Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Israel's 'erasure of the Muslim past'

Haaretz: The first one to excavate the site and come upon human remains was archaeologist Gideon Sulimani, a senior archaeologist with the Antiquities Authority... He began a 'rescue excavation' financed, as mandated by Israeli law, by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, intended to remove antiquities, or in this case, human bones, before the area was cleared for construction... A serious excavation, says Sulimani, could open a window into the lives of Jerusalem's Muslim residents over the past millennium.

In this case, however, he says that there was pressure on him to hurry up and remove the graves without adhering carefully to professional standards... The guiding principle of the work was not a careful and scientific archaeological excavation, one that was respectful of the remains found at the site, but rather an excavation that proceeded as quickly as possible as as to leave the whole skeleton affair behind, so that full attention could be turned to building the Museum of Tolerance... The message to the workers was clear: 'It was like being in the army. You need to keep quiet,' says N... Workers were also asked to sign a confidentiality agreement prohibiting them from talking to anyone about what they saw on the job...

Sulimani and other archaeologists are highly critical of the work methods... One thing that seriously disturbs them is the fact that the work was carried out in shifts, and continued through the night. 'Shift work does not allow for a processing of the material... They call this an archaeological excavation but it's really a clearing out, an erasure of the Muslim past. It's actually Jews against Arabs,' says Sulimani, who himself is Jewish... A senior archaeologist who also visited the excavation had the following to say about the way it was being run: 'It's very unusual. They wanted to finish the whole story as fast as possible. It's a known method. They wanted to create a done deed, after which people could yell all they wanted to, but there wouldn't be any graves left anymore.'...

All those interviewed by Haaretz agree that no fewer than 1,000 skeletons were excavated at the site. One worker, who was familiar with the numbers as part of his job, puts the figure at more than 1,500.

Wikipedia: One component of Sand's argument is that the people who were the original Jews living in Israel, contrary to what is official, accepted history, were not exiled... He further argues that many of the Jews converted to Islam following the Arab conquest, and were assimilated... He concludes that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were Jews.

Richard Cohen: The greatest mistake Israel could make... is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism.

Ilan Pappe: Israel is in many ways a settler Prussian state: a combination of colonialist policies with a high level of militarisation in all aspects of life... It is manifested in the dominance of the army over political, cultural and economic life.

Israel... is a nation of 'cowards with guns' in the sense that they lack the confidence to feel secure about their ability to defend themselves and are seeking to quell that lack of confidence visiting violence and abuse on helpless people.

Sefi Rachlevsky: What happens when a country has no borders?... A border is one of the fundamental factors that define a country. Decades without one have distorted Israel's thinking.
Image source here.