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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →