A Recently Excavated Structure Is Evidence of the Events Hanukkah Commemorates

Nov. 19 2021

Just two weeks before Hanukkah, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced the discovery of a large Seleucid fortress that had been attacked by the Hasmonean priestly clan, who led the revolt against the Syrian-Greek empire that began in 167 BCE. Rossella Tercatin writes:

Some 2,100 years ago, the Hasmonean army was marching toward the Hellenistic city of Maresha in Israel’s Shephelah region, also known as the Judean foothills. Leading them was John Hyrcanus, a high priest and the ruler of Judea, a nephew of the Hanukkah hero Judah Maccabee, who a few decades earlier had led the victorious revolt against the Seleucids in the region. The Judean army was first spotted by Seleucid soldiers stationed in a fortress on a hill overlooking the city.

“Our theory is that the Seleucids blocked the entrance of the fortress and fled to the city as their enemies approached,” said the archaeologist Ahinoam Montagu. . . . “As the Hasmoneans reached the structure, they set it on fire.” The building, approximately 50 feet by 50 feet, featured seven rooms. Steps that are likely connected to a second floor are still visible and well preserved. Burnt beams offer dramatic insight into its last moments.

Among the artifacts were also a few well-preserved small jugs, often used to store expensive liquids—and possibly not so different from the little jug that according to the Jewish tradition was instrumental for the Hanukkah miracle, in which a small jug that contained pure olive oil kept on refilling itself to allow the menorah in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to be lit for eight days.

“The stories of the Maccabees are coming to life before our eyes,” . . . said the IAA general director, Eli Eskozido.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah, Hasmoneans


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy