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A bible park grows in (occupied) Jerusalem

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City of David park overlooking Silwan. (Photo: Allison Deger)

City of David park overlooking Silwan. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Situated a short walk outside of Jerusalem’s stone walls is the excavation site for the biblical city of Jewish kings. The dig enfolds into a safari experience for the “City of David.” Visitors can take a guided tour, as I did, to explore the mystic past that today falls past the Green Line. Other options include an East Jerusalem Segway ride into the time of great Jewish kings, or a paintball fight. The peace talks may be floundering, but the “City of David” in occupied Jerusalem is flourishing.

The park is run by the Elad organization, a quasi-governmental group that has the sole privilege in Israel of being both a private entity and a municipal authority. In Jerusalem it functions akin to the Disney Corporation in Florida, except with religious calibrations at play to determine who are the newest residents.

Standing in the ancient city ruins, Raphael, my guide from Elad, explained, “No more than 3,000 people could live there.” Despite its meager population, the historical City of David and the present day biblical park of David are an ever expanding behemoth with a second visitor center under construction and metal gates with turnstiles and entrance fees to keep out the Palestinian Jerusalemites of Silwan, the neighborhood that the City of David is built inside of, or more specifically on top of.

City of David billboard in front of bible park construction site. (Photo: Allison Deger)

City of David billboard in front of bible park construction site. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Today Silwan is in a losing plus-minus relationship with the far past. The City of David bible park runs an archeological dig that is literally underneath Palestinians houses. The tunnels are like a basement owned by a different tenant, only less structurally sound for the homes above. The tunnels have caused cracks in the Palestinian houses.

City of David heritage site. (Photo: Allison Deger)

City of David heritage site. (Photo: Allison Deger)

 

Three months ago when the City of David expanded its heritage site to shows off new ruins for tourists, it came at the expense of the Palestinian neighborhood. The latest construction project was a stone promenade with numbered plaques detailing how the sites are historically important. But before the promenade was a field where Palestinian children played soccer. And to the south is a metal barred crossing that locks at night. The bible park has privatized land once zoned as Palestinian agricultural territory. Yet with Elad in city positions, the private organization was able to re-zone it as a national park, and then came the privatized entrance to the park.

Metal gate crossing between City of David and Silwan. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Metal gate crossing between City of David and Silwan. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Back on the three-hour tour our second stop was a cramped screening room equipped with a 15-minute video. “With the help of a shovel, and with the help of the bible,” said Amos, a 3-D Israeli-accented talking head dressed in a khaki vest and cowboy hat.

The “crowning moment” of this Jewish kingdom, Amos said, was the Temple Mount. But sadly, warfare was prophesied and “Israel” fell to enemies like the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

Cue the timpani again, pounding over the violins in minor scale. It was the kind of music that foreshadows paranormal activity.

“Can you hear the Babylonian forces laying siege to the city?” asked Amos. Something jumped out at us from the screen. Maybe a sword, but I couldn’t tell because the fast movements made me nauseous and I dropped my glasses on the ancient floor of the viewing room. This historical adventure was too extreme for me. “For 2000 years the city passed from hand to hand,” continued Amos, cutting out 2000 years of history from the time of King David until 1948.

Cut to the violins again, a song of redemption.

Underground the tour continued towards the earth’s core. A group of female soldiers passed us. Modernity and antiquity collided. I wondered if they were on a tour too, or if they are just moving through the museum to get to lower Silwan. The City of David bible park is also the main throughway on foot to the Palestinian neighborhood. The soldiers with long hair tied back in tortoise shell clips could be an exhibit also.

Raphael then led us through a round of once tunnels that he said only filled and flowed with water as a fail-safe when the city was under siege. Jerusalem, through the eyes of Elad, is a tale of conquest and fighting. Never mind the 2000-year historical gap. “Looked at the shaft!” he yelled to us. It was an ancient, natural shaft and now we could see it because of the bible park.

City of David archaeological dig. (Photo: Allison Deger)

City of David archaeological dig. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Outdoors again Raphael directed us to the spring of Shiloh where I met my first Palestinians inside of the range. I first visited the City of David/Silwan more than a year ago. Its expansion over 14 months is wild. One of the most striking differences is that on my inaugural trip Palestinian children ran through the shared streets of the modern-day city of Silwan and modern day theme park. But now these paths are cluttered with tourists. No children to be found. Across the valley we gazed at Palestinian Silwan. “Look how horrible their houses are,” said one of my fellow tourists, a middle-age man from New York accompanied by his wife and despondent teenage son.

“I used to stand here with one of the archeologists” said Ismail Kanan, 49, the only visible Palestinian walking around the park. He slapped the hand of an Israeli Elad guide who greeted him cheerfully in Arabic. “You can’t be enemies with everyone,” noted Kanan.

Kanan used to work for the City of David from 2004 to 2009, but quit after he witnessed the shady business of Elad backed home evictions. “There was some work that went on without permits,” he said. Kanan explained in the past other Palestinians also were employed with the City of David, but everyone left after they realized that bible park was going to be built on top of their homes.

Still, Kanan remains in the archeological business. He leads his own tours through the City of David, groups he meets from churches, or friends of friends. His main gripe against the City of David today is that they skip over Muslim and Christian history. Kanan then pointed to the blue wristbands of my tourists group led by Raphael “They show just the time of Zedekiah and David, not the Palestinian people, or the Christians, or the Muslims.”

Kanan and I watched a shuttle van scoop up my tour group and drive them back to the top of the hill so they would not have to walk through the Palestinian area to return to the starting point. Then Kanan and I ventured south where he introduced me to Khalid Azir, Silwan’s most famous resident and cave dweller.

Khalid Zir in his cave home, Silwan. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Khalid Zir in his cave home, Silwan. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Azir father was born in one of Silwan’s many caves. He was raised in a house in front of the cave, where Azir had been living with his wife and six children until four months ago when an Israeli bulldozer arrived and destroyed everything in a matter of minutes. Azir’s house was constructed without a permit, but he was paying off the municipality for a stay of demolition. Unfortunately the stays didn’t hold and the house was reduced to rubble just before sunrise last fall.

With few options, Azir, his wife, and his six children moved into the cave. “People came and took pictures, but no one helped.” After three weeks a doctor recommended he relocate the children indoors with relatives because they had fallen ill from the elements. Yet Azir stayed on in the cave. He collected his children’s toys from the demolition rubble, showing me a stuffed animal and a blanket. Two months ago he built a small room out of wood doors in front of the cave’s entrance. Now it too has a demolition order.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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62 Responses

  1. Elliot
    January 5, 2014, 9:58 pm

    I confess that I did this tour a few years ago. It’s impressive and very political. With a h/t to Seafoid: the Disneyfication of Israel continues full steam ahead. In the good old days, when I was a kid, we would wander through the Silwan waterway. I suppose as Israeli Jews we were not welcome guests. Still, we were kids and we weren’t carrying guns. The site then was completely undeveloped. It was wonderful to get down there in the boiling summer and walk through the icy water.
    Now, it is a fortress with security cameras and guards, walls and turnstiles. It’s an odd combination of privatization and settler colonization. Like a cruise’s private beach in Haiti. Carribean paradise fenced off from Haitian misery. But also like a settlement, fenced in with technology, protected by the army and armed settlers.
    Other sites have gone through the same kind of commercialization and are used as tools of indoctrination. I used to play in the blown up bunkers and trenches of the Castel fortress just west of Jerusalem. I remember balancing on a huge concrete slab that was hanging by a couple of metal rods. It was quite unsafe and there were no fences barring my entry. I would imagine the battles in 1948 between the Jewish and Arab forces. Today it is a national (Jewish) monument. It is safe and official and has become a tool of indoctrination. You are told exactly what to think.
    I’m sure the soldiers you saw there were on some tour of indoctrination, a key function of Israeli military service.

    Btw, it is “Shiloah”. “Shiloh” is to the north and is unrelated.

    • Walid
      January 6, 2014, 3:53 am

      “With a h/t to Seafoid: the Disneyfication of Israel continues full steam ahead.”

      Seafoid is a seer. May his other predictions on the fate of the Zionists come to pass.

    • yrn
      January 6, 2014, 6:49 am

      Elliot

      What you saw in this impressive Archaeological excavations tour, was it Jewish History or Muslim and Palestinian history. ?

      • puppies
        January 6, 2014, 10:10 am

        History? There can be no reliable history under military occupation and ethnic cleansing.

      • TonyRiley
        January 10, 2014, 7:56 am

        So no reliable history when the Romans occupied, or the Ottomans, or the British, or the Jordanians then.

      • Hostage
        January 6, 2014, 10:50 am

        What you saw in this impressive Archaeological excavations tour, was it Jewish History or Muslim and Palestinian history. ?

        Your founding myths say that Joshua didn’t succeed in ethnically cleansing the country and that Solomon employed the remaining Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, the Jebusites to build the Temple of the Lord, and his own house and the Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer. See 1 Kings 9:15-25

        So there were always non-Jews living there according to your own sources and they were instrumental in building everything you are unearthing these days.

        The scriptures say there was an Amorite King of Jerusalem (Joshua 10:5) and that later on, in David’s day, it was a Jebusite city. So there should be more than just Jewish monuments and relics lying around your digs. The Temple Mount itself was allegedly purchased from a Jebusite owner who had used it as a threshing floor.

        FYI, those were considered sacred places to the fertility cults and were used for licentious sacred rites. Hosea 9:1 contains a reference to the payment of wages to harlots or prostitutes “at every threshing floor.” Ezekiel 8:14 is also a reference to Temple prostitutes who were sitting and weeping for Tammuz by the entrance of the gate of the house of the Lord. So the other inhabitants have as much right to claim the holy sites, including the Jewish ones, as the work of their ancestor’s hands and part of their own history.

      • yrn
        January 6, 2014, 10:56 am

        Hostage

        You did not answer the question sir.
        “What you saw in this impressive Archaeological excavations tour, was it Jewish History or Muslim and Palestinian history. ?”

      • Hostage
        January 7, 2014, 1:46 am

        “What you saw in this impressive Archaeological excavations tour, was it Jewish History or Muslim and Palestinian history. ?”

        Yes I did. I pointed out that Jews never had the country to themselves and that the other indigenous people’s helped build everything there in antiquity that you now claim is exclusively Jewish.

      • yrn
        January 6, 2014, 11:02 am

        Hostage

        I did not ask regarding the “Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites”
        I asked about the Muslims and Palestinian, since even a smart guy like you knows, that we don’t have any dispute with the Descendant of the Amorites, or you got a new AntiZio theory that the Palestinians are the Descendant of the Amorites.

      • Hostage
        January 7, 2014, 2:23 am

        Hostage I did not ask regarding the “Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites” I asked about the Muslims and Palestinian

        The fact is that modern day Jews include converts with no continuity to “The language, the Torah, the Psalms of David and the verbal history”. Jewish nationalists try to exclude Muslims and Palestinians who share DNA inherited from supposedly common “Jewish” ancestors. There is good reason to believe that has always been the case, based upon the xenophobic national myths contained in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah. They claim the Princes of the tribe of Judah were overly prone to assimilating other peoples living in the region into their families. So the “Jewish religion”, not biology or facts on the ground, became a social boundary between people with common ancestors.

        By the rabbinical era “conversion” had been rationalized. Some studies say that the majority of European Jewish DNA (about 60%) appears to be the result of admixture with ancestors of non-Middle Eastern origin. Modern day Jews can’t even establish that they are descended from the ancient Hebrew ethnic groups of Palestine, without resorting to circular logic and comparing the relatedness of their own DNA to that of modern day non-Jewish Muslim and Palestinian populations.

      • TonyRiley
        January 10, 2014, 7:57 am

        Haven’t you heard? Jesus was a Palestinian!

  2. Hostage
    January 5, 2014, 10:21 pm

    The park is run by the Elad organization, a quasi-governmental group that has the sole privilege in Israel of being both a private entity and a municipal authority.

    The JNF and WZO have also cut deals that allow them to engage in the same racket. Even though it is a private company, the JNF has a special public status because it has statutory authority over forestry. By law, the JNF also has a hand in controlling all national planning done by the Israel Land Authority Council and its employees are considered public employees. The WZO has the same sort of set-up for its Settlement Division in the Prime Minister’s office.

    *JNF could be subject to state comptroller review if Israel’s justice ministry has its way: The Jewish National Fund, which is registered as a private company even though its assets are state lands, spends billions subject to no government oversight.
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.537798

    * Livni to impose freedom of information act on WZO settlements division
    http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Livni-to-impose-freedom-of-information-act-on-WZO-settlements-division-322071

    • LeaNder
      January 6, 2014, 2:09 am

      Astonishing, how readable a jpost article on Israeli affairs can be. ;) Are the propagandists mostly busy in foreign reporting? ;)

      Although, the best article I remember so far was written by someone that had to leave.

      Thanks anyway, Hostage, interesting aspect.

      Allisons reporting is very, very good. The fist line took a while to sink in:

      Cue the timpani again, pounding over the violins in minor scale. It was the kind of music that foreshadows paranormal activity.

      “Can you hear the Babylonian forces laying siege to the city?” asked Amos. Something jumped out at us from the screen. Maybe a sword, but I couldn’t tell because the fast movements made me nauseous and I dropped my glasses on the ancient floor of the viewing room. This historical adventure was too extreme for me. “For 2000 years the city passed from hand to hand,” continued Amos, cutting out 2000 years of history from the time of King David until 1948.

      • JennieS
        January 6, 2014, 9:17 pm

        “For 2000 years the city passed from hand to hand,” continued Amos, cutting out 2000 years of history from the time of King David until 1948.

        The time of King David (ca. 1010 – 970 BCE according to the Jewish Virtual Library) was just over 2900 years before 1948 not 2000. Jerusalem, like other cities in the region, passed from hand to hand both before and after the time of David.

  3. giladg
    January 6, 2014, 12:20 am

    Alisson is still unable to do it. She almost did but could not go the extra yard needed. She could not bring herself to say that the sites in the City of David are mentioned in the Bible. All of the archaeology in the area Alisson visited has to do with Jewish history. It has nothing to do with Palestinian history. There are Arab homes on street level and there are no items of archeological interest with these homes, many of which where built during the last 100 years. Jews have a long and significant history here. Don’t you think it is about time that you reconcile yourself with this fact Allison? This is what is needed if peace is ever to happen.

    • yrn
      January 6, 2014, 6:47 am

      Talking about archaeology, that’s the biggest threat and fear of the Muslims and Palestinians, that all the Archaeological excavations are going to show only one thing.
      That all the archaeology in the area has to do ONLY with Jewish history.
      Nothing regarding Muslim or Palestinians NOTHING.
      That’s why Alisson and all the Anti Zio propaganda empty tools, try so hard to criticize those Archaeological excavations site, that even the AntiZio Elliot mentioned it is impressive, as those Archaeological excavations sites are very impressive, you don’t have to go into any explanations as, what you see is the real Jewish History documentation.
      And all other bull from AntiZio’s Propaganda, just looks pathetic.
      There are going to be more and more Archaeological excavations sites like this, as they are our history to explore, while for you it’s the biggest threat and fear.

      • Sibiriak
        January 6, 2014, 7:41 am

        yrn:

        all the Archaeological excavations are going to show only one thing. That all the archaeology in the area has to do ONLY with Jewish history.

        Why do you capitalize “Archeological” and what “area” are you referring to?

        Are you asserting that non- “Jewish” life/history somehow left no archeological traces in Palestine?

      • eljay
        January 6, 2014, 8:10 am

        >> … all the archaeology in the area has to do ONLY with Jewish history.

        None of which in any way justifies the existence of an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” in Palestine.

      • Woody Tanaka
        January 6, 2014, 9:16 am

        “Talking about archaeology, that’s the biggest threat and fear of the Muslims and Palestinians, that all the Archaeological excavations are going to show only one thing.”

        Nonsense The fact that some Jews lived in an area back in the Bronze Age is irrelevant to the question of anything today. Not only is their the fact that the current Palestinians can trace ancestry back to those very same people, but the history is irrelevant. Any justification for Jewish rights to the land, based on that history expired long, long ago.

      • giladg
        January 6, 2014, 12:39 pm

        Sorry Woody, Palestinians as you know them today cannot trace ancestry back to those days. Nice try though. Believe me, if this was possible we would be hearing about it day in and day out. The best they can do is the vague reference of Mohammad going to heaven on a winged horse or a on a horse driven chariot and he stopped over at the the place called “the rock” on his way there. That’s it Woody. Funny that in all the Koran there is no mention of Jerusalem. Not one word, and we are being forced to accept that “the rock” means Jerusalem. And another thing, the Palestinians only starting identifying themselves as Palestinians during the the last 100 years.
        By the way, the reason they do not pursue the ancestry thing is that this would expose where they really came from. Syria, Arabia, Egypt, Iraq. Yes Woody.

      • Hostage
        January 7, 2014, 2:40 am

        Sorry Woody, Palestinians as you know them today cannot trace ancestry back to those days. Nice try though. Believe me, if this was possible we would be hearing about it day in and day out.

        We do hear about it all the time in journal articles about “Jewish” DNA studies. They say that many Middle Eastern Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities either share an ancient or more recent common ancestor. So “Jewish”, “Muslim”, and “Christian” are merely social labels, not accurate historical or biological categories.

      • Woody Tanaka
        January 9, 2014, 2:39 pm

        “Palestinians as you know them today cannot trace ancestry back to those days.”

        Nonsense. Nowhere except in the statements of racist zios like you is the libel that the land was empty and that the Palestinians are immigrants from other Arab lands credited. You’re on par with a Holocaust denier.

        “Believe me,”

        No, you’re a zionist. Only a fool believes a zionist about anything. If you said the sky was blue, I’d look up before I believed you.

        “if this was possible we would be hearing about it day in and day out”

        Nope. Only zio fools think that ancestry back in the Bronze Age is relevant in any way today. If you don’t hear the other side talking about it, it’s because it’s a stupid claim that you’re making.

        “Funny that in all the Koran there is no mention of Jerusalem. ”

        That’s another slanderous lie.

        “And another thing, the Palestinians only starting identifying themselves as Palestinians during the the last 100 years.”

        And another lie.

        “By the way, the reason they do not pursue the ancestry thing is that this would expose where they really came from. Syria, Arabia, Egypt, Iraq.”

        Yeah, and Zyklon B was in the camps merely to prevent athlete’s foot.

      • Hostage
        January 10, 2014, 7:30 am

        “Funny that in all the Koran there is no mention of Jerusalem. ”

        Why do you guys always say that, when Jerusalem isn’t mentioned in the Torah either? The Hebrew scriptures weren’t written by a lone individual. Some of the books says that God removed his name from Jerusalem, just as he removed his name from Shiloh, and allowed the inhabitants to be carried away into captivity. See 2 Kings 23:27

        When a few Jews did return, they were NOT led by prophets and were competing with other Hebrew Temples in the region despite their marketing claims. The members of the Jerusalem cult were led by a scribe and a governor appointed by a Gentile King, who worshiped the God Marduk. He ordered that all of the pagan cults and Temples be reestablished:

        Cyrus claims to have achieved this with the aid of Marduk, the god of Babylon. He then describes measures of relief he brought to the inhabitants of the city, and tells how he returned a number of images of gods, which Nabonidus had collected in Babylon, to their proper temples throughout Mesopotamia and western Iran. At the same time he arranged for the restoration of these temples, and organized the return to their homelands of a number of people who had been held in Babylonia by the Babylonian kings.

        See the Cyrus cylinder.

        The prophecy written in the name of Isaiah was simply an early example of Zionist propaganda that appears to have been produced to justify Ezra and Nehimiah’s mission. Most Jews did not return and chose to remain in Babylonia or elsewhere. The authors of some of the Dead Sea scrolls considered the Jerusalem cult to be an abomination. According to Rashi’s commentary, the Shekhinah never rested on the Temple of Cyrus. The notion that the site remained sacred to all the Jews is contradicted by both textual and archaeological evidence of other altars and Temples in the region.

      • talknic
        January 10, 2014, 8:44 am

        giladg “Palestinians as you know them today cannot trace ancestry back to those days.”

        As of 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time) it is entirely irrelevant to the Internationally recognized sovereign extent of the state of Israel and its illegal activities as the Occupying Power over non-Israeli territories. Territory in the region that is not Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian or Egyptian, is by default Palestinian.

        “Funny that in all the Koran there is no mention of Jerusalem”

        As of 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time) (ibid) it is entirely irrelevant to the Internationally recognized sovereign extent of the state of Israel and its illegal activities as the Occupying Power over non-Israeli territories. Territory in the region that is not Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian or Egyptian, is by default Palestinian.

        “By the way, the reason they do not pursue the ancestry thing is that …” they have no legal need to! As of 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time) (ibid) the territory in the region that was not Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian or Egyptian, remained by default Palestinian.

      • American
        January 6, 2014, 12:20 pm

        yrn says:
        January 6, 2014 at 6:47 am
        Talking about archaeology, that’s the biggest threat and fear of the Muslims and Palestinians, that all the Archaeological excavations are going to show only one thing.
        That all the archaeology in the area has to do ONLY with Jewish history.
        Nothing regarding Muslim or Palestinians NOTHING”…..>>>>>

        You keep us busy clearing up your ignorance, evidently you know zero about archaeology and dont keep up with it.

        To date there have been two (non jewish/not Israelite) cities unearthed beneath ancient Israel ruins, one beneath another—-the latest showing Philistine pottery and that it was a Canaanite city that was under Egyptian rule or part of Egypt’s holdings.

        The ‘question’ that drives historians and archaeologist in their exploration most in the holy land—both for those who are pure archaeologist and for those who want to prove the bible is true and a “Kingdom” of Israel existed—-is this—- in all of everything unearth and collected in the ancient region from every civilization, there is only one mention outside of the bible of a ‘Israel prior’ to the 9th century BC – and that was the Merneptah Stele, an inscription from about 1205 BC, which was unearthed in Egypt.

        That is the question archeaologist are trying to answer. If Israel was such a mighty kingdom under David and Solomon, why didn’t other regional leaders mention them? And why was the archaeological footprint of Jerusalem, its capital, so small.

        If Israel had been what you want to claim it was and Jews had been prominent there would have been some mention of Israel and of them by other rulers and civilizations and nations of the era. Real history –outside the bible —-is almost totally silent on Israel and the Jews—they dont appear in the region. Certainly if it had been important in the region there would be some record of it by others or more references to it than the one mention found in Egypt. Books on Egyptian history refer to what you call ancient Israel as a outpost or settlement where Israelites lived and where Egypt ‘garrisoned’ some of its army.

      • Hostage
        January 6, 2014, 12:37 pm

        Talking about archaeology, that’s the biggest threat and fear of the Muslims and Palestinians, that all the Archaeological excavations are going to show only one thing.

        What always amuses me is the fact that:

        A conundrum that any complete discussion of the Temple Mount must face is that, with respect to the original Temple of Solomon, not a single structural feature or related artifact has been positively identified. This lack of physical evidence has caused some to question whether Solomon’s original temple even existed.

        http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/reviews/jerusalems-temple-mount/

        When Zionists can’t solve this problem using their own Jewish sources, suddenly they produce the 7th century C.E. Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem as some sort of “expert witnesses”. They expect everyone else to uncritically accept the fable that the Muslims knew where Herod’s Temple stood and built their Dome of the Rock on top of it.

      • richb
        January 6, 2014, 1:14 pm

        The following is an extremely useful site for separating the Hasbara propaganda from the real science:

        http://alt-arch.org/en/

        But surely the main archaeological periods are Jewish? David and Solomon? The First Temple? Herod’s temple?

        Jerusalem’ history begins 7000 years ago, and runs on to the present. In between, there are certainly remains of Biblical Jerusalem, especially from the time of the later kings of Judah, but we should really avoid using religious terminologies for archaeological periods. There is, in fact, no physical evidence for the temple of Solomon and his successors. There is no evidence for rituals such as sacrifices or for the existence of priests, or of anything that we might associate with Jewish religious practice. Given the limited possibilities for excavation, it is not too likely that such remains will ever be found. We can’t even pinpoint the actual location of the temple, and have no attestation of its existence outside of the Bible. In archaeological terms, therefore, the material culture that characterizes Jerusalem between about 1000 and 550 BCE is best characterized as Iron Age, and it is quite similar to that found well beyond the borders of Jerusalem and Judah.

        As for the period of Herod and Jesus, the remains of the Temple enclosure are more impressive, but these remains – which may have been in use only for a few decades before their destruction – do not determine the cultural character of the rest of Jerusalem, let alone that of the region. The dominant material culture of the time was Roman, and the greater proportion of all archaeological finds in Jerusalem reflects the cultures of the dominant empires: Hellenistic (from the conquest of Alexander to the Roman conquest), Roman (until the conversion to Christianity), Byzantine (Roman-Christian) and of course, Islamic (with a Crusader interlude).

      • Elliot
        January 6, 2014, 7:57 pm

        Richb, you beat me to it. Emek Shaveh is the go-to website for apolitical archeology at Silwan. The story Elad sells is flattering to Jewish ears and would be lovely if it were true. Do we know that the tower of rough hewn stones is the original “Zion” or is that just a myth the messianic settlers offer secular Israelis to justify Zionism?
        @yrn – you gotta be kidding. Palestine is covered in ancient sites and artifacts that have absolutely nothing to do with Jewish or Israelite history.

    • richb
      January 6, 2014, 12:48 pm

      The reason why they find only Jewish history is they practice what is known as “salvage archeology”. This is normally done ONLY when there is imminent destruction to the artifacts like when a dam is built. The radical settlers who run the City of David are only interested in Jewish history and they destroy anyone else’s in the process. Normal gridded archeology finds much from the Umayyad Dynasty in Jerusalem. See here:

      http://www.panoramio.com/photo/65818846
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XTbMqmq318
      http://www.antiquities.org.il/article_Item_eng.asp?sec_id=25&subj_id=240&id=1104&module_id=#as

      This dynasty was known for its religious tolerance completely absent from modern Israel. I also have been to the City of David. What’s remarkable is the total lack of any references in the archeology to David or Solomon while there are many, many pagan idols from the 10th Century BCE. There are massive structures from the Jebusites who were there before David and from the time of Hezekiah after but little is from the 10th. If David and Solomon actually existed they were minor chieftains.

    • TonyRiley
      January 10, 2014, 7:59 am

      Jesus never met a Palestinian.

  4. Stephen Shenfield
    January 6, 2014, 6:44 am

    There is no Jewish or Palestinian history, only history. The continuity implied by such expressions is delusory. Suppose, giladg, that you were transported back to the times of David or Solomon in a time machine. You would feel that you were in a very strange land. And the ancient Israelites would find you very strange too. You would probably get stoned to death as some sort of sorcerer.

  5. giladg
    January 6, 2014, 7:12 am

    Fortunately for Jews, and I am talking about those Jews who are aware of their history and heritage and feel no need to apologize for it, there is a direct connection going back to the times of David and Solomon. The language, the Torah, the Psalms of David and the verbal history, all contribute to this connection. Maybe Stephen can tell us of another people besides the Jews who live in this region and speak the same language (or very similar) to what was spoken over 2,000 years ago? So if anyone went back to biblical times the Jews are one people who have more in common than most. The Palestinians would certainly not. Arabic came about 1,400 years ago which is recent history compared to that of the Jews.

    • talknic
      January 6, 2014, 8:23 am

      @giladg “Fortunately for Jews, and I am talking about those..etc etc”

      It’s all quite irrelevant to the legal status of the Internationally recognized sovereign extent of the state of Israel and Israel’s illegal activities as the Occupying Power over non-Israeli territory, i.e., today

      “So if anyone went back to biblical times the Jews are one people who have more in common than most. The Palestinians would certainly not.”

      Uh huh. A) Who was there before biblical times? Our Jewish forefathers conquered someone. Did they wipe them from the map? B) You have any statistics to show Jews were actually a majority in Palestine…ever?

      ———-

      yrn “.. the biggest threat and fear of the Muslims and Palestinians, that all the Archaeological excavations are going to show only one thing.
      That all the archaeology in the area has to do ONLY with Jewish history”

      Even the scriptures tell us you’re spouting nonsense

      • TonyRiley
        January 10, 2014, 8:01 am

        Actually, it was called Israel long before the word “Palestine’ was invented by the Romans.

    • Woody Tanaka
      January 6, 2014, 9:18 am

      “there is a direct connection going back to the times of David and Solomon. ”

      LMAO. Seeing as how they are as historical as Daffy Duck and Darth Vader, that’s a neat trick — having a connection to the time when fictional characters “lived.” But even recognizing that “connection,” so what? It’s trivial when the issues concern current day rights to the land.

      • yrn
        January 6, 2014, 9:36 am

        Tanaka
        “current day rights to the land.”

        My grandfather was born in Israel, my Father was born in Israel, I was born in Israel my kids were born in Israel and so are my grandchildren.

        That’s my current day right’s to the land !

      • Woody Tanaka
        January 6, 2014, 10:02 am

        “My grandfather was born in Israel, my Father was born in Israel, I was born in Israel my kids were born in Israel and so are my grandchildren.”

        Doubtful, yarny. israel’s only been around since 1948. For 5 generations to have been born in israel, your family would be having babies, generation after generation, just after they turn 13 years old. Clearly some of these folks were born in Palestine (well, all of you were born in Palestine. I’m talking specifically about Palestine before the occupation by the zionist-entity.) Which begs the question, if your family’s record of births conferred some “right” to you, then the same is true of all the Palestinians, even those the Jews ethnically cleansed and ran off at gunpoint into neighboring states, so on what grounds would you keep them from exercising their right in Palestine? Because they’re non-Jews??

        “That’s my current day right’s to the land !”

        And that should entitle you to is to live a state where you are provided equality with all people, regardless of ethnicity and religion, and an equal vote with all of the other adults living from the Med to the Jordan, as well as fully protected human, political and civil rights. It doesn’t give you any right to an ethno-religious apartheid state.

      • yrn
        January 6, 2014, 10:54 am

        Tanaka

        You answered the question regarding the Palestinians already.
        “But even recognizing that “connection,” so what?

      • Woody Tanaka
        January 9, 2014, 2:26 pm

        “You answered the question regarding the Palestinians already.
        ‘But even recognizing that ‘connection,’ so what?”

        And yet another zionist excuses the Holocaust by adopting the “might is right” view of the Nazis.

      • puppies
        January 6, 2014, 11:11 am

        “That’s my current day right’s to the land!”
        That’s only a justification for enjoying the benefits of any real estate you may own, and possibly residency. Not for illegally subverting the government of the land to the benefit of an invading minority and packing the place by illegitimate immigration.

