While the political battles rages on in the national struggle between the Jews and Arabs of Israel, another battle goes on behind the scenes, away from the public's eye. For years, archaeology has been playing an increasingly crucial role in the battle of two opposing national narratives, however, while Israeli archaeologists and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have worked to preserve Islamic sites, Islamic authorities have done all they can to deny and destroy any evidence of any historical Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, and especially the city of Jerusalem.
In the political arena, attacks on Israeli archeological practice in Jerusalem actually go back many years. In 1974, UNESCO was forced by the Arab states to vote for sanctions against Israeli digs in Jerusalem and to deny Israel membership in the organization's European regional group. Although Israel was readmitted in 1977, UNESCO's bias has continued, including declaring Rachel's Tomb to be a mosque and even condemning Israel for putting archaeological sites in Judea and Samaria on its list of National Heritage sites.
In their own archaeological practices, the Islamic Waqf is constantly removing and dumping immense amount of debris from the Temple Mount that contains priceless remains of ancient Jewish relics, while converting its interior spaces into mosques. Muslim "graves" suddenly appear on disputed plots of land around Jerusalem, and efforts have even been made to seize archeological artifacts on the grounds that they are illegally obtained Palestinian cultural property.
At the same time, the international Left aids the Arab propaganda campaign.
For example, in a Google search, the term "Judaization of Jerusalem" yields over 100,000 results, and while it may refer to any effort to demonstrate that Jews have a historical connection to Jerusalem, more often it refers to any change whatsoever to the political, demographic, economic, architectural, or other aspect of Jerusalem that can be interpreted as in Israel's interest. In the quest to validate the former lies the power of archaeology, and perhaps nowhere is more important today for that than Jerusalem's City of David.
The City of David
The City of David is widely identified as being the site of the birthplace of Jerusalem, where 3,000 years ago King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established his capital of what would soon become an Israelite empire at the foothills of Mount Moriah. However, this part of Jerusalem is today located in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, outside of the Old City walls in “East Jerusalem,” a large area annexed to the city and the State of Israel after the 1967 war, but which has not been recognized as Israeli by the international community.
This location makes any discoveries in the area of tremendous importance, from an archaeological perspective, in addition to its social and political implications. It's not a coincidence that, while the City of David is under the auspices of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the specific site is actually managed by Elad, a private non-governmental organization which makes sure every discovery is properly preserved.
Over the years these have included the Shiloah Pool, constructed 2,000 years ago during the days of King Herod, which served as an central meeting point for Jerusalem’s pilgrims, who would arrive in the city to visit the Temple Mount on the three major Jewish holidays: Pesach (Passover), Sukkot and Shavuot; the Herodian Road, which once connected the Shiloah Pool to the Temple Mount and served as the main thoroughfare for all of Jerusalem’s pilgrims and visitors; Hezekiah's Tunnel, dug 1,500 feet underneath the City of David by King Hezekiah in 701 BCE to protect Jerusalem’s water source, the Gihon Spring, from the invading Assyrians (2 Chron. 32:2-4); ancient national Jewish coins, judicial documents and more. Each discovery is an authentic testament to the presence from time immemorial of the Jewish people in their eternal capital.
How can you help? Visit the City of David website, and check out the City of David store, whose unique works of art are inspired and designed based on the actual discoveries made during these excavations.