Researcher Verifies Historical Existence of 50+ Men in Old Testament Using Archaeology

By: Garrett Haley;

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University researcher has verified the existence of 53 men mentioned in the Old Testament by painstakingly reviewing ancient historical sources and comparing them to the Bible.

Dr. Lawrence Mykytiuk is an associate professor of library science who specializes in history and Jewish studies. In the 1990s, Mykytiuk began to study the archaeological record, looking for evidence of those mentioned in the Bible.

“While some would put their hand on the Bible and really mean it when they take an oath, a few revisionist academics would throw it out and say, ‘That’s creative writing.’ I was looking for concrete, objective evidence outside of the Bible that would help build the case,” Mykytiuk said in a recent press release from the university.

Typically Mykytiuk considers a biblical person verified only if three identifying characteristics (such as the person’s name, the person’s title, and the person’s father’s name) match with an extra-biblical historical source, like an ancient inscription.

“If it matches the same three mentions in Scripture, it’s a virtual certainty,” Mykytiuk said, according to a report from Times of Israel. “There might be a few people with the same name, father’s name, but same title? That’s stretching it. I consider it a virtual certainty, either a dead ringer or virtual certainty.”

“Sometimes the three-step process is not necessary, as when we know that the person in an inscription and the person in the Bible are both connected to a one-time circumstance or event that fits one and only one person,” Mykytiuk explained.

“For example, Ahab, king of Israel, ruled during the period in which the famous battle of Qarqar was fought in 853 B.C.,” Mykytiuk said. “His Assyrian enemy wrote about ‘Ahab the Israelite,’ one of the kings he fought in that particular battle. Therefore, Ahab, king of Israel in the Bible, and Ahab, the Israelite king at the battle of Qarqar in the Assyrian inscription, must have been the same person.”

Using the painstaking three-step research process, Mykytiuk initially confirmed the existence of 50 Old Testament individuals and described his findings in a 2014 report. Then, earlier this year, he announced the addition of three more people to the list, bringing the total number of historically-verified Bible characters to 53.

“[These figures] mentioned in the Bible have been identified in the archaeological record,” Mykytiuk wrote in his report, which was published in Biblical Archaeology Review. “Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified.”

The list of people Mykytiuk has verified include Egyptian pharaohs; kings of countries neighboring Israel; officials from the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian empires; and several well-known Israelite kings, including Ahab, Jehu, David, Hezekiah, and Manasseh.

Although Mykytiuk says that verifying a person’s existence does not prove everything the Bible details about the person, he believes it is still a good start.

“If you get the person’s name, his or her father’s name, and the person’s office or title, that doesn’t verify that they did certain things. But it can sometimes show they were in a position to do the things Scripture says they did,” he stated. “That’s often as far as you can go. Still, there are some longer inscriptions from ancient Israel’s neighbors that mention people and events in the Old Testament, just describing them from a different point of view.”

“This evidence shows that it is not essential to have religious faith in order to understand and accept much of what the Bible presents,” he opined. “It demonstrates that even on the basis of writings outside of the Bible alone, Scripture does have a considerable degree of historical credibility.”


Syria Warns Israel of ‘Dangerous Repercussions’ After Attach on Chemical Weapons Site

By: Staff, Anna Ahronheim;

Syria accuses Israel of targeting a chemical weapons plant and killing two of its soldiers; Israel has yet to confirm or deny the allegations, but Israeli security officials are speaking out.

People seen fleeing the alleged site of the Israeli attack on a Syrian post where chemical weapons are manufactured. . (photo credit:SOCIAL MEDIA)

Syria accused Israel on Thursday of carrying out an aerial attack on Assad posts overnight. The alleged Israeli attack hit a scientific research center where chemical weapons are manufactured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In a statement, the Syrian army warned Israel of “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region” following the attack.

According to the reports, the attack was launched at 2:30 a.m. on targets located in central Syria, in the area of Hama, and also targeted several weapons convoys that were en route to Hezbollah strongholds in the area.

The Syrian army charged later on Thursday morning that Israel killed two of its soldiers during the aerial attack. An IDF spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports, saying that the army does not comment on operational matters.

Arab media claimed there are three casualties as a result of the attack, which centered on a regime post that belongs to the scientific research center on the outskirts of Hama, situated in the northwestern part of the country. In the scientific center, the regime reportedly develops munitions such as missiles and has developed chemical weapons as well.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that an airstrike on Masyaf in Syria hit a Scientific Studies and Research Center facility and an adjacent military camp where ground-to-ground rockets are stored.

The United States has imposed sanctions on employees of the Scientific Studies and Research Center, which it describes as the Syrian agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons including chemical weapons, something Damascus denies.

Syrian social media activists reported that “Israeli airplanes infiltrated from the valley area in Lebanon and attacked the center.”

Lebanese media reported that around 4 p.m. IAF fighter jets were spotted circling above Lebanon.

Speaking to Army Radio early Thursday morning, Gen. (res.) Gadi Shamni, who previously served as the military secretary of the prime minister, said that Israel “must do everything to prevent Iran from getting a better stronghold than that which it already has on Syria.”

He also said that he “assumes there’s a level of cooperation with the Americans following such an attack or beforehand, but we don’t have to ask for their approval.”

Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence and Executive Director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) took to Twitter stating that the strike was not routine and targeted a Syrian military-scientific center that develops and manufactures, among other things, precision missiles.

“The factory in the attack also produces chemical weapons and barrels of explosives that killed thousands of Syrian citizens. If the attack was conducted by Israel, it would be a commendable and moral action by Israel against the slaughter in Syria,” he wrote.

“The attack sent 3 important messages: Israel won’t allow for empowerment and production of strategic arms. Israel intends to enforce its redlines despite the fact that the great powers are ignoring them. The presence of Russian air defense does not prevent airstrikes attributed to Israel.

“Now it’s important to keep the escalation in check and to prepare for a Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah response and even opposition from Russia.”

While the IDF does not comment on foreign reports, it would not be the first time Israeli jets have hit Assad regime and Hezbollah targets in Syria. Jerusalem has repeatedly said that while there is no interest by Israel to enter into Syria’s civil war, there are red lines that Jerusalem has set including the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and an Iranian presence on its borders.

Former Israel Air Force Head Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel stated that Israel carried out at least 100 strikes in the past five years,  against the transfer of advanced weaponry from the Assad regime to Hezbollah, including the transfer of chemical weapons.

Just yesterday, the United Nations released a report affirming that the Syrian regime, governed by Bashar Assad, had indeed used chemical weapons (specifically Serin gas) to attack its own people when it had bombed the province of Idlib this past April.

The UN investigators confirmed that more than 80 civilians died as a direct result of the lethal attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

This is a developing story.

Yasser Okbi and Reuters contributed to this report.


Israeli Leader Says Relations with Arab World Are Best Ever

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s prime minister says the country is enjoying its greatest relations ever with the Arab world, even without a peace accord with the Palestinians.

Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Foreign Ministry personnel Wednesday ahead of the Jewish new year, saying the extent of relations has yet to fully be made public. He said their scope was greater than “any other period in Israeli history.”

Israel has peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. In recent years it has grown closer to Sunni nations over shared concern about Iran’s growing influence in the region. However, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations are hesitant to normalize ties before a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu has been promoting Israel’s improved international relations under his watch. Next week he makes a first visit to South America.

Bennett: ‘I Am the Education Minister for Everybody’

By: Sarah Levi;

He praised the state of Israeli education, adding: “Education is our real national security.”

Naftali Bennett. (photo credit:AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

I am the education minister for all the children of Israel – religious, secular, haredi, Druse, Arab, Circassian, Beduin, all,” Naftali Bennett said during Wednesday’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee meeting ahead of the upcoming school year.

Led by Shas MK Ya’acov Margi, head of the committee, and Bennett, the session touched on a variety of issues relevant to the education system including, hadata (“religionization”), classroom size, parent payments, special education and the Transparency in Education initiative.

“The Education Ministry is leaping in infrastructure and achievements in math, physics, chemistry, English, while classroom sizes are shrinking significantly,” Bennett said.

He praised the state of Israeli education, adding: “Education is our real national security.”

Bennett explained the need to build more classrooms, recruit better teachers and change the model of preschools, adding: “It’s a lot of hard work; I want to start the school year drama-free. The department should be for the students, not for theatrics.”

Bennett praised the new Transparency in Education website, saying: “It’s the first of its kind in Israel which allows transparency in all aspects of the educational systems including details on institutions, budgets, educational climate, classroom violence and how many graduates go to the army or national service. Now, everything is open and on the table.

I invite you to look. This will help us deal with questions in the future.”

He also emphasized putting more effort in teaching English, promising that this year, the level of English will increase.

“It is 2017 and there are kids who can’t write a email or have a conversation [in English]; we will fix this,” Bennett said.

During his presentation, he unveiled a program called “Israeli Judaism.”

“I am proud of this program,” he said. “There’s talk of religionization; there is no religionization, which is to give every child in the State of Israel a chance to get to know the ways of our people, to know what kiddush is, to know who Tchernichovsky is and who is the Rambam, and who is Moses; to know what havdala is.

“It’s not a sin to open a siddur.

We are proud of this. I am proud of this program and I invite all the members of the Knesset, everyone, to open the book and stop with the media spinning.”

Bennett also explained that this program gives teachers the ability to teach “why we need a state and why not move to Australia. We need answers for these things.”

On the issue of haredim in the school system, Bennett said: “I am not at war with the them. I don’t want a war, I want to work.”

Addressing the issue of parent payments, he promised to reduce such payments by 2019, noting his connection with the Finance Ministry.

He concluded with special education, describing that when he arrived at his current post, problems abounded as the system was on “autopilot.” He explained the budget was sufficient but wasn’t reaching enough. “With my political power, I procured a quarter of a billion shekels and 100% is going toward special education.”

His comment was met with angry outbursts from a mother who, while holding up a photograph on her phone of her son, claimed her son was being neglected and that there was no place in the school system for him. She was then physically removed from the meeting.

Next Friday, some 2.2 million students from preschools to high school will begin the school year.


El Al Will Fly Again Between Israel and Argentina, Decades After the Flight that Carried Eichmann

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – JULY 9: An El Al Boeing 747 passenger jet is towed to its gate after landing at Ben Gurion Airport July 9, 2003 near Tel Aviv, Israel. The Israeli government has begun to sell off all 100% of its stake in El Al, hoping to raise as much as US$150 million, about equal to what is owed in employee liabilities. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The national air carries of Argentina and Israeli signed an agreement to begin flights between Buenos Aires and Tel Aviv.

Aerolineas Argentinas President Mario Dell’Acqua and an El Al vice president met Friday at the Argentine Embassy in Tel Aviv to sign the final agreement. The flights will begin next month.

They will be the first flights between the two nations since 1960, when an El Al flight carried the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann from Buenos Aires to Tel Aviv and his trial in Israel.

A visit to Argentina by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Argentina is in the planning stages and, if confirmed, he will announce the first official flight at that time. The visit, part of a trip to Latin American countries, is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13, and would be the first by a sitting Israeli prime minister to Argentina and Latin America.

The president of Argentina’s Jewish political umbrella DAIA, Ariel Cohen Sabban, and the group’s vice president, Alberto Indij, participated in the codeshare signing event.

“We celebrate the historic event, which means that more Argentinians can travel to visit Israel and also we are happy to see the Argentinian flag in the Israeli sky soon,” Cohen Sabban told JTA from Israel.

In March, Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra and Israeli Ambassador to Argentina Ilán Sztulman had signed a framework agreement in Buenos Aires. The Argentine Foreign Ministry wrote then on its web page that the agreement “was made possible by the excellent relations that exist between aeronautical authorities, in addition to the historical bonds between both countries. It will be supplemented by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding which will enable the immediate operation of scheduled flights by the designated airlines.”

According to the announcement in May by Argentina’s official gazette, the commercial flights will have a stopover in the Spanish airports of Madrid or Barcelona.

