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

July 17 2017

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?

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Read more at Bible and Interpretation

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

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism