Archaeology, the City of David, and the Future of Jerusalem

April 15 2019

A few weeks ago, archaeologists announced the discovery in Jerusalem of clay seals from the 6th century BCE that appear to have belonged to one of the courtiers of King Josiah mentioned in the biblical book of Kings. The discoveries were the product of ongoing excavations of an area known as the City of David, thought to be the main part of Jerusalem in First Temple times. Persistently denying all of the facts of Jewish history in the land of Israel, pro-Palestinian activists have condemned the excavations as the work of “settlers” trying to undermine their claims to Jerusalem. Jonathan Tobin writes:

Critics of the City of David Foundation, [which oversees the excavations and the concomitant preservations efforts], are also against its activities because they believe that the area should be part of a future Palestinian state. They say that the development of the site and the digs are part of an effort to prevent a redivision of Jerusalem that would enable the Palestinian Authority to put its capital in the city. . .

[T]he effort to delegitimize the work at the City of David points to a basic problem: . . . if you’re going to deny Jewish rights to the place where King David and his descendants ruled their ancient kingdom, then you can deny them any place in the country. And that is what Palestinians have continued to do. Their effort to treat the City of David or even the Western Wall as linked to Jewish myths rather than to the beginning of Jewish civilization is inextricably linked to their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn.

Nor can it be argued that in a two-state solution, the Palestinians could be trusted to safeguard historical sites such as these. Just this week, evidence surfaced of ancient tombs in the Jericho area—territory that is governed by the Palestinian Authority—being looted by local Arabs. This is a commonplace occurrence throughout the [Palestinian-administered] territories; the region’s ancient Jewish heritage is being systematically destroyed by those out to make a profit or whose main goal is to eradicate the abundant evidence of the ancient Jewish ties to this land.

The only way to protect the heritage of the City of David is to ensure that it and the rest of Jerusalem remain under undivided Israeli authority with the right of Jews to live in their ancient capital undiminished. Any other solution isn’t a path to peace, but something that will only further encourage the history deniers of the Palestinian Authority to keep fighting their war on Jewish history.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at JNS

More about: Archaeology, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jerusalem

A U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Would Help Russia, Iran, and Islamic State

Aug. 21 2019

Despite the president’s declaration last year that American troops would soon begin leaving Syria, about 1,000 remain. Charles Lister argues that their presence in the country serves vital U.S. interests:

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month

Register

Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Middle East Institute

More about: Iran, ISIS, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy