Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just Who Is Provocative and Unhelpful?

On Wednesday yesterday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner got all provocative and unhelpful to the goal of restarting peace talks.

What happened?


the State Department on Wednesday sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government for adding two shrines in the West Bank to Israel's list of national heritage sites. The move, announced Sunday, sparked Palestinian protests and has drawn criticism from other quarters, including the United Nations.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the administration viewed the move as provocative and unhelpful to the goal of getting the two sides back to the table.

Toner said U.S. displeasure with the designations of the Cave of the
Patriarchs in the West Bank town of Hebron and the traditional tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem had been conveyed to senior Israeli officials by American diplomats.

I've searched for a State Dept. source but haven't come up with one.

But never mind, the point that needs to be made is twofold: what is the problem and is there hypocrisy here?

What is at the root of this preservation crisis can be explained by this article Between Paralysis and Practice: Theorizing the Political Liminality of Palestinian Cultural Heritage by Robert R. Sauders summary:

The Israeli military occupation of Palestine since 1967 coupled with the introduction of limited autonomy in 1993 has positioned the yet-to-be formed nation-state in political liminality — neither completely sovereign nor entirely subjugated. While this ambiguity has obvious ramifications for Palestine as a political entity, it also places the cultural heritage of Palestine in potential jeopardy. This paper examines the legal and historical construction of liminality for Palestine and explores how its ambiguous political status impacts the preservation, protection and management of cultural heritage in Palestine and influences the construction of cultural heritage narratives by Palestinians.

Of course, in Jordan, for a little archaeology, they move villages. But Israel is still slapped around by Toner.

But more than hypocrisy, we know that the United States provides funds for archaeological and cultural projects of Arabs in Judea and Samaria. In other words, the US is in direct competition with Israel about preserving history in Judea and Samaria.

The only question is whether that history is to be true and genuine or corrupted and fake. What will America go with? Will it be provocative and unhelpful?

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