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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘BAR’

How Western Intellectual Values Have Gone Haywire

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“First make sure you’re right, then go ahead.” — Davy Crockett, 1836

For almost two months I  have been talking and traveling through America trying to understand the country. Soon I will begin a dozen-part series called “Lost” about the  reminder of the Obama term in the term in the Middle East and how friendly countries and national interests can survive.

Meanwhile , though, it is adding insult to injury for defenders of the U.S. policy to claim that I or someone else would have more credibility if I didn’t write for a “right-wing site.” This is an extraordinarily important way that the debate is being narrowed and dummied up.

First, of course, I would never make a parallel argument. What matters is whether the claims have credibility. Does it make sense? Is it internally consistent? Does it correspond with otherwise known information? This is the path of logic, of the Enlightenment. Reputation of the author might be a useful factor, too.

An argument from al-Qaida can be quite correct regardless of where it comes from. Thus, this approach is part of the de-rationality of Western thought today. It is a weapon: disregard everything that comes from a source that disagrees with you on other issues.

Incidentally, while some have told me that my language is too intemperate at times in criticizing Obama, I note that they have not been any more successful in changing views or even–whenever they speak out clearly–getting their ideas (as opposed to technical expertise) to the public.

Second, if I wanted to write about the so-called demographic threat (which I can prove in five minutes is nonsense) or write that Israel must make peace right away I can publish it in the NY Times.

So first they bar certain arguments from the mass media and then they say that if you persist in making certain arguments this proves bias because of the few remaining and smaller places you are allowed to appear. In other words, first you bar people and arguments; then you say that the fact that they are barred proves that they—not you—is the biased one.

Let me tell you a story. In 1991 Senator Charles Percy, a man who was then highly regarded and considered himself something of an expert on the Middle East, said he didn’t understand why the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein didn’t withdraw from Kuwait. After all, said Percy, wouldn’t some intelligence chief or general tell him that he was going to be defeated?

This was abject ignorance. If someone had done so—told Saddam he was wrong—the man would be lucky if he were only fired, and still pretty lucky if he wasn’t thrown into prison, tortured, and had his family punished or executed.

The supposed advantage of democracy is that the media, academia, and others speak—where did I hear this before?—truth to power. If you know you are not just going to be ignored, not just that you are going to be punished, but that nobody is going to hear you that is a disincentive to doing so.

But this goes far beyond liberal or conservative, it sabotages the whole advantage of democracy. You can’t be an anti-fascist or anti-Communist in the 1930s until the elite officially accepts that? Maybe it would have been better to voice these concerns and have them heeded before December 7, 1941 or before September 11, 2001. Maybe it would have been better to have done something about it before tens of thousands of lives had been snuffed out internationally, blighted domestically, resources wasted, and society set back by decades.

Is this really the best we can do in 2013?

Personally I am a social democrat/liberal/centrist/conservative, reading from left to right. What works works; what is true is true; what is wrong is wrong. Forgetting that rather basic fact has been very bad for the West. It’s called honest pragmatism.

Bilingual Boundary Stone Discovered at Tel Gezer

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/bilingual-boundary-stone-discovered-at-tel-gezer/

Archaeologists working at the Biblical site of Tel Gezer discovered a boundary stone inscribed with both Greek and Hebrew text dating to the period of conflict between the Seleucids and the Maccabees. This is the thirteenth known boundary stone found after over a century of excavations at Gezer, and it is the first to be found in over a decade. Archaeologists from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary also rediscovered another boundary stone originally discovered in the 19th-century by the French explorer Charles Claremont-Ganneau, but lost to the archaeological community for over a century.

In a Biblical Archaeology Review article promoting preservation at Gezer, BAR editor Hershel Shanks described the Biblical and archaeological history of the site.

Gezer is mentioned frequently in the Bible. Although Joshua defeated a coalition of Canaanite kings that included the king of Gezer, the Bible does not say that Gezer itself was captured by the Israelites (Joshua 10:33; 12:12). Gezer was allotted to the tribe of Joseph (or Ephraim) (Joshua 16:3, 10; Judges 1:29; 1 Chronicles 6:67; 7:28), but we are also told that the Israelites “did not drive out the Canaanites,” who dwelt in Gezer (Joshua 16:10). Even King David was unable to bring Gezer into the Israelite kingdom.

Finally, when an Egyptian Pharaoh (probably Siamun, in about 960 B.C.) gave his daughter in marriage to King Solomon—the only recorded instance of a Pharaoh’s daughter being permitted to marry a foreigner—the Pharaoh ceded Gezer to Solomon as part of his daughter’s dowry. (1 Kings 9:15–17). In the early years of Solomon’s reign, Egypt had launched an invasion of Palestine and had conquered Canaanite Gezer. Undoubtedly, Solomon then mobilized against an Egyptian attack on his own Israelite kingdom. But Israel must have been the greater power because at this point Egypt apparently decided to abandon the invasion, opting for a diplomatic rapprochement by marriage and territorial concession. Thereafter, the Bible tells us, Solomon fortified Gezer, along with Jerusalem, Megiddo and Hazor (1 Kings 9:15). Twentieth-century archaeologists have found irrefutable evidence of these fortifications at Gezer, including not only the magnificent gateway but also a casemate wall (a double wall divided by partitions into rooms) attached to it.

Gezer also has special significance in the history of archaeology. Gezer was the first Biblical city to be identified by an inscription found at the site. Even today only a handful of sites—Beth Shean, Arad, Hazor—have been so identified. In 1873, the great French scholar Clermont-Ganneau found a boundary inscription dating from the Herodian period which reads in Hebrew script, “boundary of Gezer.”

This final boundary stone was rediscovered in this season’s excavation. According to the excavator’s press release, the boundary stones reveal the Jewish occupants’ concern over keeping their fields according to Jewish law. Many of the boundary stones include the inscription “Region of Gezer” in Hebrew along with “Belonging to Alkos” in Greek. The newly-discovered thirteenth stone follows the inscriptions known from other boundary stones very closely, with a few exceptions. The weathered letters are larger than on other known examples, and the Hebrew and Greek text is written on the same side of the stone.

After a century of excavation, Gezer continues to produce interesting finds. In 2011, excavations of a Canaanite water system at Gezer uncovered a natural cave at the base of a tunnel system dug in the early 2nd millennium B.C.E.

More details on the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary excavations will be made public by the upcoming Hadashot Akrheologiyot publication on the first five years of the survey.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/archaeology-news/bilingual-boundary-stone-discovered-at-tel-gezer/2012/05/31/

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