Excerpts (and comments):
Israel heritage plan exposes discord over West Bank history
Israel is launching a Year of National Heritage, to coincide with the country's independence day. As part of this push to celebrate heritage, Israel is progressing with a five-year project promoting Jewish ties to ancient sites in Israel and the West Bank. Israel says it is a purely cultural endeavour, which will help save sites from ruin; but Palestinians have criticised it as politically driven - highlighting deep historical differences fuelling the conflict.
(Note how the Pals. define the historical events of ... 1948: "The Palestinian Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage (DACH) has been in existence now for more than 12 years since its re-establishment in August 1994. The inauguration of the DACH, under the Palestinian National Authority, was a momentous event and represents the revival of the Department of Antiquities established in 1920 under the British Mandate and terminated with the political events of 1948, when Israel was established." Now, that is a very, ahem, non-political way to describe Arab rejection of the UN Partition recommendation and the launching of a war of extermination agauinst the Jewish state, six months before it was to come into existence, not to mention why that British Mandate existed - which was to facilitate the reconstitution of the Jewish national home, with immigration and close settlement in the area of, at least, Judea and Samaria)
On a peak in the archaeological park of Tel Shiloh, finishing touches are being put to a new multi-million dollar visitors' centre, due to open in a few weeks' time. The rotunda overlooks a rectangular stone outline of what many believe to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, brought here by the Israelites who made Shiloh their capital. Excavations there will resume in the summer.(the latest finds: here; and also here; and here. Those of 2007)
"Who knows what they'll find," says Ncoom Gilbar, a translator who has lived in the Jewish settlement of Shiloh, which contains the park, for 22 years. "It's a very exciting prospect."
The ruins scattered around Tel Shiloh are testament to the recognition through the ages of its significance as a Biblical site - "it's a whole jumble of periods", says Mr Gilbar. Behind us, archaeologists and workers delicately excavate the ground around a 4th Century Byzantine church, dusting stones by hand and pushing wheelbarrows of rubble. Nearby stand the remains of an 8th Century mosque, built on top of another, earlier church.(We're no strangers to controversy)
In the past couple of years the number of tourists visiting Tel Shiloh has grown exponentially, a trend set to continue since the government designated the park a national heritage site last year. This means Tel Shiloh, along with other ancient West Bank sites, will receive special government funding for their development and upkeep.
"Is there an attempt to bring more people here? Yes," says Mr Gilbar. "Is that wrong? No. This is where our history in the Land of Israel began."
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the $190m National Heritage Sites project in 2010, he said Israel's existence depended "first and foremost" on educating future generations about Jewish culture and connection to the land. "A people must know its past to ensure its future," he said.
(My take; that of Dror Eydar)
"The West Bank is an integral part of the history of Palestine," says Hamdan Taha, director of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. "Netanyahu's heritage plan is an aggression against the cultural right of Palestinian people in their own state," as the West Bank's status is considered to be by many Palestinians.(Taha said something else in Ocotber 2011: "The town of Shiloh is another target for Taha’s revisionism. Despite Shiloh being the capital of the Jewish nation for nearly four centuries and the Jews having brought the Tabernacle there, making Shiloh the religious center of the Israelites before Jerusalem, Taha is convincing the international community that the Jewish Shiloh never existed: “In Shiloh the settlers pretended to have found the tabernacles,” he proclaimed. “They can find the chicken bone my grandfather ate 50 years ago and say it was a young calf for ancient sacrifice.”)
Mr Taha says the Israeli government's emphasis on the Jewish historical aspect of some sites is "an ideological misuse of archaeological evidence".
"Jewish heritage in the West Bank - like Christian or Islamic - is part of Palestinian heritage and we reject categorically any ethnic division of culture."
..."If you want to learn about the history of this land, it's about the different layers, the different civilisations that have been here - it's not just about one," says Yoni Mizrachi, a former Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist...Mr Mizrachi, whose organisation Emek Shaveh opposes the "politicisation" of archaeology...
(If there is any politicisation being done, its is Mizrachi's work with Emek Shaveh. And we've been minimized before).
Another well-rounded, comprehensive and factual report from the BBC.
P.S. They could have included Tel Shiloh's web site, too.