Leave it to the colonialist Israel Antiquities Authority (the vaunted IAA) to continue to play a role in the formation and enactment of Israel’s colonial-national historical imagination by presenting yet another of all the countless hard-to-refute archaeological findings that shape the spatial foundations and ideological contours of Israel’s settler nationhood and help to facilitate its territorial extension, appropriation and gradual reconfiguration (borrowed liberally from Nadia Abu El-Haj, now tenured professor at Columbia University).
How did they commit this evil deed? They publicly presented, on the eve of Hannukah, an inscription found on a stele in the caves of Beit Guvrin, 30 minutes outside Jerusalem.
The Stele was reconstituted after some fascinating puzzle-like repairs that took place when a researcher, Dov Gera, who had been asked for help by the archaeologist, Ian Stern, who had found two of the broken pieces from the Stele, realized that if he took a piece from Michael Steinhardt’s collection, which happened to be on display in Israel, and connected it to the other two pieces and then to the larger stele section that was in the Israel Museum, that they would make a whole inscribed tablet.What an incredible find! In the stele, the Syrian-Greek King Seleucus IV (187-175 BCE) writes to the ruling leadership in Judea, providing instructions to his chief minister to appoint a man by the name of Olympiodorus (now there’s a mouthful) to collect money from all of the temples in the region, a new development. He specifically mentions the Temple in Jerusalem and apparently this Seleucid stele references the beginning of the period that would culminate in the Maccabean Revolt several years later (the stele is dated to 178 BCE and the Revolt is believed to have taken place around 168 BCE).
Of course, it is this Jewish Revolt against the Seleucids which the non-Jews who pretend to be Jews and have colonized Israel celebrate – and which the real Jews who are the Palestinians no longer celebrate – in the holiday of Hannukah (that was borrowed from Shlomo Sand, a tenured professor at Tel Aviv University).
Just kidding! Sand and Abu El Haj are examples of how free speech and academic freedom are used to pervert history through the use of politics, even as they complain and claim that it’s the other way around. Kudos to Gera, Stern, the IAA, Michael Steinhardt and the folks who dug and fixed up the ancient site at Beit Shearim and those who continue to make Beit Guvrin a fascinating destination (Stern found two pieces of the stele in the “archeology for a day” program they hold at Beit Guvrin. I’ve never done it, but I’ve seen visitors dig and sift through what they find on a day’s archaeological outing on location there. They found these in that touristy program! How about that?!).
Oh, and by the way, the IDF’s initial report on their investigations of the 36 incidents listed in the Goldstone Report as Israeli war crimes is that 30 of them are “baseless accusations” and 6 may be true but appear to be operational errors.