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

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

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