The ancient town of Sebastia...one of the major archaeological sites of the Holy Land, with its overlapping layers of history dating back nearly 3,000 years. But today the hilltop capital of biblical kings, later ruled by Roman conquerors, Crusaders and Ottomans, is marred with weeds, graffiti and garbage. Caught between conflicting Israeli and Palestinian jurisdictions, the site has been largely neglected by both sides for the past two decades.
Anyone what to venture an educated guess who is responsible for this?
"In this period really Sebastia is suffering a lot because a lot of illegal excavations have happened in this area. A lot of destruction of cultural heritage in this area has happened," he said. Statues, vases, coins and glasses have all been taken by looters, he said.
graffiti hailing the Hamas militant group is spray-painted on a column...Hamadan Taha, assistant deputy minister in charge of antiquities in the Palestinian Authority, acknowledged that looting is "a major problem" and said the Palestinians are making efforts to combat it by working with local officials to raise awareness.
There's this, too:
Israel's Civil Authority said it has been trying to coordinate efforts at the site with the Palestinians, a claim that Taha said was untrue.
That reminded me of something.
In the Summer 5757 / 1997 issue of Azure, No. 2, Yoram Hazony, having read what the esteemed Ehud Ya’ari published, “The New Canaanites,” in The Jerusalem Report, September 19, 1996, wrote, in part this:
New God of Palestine
In one of its first official acts as the arbiter of official Palestinian history, Yasser Arafat’s new “Ministry of Culture” staged a festival last summer in honor of—the Ba’al.
The celebration took place in August 1996, in the center of the village of Sebastia in the northern West Bank. The Arab-language Jerusalem daily, Al-Quds, had for weeks leading up to the event been carrying a daily page of chronicles of the history of the “Palestinian-Canaanite people,” and academics at West Bank universities had been pressed into service to explain how Israeli archeological finds bolster the claim of this people to age-old rootedness in the land. And then the festival itself: Arab youths dressed in robes bearing ancient Canaanite figures brandished torches as they danced about the town square, packed with officials of the PLO’s administration and security services. Others arrived atop horse-drawn chariots modeled on drawings found at the Israeli archeological excavations at Megiddo. On the stone stage in the middle of the square, a dramatic passion was acted out, with the Ba’al, god of the heavens and fertility in the pantheon of the ancient Canaanites, heroically struggling against Mut, god of the underworld. With the help of his sister Anat, the Ba’al ultimately emerged victorious, of course, and the narrator took the opportunity to pour praise on the loyal Palestinian-Canaanite nations, the Amorites, Girgashites, Jebusites and Perizzites, which had fought at his side in the battle against the Hebrew invaders from across the Jordan
To be sure, this is historical claptrap at its finest. The Canaanites are as thoroughly dead a people as one can discover on this earth, having disappeared forever and without a trace by the end of the biblical period 2,500 years ago. The same can be said for the Canaanites’ mortal enemy, the Philistines, after whom Arafat’s present-day “Palestinians” are named. As far as lineage or language or ideological affinity, the Arab residents of Israel have no more in common with either of these vanished peoples than they do with the Jews of ancient Israel, to whom they also turn on occasion when fabricating national memories for themselves (as when Hanan Ashrawi declared that Jesus, too, was a “Palestinian”).
But the fact of its being historically without basis will not necessarily prevent the PLO’s myth-weaving from becoming effective nation-building. The manufactured memories of such an old-new Palestinian-Canaanite people, peacefully serving its god in the land before the existence of Jews, and indeed, before human history itself, may very well end up filling an important need in the consciousness of a population whose history, if not otherwise enhanced, comes perilously close to beginning only with the Moslem invasion of Judea in 636 c.e. The discovery of such a prehistoric Palestinian rootedness, of an eternal Palestinian right to the land based on nothing less than the Hebrew Bible, and of the enormities committed against the Palestinian-Canaanites when Joshua began his war of extermination, his holocaust, against them—all of this is self-consciously aimed at making over Palestinian Arabs as a people with a great deal more than just a few refugee camps to avenge.
What Yoram termed "myth-weaving" I call "Palestinianism inventivity".