Friday, April 29, 2011

Israel Finkelstein on the City of David Excavations

Israel Finkelstein is the founding father of the Tel Aviv School, a group of Israeli archeologists who are skeptical about sizable chunks of the Biblical story of early Jerusalem. He is the co-author of The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, perhaps the single most important popular book for those who'd like to minimalize the Jewish history in Jerusalem - though I rather suspect most people who cite it have never read it, and most of those who have read it don't understand its context. They find joy in the perceived ambiance, and examine no further.

A demonstration of the degree to which Finkelstein isn't the bogeyman many of his supporters think he is can be found an an interesting article he has just published in The Forward, which appears under a mid-20th century photograph of the area which demonstrates what he's talking about: It's not Silwan, it is an archeological site of unique significance, and even if he, Finkelstein, doubts the stories about David and Solomon, the parts about Isaiah and Hezekiah are certainly true. Furthermore, the scholarship of the archeologists digging there is impeccable (remember that Haaretz suggested otherwise earlier this week).

I recommend reading it.


AKUS said...

I may have missed it in his article, and perhaps its not on topic for him, but given the photograph, there was a large community of Yemenite Jews in Silwan until they were encouraged to leave by the British who refused to protect them from Arab terrorists in the 1930s before partition.

In the 1929 Arab Riots, not a single Jewish resident of Silwan (Shiloah village) was killed or injured. The Arab residents of the village, led by the Ghozlan family, sheltered their Jewish neighbors and prevented their attack. After a few days of rioting, the British, who mandated Palestine at that time, moved the Yemenite Jews into the old city. A group of Jews returned to live in Silwan after 1929, but following the 1936 Great Arab Revolt, all the Jews left the village.

The rest is an Arab apologia about how nice the Arabs were to the Yeminites.

AKUS said...

I found the link I was looing for (on wikipedia, of course!)

Picture of the Yemenite houses in Silwan.

In 1882 Jewish families arrived in Jerusalem from Yemen.[17] Due to the lack of room in the Old City one group led by Yosef Masud decided to move to its outskirts.[18][17] By 1884 they had settled into new stone houses at the south end of the Arab village, built for them by a Jewish charity called Ezrat Niddahim.[17] Up to 200 Yemenite Jews lived in the newly built neighborhood, called Kfar Hashiloach (Hebrew: כפר השילוח‎) or the "Yemenite Village."[17] Construction costs were kept low by using the Shiloach spring as a water source instead of digging cisterns. An early 20th century travel guide writes: In the "village of Silwan, east of Kidron … some of the fellah dwellings [are] old sepulchers hewn in the rocks. During late years a great extension of the village southward has sprung up, owing to the settlement here of a colony of poor Jews from Yemen, etc. many of whom have built homes on the steep hillside just above and east of Bir Eyyub."[19]

During the 1921 Jaffa riots, Jewish resident of Silwan were attacked, resulting in a few deaths and destroyed homes.[17][dubious – discuss] In the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine many of the Jewish residents fled or were forced out of Silwan,[citation needed] and in 1938, the remaining Yemenite Jews in Silwan were evacuated by the British authorities.[20][21][22] According to documents in the custodian office and real estate and project advancement expert Edmund Levy, the homes of the Yemenite Jews were occupied by Arab families without compensation.[23][24][25] After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Silwan was annexed by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which expropriated land owned by the Jews.[26][27] It remained under Jordanian occupation until 1967, when Israel captured the Old City and surrounding region. Until then, the village had delegates in the Jerusalem City Council.

Barry Meislin said...

Isaiah and Hezekiah: TRUE!!

David and Solomon: NOT TRUE!!

I guess that's what goes for "balance" these days....

(And some people actually have the nerve to complain that the JEWS control the media....)

Anonymous said...

Well, Finkelstein's thesis appears to be that the southern kingdom of Judah controls the media.
As much of Jerusalem's most interesting sites remain off limits, I'm not sure what can actually be considered scientifically sound. I still want to read Avraham Faust's Israel’s Ethnogenesis: Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance.

Btw, there's a DVD of 'The Bible Unearthedfor those of us with short attention spans.