Tag Archives: Israel

Roman City That Was Home To Jesus’s Apostles Has Been Found In Israel, Archaeologists Say

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.   John 1:44

They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”   John 12:21

Archaeologists say they have discovered a lost Roman city that was home to three of Jesus’s apostles—Peter, Andrew and Philip—on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.

The Israeli researchers’ claim centers on the discovery of remains from a Roman-style bathhouse in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve, which is said to be the former location of the lost Roman city of Julias.  JNSMap Source:  Daily Mail UK

A team found a Roman-style bathhouse on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel that could be a remnant of Julias, the city that Peter, Andrew and Philip called home, Haaretz reported.

The bathhouse, uncovered at a site called el-Araj in the Bethsaida nature reserve, suggests that there was once a city in that location, as opposed to just a fishing village, which backs up information from the first-century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius — he wrote that the Jewish monarch King Philip Herod, son of Herod the Great, turned the Bethsaida fishing village into a Roman city.  IBTimes

The lost Roman city of Julias, home of three apostles of Jesus. Zachary Wong

Josephus Flavius – Bethsaida

None other than the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius – in fact the only source describing this city’s existence – wrote that the Jewish monarch King Philip Herod, son of the great vassal King Herod, transformed Bethsaida, which had been a Jewish fishing village, into a real Roman polis (Ant. 18:28. Though whether it was built on Bethsaida, or by it, remains unknown.)

Philip flatteringly renamed the city “Julias” after Livia Drusilla, who after marriage would become known as Julia Augusta, the mother of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.

“Josephus reported that the king had upgraded Bethsaida from a village into a polis, a proper city,” Aviam says meticulously. “He didn’t say it had been built on or beside or underneath it. And indeed, all this time, we have not known where it was. But the bathhouse attests to the existence of urban culture.”

Josephus himself would take over fortifying Bethsaida’s defenses (as reported by himself) ahead of the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome that began in 67 C.E., and would end in disaster for the Jews in 70 C.E.  Josephus himself claims to have been hurt in battle in the swamp near Julias (Life 399-403). Haaretz

Pottery shards and a mosaic were also found at the site.  The Roman layer was discovered is 211 meters (about 700 feet) below sea level.

A Roman bathhouse with mosaic fragments.Zachary Wong

What the archaeologists found at el-Araj is an older layer dating from the late Roman period, the 1st to 3rd centuries C.E., two meters below the Byzantine level. That Roman layer contained pottery sherds from the 1st to the 3rd centuries B.C.E., a mosaic, and the remains of the bathhouse. Two coins were found, a bronze coin from the late 2nd century and a silver denarius featuring the Emperor Nero from the year 65-66 C.E.

And has a major missing church been found too? The excavators found walls with gilded glass tesserae for a mosaic, an indication of a wealthy and important church. Willibald, the bishop of Eichstätt in Bavaria, visited the Holy Land in 725 C.E., and in his itinerary, he describes his visit to a church at Bethsaida that was built over the house of Peter and Andrew. It may well be that the current excavations have unearthed evidence for that church, say the archaeologists. Haaretz

Online:  Haaretz – The Lost Home of Jesus’ Apostles Has Just Been Found, Archaeologists Say

Russia Military In Southern Syria Near Israel’s Border

Russia is deploying troops to southern Syria, near the Israeli border, Ynet reports citing reports in Arabic-language media.

According to the Lebanese-based Al Mayadeen news channel, Russia is building a military base in the area of Quneitra and Dara’a, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. TimesOfIsrael

Russian military forces have replaced the Syrian regime’s military presence in Daraa and Quneitra in southern Syria, and have built a base in the area, Syrian opposition sources reported this week.

The move indicates that Russia intends to create a more permanent military presence near Israel’s northern border, and comes after the implementation of a Syrian cease-fire agreement brokered by the U.S. and Russia in July.

The Lebanon-based and Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen media network corroborated the reports, stating that Russian forces have been deployed in the region and are stationed in military posts shared with Syrian army units.

The Syrian army’s 4th division auxiliary force is the only regime unit due for complete withdrawal from southern Syria, while other Syrian military units will remain there, Al Mayadeen reported. Further, the Lebanese media outlet said Russia has built a military base between the city of Damascus and the suburb of Daraa.

Israeli officials remain concerned regarding the presence of the Syrian army as well as Hezbollah and Iranian forces in southern Syria. In July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia perpetuates the presence of Iranian forces near Israel. America and Russia responded to Netanyahu’s criticism by saying Israel’s interests would be taken into account in Syria.  JNS

Evidence Of Babylonian Destruction Of Jerusalem 2,600 Years Ago Unearthed In City Of David

He burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; even every large house he burned with fire.  Jeremiah 52:13

New finds in the City of David confirm the veracity of the biblical account of the Babylonian capture and conquest of First Temple period Jerusalem. The event is commemorated next Tuesday on the Hebrew date Tisha B’av (August 1) in a day of fasting and mourning, Israeli experts said.

According to Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dr. Joe Uziel, co-director of the current excavations at the City of David, findings discovered in the site’s eastern slope, including a row of 2,600-year-old rooms and their contents — all covered with visible layers of charcoal ash — aid in understanding the days leading up to and the act of the destruction.

Shattered jugs attesting to the destruction (Eliyahu Yanai/City of David Archive)

Within the collapsed rooms were uncovered rare artifacts, including a unique, apparently Egyptian, ivory statue of a nude woman, and smashed pottery jars with a rosette seal which was in royal use during the final decade before the fall of the First Temple, according to co-director Ortal Chalaf.

“These seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty. Classifying objects facilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields. The rosette, in essence, replaced the ‘For the King’ seal used in the earlier administrative system,” said Chalaf.

ivory statue in the image of a woman (Clare Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Additionally, charred remains of wood, grape seeds, and fish scales and bones will be carbon dated by members of the interdisciplinary cooperative team of Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists and Weizmann Institute scientists Elisabetta Boaretto and her postdoctoral fellow Johanna Regev, who were present at the dig site.

Researchers discovered dozens of jars used to store grains and liquids – many of which have stamped handles and rosette seals (Eliyahu Yanai/City of David Archive)

According to biblical descriptions, in 586 BCE, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar vanquished the Judaean king Zedekiah and razed his capital city, Jerusalem. The Babylonian captain of the guard Nebuzaradan was dispatched into the city, where, as told in the Book of Jeremiah, he “burned the house of the Lord, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great man’s house, burned he with fire.”

At the dig site, the rampant destruction caused by a fiery inferno is clearly seen. Burnt charcoal layers of destruction preserved flooring and utensils in situ, giving a stark picture of the immediacy of the blaze.  TimesOfIsrael

Video:   Evidence of Babylonian Destruction of Jerusalem Found at the City of David

1,600-Year-Old Byzantine-Era Stone Wine Press Found In The Ramat, Negev Region

Cool!

Digging in the ancient 1,600-year-old wine press in Ramat Negev. (Tali Gini, Israel Antiquities Authority)

A lare Byzantine-era wine press uncovered in the Negev region is only the second of its kind to be found…

According to the archaeologist of the southern Negev region Yoram Chaimi, the discovery of the wine press came as a complete surprise. “In the entire southern Negev region, there is only one other wine press that is included inside an enclosed structure, which is in [the Nabataean city] of Avdat,” also along the incense trade route.

Gini hypothesized as to why the wine press was abandoned. “In the middle of the sixth century CE, there was a disastrous plague, which led to less need of wine in the southern regions. After the plague, they continued to use the building, but not the winepress,” she said. At the end of the Byzantine period, the area was deserted.  TimesofIsrael

The wine press in Ramat Negev is intermeshed with a building. (Davida Dagan, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Wine-Making

Haimi, who is heading an ongoing dig aimed at unearthing the history of the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, took a moment to speak to The Jerusalem Post while supervising excavation of the ancient wine press.

“Wine-making at the time was done using human labor,” he said. “The workers would step on the grapes, then the pulp would be delivered to a basin where the clear liquid would surface and the dregs sink. This clear liquid is tirosh, the grape juice most Israelis associate with childhood Seder meals in which they were given the sweet, nonalcoholic tirosh to drink for the traditional four cups of wine.

“The tirosh would be moved to fermentation pots. Negev wines were held in very high esteem at the time, like the boutique wines of today,’ said Haimi.

Wine production in the region went smoothly until a plague in the sixth century CE led to the decline of wine-making in southern Israel. The wine industry came to halt with the Arab conquest of the Levant and the end of the Byzantine period.  Jpost

Impressive 2,700-Year-Old Water System Discovered In Central Israel

A major water system from the 1st Temple era was found in central Israel.

An impressively large 2,700-year-old water system was recently exposed at Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavations near Rosh Ha-Ayin, in central Israel, with the help of students majoring in the Education Ministry’s Land of Israel and Archaeology studies. The excavation precedes the construction of a new residential neighborhood initiated by the Ministry of Construction and Housing.

In antiquity, rainwater collection and storage was a fundamental necessity. With an annual rainfall of 500 mm [20 in], the region’s winter rains would easily have filled the huge reservoir. On its walls, near the entrance, human figures were identified, crosses, and a vegetal motif that were probably carved by a passersby in a later period. Overall, seven figures measuring 15–30 cm [6-12 in], most with outstretched arms and a few appear to be holding some kind of object.

The water system was found to be nearly 20 meters [66 ft] long and reaches a depth of over four meters [13 ft]. The excavations reveal that the reservoir was built beneath a large structure with walls that are all nearly 50 meters [164 ft] long. Some of the potsherds found on the floors of the rooms probably belonged to vessels used to draw water from the reservoir. It is highly likely that the structure and the reservoir were built at the end of the Iron Age (late eighth or early seventh century BC), but whereas the building was abandoned during the Persian period the reservoir was still in use until modern times.

High school students majoring in the Education Ministry’s Land of Israel and Archaeology track participated in the Rosh Ha-Ayin excavations as part of the Ministry and the IAA’s new educational program, which is designed to connect students with the past and train the archaeologists of tomorrow. Students opting for this track as part of their chosen matriculation assessment join an excavation for a week. They experience the various tasks involved in the excavation, discuss the research questions and archaeological considerations, and document the dig in the excavation journal as part of their research work.In recent years, a number of other farmsteads built at the end of the First Temple period have been discovered near Rosh Ha-Ayin. They were probably erected after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel in 720 BC, when the Assyrian empire dominated the region.

The establishment of farmhouses in this area is interesting, given the fact that many regions within the decimated kingdom of Israel remained desolate. Some scholars believe that the establishment of the farmsteads was motivated by the empire’s wish to settle the area, which lay on an international route and near the western border of the Assyrian empire. According to IAA excavation director, Gilad Itach, “The structure exposed in this excavation is different from most of the previously discovered farmsteads. Its orderly plan, vast area, strong walls, and the impressive water reservoir hewn beneath it suggest that the site was administrative in nature and it may well have controlled the surrounding farmsteads.”

In cooperation with the Ministry of Construction and Housing and Rosh Ha-Ayin Municipality, the IAA has plans for the site to remain an open area accessible to the public adjacent to the new residential neighborhood.

Video: Impressive 2,700-Year-Old Water System Discovered Near Rosh Ha-Ayin”>Impressive 2,700-Year-Old Water System Discovered Near Rosh Ha-Ayin.

Ancient Jugs Predating First Temple Unearthed At Shiloh

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.  Joshua 18:1

“The jugs, only some of which were broken, date to the time when the Jewish people first entered the land of Israel. “

The twisted ram’s horn shofar sounded loudly through the hills at Shiloh, signaling the end to another day’s search for the biblical holy tabernacle. As elusive as the Ark of the Covenant that it housed during the Israelites’ travels from Egypt through their settlement in Canaan, the tabernacle is depicted in the Bible (Exodus 25:8-9) as the earthly home for God — God’s “dwelling place” among his people.

Repeated excavations have attempted to find earthly evidence of the godly home, here at Shiloh and elsewhere. Similarly, many archaeologists have sought artifacts and evidence tying Joshua’s biblical Israelite conquest of Shiloh to this site. None has succeeded. TimesOfIsrael

Jugs unearthed at the site of the ancient city Shiloh, 2017. (Shiloh Association)

Ten ancient jugs unearthed at the Samaria site of the ancient city of Shiloh could lead researchers to new discoveries about the Jewish tabernacle that existed there before the First Temple was built in Jerusalem.

The jugs, only some of which were broken, date to the time when the Jewish people first entered the land of Israel. The vessels were unearthed approximately half a meter (20 inches) underground in a large room that is part of an ongoing archaeological excavation. The Bible attributes the tabernacle at Shiloh to the time of the High Priest Eli and the Prophet Samuel.

In recent years, the Archaeological Unit of Israel’s Civil Administration has been excavating together with the Shiloh Association. The goal of the work is to locate the southern wall of ancient Shiloh.

The Bible states in the in 1 Samuel 4, in the book of Jeremiah, and the Psalms that Shiloh was destroyed when the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, who also stole the Ark of the Covenant.

The newly discovered jugs indicate that in ancient times, the area was vacated abruptly, with residents not having enough time to collect and pack up their belongings. Among the jugs, the archaeologists also found a goblet known as a kobaat, a type of ritual chalice. The discovery of the kobaat ties in with the stone altar that was unearthed in the area a few years ago, and could indicate that researchers are closing in on the precise location of the Shiloh tabernacle.

Hanina Hizami, coordination officer for archaeology at the Civil Administration, said, “This is a very exciting find. The destruction could have been caused by the Philistine invasion and the fire that raged [at Shiloh].” BreakingNewsIsrael

Video: Shiloh Pictures and Pottery

Online:  Times of Israel – With Bibles and shovels, a search for the biblical tabernacle gathers pace at Shiloh

Israel Training The Next Generation Of ‘Cyber Wariors’

Innovation is vital to business success and national security.  In Israel is one of the most highly successful innovation machines, the high tech unit in Israeli intelligence known as 8200.

Lt.-Col. Yaniv Ossi is the commander of the computing school that trains high-tech soldiers.

In 1958 the IDF decided to acquire its first computer, a Philco 2000 Model 211. It was the size of a room.

“There was a debate over whether they should get a computer or build a new runway,” recalls Lt.-Col. Yaniv Ossi, the commander of the IDF’s elite cyber computing school. At the time, computing was a new technology. Philco, a San Francisco-based company, claimed its system could sort and process a ream of paper filled with data in 18 minutes. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, then-deputy chief of the General Staff and director-general of the Defense Ministry respectively, both supported the acquisition and saw that the future was in computing.

The most highly successful high tech unit in Israeli intelligence is 8200.

To get to the point where the IDF can pioneer new technologies and manage a battlefield that is increasingly technological requires a large number of soldiers proficient in computer science. The academy for computer science offers several courses. It doesn’t provide the exact numbers of soldiers it selects every year.

The priority is to find soldiers who can be programmers and write and develop code. Those who studied computer science in high school or have high cognitive skills are selected for a six-month course.

“They know how to deal with complex situations and information – those who know how to analyze by themselves and in teamwork and don’t need me to supervise all the time; those who are good at working under pressure,” says Ossi.

Only some 15% to 20% pass the rigorous selection tests. Ossi says thousands of applicants want to get into the unit.

Practical

“We teach them just what is practical,” asserts Ossi. The concept is to provide recruits with the precise tools for their marketplace – in this case not Silicon Valley, but the air force, army, navy, or other units that gather intelligence, such as Battalion 8200, the IDF’s Combat Intelligence Unit.

The unit is into open source IoT (Internet of Things) platforms and not re-inventing the wheel, but borrowing and using what works.

“I take what already exists outside the army and make it our own,” says Ossi. He understands these needs, because he studied engineering at Tel Aviv University and IT in the army. He was a technology officer and in Mamram working hands-on and learning about human resources.

Start-up machine that would help transform Israel’s economy 

Forbes called 8200 “Israel’s secret start-up machine,” whose veterans have gone on to found successful businesses, such as venture-capital firms. Ossi says that “it all begins here.” According to him, programmers and technicians are trained at the academy before being posted to the other storied units.

Their education also seeks to impart values, such as the purity of arms and professional ethics. “So we don’t take things we aren’t supposed to, or use it for things we aren’t supposed to,” Ossi says. The IDF won’t comment on any kind of offensive applications of its cyber technology…

School – Unit 8200 – Business

Ossi is also cognizant of the role that the school has in Israeli society. “I am in touch with the Education Ministry about influencing the training in high schools,” he explains.

“I want to influence the academic world. I know what I need and what they need, so I am also in touch with the industrial sector and the engineers. We need that in the country – those who exit at the top influence the economy of Israel and we are part of that. We are not alone.”  Full article at JPost

Recommended Resource:


Spies, Inc.: Business Innovation from Israel’s Masters of Espionage by Stacy Perman availible at Amazon.

Israeli Unit 8200 driving a global tech boom 

A former 8200 alum who called himself only “Brigadier General B,” told James Bamford of Wired, “This correlation between serving in the intelligence Unit 8200 and starting successful high-tech companies is not coincidental: Many of the technologies in use around the world and developed in Israel were originally military technologies and were developed and improved by Unit veterans.”

Companies using military-like tracking software is also not a new story….

Nokia’s “Dedicated Challenge” last year led to something called the “Interdependence and Predictability of Human Mobility and Social Interactions” algorithm. The algorithm used metadata from you and your contacts to predict, among other things, where you’ll be in 24 hours within a 20 meter radius.

Surely that type of algorithm could be used to market products to a customer, but researcher and writer of the winning software, Mirco Musolesi, had another idea: Pre-crime.

“Musolesi is hoping to work with law enforcement agencies to test how well the algorithm predicts future locations of crime,” wrote Parmy Olson of Forbes last year, “and he suggests using anonymous data from people on bail in the United Kingdom, who have been electronically tagged.”

It’s not unlike the system Israel’s Unit 8200 uses to track potential terrorist activities.

From The Guardian:  “A lot of the practices and the technology that we used in the army are used today at Stylit to address the problems we are aiming to solve in fashion,” said Yaniv Nissim, a former 8200 programmer who designed the company’s algorithm by combining the wisdom of former army tech geeks with fashion industry stylists. “The technology is mainly machine-learning technology. It’s how to take huge amounts of information and from that to understand users’ behavior.”

In short, there’s very little difference between tracking consumers and tracking terrorists.  BusinessInsider

Sarcopoterium Spinosum: Grows Mostly In Israel, A Beneficial Effect For Diabetes

Human clinical studies will be launched soon.

Its Hebrew name, sira kotzanit (thorny burnet). It’s a lowly and humble plant that requires a lot of sunlight, which is why the Land of Israel is practically covered in it, especially in desert areas. Its uses in the past have been as brooms and as drinking hole covers, to filter out the dirt. Now this is going to change radically, as Sarcopoterium Spinosum, the sole species within the genus Sarcopoterium, is going to save millions of lives.

In a few years, of course — for the moment this is still just the brainchild of Dr. Tovit Rosenzweig, of the Department of Molecular Biology and the Department of Nutrition Sciences, and Head of the Master’s Program in Biology at Ariel University – the only Israeli university in Samaria.

Dr. Rosenzweig’s research has led to the development of a drug based on Sarcopoterium Spinosum that could change the lives of more than 200 million diabetes sufferers worldwide, Walla reported Wednesday.

“In diabetes, the body’s ability to balance blood sugar is impaired,” says Dr. Rosenzweig. “Homeopathic medicine recognizes the virtues of Sarcopoterium Spinosum. We are investigating the plant’s effects using modern scientific methods.”

“The results of the studies we have done so far are impressive, showing a good effect on blood sugar levels,” she notes. “Insulin sensitivity is improving and we are about to launch the first clinical trial in humans.”

According to an Israeli homeopathic website, a German mission visited Syria in 1926 to investigate a rumor about Bedouins who cure diabetes using tea made from the thorny bush. A later research by Hebrew University Department of Pharmaceuticals confirmed those findings, locating the active ingredient in the root and bark of the plant.

Israeli residents looking for the cure today can go simply outside and find a bush of sira kotzanit practically everywhere in the countryside, make an extraction using the roots and drink it. Disclaimer: Of course, we do not recommend that you actually do that, we are not a medical publication nor do we have the authority to recommend homeopathic or other cures.  JewishPress

Jerusalem Dig Sheds Light On 2,000-Year-Old Eating Habits

Ancient Jerusalemites from the Second Temple period were kosher and dined primarily on sheep and goat, while cows and chickens came in a distant second and third, Tel Aviv University researchers reported in the most comprehensive study of its kind.

The ancient City of David landfill. (photo credit:ASSAF PEREZ, COURTESY OF IAA)

Gadot, a senior lecturer at the university’s department of archeology said on Sunday that the protracted dig took place some 800 meters from the Temple Mount.

“We began digging three years ago in a [ancient] landfill devoted to garbage disposal during the Roman occupation,” he said by phone. “One of the main components found there was food waste, including over 12,000 animal bones, of which we identified 5,000.”

An exhaustive analysis of the bones determined that Jerusalem’s ancient inhabitants strictly adhered to kosher dietary laws and primarily consumed sheep and goat meat.

“We found no pork bones or shellfish whatsoever and that 70 to 80% of the bones were from sheep and goat, with a little cow and chicken bones,” Gadot said.

“What was surprising was that there were no pigeon bones, because we know that they were [breeding] pigeons and that it was quite a big industry,” he said. “In the other landfills closer to the Temple Mount, past researchers found a lot of pigeon bones, and now we understand that they were not bred for food, but rather for cultic activities on the Temple Mount.”

Gadot added that a substantial amount of vegetable and fruit remnants, including figs and dates, were also found in the City of David landfill, although the researchers focused primarily on animal refuse.

“They were definitely eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, wheats and barleys, which we will study in future research,” he said.

Gadot said the cuts of meat from the animals indicates that the inhabitants of the ancient city were decidedly middle class.

“The better parts of the animals were not consumed, which shows us that they were not very rich and not very poor,” he said. “When you go to a restaurant, you see the good cuts of the animal, and we didn’t see that here.”

According to Gadot, the livestock, which were raised in herds nearby, were slaughtered at a facility in the capital.

“You can see by the marks on the bones how they were slaughtered,” he said. “We already had a basic idea of the diet then, but when you conduct research at a garbage dump, you see everything, so this is the most comprehensive study of its kind.”

Apart from the animal bones, Gadot said numerous antiquities, including coins and broken pottery, were discovered during the dig. JPost

The False Tyranny Narrative

Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim )is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem in June 1967.

Yom Yerushalayim [May 23, 2017] is still six weeks off, but foreign critics already have launched their attack.
In their view, there is no miraculous Six Day War victory to extol; no grand return to the Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria to toast; no historic reunification of Jerusalem to celebrate; no liberation and redemption to commemorate; no flowering of religious culture and national creativity to admire; no jubilee to enjoy. Not at all.

Instead, there is only an entrenched “occupation” of the West Bank to bemoan. Palestinian self-determination is being stifled, and this casts a pall over all.

Worse still, in their view, is that “Israel’s soul has been corrupted,” ostensibly, by the occupation.

The British Guardian got the ball rolling on this sullying narrative last week by giving full play to the nasty remarks of former GSS chiefs Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon at a Jerusalem event in support of Breaking the Silence and Babur Gallery.

Gillon painted a bleak picture of Israel’s political trajectory, saying that the country was being “driven by the occupation towards disaster”. He added: “This country was established on the values of liberal democracy; values we don’t fulfill any more. You can analyze what happened to us in the last 50 years, but everything is under the shade of occupation. It has changed us a society. It has made us an unpleasant society.”

Ayalon dove even deeper into calumny by alleging that Israel is being overtaken by a process of “incremental tyranny.” He cited recent moves by ministers in the Netanyahu government to change the laws to hit groups such as Breaking the Silence by banning them from events in schools and targeting their funding, while also “taking aim” at the country’s supreme court and independence of the media.

In short, all liberal, progressive, democratic, good and holy values are being crushed by the shadow of occupation. Yada, yada, yada.

This is a very dangerous and delegitimizing storyline. The Guardian, of course, ate it up.

By perpetuating myths about the illegality and immorality of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria; by exaggerating the impact of Israel’s military rule in the territories and minimizing the evils of Palestinian kleptocracy and intransigence; and by insinuating a non-existent trend towards dictatorship in Israeli society and politics – these critics threaten to smear Israel permanently with the stink of a decaying carcass.

This cannot be tolerated. Such defamation cannot be brooked. Israeli and Jewish leaders worldwide must push back hard against such slander, beginning now. Otherwise, every newspaper around the globe is going to echo the same malevolent messages in their coverage of the June jubilee.

Israel must assert loudly and clearly that its return to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is legitimate, not immoral. Its security control of the “Greater Israel” envelope is a source of regional stability, not conflict. The absence of peace and mutual recognition stems from Palestinian rejectionism, not a lack of Israeli imagination.  JPost by David M. Weinberg

Israel Turns 69

Video:  Faces of Israel

As Israel turns 69 the Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the Jewish state today has 8.680 million citizens, 10 times more Jews than at its founding.

The report cited that at the founding of the state in 1948, there were 11.5 million Jews in the world, of whom 6% were living in Israel. In contrast, in 2015 there were 14.411 million Jews in the world, 43% of whom were living in Israel. The country is rapidly approaching the tipping point where the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel.

Since last year, the country’s population grew by some 159,000 people, marking a 1.9% increase, the report found.

In addition, the figures showed that 174,000 babies were born this past year, while 44,000 deaths were recorded.

With regard to aliya, some 30,000 immigrants arrived this past year.

According to the report, three-quarters of Israel’s Jewish population are Sabras, native-born Israelis. This figure is more than double the percentage in 1948.

The report compared today’s Israel and the newborn state in a number of areas.

For example, in 1948 Israel had only one city – Tel Aviv – with more than 100,000 residents. (Jaffa was annexed to Tel Aviv in 1950.)

Today, 14 cities have populations of more than 100,000 residents, of which eight – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Rishon Lezion, Ashdod, Petah Tikva, Netanya and Beersheba – have more than 200,000 residents.

The report found that in 2016, the GDP stood at NIS 1.2 billion – 46 times greater than in 1950, when Israel’s GDP stood at NIS 25.6b.

Furthermore, the data showed that in 1955, Israel faced a 7.2% unemployment rate compared to 4.8% in 2016. JPost

Mother-of-Pearl Menorah Etching Found In Ancient Caesarea

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists discovered a first of its kind 1,500-year-old mother-of-pearl tablet inscribed
with a six-branched menorah near a Roman-era temple dedicated to Augustus Caesar.

A 1,500-year-old mother-of-pearl tablet, etched with a menorah, that was recently discovered in Caesarea. (Clara Amit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

According to Gendelman [Israel Antiques Authority archaeologist ] the small slab of mother-of-pearl, likely dating from the late Roman-Byzantine period of the 4th-5th centuries CE, “points to clear Jewish presence at Caesarea during this period.”

The tablet came from what was “probably some kind of box,” he added, “I can even say probably for a Sefer Torah,” the handwritten scroll containing the first five books of the Old Testament that lie at the heart of Jewish law.

It was found near the Augusteum, the temple dedicated to Herod’s patron Augustus, which dominated the harbor in antiquity. Gendelman and his team also found Augusteum’s altar and part of a Greek inscription that has yet to be studied.  TimesofIsrael