26 Tishrei 5774
2,700-year-old Persian artifact a gift of U.S. diplomacy to Iran?
Washington (CNN) -- A 2,700 year-old silver chalice may be a new token of friendship between the United States and Iran, at least that's the way Iran's cultural heritage chief sees it.
Whatever the case, Mohammad-Ali Najafi was palpably delighted Friday to see the ancient Persian artifact return to its homeland. The ceremonial drinking vessel -- or rhyton -- had gotten snagged in a U.S. customs warehouse for years, held up by bad diplomatic relations.
It had been in New York since 2003, when an art dealer smuggled it into the country from Iran.
Customs officials have long wanted to return the rhyton to Iran, according to a New York Post report. But decades of frigid relations between Washington and Tehran kept it frozen in bureaucratic limbo.
President Obama broke that ice Friday with a historic phone chat with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as the Islamic republic's leader was just about to leave the United States.
It was the first time a U.S. president has spoken to his Iranian counterpart since 1979.
The thaw may have been enough to free up the rhyton, which takes the shape of a mythical beast with the body of a lion and the head of a bird of prey. It was fashioned in the Achaemenid era, the early Persian Empire, around 700 BC.
The State Department announced in a tweet that the United States returned it this week. U.S. officials handed it off directly to Najafi's delegation, he said.
When I read this, I thought about how much the Israeli people have sacrificed for the failed American-sponsored 'peace' process and how much the families of terror victims have been hurt by the surrender of the murderers to 'confidence-building' terrorist-prisoner releases. And I think about how all they've ever asked for is the return of their brother Jonathan Pollard and how he has served seven times the average penalty for the crime of which he was accused.
On the one hand is a long-time friend and ally asking for simple justice in the matter of a human being's life weighed against, on the other hand, a long-time enemy and exporter of terrorism to the world who winks once in Obama's direction. The Israeli people do not even rate a response while the Iranian people have already received a prize without even asking.
There is no way the two can be compared - neither Pollard with an antiquity; nor Israel with Iran. Each outweighs the other by incalculable amounts and yet the President of the United States has treated both Jonathan Pollard and the People of Israel like so much dirt under his heels. When the article says "winning hearts," it is certainly not the hearts of Israelis that Obama is interested in. He has made that abundantly clear.