On May 19, 1960, a special Israeli delegation headed by Minister Without Portfolio Abba Eban left Tel Aviv for Buenos Aires to participate in the 150th anniversary celebration of Argentine independence. At least this was the official version of that inaugural trip, as JTA reported at the time.

But the following day, Eichmann was brought on the El Al plane that had landed in Buenos Aires the day before carrying the diplomatic delegation from Israel. The Holocaust mastermind, who was held in the Argentine capital for nine days, was dressed in the uniform of an El Al crew member.

The flight back to Tel Aviv stopped for refueling in Dakar, Senegal, and on May 22, the plane landed in Israel, where Eichmann was arrested. He was convicted there of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 1961 and hanged the following year. It is the only time that Israel has used the death penalty.

Anti-Semitism is an Integral Part of European Culture

Netanyahu’s visit to Hungary and his meeting with leaders of Visegrad countries highlights the difference between these governments and the rest of Europe concerning Israel.

By: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld;

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
The writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

The recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Budapest – the first visit of an Israeli

Prime Minister since the fall of communism – received much international publicity. The media reported on both his meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and with the heads of the Visegrad group countries, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Yet in their reporting, many media outlets did not focus on the most important issues.

Orbán leads the right of center Fidesz party. He declared in a public statement after the meeting with Netanyahu that Hungary had sinned when it cooperated with Nazi Germany during the Second World War and that it had not protected its Jews. He also said that Hungary would protect all its citizens in the future. Yet, in the recent past Orbán praised the longtime Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy, a Hitler ally.

Orbán’s declaration about his country’s Holocaust guilt was important politically both for himself and for his party. Such admission of Hungarian Holocaust guilt is not unprecedented. Several Hungarian prime ministers including Gyula Horn, Péter Medgyessy and Ferenc Gyurcsany  have acknowledged their country’s war crimes or issued apologies.

In a 2013 study, 91% of Hungarian Jews stated that anti-Semitism had increased in the past five years, a higher percentage than in the seven other countries investigated. Ninety percent of Hungarian Jews saw anti-Semitism as a problem in their country. Anti-Semitism has not abated since. The extreme right and anti-Semitic Jobbik party received 20% of the votes in the 2014 elections. Its leader, Gabor Vona, is now trying to move the party somewhat toward the center to become a serious competitor for Fidesz prior to the next election which will take place in 2018.

Countries do not change their culture easily. Hungary has a long history of anti-Semitism which dates back many years well before its collaboration with the Germans during the Holocaust. The postwar communist regimes suppressed anti-Semitism. However after their fall in 1989, it soon reared its head again. Yet while there is extreme verbal anti-Semitism, for the most part it has not become violent. That may change though. Like in most European countries, Jews living in Hungary have to realize that anti-Semitism is an integral part of European culture. Its intensity varies from country to country. While anti-Semitism has to be fought, it is far too embedded to be eliminated.

The Hungarian government’s poster campaign against American billionaire George Soros has drawn much attention. He promotes the settlement of Middle Eastern refugees in Hungary and other European countries. Soros’ policy is seen as hostile by the Hungarian government. The government campaign was also exploited by anti-Semites who drew graffiti on billboards. As a result, Hungarian Jews were worried about anti-Semitism surrounding the campaign.

Some Jews asked Netanyahu to cancel his visit. But an Israeli Prime Minister meets many leaders without this indicating that he is in agreement with all their policies. For instance, Netanyahu visited the Netherlands. This does not mean that he agrees with the current government’s continuous refusal to admit their predecessors’ major failures toward Jews during the Second World War. Nor does Netanyahu have to approve the massive unvetted immigration there of people from Muslim countries in which anti-Semitism is rife. This immigration is the greatest threat to Dutch Jews and Israel in that country since the Holocaust.

This is not the only worrying aspect of the Dutch reality concerning Israel.  A 2011 study by the University of Bielefeld, found that almost 39% of the Dutch were in agreement with the statement: “Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” The figure for Hungary was barely different:  41%.

The Israeli ambassador to Hungary came out against the anti-Semitism. The Israeli foreign office explained the Israeli position in a statement that it meant “in no way to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny its right to defend itself.”

Concerning the meeting with the leaders of the Visegrad countries, the main media attention was focused on the scathing remarks Netanyahu made about Europe without realizing that a microphone was open. Part of his remarks were substantially correct even if he would have phrased them differently had he realized that his statements were no longer private.

The level of anti-Semitism in the Visegrad countries differs. In 2014, an ADL study asked 11 basic questions concerning classic anti-Semitic attitudes in a number of countries. It found that 45% of Poles harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. In Hungary the figure is 41%, and in the Czech Republic 13%. No data is available for Slovakia. When asked if Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust, 62% of Poles responded yes, with 61% of Hungarians agreeing. 44% of Czech citizens answered affirmatively to the same question.

In 2004, I interviewed Mark Sofer, then Deputy Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. At that time the Visegrad countries and several others had just joined the EU. He said: “Conventional wisdom tells us that the accession of these countries to the EU is positive for Israel. For once, conventional wisdom may well be correct.” He has indeed been proven correct. These and other central European countries often support Israel in a frequently politically hostile EU. They are also important for Israeli investors.

Another reason these countries are important not only for Israel but also for European Jewry is that they oppose immigration. The immigrants are to a large extent Muslims from the Middle East. Brussels and the leaders of European countries know well that most Muslim immigrants have been indoctrinated with extreme anti-Semitic propaganda from childhood. An advisor to the European court wants it to reject the challenge by Hungary and Slovakia against the EU European council decision that EU members must take in hundreds of asylum-seekers.

Yet the EU leaders do not care. The decent thing would have been to vet Muslims immigrating into Europe so that these so-called liberal democracies would not have admitted anti-Semitic immigrants. As this is not the case, the policy of the Visegrad countries not to receive immigrants is preferable. In this way in future at least a few European countries where Muslim anti-Semitic hatemongers will not play a prominent role.


Archaeologists Find 2,000-Year-Old Rare Stone Vessel Used in Jewish Rituals

By: Daniel Eisenbud;

“This discovery provides fascinating evidence of ritual purity in the daily lives of Galilean Jews during the time of Jesus,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Archaeological excavations inside the ancient workshop.. (photo credit:Israel Antiquities Authority)

A rare 2,000-year-old workshop for the production of chalkstone vessels, dating to the Roman Period, was recently unearthed by archeologists from the Antiquities Authority during excavations in Reina, in the Lower Galilee.

The excavations took place in a small cave in which researchers found thousands of chalkstone cores and other production waste, including fragments of stone mugs and bowls in various stages of production, the authority said on Thursday.

The ancient site is the fourth workshop of its kind to ever have been discovered in Israel. It was uncovered during the course of construction work at a municipal sports center conducted by the Reina Local Council.

According to Dr. Yonatan Adler, senior lecturer at Ariel University and director of the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, during the first century of the Common Era, Jews throughout Judea and the Galilee used tableware and storage vessels made of soft, local chalkstone.

“The reason for this curious choice of material seems to have been religious, as according to ancient Jewish ritual law, vessels made of pottery are easily made impure and must be broken,” Adler explained on Thursday.

“Stone, on the other hand, was thought to be a material which can never become ritually impure, and as a result, ancient Jews began to produce some of their everyday tableware from stone.”

Although chalkstone vessels have been unearthed at many Jewish sites throughout the country, Adler said it is extremely unusual to uncover a site where such vessels were actually produced.

“Today, we are excavating a second site near Reina, located 1 kilometer from here,” he said.

“Until now, only two other similar sites have been excavated, however both of these were in the area of Jerusalem.

Our excavations are highlighting the pivotal role of ritual purity observance – not only in Jerusalem, but in the far-off Galilee as well.”

The excavations also revealed an artificially hewn cave from which ancient workers quarried the raw material for the chalkstone vessels.

“Ancient chisel marks cover the walls, ceiling and floor of the cave,” Adler said.

“Inside the cave and on the ground nearby are strewn thousands of stone cores, the ancient industrial waste from stone mugs, and bowls produced on a lathe. Hundreds of unfinished vessels were also found, apparently damaged during the production process and discarded on-site.”

While similar finds have been recorded in other parts of the country, Yardenna Alexandre, an archeologist at the authority specializing in the study of the Galilee during the Roman Era, described the most recent discovery as an unprecedented opportunity.

“Throughout the years, we have been discovering fragments of these kinds of stone vessels alongside pottery in excavations of houses in both rural and urban Jewish sites from the Roman Period, such as Kafr Kana, Tzipori and Nazareth,” said Alexandre.

“Now, for the first time, we have an unprecedented opportunity to investigate a site where these vessels were actually produced in the Galilee.”

Alexandre added that Jews using stone vessels for religious purposes is well attested in Talmudic sources, but noted that the phenomenon also appears in the Wedding at Cana narrative in the Gospel of John, where the water-turned-to-wine is said to have been held in six jars made of stone: “Now, there were six stone water jars set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing 20 or 30 gallons each” (John 2:6).

Moreover, she said a link to the narrative lies in the location of the excavations at Reina, just south of the modern village of Kafr Kana, identified by many scholars as the site of New Testament Cana.

“It is possible that large stone containers of the type mentioned in the Wedding at Cana of Galilee story may have been produced locally in the Galilee,” Alexandre said.


Netflix Producting Israeli Spy Thriller ‘The Angel’ to Premiere Next Year

By: Amy Spiro;

The new film is based on the story of Egyptian spy Ashraf Marwan.

Netflix logo. (photo credit:REUTERS)

While Israeli audiences are now getting used to Netflix in Hebrew, international audiences can get ready for a Netflix original film about a real-life Israeli spy.

The video-streaming giant has signed on to produce a film based on Uri Bar-Joseph’s book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, published last year.

According to a Variety exclusive, The Angel, which will be directed by Israeli Ariel Vromen, begins shooting this month in London and is expected to premiere globally on Netflix next year.

The book and film follow the story of Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and a close adviser to his successor, Anwar Sadat. Marwan, it turns out, was a spy for Israel for 27 years, and tried to warn the country of the 1973 Yom Kippur War before it broke out. However he couldn’t hide his identity as a mole forever, and finally met an unfortunate end in London in 2007.

Marwan is set to be portrayed by Dutch-Tunisian actor Marwan Kenzari. Israeli actors Sasson Gabai (The Band’s Visit) and Ori Pfeffer (Hacksaw Ridge) will also be joining the cast. The film will be shot in Arabic, Hebrew and English.

Vromen, a native of Tel Aviv, is best known for directing the 2012 film The Iceman. He also directed 2016’s Criminal, which starred Kevin Costner and Gal Gadot.


The Only Book on Palestinian History You Will Ever Need to Read

A historian counters mendacity with powerful satire.

By: Ari Lieberman;

There have been many books written on Palestinian identity and history but none are as scholarly and authoritative as Assaf A. Voll’s “A History of the Palestinian People, From Ancient Times to the Modern Era.” Voll’s exhaustive account of Palestinian history is summed up in 120 fact-filled pages brimming with substantive information that most will find useful.

University students working under harsh time constraints will find the book particularly suitable because it can be read cover-to-cover in a matter of seconds. That’s because all the pages are blank save for a quote in the beginning of the book attributed to the Seinfeld character George Costanza – “Just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

One comical reviewer at Amazon amusingly noted that the Voll’s book was plagiarized. “The work is identical to the book, Everything Men Know About Women: 25th Anniversary Edition,” said the reviewer. The reviewer is correct but the author’s transgression is minor compared to fantastical mendacity propagated by those pretending to be historians and academics at some of the world’s top universities.

The notion of “Palestinian history” is farcical and Voll’s understated but illuminating point unabashedly exposes this abject lie. The name “Palestine” is an invented name concocted by the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

In 132 CE, the Jews of Judea (alternatively known as Eretz Israel) launched an open revolt against Roman occupation of their land. Led by its charismatic leader, Simon Bar Kochva, the anti-Roman insurgency nearly succeeded, as evidenced by archaeological discoveries and historical accounts but was ultimately suppressed some three years later after intense and bitter fighting.

Hadrian was keenly aware and understood that the Jews could never be defeated by force of arms alone. He believed that in order to defeat the Jews, he needed to break their spirit as well. He therefore embarked on a bitter campaign of severing the Jewish nexus to the Land of Israel. Among his many cruel edicts was the renaming of the city of Jerusalem to “Aelia Capitolina” and the Land of Israel to “Palestine.” While the former name was never accepted, the latter abominable renaming unfortunately stuck and over time supplanted the land’s historical and original naming.

To be clear, there has never in the history of mankind been a Palestinian state, a Palestinian capital, a distinct Palestinian language, currency or culture. In December 2011, Newt Gingrich noted this indisputable fact and made the following observation;

“Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community…”

Gingrich was widely criticized for his politically incorrect but historically accurate statement but none of his critics were able to upend the veracity of his comment. Ironically, Arab leaders have occasionally voiced opinions similar to those expressed by Gingrich. Those opinions were of course made in Arabic to Arabic audiences but they were nonetheless made.

In a revealing 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein stated,

“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa. While as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

In 2012, a Gaza-based Hamas government official named Fathi Hammad noted the following while pleading for Egyptian oil;

“Every Palestinian…throughout Palestine can prove his Arab roots, whether from Saudi Arabia or Yemen or anywhere…personally, half my family is Egyptian, we are all like that.” Hammad continued, “Brothers, half the Palestinians are Egyptian and the other half are Saudis…Who are the Palestinians?” he asked rhetorically. “We have families called al-Masri whose roots are Egyptian, Egyptian! We are Egyptian! We are Arab! We are Muslim!” Hammad’s rant was curiously and conspicuously devoid of any reference to an independent Palestinian identity and that is because there simply isn’t any.

As Zahir Muhsein candidly notes, the notion of Palestinian nationalism began as a tactic following the Arab defeat of 1948. Prior to that time, most Arabs living in mandatory Palestine thought of themselves as either subjects of the Ottoman Empire or citizens of Greater Syria. The rest were transient workers from the vast Arab and Muslim expanse lured to the area by better fortunes fostered as a result of increased Jewish economic activity and business expansion.

Arabs residing in Gaza and the so-called West Bank from 1948 to 1967 had no problem living under Egyptian and Jordanian occupation. But the very notion of Jews occupying a centimeter of “Arab soil” was considered an abomination and an affront to Arab and Muslim honor.

Assaf Voll’s satirical account of Palestinian history is a book about nothing. It is nevertheless a forceful repudiation of those in academia, the media and elsewhere wishing to perpetuate historical inaccuracies to advance mendacious narratives. If there is to be a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, we must start by recognizing and acknowledging certain unwavering and perhaps unpleasant truths, and chief among them is the myth of Palestinian history.

20th Maccabiah Games, Known as Jewish Olympics, to Open with Record 10,000 Athletes

Athletes from the U.S. delegation to the 19th Maccabiah Games celebrating during the opening ceremonies at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, July 19, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/JTA)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A record 10,000 athletes will be competing at the 20th Maccabiah Games, the so-called Jewish Olympics.

Some 30,000 people are expected to attend the opening ceremonies Thursday at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, which will be nationally televised on Israel’s Channel 2. It is the third largest sporting event in the world, according to organizers.

The athletes in the 43 sports represented at this year’s games come from 80 countries. Israel and the United States have the largest delegations. The latter will have over 1,000 athletes, according to Maccabi USA. Among them will be Anthony Ervin, who won the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle last summer at the Rio Olympics 16 years after doing so for the first time in Sydney.

In addition to the dozens of events taking place in the host city of Jerusalem, competitions will be held at 68 sports complexes throughout the country.

Soccer is the largest sport at the games, with more than 1,400 athletes from 20 countries participating.

The competition categories are youth, open, master’s and Paralympics.

Many international Jewish sports stars have launched their careers at the Maccabiah, and often return to play or coach at the games.