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.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy