Concealing the Past
Neve Gordon · Archaeideology
Elie Wiesel is not known for his sympathy towards the Palestinian cause for self-determination. He was recently made the chairman of the board of the Elad Association, also known as the Ir David Foundation, an organisation that has been actively erasing the Palestinians’ cultural heritage and facilitating the confinement of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. In 2002, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority hired Elad to run the City of David national park, in the densely populated Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan. Elad has spent millions of dollars trying (unsuccessfully) to demonstrate King David's presence in that area.
By concentrating on unearthing the remains of the Judean kingdom, while ignoring the subsequent 3000 years, the archaeologists digging in these sites seem to have overlooked the World Archaeological Congress’s codes of ethics:
Members agree that they have obligations to indigenous peoples and that they shall abide by the following principles:
1. To acknowledge the importance of indigenous cultural heritage, including sites, places, objects, artefacts, human remains, to the survival of indigenous cultures.
2. To acknowledge the importance of protecting indigenous cultural heritage to the well-being of indigenous peoples.
According to Yoni Mizrahi, an archaeologist with the NGO Emek Shaveh, Elad is using archaeology more as a mechanism for concealing the past than as a tool for revealing it. Not a single Muslim structure has been preserved in the national park. Archaeology, Mizrahi says, is also a weapon of dispossession. Over the years almost all the green areas in Silwan have been transformed into well-guarded new archaeological sites. They are, in effect, Jewish outposts deployed to circumscribe Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.