Friday, September 27, 2013

Ziffer's Dislike of Archaeology

You'll remember this recent discovery near the Temple Mount of a gold coin repository with Jewish symbols.

Benny Ziffer of Haaretz, Ha-Ha-Haaretz, didn't like it.

Archaeology? obsessive pining for a glorious past serves as a form of therapeutic compensation for nations suffering from a problem of low self-esteem in the present. So, now we come to us Israelis and to the invention of our past. It is unpleasant to admit that archaeology here contains far too many identifying signs of a science that has been enlisted on behalf of a national obsession.

The specific discovery?

there was indeed something utterly ridiculous about the naive excitement with which archaeologist Eilat Mazar recently presented to all and sundry a round, gold plate...This, of course, delighted our prime minister, who was quick to react with the comment: “This is historic testimony, of the highest order, to the Jewish people’s link to Jerusalem, to its land and to its heritage.” Blah, blah, blah...That one little gold plate bearing Jewish symbols amid some sort of package that perhaps fell out of someone’s pocket in Jerusalem of the 7th century C.E. does not prove anything: It is simply a little gold plate bearing Jewish symbols. What is new here?

But what really bothers him?

...if every piece of Jewish gold unearthed in Jerusalem is proof in the eyes of our prime minister of the Jews’ longtime connection to their country, then by the same token when a gold treasure from the Ottoman period is found here - and quite a few have been - then the prime minister of Turkey can claim it is historic testimony of the highest order to the Turkish people’s link to Jerusalem. And when a Byzantine treasure is found, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch will claim it proves the historic connection of the Greeks to Jerusalem. And an Arab treasure will prove to the Arabs their deep affinity with Jerusalem. There is no end to this.

But what Ziffer ignores is that

a) we Israelis do not deny the links of Turkey (as the Ottoman Empire) or the Greeks to this land.  Or Arabs.

b) to a great extent, it is our connection that is declared false and disingenuous.

c) those attempts at disinventivity are the corrosive - and sick - face of negativity that Ziffer goes for in his anti-Zionism.

Like in his ending, that we could be a Jew who will

...deduce that because there is a Jewish symbol on the plate, the plate itself belongs to him, for he is, after all, Jewish. And immediately the third and unavoidable thought comes to mind: that if it is so easy to scientifically appropriate for ourselves a gold plate found in the ground in Jerusalem - then c’mon, folks! While we’re on a scientific roll let’s appropriate the ground as well, and Jerusalem as well.


No comments: