Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bad Science

To say, there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem is a historical lie (in the interest of de-legitimizing legitimate Jewish claims to their history in the city); to say Palestinians are not a people with distinct roots and attachments to the Holy Land is also a lie, used to de-legitimize the Palestinian sense of history and belonging.

To say, we don’t have evidence of a united Jewish kingdom at the beginning of Israelite history, i.e., to deny the veracity of the biblical stories about David and Solomon is not a betrayal of the Jewish nation of today but based on the belief that authentic nationhood cannot be based on unverified and unverifiable myths of origin at the expense of scientific veracity. To say that some biblical stories are contrived is not to declare the entire corpus of ancient Judahite historiography a literary contrivance. It matters, especially in connection with the repeated international calls among academics for a boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education, whether Israeli and Jewish scholarship elsewhere meet the highest standards of excellence. It is therefore of utmost importance that archeological explorations of sensitive places, such as those conducted in Silwan, the so-called “City of David,” are conducted under the auspices of internationally recognized bodies such as UNESCO. Right now, however, the “City of David” archeological park is run by the Jewish settler organization ELAD and excavated under the guidance of archeologists committed to finding evidence of the truth of “biblical” history, which is bad science and creates bad blood between Jews and the Arab residents of Silwan who are being harassed in the name of archeological research or, more accurately, by the concerted and state-sponsored effort of securing evidence of a biblical myth that is seen as the ultimate legitimization of Jewish rule over East Jerusalem. (On the controversial Silwan excavations, see this excellent short documentary.)

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