Saturday, January 24, 2015

How Deep the 'Valley'

The Jerusalem Post has published a story which relays the claim that

Israeli attempts last summer to construct a ramp to the Temple Mount resulted in heightened geopolitical tensions amid allegations of changes to the contested holy site’s status quo, according to a report published Thursday.

These were the findings that were "produced by Emek Shaveh, an organization of archeologists and community activists, who study the role of archeology in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict."

Emek Shaveh is a play on words in that in Hebrew, it usually means to reach a compromise as if reaching a flattening out the valley.  The NGO Emek Shaveh is a politically-oriented activist group.  It has an agenda.

For example, in the story, we read of the Temple Mount's "long-enforced status quo, [which] severely restricting Jewish presence and prayer there."  In other words, Emek Shaveh takes into account a 'built-in' situation of discrimination that is not to be altered or changed.  The Jews must compromise.  Not Arabs.

The story reads more like a press release with 90% of its content originating from Emek Shaveh.  At the end, a Netanyahu statement from the summer is quoted.

Has Emek Shaveh protested the destruction of Jewish antiquities on and under the Temple Mount?  Forcefully?

For Emek Shaveh, they seek to impact the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through archaeology:

Our fundamental position is that an archaeological find should not and cannot be used to prove ownership by any one nation, ethnic group or religion over a given place.

Their funding comes from sources quite inimical to Israel's diplomatic stances including

– The Beracha Foundation
– Cordaid
– The Royal Norwegian Embassy Tel-Aviv
– Irish Foreign Ministry
– Oxfam GB

In the past, it has described itself as cooperating with the local Palestinian partner organisation, “Madaa”.

Already two years ago, this organization was red-flagged:
any opposition by ‘Emek Shaveh‘ to the “politicization” of archaeology is, to put it mildly, very selective. In fact, that NGO’s entire raison d’etre is to promote a particular political standpoint through the use of archaeology, as can be seen on its campaigning website and in its contributions to politically motivated campaigns on the subject of Jerusalem.
Yonathan Mizrachi is a central figure in its creation.  He “stopped working for the Israel Antiquities Authority after realizing that his beloved science was being used to glorify Jewish history in the area while diminishing the role of other historical layers” as B’tselem has noted

Already in 2010, he was of the opinion that
The ancient synagogue in Jericho (Na’aran), the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and other religious structures in the occupied territories should be the responsibility of the local residents,
Anyone who would hand over to the Palestinian Authority sites of Jewish heritage must be either an idiot, a political supporter of the Palestinian cause or a fake devoter to the preservation of archaeological sites.  The reality before 1967 was bad.  And under PA rule, after Joseph's Tomb and other locations, it has grown worse.

In his book, People of the Wall, Mizrachi has written that it offered "some healing to the frustration he felt towards the savage and absurd reality of the wall."  That "wall" is the security barrier that was built in Jerusalem.

The report should have been more critical, should not have taken their viewpoint at face-value, should have asked officials now for their reaction and should have presented the political background of the group.


P.S.    Received these now: this and this.

1 comment:

Batya Medad said...

This post has been included in Shiloh Musings: Shabbat Shirah 5775 Havel Havelim.

Please visit and read the others, comment and share, thanks.