“Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney.”
—New York Times columnist David Brooks
The Weekly Standard Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Early in 2001, President Bush approved the export of arms to democratic Taiwan. At the time, Bush said the United States would do "whatever it takes" to defend its tiny, besieged Pacific ally. That was yesterday. Today, it's looking more like Bush was just kidding.
How else to explain the administration's recent decision to freeze $16 billion worth of the arms deals? Bush approved the sale of Patriot missiles, Apache helicopters, and submarines to Taiwan more than seven years ago. Since then Taiwan has also requested 66 F-16 fighter jets to replace its aging planes. The Taiwanese legislature has appropriated the money with which to buy the weapons. In some cases it has already even put down payments. In return, America has given Taiwan a whole lot of nothing.
On July 16, the head of Pacific Command, Admiral Timothy Keating, told an audience at the Heritage Foundation that the administration has concluded "there is no pressing, compelling need for, at this moment, arms sales to Taiwan of the systems that we're talking about." This must have been news to the Taiwanese government, which says the weapons are needed to defend Taiwan. And it certainly must have been a surprise to the authors of the Pentagon's annual report on Chinese military power, who have for the past several years noted the dangerous shift in the military balance of power between Taiwan and China.
Taiwan president Ma Ying-Jeou took office last May, pledging to improve relations between Taiwan and China while protecting his democracy's sovereignty. To that end, in recent months the two countries have resumed cross-strait talks, allowed direct flights between the mainland and Taipei, and pursued further economic integration.
Yet Ma also understands that he must negotiate from a position of strength. For the United States to renege on its commitments would weaken Ma's hand at a critical time. After all, his government is only a few months old and Beijing is no doubt searching for weaknesses. American self-doubt and lack of follow through--in effect, a lack of American resolve and confidence in Ma's government--may lead Chinese policymakers to think that they can act provocatively.
Beijing has already gotten away with a lot. China is a rising autocratic power that has suffered no consequences for its gross human rights violations and support for rogue regimes. The military buildup on the Chinese side of the Taiwan Strait continues uninterrupted. There are now more than a thousand Chinese missiles pointed at Taiwan. In the last decade the Chinese have deployed more than 300 advanced aircraft across the Strait. China has five ongoing submarine programs. A massive, underground nuclear submarine base was recently detected on Hainan Island.
China has reasons for its buildup. It is meant, among other things, to deter unilateral declarations of Taiwanese independence. The authors of the Defense Department's 2008 report on Chinese military power wrote, the "ongoing deployment of short-range ballistic missiles, enhanced amphibious warfare capabilities, and modern, long-range anti-air systems opposite Taiwan are reminders of Beijing's unwillingness to renounce the use of force." The greater the military imbalance between China and Taiwan, the more likely China is to use military force in a cross-strait dispute. This is another reason the deal is necessary. Taiwan requires arms to serve as a deterrent against the mainland.
Why the delay? The administration has provided only a series of excuses. First the deal was held up because Washington was displeased with Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence rhetoric. Now Chen is gone, replaced by Ma's quietist diplomacy. The new excuse is that fulfilling our end of the bargain would upset China on the verge of next week's Beijing Olympics. Even if this were the case, and it probably is not, the administration has to shoulder much of the blame. Its foot-dragging in years past helped produce this impasse (though Taiwan's then-opposition Kuomintang party was also a problem). And once the Olympics are over, and the weapons still have not been exported, expect the administration to say that it cannot fulfill its commitments to Taiwan because to do so may jeopardize China's participation in the North Korean denuclearization talks.
All of these excuses point to the actual reason for the delay: America's current Taiwan policy is motivated by fear. We are afraid of upsetting China and afraid, in turn, of what an upset China might do in response. And the consequence of this fear is a weakened position for the United States and its East Asian allies.
... Apparently, the Dhimmi-In-Chief has decided, now, that he will only sell arms to members of the Dar-Al-Islam (Territory of Islam) to be used against the rest of us in the Dar-Al-Harb (Territory of War). This must be part of the Chief Dhimmi's djizya (tribute payment for protection). - Tiger
"Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” It’s certainly true today. The biggest threat to the peace and security of Israel, and the peace and security of the West, is not Iran’s Ahmadinejad or Hamas or Osama bin Laden but rather our own complacence and inaction. What happens in the battle against Islamo-fascism ultimately depends on us, our resolve and courage to do what it takes to defend our way of life."
... Both Democrat and Republican Parties and their respective Leadership represents this inaction and complacency, as does most Western leadership. American "Libertarians" simply want to withdraw into their drug-ridden wombs. The Bush Administration, the Supreme Court, the Pentagon - all live by a mistaken dogma that; one can win over pure evil by working with it and not against it. Unfortunately, most western peoples accept this pagan belief.
If this idea were true, their would be no "Satan" - GOD would have "won him over" long ago. Some argue exactly that; there is no "Satan" and we should be "beyond this violence" by now and should live our lives in some Nietzscheian fashion where good and evil don't exist. See if you can manage to gurgle this concept through your lips as an MS13 gangster slits your throat or a Radical Islamist cuts off your head.
They all forget so easily; if this idea of "live and let live" were true, evil would not be a part of our existence. I've got news for ya folks - it's still here! - [Tiger]
This week’s third annual Christians United For Israel Summit in Washington, D.C., commenced amid predictable media chatter over the political implications of the burgeoning Christian-Jewish alliance.
But the summit’s true purpose -- to foster greater respect and understanding between Christians and Jews -- was rooted in a much deeper insight into the relationship between these two faiths: that the future of Western Civilization may well depend on it.
Mid-way through the conference, I was approached by a young Israeli Jew who grabbed me by the shoulder and thanked me for my work on behalf of Israel. He also told me that he was “astonished” by the level of support for Israel by Americans and particularly by conservative Christians. At first, he told me, he had been skeptical of Christians’ intentions for supporting Israel, believing that there must be some sort of “hidden agenda” in our concern for the beleaguered state. Only recently had he come to realize that Christian support for Israel is sincere.
And it’s true. Most American Christians have long recognized an obligation to support Israel. A poll conducted this month by the Washington-based Joshua Fund, an evangelical organization, found 82 percent of American Christians felt they have a “moral and spiritual obligation” to support Jews and Israel.
Christians support Israel because the Bible commands us to pray and act for the peace of Jerusalem and to speak out for Israel’s sake. But Christian support for Israel is important also because Israel is the sole democracy in the Middle East, America’s only reliable ally there and the only nation in that region rooted in the Judeo-Christian values that have allowed Western Civilization to thrive. American Christians, and all Americans of goodwill, must recognize that Israel and America’s futures are inextricably linked.
The media, United Nations and European elites often trumpet the notion that Israel is the primary impediment to peace in the Middle East. They claim that if only Israel would agree to a few concessions -- to divide Jerusalem, abandon Judea and Samaria, give up on the Golan Heights and accept unlimited refugees -- peace could be established. But it is becoming clear that the intention of Israel’s enemies is not to argue about the details of peace agreements but rather to debate a much more fundamental issue: whether Israel has the right even to exist.
The enmity that fuels that debate is inculcated early. Israeli children are taught to reject bigotry and racism and to be tolerant of other faiths. But in many Muslim countries, children are taught to hate Jews and Christians. A recent report by the Hudson Institute revealed that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education teaches literal hatred of “unbelievers.” Even Palestinian television programs aimed at young children showcase Islamic radicalism and teach that nothing is more glorious than to become a suicide bomber for Islam.
But the lack of reciprocity goes further. While Israel’s judicial system relentlessly protects the rights of Israel’s Muslim citizens, a culture of hatred of the “infidel” is endemic in much of the Muslim world. A new report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center found that Gaza’s 3,500 Christians are increasingly at risk of violence, that Christian schools have become targets of terrorist attacks and that the tiny Christian minority living in Gaza lives in daily fear and intimidation and often tones down Christian holidays and observances in order not to provoke the extremists. In much of the Islamic world, Christianity is illegal and Christians who worship openly are imprisoned or worse.
At the end of my conversation with the young Israeli Jew at the CUFI Summit, he told me that he already fully appreciated the threat of Islamic terrorism. “What I want is hope,” he said as he recounted how he had spent four years in the Israeli Defense Forces and attended the funerals of at least 10 friends killed by terrorists before he was 21 years old. He also told me that he had a 17-month-old child whose name means hope in Hebrew. This young man wanted reassurance from me that there was hope that his child would grow up in a peaceful Israel.
There is hope. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” It’s certainly true today. The biggest threat to the peace and security of Israel, and the peace and security of the West, is not Iran’s Ahmadinejad or Hamas or Osama bin Laden but rather our own complacence and inaction. What happens in the battle against Islamo-fascism ultimately depends on us, our resolve and courage to do what it takes to defend our way of life.
The only way we lose this battle is if we decide it’s not important enough to us to win. If good people do nothing, the enemy will win. But the good news is that we ultimately have control over this battle’s result. There is reason to hope, then, and that hope was palpable at this week’s CUFI summit. Hope for a peaceful future begins with Christians, Jews and all people of goodwill deciding that the values of Western Civilization are values worth defending.
A San Francisco city and county board resolution that officially labeled the Catholic church's moral teachings on homosexuality as "insulting to all San Franciscans," "hateful," "defamatory," "insensitive" and "ignorant" will be challenged tomorrow in court for violating the Constitution's prohibition of government hostility toward religion.
Resolution 168-08, passed unanimously by the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors two years ago, also accused the Vatican of being a "foreign country" meddling with and attempting to "negatively influence (San Francisco's) existing and established customs."
It said of the church's teaching on homosexuality, "Such hateful and discriminatory rhetoric is both insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors."
As WND reported, Resolution 168-08 was an official response to the Catholic Church's ban on adoption placements into homosexual couple households, issued by Cardinal William Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican.
The board's resolution urged the city's local archbishop and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to defy the Vatican's instructions, concluding with a spiteful reminder that the church authority that issued the ban was known 100 years ago as "The Holy Office of the Inquisition."
The resolution also took a shot at Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco, saying, "Cardinal Levada is a decidedly unqualified representative of his former home city, and of the people of San Francisco and the values they hold dear."
... so; what the San Fran City and County are really saying is that the Bible (you know, The Word of GOD) is wrong; correct!?! - because the Catholic Church is simply following the teachings of the Bible!?!
... first a primer:
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.Romans 1:26-28 (in Context) Romans 1 (Whole Chapter)
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.Jude 1:6-8 (in Context) Jude 1 (Whole Chapter)
... the biggies; in the Old Testament":
Laws of Sexual Morality
1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. 3 According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. 4 You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God. 5 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD....
... 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. 23 Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. 24 ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. 25 For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. 26 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you 27 (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), 28 lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. 29 For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 ‘Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the LORD your God.’”
... want more, here's more!
The anti-Catholic diatribe had been challenged in U.S. District Court on similar grounds, but District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled in favor of the city, saying, in essence, the church started it.
She wrote in her decision, "The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith provoked this debate, indeed may have invited entanglement" for instructing Catholic politicians on how to vote. This court does not find that our case law requires political bodies to remain silent in the face of provocation."
She ruled that the city's proclamation was not entangling the government in church affairs, since the resolution was a non-binding, non-regulatory announcement.
Since no law was enacted, she ruled, city officials – even in their official capacity as representatives of the government – can say what they want.
"It is merely the exercise of free speech rights by duly elected office holders," she wrote.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which is appealing the District Court decision on behalf of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and two Catholic residents of San Francisco, disagrees with Patel's decision.
"Sadly, the ruling itself clearly exhibited hostility toward the Catholic Church," he said in a statement. "The judge in her written decision held that the Church 'provoked the debate' by publicly expressing its moral teaching, and that by passing the resolution the City responded 'responsibly' to all of the 'terrible' things the Church was saying."
Thomas More attorney Robert Muise will present oral arguments in the case tomorrow morning in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Our Constitution plainly forbids hostility toward any religion, including the Catholic faith," he said.
"In total disregard for the Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of authority in San Francisco have abused their authority as government officials and misused the instruments of the government to attack the Catholic Church. Their egregious abuse of power has now the backing of a lower federal court. … Unfortunately, all too often we see a double standard being applied in Establishment Clause cases," Muise said.
Thomas More attorneys argued in the District Court case that the "anti-Catholic resolution sends a clear message" that Catholics are "outsiders, not full members of the political community."
The cultural, and now political, straight-arm to adherents of the Christian faith in San Francisco has been increasingly public in the last two years. Just one week after the anti-Catholic resolution was passed, the San Francisco Board issued a similar resolution against a mostly evangelical group.
Following a gathering of 25,000 teens at San Francisco's AT&T Park as part of Ron Luce's Teen Mania "Battle Cry for a Generation" rally against the sexualization of America's youth culture by advertisers and media, the board spoke out formally again.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution condemning the "act of provocation" by what it termed an "anti-gay," "anti-choice" organization that aimed to "negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city."
Openly homosexual California Assemblyman Mark Leno told protesters of the teen rally that though such religious people may be few, "they're loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting, and they should get out of San Francisco."
The Chronicle also reported a San Francisco protester against the evangelical youth rally carried a sign that may sum up the sentiment: "I moved here to get away from people like you."
The Thomas More Law Center hopes the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will decide in the case of Resolution 1680-08 that even if a large portion of the community is at odds with a religion's views on homosexuality, the government cannot be used as a weapon to condemn religious faith.
Currently, as WND has reported, Colorado and Michigan are tackling the question of whether the Bible itself can be vilified as "hate speech" for it's condemnation of homosexuality, and Canada has developed human rights commissions, which have decided people cannot express opposition to homosexuality without fear of government reprisal.
... so, San Fran leaders appear to not believe in Amendment 1 of the Constitution, or the Bible; and they want all of us who do to be punished for it! This battle is brewing in Canada already, and at an accelerated pace. You can be imprisoned there for expressing your religious belief. This battle will eventually come to a head here. (no pun intended) - Tiger
A popular American pulp and paper company has banned employees at its toilet paper plant from storing concealed weapons in their cars while on company property – a move that defies Florida gun law.
Georgia-Pacific cited a Homeland Security exemption from a statute authorizing workers with concealed-weapons permits to have guns locked in their cars because it says the plant handles large amounts of explosive fuel, the Miami Herald reported.
The Palatka, Fla., toilet paper mill's choice to ban concealed weapons has infuriated representatives of the National Rifle Association and highlighted the state legislature's troubles with creating unambiguous laws during its 60-day session.
The business lobby claims the gun-right law infringes on private property owners' rights. Ambiguous wording declares employers exempt from the law if carrying a concealed weapon is "prohibited pursuant to any federal law.''
The Georgia-Pacific plant, located south of Jacksonville, Fla., claims it is off the hook because U.S. Coast Guard's Maritime Security regulations mandate that the company must have a permit and a safety plan. Company spokesman Jeremy Alexander said the plant's rules ban firearms on the property because it ships about 700 gallons of fuel each day to operate.
''This is based on our Homeland Security requirements," he said. "It's not because of the products we make.''
According to the Herald, Georgia-Pacific would not provide copies of its documents for confidentiality reasons.
Chief NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer called the company policy "ridiculous."
''The Legislature never intended to exempt toilet paper," she said. "Georgia-Pacific is putting toilet paper ahead of the lives of its hardworking men and women. I'd guess 80 percent of its employees are hunters who go hunting after work.''
When the newspaper asked her if she believes lawmakers could have drafted a more transparent law, she replied, "They never have."
Hammer also criticized Disney World's latest claims that it's excused from abiding by the law's terms because it holds a federal explosives permit for its fireworks show.
Republican Rep. Greg Evers of Milton, a sponsor of the law, called the situation a ''Tallahassee compromise."
"For the business community, there have to be certain exemptions,'' he said, noting that such stipulations are meant to shield school children and prevent firearms from coming into contact with explosives.
Evers said he plans to see how the courts rule before the state legislature acts. While a decision is in a federal case involving the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation will be made soon, the Herald reports the Tallahassee judge said the legislature's description of employers is "stupid."
Democrat Rep. Jack Seiler of Fort Lauderdale said the law has many flaws, and he blamed Republicans for hastily passing it.
''The NRA has become a victim of its own success and it's looking for battles," Seiler said. "This was a solution in search of a problem. And the Legislature created a mess.''
Hat Tip: The Tigress
Anheuser Busch approves $50bn sale to InBev - So Much For The King of Beers! The Last Major U.S. Based Beer Company Sold - Sold To Foreigners!
IndyMac Seized by U.S. Regulators Amid Cash Crunch
July 11 (Bloomberg) -- IndyMac Bancorp Inc. became the second-biggest federally insured financial company to be seized by U.S. regulators after a run by depositors left the California mortgage lender short on cash.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will run a successor institution, IndyMac Federal Bank, starting next week, the Office of Thrift Supervision said in an e-mailed statement today. Customers will have access to funds this weekend via automated teller machines. Regulators intend to eventually sell the company.
The Pasadena, California-based lender specialized in so- called Alt-A mortgages, which didn't require borrowers to provide documentation on their incomes. IndyMac's home state, where Countrywide Financial Corp. was also located before it was bought last week, has been among the hardest hit by foreclosures.
"Given their focus on Alt-A and a heavy concentration in California, they would have suffered meaningful losses in almost any scenario,'' Brian Horey, president of Aurelian Management LLC in New York, said before the seizure was announced. Aurelian is short-selling IndyMac shares to gain from declines.
Had IndyMac "applied some common sense and changed their approach to underwriting as the housing market peaked, they might have lived to see the next cycle,'' Horey said.
IndyMac came under fire last month from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who said lax lending standards and deposits purchased from third parties left it on the brink of failure. In the 11 business days after Schumer explained his concerns in a June 26 letter, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion, the OTS said.
... whether it's fair or not, the Bush Administration will be blamed for this - Tiger
VIENNA: The head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries warned Thursday that oil prices would see an "unlimited" increase in the case of a military conflict involving Iran, because the group's members would be unable to make up the lost production."We really cannot replace Iran's production - it's not feasible to replace it," Abdalla Salem El-Badri, the OPEC secretary general, said during an interview.
Iran, the second-largest producing country in OPEC, after Saudi Arabia, produces about 4 million barrels of oil a day out of the daily worldwide production of close to 87 million barrels. The country has been locked in a lengthy dispute with Western countries over its nuclear ambitions.
In recent weeks, the price of oil has risen higher on speculation that Israel could be preparing to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. The saber-rattling intensified this week with missile tests by Iran. That has further shaken oil markets because of concerns that any conflict with Iran could disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf region.
"The prices would go unlimited," Badri said during the interview, referring to the effect of a military conflict. "I can't give you a number."
Analysts said the timing of Badri's remarks was noteworthy, given that the idea of an attack on Iran has been around for years. In addition, an attack on Iran would probably not specifically target oil facilities, said Johannes Benigni, managing director of JBC, an oil research and consulting firm in Vienna.
"Perhaps OPEC wants to say to the Americans in particular that there would be an economic price to be paid for an attack on Iran," said Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels. "Gulf leaders also know that if a war broke out, the situation of some Gulf states also would become more uncomfortable and could have political difficulties for them domestically," he said, noting that some have their own Shia minorities.
Badri, a former oil executive who has headed the oil industry in Libya and also served as deputy prime minister of that country, called for a peaceful solution. He also suggested that an additional military conflict in the Middle East, besides the ongoing conflict in Iraq, would be severe and long-lasting.
"If something happened there, nobody would be able to solve it," he said.
The United States, Israel and other Western countries say Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran says the program is only for civilian purposes.
Badri said that current geopolitical tensions were among the principal reasons why oil prices were so high.
He said that a shortfall in refining capacity and a weak dollar were other factors, and he reiterated OPEC's position that speculation on oil markets probably was the most important.
But he said that reserves of oil were plentiful and that worries about scarcity were misplaced.
Proven reserves of conventional oil worldwide rose slightly to about 1.205 trillion barrels in 2007 from 1.195 trillion barrels in 2006, according to one of two annual reports issued by OPEC on Thursday.
Supplies from Russia and Norway and other nations outside the 13-member OPEC are expected to keep growing, helped by technologies like turning gas and coal into liquid fuel and extracting oil from tar sands and shale.
Even so, Badri sought to assuage concerns about a supply shock, saying that OPEC members already were investing $160 billion in new production capacity up to 2012.
But he said additional investment in future production capacity could be limited, potentially sharpening a dispute with consuming nations about whether sufficient steps are being taken to meet demand over the next decade.
The International Energy Agency, an energy monitor based in Paris and financed by industrialized nations, warned in its annual medium term report this month that oil supplies would remain tight over the next few years, despite the record-high prices. The IEA noted low spare capacity from OPEC, among other factors. It said that prices were high mostly because of fast-growing demand from rapidly industrializing countries like China, rather than because of market speculation.
On Tuesday, leaders of the Group of 8 economic powers warned that surging oil prices could be a key factor undermining world growth and called on petroleum suppliers to increase production and refining and to increase investment in oil exploration and output over the medium term.
Some analysts have predicted that oil prices could reach $200 a barrel this year as oil consumption continues to rise rapidly while supplies lag.
... when we assume that trade will solve all problems, including turning our enemies into friends, ... this sort of thing happens ... - Tiger
By Ethan Bronner
Published: July 5, 2008
JERUSALEM: A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.
If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.
The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.
It is written, not engraved, across two neat columns, similar to columns in a Torah. But the stone is broken, and some of the text is faded, meaning that much of what it says is open to debate.
Still, its authenticity has so far faced no challenge, so its role in helping to understand the roots of Christianity in the devastating political crisis faced by the Jews of the time seems likely to increase.
Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at the University of California at Berkeley, said that the stone was part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that Jesus could be best understood through a close reading of the Jewish history of his day.
"Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism," Boyarin said.
Given the highly charged atmosphere surrounding all Jesus-era artifacts and writings, both in the general public and in the fractured and fiercely competitive scholarly community, as well as the concern over forgery and charlatanism, it will probably be some time before the tablet's contribution is fully assessed. It has been around 60 years since the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered, and they continue to generate enormous controversy regarding their authors and meaning.
The scrolls, documents found in the Qumran caves of the West Bank, contain some of the only known surviving copies of biblical writings from before the first century AD In addition to quoting from key books of the Bible, the scrolls describe a variety of practices and beliefs of a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus.
How representative the descriptions are and what they tell us about the era are still strongly debated. For example, a question that arises is whether the authors of the scrolls were members of a monastic sect or in fact mainstream. A conference marking 60 years since the discovery of the scrolls will begin on Sunday at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where the stone, and the debate over whether it speaks of a resurrected messiah, as one iconoclastic scholar believes, also will be discussed.
Oddly, the stone is not really a new discovery. It was found about a decade ago and bought from a Jordanian antiquities dealer by an Israeli-Swiss collector who kept it in his Zurich home. When an Israeli scholar examined it closely a few years ago and wrote a paper on it last year, interest began to rise. There is now a spate of scholarly articles on the stone, with several due to be published in the coming months.
"I couldn't make much out of it when I got it," said David Jeselsohn, the owner, who is himself an expert in antiquities. "I didn't realize how significant it was until I showed it to Ada Yardeni, who specializes in Hebrew writing, a few years ago. She was overwhelmed. 'You have got a Dead Sea Scroll on stone,' she told me."
Much of the text, a vision of the apocalypse transmitted by the angel Gabriel, draws on the Old Testament, especially the prophets Daniel, Zechariah and Haggai.
... article continues, it's long, but well worth it!