When the Lion, Cheetah, and Hippopotamus Roamed the Land of Israel

Dec. 22 2016

Although those creatures are not found in Israel today, they and many others were present in ancient times—as the Bible itself attests. Natan Slifkin explains:

Because the land of Israel bridges Europe, Africa, and Asia, it was home to a unique combination of animals. It was the northernmost part of the range of many African animals, such as crocodiles and hippopotami; it was the southeastern part of the range of many European animals, such as fallow deer and wolves; and it was the westernmost part of the range of many Asian animals, such as the Asiatic cheetah. In addition, due to its location on the eastern side of the Mediterranean, it is part of the migration route for countless birds passing between Europe and Africa. Thus, the combination of animals found in the Bible is unique, . . . not to be found anywhere else in the world.

Since particular species are limited to particular regions of the world, people who did not live in the Near East were not familiar with the animals of the Bible. Consequently, they mistranslated the names of biblical animals [with those of] local equivalents. Thus, the tsvi of the Bible (Proverbs 6:5) is the gazelle, but in Europe, where there were no gazelles, the word tsvi was rendered as “deer.” The shu’al, a species of which Samson captured 300 and tied fire-brands to their tails (Judges 15:4), was identified in Europe as a fox, leading [skeptics] such as Voltaire to mock the notion that it would be possible to find 300 members of such a solitary creature as the fox. However, as other verses indicate, the shu’al of Scripture is actually the jackal (see Psalm 63:11), a relative of the fox that gathers in large packs. Yet because there are no jackals in Europe, people there had long understood shu’al to mean fox.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Animals, Hebrew, Hebrew Bible, Land of Israel, Voltaire

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism