Rare biblical ‘balsam tree’ found depicted on 2000-year-old amethyst seal

The small lilac stone featuring the engraving of a bird and a branch with five fruits had fallen in the main drainage channel of Jerusalem from the Second Temple period.

By ROSSELLA TERCATIN   OCTOBER 21, 2021 07:15

 Amethyst stone depicting balsam tree.  (photo credit: ELIYAHU YANAI/CITY OF DAVID)

Amethyst stone depicting balsam tree. (photo credit: ELIYAHU YANAI/CITY OF DAVID)

In the last decades before the destruction of the Second Temple Period, someone, a Jew, possibly a pilgrim, walked on the imposing road that connected the Shiloah Pool at the outskirts of Jerusalem with the Temple Mount. For the important occasion, he wore its most precious clothes and ornaments, including a delicate ring bearing an engraved lilac amethyst stone.

But in the crowd, the ring broke, the stone slipped on the floor and then in the underground drainage channel.

Some 2,000 years later the tiny artifact was retrieved by volunteers sifting through soil dug during an archaeological excavation in the area. After examining it, the experts found an additional surprise: the iridescent stone probably features the first-ever known depiction of a plant prominently mentioned in the Bible as well as in later Jewish and historical sources, as the City of David, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority jointly announced on Thursday.

Known as ‘balm of Gilead,’ (tzari in Hebrew), balsam tree (nataf) or later in the Mishnaic period ‘persimmon,’ the plant – whose modern scientific name is commiphora gileadensis – was used to produce perfumes, incense and medicines.The elongated branch bearing five fruits engraved on the stone caught the experts’ attention because it appeared to be something different from any other species ever found portrayed on seals from the time.

 A building on the Pilgrimage Road in the City of David. (credit: KOBY HARATI/CITY OF DAVID) A building on the Pilgrimage Road in the City of David. (credit: KOBY HARATI/CITY OF DAVID)

“Towards the end of the Second Temple Period, the use of stone stamps expanded and became more common, but in most stamps discovered so far with plant engravings, it is common to find plants that were common in Israel at the time: vines, dates, and olives, which are among the seven species, but on this stone seal, we immediately noticed that the fruit that appears on it, is unlike any of the fruits we have encountered to date,” said Prof. Shua Amorai-Stark, an expert in engraved gems.

In Genesis, when Jacob’s sons sit for their meal after throwing their brother Joseph into a pit, they decide to sell him into slavery after seeing “a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels bearing gum, balm, and ladanum to be taken to Egypt.”

Later on, in Exodus, the species is included by God in the ingredients for incense.

“The Eternal said to Moses: ‘They shall bring to you fragrant spices, sap of a balsam tree, onycha, galbanum, and other fragrant spices with pure frankincense. Each of them shall be of the same weight, and make of it incense, a perfume after the art of the perfumer, mixed together, pure and holy,” read two verses in the 30th chapter.

The balm of Gilead was also known to be a component of the favorite perfume of the legendary Queen of Egypt Cleopatra.

“This is an important find because it may be the first time a seal has been discovered in the entire world with an engraving of the precious and famous plant, which until now we could only read about in historical descriptions,” said archaeologist Eli Shukron, who conducted the excavation at the foundations of the Western Wall on behalf of the IAA and the City of David.

The seal was found by participants in the project “Archaeological Experience” at the Emek Tzurim National Park supported by the City of David and the Nature and Parks Authority.

The oval stone, approximately 10 mm. long and 5 mm. wide also features a bird, probably a dove.The experts noted that both the tree and the dove embodied good fortune and success.

“The balsam plant is a positive symbol because beyond the fact that it was used to produce perfumes and medicines, the ancient persimmon, which by the way is not at all similar to today’s persimmon, was attributed magical and ceremonial properties and is one of the ingredients used for making the Temple incense during the Second Temple Period –  which is when this seal was made,” Shukron noted.

“The dove is also a positive motif in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Jewish world,” said Amorai-Stark. “It symbolizes wealth, happiness, goodness and success.”

According to the expert, the owner of the rings was likely a wealthy person. “The production and trade that took place around the persimmon plant were tightly controlled at the time by Jews living in the Dead Sea basin, where the fruit was grown,” Amorai-Stark remarked.

“I guess the owner of the seal was a man who owned a persimmon orchard, and when he came to the craftsman who made the ring for him, it is possible he may have brought a branch of persimmon so that the craftsman knew what to carve on the stone.” 

At the “Appointed Time”

This Week’s Parsha – VeYeira

In ‘This Week’s Parsha – VeYeira’ (B’rashith – Genesis 18.14) we find the phrase: ‘At the “Appointed Time” ‘ ….

14 “… Is anything hidden from the L-RD? At the appointed time, I will return to you, at this time next year and Sarah will have a son.”

Now as an initial question, we must ask ourselves: ‘How did Avraham know what time of year it was?’ And how did he know what the phrase: “At the appointed time” meant? Or rather, when did he know what the phrase meant?

In Mishnah Pesachim [6.2] there appears the similar phrase: ‘master, give me an appointed time for these….’ in relationship to a discussion as to what obligatory commandments, (as opposed to voluntary commandments) there are that override the Torah’s prohibition of working on the Shabbat which may therefore be performed on the Shabbat.

So, we must ask, is there a connection between the two phrases? Or rather, what is the Torah saying by specifying an “appointed time” (Heb. mo’ed)?

Midrash Genesis Rabbah states that the Patriarchs – Avraham, Yitzchaq and Ya’acov (Yisrael) learned Torah in the Tents of Shem and Eber.

In B’rashith 15.5 it says, “And He brought him forth abroad, and said: ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, if thou be able to count them’; and He said unto him: ‘So shall thy seed be.'”

And in Tehillim 147.4 it says, “He counteth the number of the stars; He giveth them all their names.”

Since the Mishnah discusses the issue [shevut] of sprinkling “para adumah” (waters of the red heifer) and rules that “sprinkling does not over-ride the Shabbat” as it does not have “an appointed time;” we must clarify that it too indeed has “appointed times” (on the third day and on the seventh day), yet it [sprinkling] is qualified by the “Laws of Pesach Sheni” –

A year after the Exodus, G‑d instructed the people of Israel to bring the Passover offering on the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nissan, and to eat it that evening, roasted over the fire, together with matzah and bitter herbs, as they had done the previous year just before they left Egypt.

“There were, however, certain persons who had become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, and could not, therefore, prepare the Passover offering on that day. They approached Moses and Aaron . . . and they said: ‘. . . Why should we be deprived, and not be able to present G‑d’s offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?’” (Numbers 9:6–7).

In response to their plea, G‑D established the 14th of Iyar as a day for the “Second Passover” (Pesach Sheni) for anyone who was unable, (as opposed to one who is unwilling) to bring the offering on its appointed time in the previous month.

That is, the Mishnah seems to be saying that, “sprinkling does not override the Shabbat” – one who is unclean [ritually defiled] by contact with the dead must be sprinkled with waters containing the ashes of the red heifer on the third day and the seventh day. If one is still ritually defiled “on Shabbat” [which, in and of itself is ‘an appointed time’] and has yet to be sprinkled with the waters of the red heifer “on his seventh day” [of ritual defilement], which happens to fall on the 14th of Nissan, he delays sprinkling until after Shabbat and brings his Korban Pesach on the 14th of Iyyar rather than on the 14th of Nissan.

This is because the Torah (B’midbar 19.19) specifies that the one ritually defiled by corpse tumah becomes ritually clean at night following seven full days of corpse tumah (Tumah Met).

So why does the Torah specify “on the Third Day” and “on the Seventh Day” – that is, what is significant about these two days?

The Third Day of Creation the earth brought forth herb bearing seed, (“after the waters were separated from the earth”) and matza [unleavened bread] consists solely of flour and water, while we are told that the Israelites were to be ready [purified or sanctified] on the Third Day for on the Third Day HaShem descended onto Mount Sinai.

In the daily Temple Service on the Third day of the week, the Levites would sing Tehillim 82 which has as it’s central theme justice (Rosh Hashanah 31a) The Maharsha explains “that the theme of this Psalm, the maintenance of equity and justice is a prerequisite for the continued existence of the world which was revealed on the Third Day.”

So why, or rather how is justice connected to Pesach? The answer to this particular question rests in the words of the Pesach Haggadah “Let all who are hungry come and eat.”

The Seventh Day of Creation “HaShem ceased from His creative activity” and “Blessed the Seventh Day, sanctifying it”

In Shmoth 16.29 we read: “And G-D told Moses to let no one go out of one’s place on the seventh day ….” so these two days imply mastery, restraint and sanctification over or of the basics of life.

Here is the Mishnah

6:2

Introduction This mishnah contains an extended debate between Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Akiva concerning what overrides the Shabbat. In order to understand the mishnah we should briefly remind ourselves of the laws of Shabbat. There are two categories of prohibited labor mentioned here and critical for understanding this mishnah’s arguments: 1) a forbidden labor; 2) mandated rest, which is called shevut. The former prohibitions are considered to be directly from the Torah (de’oraita) and are more serious than the latter which are only of rabbinic origin (derabbanan). The three activities focused upon in this mishnah are: 1) Slaughtering the pesah. Slaughtering an animal on Shabbat is a forbidden labor. 2) Carrying the pesah on one’s shoulders through the public domain or bringing it outside the Shabbat border. These are considered to be prohibitions of shevut because “a living thing carries itself”, that is it is not considered to be a biblical violation of carrying on Shabbat to carry a living thing. Also, the prohibition of leaving the Shabbat border is considered by most sages to be only of rabbinic origin. 3) Sprinkling red heifer water on a person who has come into contact with the dead. This is not done on Shabbat even though it is only a shevut prohibition. Finally, it is not often that we get a chance to see in the Mishnah how the sages actually argued. While we certainly do not have here a “recording” of their exchanges, even the literary record affords a fascinating glimpse into their intellectual world.

Rabbi Eliezer said: is it not logical: if slaughtering, which is [usually forbidden] as a labor, overrides Shabbat, shouldn’t these, which are [only forbidden] as mandated rest (, override Shabbat? Rabbi Eliezer’s first argument is straightforward. The sages admitted in mishnah one that slaughtering the pesah is permitted on Shabbat. Slaughtering an animal on Shabbat is a violation of one of the forbidden labors of Shabbat. If a forbidden labor is permitted, shouldn’t carrying the animal, which is only an issue of shevut, also be permitted.

Rabbi Joshua said to him: let the festival prove this, for they permitted labor [on the festival] and forbade [activities forbidden because of] shevut. Rabbi Joshua responds that Rabbi Eliezer’s argument is not decisive because of the issue of work on the festival. Generally on a festival it is permitted to slaughter an animal and cook it because one is allowed to prepare food on Shabbat. These activities were permitted even though they are forbidden labors. Nevertheless, when it came to issues of shevut, for instance carrying something from outside the Shabbat border, the sages did not permit these types of activities on a festival. Therefore, it makes sense in the case of the pesah for the sages to be strict with regard to shevut infractions and lenient with regard to forbidden labors.

Rabbi Eliezer said to him: what is this, Joshua? What proof is a voluntary act in respect of a commandment! Rabbi Eliezer responds that Rabbi Joshua’s analogy is not good. Preparing food on a festival is a voluntary act and hence the rabbis could be strict and forbid shevut violations. However, eating the pesah is a commandment and hence the law should be lenient and allow shevut violations.

Rabbi Akiva answered and said: let sprinkling [purificatory waters] prove it, which is [performed] because it is a commandment and is [forbidden only] as a shevut, yet it does not override Shabbat; so you too, do not wonder at these, that though they are [required] on account of a commandment and are [forbidden only] as shevut, yet they do not override Shabbat. Rabbi Akiva, ever the creative sage, steps in after Rabbi Joshua’s argument fails and employs a new analogy. Purificatory waters are sprinkled on a person who has contracted corpse impurity on the third and seventh days of the purification process. However, if the seventh day is Shabbat, the fourteenth of Nisan, they are not sprinkled even though this is necessary to allow the person to be pure and eat his pesah in the evening. The prohibition of sprinkling the water is only one of shevut, and it is a mitzvah and nevertheless it remains prohibited on Shabbat. So too, the carrying of the pesah on the shoulders and outside of the border remain prohibited even though they are for a mitzvah and only prohibited due to shevut.

Rabbi Eliezer said to him: but in respect of that I am arguing: if slaughtering, which is a labor, overrides Shabbat, is it not logical that sprinkling, which is [only] a shevut, should override Shabbat! Rabbi Eliezer basically answers that he disagrees concerning that halakhah as well. Just as carrying the animal is shevut and therefore overrides Shabbat, so too sprinkling which is shevut also should override Shabbat.

Rabbi Akiva said to him: or the opposite: if sprinkling, which is [forbidden] as a shevut, does not override Shabbat, then slaughtering, which is [normally forbidden] on account of labor, is it not logical that it should not override Shabbat. Rabbi Akiva responds that now that Rabbi Eliezer is trying to overturn traditions (that we don’t sprinkle the purificatory water on Shabbat), he too can overturn a tradition. If we don’t sprinkle the water, even though it is only shevut, then all the more so we shouldn’t slaughter the animal which is a forbidden labor. Rabbi Akiva does not really wish to rule that we shouldn’t slaughter the pesah on Shabbat. What he means to do is reject Rabbi Eliezer’s argument.

Rabbi Eliezer said to him: Akiva! You are uprooting what is written in the Torah, “at twilight, offer it at its set time” (Numbers 9:3), both on week-days and on Shabbat. Rabbi Eliezer responds that the Torah explicitly mandates that the pesah be slaughtered on the fourteenth even if this is on Shabbat. Hence, the argument that Rabbi Akiva was trying to make in section six would directly contradict the Torah.

He said to him: master, give me an appointed time for these as there is an appointed season for slaughtering! Rabbi Akiva returns to the original argument. The Torah specifically mandates an appointed time for the slaughtering of the pesah. Hence slaughtering overrides Shabbat. The other labors which are not specified by the Torah do not override the Shabbat. This is basically the end of the argument. In the end only activities that seem to be specifically mandated by the Torah are allowed on Shabbat. Rabbi Akiva stated a general rule: work which could be done on the eve of Shabbat does not override Shabbat; slaughtering, which could not be done on the eve of Shabbat, does override Shabbat. The mishnah ends with the same general principle that Rabbi Akiva iterated in Shabbat 19:1 any labor which can be performed before Shabbat must be performed then and does not override Shabbat, but any labor which cannot be performed until Shabbat itself does override Shabbat. Slaughtering the pesah cannot be done before Shabbat, hence it overrides the Shabbat. Carrying the pesah could have been done earlier, hence it does not override the Shabbat. The fact that the mishnah ends with Rabbi Akiva’s opinion is a clear expression of the Mishnah’s general connection to Rabbi Akiva and his school.

So why does the Torah emphasize the term mo’ed?

First, in connection with the Three Angels’ “Annunciation of the Birth of Yitzchaq” and then, exclusively in connection with those who were commanded to bring the Korban Pesach – Bnai Yisrael and third, or finally in connection with Pesach Sheni and those Yisraelim who were ritually defiled with corpse tumah.

We must also ask, ‘Why does the Torah say that they were ritually defiled by corpse tumah?’ Within this question another question is subsumed –

How did they know they were “ritually defiled” since the laws of corpse tumah were given by Moshe in B’midbar (Numbers) 19 and the Torah relates the story of those who initiated the laws of Pesach Sheni in B’midbar 9.6-14?

Only those who are Jews keep or observe the Hebrew calendar as it says, “This shall be the beginning of months for you. On the 14th day of Nissan….” (and, “Three times a year shall all your males appear before HaShem….”)

And as the Navi (Prophet) Yeshiyahu (Isaiah) said, “you are My Witnesses says the L-RD!” that is, only Jews are HaShem’s witnesses of revealed monotheism as it says, “You saw no form….” and, “You saw the sound of the words….” and, “I am the L-RD your G-D Who took you out of the land of Mitzrayim.”

The word for “appointed time” – mo’ed is related to the word ayd – witness and specifically related to the term ‘ohel mo’ed’ – tent of testimony –

Perhaps the answer to our multifaceted question lies in our Parsha – VeYeira:

17 “And the L-RD said, “Shall I conceal from Abraham what I am doing?

18 And Abraham will become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the world will be blessed in him.

19 For I have known him because he commands his sons and his household after him, that they should keep the way of the L-RD to perform righteousness and justice, in order that the L-RD bring upon Abraham that which He spoke concerning him.”

Or perhaps we might reference the passuk, “and on the third day Avraham looked up and saw the place from afar” (B’rashith 22.4) or the passuk, “Be ready against the third day” (Shmoth 19.11)

We know that “the place” Avraham saw from afar was the Mountain (Moriah) “where the L-RD [that is, where the L-RD’s Mercy] is perceived” which HaShem told Avraham about (B’rashith 22.2); so how did B’nai Yisrael know they were ritually defiled before the “Third Day?”

Keeping in mind that, “This shall be the beginning of months for you….” and that only Jews refer to their teachers as “Rabbis” which is rooted in the word Rav for “great” (as in a great mind which has mastered many subjects) we can safely say that Jews are “Masters of the Holy Calendar,” in imitation of HaShem – This is why the Torah says, “and they shall be for signs and seasons and days and years” and also: “and let them have dominion over….”

The Hebrew (Jewish) calendar is, in a sense, an opportunity to repair the world for the sins of eating (B’rashith 3.6), murder (B’rashith 4.8), etc. …!

Our Sages state that the Patriarch’s kept the Torah even before the Revelation at Har Sinai.

With this in mind, we might draw the conclusion that those who were ritually defiled (apparently from carrying the bones of Yoseph) knew from the Patriarchs their ‘status’ for they heard from Yoseph that they would be “visited” by HaShem (B’rashith 50.24); even as HaShem revealed Pesach to Avraham at the “Covenant Between the Parts” (B’rashith 15.13-16) and at the Akeidah (B’rashith 22.16-17) the “Redemption from Mitzrayim” and this Mesorah (tradition), the Jewish calendar was handed down by Yoseph (B’rashith 50.21) to the Tribe of Levi.

Hence the Torah says, “This shall be the beginning of months for you.”

Smotrich: We won’t let Mansour Abbas take our sovereignty in Jerusalem

Religious Zionism party MKs tour site of yesterday’s Arab riots near Damascus Gate, blame government’s reliance on Ra’am party.

Tags: Bezalel Smotrich Riots Damascus Gate Mansour Abbas Arutz Sheva Staff , Oct 20 , 2021 6:01 PM Share
Religious Zionism party MKs at Damascus Gate

Religious Zionism party MKs at Damascus Gate Shulo Shalom/TPS

MKs from the Religious Zionism party toured the area of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon following the violent riots which occurred at the site yesterday.

The party’s chairman, MK Bezalel Smotrich, said that “sovereignty in Jerusalem cannot be captured in the hands of Mansour Abbas. We came here because every evening Jews are attacked and harassed in the capital.”

“Bennett’s subservience to Mansour Abbas and the Islamic Movement is leading to the loss of governance over large areas across the country. The rioters understand that the government is limited in its ability to act against them and they take advantage of this to establish facts on the ground. This is happening in all the cities, in the Negev, in the cities involved and now also in the attempt to expropriate our right to the city of Jerusalem and to de facto divide Jerusalem. We are here to tell the Arab rioters and terrorists it will not happen,” Smotrich said,

According to him, “Our Jerusalem, which belongs to the people of Israel, will last forever and the rioters cannot harm our eternal capital.”

Earlier, Yehezkel Shmuel, the driver of the bus that was attacked by Arab stone throwers near the Damascus Gate, recalled the moments of terror he and his passengers experienced.

“People saw death approaching and started shouting ‘Shema Yisrael,'” Shmueli told Galai Tzahal (IDF Radio).

“I told them to get down, like we do during a war. I hit the gas and fled. When I got stuck in a traffic jam I called the police – and received another barrage of stones. I thought that was the end,” he said.

Keep Jerusalem calls for renewal of the site of King Saul’s palace

Arutz Sheva speaks to Chaim Silberstein, President of Im Eshkachech – Keep Jerusalem, about the abandoned site of King Saul’s palace.

Tags: Jerusalem Jordan Shaul Yoni Kempinski , Oct 20 , 2021 6:44 PM Share

The site of King Saul’s palace in Jerusalem, Givat Shaul, has been sitting abandoned for years and Chaim Silberstein, Founder and President of Im Eshkachech – Keep Jerusalem, is calling on the Israeli government to rehabilitate the area.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Silberstein explains that the site, also called Tel El Ful, has been abandoned by the Israeli government due to longtime pressure from the Jordanian government.

“It’s real name is Givat Shaul, the place where King Saul had his palace over 3,000 years ago. An amazing place with an amazing view, and historical and archeological importance,” Silverstein says.

“Unfortunately, the government of Israel has abandoned this place, probably because of the Jordanian pressure. King Hussein and his son afterwards King Abdullah claim this area belongs to them. How can that be if their whole occupation of Jerusalem between 1949 and 1967 was illegal?”

By law, the site belongs to the gov of Israel, he explains.

“The Jordanians say it’s theirs because they confiscated five acres of this area to build a summer palace for King Hussein. That’s simply not true according to International law. And this land belongs to the State of Israel. And it is so important that we have to come back here and revive it and rebuilt it up and at least to do archeological excavations here to uncover more of our amazing history here in Jerusalem.”

When asked why Israel has kept the status quo in the area even before the peace treaty with Jordan, Silberstein replies that even in 1994 when King Hussein signed the peace agreement with Rabin, Hussein “demanded that both the Temple Mount and Tel el-Ful which we know as Givat Shaul would be under the sovereignty of Jordan. Rabin refused. But the area was still abandoned by the government of Israel.”

The last archeological dig there was in 1964 when the Jordanian government conducted salvaging excavations, according to Silverstein.

Im Eshkachech – Keep Jerusalem tried to pressure the Israeli government to renew archeological excavations. But so far, the status quo remains.

However, over the previous hundred years, many amazing archeological finds were made at the site dating back 3,000 years.

“This is the place that King Saul established as his palace. Certainly that has great historic archeological and Biblical importance for the Jewish people,” he says.

What are Silverstein’s demands of the Israeli government?

He is calling for the site to be rehabilitated.

“Let’s bring tourists and visitors, both locally and internationally, in to see this amazing place that’s got incredible views, to connect to our amazing history of more than 3,000 years,” Silverstein says.

Bereaved Families to Blinken: ‘US Consulate for Palestinians will encourage terrorism’

Families of Israeli victims of Arab terror press US Secretary of State to nix plans to reopen US consulate in Jerusalem for PA.

Tags:Im Tirtzu Arutz Sheva Staff , Oct 20 , 2021 12:06 PM Share
Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken צילום: רויטרס

More than 150 bereaved Israeli families sent a letter this week to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, calling on him to halt plans to open a US consulate in Jerusalem that would provide services to Palestinians.

The letter, authored by the Choosing Life Forum of Bereaved Families together with the pro-Israel organization Im Tirtzu, was drafted following reports that the US is committed to opening the consulate.

“As our close friend and ally, the United States should respect the unbreakable connection between the Jewish People and Jerusalem, especially when attempts to break this connection will lead to increased violence,” the letter said.

The letter continued: “Opening a diplomatic mission for Palestinians in Jerusalem would be a catastrophic blow for stability and calm in Jerusalem, as it would clearly reward decades of unremitting Palestinian intransigence and hostility towards Israel. It would send the clear message that the Palestinian Authority’s goal of dividing Jerusalem can be achieved through terrorism, violence and bloodshed, and not through meaningful negotiations.”

“Only once the Palestinians come to terms with the reality – that Jerusalem is Israel’s undivided capital – can there be any hope of peace.”

The signatories to the letter included Geula and David Malka, the parents of Hadas Malka who was murdered in Jerusalem; Herzl and Merav Hajaj, the parents of Shir Hajaj who was murdered in Jerusalem; Yael Shevach, the widow of Rabbi Raziel Shevach who was murdered in Samaria; and dozens of other bereaved families.

The families pointed out that consular services could just as well be rendered to Palestinians outside of Jerusalem.

“US citizens living abroad require a place to receive consular services, but such services can be just as well provided to Palestinians with US citizenship in Ramallah or in any other city under Palestinian Authority control.”

“As our closest friend and ally, we ask that you respect our sovereignty in Jerusalem and cease all efforts that could harm Jerusalem and Israel,” the letter concluded.

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg said: “Apart from the fact that opening the consulate would trample Israeli sovereignty and lacks even the minimal respect deserving of an ally, it also sends a message to the Palestinians that resistance and intransigence pays off.”

“The only thing that this move will achieve is encouraging terrorism,” Peleg concluded.

US victims of terror ask Supreme Court to review dismissal of suit against British bank

Amicus briefs filed asking Supreme Court to review federal appeals court dismissal of case against British bank accused of aiding terror.

Tags:Terrorism Shira Hanau, JTA , Oct 20 , 2021 5:00 PM Share
US Supreme Court

US Supreme Court iStock

More than 15 years have passed since the end of the Second Intifada, but some American victims of the terror attacks from that period have not given up on their legal battle to hold a British bank accountable for allegedly aiding the terrorists responsible.

A group of about 200 Americans with family members harmed in the early 2000s attacks in Israel are asking the Supreme Court to review a decision by a federal appeals court decision from April of this year. The appeals court dismissed their suit against the bank due to lack of evidence that the bank “funded terrorist attacks or recruited persons to carry out such attacks,” or received any indication that the bank transfers were made for the purpose of terrorism.

Several Jewish organizations, including Agudath Israel, the Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah and the Orthodox Union, filed an amicus brief last week on behalf of the terror victims. Another amicus brief was filed by a group U.S. senators from both parties, including Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marco Rubio and Joni Ernst.

The group originally sued the National Westminster Bank, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland, in 2005 over claims that a charity called Interpal, which held accounts at the bank, was acting as a fundraising arm for Hamas — the Palestinian group that governs the Gaza Strip and is designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and Israel.

U.S. authorities had also designated Interpal as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization, but the federal appeals judge still dismissed the case.

In 2014, the United States Second Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act required plaintiffs to show that the bank knew or was indifferent to Interpal’s support for Hamas, “irrespective of whether Interpal’s support aided terrorist activities of the terrorist organization,” according to Reuters.

But in April 2021, the same appeals court dismissed the case for lack of evidence that Interpal “funded terrorist attacks or recruited persons to carry out such attacks,” and “Interpal did not indicate to NatWest that the transfers were for any terroristic purpose.”

At least 14 Iranian officers killed in double Damascus bus blast

Two explosive devices reportedly went off as the bus was crossing a bridge. No organization has claimed responsibility. By Daniel Siryoti and Damian Pachter Syrian security forces inspect the site of the explosion on a bus in central Damascus, Oct. 20, 2021. Source: Twitter/Sky News.

Syrian security forces inspect the site of the explosion on a bus in central Damascus, Oct. 20, 2021.

Source: Twitter/Sky News.

(October 20, 2021 / Israel Hayom) At least 14 people were killed and several others were wounded in central Damascus on Wednesday morning in an explosion on a Syrian military bus, Syrian state TV reported.

According to additional reports from Syrian and Lebanese outlets, the casualties were Iranian officers.

Syrian state TV showed footage of the charred bus, reporting that the blasts occurred while people were heading to work and school.

As of yet, according to the reports, no organization has claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred at a main bus-transfer point under the Hafez al-Assad bridge, where vehicles converge and head out to different neighborhoods of the capital. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

Two explosive devices reportedly went off as the bus was on the bridge, the reports said, adding that a third device was defused by an army engineering unit.

The explosion was the deadliest in Damascus in years. It was also a rare occurrence in recent years, since the capture by Syrian government forces of suburbs formerly held by Sunni Islamist insurgents in the country’s decade-long conflict.

“It is a cowardly act,” Damascus police commander Maj. Gen. Hussein Jumaa told state TV, adding that a police force had cordoned off the area immediately and made sure that there were no more bombs. He urged people to inform authorities about any suspicious object they see.

The civil war in Syria that began in March 2011 has left more than 350,000 people dead and displaced half the country’s population, including five million who are refugees abroad.

This report first appeared in Israel Hayom.

US lawmakers vow to defend Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria

‘We have your back.’ Bipartisan group of lawmakers pledge to defend Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria from push for building freeze.

Tags: US Congress Judea And Samaria Yossi Dagan Hezki Baruch , Oct 20 , 2021 11:35 AM Share
Dagan and Chris Smith (NJ-4)

Dagan and Chris Smith (NJ-4) צילום: דוברות

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill vowed to back Israel’s right to build in Judea and Samaria and to block efforts to impose a building freeze on Israeli communities beyond the Green Line.

Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan met with members of Congress from both parties during his ongoing trip to Washington DC, which is aimed at coordinating opposition to efforts by the Biden administration to press Israel to freeze all construction in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.

During the past three days, Dagan has met with more than 20 Republicans and Democrats from both the Senate and the House.

Congressman Bob Good, a Republican who represents Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, vowed his support for Dagan’s efforts to prevent a building freeze.

“I am happy to be here with my friend from Israel, and I stand firm in my support – we stand strongly with you, and we respect and support your rights.”

Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District, also expressed his support.

“Welcome to Washington, Regional Council chairman. I want to thank you for the vision you’ve presented here, and I want you to know that there are great hopes and an expectation that better days are coming. We are full of appreciation for your work as Regional Council chairman of Samaria. You’ve shown that you can stand up to the pressure. Thank you. We stand by your side.”

Andy Barr, (KY-R), expressed his desire to visit Samaria in the future.

“I would definitely love to come back [to Israel] and visit Samaria and meet with the wonderful people who live there. We stand by you. The ties between us are unbreakable.”

Chuck Fleischmann (TN-R) called himself a “big supporter of you, the wonderful people living in Samaria.”

During his meeting with Dagan, New York Republican Lee Zeldin spoke with the Samaria chief about plans to organize US lawmakers in support of Israel’s rights to build in Judea and Samaria.

As a token of his appreciation, Dagan gave Zeldin a mezuzah from Joseph’s Tomb in the city of Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria.

Texas Republican Beth Van Duyne called Israel a “special ally of the US.”

Ilhan Omar Calls for Newspaper Censorship Over Critical Op-Ed

19 October 2021

Free Speech for Me, Not for Thee: Newspaper editors have a right to chastize Omar without unsubstantiated claims of racism and Islamophobia being lobbed at them.

By Rachel O’Donoghue, Honest Reporting

Ilhan Omar has been an outspoken proponent of the constitutionally protected right of free speech when it comes to criticizing Israel.

In 2019, for example, the “progressive” Democrat politician representing Minnesota, who prides herself on being the first black, Muslim congresswoman, introduced a resolution that stated economic boycotts are an expression of speech in a bill that was co-sponsored by fellow “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

While the legislation did not specifically mention Israel or Palestinians, when asked about it, Omar referenced the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to delegitimize and eventually dismantle the Jewish state:

“We are introducing a resolution… to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting. And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

However, it seems Omar is less of a free speech advocate when it comes to the press criticizing her.

This weekened, she shared an open letter that attacked the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s editorial board for republishing an op-ed by New York Times writer Bret Stephens in which he condemned Omar for voting against United States funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defensive system in September.

The Star Tribune reproduced the column and added a picture of Hamas rockets being fired at Israel, in addition to changing the headline from the NYT’s original, ‘A Foul Play by Progressives Over Israel’s Iron Dome,’ to, ‘Omar, ‘Squad,’ Launch Another Anti-Israel Strike.’

However, according to the open letter’s authors, this was not simply a bit of wordplay that highlighted Omar and some of her Democratic colleague’s incessant attacks on Israel (see here and here).

Instead, they viewed the revised headline and included image as evidence the Star Tribune was promoting a “textbook example of Islamophobia” and accused the outlet of “equating Muslims with terrorism.”

Rather bizarrely, the open letter writers nevertheless asserted they “do not feel it is necessary to explain why this represents a clear example of deeply seated racism and Islamophobia among the decision makers at the paper,” even while claiming such editorial content “increase threats of violence” towards Omar as well as her Muslim colleagues and “other women of color.”

The letter also contains a list of demands for the Star Tribune to make amends, which include hiring “black, Muslim, and female voices” to the editorial board; ending “the use [of] loaded, racist or Islamophobic language in headlines in coverage”; and, finally, apologizing for and changing the “racist headline against Rep. Ilhan Omar and accompanying image.”

Sharing a link to the letter on Twitter, Omar claimed she has “great respect for journalists” but insisted she “will not stand by while an (overwhelmingly white and male) editorial board continues to use divide and conquer tactics against communities of color in our city.”

Yet, it is rather evident that Omar does not respect a newspaper’s right to editorial independence given she supports a letter that calls for an article to be censored in addition to baselessly creating a link between negative coverage of her and real-world threats to her safety.

Just as Omar has a right to criticize Israel — although not to disseminate antisemitic tropes — and push for Iron Dome funding to be withdrawn, newspaper editors have a right to chastize her for doing so without unsubstantiated claims of racism and Islamophobia being lobbed at them.

All of Israel is the homeland of the Jews

For centuries, the land of Israel lay as a barren wasteland while patiently waiting for the Jewish Nation to return home.Op-ed.

Tags: Campus Antisemitism David Billet Sovereignty David Billet  , Oct 20 , 2021 11:50 AM Share
campus anti-Semitism

campus anti-Semitism INN:

JTA “Israel is stolen land and rightfully belongs to the Palestinian Arabs.”

This is a leading anti-Semitic and anti-Israel trope that has come to dominate university campuses, the radical left leaning media, and tragically, even the halls of Congress.

It is also argued that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can never come to an end until all Palestinian Arab “refugees” – meaning their millions of descendants as there are only about 20,000 left of the original Arabs who fled during the 1948 war – are allowed to return to a land that they claim is theirs.

Although these claims have grown acceptable in society today, anyone with even the slightest knowledge of history can recognize that the land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, has been the eternal homeland to only one nation: the Jewish people.

Over the past 2500 years, the Jews are the only people to have ruled over the land of Israel as a sovereign state. The first Jewish Kingdom, the Davidic Dynasty, arose in 1030 BC and the First Temple was built by King Solomon between 930-970 BC. Although the Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC, the Jewish Kingdom of Judea continued to survive for another 136 years until the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Shortly thereafter, the Persian Empire conquered the Assyrian empire and ruled from 586-333 BC.

As often happens in history, the Greeks, led by Alexander the Great, conquered the Persians and ruled from 322-167 BC. Soon afterwards, the Israelites, led by the Hasmoneans, regained control of the land and ruled from 167-37 BC, until they were eventually captured and defeated by the Romans in 70 C.E.

The Byzantines conquered the Romans and ruled from AD 324 – 638, until the Muslim Empire conquered the Byzantines and ruled until 1099. The Crusaders continued this endless merry go-round of conquerors and defeated the Muslim Empire and ruled until 1260. The Mamluks then defeated the Crusaders and ruled until 1517, when they were conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were eventually destroyed and the British gained control of the land and declared it to be the British Mandate of Palestine (no connection the the Arabs who appropriated the word and now call only themselves Palestinians). The British controlled the land from 1917 until 1947, and soon thereafter the Jewish state was formed.

It is crucial to recognize that even while conquerors have come and gone, a Jewish presence has never left the land and that Jews around the world have been praying to return for thousands of years. A brief glimpse into history clearly proves two essential points:

1) that the Jews are the only People to have ever established a sovereign state in Israel, and

2) of all the nations in the world, the Jews have the oldest claim to the land of Israel in history.

Even after recognizing that the Jewish people are undeniably connected to the land of Israel, many claim that this connection was more than 2000 years ago and lacks any relevance to today. Nevertheless, Karl Marx, the founder of communism, visited Jerusalem in the 19th century and provided an eyewitness account of the Jewish population in Jerusalem. Marx, who was a virulent anti Semite, stated that the Jewish people were a majority in Jerusalem as early as 1854. For all those doubting the legitimacy of the Jewish right to the land of Israel, the Jewish people were a majority in 1854, and have only grown since then.

Furthermore, ever since the Israelite Kingdom was defeated and the Jewish People were exiled, the land lay as a desolate, barren wasteland that was uninhabitable to all. As early as 1267, Rabbi Moses ben Nachman fled from persecution in Spain by finding a new home in the land of Israel. Rabbi Nachman stated in a letter to his son that “Many are Israel’s forsaken places, and great is the desecration. The more sacred the place, the greater the devastation it has suffered. Jerusalem is the most desolate place of all.”

If we fast forward almost 500 years, Mark Twain also stated in a written account that the land lay as a barren wasteland, essentially as fruitless and dangerous as Rabbi Nachman saw 500 years earlier. The land rejected each conqueror just as a human body may reject an organ that is not its own.

The land of Israel has been the homeland of the Jewish People, as proven throughout history. While the Davidic dynasty may have come to an end, no other sovereign state arose in the land until Israel was reborn in 1948. The land of Israel lay as a barren wasteland while patiently waiting for the Jewish Nation to return home.

While life may often pose questions that we will never know, one eternal truth continues to persist: the land of Israel is the only homeland of the Jewish People.

David Billet is a student at Fordham University School of Law and has a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Queens College, CUNY. As a hobby, he writes articles on the current political landscape, public policy and anti-Semitism. To date, he has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Times of Israel and almost twenty other media publications.