Posted by: Gary Ratner
August 13, 2009
News

ZOA Condemns World Archaeological Congress for Excluding Israel from its Ramallah Conference

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) for convening its conference (held in Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah) for excluding Israel, one of the world’s most prominent countries containing major archeological sites of world significance. According to reports, the WAC conference, entitled ‘Overcoming Structural Violence,’ did not invite the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) despite the fact that some of the topics being discussed at the conference deal with areas in Jerusalem where an archaeological excavation is being conducted exclusively by the IAA.


 

The IAA wrote to the WAC president to criticize its exclusion saying, “The [WAC] is introducing the [Palestinian-Israeli] conflict into the professional side of archaeology … We remind you that this is a conference organized by the World Archaeological Congress and not a Palestinian archaeological organization … This requires you to make it universal. The omission to include or invite Israeli speakers to address issues that directly affect their daily work. We need not remind you that one of the principles governing of the WAC is the promotion of dialogue between archaeologists, but this conference is a monologue.” IAA also said that the conference program is “full of abstracts condemning Israeli archaeology” containing “huge numbers of inaccuracies” (‘Israeli archaeologists excluded from Ramallah confab,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 13, 2009).

In its letter, IAA noted that it had not even been informed of the convening of the conference until the previous day; that the “omission to include or invite” Israeli speakers underscored the political hostility that motivated the conference; and repudiated the false WAC claim, made at the Ramallah conference, that Israel had impeded or opposed the participation of Israeli archaeologists at the conference, which it said, cast a “a dubious light on the organizers’ professional and civic integrity.” The IAA concluded by saying, “May we remind you that the cultural heritage of Jerusalem is under the auspices of the Israeli authorities, a de-facto situation for which Israel is responsible by international law. We find it unacceptable that the WAC will be touring in an area of our responsibility without any coordination with us. Furthermore it is blatantly unethical to visit active archaeological sites without informing the archaeologists charged with the excavation. (‘The Israel Antiquities Authority to the World Archaeological Congress “Instead of Archaeology, You are Talking Politics,”’ Independent Media Review & Analysis,’ August 13, 2009).


ZOA Executive Director Gary Ratner said, “We see in this latest politicized decision by the World Archaeological Congress to exclude Israel a continuing pattern by international organizations of all kinds to become anti-Israel partisans, actively assisting a Palestinian campaign to delegitimize Israel by holding it up to unfounded international criticism.  The World Archaeological Congress needs to apologize unreservedly to Israel for its politically biased, unprofessional and unethical conduct in this affair.”