Thursday, October 6, 2011

Israeli Archaeologists Oppose The Privatization Of The Bill

More than 150 Israeli archaeologists and historians have asked the Israeli parliament to vote against an amendment to a bill to privatize the national parks, including archaeological and historical sites. The petition, delivered to the ministers of culture and the environment, accusations that the changes to the law, if passed, will fuel political interests, hurt minority communities and undermine the impartial scientific research. "We demand that the government change the laws ... and strengthens the place of academic freedom and heritage, preferably without sectarian," he said. The Union for the Protection of the Environment and Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel also opposed the amendment.

The bill passed in October, was proposed after the protests against the manipulation of the city of David, one of Israel's most popular, but politically charged, archaeological parks, sponsored and managed by a private foundation.

Based on the writings of the Roman historian Flavius ​​Josephus and the Bible, archaeologists have been searching for since the 19th century for clues to ancient Jerusalem in the Silwan neighborhood, just south of the old town. They called the place of the city of David on the basis of biblical descriptions; water source in the biblical texts was called Siloam in Hebrew or Arabic Silwan. The first excavations directed by the late Ottoman rule, archaeologists have discovered that Jerusalem was first developed there as far as the 18th century BC, the Canaanites. Archaeologists have since found the complex layers of more than a dozen times and documentation of the establishment of so many civilizations. In the early 20th century century, people were mainly Muslims, living in peace with about 100 Jewish families from Yemen.

Today, Silwan / City of David is a powder, sometimes referred to as a symbol of a local conflict. More than 35,000 inhabitants, the disputed area of ​​East Jerusalem, mostly in poor countries of the Arab inhabitants of the rich living in the middle of an archaeological park. Privately owned Elad Foundation, which runs the site has invested millions of dollars to fund the Israel Antiquities Authority, to dig and run and archaeological visits, in particular, to focus on to show the Jews and the biblical story of periods of Judea settlements and Israel.

Archaeology Professor Raphael Greenberg of Tel Aviv University, who excavated the site in previous years, said the history of Palestine, Jews and others in the ground, and Palestinian and Jewish rights on the land, and recognition of this by the two parties is essential for any reconciliation. "Meanwhile," he said, "as long as Israel controls Silwan, he must remember, as well as groups that use a one-dimensional view of the past in order to continue with the rhetoric of disenfranchisement and movement of Palestinians in the present. "

Elad outside the mandate of Archaeology, which includes "revitalize" the Jewish colony was the city of David, has also led the acquisition of dozens of homes of Jewish families. Random meeting new Jewish settlements and their armed guards led to the arrests of Palestinian protesters and the fatal shooting of a teenager last year in the Palestinian population. The authorities claim that the village's main street and several houses have suffered damage to underground tunnels, and that plans to dismantle the houses and huge traffic jams, because more than 300,000 tourists a year are the results that favor urban residents in tourist attraction.

Israel has agreed to an independent registered in the academies, institutions such as universities, international archeology, digging, analyzing things, and to publish their findings under license from the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) or the National Parks Association. Independent development companies have also managed to historical sites, such as Caesar. But Elad is the first private organization in Israel to fund and monitor the site in antiquity of life in crowded Arab neighborhood, but will continue as an ideological power to solve the Jewish residents, as part of training, and promotion, in particular time history.

Tax IAA archaeologists allow this because they need funding from Elad and the bill, if passed, would formalize the agreement. "This is the most scandalous case of a political group running an archaeological site, and a case study of archeology in conflict with society," said the archaeologist Yonatan Mizrahi, who left the AAI based Emek Shaveh , an organization that has sponsored alternative archeology of the petition. "When you discover the heritage of political organizations, you give them political power, the archaeologists must be open about what layers to preserve and display to the public, and what kind of cooperation to deal with the public around," says he said.

Several Israeli organizations for civil rights, including Rabbis for Human Rights, Peace Now, Ir Amim and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, are also against Elad.

Elad rejects the criticism that as biased, arguing that during a three-hour tour is not possible to represent all time ", as in all other sites around the world, the primary periods were chosen. .. and that Jerusalem was inhabited by many different peoples, the time when Jerusalem became a center of life for residents of the area was during periods of Cananea and Israel (1850BC-70 AD) "Doron Spielman, said , head of Elad. He also said accusations that Elad has a political agenda is "an attempt to undermine the archaeological findings and support the unfounded accusations that the Jewish people are newcomers to the region."

Elad hired workers Silwan, in what it calls the effort a good relationship, but Spielmann said that "radical elements ... show under the guise of human rights "forced 100 local workers to quit Arab. IAA declined comment.

Archaeologists have often here, discussed the role of nationalism and religion in archeology. In the early years of the state, most local archaeologists were mainly interested in proving the Bible stories and the search for Jewish roots. Religious communities are opposed to the excavation of the areas that had human remains and, after years of conflict in the approach to the grave and religious law in general of Israel, the lawyer said in 1997, against the authorities of the antiquities in the world that the bones are antiques and should be given to religious authorities for burial. In the past decade, the head of the IAA, Benjamin Kedar, acknowledged that Israel did not have enough archaeologists, experts in Islamic periods and tried to revive the academies to broaden their field of study.

Now, as requests archaeologists, environmentalists and human rights groups trying to kill the privatization project, the archaeologists also opposes a proposed amendment to the bill that would allow Israel Antiquities Authority for the appointment of a Board President IAA not a member of the National Academy of Sciences. The heads of four of the five departments of major universities in Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev, has also sent an objection letter to Culture Minister Limor Livnat, against the amendment. Livnat said that all qualified candidates must be eligible for the head of the Board of IAA as Cedar is to resign. But archaeologists say that private a president, elected by the Academy of Sciences will be more scientifically independent and not respond to the policy of the minister who appointed them.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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