Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Arab Media Outlet Says ‘Masada Was a Jewish Myth’

December 27, 2013 11:07 am 0 comments

Mount Masada. Photo: Wiki Commons.

A few months ago, there were some articles casting doubt on the Masada suicide story, as the narrative given by Josephus was cast in doubt by some archaeologists. The Guardian wrote:

Guy Stiebel, professor of archaeology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and Masada expert, said the evolution of myth is common in young nations or societies. “In Israel it’s very typical to speak in terms of black and white, but looking at Masada I see a spectrum of grey.

The left regard Masada as a symbol of the destructive potential of nationalism. The right regard the people of Masada as heroes of our nation. For me, both are wrong.

“If you put me in a corner and ask do you think they committed suicide, I will say yes. But this was not a symbolic act, it was a typical thing to do back then. Their state of mind was utterly different to ours.

“The myth evolved. All the ingredients were there. At the end of the day, it’s an excellent story and setting, you can’t ask for more.”

Yadin Roman, the editor of Eretz magazine, who is compiling a commemorative book on the Masada excavation, said some archaeologists had posited alternative theories, involving escape, although in the absence of evidence many were now returning to the suicide theory.

Ma’an Arabic, showing its lack of basic journalistic standards yet again, takes this doubt about one detail of Masada and extends it to pretend that Jews were never in the area to begin with!

Ma’an deliberately twists the words of the doubters of the suicide story:

But it turns out the story of martyrdom is just a myth created by the Jews in order to demonstrate to their people that they have a history similar to the peoples of the region and they are there since ancient times. Experts say “there was no proof that this story has taken place in spite of searches by the Antiquities Authority in the fortress in order to find a single piece of evidence that legend has taken place. “

No one doubts that Jews lived, and were under siege, in Masada. The Romans didn’t build their ramparts for fun. The only question is what happened to them.

As Haaretz wrote last month:

It looks like an ordinary lice comb, with wider teeth on one side for untangling knots and finer teeth on the other for removing nits. Except that this one happens to be made of wood, rather than metal. And it also happens to be about 2,000 years old.

Holding the recently unearthed artifact in the palm of his hand, archaeologist Guy Steibel notes that these are his favorite sort of finds, the ones that provide a glimpse into the other Masada story − not the classic narrative of death, destruction and suicide pacts, but the one about real people doing ordinary things, as ordinary as combing nits out of their hair.

“Yes, we have proof that the rebels who lived here, their heads were absolutely infested with lice, and not only their heads,” he says. “In fact, we’ve discovered in this comb remnants of lice eggs, strands of hair and the oldest louse in the world.”

Steibel, the head of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Masada excavation team, proceeds to pull out some other recent finds from a little plastic box, among them a piece of rope made out of date tree fibers and a shard of a clay pitcher that has the name of its owner inscribed in it in Hebrew letters: Shimon Bar-Yoezer.

“Seeing these Hebrew words pop out of the earth, words that my own children can read, that’s the most exciting thing in all of this for me,” says Steibel, who has been digging and researching at Israel’s most famous archaeological site for almost 20 years now.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the big excavations at Masada, led by the legendary Yigael Yadin, Steibel is guiding a group of Israeli journalists through what he describes as a “backyard tour” of the site to meet some of his “friends” who once lived here. “By now, I know many of them by name, and I also know where exactly they lived and how they made a living,” he says. “For me it’s the little things, like the child’s toy we found, the Roman soldier’s wage slip, the seal used by the baker to mark his loaves − these are the things that make this place so alive for me.”

Ma’an is getting worse and worse. And it is still better than practically every other Arab news source in the region.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →