By Vacy Vlazna
‘De-Arabizing the history of Palestine is another crucial element of the ethnic cleansing. 1500 years of Arab and Muslim rule and culture in Palestine are trivialized, evidence of its existence is being destroyed and all this is done to make the absurd connection between the ancient Hebrew civilization and today’s Israel. The most glaring example of this today is in Silwan, (Wadi Hilwe) a town adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem with some 50,000 residents. Israel is expelling families from Silwan and destroying their homes because it claims that king David built a city there some 3000 years ago. Thousands of families will be made homeless so that Israel can build a park to commemorate a king that may or may not have lived 3000 years ago. Not a shred of historical evidence exists that can prove King David ever lived yet Palestinian men, women, children and the elderly along with their schools and mosques, churches and ancient cemeteries and any evidence of their existence must be destroyed and then denied so that Zionist claims to exclusive rights to the land may be substantiated.’ — Miko Peled, Israeli dissident.
Indeed, archaeology has become a state apparatus for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Zionist fairyland aka the City of David Archaeological Park located in the Palestinian village of Silwan in East Jerusalem.
East Jerusalem is the proclaimed capital of the proposed Palestine state. It was illegally annexed by Israel in the 1967 war. Prohibiting annexation of territories gained by military conquest is one of the major principles of international law. The international community does not recognise Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem nevertheless over 50,000 illegal premises have been built for 250,000 illegal Israeli colonists.
The goal of the archaeological judaisation of Jerusalem is to transform Jerusalem into the City of David, the capital of Greater Israel by eradicating the mixed ethnic composition of the Palestinian and Jewish population of East Jerusalem to a solely Jewish identity and unifying East and West Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.
This judaising in Silwan is executed by the Israeli government, the Municipality of Jerusalem, and the rightwing colonist (settler) organisation, Elad, through the revocation of residency rights, absentee property laws, discriminatory taxation policies, home demolitions, transfer of Palestinian residents, replacing Arabic place names with Hebrew names and the expansion of settlements which Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, describes ‘as a form of ethnic cleansing ‘ which is defined as a crime against humanity under the statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Furthermore Article 53 of the Geneva Convention states: "Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons.is prohibited."
Financial support for judaising programmes comes from hundreds of moneyed Zionist organisations and foundations worldwide. In 2005, archaeologist Eilat Mazar announced she had discovered the palace of King David circa 10 Century BCE. The excavations in Silwan were funded by the Shalem Center whose Zionist neocons have invested heavily in the judaisation efforts to give historicity to the David myth. Shalem’s founder, Ron Lauder of the Estee Lauder empire, is an uncompromising Zionist extremist, a Likudnik and a major shareholder in Israeli TV Channel 10 as well as the current Chairman of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and President of the World Jewish Congress (JWC) which normalises the Israeli occupation. Curiously, in January, Abbas and Erekat had a closed meeting with Lauder in London even though the Palestinian team refused to meet with Netanyahu.
The Shalem Center has association with Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who is a Likud supporter and a key financial backer of the Newt Gingrich campaign and Newt’s ‘Palestinians are an invented people’ idiocy. From 2007-9 the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in the Shalem Center was directed by Natan Sharansky who is now Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a quasi-governmental organisation advancing Jewish immigration to Israel including the illegal colonies. Its 2008 the core budget was $314,760,000. The Jewish Agency was established by the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in 1929 founded on the commitment to warrant "The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital "It acts as agent of the government in assigning land to Jewish colonists in the Israeli-occupied territories. Its new chairman is religious Zionist Avraham Duvdevani who served as head of the WZO’s Settlement Division, co-chairman of the board of the Jewish National Fund and a member of the Jewish Agency’s Executive. Over a quarter of WZO delegates are from Orthodox Zionists attesting to their sinister rising influence.
The Shalem Centre works closely with Elad the right-wing hardline colonist organization and militia that advocates illegal Jewish colonial settlement in East Jerusalem acquiring, in cahoots with the Jewish National Fund and its subsidiary Hemanuta, Palestinian properties often through threats, false depositions, forged documents, posthumous witness signatures and militant house takeovers.
