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The World’s Oldest Archaeological Journal Cancels a Conference in Order to Boycott Israel

Last March, praising his own “clarity of thought” and “courage,” the chairman of the venerable Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) took to the pages of that organization’s journal, the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, to defend a decision to cancel a then-upcoming conference in Jerusalem. Citing international law and “the demands of neutrality,” Philip Davies explained that the conference could not accept papers based on the findings of “Jewish excavations” in east Jerusalem, lest the PEF “appear to condone illegal archaeology.” Rami Arav responds:

When I queried him [regarding] his use of the objectionable term “Jewish excavations” in his editorial, Davies stated in a written reply: “In my defense, I understand that the excavations in question are conducted by Jews and funded by Jews and have a Jewish purpose, so that you might perhaps be gracious enough to allow that I was factually correct.”

That one defensive statement not only defined “Jewish excavations” but seems to imply that the Jews have some sinister “purpose” behind their “Jewish excavations.” This is absurd. The PEF chairman willingly wished to collaborate with [his organization’s German counterpart, which] sponsored a dig in the Lutheran Church of Jerusalem [that employed] Lutheran archaeologists. [Should this] excavation be branded “a Lutheran excavation”? . . .

I have ascertained through correspondence that at least three Israeli scholars were initially rejected out of hand from the conference. . . . One presentation that fully complied with the [conference] guidelines and focused on the archives of PEF in London was at first rejected solely because the presenter was Israeli. If he had written under a name like “John Smith,” the conference would have accepted his paper. . . .

So a golden opportunity to illuminate important chapters in the history of Levantine archaeology was missed thanks to the strident anti-Israel bias of the PEF chairman. . . . The American Institute of Archaeology and the American Schools of Oriental Research do an excellent job [of fostering the study of the land of Israel in ancient times] without meddling in unnecessary political agendas. Why can’t the PEF continue to heed the warning of its founders to stick to inductive inquiry and steer well clear of religious and political controversy?

Read more at Bible and Interpretation

More about: Academic Boycotts, Anti-Semitism, Archaeology, Israel & Zionism

 

Why Cutting U.S. Funding for Palestinian “Refugees” Is the Right Move

Jan. 22 2018

Last week the Trump administration announced that it is withholding some of America’s annual contribution to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the organization tasked with providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. To explain why this decision was correct, Elliott Abrams compares UNRWA with the agency run by the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), which provides humanitarian aid to refugees who are not Palestinian:

One of [UNHCR’s] core missions is “ending statelessness.” [By contrast, UNRWA’s] mission appears to be “never ending statelessness.” A phrase such as “ending statelessness” would be anathema and is found nowhere on its website. Since 1950, UNHCR has tried to place refugees in permanent new situations, while since 1950 UNRWA has with its staff of 30,000 “helped” over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to remain “refugees.” . . . UNRWA has three times as large a staff as UNHCR—but helps far fewer people than the 17 million refugees UNHCR tries to assist. . . .

The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA is not primarily financial. The United States is an enormously generous donor to UNHCR, providing just under 40 percent of its budget. I hope we maintain that level of funding. . . . The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA instead rests on two pillars. The first is that UNRWA’s activities repeatedly give rise to concern that it has too many connections to Hamas and to rejectionist ideology. . . .

But even if those flaws were corrected, this would not solve the second and more fundamental problem with UNRWA—which is that it will perpetuate the Palestinian “refugee” problem forever rather than helping to solve it. . . . [T]hat the sole group of refugees whom the UN keeps enlarging is Palestinian, and that the only way to remedy this under UN definitions would be to eliminate the state of Israel or have 5 million Palestinian “refugees” move there should simply be unacceptable. . . .

Perpetuating and enlarging the Palestinian “refugee” crisis has harmed Israel and it has certainly harmed Palestinians. Keeping their grievances alive may have served anti-Israel political ends, but it has brought peace no closer and it has helped prevent generations of Palestinians from leading normal lives. That archipelago of displaced-persons and refugee camps that once dotted Europe [in the aftermath of World War II] is long gone now, and the descendants of those who tragically lived in those camps now lead productive and fruitful lives in many countries. One can only wish such a fate for Palestinian refugee camps and for Palestinians. More money for UNRWA won’t solve anything.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Refugees, U.S. Foreign policy, UNRWA