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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘donkey’

Peter Beinart’s Bilaam Moment

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The great biblical wizard Bilaam was one of the most frustrated men in history. Bilaam tried on three consecutive mornings back in the early 1200s BCE to curse the nation of Israel, only to end up composing such poetic praises that we Jews now say them every day in our morning prayers.

Columnist Peter Beinart, a frequent contributor to Haaretz, The Atlantic and the National Journal, is probably not an enemy of Israel on the scale of his predecessor, but, this week, his criticism of both Israel and the American right have backfired in a similar fashion to Bilaam’s, leaving Beinart’s readers with poetic praises where harsh rebukes were intended.

Beinart writes:

“Today’s conservatives love Israel,” for “the American right, Israel embodies the values that Obama’s U.S. no longer does,” because “they believe the West’s great enemy is ‘radical Islam,’ and the West’s great outpost, on the frontlines against Islamic terror, is Israel. It’s modern; it’s democratic; it’s pro-American. And it’s under attack from the same forces that want to destroy the United States.”

Beinart also attacks Netanyahu, because Netanyahu believes America and Israel are good, and radical Islamists are bad:

“Netanyahu… believes that America and Israel are utterly virtuous while our Islamic enemies are utterly evil.”

Could anyone make a better case for Israel’s triumphant achievements in a mere 67 years or praise Israel’s value system more than what Beinart has unintentionally just done?

Yes, of course, the author probably intended for this entire list to be read out in an ironic tone, while implying a lack of intellectual subtlety on the right with his repeated use of “utterly”, but tone is a tough thing to write, especially from within one’s echo chamber, and an ironistician of Beinart’s stature should know better…

Moreover, according to Beinart, “it’s not just that Israel represents the West. It’s that Israel represents the West at a time when many conservatives feel the United States no longer does.”

That’s the extent of the fun part—because Beinart next delves into fairly ugly racism, suggesting that the shift in the right’s view of the Administration is born by “demographic change,” meaning conservative fear of brown and black people teeming in the streets of America.

That must be it, according to Beinart:

“the United States has become less Christian, less nationalistic and less white. And for many on the right, Barack Obama — a black man with a Muslim father who grew up in Indonesia and supposedly considers American power a bad thing — personifies this shift.”

In other words, in Beinart’s universe, conservatives don’t make up their minds based on the outcome of seven years of presidential policies—it’s because the guy is black.

So much for the piquant note about Beinart, the prophet of Zionist doom, singing an unintentional love song for Israel. Or maybe we’ll just edit out those ugly parts when we canonize his article.

His other point, later on, is actually cogent:

“Conservatives love Israel for the same reason anti-Zionists hate it. Think about the words Israel’s harshest foes use to describe it: colonial, imperial, settler, apartheid. What they all convey is that Israel is a foreign creation, imposed by Europeans, and sustained by the United States, at the native population’s expense. For the American right, being a Western outpost in the Middle East makes Israel heroic. For the anti-Zionist left, it makes Israel illegitimate.”

What an entertaining idea, the right’s Israel-the-shining-outpost is precisely the same as the left’s Israel the blood-dripping-colonial-invader. Obviously, Beinart is enamored with the latter option, but the facts belie that entire argument.

We Jews in Israel are not colonialists but an indigenous, middle-eastern nation whose return to our homeland was followed by an unprecedented flourishing of what had been a desolate desert for two millennia.

Rare Discovery of 3,500-Year-Old Donkey in Israel

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Archaeologists north of Be’er Sheva have discovered the skeleton of a  3,500-year-old donkey, complete with a copper bridle in its mouth and saddle bags on its back.

The rare find led Israeli researchers to conclude that the donkey, estimated to be only four years at the time of its death, was sacrificed as part of a Bronze Age ritual at a time when donkeys enjoyed a respected status.

Donkeys are frequently mentioned in the Bible, with the most famous one being the “talking mule” of the non-Jew Balaam, who was paid by King Balak to curse Israel but ended up blessing the People of Israel as they stood on the edge of the desert before entering the Promised Land.

Donkeys were the beast of burden, were used on trade routes and were so important during the founding of ancient Egypt that skeletons of donkeys have been found in graves of pharaohs.

The skeleton that was found at an archaeological site near Kiryat Gat, located approximately 15 miles north of Be’er Sheva and 50 miles or so southeast of Tel Aviv, indicates that the young donkey was spared hard labor.

Guy Bar-Oz of the University of Haifa, who headed the research team at the Tel Haror site, said that donkey was laid on its left side, with its limbs neatly bent. It probably was sacrificed, and the copper bridle bit probably was symbolic because the animal’s teeth showed that the bit was not used.

“The absence of any sign of bit wear on the lower premolars indicates that the animal was not ridden or driven with a bit for prolonged periods of time,” the researchers write in a paper published online this week in the online journal PLoS ONE. “Moreover, the young donkey was still in the process of shedding its teeth and permanent teeth were just erupting. Based on its age, the Haror donkey would probably have been too young to be a trained draught animal.”

The bit is  the only one from the Bronze Age to have been found in the mouth of hoofed mammals.

A sign that the donkey had been sacrificed in a rite was a pile of bones from sheep and goats that were found near the donkey’s carcass.

“The Tel Haror interment represents the only known example of a donkey within a ritual context that was symbolically harnessed with a horse bit and bearing saddlebags, and, thus, sheds important light on both the functional and symbolic role of equids in the Ancient Near East,” the research team wrote on PLosOne.

“The location, grouping, dimensions and symmetrical placement of the fittings, leads us to suggest that they represent the remains of fasteners for saddlebags that was composed of decayed organic material, such as leather,” they added.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/rare-discovery-of-3500-year-old-donkey-in-israel/2013/03/12/

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