Writing Palestine’s Comprehensive History A Tool of Resistance and Freedom

 

“The archaeologist is busy analyzing stones/ in the rubble of legends he searches for his own eyes/ to show/ that I am a sightless vagrant on the road/ with not one letter in civilization's alphabet/ meanwhile in my own time I plant my trees/ I sing of my love.”

Mahmoud Darwish

 

In light of the Zionist Entity recruiting archaeologists from different countries, then and now, to conduct archeological excavations in Jerusalem, in the Old City, and under and around the Al Aqsa Mosque, in an attempt to search for the ruins of an ancient Jewish kingdom, a pressing question arises: Are the reasons for these excavations purely scientific as they claim? Moreover, who is funding these excavations?

If the reasons were truly purely scientific, why is the Israeli Antiquities Authority recruiting the assistance of Elad Association for funding, and for managing antiquity excavations, which are important to them? The association that is using a secret tunnel beneath Al Buraq Yard at Al Aqsa Mosque – as revealed by Israeli Haaretz Newspaper – and is publicly working on Judaizing Jerusalem and displacing Palestinians, making living harder and harder for the Arab population; the excavations are threatening the foundations of their homes, causing them to collapse and forcing the Palestinians to leave, because the Occupation authorities do not give Palestinians building permits.

Is it not obvious that the goal is purely political? It supports the legitimacy of their basic existence, seizure of Palestine’s lands in 1948, and it supports the legitimacy of the Occupation and seizure of Palestinian lands in 1967.

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If Israeli archaeologists are trying hard to impose the Zionist narrative, what about Palestinian archaeologists and their role in laying the Palestinian narrative?

Can the Palestinian history be rewritten from a comprehensive and critical historical perspective in light of the Occupation and its repressive practices on the Palestinian lands, and its attempts to erase memories, falsify history and obliterate our identity?

Can critical historical evidence-based scripts from prehistoric times until the present be produced, taking off from curricula development and discoveries of archaeologists and history scholars from the mid-seventies of the twentieth century?

And then, can history be written using the narrative of those who contributed to the making of history but did not write it?

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‘“The Palestine History and Heritage Curriculum Project“, which started in 2013, was discussed at great length between a group of archaeologists, historians and researchers from universities in Palestine, England and Denmark, in addition to independent researchers from all over the world, during the Third International Conference and Workshop which was organized by the Faculty of Theology in Copenhagen and held on April 11th – 13th 2016.

This international research project is of many fields, and believes that the Palestinian cultural heritage is an integral part of human heritage.

The Palestine History Project "aims to produce evidence-based, critical historical texts and materials related to Palestine and its region from prehistoric times to the present. Bearing an historical perspective, which avoids ethnocentricity in an inclusive effort to describe the complex, multi-cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic traditions reflected throughout Palestine’s long history.

The project has the goal of registering and preserving the region’s geography, toponomy, history and culture for the future. This has become urgent as the changes, which have taken place since the foundation of the State of Israel, have rapidly displaced the Palestinian heritage, whether Jewish, Samaritan, Christian, Druze, Islamic or secular. A non-biblically based re-evaluation of the region’s history and culture, rooted in the latest archaeological, ethnographic and anthropological developments, will be of lasting significance for an understanding of the region’s heritage.

The method employed will be based on a combined classical historical approach with anthropological theories of landscape as “lieux de mémoire” (memory and heritage sites). Such approach decodes geographical, demographic and cultural changes in relation to characteristics of “settler colonialism’s” confrontational and repressive practices versus a ‘middle ground’s’ search for mutual benefit in meeting and negotiating an accommodation with each other.

The advantage of using these methods is that they deal better with a complex reality in a dynamic and dialectical approach rather than using a standard search for a simple historical narrarive as in traditional history writing. Being a border area and part also of the religious identity of two thirds of the worlds’ population, Palestine’s history is a hotbed of presumptions and ideologies, which most often have resulted in distorted histories of the region“.

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The conference’s different papers included ancient and modern history and utilized multiple research methodologies – some used field research, others old archives, and yet others used oral history and communal memory – and they helped dismantle some of the elements upon which the Zionist narrative and Israeli and Zionist research writings are built on, based on the Torah; some were obvious and others were hidden. It was an attempt to lay the foundation for writing a Palestinian narrative that serves as an alternative to the cultural colonization, away from religious and ethnic prejudice, to produce a comprehensive history about all Palestinians and for all Palestinians, reflecting the cultural heritage of all of those who lived in the region.

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To face creating new facts on the ground, and drawing a new map for Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular; and to face the use of the Zionist narrative as a tool for ethnic cleansing and colonization, the project of writing the comprehensive history of Palestine becomes an utmost necessity as a tool of resistance and freedom.

 

faihaab@gmail.com

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