This papyrus was found on two Palestinians who were seeking to sell it for money. They were caught in a sting operation and this 1900 year old document is now in Israeli hands. It is a contract, apparently, written for a widow who was involved in some transaction. It begins with the words,
â€œYear 4 to the destruction of Israel.â€
According to news reports covering this, archaeologists are reading this to mean either 4 years after the destruction of the Second Temple in 74 CE, or 139 CE when the Bar Kokhba Revolt led to the destruction of many parts of Judea/Judah.
Now here comes the cool segue…
And speaking of destruction of Israel, this was the week when Israel’s new situation with respect to America became clear. We now know that Israel will be pushed into concessions, will not be permitted to attack Iran and in fact is going to find itself a country without that “special relationship” that has kept a bond with the US for decades.
Instead, it seems that Israel, in Obama’s eyes, is a liability in his attempt to forge strong relationships with the Arab and Muslim nations of the world. To neutralize the liability, Obama appears to be planning to use Israel as a foil. He will punish it, push it around, make all types of public assertions and then reap the rewards with friendlier, uh, dictatorships and extremist theocratic regimes/ That’s correct, folks, the democracy has garnered so much bad press in the past couple of years that Obama feels that he will lose nothing by making it look bad and forging new inroads with countries whose politics are about as opposite his liberal politics as one can imagine.
How did we get here?
Well, that’s a function of the settlement movement receiving a very nasty reputation all across the world. It’s a function of the Palestinians’ extraordinary ability and success in conveying their victim status to the rest of the world. It’s a function of the perceived intransigence of the Muslims and the perceived malleability of the Israelis. It is about oil and dollars. It is about the limits placed on the US because of its ongoing two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is because some people’s conclusions after 9/11 placed the blame on Israel’s relationship in the US and while most people reject this thesis, enough support it that’s it’s problematic. It’s about Walt & Mearsheimer’s Protocols clone and what they write about Israel to undermine its legitimate and moral conduct.
The other day I read the transcript of a Doha Sessions debate about Israel. The proposition was “This House believes it’s time for the US to get tough on Israel” and it took place on March 25, 2009 at Georgetown University. On the side supporting Israel’s opposition were Avraham Burg and a former key member of the American intelligence community, Michael Scheuer.
Scheuer appeared to think the proposition did not go far enough. He proceeded to attack Israel and American Jews who support it. Dershowitz was on the two person team supporting Israel and he was shocked and quite indignant by the fifth column accusations. It didn’t matter to Scheuer who simply reasserted his accusations and urged the USA to drop ANY relationship it had with Israel. Check this out:
Clearly, Mr. Dershowitz, the war in Iraq is the responsibility of the American fifth column that supports Israel.
Oh, that is ridiculous. I’m part of that fifth column, right? I opposed the war in Iraq.
You are exactly part of it, sir.
I opposed the war in Iraq.
Well you didn’t do it quite well enough, did you?
More Jews than any other ethnic group in America opposed the war in Iraq. What you’re saying is bigotry. Is bigotry. You’re accused of bigotry. Blaming the Iraq war on the Jews is bigotry.
Please, I don’t want this descending into personal attacks.
Out comes the excaliber of American politics. â€˜Bigotry’, â€˜anti-Semitism’…
This breathtaking performance by a conspiracy theorist who was a senior member of America’s intelligence community is a reminder that Chas Freeman has enabled more than open criticism of Israel. That, after all, was always found throughout media and political discussions.
Instead, the impact of Chas Freeman, particularly with the groundwork laid by Walt & Mearsheimer, is that open and aggressive criticisms of American Jews who support Israel are now considered common wisdom and fair game among a certain sector of the population and voicing these ideas in public has become perfectly safe. He actually told Dershowitz that Jews were to blame for the Iraq war, that it was their service as fifth columnists who support Israel which led them to drive for the war and that Dershowitz is a fifth columnist. If your jaw isn’t resting on the floor after dropping precipitously because of these outrageous claims, please release it.
The outcome is already visible. Not only is support for Israel weakened, but it actually becomes counter-productive because any active support is viewed with suspicion.
Shameful, but true. And it plays into Obama’s hands as a form of power that frees him to change America’s relationship with Israel.
Israel should evaluate carefully whether the settlements are going to be concrete blocks chained to Israel’s feet as it is thrown into the water, or whether it’s possible to take steps to eliminate the settlements east of the Fence and benefit from the goodwill that will follow. This administration isn’t going to wait or play games. They intend to push Israel into submission and all the while, blame Israel for any steps that are taken.
As this ancient papyrus shows, Israel is vulnerable. It takes great wisdom and creativity, not to mention some measure of luck, to enable this small state to continue to survive against the large numbers and forces arrayed against it. Israel is entering a challenging time, maybe its most challenging since 1948 and even 1973. The one thing Israel can’t do is stand still because the status quo will bring about great danger. Netanyahu is a smart man and he’s surrounded by other smart men. Let’s hope they recognize this moment for what it is and not for what they thought it was going to be all those years in the opposition.