King Herod, Long Reviled, Finds New Love Among Jewish Settlers

Interest in Historical Villian Boosts Claim to West Bank

wikimedia

By Yigal Bronner and Yonathan Mizrachi

Published March 19, 2013, issue of March 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

When it comes to asserting ownership over this or that acre of land, Herod is conveniently transformed into a Jew among Jews, if not some prototypical settler who “chose to be buried nowhere else than Gush Etzion.”

Before the Israel Museum joins the celebrations and appropriates the antiquities of Herod, it would be wise to stop and ask to whom do these treasures belong. The region’s heritage belongs to everyone who lives in that region, Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Old synagogues in the West Bank and Gaza, Herod’s grave in Herodion and the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim are also part of the Palestinians’ cultural and historical heritage, just as mosques, churches and Roman ruins in the pre-1967 borders are part of Israel’s.

Since Herodion and Herod’s palaces in Jericho are located in the territories that Israel occupied in 1967, they are — according to international law, the codes of ethics for the preservation of antiquities, and even the Oslo Accords — supposedly under Palestinian control and responsibility.

One could imagine a very different scenario. The exhibition at the Israel Museum could have been based on joint Israeli-Palestinian research, performed both in Israel and in Palestine, and, as is standard throughout the world, it could and should have loaned the artifacts from the Palestinian Antiquities Authority. Instead, the museum opted for the dominant “no partner” approach and simply appropriated tons of artifacts from West Bank sites, as if this were merely a matter of transferring Israeli property to its rightful place in the national museum. Indeed, the museum preferred to partner with the so-called “Civil Administration,” which runs the occupation of the West Bank and turned Herodion into a profitable settlement (from which Palestinians are barred). Visiting the massive exhibition will probably offer some insight into the cultural world of King Herod, but it will also offer a lesson about the cultural world of those Israeli institutions that have been trusted with the past’s treasures.

Yigal Bronner is a professor at Hebrew University. Yonathan Mizrachi is an archaeologist and a member of Emek Shaveh, an organization focused on the role of archaeology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.