Was Josephus a Jewish Benedict Arnold?

Josephus, before becoming the great Jewish historian of the first century, led Jewish rebels against the Romans in defense of Jerusalem. But after the battle was lost, he surrendered to the Romans and won the favor of Rome, living out the rest of his life there as a successful writer. His story has led many to see him as a traitor to his people and his work as thinly disguised Roman propaganda. William den Hollander argues that this reading is mistaken (free registration required):

One of the key contributors to the negative assessment of Josephus’ character, which has also affected the manner in which his narratives have been read, has been the scholarly and popular misunderstanding of his relationship with the Roman generals/emperors. The traditional view has been that Josephus served as an imperial lackey and that his writings, in particular the Jewish War, were nothing more than works of propaganda advancing the interests of the imperial throne. Since the early 1980s, however, this view has been increasingly questioned by experts. By close examination of his narratives and careful contextualization of Josephus and his writings within ancient society, scholars have begun to recognize that his relationship with the emperors was not quite as close as had been assumed (or, perhaps, as close as Josephus wished to have us believe) and that, furthermore, his narratives do not quite fit the characteristic of propaganda. In fact, they are at times quite the opposite.

Read more at ASOR

More about: Ancient Rome, Josephus, Judean Revolt

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