Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology will be conducting archaeological digs in East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighbourhod and financed by the right-wing settlement group Elad. Silwan residents have been conducting a popular struggle against these digs, some of which are conducted under homes in which people live and all of which will be used to continue creating the right-wing narrative of Elad. Israeli academia in the service of Israel’s occupation. Yet again.
Palestinians marking the second anniversary of the protest tent in Silwan, 2011. Silwan residents reject the ongoing archaeological digs in their area, some of which are being conducted underneath homes in which families live
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports today that the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University will conduct a dig in the East Jerusalem village of Silwan with financing from the settler organization Elad. Israel’s Antiquities Authority will serve as the cover for this deal, acting as the go-between and channeling the money from Elad to Tel Aviv University.
Elad is a right-wing association to which the Israeli government awarded the right to manage the City of David National Park in Silwan and for which numerous homes of Palestinian families in the village are further slated for demolition.
A final agreement in this matter will be signed in the near future between Tel Aviv University and the Antiquities Authority. Haaretz reports that according to the plan, the scientific dig will be conducted in what is known as Area E, in the lower part of the national park and next to the neighbourhood of al Bustan. In this area the Jerusalem Municipality is planning to establish the park known as “King’s Park.” The dig will be conducted by Dr. Yuval Gadot, and a processing of the finds and compilation of a scientific report will also be done by Tel Aviv University.
Emek Shaveh: Archaeology in the Shadow of the Conflict association, which acts against the work of Elad in Silwan.
“This is clear politicization of research,” Tel Aviv University archaeologist Professor Rafael Greenberg told Haaretz. “To everyone who knows the situation on the ground, it’s clear that every dig is annexed to the association, conducted under its supervision, separated from the village in which the City of David site is located, and in essence becomes part of Elad’s settlement project.”
Greenberg is a founding member of Emek Shaveh: Archaeology in the Shadow of the Conflict, which acts to counter the political work of Elad in the City of David.
Head of the Archaeological Institute at Tel Aviv University, Professor Oded Lipschits, rejects the criticism and in a conversation with Haaretz promises that academic standards would be maintained. “The heart of Biblical archaeology is in Jerusalem and the City of David. I therefore contacted the Antiquities Authority and expressed our desire as an institute to dig there.”
”We will cooperation with the Elad association as they manage the place,” added Lipschits, but…if it appears we are subordinate to political interests, we will not agree.” A spokesperson for Tel Aviv University added that “from a scientific perspective, every dig under the auspices of the university is conducted with maximal punctiliousness, with no compromises.”
The Israeli Corporations Registry failed to find reports for the Ir David Foundation (Elad), despite repeated requests by the AIC (Shir Hever, forthcoming) although it is one of the largest NGOs in Israel and closely tied to the government. The submission of yearly reports to the registry is an obligation of all NGOs registered in Israel.