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The “Grandfather of Israeli Hiking” Discovers an Ancient Incense-Trading Route

March 16 2018

In the 3rd century BCE, the Nabataean kingdom—located in an area comprising what is now the Sinai Peninsula, northwestern Saudi Arabia, and most of Jordan—was a major conduit for the trade in incense, which was produced in Yemen and transported up the Arabian coast, through Nabataea, and then to the rest of the Middle East. The Incense Route also stretched to Gaza, from where the merchandise could be exported to Europe and North Africa. For many years, archaeologists have sought to find a missing segment of the ancient road; it appears an eighty-six-year-old hiker has solved the mystery. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

Over five days, the trailblazing outdoorsman Yehoshua “Shuka” Ravek traversed some 100 kilometers (62 miles) by foot, walking from the ancient Jordanian city of Petra to Avdat in the Israeli Negev. . . . Ravek walked along with a group of some 40 Israelis and, until crossing the border, a handful of Jordanians—and two camels. . . .

Possibly even prior to the 3rd century BCE, and continuing through the 2nd century CE, Nabatean merchants used the Incense Route for their flourishing trade. . . . The Nabatean trail’s route was the best for the topography, and perfectly suited to camels. After the Roman empire conquered the area, the trail was improved upon as Rome needed broader, clearly marked roads for its army’s legions. While using the same course as the Nabateans, the Romans widened the path and marked it every 480 meters with a grouping of milestones. . . .

[T]he newly discovered section of the Incense Route, located northeast of the Ramon Crater, hadn’t been trod upon for centuries, said Ravek. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. Near the Negev stronghold of Avdat two sections of the Incense Route are exposed and clearly marked. Back in the early 1960s, a pair of young archaeologists . . . surveyed the area in search of the missing link between these two sections. In the area the pair thought most likely to connect between them, they found nothing.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Rome, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Nabateans

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.

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Read more at New York Post

More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations