jewish revolt

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The Siege of Masada

In 66 AD a large Jewish partisan group called the “Sicarii” rebelled against the Roman Empire, expelling the Roman garrison and most Roman citizens from Judea. The Romans struck  back, invading with a large army, laying siege to and razing most of Jerusalem, and destroying the Jewish Temple. By the year 72 AD, the Sicarii movement had been mostly exterminated, and only a few desperate holdouts were left. 

One of the last pockets of resistance was the Sicarii garrison of Masada, located in the Southern District of Israel near the Dead Sea.  Masada was a large table top mountain or plateau roughly around 300 feet high on the eastern edge and 1,400 feet high on the western edge. Between 37 and 31 BC, the Jewish ruler Herod the Great ordered the construction of a large palace fortress on Masada, just in case there should be a rebellion by his subjects. After the fall of Jerusalem, the fortress was occupied by 967 Sicarri, led by the Jewish rebel Eleazar Ben Ya'ir. To take the fortress, the Empire sent the 10th Legion, led by the Roman general and governor Lucis Flavius Silva. When the 10th Legion arrived, they realized that taking Masada would not be easy. The Sicarii had dug in and were prepared to resist to the last.  The fortress was well stocked with food, and was complete with a large water cistern. The only route to or from the fortress was a narrow zigzaging pathway that was barely large enough for two people to climb at once. It was quite clear that the Sicarii could hold out for a very long time.

While the fortress of Masada was formidable, it was certainly nothing that the Romans couldn’t handle.  While Roman soldiers were excellent fighters, they were even better builders and engineers. Roman soldiers knew how to build roads, walls, siege equipment, and fortifications, and they especially knew how to tear them down. The Romans first built a siege wall around Masada.  Then they proceeded to build a massive 375 foot high ramp up the mountain, moving hundreds of tons of stone, earth, and clay, then piling it up by hand while being pelted by arrows and rocks from the defenders. After three months of construction, the ramp was complete.

 To end the siege, the Romans laboriously pushed a large siege tower and battering ram up the ramp. On April 16th, 73 AD, the Romans successfully breached the wall.  When they stormed the fortress, they found nothing but death and desolation.  The Sicarii had burned all of their supplies, then comitted mass suicide rather than be captured.  According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Jewish religious law forbids suicide, so the rebels drew lots to kill each other to the last man.  Only 2 women and 5 children were found alive.

Masada was extensively excavated by archaeologists between 1963 and 1965. Today it is an Israeli National Park and tourist attraction.  Most of what remains of the fortress is rubble, the Roman siege ramp is still mostly intact.

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Jewish Antiquities

Jean Fouquet (141?-80?) was the greatest French painter of the 15th century. His genius is reflected in his illustrations of Jewish Antiquities, which Fouquet created for Jacques d’Armagnac, the Duke of Nemours. Fouquet traveled to Italy as a young man, where he learned to paint with great precision of detail and to use aerial perspective, but he continued to draw upon his native Touraine for many aspects of his art, especially forms and color. In these illustrations, his depiction of the siege of Jericho evokes a city on the banks of the Loire, while his Temple of Jerusalem resembles an altered Cathedral of Tours. Jewish Antiquitieswas written by the first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (38?-100?) and recounts the history of the Jewish people from Creation to the outbreak of the Jewish revolt against the Romans in A.D. 66. Composed in Greek and translated into Latin, the book was read by the early Christians and remained popular with both Christians and Jews. This manuscript belonged to the French king Francis I (1494-1547), who confiscated it in 1523 from Charles III, the Duke of Bourbon (1490-1527).

one day stones may bleed

the Coliseum is not pretty and never was.  Built with the spoils and forced labour from the Jewish Revolt, inaugurated with the slaughter of over 9000 wild beasts, it is a monument to blood sport, mass entertainment, and a culture defined by brutal pragmatism.  Yet its survival testifies to the brilliance of its utilitarian construction and the undying legend of Rome.  And as we tread its stones, we may reflect on the words of the gladiators, ‘te morituri salutamus’: for it will outlive us all.

source: flaneurissimo  

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history meme | four out of ten moments

↳ Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (19 April 1943 - 16 May 1943)

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that occurred in the Warsaw Ghetto, the largest ghetto in German occupied Poland, in 1943 was the single largest Jewish revolt during World War II.

On 18 January 1943, the German forces began the second deportation of the Jewish in the Warsaw Ghetto. While families hid in “bunkers”, fighters of the ŻZW joined with the ŻOB and engaged the Germans in direct clashes. 5,000 instead of the targeted 8,000 were deported.

Hundreds were ready to fight. Both adults and children were armed with handguns, gasoline bottles, and few other weapons that had been smuggled into the ghetto by resistance fighters. Most of the fighters were not fighting to save themselves but instead they saw fighting as a battle to retain the honor of the Jewish people and to protest the world’s silence.

The ŻZW and the ŻOB took control of the ghetto soon after the fighting that occurred on 18 January. They built fighting posts and built prisons to hold and execute traitors and Nazi collaborators (including Jewish Police officers, member of the fake [German sponsored] resistance organization Żagiew, and Gestapo & Abwehr agents).

On 19 April 1943 — the eve of Passover — police and SS forces entered the Warsaw Ghetto, planning to complete the deportation of the Jewish inhabitants in three days, but were ambushed by Jewish guerrillas who fired and tossed Molotov cocktails and hand grenades from alleyways, sewers, and windows. Two vehicles were set aflame by insurgent petrol bombs. That afternoon, two boys took to the rooftops and raised two flags — A red and white Polish flag and a blue and white ŻZW flag. The flags remained on the rooftop for three days. The flags reminded hundreds of thousands of not only the Jewish cause but the cause and strength of the Polish.

As the battle continued in the ghetto, the Polish insurgent groups AK and GL engaged the Germans at six different locations outside of the ghetto walls between the 19 and 23 April. In one attack, three units of the AK joined up in a failed attempt to breech the ghetto wall with explosives. The ŻZW eventually lost all of it’s commanders and, on 29 April, the fighters of the organization escaped the ghetto through the Muranowski tunnel and relocated to the Michalin forest. This marked the end of the significant fighting.

On 8 May, the Germans discovered a large dugout at Miła 18 Street which served as a ŻZW command post. Most of the remaining leadership and dozens others committed mass suicide by ingesting cyanide. Deputy Mark Edelman escaped the ghetto with comrades through the sewers two days later. On 10 May exiled member of the Polish government, Szmul Zygielbojm, committed suicide in protest of lack of reaction from the Allied governments.

The uprising was officially suppressed on 16 May 1943 when the Great Synagogue of Warsaw was demolished.

It is estimated that 13,000 Jews were killed during the uprising and most of the remaining 50,000 inhabitants of the ghetto were sent to concentration and extermination camps. Only 17 Germans deaths were recorded, although it is suspected their are much more.

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The Year of the Four Emperors: 69 AD

From left to right and top to bottom:

A coin from the brief reign of Galba.

16th c. Italian Painting of Emperor Otho, unknown artist

The Emperor Vespasian by Peter Paul Rubens

A portrait of Vitellius by Peter Paul Reubens

Rebellion against Nero first comes to a head in Spain, where the governors of two neighbouring provinces have particular fears or grievances. One of them, Galba, believes that Nero is planning to assassinate him; the other, Otho, has lost his wife Poppaea to the emperor. In AD 68 Otho supports Galba in mounting a rebellion, but events run ahead of them. After Nero’s suicide the senators adopt Galba as emperor. He takes the name Caesar and marches to Rome.

He then makes the serious tactical mistake of adopting someone other than Otho as his official heir. Otho suborns the Praetorian guard. Early in 69 Galba is assassinated in the forum. Otho is proclaimed emperor.
Meanwhile the army on the Rhine has a different idea, acclaiming its own commander, Vitellius. His forces move south, meeting and defeating those of Otho near Cremona in April. Otho commits suicide. In July Vitellius enters Rome as emperor.

But the soldiers in the east are equally reluctant to accept, unconsulted, the candidate of another section of the army. In July the legions at Alexandria acclaim Vespasian, now commanding the campaign to put down the Jewish revolt in Judaea. Their choice is rapidly endorsed by troops throughout the Middle East and then by the legions on the Danube - jealous opponents in this matter of their colleagues on the Rhine.

Vespasian’s instinct is to bide his time, meanwhile perhaps withholding the important shipments of grain from Egypt to Rome, but his hand is forced by the Danube legions. They march south in his name, entering Rome in December. In a frenzy of destruction they murder many of the defenders, among them the emperor Vitellius. On December 21 the absent Vespasian is adopted by the senate, as the fourth emperor of the year.

The traumas of AD 69 remain a cautionary tale to succeeding generations. It is more than a century before the death of an emperor is again followed by civil war. And with Vespasian, as it turns out, the year has ended well.
Vespasian is unusual in the line of Roman emperors to this date in being an experienced and hard-bitten old general, non-patrician in his background and already sixty when he comes to power. He has distinguished himself in campaigns stretching back to the invasion of Britain in AD 43. Even a past threat to his career might be considered a case of critical judgement; accompanying Nero to Greece, he is so incautious as to fall asleep while the emperor is singing. He narrowly escapes severe punishment.
He is the ideal man to rebuild Roman confidence, and to replenish the treasury, by tough and sensible measures after the chaos of civil war.

A few reasons you shouldn’t worry about apocalypse predictions.

66–70 CE Simon bar Giora, Essenes, The Essene sect of Jewish ascetics saw the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66–70 as the final end-time battle. By the authority of Simon, coins were minted declaring the redemption of Zion. 
365 CE Hilary of Poitiers, Announced that the end would happen that year. 
375–400 CE Martin of Tours, Stated that the world would end before 400, writing, “There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established already in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power." 
500 CE Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus, Irenaeus, All three predicted Jesus would return in the year 500. One prediction was based on the dimensions of Noah’s ark. 
793 Apr 6 Beatus of Liébana, The Spanish monk prophesied the second coming of Christ and the end of the world on that day to a crowd of people. 
800 Sextus Julius Africanus, Sextus Julius Africanus revised the date of Doomsday to 800.
799–806 Gregory of Tours, Calculated the End occurring between 799 and 806. 
848 Thiota, Declared that the world would end during that year. 
992–995 Various Christians, Good Friday coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation; this had long been believed to be the event that would bring forth the Antichrist, and thus the end-times, within 3 years. 
1000 Jan 1 Pope Sylvester II, The Millennium Apocalypse at the end of the Christian Millennium. Various Christian clerics predicted the end of the world on this date, including Pope Sylvester II. Riots occurred in Europe and pilgrims headed east to Jerusalem.
1033 Various Christians, Following the failure of the January 1, 1000 prediction, some theorists proposed that the end would occur 1000 years after Jesus’ death, instead of his birth. 

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Confusing The World With the Facts on “Palestine”

Palestine is a geographical area, not a nationality.

The Arabs invented a special national entity in the 1960s called the Palestinians, specifically for political gain. They brand Israelis as invaders and claim the geographic area called Palestine belongs exclusively to the Arabs.

The word Palestine is not even Arabic. It is a word coined by the Romans around 135 CE from the name of a seagoing Aegean people who settled on the coast of Canaan in antiquity – the Philistines. The name was chosen to replace Judea, as a sign that Jewish sovereignty had been eradicated following the Jewish revolts against Rome at that time.

In the course of time, the Latin name Philistia was further bastardized into Palistina or Palestine. During the next 2,000 years, What had been renamed Palestine was never an independent state belonging to any people, nor did a Palestinian people, distinct from other Arabs, appear during 1,300 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab and Ottoman rule.

Palestine was and is solely a geographic name. Therefore, it is not surprising that in modern times the name ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian’ was applied as an adjective to all inhabitants of the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – Palestine Jews and Palestine Arabs alike. In fact, until the 1960s, most Arabs in Palestine preferred to identify themselves merely as part of the great Arab nation or citizens of “southern Syria.”

The term ‘Palestinian’ as a noun was usurped and co-opted by the Arabs in the 1960s as a tactic initiated by Yasser Arafat to brand Jews as intruders on someone else’s turf. He mendaciously presented Arab residents of Israel and the “Territories” as indigenous inhabitants since time immemorial. This fabrication of peoplehood allowed Palestinian Arabs to gain parity with the Jewish people as a nation deserving of an independent state.

Historically, Before the Arabs Fabricated the Palestinian People as an Exclusively Arab Phenomenon, No Such Group Existed. Countless official British Mandate-vintage documents speak of ‘the Jews’ and ‘the Arabs’ of Palestine – not ‘Jews and Palestinians.’

Countless official British Mandate-vintage documents speak of ‘the Jews’ and ‘the Arabs’ of Palestine – not ‘Jews and Palestinians.’

Ironically, before local Jews began calling themselves Israelis in 1948 (the name ‘Israel’ was chosen for the newly-established Jewish state), the term ‘Palestine’ applied almost exclusively to Jews and the institutions founded by new Jewish immigrants

There Has Never Been a Sovereign Arab State in Palestine

The artificiality of a Palestinian identity is reflected in the attitudes and actions of neighboring Arab nations who never established a Palestinian state. It also is expressed in the utterances and loyalties of so-called Palestinians.

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Bracha Fuld (1926-1946) was a Jewish resistance fighter who helped refugees enter Palestine in the wake of the Second World War. 

As a teenager, Fuld escaped Germany to move to Palestine in 1939, where she lived with her mother. She was an energetic student at Balfour High School, where she took part in sports, hiking and dancing. Originally named Barbara, she changed her name to Bracha.

In the period after World War 2, the British wanted to prevent the many thousands of Holocaust survivors from migrating to Palestine, leading to Jewish revolt and widespread resistance. Fuld joined the Palmach resistance movement in 1944 and was stationed in Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim, near Jerusalem. During this time she met her boyfriend, Gideon Peli, although he was later imprisoned by the British.

Fuld was trained to be a section commander and took charge of a number of female soldiers in Palmach’s E company. It is known she fought in a raid on the German colony of Sarona in Tel Aviv. Some stories also suggest she worked as a spy seducing a British officer, but this is unsubstantiated.

On the 27th March 1946, Fuld was part of a squad charged with protecting a road that Jewish immigrants would use once they had arrived on the refugee ship Wingate. Fuld’s squad was not informed that the ship had been diverted and were taken off-guard when they encountered a British tank unit. She was severely wounded in the ensuing firefight and died in hospital shortly afterward. She was 19 years old.

Both a ship for transporting illegal immigrants and a street in Tel Aviv were later named after Fuld in her honour.

The Sons of Adam

Mandaeism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world; its history goes back to the time of the Pharaohs. Mandaeans, also known as Sabians, are commonly and mistakenly referred to as the followers of John the Baptist, while they are in actuality distinct from Judaism, Christianity or Islam. Mandaeans revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem, Aron, and especially John the Baptist. They consider themselves the true sons of Adam. But unlike the other religions of the book, Mandaeans reject Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.

The Mandaeans fled from the Jordan Valley around 70 CE – during the Jewish revolt against the Romans. They moved to Mesopotamia, where most stayed. Slowly their numbers declined, through persecution and disease. Today there are between 60,000 and 70,000. Before the Iraq War, almost all lived in Iraq. After it began, many Mandaeans fled the country to the West. Mandaeans are currently found in large communities in Holland, Sweden, Australia, and to a lesser extent, in the United States.

This is a Judean date palm, once the staple crop of Judea and renowned for everything from its cooking oil to its aphrodisiac powers. But the Romans tried to destroy the date palm after the Jewish Revolt, and hurt the Judean economy. It worked –  by 500 CE the once plentiful date palm was gone completely. How do we have this tree then? A jar of dried-out date palm seeds were found while excavating Masada, declared interesting, and then kept in a university professor’s drawer for four decades. Until 2005 when a botanical researcher decided to try planting one. And wonder of wonders, a leaf sprouted

Open Letter to Curvesincolor

I posted this to curvesincolor, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day there, so I am posting it here.  For some background, curvesincolor is a black social justice blogger who made a tweet that played oppression olympics between slavery and the Holocaust.  When called out on it, instead of apologizing, or heck, just ignoring it, curvesincolor attempted to justify the tweet and the sentiments behind it with wild antisemetic lies straight out of Mein Kampf, including saying that the Jewish people brought the Holocaust on ourselves.

Dear Curvesincolor,

In spite of the hatefulness of your comments to my fellow Jewish people, I am doing my best to assume that you hold your positions sincerely and out of honest ignorance.  Please take this information with that in mind.  The first and perhaps least important point I wish to address is that Jewish Holocaust survivors and the families of victims received compensation for the Holocaust.  They did not.  Some survivors and victims’ families were able after the war to recover property the Nazis had stolen from them, usually after long and costly legal battles.  Most survivors and victims’ families were not nearly so lucky however.  They left the camps penniless, every trace of their old life gone.  Many tried to return home, only to find their gentile neighbors owning their old homes and property, or worse still, facing new pogroms from neighbors who were disappointed to find that they had survived.

The second thing I want to address is the idea that the Holocaust was a genocide against white people.  Firstly, There were two groups targeted by the Nazis for complete annihilation in the Holocaust, the Jews, and the Roma and the Sinti, the latter two more commonly known by the racial slur, G*psy.  The Roma and the Sinti are Diasporic peoples from subcontinental India, and are absolutely nonwhite.  Some Roma and Sinti people are white passing, due in large part to the same factors that have made some African Americans white passing, the rape of their ancestors by white people.  Jewish people likewise are a Diasporic people from the Middle East.  Not all of the Jewish people who died in the Holocaust had any ties to Europe at all, for example, many North African Jews died at the hands of the Nazis as well.  Even Ashkenazi Jews, the Jews of much of the European Diaspora, are only half European by genetic heritage, with the other half of our genes coming from the Lavant.  This means that some Ashkenazi Jews look very Middle Eastern indeed, while some have blue eyes and blonde hair.  Whiteness, and race in general is a social construct.  It is determined by the meanings we assign to features, skin tone, and other markers of heritage.  Ashkenazi Jewish people, as a Diasporic population, often had different physical features as well as different customs, dress, beliefs, and language from the Christian populations they found themselves living amongst.  These features, and white European prejudice against the Jews was racialized long before the Holocaust.  As such, at the time of the Holocaust, we were not considered white.  Indeed, the term “antisemetic” was invented by antisemites, who, after the Enlightenment, and in the throes of “scientific” race theory, wanted a more scientific sounding word for the racialized hatred of Jews to replace the older term, Judenhass, or Jew-hate.  The reason the Holocaust is so well remembered today is not that Holocaust victims are more regarded by the white establishment, or because they were white victims.  It is because it gives America a chance to play the hero.  Consequently, the Holocaust is extremely poorly taught and poorly understood by the world at large.

Thirdly, Ashkenazi Jews, the only Jews who can conceivably be seen as white, are around 70% of the world’s Jewish population, and this number includes Ashkenazi people of mixed race, unequivocally nonwhite background, a not uncommon phenomenon.  The remaining 30% of the Jewish population is made up of Sephardi, or Hispanic Jews, Mizrahi, or Middle Eastern Jews, African Jewish groups such as Beta Israel of Ethiopia, Indian Jewish groups, and other smaller Diasporic branches of the Jewish people.  Even if you were to hold up the entire 70% of the Jewish population that is Ashkenazi to be white, 30% is nothing to sneeze at, and your assertion that the overwhelming majority of Jews are white erases them and their experiences as Jewish people of color.  I want to note that the bulk of this post is about Ashkenazi Jews and Ashkenazi experiences of antisemitism.  There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is that I am Ashkenazi Jewish, but also including the fact that most of the antisemitic ideas you absorbed and have been propagating grew out of a specifically Christian and European antisemitism, the antisemitism faced by the Jews of the Ashkenaz.  However, I do not want you to come away with the idea that this is the only kind of antisemitism in the world, or that other branches of the Jewish Diaspora that did not live among white people didn’t face their own horrible manifestations of antisemitism.  Please do not allow an essay written about an Ashkenazi Jew about primarily Ashkenazi history to further convince you that Ashkenazi Jewish experience is the one true Jewish experience.  Jews who are not Ashkenazi get enough of that from Ashkenazim.

Fourthly, you said: “If a Rabbi was part of this discussion, they would emphatically insist that one could only be considered ‘Jewish’ by practicing the faith and living by the words and the beliefs of Judaism.”  I’m sorry, but this is incredibly incorrect.  Even the most liberal Jewish sects require a long and involved conversion process before someone born a gentile can be considered Jewish.  This conversion process functions as the adoption of an individual into Jewish culture and tribal identity, and so is much more than someone merely professing or observing Jewish faith.  Jews are an ethnoreligious group.  The religion of the group is Judaism.  There are many Jewish nonbelievers and atheists, who remain fully Jewish by Rabbinical law, and who identify as such and are considered part of the Jewish community.

Lastly, I want to talk about two ideas you have expressed that are historically intertwined.  As Christianity was establishing itself as a distinct religion, early Christian leaders felt a strong need to separate their newborn faith from Judaism.  The ways in which they did this formed the ideological framework for the later systematic subjugation of the Jewish people in European Christendom.  In Medieval Europe, Jews were legally the property of the head of state.  They were forbidden to fight or own weapons, forbidden to travel, forbidden to farm or own land, forbidden to marry without permission, were often restricted to locked Jewish quarters and under strict curfew, and forbidden from almost all professions.  One of the few professions allowed to Jewish people was money-lending.  Jewish money-lenders had to pay exorbitant taxes to their owners, which in turn meant that they had to charge equally exorbitant interest just to get by and feed their families.  Needless to say, this didn’t make the people who borrowed from them like them very much.  The Christian aristocracy loved this system though, because they got the money, and the Jews got the hatred and resentment of the peasants in their stead.  They often outright washed their hands of the suffering of the peasants, claiming it was all the Jews’ fault.  This use of the Jewish people as shields against peasant hatred also inspired many Christian aristocrats to force Jews to be their tax collectors.  This tactic worked extremely well, and in spite of the fact that only a tiny number of Jews ever prospered under this system, and most were poor and starving, Christian peasants began to hate the Jewish people for political as well as religious reasons.

Jewish money-lenders didn’t just lend to peasants.  They lent money to the aristocracy too, often at sword point.  When their debts become too high, or when the peasants’ resentment rose to possible revolt, the Jewish people as the property of the head of state could perform a last useful function.  They could die.  At times Christian heads of state chose to liquidate their human Jewish property on the forms of pogroms.  Not only would the murder of the hated Jews often pacify the peasantry, and any debts the aristocracy had owed Jewish money-lenders be canceled by their deaths, but they could then seize the property of the dead Jews.  Sometimes kinder owners would simply seize Jewish property and expel their Jews instead of murdering them.  It’s this horrible and painful history that the stereotype of the greedy, parasitic, deceitful Jewish banker, who is the secret hand behind world power was born, it it is this history that you invoke when you talk about the Jews bringing the Holocaust on ourselves with shady deals.  You are right about one thing.  The Nazis themselves used this rhetoric, blaming the loss of World War I and the poverty of post-war Germany on German Jews stabbing them in the back, and on a conspiracy of Jewish bankers, draining Germany’s rightful wealth.  This was a complete fiction, but it resonated because of the historical use of the Jews as a scapegoat for aristocratic greed.

A great turning point in Christian/Jewish relations came right about the same time as the “Age of Exploration” began.  After the monarchs of Spain and Portugal managed to expel the last of the Muslim kingdoms from the Iberian Peninsula, they decided to unify their countries religiously by expelling their Jewish populations, the Sephardi.  This meant the murder or enslavement of Jews who were unable to find passage out of the country.  Many Sephardi Jews converted nominally to Christianity in order to be spared, but practiced their faith secretly.  The Spanish inquisition was created to root them out.  That so many Jews did “convert” only to “backslide” into Judaism led to the idea that maybe Judaism was in the blood.  This idea spread like wildfire throughout Europe.  This was the beginning of the racialization of Jewish ethnic identity and hatred of the Jewish people.  Meanwhile, more “compassionate” Christians argued that the Jews could be converted, and that slavery on plantations run by Christians was a way to do this.  A key feature of this process was baptizing Jewish children and sending them away from their parents to be enslaved on separate sides of the world.  The Jews were always too few in the Iberian Peninsula to satisfy the labor demands of a real colonial empire and after the Spanish and the Portuguese landed on the shores of the New World, they quickly moved on to the Native Americans.  After they began to die in huge numbers from European diseases, they brought in kidnapped Africans.  You might say that colonialism began at home, and that the brutality the White European gentiles inflicted on your ancestors, they first perfected on Jews.  I would like to note that aside from African American and Afro-Caribbean Jewish people, for whom plantation slavery is very much a part of their history and Jewish experience, the Jewish experience with plantation slavery was limited to small pockets of Sephardi Jews. This does not however change the fact that the systematic exploitation and periodic murder of Jews by white European Christians did not begin or end with the Holocaust.  It was not eleven years, but two thousand.  It has indelibly shaped my people, and I cannot get away from it.  I hear it in the languages we speak, and the languages we don’t.  I taste it in our food, sing it in our prayers, feel it in the land I live, in the stares of my gentile neighbors, and the haunted smiles of my fellow Jews. I see it in my own face when I look in the mirror and see a mix of Middle Eastern and European features, my lovely large Jewish nose, my thick dark eyebrows and hair, my pale skin and round green eyes.  Somehow I think you know this feeling, when you look in the mirror, or you wouldn’t have chosen to run this blog.

Machaerus, Jordan

Macherus was a fortified hilltop palace located fifteen miles southeast of the mouth of the Jordan river on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. According to Flavius Josephus, it is the location of the imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist. According to the chronology of the Bible, this infamous execution took place in 32 AD shortly before the Passover, following an imprisonment of two years.

The fortress Machaerus was originally built by the Hasmonean king, Alexander Jannaeus (104 -78 BC) in about the year 90 BC. It was destroyed by Pompey’s general Gabinius in 57 BC, but later rebuilt by Herod the Great in 30 BC to be used as a military base to safeguard his territories east of the Jordan. Upon the death of Herod the Great, the fortress was passed to his son, Herod Antipas, who ruled from 4 BC until 39 AD. It was during this time, at the beginning of the first century AD, that John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded at Machaerus.

After the deposition and banishment of Herod Antipas in 39 AD, Machaerus passed to Herod Agrippa I until his death in 44 AD, after which it came under Roman control. Jewish rebels took control after 66 AD during the First Jewish Revolt. Shortly after defeating the Jewish garrison of Herodium, the Roman legate Lucilius Bassus advanced on Machaerus with his troops and began siege in 72 AD. An embankment and ramp were created in order to facilitate Roman siege engines but the Jewish rebels capitulated before the Roman attack had begun. The rebels were allowed to leave and the fortress was torn down, leaving only the foundations intact.