A 1,000-Year-Old Mass Grave in England May Contain Victims of an Anti-Semitic Massacre

Sept. 1 2022

An analysis of a collection of human bones found buried together in the English city of Norwich suggests that they belonged to Jews of the 11th or 12th centuries. Judy Siegel-Itzkovich writes:

The mass grave in a dry well, less than half a meter deep and one meter in diameter, contained the highly compacted remains of at least seventeen people. The overrepresentation of youngsters and the unusual location of the burial outside of consecrated ground suggested that they may have been victims of a mass fatality event such as mass murder.

Ancient DNA from 25 bones was screened, and six individuals were selected for sequencing. “They represent the present-day population that we would expect to be genetically most similar to Jews in medieval England,” [the archaeologists] wrote. The researchers found that four of these individuals were closely related and six had strong genetic affinities with modern Ashkenazi Jews. Some had genes for red hair.

The DNA evidence also yielded genes linked to hereditary diseases common among Ashkenazim—the first such evidence that these illnesses date back at least to the beginning of the last millennium. But violence, rather than disease, was the likely cause of death for those buried in the grave, and comparison with the historical record led the archaeologists to conjecture about the circumstances:

The . . . historical event in Norwich within this date range was in 1190, when members of the Jewish community were murdered during anti-Semitic riots precipitated by the beginning of the Third Crusade. Norwich had been the setting for a previous notable event in the history of medieval anti-Semitism when, in 1144, the family of [a Christian boy named] William of Norwich claimed that local Jews were responsible for his murder—an argument taken up by Thomas of Monmouth [in one of the earliest documented instances] of the blood libel.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Archaeology, Blood libel, Crusades, Middle Ages

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship