One Scholar Believes He Has Deciphered One of Jerusalem’s Most Ancient Inscriptions. Another Has His Doubts

July 11 2022

In 2010, Israeli archaeologists uncovered a stone tablet in the oldest part of Jerusalem, which they believe dates to the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE. Gershon Galil, a professor at the University of Haifa, recently announced that he deciphered writing on the tablet in an ancient language related to Hebrew. According to Galil, the inscription contains a curse that was likely the work of “sophisticated magicians” who held “voodoo ceremonies.” Christopher Rollston, a leading authority on ancient Semitic inscriptions, is skeptical:

I am far from convinced that this is an “inscription.” In fact, one could make an entirely plausible case that these are not letters but repetitive decorative motifs and striations.

Here is Galil’s translation of it: “Cursed, cursed, you will surely die; Cursed, cursed, you will surely die; Governor of the City, you will surely die; Cursed, you will surely die; Cursed, you will surely die; Cursed, you will surely die.”

Although it is perhaps possible that there is some sort of “inscription” here, these readings and translation of Galil’s are not at all convincing. . . . But Galil’s assertion about this putative inscription’s importance pales in comparison with some of the rest of his claims.

According to Galil, “the new inscription proves that Jerusalem was not only a fortified city, but also a very important cultural and cultic center.” I too believe that Jerusalem was an important center at this time, and I believe that Jerusalem was fortified during the 2nd millennium BCE (the period from which this “inscription” putatively hails). However, according to Galil’s own readings, this inscription does not mention any city or its fortifications! So . . . even if someone were to embrace Galil’s readings, the “inscription” cannot carry the freight with which he is saddling it.

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Read more at Zwinglius Redivivus

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Canaanites, Jerusalem

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism