Israelophobia and the West: The Hijacking of Civil Discourse on Israel and How to Rescue It
The new Jerusalem Center publication Israelophobia and the West exposes and evaluates the parallel phenomena of unprecedented anti-Semitic assaults against Jews in the West while simultaneously demonizing the Jewish State. It further exposes the deceptive representation of anti-Semitic rhetoric as legitimate political criticism of Israel. A special dialogue: Prof. Alan Dershowitz - Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School; Ben-Dror Yemini - Israeli journalist at Yediot Ahronot; Moderated by Dan Diker.
Imported Antisemitism and Those Who Support It
A 2014 survey of antisemitism by the US Anti-Defamation League (ADL) covered 100 countries. It found that all the countries in the top 10 most antisemitic locations were in the Middle East or north Africa region, with an overall figure of 73%. The West Bank and Gaza came at the top, with 93% of Palestinians expressing antisemitic views.
A smaller survey of 19 countries published by the ADL in the following year found that Muslim populations in general had the highest levels of antisemitism in Europe:
For the first time, the ADL poll measured Muslim attitudes in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. An average of 55 percent of Western European Muslims harbored anti-Semitic attitudes. Acceptance of anti-Semitic stereotypes by Muslims in these countries was substantially higher than among the national population in each country, though lower than corresponding figures of 75 percent in 2014 for Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
In the United States, a 2017 report on antisemitism in general, identified much of the hatred as coming from the Muslim community, notably on college campuses:
It is particularly disturbing that anti-Semitism appears to be relatively common in the American Muslim community, including among its leaders.
Muslim expression of anti-Semitic views has become especially common on American college campuses.
Several Muslim attacks on Jews, synagogues and more are listed in the report. Here, anti-Jewish prejudice is, as often as not, conflated with anti-zionist ideology and activism. Again, that distortion, in turn, leads many people, most often on the left, to indulge Muslim antisemitism, to join Islamic protests, and even, as Britain's Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did for many years, to call Muslim terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah "friends".
Some anti-zionism is bolstered by the widespread rationalization that Palestinian resistance to Israel is in harmony with one's own secular political convictions. Palestinians and their supporters across the Islamic world are thought to be protesting and fighting for nationalistic, anti-colonial, and economic motives combined with an anti-apartheid pro-refugee set of priorities. Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organization's leading party, for example, is proclaimed as a "secular, nationalist" entity. The first article in the PLO's 1964 Covenant reads: "Palestine is an Arab homeland bound by strong Arab national ties to the rest of the Arab Countries and which together form the great Arab homeland."
Israel and the Great Powers: The Unsung Cold War Role
According to all elements of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, information received from the Israelis was unique in its detail and the subjects it shed light on, areas that for years were obscured from the West. Based on the intelligence provided, Washington was able to draw a detailed and fairly accurate picture of the structure and deployment of a substantial part of the Soviet Union's strategic missile divisions.Fictional Nazi thrillers bring real-life drama to cautionary tales
How did the Israelis pull it off? Retracing the exact steps of clandestine activities is difficult, but one can reconstruct what likely transpired based on information made public after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Israeli agents who understood the Soviet bureaucracy in Eastern Europe became keenly aware of a major flaw in the system. The tendency to hoard information—itself a symptom of an obsession with secrecy—created an information glut in which untold numbers of paper-form military records were filed and stored. The more this information multiplied, the harder it became to keep track of. At the same time, Israeli spies managed to obtain the identities of several former members of the Soviet military and security establishments who had intimate knowledge of their government's missile capabilities. When these people were no longer in their positions—which undoubtedly meant the authorities paid less attention to them—it was easier for Israeli agents to convince them to share their technical knowledge. This was where Israeli intelligence reached its Cold War peak and aligned most closely with the intelligence goals of the West.
For many years, the Soviet ballistic missile threat was relatively low on the list of Israel's immediate security priorities. After all, Moscow's weapons were not aimed at Jerusalem or Tel Aviv but at New York and Washington. Israel had always been more interested in the MiG fighter's maneuverability and the T-class tank's endurance. So the effort to collect data on Soviet missile capabilities marked an important shift. Israeli intelligence moved from tactical concerns to a broader strategic narrative as Jerusalem understood that its long-term security interests were achieved not by narrow intelligence collection but by undermining the country that acted as the patron and arms supplier of its enemies.
