If Jews Can Revive Hebrew, Can Christians Revive Aramaic?

Nov. 4 2014
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Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.

Israel recently decided, at the behest of Christian religious leaders, to recognize those Arabic-speaking Christians who wish to identify themselves as “Arameans.” This has raised the prospect of their also reviving Aramaic, the language of Jesus, the Talmud, Judaism’s most well-known prayers (kaddish and kol nidre), and the long-ago Christian communities of the Middle East. Such an outcome is unlikely but not impossible, writes Philologos:

Many Christian denominations in Israel, such as the Maronite and Eastern Orthodox churches, still use Aramaic as a language of prayer, just as Jews used Hebrew liturgically long after they had ceased to speak it. (The survival of ancient languages that are no longer spoken in prayer and sacred texts is common all over the world, such as Latin in Catholicism, Sanskrit in Hinduism, Pali in Buddhism, Ge’ez in Ethiopian Christianity, and so on.) There is no reason that Israeli Christian Arabs should not learn to understand the language in which they pray and have a large religious literature, which is something that very few of them are able to do now. Just as many Jews in America study Hebrew, say, not in order to be spoken but in order to be comprehended as the language of the synagogue and Jewish tradition, so Aramaic could become a focus of study in Israel.

Read more at Forward

More about: Aramaic, Aramean Christians, Israeli Arabs, Language


Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation