Saturday, March 27, 2010

Solomon vs Solomon

In January, we critiqued a story by Reuters correspondent Erika Solomon where she facilely assigns historical ownership of the Jaffa region of Israel to the Arabs, ignoring centuries of control under many other civilizations including of course, the Jews, who Solomon relegates to 20th century "settlers".  We noted that this is consistent with the Reuters/Arab narrative of Jews as modern Western interlopers "colonizing Arab land" in what is today Israel.  In our original post, we called attention to the archeological record which clearly demonstrates Jewish civilization and culture in the area predating any Arab presence by millennia.

In a new "feature" story, Solomon (one can only chuckle at the irony reflected in that surname) attempts to disparage archaeological digs in the Jerusalem area that continue to uncover evidence of the ancient Jewish Kingdoms:
Archaeologists in Jerusalem are competing to unearth artefacts[sic] pointing to the ancient city's Jewish past, which are used to justify Israel's claim to all of it as the indivisible capital of the modern Jewish state. But critics say some of "finds" are really just bending science to prove a "Biblical heritage" that is open to dispute.
Solomon quotes an Israeli archaeologist as suggesting that the excavations do not reflect "best practices" but no supporting evidence for this assertion is provided.  Indeed, even Hani Nur al-Din, a Palestinian Arab archaeologist interviewed by Solomon (the writer) does not refute the importance of the recent discovery of elaborately-designed fortifications dating to the era of Solomon (the King) as documented in the Old Testament.  The best that can be mustered is: 
The Bible should be put aside. It's not a history book.
(We wonder if al-Din and Solomon would say the same of the Qur'an).

The fact is, Solomon's entire story is actually a straw man which seeks to undermine Jewish claims to Jerusalem by suggesting that the archaelogical finds are subject to interpretation and the Bible subject to dispute.  But the issue is not whether the Bible can be considered an immaculate historical archive but rather whether the archaeological record confirms the existence of an advanced Jewish civilization and city centuries before the arrival of Arab invaders.

On that count, there is no dispute.

UPDATE 3/28/2010: A reader notes that whereas Solomon invites skepticism for Israeli archaeological methods and objectives, she is silent on the long-standing wholesale destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount under the direction of the Waqf (Islamic Authority).  This, in the service of denying a historical Jewish connection to the site.

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