The Story of Israel’s National Emblem

Shortly after declaring independence, the Israeli government ran not one but two contests in its search for an official seal. The winning design, submitted by the Shamir brothers, featured a menorah with an olive branch on either side and the Hebrew word “Israel” beneath. The committee tasked with choosing an emblem asked the Shamirs to make one change: replace the stylized, modern-looking menorah with one modeled on the menorah depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome. Saul Singer writes:

Many, including particularly then-Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, vociferously objected to the use of this design because the menorah, which the Romans had proudly paraded as the ultimate symbol of Jewish defeat and degradation, represented the expulsion of the Jews from the land of Israel and the destruction of the Second Temple.

But the members of the committee and Israel’s provisional government, both of which unanimously adopted the design, believed the use of the Titus menorah would serve as an important metaphor for the rebirth of Israel: that after itself joining the Jews in exile, the menorah would now stand as testimony to the ultimate victory and eternal survival of the Jewish people. . . .

Because the ultimate design does not seem to reflect religious practice or belief—no verses from the Torah, no reference to the God of Israel—many argue that secularists prevailed [in choosing the seal]. In fact, however, the national emblem reflects one of the great . . . visions of the prophet Zechariah, [in which an angel shows him a menorah flanked by two olive trees].

Read more at Jewish Press

More about: Art, Israel & Zionism, Menorah, Second Temple, Zechariah

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

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