And while the Cold War is over, and Israel no longer finds itself trapped between two rival superpower blocs, it continues to provide first hand and invaluable lessons on waging war and preserving national defense.
Hollywood mustered its creative forces in the 1940s when Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany sought to conquer the world, with Humphrey Bogart standing up to the fascist regime in “Casablanca” and director Ernst Lubitsch mocking it and its dictator in “To Be or Not to Be.”
More than 70 years later, an increase in hate crimes, emboldened white supremacists and political upheaval have prompted TV and film makers to revisit Nazism. The works are varied and their receptions mixed, but they share a goal: to use fiction to learn from 20th-century totalitarianism and its horrors, including the Holocaust that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews.
In Amazon’s “Hunters,” an unlikely group of 1970s New Yorkers target German Nazis who have brought their genocidal quest to America. HBO’s “The Plot Against America” is based on Philip Roth’s novel that posits a repressive early 1940s US government led by Charles Lindbergh, the real-life aviation hero and anti-Semitic isolationist. The Oscar-winning “Jojo Rabbit” is in Lubitsch’s satirical mode, deepened by tragedy.
Preceding them was “The Man in the High Castle,” the 2015-19 Amazon series based on Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel of the same name about a fallen America ruled by WWII victors Germany and Japan.
The war has had other screen comebacks. During the political and social turmoil of the mid- to late-1960s, cynical and irreverent films including “King Rat” and “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?” were released alongside traditional battle epics such as the star-laden “Battle of the Bulge.”
“We seem to have waves of interest in both the Holocaust and World War II, not always at the same time,” said Sharon Willis, a film scholar and professor at the University of Rochester in New York. “I feel that, collectively, we return to these terrains when we have some kind of problem to work out that we think is related to them.”
An Imam at a Bernie Rally Had Called for the Destruction of Israel
When Imam Omar Suleiman appeared at a Bernie rally in Mesquite, TX, the hateful Islamist cleric spoke in front of a backdrop of giant American flags and signs urging donations to Sanders. Before Bernie took the stage, he called for an, "America where we uplift our most vulnerable, celebrate our diversity."Sanders turns to Ilhan Omar after South Carolina defeat
The Imam did not mention, as he has before, that he believes that, “Zionists are the enemies of God.”
By “god”, the Imam meant Allah. The occasion for that hateful outburst was Operation Protective Edge which began after Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Jewish teenagers. One of them American.
Earlier in the conflict, Omar had tweeted, “God willing on this blessed night as the 3rd Intifada begins, the beginning of the end of Zionism is here. May Allah help us overcome this monster, protect the innocent of the world, and accept the murdered as martyrs. ameen #48kMarch #3rdIntifada.”
He later tweeted, “The people of #Gaza made us proud. You refused to let terror break you and we refuse to let Zionist media silence you.”
When Sanders announced that he was boycotting AIPAC, Imam Omar Suleiman rejoiced.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential nomination contest, plans to hold on Monday a joint rally with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN.), who has been accused of peddling anti-Semitism.Tlaib to Address American Muslims for Palestine Gala
The next day, the Democratic Party holds its Super Tuesday contests, in which more than 10 states and territories will vote, including Omar's home state of Minnesota. The outcome of Tuesday's votes could reshape the entire race because of the high number of delegates at stake.
The Sanders campaign announced the appearance on Sunday, a day after the Vermont Jewish senator lost to former Vice President Joe Biden in the South Carolina primary.
The event will be in the form of a concert rally.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) is scheduled to address the annual gala on Saturday as the guest of honor for the Missouri chapter of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).University of Maryland Student Arrested for Repeatedly Sending Antisemitic Messages to Female Jewish Schoolmate
Tlaib was the keynote speaker at AMP’s annual national conference in November 2019, when she compared the situation at the US-Mexico border to that of Gaza and Israel, and said that she’s advocating for clean water in her Michigan district and “fighting for clean water in Gaza.”
AMP is an anti-Israel group that supports the BDS movement and was founded by Hatem Bazian, who co-founded Students for Justice in Palestine.
Tlaib is scheduled to be joined by the gala’s keynote speaker, AMP National Policy Director Osama Abuirshaid, who has expressed support for the US-designated terrorist group Hamas and BDS.
A student at the University of Maryland (UMD) has been arrested for committing an antisemitic hate crime against a Jewish student, an email announcement sent to the campus community on Saturday said.Breaking the Silence won’t take part in Harvard Israel Apartheid Week
According to University Police, Muqarrab Ahmed Abdullah, 24, repeatedly sent antisemitic messages to a female student on December 10, 2019. The victim did not know Abdullah personally.
Abdullah has been charged with electronic communication harassment, telephone misuse, and a hate crime.
UMD diversity and inclusion vice president Georgina Dodge and student affairs vice president Patricia Perillo said in the email that the incident was unacceptable and “hate has no place on our campus.”
They pledged to bring charges against all perpetrators of hate crimes on campus.
According to local Fox News affiliate Fox45, the two officials added, “To our Jewish friends, co-workers, fellow students, colleagues, and alumni, we stand with you.”
“We aim to support you in the ways that you need,” they said. “We will work closely with Hillel, university chaplains, and student groups to provide space and resources.”
Breaking the Silence said it won’t take part in Harvard’s Israel Apartheid Week – or in any other apartheid week – in spite of what is publicized in a portal associated with the university.
According to the website thehub.college.harvard.edu, the second day of Israel Apartheid Week, which is scheduled to take place between March 30 and April 3, is going to feature a session by the Israeli NGO, which denied any involvement.
“Breaking the Silence is not taking part in any apartheid week events and never had any plans to do so. The event in question doesn’t exist as far as we’re aware,” Achiya Schatz, spokesperson of Breaking the Silence, said. “However, we wouldn’t be surprised if [New York Consul-General] Dani Dayan or other supporters of the ‘Trump deal’ would want to attend, as part of their efforts to ‘make apartheid great again.’
“Our position has always been to differentiate between Israel’s legitimate right to exist and thrive on the one hand, and the entirely illegitimate military dictatorship in the occupied territories on the other. We are concerned that apartheid week events create spaces where that distinction is easily blurred,” he further noted.
“Having said that, Israeli officials are now actively promoting an apartheid reality which itself blurs the lines, and our position may therefore have to change in the future accordingly,” Schatz said.
Palestinian homosexuals seek refuge in Israel because homosexuality is illegal in the Palestinians territories. https://t.co/CTwUs1RIuy— neontaster (@neontaster) March 2, 2020
More Antisemitism at Duke University Press
Duke University has a problem with academically-driven antisemitism. Its press, the Duke University Press, is once again promoting blood libels against Jews under the veil of criticism of Israel. Writing this off as pseudo-academic nonsense would be a mistake.BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ promotes half a story from 2014
Duke University Press acts as the gatekeeper through which new “knowledge” attains the seal of academic approval, and is then dispersed as “fact” in classrooms at Duke and across the country. On a campus where the leaders are promoting and tolerating antisemitism, it now comes as no surprise that Duke also has a problem with students feeling threatened and afraid because they support Israel.
In 2017, Duke University Press published The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability by Jasbir Puar. Puar updated antisemitic blood libels when she alleged that Israel specifically targets Palestinian children to maim them and then profit from their incurred disabilities. Like other Duke University Press authors, Puar repeatedly compared Israelis to Nazis.
Now, three years later, Duke University Press has published a fawning review of The Right to Maim in its own Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. Reviewing their own publication by lavishing it with praise is not a good look for Duke.
In the review, Stephen Sheehi — Professor of Middle East Studies and Professor of Arab Studies at the College of William and Mary — makes the grotesque, thinly veiled comparison of Israel to the Third Reich when he suggests that Israel may wish to exterminate the Palestinians: “One seriously wonders if Israel would want to completely erase the Palestinian people (through death or displacement) if they could get away with it.”
The interview followed a sadly predictable pattern, with Sackur failing to effectively challenge most of his interviewee’s politically motivated talking points. Even when he did raise issues such as Hamas’ staging of the ‘Great Return March’, the Hamas-Fatah feud and incitement in Palestinian school text- books, he failed to adequately challenge the inadequate responses given.
After the broadcast of the programme, the BBC News website chose to upload a clip to its ‘Middle East’ page under the headline “Mental health: Coping with the trauma of living in Gaza”. The video’s synopsis includes the following:
“In 2014 Dr Jamei’s family home was bombed in an Israeli strike and he lost a number of family members.”
The clip itself begins with that event.
Sackur: “I am very mindful that in 2014 your own family home was bombed, destroyed, by an Israeli military strike. Tell me how many members of your extended family were lost.”
Abu Jamei: “Ah…well we live in an area that is the eastern side of Khan Younis and unfortunately my family endured the biggest loss when it comes to the number of people. You know every single life matters a lot to everyone, you know, but in that simple attack 27 people were killed including three pregnant women and I think seven…seven children. A three-storey building was levelled to the ground basically, you know…”
BBC audiences were not provided with any further context to that account.
The day after that incident – which took place on July 20th 2014, the political NGO B’tselem noted that:
“B’Tselem’s initial findings indicate that the likely target of the attack was Ahmad Suliman Sahmoud, a member of Hamas’ military wing, who was visiting a member of the family.”
Sahmoud was identified as an Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades commander.
Israel is groaning because of all the cutting-edge growth & innovation that's been happening all across the country, according to the New York Times.— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) March 1, 2020
And that's not even a parody take it's literally their headline. pic.twitter.com/7TRUA4n9h3
Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – February 2020
Throughout the month of February 2020, twenty-one written or filmed reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page, some of which were also published on other pages. Eleven of the 21 reports were carried over from the previous month, with ten of them relating to the US Administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal.Cuomo Proposes Labeling Hate Crimes as Domestic Terrorism, Increasing Funding
As we see, 47.6% of the items appearing on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page throughout February concerned the US administration ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal which had been released the previous month, with some of those items remaining available for an unusually long time. As ever, Israeli affairs received wider coverage than internal Palestinian affairs.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced several steps on Thursday aimed at providing safety, security and peace of mind to Jews and other minorities in the state as the number of hate crimes continue to swell nationwide.
Under the umbrella of “No Hate in Our State,” the governor proposed legislation that would label hate crimes as domestic terrorism. People convicted of hate crimes could be sentenced to life in prison. If New York passes the law, it will be the first state in the country to equate the two.
The governor also proposed spending an additional $25 million for the security of “religious and nonreligious not-for-profit organizations that are vulnerable to hate crimes, and will expand the eligibility criteria to include houses of worship.” That allocation would be in addition to an already allocated $45 million available through the state’s “Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program.”
The “No Hate in Our State” initiative comes after more than 40 antisemitic incidents occurred in New York in the past few months. Those incidents include an attack in December during Hanukkah at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, NY in which a man with a machete stabbed and injured five people. The most serious of those injured was in a coma for more than 50 days and opened his eyes this week for the first time.
There is a “virus” of hate in America, stated Cuomo, acknowledging that “I thought New York would be immune from it.”
He added that he was “almost in denial” about antisemitism in New York because “the Jewish community is such an integral part of New York, of our state, of community. New York would not be New York without the Jewish community.”
At 2nd Spanish carnival, dancers alongside Auschwitz floats equate Jews, Nazis
A second carnival in Spain has referenced the Holocaust with Nazi and concentration camp prisoner uniform costumes. The theme was “the same.”Vatican opens archives on highly controversial Holocaust-era pope
The Holocaust-themed display at the February 23 event in Badajos occurred amid debate on the appropriateness of festive parades apparently making light of the murder of millions of Jews and Romanis by the Nazis. That was spurred by processions the same week in Belgium and in Campo de Criptana, a town about 80 miles south of Madrid.
In Badajos, which is about 200 miles southwest of Madrid, dozens of participants marched on the main street.
The earlier parades had provoked outrage and condemnations from the European Commission and Israel for similar imagery.
In addition to Nazi allusions, the carnival in the Belgian city of Aalst also had caricatures of Jews, including of ultra-Orthodox people dressed like insects. Both the Aalst and Criptana events were condemned as offensive to the memory of Holocaust victims.
The carnivals take place across the Catholic world during Lent, the 40-day period that precedes Easter.
The Vatican unseals the archives of history’s most contentious pope on Monday, potentially shedding light on why Pius XII stayed silent during the extermination of six million Jews during the Holocaust.Seized by Nazis, found in Israel, ‘Immortal Piano’ expected to fetch $1m
Two hundred researchers have already requested access to the mountain of documents, made available after an inventory that took more than 14 years for Holy See archivists to complete.
Award-winning German religious historian Hubert Wolf will be in Rome on Monday, armed with six assistants and two years of funding, to start exploring documents from the “private secretariat” of the late pope.
Wolf, a specialist on the relationship of Pius XII with the Nazis, is anxious to discover the notes of his 70 ambassadors — the pontiff’s eyes and ears during his time as head of the Catholic Church between 1939 and his death in 1958.
There should also be records of urgent appeals for help from Jewish organizations, as well as his communications with the late US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The unsealed archives additionally cover a post-World War II era, in which writers were censored and some priests hounded for suspected Communist sympathies.
The Vatican first published the essentials covering the Holocaust four decades ago, an 11-volume work compiled by Jesuits.
A rare piano that could fetch more than a million dollars at auction in Israel next week has a history as elaborate as the wood carvings adorning its frame.Holocaust Film ‘Persian Lessons’ to Be Released in US After Berlin Premiere
The Piano of Siena’s 221-year journey began in Turin, and has included stops in Paris, on a Second World War battlefield in North Africa, in New York and in Tel Aviv.
Moshe Porat, an Israeli piano tuner who has researched the instrument, told AFP that the light brown upright decorated with carvings of wingless cherubs, animals, flora, and other instruments was a “visual masterpiece.”
“Soon the next chapter will begin with a new owner,” Porat said, referring to the sale scheduled for Tuesday at Winner’s auction house in Jerusalem.
Turin-based harpsichord maker Sebastian Marchisio started building the instrument in 1799, according to Winner’s.
Marchisio died before completing it, but his descendants finished the initial build in 1825, giving it as a wedding gift to Marchisio’s granddaughter Rebecca, who lived in Siena.
The unusually ornate instrument underwent several modifications before appearing at the 1867 World’s Fair in Paris, after which it was gifted to Italy’s then-prince and future king Umberto I.
The exact circumstances that saw the piano fall into Nazi hands are not clear.
But following the 1942 battle of El Alamein, as the British were looking to see what the defeated Germans had left behind, “the piano was discovered in a crate with a mine detector,” said Porat.
The distribution and production company Cohen Media Group has acquired North American rights to the Holocaust-era drama “Persian Lessons” and plans to release the film in late 2020, Variety reported on Wednesday.FDA clears Israeli robotic standing wheelchair for US sales
Set in 1942, the film is about a Belgian Jew in a German concentration camp who claims to be Persian to avoid being executed. The prisoner tries to save himself by agreeing to teach Farsi, a language he does not know and subsequently makes up, to a Nazi officer who hopes to open a restaurant in Iran after the war.
“Persian Lessons” had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on Feb. 22.
The film, based on the story Erfindung Einer Sprache by Wolfgang Kohlhaase, was first written in Russian, then translated into English and eventually into German.
Ukrainian-born American director Vadim Perelman helped invent the fake Farsi spoken in the film. He said that his Jewish heritage drew him to the project, along with his goal of showing that the Holocaust transcends any one political or historical moment.
“It can happen in any country, at any time,” he said.
The film’s lead actor, Lars Eidinger, said, “it’s very important that it’s someone from the outside telling this story; they can do it better than a German.” The actor was alluding to the idea that Germany is still afraid to confront a lot of its Holocaust past.
The US Food and Drug Administration cleared a standing wheelchair produced by an Israeli robotics company for sale in the US.Jewish professional wrestler wins WWE title…in Saudia Arabia
The mobility device from UPnRIDE Robotics is a wheelchair that brings quadriplegics from a sitting to an upright position, allowing them to be fully mobile in both positions, indoors and outdoors.
The standing wheelchair received FDA clearance for use in the US in September. The company now can market and sell the device in the US. It has one vendor, and is looking for others.
“The approval of our UPnRIDE standing wheelchair is another very important milestone in our mission to offer health benefits and improved quality of life to millions of people suffering from walking impairments,” Dr. Amit Goffer, founder and president of the company, said in a Thursday statement.
“I have had a longstanding vision that all people confined to a wheelchair should have access to enhanced mobility and enjoy the many health benefits associated with the ability to perform everyday tasks in a standing position. With the introduction of UPnRIDE, this dream is becoming a reality,” said Goffer, who is a quadriplegic himself.
The device is appropriate for use by quadriplegics, paraplegics, the elderly, and people suffering from multiple sclerosis, ALS, and other conditions that limit mobility.
Saudi Arabia, despite their horrible human rights record, attempted a bit of liberalization over the past decade sending female athletes to the Olympics. Saudi Sports launched their first women’s soccer league last Monday but the cynic in me takes a wait and see attitude on its long-term viability. The WWE matches may be another sign that women will get further sporting opportunities in a country where equality has been a seemingly unattainable dream.Jewish Cliff Shelters and Hiding Complexes in the Roman Period Galilee
Yet, even more interesting was the end of the show featuring almost all of Mohammed Abdu Arena on the Boulevard cheering as Bill Goldberg won the WWE Universal Championship. That’s right, hundreds of Saudi Arabian Muslims roared in approval as someone San Diego Jewish Journal once proclaimed “The Hebrew Hulk” captured one of the top prizes in WWE.
The irony is unmistakable. Judaism is not welcome in Saudi Arabia. There are no synagogues in the Kingdom and the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca once prayed for the destruction of all Jews. Yet, Goldberg was booked to win the belt in Saudi Arabia.
This raises an obvious question. Did WWE purposefully switch the belt onto Goldberg as a way to provide an avenue towards moderation in Saudi Arabia?
The answer is maybe, but probably not.
“If someone asked WWE, I could see their PR team pointing out that the company has been trying to help move things forward culturally, as that’s the tag line when they have their female performers on the Saudi events,” Mike Johnson from PWInsider.com told me in an email about Goldberg’s win. “My gut feeling, however, is that the real reason the title switch was done there was based on one factor – financials. They likely wanted to slide Goldberg into their Wrestlemania plans ASAP. Wrestlemania is not sold out. Goldberg vs. John Cena and Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns, etc. Theoretically, those are big dream matches that the average person might be entranced in wanting to see and pay for. I think that’s more of the big picture thought process there…”
Josephus Flavius documented the history of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans in real time (the first century AD), even as he was a participant, being the chief commander of the Jews in Galilee. In his two books The Jewish War and The Life of Josephus, he noted that when he arrived in the Galilee as its chief commander just prior to the outbreak of the Great Revolt, he fortified 18 of its settlements while the 19th was fortified by Yohanan Ben Levi. What do we know of these sites?
Five of the settlements that he claims to have fortified have been surveyed or excavated by archeologists. He mentioned Tiberias, Arbel, Caphareccho, (Kfar Ata), Acchabaron Rock (Akhbari), and Mero. One site – Kfar Ata or Caphareccho – remains unidentified but it fits the description of Huqok, a Jewish settlement recently excavated by Jodi Magness.
In his discussions of the five settlements Josephus describes the village fortifications as “very rocky”, and mentions the “Arbel caves,” and the fortification of “Akhbara Rock” (the Talmudic name and later the Arabic) with emphasis on the “rock”. He also notes that “he provided with walls the caves in Lower Galilee in the neighborhood of the lake of Genesareth” (The War of the Jews II, 572-574), and that “I fortified …the villages of the Cave of Arbela” (The Life of Josephus, 187-188).
The common denominator of the five settlements is that they are next to, or near, steep cliffs full of natural caves. I suggest that hundreds of these caves served as one of the defense methods of the Galilean Jews during the Second Temple period. My assumption is that these provided one of the defensive means that Josephus was referring to when he came to “fortify the Galilee.” My ongoing research aims to demonstrate that these caves are the very same that Josephus described.
It should be emphasized that Josephus, the person taking credit for the fortifications, lacked military experience and had little time available from his arrival in the Galilee to the time he was taken prisoner by the Romans – about seven months. Despite this, there is surprisingly ample evidence for fortifications of the type he described.
My research combines history and archaeology with an additional element – speleology, the study of caves.