Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How Israel treats Muslim archaeological finds

As I've mentioned before, the major issue that the Muslims have with any archaeological digs in Jerusalem is the possibility that Jewish items and buildings will be found, and hence the digs will end up "Judaizing" Jerusalem.

What they refuse to admit is that many of the digs have uncovered critical periods of Islamic history as well.

There was a recent report claiming that Israeli archaeologists had found an ancient Islamic prayer room three years ago and had covered it up. In response, the Israeli authorities pointed out that they had not determined what the find was yet, and if it was found to be an important Islamic find then they would preserve it. Of course, the Muslims accused Israel of being more nefarious:
Adnan Husseini, chairman of the Muslim council that oversees affairs at the holy site, expressed anger that Israel withheld news of the discovery for three years. "We didn't hear anything about this," he said. "They are always hiding things."

Let's see whether that argument has any merit.

When the Israeli archaeologists started digging at the southern part of the Temple Mount, they found the remains of an Omayyad palace as well as other finds that illuminated early Muslim life in Jerusalem. Rather than destroy this palace as the Muslims would have you think, they shared the information with the local Islamic authorities - who appreciated the gesture and allowed the Israelis to dig in other areas near the Temple Mount.

This story illuminates how Muslims have traditionally tried to politicize archaeology as much as possible:
(Meir) Ben-Dov (field director of southern Mount dig) tells the story of a visit to the excavation by Rafiq Dajani, the deputy director of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. Dajani remarked to Ben-Dov, “If we could leave politics to the politicians, I would heartily congratulate you on your work, revealing finds of which we knew very little up until now. The finds from the early Moslem period are thrilling, and frankly I’m surprised the Israeli scholars made them public.”

A foreign correspondent overheard Dajani’s remarks and included them in his story.

Two weeks later Dajani was summarily dismissed and later died in the prime of life.
And how did the hated Zionists sweep the discovery of this palace under the rug?

By placing it on a stamp, of course.

Contrast this with how the Waqf treats Jewish archaeological finds on the Temple Mount, and you can see yet another example of Muslim projection of their own attitudes and actions onto the Jews.