Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reuters writes Jewish history out of Gaza

There is a scene in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning film Schindler's List where the Nazi commandant Goeth addresses the Jews at a concentration camp worksite:
"Today is history. The young will ask with wonder about this day. Today is history and you are a part of it... When, elsewhere, they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Kazimierz the Great, so called, told the Jews they could come to Cracow. They came... They trundled their belongings into this city, they settled, they took hold, they prospered... For six centuries, there has been a Jewish Cracow... By this weekend, those six centuries, they're a rumor. They never happened. Today is history."
In a hauntingly similar vein, Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi writes of the history of Gaza:
Five thousand years of fascinating history lie beneath the sands of the Gaza Strip, from blinded biblical hero Samson to British general Allenby.
The flat, sandy lands on the Mediterranean's southeastern shore have been ruled by Ancient Egyptians, Philistines, Romans, Byzantines and Crusaders. Alexander the Great besieged the city. Emperor Hadrian visited. Mongols raided Gaza, and 1,400 years ago Islamic armies invaded. Gaza has been part of the Ottoman Empire, a camp for Napoleon and a First World War battleground [...]
Waleed Al-Aqqad is an amateur archaeologist who has turned his house into a museum of ancient artifacts, cramming his rooms with old weapons and a collection of clay jars centuries old.
"This is a clay-made oil-fueled lighting tool that goes back to the Greek era of 93 A.D. This is another that was made during the Roman time in 293 A.D," he says.
"This is a spear from the Ottoman times," he beams.
Marble plaques, swords and coins decorate the walls and the courtyard of his home in Khan Younis, adorned with the sign: "Welcome to Aqqad's Cultural Museum."
The 54-year-old Palestinian has spent 30 years searching and digging, sometimes in risky areas near the fortified Israeli border. Israel ended its 38-year occupation of Gaza and pulled out in 2005, but still blockades the hostile enclave.
His antiquities display symbols of the Christian and Muslim civilizations that have marked the territory over 2,000 years, recovered from the sites of ancient churches and cemeteries.
"I undertook this work in order to preserve Palestinian history. I wanted to salvage it from being wasted or falsified. I tried to save whatever can be saved," explains Aqqad, displaying a rusty cannon he says he hid from Israeli troops.
Other than the one oblique reference to "Samson", notice anything missing from al-Mughrabi's review of the "Palestinian history" of Gaza?  Um, let's see... there are the "Ancient Egyptians, Philistines, Romans, Byzantines and Crusaders".  There are the "Christians and Muslims".  And then of course, there are the "Israeli troops".  Ah yes, Al-Mughrabi appears to have forgotten the 4,000 years of Jewish civilization in the area.

All part and parcel of writing Jewish history out of the Middle East, courtesy of Reuters.

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