I can feel the burn all the way over here.
Benny Ziffer writes
A breathtaking Jewish archaeological discovery? Give me a break. 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.
No news there to anyone who knows the subject. And then
… an 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. In the state’s early years, there was still something quaint about the so-called “enlisted” archaeology and the national enthusiasm over each new ancient finding. No more. That enthusiasm has become a caricature.
Interesting evaluation from an insider, isn’t it? But there’s more:
And 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 that had been discovered in excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount, which bears the symbol of a menorah. Dr. Mazar declared it “a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime discovery.” 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.
And now the best part (and the bold print is mine for emphasis) –
In my opinion, a serious scientist ought to hang his head in shame when his findings are given a vulgar interpretation like that. But it turns out that the archaeologists excavating in East Jerusalem and the territories have already accustomed themselves to not being ashamed of tainting pure science with the dust of national-religious ideology. It brings them donations from right-wing organizations for additional excavations. It makes the public take an interest in archaeology. What’s wrong with that? Be happy for them.
I am not an archaeologist and not the son of an archaeologist. But I was not convinced in the least by what I saw. 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.
Indeed it does not. Except that archaeology with little else than an eye for donations is alive and well. And that’s really something to be ashamed of.