Saturday, January 22, 2005

The pomegranate

Not that long ago I visited an exhibit of antiquities from the Palestine including the now infamous pomegranate. Though tiny, it is a very impressive object, and had on it an inscription which was used to connect it to Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. It has been determined that the inscription is a forgery and the pomegranate had nothing to do with the temple (the Israeli archeologists of integrity who pursued this matter deserve congratulations). While visiting the exhibit, my suspicious mind noticed a hidden thread of propaganda, particularly with respect to the existence of King David. King David's historical existence is regarded as being of the utmost importance to Zionists trying to assert a claim over the lands of the Palestinians. While there is no real evidence that he even existed, and if he did he was likely a local chief of no importance, and it is impossible to understand why the existence of such a small-time leader thousands of years ago creates any claims to lands today, the exhibit made a great deal of attempting to prove the historical existence of King David. King David and the pomegranate are examples of the misuse of archeology in the Zionist quest for Greater Israel. From The Guardian:

"The discovery of a Temple-era pomegranate, in particular, was always going to provoke excitement. The pomegranate is a deeply resonant fruit in Judaism that, according to the Bible, was used as a decorative motif in Solomon's temple. There is a Rabbinic reference to its seeds, which in legend always number 613 - one for each of the commandments of the Bible. One Israel museum press officer explains the effect of seeing such relics: 'It is very exciting, very emotional, very Jewish feelings,' she says. 'Any time you see something like this, it feels very special because you can see your roots.'

It underlines the intense political significance that antiquities, particularly Biblical-era artefacts, attain in Israel, where discoveries of ancient sites or relics can be claimed by particular groups as proof of their historic claim to a particular piece of land. Early Zionism was enthusiastic in promoting Bible-era relics - they cemented the Jewish connection to the land, and were seen to give credence to the new state of Israel: ancient facts on the ground, if you like. It is telling, suggests Dr Shimon Gibson, archaeology professor at the Albright Institute, Jerusalem, that the Joash stone emerged at around the same time - early 2003 - that Palestinian leaders were becoming more vociferous over the 'alleged' Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. The stone's inscription describes repair works to the Jewish temple at Jerusalem. 'Those who forged, if that is what they did, would be trying to identify key spots of interest to Israel at that moment,' he says. 'One of those is, of course, the Temple Mount, because in any deal made with the Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem and who controls the holy places is one of the key things that will be on the table.'"

We see exactly the same abuses with Christian connections to the Holy Land. Every year, usually around Christmas, some archeologist gets his name in the papers by claiming, with no real evidence, that he has discovered some site named in the New Testament. This excites the Christian Zionists and serves the propaganda purposes of those trying to create Greater Israel. Biblical archeology is one of the greatest crocks of shit in the world today, a crock topped with a very ornamental pomegranate.