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.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah, Hasmoneans

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter