An Ancient Synagogue Is Testimony to the Persistence of Judaism during the Era of Christian Ascendancy

While most of the historic synagogues discovered by archaeologists in Israel have been found in the northern part of the country, a few have been uncovered in the arid south. All Israel News reports on one:

The Ma’on synagogue, first discovered in 1957 on the southern end of Israel, is one of three ancient synagogues discovered so far in the western Negev region. The town of Ma’on is believed to have existed during the late Roman period and in the Byzantine period, during the 5th and 7th centuries CE.

Ma’on, or Manois, was considered to be a large town, mostly inhabited by Christians. While most likely under Byzantine rule at that time, the ancient synagogue is evidence that a Jewish community existed, with the religious center being the most significant expression of its independence.

The synagogue faces northeast, towards Jerusalem, according to Jewish tradition, and was thought to have been built on a basilica plan, with an ancient mosaic floor in the center and two side aisles paved with stone. The ceiling was believed to have been made of wooden beams and clay. The walls of the synagogue are thought to have been built with rectangular stones that were placed on stone foundations. According to inscriptions, a cavalry unit from the western Balkans may also have been stationed in Ma’on for a time.

A magnificent mosaic floor was [also] discovered at the site.

Read more at All Israel News

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jewish-Christian dialogue, Mosaics, Synagogues

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security