israeli archaeologists upset after being ‘excluded’ from conference on palestinian archaeology

Hishams palace is one of many important archaeological sites in the West Bank. (source: wikimedia commons)

Hisham's palace is one of many important archaeological sites in the West Bank. (source: wikimedia commons)

now here’s a turn of events.

apparently, several israeli archaeologists, including uzi dahari, the vice-director for archaeology with the israel antiquities authority (iaa), felt they were not invited to the archaeological conference entitled ‘overcoming structural violence’ in ramallah.

apparently,

Senior Israeli archaeologists have accused conference organizers of including only speakers who presented Palestinian points of view. But Claire Smith, president of the World Archaeological Congress (WAC), the organization that sponsored the conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, says Israelis were not deliberately excluded.

in a letter making the accusations of bias,

Dahari says he had received an e-mail invitation from Smith only earlier in the week, after the conference had begun, and that this was the first the IAA had heard of it.

then again, it is my understanding that conference organizers can invite whomever they want whenever they want. private conferences can choose to include or exclude. however, they must be aware that the exclusion of competing points of view leaves the conference open to charges of bias, which is now the case. and there will always be someone whining about not being invited.

hamdan taha, director of the palestinian authority’s department of antiquities and a participant at the conference, countered that some israeli scholars may have been boycotting the conference:

“I can assure you that no Israeli archaeologist was prevented from participating,” he said, noting that two Israelis were present on the second day of the proceedings. “My understanding was that [many] Israeli archaeologists were boycotting the meeting.”

claire smith, president of the world archaeological council, released a very well-worded statement concerning the matter. i felt she made many compelling points.

so, is the iaa upset that an archaeological conference was held without the sanction of the iaa? is it sour grapes for not being invited? was it a conference that set out deliberately to exclude ‘official’ israeli points of view? or was it a well-organized effort to bring archaeology to palestinian archaeologists that can’t otherwise attend conferences outside of palestine, a situation that was highlighted in reverse by the very rules imposed by the security protocols in israel?

i certainly didn’t hear any advertising for the conference (amd i’m a pretty ‘wired’ guy). but i am curious to read the papers that were presented at the conference? will they too be made public on the wac website? will they be as hard to find?

One Response

  1. It’s a fascinating row, and to be honest I’m leaning towards the idea the archaeologists were effectively excluded. If they were about to claim they were excluded wrongly, they would surely know people would scrutinise their claim. It’s a very good point to wonder about the papers too.

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