      • Hostage
        January 6, 2014, 1:49 pm

        That’s my current day right’s to the land ! My grandfather was born in Israel, my Father was born in Israel, I was born in Israel my kids were born in Israel and so are my grandchildren.

        Then your rights aren’t superior to the millions of Palestinian Arabs who can make the same claims. I assume that’s why you are so desperate to find an asinine archaeological claim.

        If they can be legally driven-off into exile (not!), then so can you. If their descendants can be cut-off from the land in one or two generations, then the same thing can happen to your posterity. The thing you are trying desperately to avoid, is acceptance of the idea of equal rights and justice for all.

      • yrn
        January 6, 2014, 2:02 pm

        Hostage

        As Always you read the opposite.
        I mentioned that I don’t need any Historical issues nor Archaeology, Archaeology is just to Preserve our Jewish history.

        I am here period, always will be, that’s the reality and nothing else, Capish.

    • Light
      January 6, 2014, 1:03 pm

      Maybe Stephen can tell us of another people besides the Jews who live in this region and speak the same language (or very similar) to what was spoken over 2,000 years ago? So if anyone went back to biblical times the Jews are one people who have more in common than most. The Palestinians would certainly not. Arabic came about 1,400 years ago which is recent history compared to that of the Jews.

      giladg – 2000 years ago the people in Palestine spoke Aramaic and Greek. Modern Hebrew would be completely foreign to them. Given that there is no evidence of any massive immigration or emigration from Palestine except during the last 60 years, the Palestinians are the most indigenous people to the region.

      Biblical times? There is little or no archeological evidence for any of the events in the Bible. Go peddle your mythology somewhere else.

      • giladg
        January 6, 2014, 1:55 pm

        Light, have you read the Dead Sea Scrolls recently? You will find Hebrew. The Torah is in Hebrew. You did know this right? So you are wrong about Hebrew being foreign to them. Regarding archeological evidence in the Bible. Allison touched on it a little when she tried to mock the comment about the “shaft”. Being the main water supply to the City of David, this water shaft was mentioned in the Bible.
        Enjoy the video
        http://youtu.be/jE9zzi_gZ04

      • Hostage
        January 8, 2014, 7:29 am

        Being the main water supply to the City of David, this water shaft was mentioned in the Bible.

        There’s no consensus among archaeologists to support the claims. There are doubts that Warren’s Shaft was part of the water system and evidence that Hezekiah’s tunnel was built by one of his predecessors, not according to the details contained in the Biblical account.
        Hezekiah’s Tunnel Reexamined
        The dates assigned the Siloam Inscription and Jerusalem tunnels are questioned
        http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/jerusalem/hezekiah%E2%80%99s-tunnel-reexamined/
        I Climbed Warren’s Shaft (But Joab Never Did) http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=25&Issue=6&ArticleID=2

      • MHughes976
        January 6, 2014, 4:27 pm

        There was a book by Nadia Abu el-Haj a dozen years ago called Facts on the Ground (haven’t read it) alleging that Israeli archaeology uses horrible methods that damage the enormous amount of material that is not ‘Jewish’. She may have overstated but I think she got some support from the wider archaeological community.
        The Bible is, apart from faith, an important historical resource to my mind. But getting from a theological interpretation of events to a record of events is not easy.

      • MHughes976
        January 8, 2014, 10:22 am

        See Lee I. Levine ‘Judaism and Hellenism in Ancient Palestine’, p.83, for the conclusion, based on plenty of evidence, that Aramaic and Greek were by far the predominant languages in first century Jerusalem. Hebrew, mentioned by Isaiah as ‘the language of Canaan’ (ie not appropriated by/to Israelites) was the language held in highest respect for religious purposes but if it had also been the language in general use the translations, the Aramaic Targums and the Greek Septuagint, would not have had the importance they did. That’s good old multicultural Palestine for you!

    • Hostage
      January 6, 2014, 1:38 pm

      Fortunately for Jews, and I am talking about those Jews who are aware of their history and heritage and feel no need to apologize for it

      So you missed the part where the Torah and the prophets accused our ancestors of being liars, adulterers, idolaters, and covenant breakers who would be vomited out of the land and scattered among the nations?

      According to the legends, most of those who had been exiled never returned. The remnant that did, were an undeserving lot. The Almighty tossed them out once again, because they harbored hatred towards others without a cause. That’s presumably why the Gentiles have ruled over Jerusalem much more often than the Jews down through the centuries.

      If you can take pride in all of that, and remain unapologetic, then you must have a lizard brain and a room temperature IQ.

      The consensus of opinion is that the Hebrew language borrowed its alphabet many of its myths from the very people that our scriptures belittled and demonized. FYI, archaeologists have found Arabic and Arab language inscriptions, written phonetically in scripts borrowed from other languages too. They date back to the 1st century of the current era, like the one written by an Arab speaking person in the Nabataean alphabet at Ein Avdat canyon near Sde Boker, Israel. http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/avdat.html

      • giladg
        January 7, 2014, 2:22 am

        You mentioned the word pride. What I am saying is that you take the good with the bad and learn from your history. The Jewish scriptures offer wonderful material to learn how to be better people and contribute to society. Hostage would do better not quoting tidbits from the Torah and should stop his underhand generalizations like “consensus of opinion…” which is bs.

      • Hostage
        January 8, 2014, 7:51 am

        The Jewish scriptures offer wonderful material to learn how to be better people and contribute to society.

        That sure as hell isn’t what Eldad is doing in Silwan or anywhere else.

        Hostage would do better not quoting tidbits from the Torah

        It’s the only way you’ll ever learn anything about the parts you don’t like.

        stop his underhand generalizations like “consensus of opinion…”

        There are hundreds, if not thousands of books which say the Hebrew alphabet was borrowed from the Phoenicians https://www.google.com/search?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=hebrew+borrowed+alphabet&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#channel=fs&q=hebrew+borrowed+phoenician+alphabet&tbm=bks

  6. Whizdom
    January 6, 2014, 8:40 am

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/islamic-era-skeletons-disappeared-from-elad-sponsored-dig-1.246951

    From Haaretz 2008
    “Dozens of skeletons from the early Islamic period were discovered during excavations near the Temple Mount, on a site slated for construction by a right-wing Jewish organization. Contrary to regulations, the skeletons were removed, and were not reported to the Ministry of Religious Services. The Israel Antiquities Authority termed the incident “a serious mishap.”

    The IAA’s Dr. Doron Ben Ami is directing the excavations at the Givati Parking Lot in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, across from the entrance to the Dung Gate. Elad, an association devoted to Judaizing East Jerusalem, is funding the dig at the site, where it plans to build an events hall with underground parking. The IAA is excavating there even though Elad never filed building plans with the planning authorities.

    In recent weeks, workers excavating at a depth of two to three meters reached a layer from the 8th or 9th century C.E., some 200 years after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem. They discovered several dozen skeletons, skulls and bone fragments, thought to date from the early Islamic period. An IAA source said “dozens of crates” containing bone fragments were removed, which suggests at least 100 skeletons were found.”

    • seafoid
      January 6, 2014, 9:57 am

      I hope this theme park features copious detail on what god does to her people when they stray from the path of righteousness and onto the highway of selfrighteousness. She gets really upset and has done for over 6000 years.

  7. MHughes976
    January 6, 2014, 10:36 am

    Have a look at Finkelstein and Mazar, Quest for the Historical Israel, a brief and useful summary – not anti-Zionist in tone.
    That there has always been a non-Israelite population in Palestine, a large and substantial one antedating the Israelites, is obvious from every source, very much including the Bible. The worship of God Most High in Jerusalem goes back to the Biblical year dot. Current archaeology is for ever turning up Byzantine and all sorts of stuff.
    Sticking biblical labels on structures that are hard to date does not give anyone any political rights. Suppressing debate and doubt in order to create a theme park isn’t particularly admirable.
    As to current day rights, they should not be denied to anyone on grounds of race of heredity. Not anywhere in the world, not in Jerusalem.

    • seafoid
      January 6, 2014, 3:47 pm

      What the Israelis have done to Jerusalem is very sad, not to mention shortsighted. The city is a mess and a cauldron of religious intolerance. So much for their holy city.

  8. ritzl
    January 6, 2014, 11:06 am

    It’s hard to comprehend how a place as central to the religions of half the planet as Jerusalem is controlled (and disfigured) by a crazed sect/subset of the very smallest of those religions.

  9. Annie Robbins
    January 6, 2014, 11:09 am

    out of the ballpark allison. killer article. thoroughly entertaining read and i loved it when you dropped your glasses. you’re an awesome writer.

  10. Obsidian
    January 6, 2014, 12:34 pm

    “Azir’s house was constructed without a permit, but he was paying off the municipality for a stay of demolition.”

    Can someone explain why it is that I have to pay taxes on my house while the Azir family doesn’t?

    • Hostage
      January 7, 2014, 2:28 am

      Can someone explain why it is that I have to pay taxes on my house while the Azir family doesn’t?

      Because their house has been bulldozed? Another good reason would be because your house is supposedly in Israel, but Silwan is not.

  11. MHughes976
    January 6, 2014, 3:36 pm

    I’ve just seen a review of a new book, Galor and Bloedhorn ‘The Archaeology of Jerusalem’, Yale ($50), which seems at first sight to be a useful contribution. The authors evidently point out the lack of proven traces of the pre-Herodian Temple and the comparative abundance of pagan-style images. Perhaps those dramatically displayed relics and structures are not very closely linked to the Mosaic religion and are rather Palestinian in character.

  12. talknic
    January 10, 2014, 8:53 am

    Archaeology and pathetic arguments put up by apologists for Israel’s illegal expansionist policies are completely irrelevant to the legal status of Israel’s internationally recognized sovereign extent as of precisely 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time) and; irrelevant to Israel’s illegal activities as the Occupying Power over non-Israeli territories. Territory in the region that is not legally Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian or Egyptian, is by default Palestinian.

    Quite simple really

  13. yrn
    January 10, 2014, 9:36 am

    talknic
    “Territory in the region that is not legally Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian or Egyptian, is by default Palestinian.
    Quite simple really.”

    Great stuff, You are the most realistic person world wide.
    Tell it to the Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian or Egyptian…..
    Now wait 5000 years, maybe you will get an answer.
    Quite simple really.

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