World Bulletin / News Desk
Israeli hopes of reconstructing the lost Temple of Solomon, which was destroyed during conquests by the Romans 2,000 years ago, is fueling excavation works in and around the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Already many Palestinians have complained that underground digging is damaging the foundations of the Aqsa Mosque in the third holiest site in Islam. In recent weeks, the mosque’s compound has been subject to raids by Jewish groups under the supervision of Israeli forces, as they seek to occupy half of the compound.
For many Jews in Israel, the ‘holy basin’, which consists of Jerusalem and its suburbs, has been the focal point of their legitimization campaign since expanding into the territory in 1967. Since then, they have been conducting archeological excavations throughout the area, as well as tours for visitors from all over the world.
One of the most popular destinations for tourists is the City of David Park, in the suburban town of Silwan. A foundation known as Ir David, which has been aggressively campaigning for and facilitating the settlement of Jews in Israel since the early 1990s, has also been funding excavations in the area and attracting up to 400,000 tourists every year.
However, they have not done so without uprooting Palestinians from Silwan to make way for 350 new Jewish settlers, before providing tourists a very biased version of the history of the holy basin.
A video informing tourists of the history of the region says, "Jerusalem was resettled in the days of the second temple, then was ruined by the Romans. For 2,000 years the city passed from hand to hand. But the Jewish people never forgot its eternal capital... In the early 1990s, the year Ir David foundation reestablished a Jewish residential community in the city of David, within the national parks surrounding Jerusalem," completely skipping 2,000 years of non-Jewish history between Roman siege and Ir David, with no mention of Palestinians at all. It continues, "three-thousand years after King David, we have returned to the hill where it all began."
A Palestinian native of Silwan, Ibrahim Sion, told Al-Jazeera that since Ir David started their tours of the area, the tour guides had been making sure that tourists wouldn’t come to his family shop. "My grandfather started this shop in the 40s. Since they [Ir David] came, the guides won't let anyone come to us. All the tourists - they used to come to us and we would make our own living. Now, nothing," he said.
Hamed Salem, a Palestinian archaeologist and professor at Birzeit University, also told Al-Jazeera that Israel was using archeology to for political propaganda. "The City of David Park has hundreds of thousands of internationals visiting each year exposed to the settler agenda. It is clear they want to justify the settlements in Jerusalem and everywhere. This important historical site is no longer an archaeological park; it's an ideological park," he said.Last Mod: 16 Kasım 2013, 15:52