Book: Community Archaeology in Israel/Palestine
Chapter: Silwan (East Jerusalem): Trying to Breach the Archaeological Siege of a Community under Occupation
This article reviews the activity of the NGO Emek Shaveh in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, which is also the locality of an archaeological site called “City of David”, identified as the core settlement area of early Jerusalem. Though the site has yielded remains of many periods, from the Middle Bronze Age to the present, for more than two decades it has become a focus of activity of an extreme body of Jewish settlers called Elad. The settlers are using archaeology as a weapon, with the help of powerful governmental and other bodies, in order to legitimize expropriation of Palestinian properties and Judaize Silwan. They excavate tunnels under Palestinian houses, build on top of antiquities and present archaeological remains in a narrow nationalistic narrative, “making Solomon and David great again”, while silencing and removing the heritage of others. This article describes, from my personal point of view as the director of Emek Shaveh in 2009–22, our activities at Silwan together with activists from the community and other NGOs. We worked to make the public aware about the abuses of archaeology by the settlers and the Israeli Government, and to call for a humanistic, open-minded archaeology that can bridge between peoples and culture, instead of separating them and planting hatred.