Friday, August 12, 2005
This weekend will mark the Jewish Holiday known as Tisha B'Av -- literally the Nineth of Av in the Hebrew calendar. It's a solemn day, a fast day, a historical day. Here is a list of the events that occurred on this day in history, lead notably by the destructions of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem 490 years apart.
This post is my submission to Kesher Talk's blogburst [The blogburst index is up now. Go have a look. There is a ton of good info and commentary collected there.] on the subject of the holiday and the destruction of the Temple Mount antiquities. I will leave the entire text here on the front page of the blog for a little while before I edit the post and move most of it into the extended entry to save readers some serious scrolling.
There are any number of subjects that have the ability to get my blood up. If there weren't, it would be tough to find things to blog about. But short of stories about living people being killed, there are few that get my blood up as much as this one -- the deliberate destruction of antiquities, the deliberate erasure of all humanity's birthright in our shared history, the deliberate attempt by the Palestinian Arabs to create their own history by bulldozing and denying someone else's. And that this historical revisionism via TNT should be aided and abetted by Western academics with political axes to grind is salt in the wound.
I have stated before, and on my about me page, that I am not a particularly conventionally religious person, but this year Tisha B'Av takes on a bit more significance. They are burning the history books. No, they are tearing out the pages and inserting new ones made from whole cloth. The Temples are being destroyed again, and the world is silent. At least the treasures taken in the Gardner Museum heist have some hope of recovery. History's story written in the stones of Jerusalem is lost for all time and to all future generations once it's been crushed to dust.
At least the Bamiyan Buddhas were granted the dignity of being blown up in the open air, where their destruction could be filmed and the Taliban condemned. They stared out from their rock wall and looked us all in the eye as if to say, "Aren't you ashamed that you're allowing this to happen?" That image, and theirs, is left with us.
The progeny of Arafat do their dirty work below ground. Out of sight of humanity, they murder history in the dark. Their victims are unseen and unknown by anyone but the killers. The story they could speak forever silenced, crushed to rubble and thrown in a garbage dump. At least we had a chance to meet the Buddhas. Humanity's Jewish history is being slaughtered in the womb.
Adding insult to injury is the manner in which academia is complicit in the act. The Palestinian Arabs have raised to high art the act of devising and enforcing their own "national narrative," mobilizing their academics and backing them with official propaganda. Woe be to those who don't toe the line. Treason to the national cause can be met with a quick trip by the feet up the light pole. Sari Nusseibeh, head of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem was lucky. He spoke out against the academic boycott by British Academics against Israel and the PA merely called for him to be dismissed (according to the Al Quds site, he's still there).
The PA itself is known for propagating whoppers. Remember this nonacademic laugher from back in May, Some People Will Believe Anything -- wherein the PA Minister of Health was retailing the idea that Israel had dumped 80 tons of nuclear waste around Arab population centers? More recently, I was looking through PA press-releases and came upon this odd item: Israeli Bulldozers Destroy Remains of Byzantium Church in Gaza
Director General of MTA, Dr. Moin Sadeq, told WAFA that Israeli troops razed yesterday (Tuesday) a site of huge remains of Byzantium Church, close to the shore of Deir Albalah City, south of Gaza.
He said that the site consisted of floors made of mosaic constructed in 586 AD, pointing that MTA reconstructed it in Arle City in France in 2000.
Sadeq asserted that such Israeli aggression is a "new phase of Israeli series of aggressions against archeological sites and historic buildings in Palestinian cities and towns".
The DG mentioned that, through the destruction of Palestinian antiquities, "Israel tries to burry the evidences of the Arab roots in Palestine"...
This story is pure fantasy and projection. If such a thing happened, the Israeli academic community and the Antiquities Authority would be screaming about it -- a community with true divergence of opinion where dissonance exists and is sometimes its own reward, and so tolerant that some people who probably should be gotten rid of aren't.
Why the whopper, then? Do they really think anyone is going to believe it? Sadly, some will, but really, the author just feels it adds ammunition for the rest of the piece, something based on a relatively legitimate controversy:
In fact, the Israelis are considering carefully removing some mosaics from such a site to prevent them from falling prey to the Gaza chaos. Rather than just tell the truth about the issue, the PA just makes something up to, in their view, give more weight to their complaints. Why not? They know they'll never be called on it. Rather than have an honest debate, they choose to demonize.
Speaking of Al Quds University, let's look for a moment at what passes for scholarship there, and note how it serves as just another tool for Arab political goals -- no matter the extent to which the truth needs twisting. An unattributed essay introduction to the Old City of Jerusalem on the university web site makes the Arab narrative clear -- only the Arab narrative exists, anyone else's is fantasy. From Jerusalem, the Old City An Introduction:
Read it all and confirm how divergent this supposedly academic narrative is from what you know to be true. You don't have to be self-conscious of not being expert yourself. Sometimes the common sense shines daylight where PhD's lose themselves in the fog.
No wonder Israeli archaeologists are sifting through the rubble at garbage dumps for what remains after the Arabs get through with what's under their charge -- there is no respect there for anyone else's history. They know that the description in the Al Quds essay is nonsense, but they're doing their best to make it come true, or at least hide the contrary evidence as quickly as possible -- by pick, shovel or bulldozer.
And yet it's not just Arab academics coming from second-rate institutions that are guilty. There's a sort of radical chic going on here among Westerners when even visiting Columbia scholars like Claire Smith and the international Archaeological organization she heads would rather issue specious condemnations against Israelis rather than face the facts of the real destruction going being perpetrated by those who's contemporary political claims she prefers to support.
Don't expect a change any time soon. The toleration for violence -- against history, against the living -- in the name of nationalism, as long as it's the right type of nationalism, is well-respected even in the West. Witness the rising star of Professor Nadia Abu el-Haj, who's book, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society, I posted a review of here. Here is Abu el-Haj applauding the destruction of Joseph's Tomb as an expression of Palestinian Nationalism in the concluding paragraph to her book:
Of course, Jewish "nationhood," the tie to the Holy Land, and Zionism specifically, long pre-date the Israel Antiquities Authority. But don't think that will stop academics like el-Haj from providing the intellectual cover (so called) for Arab destructiveness. In spite of this, el-Haj seems to find no difficulty in gaining employment at numerous top-flight American universities.
Let's look at one final specific example that I believe is somewhat metaphorical for the entire debate. It's a micro example of the wide-spread and intentional Arab destruction of Palestine's Jewish past.
Here is a picture, scanned from a 2001 edition of Biblical Archaeology Review, of the inside of the Great Mosque in Gaza:
Mighty stone architecture, indeed. Note the inset. Here is a close-up:
That's a sketch of an inscription located high up on a column and carved into the stone itself. It's a Byzantine-era inscription that says "Hannaniah son of Jacob" in Hebrew and Greek. Hannaniah is presumed to be a construction donor.
The columns were originally part of the structure of a Byzantine-era Synagogue, you see. No one is sure what happened to the Synagogue, but the crusaders came along later and re-used some of its columns for the construction of a church, including the column upon which this inscription rested.
Later, the crusaders were kicked out and the church became the Great Mosque of Gaza. Here is a scan of a sketch showing the menorah inscription more in situ:
Note the carving high up on the column. There Hannaniah's inscription sat for the better part of 1500 years, until the day that someone decided that the creation of another modern Arab nationalism was more important than a bunch of old stones.
Whereupon, some time between 1987 and 1993, someone took a tall ladder...and chiseled it off.
In spite of the clear Jewish connections to Gaza, the modern State of Israel is perfectly willing, indeed, willing to go to extraordinary lengths, to withdraw itself from Gaza and turn over governance to an Arab entity.
In spite of the fact that the Arabs, even and perhaps especially in modern times, have never shown reliable respect for the holy places of others -- having used the Western Wall for a trash heap, destroyed synagogues in the Old City and burned holy sites -- nevertheless, the Temple Mount remains under control of the Islamic Waqf and Israeli archaeologists remain meticulous in their respect for mankind's heritage.
Yet the world, and most shamefully Western academia, remain silent to the intentional destruction of history for political purposes being perpetrated daily in areas under Palestinian Arab control. Saying the most outrageous things is one thing -- such as Arafat's insistence, now parroted by Palestinian Arab academics and infecting Westerners who should know better, that there is no historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem at all -- but remaining silent to such an offense to reason carries its own odium. How much worse then is the actual and intentional destruction of the physical evidence of yesterday? How much worse to say nothing of it and pretend it isn't happening.
It is, and the world is quiescent...as history is silently strangled.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Murdering History in the Dark.
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Considering the utter inability of the Muslims to pay even a passing B-grade movie actor's attempt at pretending to ever respect anything having to do with Jewish history in the Jew's holy land, including but not limited to, literally digging... Read More