Elad is mainly funded by the tax-exempt ‘charities’ Ir David Incorporated and the Irving Moskowitz Foundation which illegally funnel monies to Zionist political objectives. Moskowitz, the casino magnate, is a hardcore Zionist and founder of the Friends of Ateret Cohanim which finances Jews to live in East Jerusalem and owns about 70 properties in the Muslim Quarter. Daniel Luria, its chief fund-raiser commented "Our [fund-raising] activity in New York goes solely toward land redemption." In 2005, Ateret Cohanim instigated, without license, an archaeological project tunneling 20 meters toward the Al-Aqsa compound causing damage to Palestinian homes in violation of the law.
Elad was given, without tender, exclusive control over the City of David Archaeological Park including a tunnel network that is being dug around and under the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Elad’s lucrative tours of the historic sites, although there is no historical evidence of David or Solomon’s existence, spout historical fabrications from the Jewish biblical narrative such as the Byzantine water pit that is falsified as Jeremiah’s pit. The 8000 year old Palestinian-Canaanite narrative is glossed over.
In December 2011, Australian listeners were treated to a fantasy tour of the so-called Palace of David by ABC presenter Rachael Kohn and archaeologist Avner Goren both of whom gushed forth fairytales about the mythical king absurdly comparing him to George Washington and sidestepping his dubious authenticity by urging trust in the Bible.
In archaeological circles there is an ongoing controversy about whether Biblical texts can be equated to history. In the 70s William Dever suggested that rather than Biblical Archaeology, the term Syro-Palestinian Archaeology (note not Syro-Israeli) was more appropriate and is used in academic circles.
Archaeologists who follow the Minimalist or Copenhagen school "conclude that the books of the Hebrew Bible were written during the Persian (or Hellenistic) period. The historical books actually contain made-up stories (that may have exploited some vague, ancient legends) through which the local organized refugee population provided itself with a mythic cover-(hi)story that linked it to the land and to a religion. This conclusion has two important corollaries: (1) Bible narratives about the political, social, and intellectual world of ancient Israel from Abraham to the temple’s destruction lack probative value. (2) Any narrative about what actually happened to the real people living in the central mountain areas of ancient Israel during what archaeologists call the Iron Age must, accordingly, be based on archaeological data alone. No other authentic sources for their history are available."
It is widely accepted that the Bible originated in the 7th Century BCE, 300 years after David and other historical aberrations encompass the palaces officially ascribed to Solomon in Megiddo which are dated long after Solomon’s time. Cities conquered by Joshua in the 14th century BCE were destroyed well before that era. Daniel Gavron comments that "The story of Abraham’s journey from Ur of the Chaldees, the Patriarchs, the Exodus, Sinai, and the conquest of Canaan, all these were apparently based on legends…" In 2004, Yuval Goren admitted he examined " a seemingly endless line of fake biblical texts of various kinds. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of such forgeries referring especially to the time of the First Temple. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the disciplines of biblical history and archaeology have been contaminated to such an extent that no unprovenanced written source seems to be reliable anymore."
Proof of David’s existence rests on a piece of stone found at Tel Dan in northern Galilee (not Jerusalem) inscribed with the words ‘Beit David’ which could mean House of ‘David’ or ‘Beloved’ but not King David conclusively as with the sherd found at Tel Safi with the name ‘Goliath’ which "almost certainly did not belong to David’s Goliath, if it does say "Goliath" then it shows that there was such a personal name used in the region at approximately the correct chronological period." The first ancient reference to an Israelite king is found in an 8th Century BCE Assyrian document recording "King Ahab of Israel sent 2,000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers."
Sumud (steadfastness) life and land are synonymous in the Palestinian soul. King David may be a myth but it is the modern indigenous Palestinians, outcasts in their own land, who stand alone with the stone of sumud in their hands daily facing off the militant aliyah hordes backed by the Zionist Goliaths of multi-billion dollar empires, by Christian Zionist offerings, by the servile US Congress, by a depraved UK and EU and by a contemptibly inadequate United Nations.
– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 and was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.