comes from a long line of bread-makers, and has been engaged in the family business for most of his adult life. After attending a workshop for agricultural bakers in Brittany, he was inspired to learn about practices from the Fertile Crescent, where wheat was first cultivated. This led him to research the story of Israel’s wheat and develop a unique line of old-new products in his family’s kibbutz bakery. Bethan McKernan reports:

On his return home [from France], the baker began researching emmer, the “mother of wheat,” which was used for bread in biblical times and rediscovered growing wild near Mount Hermon, on the borders with Syria and Lebanon, in the 1940s. Other strains of intriguing colors, shapes and sizes included jaljuli, hourani, abu fashi, and dubiya samra—all grown locally for millennia, but by the 1960s replaced by imported common wheat, which has a much higher monetary yield.

Ben Yehuda got in touch with the Volcani Center, Israel’s agricultural research institute, to see if he could obtain some of these heirloom variety seeds, plant them, and find out what the bread would taste like.

“I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I didn’t know anything about agriculture,” he said. “I decided I should approach it like a winemaker. They know everything about the soil, the sun, the elevation. Being guided by the character of the wheat would make me a better baker.”

Read more at Guardian

More about: Ancient Near East, Food, Israeli agriculture

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict