Genetic Studies Link Modern Israeli Grapes to Their Biblical Forebears

In the Torah, God promises numerous times that the Land of Israel will be blessed with an abundance of grapes well-suited for winemaking, and in modern times the country has again become the source of many fine vintages. Scientists have recently found evidence that some of these modern grapes are direct descendants of ancient local cultivars. Judy Siegel-Itzkovich writes:

Seeds that provide a genetic link between two modern varieties of red and white grapes cultivated over 1,100 years ago—and apparently were mentioned in two different books of the Bible—have resulted in an “extraordinary and thrilling discovery” by archaeologists at Tel Aviv University (TAU) and the University of Haifa.

“One ancient seed was found to belong to the Syriki variety, still used to make high-quality red wine in Greece and Lebanon. Since winegrapes are usually named after their place of origin, it is quite possible that the name Syriki is derived from Nahal Sorek, an important stream in the Judean Hills. A second seed was identified as related to the Be’er variety of white winegrapes still growing in the sands of Palmachim on the Mediterranean seashore.”

[In recent years, archaeologists found] a large hoard of grape seeds, discovered on the floor of a sealed room at Avdat, [an ancient city in the Negev]. The researchers explain that these seeds have been relatively well-preserved thanks to protection from climatic phenomena such as extreme temperatures, flooding, or dehydration. In the hope of discovering which varieties the seeds might belong to, the researchers prepared to extract their DNA in the paleogenetic lab. . . .

Finally, the two samples of the highest quality, both from around 900 CE, were identified as belonging to specific local varieties that still exist today. . . . For the first time ever, the researchers were able to use the genome of a grape seed to determine the color of the fruit, discovering that it was in fact a white grape—the oldest botanical specimen of a white variety ever identified.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Archaeology, Israeli agriculture, Wine

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