Elad and The Manipulation of Facts in Silwan

An interesting essay today over on Art Info which contains this usefully instructive paragraph which so nicely encapsulates what Elad is all about:

A 2006 report by Ir Amim, a left-wing advocacy group focused on Jerusalem, described one instance in which Dr. Eilat Mazar, an archaeologist working at a dig funded by Elad, claimed to have found the pipe that David’s warriors traveled through when they conquered the city. This was despite the fact that many scholars — including Ronny Reich, an archaeologist at Haifa University who worked at the same site — were skeptical that David or Solomon had ever been there. On another occasion, Reich uncovered a Byzantine water pit and was instructed by Elad to present it as the cistern of Malkijah, the pit Jeremiah was thrown into by the son of Zedekiah, the king of Judah, according to the Old Testament. For weeks, the attribution was listed on the website and echoed by tour guides, even though Reich himself said that it was “nonsense.”

More scathing:

A Google search of the group’s founder, David Be’eri, leads to multiple stories about the day he passed through Silwan in a silver four-door sedan and was confronted by Palestinian youths throwing stones. He struck two of them with his car and drove off, later claiming he had felt he was in danger and was trying to flee. Though both boys avoided serious injury, the incident was broadcast on Al Jazeera as well as Israeli television, and in numerous clips on YouTube.

It’s hard to imagine how an organization whose leader is best known for running over Palestinian children with his car could invite itself into archaeology, a field in which professionals pride themselve in being almost tediously objective. In recent years, however, Elad has managed to do just that, funding public education projects in Silwan that would make viewers believe that politics was not Elad’s concern.

And then this:

Because of the drama of archaeology in Jerusalem, in addition to the sizable funds it provides for research areas like Silwan, researchers like Reich have frequently found themselves forced to answer difficult questions about cooperating with Elad. Israel Finkelstein, a professor of archaeology at TAU who is involved in the work at Silwan and is described among colleagues as “center-left,” gave a notably guarded answer when I asked him if he had qualms about doing archaeological work in which Elad was involved. “I have always kept distance from politics, so I am not going to answer this question,” he wrote in an email. “My only interest is to better understand archaeology and history. In order to make things clear, let me add that: 1) the Tel Aviv University dig will be carried out as a joint venture with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA); no other body will be involved in the dig; 2) Tel Aviv University and its Institute of Archaeology work according to law.”

I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if Israel Finkelstein is involved everything done will be on the level.  Even if Elad attempts to exert influence.  Finkelstein is not the sort of person who can be pushed around.  This, I know.

And then this:

Rafael Greenberg, another professor of archaeology at TAU who has stood out for his opposition to the university’s involvement in Silwan, regularly expressed concerns about Elad’s involvement to his colleague Ronny Reich, who, recently, has become the head of the IAA’s archaeological council. “Whenever I told them he was being used by the settlers,” he told ARTINFO, “He’d say, ‘No, I’m using them.’”

Speaking over the phone last week, Greenberg repeated his feelings about Elad’s presence in the area, as well as the public relations concerns of TAU’s involvement. Part of what made him want to speak reporters, as it turned out, was how unconvincing he thought TAU’s message will be to Palestinian Silwanis, whose anxieties about losing their home might overlap with anxieties about being evicted from history. “No amount of spin or declarative sentences saying ‘we’re not being part of it,’ is going to change that, unless they actively dissociate themselves from that project,” he said. “It has to be a completely new concept, in order to carry out an excavation that is not associated with the settlers, with the Israeli view of history.”

Plus loads more which those interested in the subject will surely wish to read. I’ll only suggest, in conclusion, that Elad is agenda driven and that’s as plain as the nose on my face.

Nicely Said, Neil

Neil Asher Silberman writes in connection with the Mazar denunciation of Elad’s ideologically driven ‘archaeology’-

A truly pitiful example of the ideologically inspired and financed archaeological work in the “City of David.”  Is this a battle for “science” or just envy in not being allowed to claim the credit for another “this land really belongs to us” claim.  

Jeremiah’s Pit would have been another fine addition to the bogus Mazar corpus.  See, for example, blog report from Feb. 22, 2010.

Of course with Mazar or without her, this biblical chimera could still become a tourist attraction and a rationale for expropriation.   When will this government-approved misuse of archaeology stop?

Nicely said, Neil.

Elad: Wielding Power to no Good Purpose

The authority wielded by Elad settler association impacts increasingly on the lives of Palestinian residents of Silwan and other districts of East Jerusalem. Some residents have likened Elad to a “kingdom within a state”, given its labyrinthine network of control over infrastructure and funds in Jerusalem. The jewel in Elad’s crown is the exclusive power it holds over Silwan’s historical sites, the chief earner in the mammoth revenue it gains in Jerusalem. Elad’s privately-hired, publicly-funded settler security militia command a conspicuous presence on the streets of Silwan, where they are engaged in continual violent harassment and provocation of Palestinian residents.

Waleed, a resident of Silwan, states that “Elad reaps its revenue from stolen Palestinian land, largely through the Absentee Property Law. Palestinian residents experience no benefit whatsoever from the tourist industry in our neighborhood, while Elad extends its reach of control over ever more land. This occurs with the full cooperation of the Jerusalem Municipality and Israeli ministries, who act like Elad’s puppet, serving its every need.”

There’s more, which you should read, at least in order to hear the other side of the story.