Monthly Archives: December 2009

Mighty Maccabees: Archeology Determines Larger Hasmonean Dynasty

Bigger, Better, Stronger.

With Hanukkah’s arrival it’s hard not to be pleased here at the Hashmonean, after all this blog pays tribute to the Judean dynasty which toppled the mighty Seleucid Empire in the name of religious freedom. Between celebrating the re-dedication of the Temple, lighting things on fire, the crispy potato latkes and the sweet scent of sufganiyot in Israel (holiday donuts) I get a bit giddy truthfully.

Seleucid Smackdown

Now comes word from the Israel Antiquities Authority that they have yet ANOTHER treat for all us Hashmoneans this year. Archaeological finds which show the Judean Hasmonean dynasty was even larger than originally thought, its control extending all the way into the deep Negev desert!

The Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus conquered Gaza and the Negev and for decades prevented the Nabataeans from using the Incense Road.”

[...] An analysis of the finds has revealed that after Gaza was conquered in 99 BCE, King Alexander Jannaeus – the great-grandson of Matityahu the High Priest – built a fortress with four towers inside an earlier Nabataean caravanserai. With the aid of this fortress he was able to halt any Nabataean activity along the Incense Road and in effect force them out of the Negev.

Seems we’ve been kicking the Gazan tushy for quite some time now..

It was because of the fortress’ shape that archaeologist, Dr. Rudolph Cohen assumed at the time it was a stronghold from the Roman period (end of the third century CE). But a new analysis of the artifacts which were discovered inside the fortress, and the architectural features of the fortress itself, has led to the unequivocal conclusion that the fortress is Hasmonean.

According to Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who is the scientific editor of the excavation, “We are talking about a revolutionary discovery that will redraw the maps of the region which describe that era and greatly increase the territory governed by the Hasmoneans into the heart of the Negev Highlands as we know it. This is an important discovery from an archaeological and historical standpoint.

Despite the evidence of the historian Josephus, according to which King Alexander Jannaeus conquered the southern coast of the Land of Israel and the harbor in Gaza (which was of paramount importance to the Nabataeans) and even further south, no clear archaeological proof of this has been found in the field. And it was because of this lack of proof that historians were inclined to dismiss the possibility that the Hasmoneans did indeed control the Negev”. [...]

A coin of Alexander Jannaeus - Part of the finds leading archeologists to re-examine history. (Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

A coin of Alexander Jannaeus - Part of the finds leading archaeologists to re-examine history. (Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

I know, I’m a big Zio-Geek – Sue me!

It should be noted that over the last 2 years or so other exciting archaeological finds have been made, including remains of the Southern Wall of the Temple, built & dating back to the Hasmonean dynasty as well. Maps will need to be re-drawn, the dynasty is growing ever larger : )

Celebrating Religious Freedom  & Victory!

Every day our Arab friends grow ever testier.. They don’t want to dig, they prefer to deny & destroy rich archaeological finds because time after time these treasures provide a rich & exciting testament to the fact that the Land of Israel belongs to us, and it always has. It’s part of our rich heritage & history. Our covenant, one which unlike them we are prepared to share openly with the world to both inspire & renew and rejoice.

I’ll be lighting the candles up in the header graphic above again this year & wishing you and yours a very Happy Hanukkah!

Another piece of the historical puzzle assembled, recently gathered pieces of ancient Seleuicd Steele confim historical aspects in Books of Maccabees : )

Inconvenient Truth: Dividing Jerusalem Subject to Israeli Public Approval (Updated)

EU, World will be shocked to learn Israel is a Democracy

The Peace Process is being endangered by appeasement. The Palestinians have rejected every peace deal to ever grace their plate, now they refuse to even negotiate. Putting aside for a moment the fact they clearly don’t desire a state so much as the destruction of ours, one begins to wonder why some are so eager to appease them endlessly?

The list is long..

  • Israeli Governments of the right & left
  • The EU
  • American Presidents
  • Donor countries pumping in billions per annum in cash
  • The UN
  • Liberals, NGOs..

It’s practically a party! There are however two entities that are decidedly less keen on appeasing Palestinians. They consist of the Arab world & the Israeli public.

Picking up the Peaces

The Arabs refuse to appease the Palestinians because they’ve been employing them as pawns to bludgeon Israel for over 40 years now. Why ruin the gravy train? No one gives the Palestinians less money, less rights, less land or lesser dreams for a better future then their own Arab brethren, Lebanon is a prime example.

The Israeli public on the other hand, which has given the Palestinians more money, more rights, more land & more hopes for a better future than any Arab nation on earth now refuses to do much more. Out of patience, because this same public has inevitably paid the price of being the pawns sacrificed by the rest of the appeasing world in the name of Palestinian violence, terror, and intransigence. Here in Israel much of that public has simply had enough. That includes incidentally Arab residents of East Jerusalem whom themselves want no part of a PA state it seems.

The dangerous cycle of appeasement has now come to the point where the PA is not even negotiating for Peace. They want all their demands met, they want a state, they want the billions in aid, they want to be courted as players – and in return they offer nothing. Peace is not even on their table.

It’s not land for peace, its now land for appeasement.

The attempt by Sweden, the UK & others this week to pre-determine final status issues when the Palestinians themselves refuse even to negotiate smacks of the most sickening appeasement we’ve seen to date.  These moves rejected by Israel, rejected by the US, and opposed by EU member states including new Europe, Italy & France smack of a form of psychosis removed from all reality. Well reality will come crashing in soon enough.

1st IDF Paratroopers arrive at Western Wall after liberating the old city from Jordan in 1967

1st IDF Paratroopers arrive at Western Wall after liberating the old city from Jordan in 1967

The Referendum Bill

The bill 1st tabled under the Olmert Kadima government, passed 1st reading then but was put aside due to elections. It is now tabled again & headed to 2nd & 3rd reading & probable passage. The rest of world may choose to play pretend, but Israel annexed East Jerusalem & the Golan Heights after the defensive 67 war. International actors may think they can pre-determine reality, but they will come up against an inconvenient truth – Israeli democracy & Israeli law, both of which trump pitiful international declarations.

As early as Wednesday, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem Referendum Bill could return to the Knesset plenum for a key vote, after a late-night decision Tuesday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation ensured coalition support for the controversial bill. [...]

“We must safeguard the Land of Israel and accelerate the legislative process, in order to prevent a future possibility of retreat against the will of the people,” said Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz, shortly after the committee’s vote.

Indeed, Jerusalem & the Golan belong to the people of Israel, annexed. We control the land - This also is an ‘inconvenient truth’. Our governments, our allies, our ‘Palestinians friends’ can huff & they can puff but when push comes to shove reality can prove to be a cruel mistress. Our current Prime Minister as opposed to previous clowns in the post knows this well..

Netanyahu backs referendum bill, wants public’s support for withdrawals

Knesset expected to pass ‘continuity law’ that allows body to continue legislative discussions on bill obligating national referendum on withdrawals. ‘Any historic peace agreement I bring will be based on support from majority of public,’ PM says. [...]

We hold all the cards.

Any deal must be based in reality, palatable to the Israeli electorate. We are much more crucial to the process than Abbas or his crooked thieving cronies. EU officials would be wise to embrace reality instead of living in an unelected tax payer funded dream consisting of caviar, limos, jets, and unbackable feel good pronouncements designed to tickle Abbas’ testicles. Here in Israel we live in the real world. The threats are grave, the will of the people here is strong & the Democracy will have its say – Whether the EU likes it, or not.

Update:  Booyah! –
Knesset votes in favor at JPOST

The Knesset voted Wednesday afternoon in favor of continuing legislative work on the Golan Heights and Jerusalem Referendum Bill, by an overwhelming majority of 68 to 22, with one abstention. [...] The vote crossed coalition-opposition lines, with over one-third of Kadima MKs supporting the bill, but with the majority of Labor ministers conspicuously absent from the vote.

Livni voted NAY <– After negotiating in total secrecy with PA, nearly selling the farm.. Leader of Kadima doesn’t feel its necessary to consult the public on issues that will affect Israelis for generations. Epic fail.

Soloists: Americans for Peace Now Manning The Empty Fringe Fort

Ally Jstreet Tacks Right while APN declares ‘Principled Lunacy’

The long cold dark winter – Iran has mocked the entire world (but most of all Obama) with its play for time tactics, rejecting every single generous offer from the West regarding its nuclear weapons program. Pretty much everyone involved now realizes this, there are however holdouts. The 1st house of cards to tumble was Jstreet which this week has reversed itself on the Iran Sanctions Act now making its way through the US government.

Goldfarb in the Standard writes..

Spencer Ackerman interviews J Street chief Jeremy Ben-Ami on that group’s announcement that it will now back sanctions to cut Iran off from its supply of refined petroleum products. Earlier today Ackerman offered one possible explanation for the move: “The attacks on J Street have worked.” I think that’s probably right. The shift is not confined to sanctions legislation — J Street has moved right on Goldstone (though their position is still way out of step with mainstream Jewish opinion) and Ben-Ami has made a number of other statements that seemed designed to appease the group’s critics, and antagonize its most left-wing supporters (denouncing Walt and Mearsheimer and taking U.S. aid to Israel off the table are the two most obvious examples). But Ben-Ami offers another explanation to Ackerman: 

TWI: Is it too wily to think that you’re doing this in order to basically signal your stand with the rest of the pro-Israel community in this country while saving the harder battles for things like Jerusalem, the two-state solution and so forth?

Ben-Ami: Well look, those are issues where we are definitely not in line with most of the other organizations. For us, we’ve always said that is the issue. The real existential threat to a Jewish democratic Israel is the failure to reach a two-state solution. There is a threat from a nuclear-armed Iran. But the real existential threat that we’re focused on is that we have got to reach a two-state solution now or else we’re going to lose Israel.

 So, according to Ben-Ami, by disagreeing with J Street, Israel is a greater threat to itself than a nuclear-armed Iran. This, I suspect, is not a widely held view in the Jewish community here or in Israel — and it is certainly not a widely-held view among Americans in general [...]

Ben-Ami can contort & wrap this up in whatever flag he likes, at the end of the day Jstreet felt the pain of being so radically far out from the mainstream of the American Jewish community. Truth is they go where Obama goes, and El Presidente has himself felt the pain of his initial radical positions - Embarrassingly so.

We already know both groups (Jstreet & APN) are really nothing more than sycophantic blocking backs for Obama, Jstreet even gleefully openly stated as much in the NY Times. With Israel having pulled its settlement freeze, and with Obama now coming around to the realization he has erred on both Iran & Middle East Peace in general - Jstreet reads the tea leaves & like the dutiful soldier tacks right with him, no surprises there sayeth Rosner

Zealots at APN

But where does that leave Americans for Peace Now? Out in the cold, and still rejecting US sanctions. Why pray tell? because they don’t empower Emperor Obama enough or something like that. I skipped past all the Zealotry & righteous BS because one line says it all..

[...] we support legislation that genuinely strengthens the US President in his efforts to deal with the challenge of Iran – not legislation that undermines his authority and forces his hand.

There you have it. We can safely ignore both Houses of Congress, the American people as polled themselves etc. What do they know anyway? As soon as Obama himself declares the Sanctions Acts good.. like Gd himself on the 6th day – You can expect the last remaining Obami, those Zealots willing to fall on his sword to do so as well.

Like Masada, only different!

This time we’re supporting the Roman hordes & pagans. Iran has once again taken to beating its people, censoring media, shutting down internet access in the last 24 hours etc. Iran has declared it needs 20 more brand new nuclear enrichment plants, but it’s no cause for concern. It’s ‘Empowerment’. None of it really matters when you are on the fringe in any case!

APN is all about empowering the weak, be it the Palestinians, the Iranians.. or even the American President. It’s highly principled stuff once you muck through all the BS & Soros funding.

UPD: I forgot the link to Goldfarb’s quote.. That’s pretty embarrassing for a blogger going on 4yrs lol. My thanks to a reader for pointing this out. Omission, most certainly not derision.

Bird of Prey: V22 Osprey Vies to Fly The Israeli Skies?

Venerable Hercules C-130 Transport & CH-53 Yasur possibly on the block?

So sayeth Haaretz, but I’m skeptical.

The air force has been debating the need to procure the V-22, an American-made transport aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing. [...]

 A debate has been ongoing within the air force on whether to procure the aircraft, with the helicopter crews favoring the option because it would significantly improve their transport capabilities. The V-22 is capable of carrying similar loads to those carried by the CH-53 helicopter, which is currently in Israel Defense Forces use, but its speed, range and maximum altitude are double those of the helicopter. So the V-22 will enable commando and rescue operation at greater distances than those currently possible.

Opposing the V-22 option are senior air force officers, especially those in charge of procurement, who support buying more advanced CH-53 helicopters and C-130 turboprop aircraft to replace the aging fleets of existing transporters of the type.

The Osprey is a unique beast with unique capabilities.

Pluses already mentioned are range, speed & capacity greater than a chopper with similar V-TOL ability. However, the Osprey itself is massively controversial. The program was almost shelved numerous times in the US & was sickeningly over budget. The Osprey is also famously difficult to fly & prone to crash due to both hardware & pilot error, still a bit unproven. We’d have to retrain heavily for its use nor would it be particularly cheap.

Boeing's V-22 Osprey - Tilt Rotor has a checkered past, it's been grounded a few times & a few have met untimely ends due to pilot error.

Boeing's V-22 Osprey - Tilt Rotor has a checkered past, it's been grounded a few times & a few have met untimely ends due to pilot error.

C-130J SuperHercules - Modernized Monsters of which Congress was notified we likey!

C-130J SuperHercules - Modernized Monsters of which Congress was notified we likey!

Further, both the C-130 Hercules & the CH-53 choppers available going forward are, or have undergone monster overhauls in the USA & are state of the art. I reported on IAF procurement plans for the HERCS here, the IAF was planning to load some of them to the gills with Special Ops electronics – It’s not clear if those spec-ops ones are on the block if the Osprey were to arrive, but doubtful as the US Congress was already notified last year of the classic ‘impending sale to Israel’ line. Equally, some of the Yasur transport choppers in Israel are undergoing modernization programs designed to carry them well into the future as posted here.

Peas in a pod?

One primary bonus is that the IAF would be in line with the US, which is in many cases using the V-22 Osprey going forward for its own special-ops transport. Haaretz states the debate is ongoing, but the procurement officers prefer HERCS & Yasurs. If one were to wager, I’d say maybe we pick up a couple of V-22s for kicks.. But maintaining HERC supply lines, Yasur supply lines, pilot training & general infrastructure plus adding all new supplies training & infrastructure needs for V-22s seems like a classic army / air force clusterfark (pardon my military lingo).

CH-53D, otherwise known as the Yasur here in Israel can disgorge around 20 troops prepped for terrorist killing

CH-53D, otherwise known as the Yasur here in Israel can disgorge around 20 troops prepped for terrorist killing

Personally, I’ll believe it when I see one fly over my apartment or perhaps the beach – In both cases one can routinely see the occasional Yasur doing just that..

Big Talker: Obama’s Pandering Achieved Nothing

Just as pandering to him will achieve pretty much the same..

In Honduras a new President has been elected, he’s a conservative. You know things are going real well when a tiny latin nation tells the leader of the free world to take a hike, and then a few months later he’s lacing up his hiking boots.

In Iran, illicit nuclear enrichment & plutonium work continues unabated & is even expanding while America is seemingly on the retreat. The Russians have given Obama no quarter, and the Arab world from Lebanon to Syria right down to the Palestinians themselves seemingly thumb their noses at Obama on an almost daily basis now.

What has all this talk from the podium achieved? Nothing.

One could argue that these efforts in foreign countries of re-writing history, tarnishing America’s great exceptionalism, embracing Arab narratives, and bowing deep have not delivered tangible concrete results – But that the goal was to engender a ‘feeling’, a wave of good will or hope which itself would deliver..

Such tripe may actually speak to Obama adherents, after all they staked it all on Hope & Change. However sadly for them most of all, reality has fallen flat. The old saying goes ‘talk is cheap’, yet when the President talks someone somewhere inevitably ends up paying a price. Thus far it’s been America and her allies paying with no possible hope of return on the investment.

Feeding the Crocodile

Fouad Ajami writes in the WSJ on Obama’s signature big talk program – Pandering to the Muslim World & the results as recorded by Pew intl surveys..

In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn’t seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that’s reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.

Mr. Obama’s election has not drained the swamps of anti-Americanism. That anti-Americanism is endemic to this region, an alibi and a scapegoat for nations, and their rulers, unwilling to break out of the grip of political autocracy and economic failure. It predated the presidency of George W. Bush and rages on during the Obama presidency.

In other words, nothing has changed.

Here in Israel however plenty has changed. A nation which reveres America & her leaders has turned decidedly sour on Obama across the board. Through it all we’ve tossed concession after concession to feed the appeasement monster that is Obama’s failed policies, all in the hopes that he will have our back in regards to Iran. That’s what this is about, no one here believes the Palestinians want peace, we know what they want – Pieces of Israel one after the other until nothing is left.

Sadly, this notion that we can feed the Obama beast chunks of appeasement meat in return for his good graces is just as flawed as Obama’s own failed philosophies. We can freeze settlements, hand off Jerusalem, prostrate ourselves to failed international policies till the sun comes up. It won’t deliver peace, not with an Arab world which still hasn’t reconciled itself to Israel. Nor will it deliver American carrier groups & B-2 strike bombers to flatten those enemies which threaten us & the region as a whole.

I can’t say I blame my Prime Minister, appeasement is in fashion these days. I just hope he’s got a backup plan for when the day dawns on all of us here in Israel, that just like the Palestinians, Obama is incapable of delivering the goods.