Saturday, October 06, 2007

Abu el-Haj: archaeology, scholarship - archaeology as science

In this post, I examine some of Near Eastern archaeologist and activist Dr. Alexander H. Joffe's (2005) claims about Nadia Abu el-Haj's (2001) facts on the ground: archaeological practice and territorial self-fashioning in Israeli society, primarily about her understanding of archaeology as science. I also look at the practice of two organisations for which Joffe has worked - Campus Watch and the David Project - because it helps to understand his and others' objections to Abu el-Haj's work.

Alexander H. Joffe

In many ways occupying the same ground as Diana Muir and Avigail Appelbaum, former Director of Research for the David Project and former Director of Campus Watch Alexander H. Joffe is far more influential. (His other claims are studied in a later post, together with those of the others in the campaign against Abu el-Haj.)

Campus Watch

Joffe was the Director of Campus Watch from 2004 to 2006. Campus Watch (n.d.) states that it '[g]athers information on Middle East studies... and makes this information available', '[p]roduces analyses of institutions, individual scholars, topics, events, and trends' and '[m]akes its views known through the media', but Nigel Parry and Ali Abunimah (25th September 2002) considered that,
so far it has only gathered "dossiers" on professors who have written critically about Israel's violation of Palestinian human rights. Those who support Israel are exempt from Campus Watch's vigilance for "errors or biases."
Tanya Schevitz (3rd October 2002) noted that,
The creators of a Web site that singled out professors because of their views and teachings on Palestinian issues and Islam said the "dossiers" on the individuals have been taken down because the controversy was taking attention away from the site's purpose....

More than 100 professors from around the country wrote in when they heard of the dossiers, asking to be put on the Web site list as well to dilute the impact of what they called a McCarthyesque intimidation tactic.
Campus Watch has continued to "name and shame" individually and collectively.

Campus Watch's Columbia Project and Abu el-Haj's colleague Abu-Lughod

One of its undertakings, announced on its homepage, is "the Columbia Project", through which it claims to be 'bringing attention to problems with Columbia University's Middle East Studies faculty' with studies '[w]ritten exclusively for Campus Watch by Hugh Fitzgerald' (although all of them have been published as articles in David Horowitz's FrontPage magazine (link not included in bibliography)). (Fitzgerald's study of Nadia Abu el-Haj will be dealt with alongside Joffe's in the post on the campaign against her.)

This involves yet another digression, but that is partly what these posts are for, so that the later, central posts can be more focused. To take one example of how the Project presents and attacks its targets (helpful when looking at the campaign against Abu el-Haj), Hugh Fitzgerald (20th May 2005a), who maintained a monotonously derisive and sarcastic tone throughout (allowing him to avoid making direct accusations), parsed Columbia University's Professor of Anthropology and Women's and Gender Studies Lila Abu-Lughod's argument:
Perhaps Western "progress" is not progress, and "modernity" is not modernity. And Western feminists should not be so hasty in denouncing the veil and the burka, because they act as a "portable seclusion," your very own zenana or haramlik, which you can bring with you anywhere.
(While Fitzgerald mocked Abu-Lughod's questioning of the presumption of the justice of Western society, as Annette Grossbongardt (20th September 2007) observed, '[i]n strictly secular Turkey, women wearing headscarves are not allowed to work as either judges or doctors. Nor are they allowed to work as civil servants -- or attend university'. France has somewhat similar laws against the display of conspicuous or overt religious symbols in schools and a ban on it in the public sector (BBC News, 31st August 2004) and neither state's position is progressive, however that loaded term is used.)

One of the points that Abu-Lughod (20th March 2002) made in an interview that Fitzgerald had read and referred to himself was that,
many of the women around the Muslim world who wear these different forms of cover describe this as a choice. We need to take their views seriously, even if not at face value.
She did not chastise Western feminists for their condemnation of veiling, but rather cautioned that the opinions of those women so veiled should be considered.

Discussing one of the books Fitzgerald (2005a) referenced, Lila Abu-Lughod (1st September 2006) explained that,
[in one Bedouin community in Egypt] pulling the black headcloth over the face in front of older respected men is considered a voluntary act.... And they decide for whom they feel it is appropriate to veil. They don't veil for younger men; they don't veil for foreign men. They don't even veil for Egyptian non-Bedouin men because they don't respect them and don't, in the latter two cases, consider these men as part of their moral community.
Fitzgerald (20th May 2005a) went on to say that,
Abu-Lughod insists that Westerners, especially those pesky feminists, should stop harping on "difference" and look at what unites us: "We should ask not how Muslim societies are distinguished from 'our own' but how intertwined they are, historically and in the present, economically, politically, and culturally." It disturbs her that so many people want to know about "women and Islam" – the very topic is worrisome, she feels, because it gets away from the real issues, the "messier historical or cultural narratives" that focus on "colonial projects" and the "colonial enterprise."
Abu-Lughod's (20th March 2002) actual argument was that,
after 9/11 and the American response of war in Afghanistan.... it seemed that this desire to know about "women and Islam" was leading people away from the very issues one needed to examine in order to understand what had happened.

Those issues include the history of Afghanistan-with Soviet, U.S., Pakistani, and Saudi involvements; the dynamics of Islamist movements in the Middle East; the politics and economics of American support for repressive governments. Plastering neat cultural icons like "the Muslim woman" over messier historical and political narratives doesn't get you anywhere.
Abu-Lughod (1st September 2006) explained:
An administration – George W. Bush's – then used the oppression of these Muslim women as part of the moral justification for the military invasion of Afghanistan....

Islamic movements themselves have arisen in a world shaped by the intense engagements of Western powers in Middle Eastern lives. Some of the most conservative movements that focus on women in these parts of the world have resulted from interactions with the West, including 3 billion dollars funnelled by the CIA into the conservative groups in Afghanistan that undermined a Marxist government that was engaged in forced modernization, including mass education for women.
This example of the work of the Columbia Project used some of the same methods for critique that Fitzgerald and Joffe used against Abu el-Haj.


While Joffe (2005: 297) criticised Abu el-Haj for her 'irritating use of... quotation marks to accentuate the artificiality of the denoted phrase or concept', sometimes Fitzgerald and Joffe quoted terms alone, not only to 'accentuate the [alleged] artificiality' (as Fitzgerald (2005a) did with "colonial projects" and "colonial enterprise"), but also to mock their target's questioning of their nature (as Fitzgerald did with "progress" and "modernity"), or to mock their target's use of a term (as Fitzgerald did with "difference" and "portable seclusion").

Sometimes Fitzgerald (2005a) and Joffe (2005) quoted individual words or parts of phrases of their targets, in such a way as to misconstrue their arguments, as Fitzgerald did when he ridiculed Abu-Lughod for fearing that 'want[ing] to know about "women and Islam"... gets away from the real issues... the "colonial enterprise"', when Abu-Lughod's point was that the US response to 9/11 by war in Afghanistan had more to do with 'the history of Afghanistan-with Soviet, U.S., Pakistani, and Saudi involvements', than it did with the repression of women.

Indeed, as former National Security Advisor to US President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski confessed,
Selon la version officielle de l'histoire, l'aide de la CIA aux moudjahidine a débuté courant 1980, c'est-à-dire après que l'armée soviétique eut envahi l'Afghanistan, le 24 décembre 1979. Mais la réalité, gardée secrète jusqu'à présent, est tout autre : c'est en effet le 3 juillet 1979 que le président Carter a signé la première directive sur l'assistance clandestine aux opposants du régime prosoviétique de Kaboul....

Nous n'avons pas poussé les Russes à intervenir, mais nous avons sciemment augmenté la probabilité qu'ils le fassent.... l'occasion de donner à l'URSS sa guerre du Vietnam.(Brzezinski, 15th January 1998).

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul....

We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.... the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war (Trans. Bill Blum, 8th October 2001).
Rahul Bedi (1st October 2001) observed that:
The CIA has well-established links with the ISI [Inter Services Intelligence], having trained it in the 1980s to 'run' Afghan mujahideen (holy Muslim warriors), Islamic fundamentalists from Pakistan as well as Arab volunteers by providing them with arms and logistic support to evict the Soviet occupation of Kabul.
Tim Weiner (24th August 1998) stated that:
The Afghan resistance was backed by the intelligence services of the United States and Saudi Arabia with nearly $6 billion worth of weapons. And the territory targeted last week, a set of six encampments around Khost, where the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden has financed a kind of ''terrorist university,'' in the words of a senior United States intelligence official, is well known to the Central Intelligence Agency.

The C.I.A.'s military and financial support for the Afghan rebels indirectly helped build the camps that the United States attacked [that year]. And some of the same warriors who fought the Soviets with the C.I.A.'s help are now fighting under Mr. bin Laden's banner [in al-Qa'ida].
So, Lila Abu-Lughod's analysis was accurate and Fitzgerald's critique a misconstrual.

Tenure and freedom of speech

Middle Eastern scholar Dr. Sara Roy (1st April 2004) judged 'Campus Watch, a website whose primary purpose is to monitor Middle Eastern studies faculty in departments across the US for signs of anti-American and anti-Israel bias'. As journalist Tamar Lewin (27th September 2002) reported,
The response from [Prof.] Judith Butler...: 'I have recently learned that your organization is compiling dossiers on professors at U.S. academic institutions who oppose the Israeli occupation and its brutality, actively support Palestinian rights of self-determination as well as a more informed and intelligent view of Islam than is currently represented in the U.S. media. I would be enormously honored to be counted among those who actively hold these positions and would like to be included in the list of those who are struggling for justice.'
Campus Watch (n.d.):
  • 'Invites student complaints of abuse, investigates their claims, and (when warranted) makes these known';
  • 'Campus Watch supports the unencumbered freedom of speech of all scholars, regardless of their views'; and
  • 'Campus Watch takes no position on individual academic appointments'.
All of these appear reasonable.

Campus Watch (n.d.) lauded the 1915 Declaration of Principles of 'the American Association of University Professors [AAUP], an organization designed to preserve the integrity of the academy from a donor-driven agenda', quoting it that,
the freedom of the academic teacher entail[s] certain correlative obligations... The university teacher... should, if he is fit for his position, be a person of a fair and judicial mind; he should, in dealing with such subjects, set forth justly, without suppression or innuendo, the divergent opinions of other investigators... and he should, above all, remember that his business is not to provide his students with ready-made conclusions, but to train them to think for themselves.
(One of the ellipses lost that, 'he [sic] is under no obligation to hide his [sic] own opinion under a mountain of equivocal verbiage'.)

Although it did make the whole declaration available through its "survey" (which appears to consist of keyword-based scraping and reproduction), Campus Watch did not quote the AAUP's (1915) concern about:
the danger of restrictions upon the expression of opinions which... call in question the moral legitimacy or social expediency of economic conditions or commercial practices in which large vested interests are involved....

When to this is added the consideration that benefactors, as well as most of the parents who send their children to privately endowed institutions, themselves belong to the more prosperous and therefore usually to the more conservative classes, it is apparent that, so long as effectual safeguards for academic freedom are not established, there is a real danger that pressure from vested interests may, sometimes deliberately and somet[i]mes unconsciously, sometimes openly and sometimes subtly and in obscure ways, be brought to bear upon academic authorities....

It is, however, for reasons which have already been made evident, inadmissible that the power of determining when departures from the requirements of the scientific spirit and method have occurred, should be vested in bodies not composed of members of the academic profession.

Such bodies necessarily lack full competency to judge of those requirements; their intervention can never be exempt from the suspicion that it is dictated by other motives than zeal for the integrity of science; and it is, in any case, unsuitable to the dignity of a great profession that the initial responsibility for the maintenance of its professional standards should not be in the hands of its own members....

There is much truth in some remarks recently made in this connection by a college president [President of Reed College William T. Foster]:
Certain professors have been refused re-election lately, apparently because they set their students to thinking in ways objectionable to the trustees. It would be well if more teachers were dismissed because they fail to stimulate thinking of any kind. We can afford to forgive a college professor what we regard as the occasional error of his doctrine, especially as we may be wrong, provided he is a contagious center of intellectual enthusiasm....
Such [classroom] utterances ought always to be considered privileged communications. Discussions in the classroom ought not to be supposed to be utterances for the public at large. They are often designed to provoke opposition or arouse debate. It has, unfortunately, sometimes happened in this country that sensational newspapers have quoted and garbled such remarks. As a matter of common law, it is clear that the utterances of an academic instructor are privileged, and may not be published, in whole or part, without his authorization.
Perhaps Campus Watch was worried that people might think that it protested too much that it did not exert 'pressure... sometimes subtly and in obscure ways... upon academic authorities'. Perhaps they were worried that people might think of their publicisation of student reports when they read that classroom discussions were not public discussions, or that 'sensational newspapers have quoted and garbled such remarks [as were made in class]'.

Campus Watch certainly did not quote the current Director of the Department of Academic Freedom and Governance of the American Association of University Professors Jonathan Knight, who stated recently that, '[a]sking students to spy is utterly repugnant' (Jaschik, 2006a). Again, perhaps they were worried that people might be reminded of their invitation (and investigation and publicisation) of students' reports when they read of students being asked to spy. Furthermore, the Director of Campus Watch is Daniel Pipes.

Campus Watch: Daniel Pipes' direction

In 2001, '[t]o combat this perception [of Israel as a "paper tiger"]', Pipes (18th July 2001) proposed various measures, including that it:
  • 'Permit no transportation of people or goods beyond basic necessities'; and,
  • '[s]hut off utilities to the PA'; then,
  • 'Raze the... villages from which attacks are launched'.
Reiterating his arguments recently, Pipes (6th September 2007) highlighted,
I called for shutting off utilities to the Palestinian Authority as well as a host of other measures, such as permitting no transportation in the PA of people or goods beyond basic necessities, implementing the death penalty against murderers, and razing villages from which attacks are launched.
The collective punishment of innocent villagers along with guilty terrorists, the persecution of Palestinian civilians, which is what the eradication of their villages would be, is wholly immoral; it beggars belief that Campus Watch would employ someone with those opinions if it were impartial, or that it could remain impartial with someone with those opinions running it.

The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership

As far as I can find out, Joffe was the Director of Research for the David Project from 2006 until 2007. The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership (2005) claims that it is 'a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a fair and honest understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict', but it undermines its own claim to fairness, declaring that,
We work to develop educated, skilled and courageous leaders to defeat the ideological assault on Israel that is taking place on campuses, in high schools, in churches and in the general community.
According to journalist Scott Sherman (4th April 2005), the David Project has produced 'propaganda... in which vague and anonymous accusations are tossed about...; and which attributes sinister motives to Columbia administrators and faculty, not one of whom is given the opportunity to respond to the allegations'. (A great deal of evidence, including on-the-record testimony that 'they deliberately ignored the voices of Jewish and non-Jewish students who found such "incidents" to be fabricated and had no problems with the targeted professors', has been presented by M. Junaid Alam (2nd March 2005).

Sara Roy (1st April 2004):
What all this boils down to is an attempt to silence criticism of US policy, and put an end to disagreement with the neo-conservative agenda. It is not diversity that is being sought but conformity.
(See also Roy's (17th February 2005) article, in which she deemed the David Project's work 'intended to silence critics of Israel', '[c]ampaigns... interested not so much in individual academics as in university administrations'.) Now I wish to return to Joffe's critique of Abu el-Haj's methods.

Joffe on Abu el-Haj and selection and representation

Joffe (2005: 297) judged that,
Her politics, however, flow directly from her epistemology. Since reality is what we make of it, anything that is done may be undone.
That seems to be a coded reference to Joffe's unfair accusation that Abu el-Haj's work 'is designed to contribute to the deconstruction of the legitimacy of Israel as a modern, and ancient, entity'.
In terms of scholarship, however, it [is] apparent that her representation is so selective and partial as to bear little resemblance to her subject. What is written must therefore by judged largely by what is absent;
so, Joffe spent a lot of time discussing what Abu el-Haj did not, which is a very easy way to criticise any work, as every work excludes a lot of material that it does not have space for or that is beyond its scope. Moreover, it enables the critic to avoid presenting and responding to the arguments their subject does make.

For example, Alexander H. Joffe (October 2005: 297) stated that,
the attitudes of individual imperial age archaeologists, most notably W.F. Albright but also lesser lights such as R.W. Hamilton, are overlooked, along with unique 'multi-cultural' institutions such as the Palestine Oriental Society. She even neglects key Palestinian figures such as the physician-ethnographer Tewfik Canaan and the Department of Antiquities member and later American University of Beirut faculty member Dimitri Baramki.
It sounds damning that '[s]he even neglects key Palestinian figures such as... Tewfik Canaan', but Canaan was a folklorist, not an archaeologist, whose works discussed agriculture, popular medicine and superstition, not archaeology.

When the then Director of the Palestinian Institute of Archaeology Dr. Khaled Nashef (2002) wrote about Canaan's life and works, the closest to connections to archaeology that he noted were that Canaan 'was acquainted with a number of specialists in the field of Palestinian archaeology and Old Testament' and 'collected a prodigious number of amulets' (although even that was not archaeological or antiquarian, but 'within their context in the culture of Palestinian peasants and Bedouin') and that Canaan's son 'died in 1954 while renovating an archaeological monument in Jerash'.

While it could be said that archaeologist Dimitri Constantine Baramki has been overlooked (although Abu el-Haj may have read his material, but not been able to find a place for it in her work), I suspect Joffe most wanted to mention Baramki because, as he noted in his (2005: 297n9) review (and had noted previously in Hallote and Joffe, 2002: 111n50), Baramki's (1969) book on the art and architecture of ancient Palestine 'was published... by the Research Center of the Palestine Liberation Organization', which Rachel S. Hallote and Alexander H. Joffe (2002: 99) had mentioned in reference to 'the Palestinians[']... blatant denial of any Jewish connection to Israel, Jerusalem in particular, and general manipulation of the past'. Abu el-Haj did not neglect either R. W. Hamilton, to whom she referred several times or W. F. Albright, to whom she referred repeatedly and at length. Now, finally, I can turn to Joffe's construction of the nature of archaeology and his use of archaeology and science in his critique of Abu el-Haj.

Joffe on Abu el-Haj and the understanding of archaeology as science

Alexander H. Joffe (October 2005: 297) parsed that:
Abu El-Haj largely follows the 'Strong Programme['] and proposes that 'science' should be regarded as an enterprise which reproduces and reinforces the values of the dominant social group [wherein].... the very epistemology of 'science' creates 'facts' that are then situated into preexisting categories.... archaeological data are not discovered but invented.... an epistemology which sees reality as merely emanations of the mind or the will.... There are many weaknesses to this, not least of which is that it assumes archaeology is a science...., it is not....
(I think it's worth noting that, while Joffe complained about Abu el-Haj's 'irritating use of... quotation marks to accentuate the artificiality of the denoted phrase or concept', he used quotation marks himself, to mock and undermine the very questioning of the nature of science and facts and simultaneously to avoid quoting representative passages of Abu el-Haj's work that would contradict his presentation of her arguments.)

It is instructive to hear how different her work sounds when it is presented by someone who, unlike Joffe, hasn't worked for either Campus Watch or the David Project. John Gravois (20th August 2007) relayed that,
Abu El-Haj [2001: 8] says that the Israeli archaeological research she studied was "not driven by ideological positions writ large, but rather, as is typical of scientific work, good or bad, ... by paradigmatic conceptions of history and methods of practice, and by specific epistemological commitments and evidentiary criteria."
(Note, also, that Gravois presented Abu el-Haj in her own words, rather than in his characterisation of them, as Joffe did - and those words were presented together, in context, rather than distortingly clipped, wrenched out of context and/or turned back on themselves to mean the opposite of what Abu el-Haj said, as, amongst others, Jonathan Burack (2006), Candace de Russy (2007a; 2007b), Hugh Fitzgerald (2005), Phil Orenstein (2007a; 2007b) and Paula R. Stern (2007a; 2007b; 2007c; 2007d) did.)

Joffe (2005: 297) even claimed that,
for Zionism and Israeli archaeology as a whole even the rhetoric of science in archaeology is largely absent. The critical issue is not how science was construed or even done but how it was received. Archaeology was and largely remains a uniquely popular phenomenon, dependent on public interest, goodwill, and largesse to vastly greater degrees than other disciplines.
That dependency, however, on 'public interest, goodwill and largesse', politicises archaeology in its practice and its products (in its "science" and its "facts").

As observed long ago by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP, 1915), which Joffe's former organisation lauded:
In the political, social, and economic field almost every question, no matter how large and general it at first appears, is more or less affected with private or class interests; and, as the governing body of a university is naturally made up of men who through their standing and ability are personally interested in great private enterprises, the points of possible conflict are numberless.
As sociologist Prof. Elia Zureik (2002) observed,
If one takes science to mean the production and acceptance of stable and uncontestable facts, then clearly archeology is not science in this standard definition of the term.... To a large extent, it depends on who does the digging and naming. If one adopts the perspective that science is socially embedded, it is incumbent to discover the nature of this social imbrication, without having to slide into infinite relativism in the construction of scientific facts.
Joffe appeared to object to the idea (which he caricatured Abu el-Haj's nuanced approach as), that 'archaeological data are not discovered but invented', but if archaeological data are uncovered, not invented, as he implied, if they are real and do prove real things, then they are scientific data and archaeology is scientific practice.

Remembering that it is a misrepresentation of her work, if Joffe believed that archaeology undermined Abu el-Haj's allegedly 'undisguised political agenda that regards modern and ancient Israel, and perhaps Jews as a whole, as fictions', he would have implicitly accepted that archaeology was a scientific discipline, testing falsifiable hypotheses and disproving those that were false.

To give one conspicuous example of the inherently political nature of science, scientific facts and their production, as Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott and Shinji Okamoto (11th August 2006) observed,
The acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in Japan or Europe, largely because of widespread fundamentalism and the politicization of science in the United States....

In the second half of the 20th century, the conservative wing of the Republican Party has adopted creationism as a part of a platform designed to consolidate their support....

The broad public acceptance of the benefits of science and technology in the second half of the 20th century allowed science to develop a nonpartisan identification that largely protected it from overt partisanship. That era appears to have closed.
That is not to say that there isn't "proper" science or that there aren't "true" facts (although they may be refined or even wholly changed as new, more accurate knowledge is generated) - indeed, it is to state that those things do exist, but that even the opportunity to engage in real science and produce real facts is dependent upon a sympathetic and supportive state and community - that politics always affects science and sometimes overpowers it.

Archaeology: science and rhetoric

While Joffe (2005: 297) maintained that 'the rhetoric of science in [Israeli] archaeology is largely absent', Abu el-Haj (2002: 236-237) documented that very rhetoric in her interviews with archaeologists who objected to the political use of archaeology to enable and excuse Israeli settlement of the Occupied Territories:
I asked one archaeologist, did he not think that archaeological practice in the post-1967 Old City was part and parcel of the Judaization of that place? No, he answered: ".... Many don't agree with the more politicized vision of archaeology.... Now, with five years of the intifada people know Jerusalem is not one city."

Some archaeologists, he continued, are "horrified with the use of archaeology for settlement purposes." For example, Yigal Shiloh (the City of David's excavator) never intended "his dig to be used as it is being today". Perhaps he was naïve, the archaeologist then suggested.

Similarly, he pointed out, it was a rather left-wing archaeologist who dug the biblical site of Shilo, the locale of a Jewish settlement on the road to Nablus. Clearly, this is an archaeologist who does not support the settlers' activities, he insisted.

These comments express a widely espoused scientific epistemology that depends upon a philosophical commitment to facts as being distinct from their invocation as evidence. That commitment enables archaeologists to fail to recognize their own complicity in a settlement project many do not actually support (at least outside the parameters of Jerusalem's Old City and the city's now long-standing "new Jewish neighbourhoods" such as French Hill) - at least not today.

By definition, facts are not political, and their collection has no necessary relationship to ideological disputes or political realities. These arguments, in other words, demonstrate an understanding of the collection of data as being independent of its incorporation within a political framework that substantiates and extends specific claims in the present.
Settler archaeology

What Abu el-Haj wanted archaeologists to do (and, perhaps, what Joffe did not want archaeologists to do), was to:
Consider, for example, that many archaeologists have participated, since the 1967 war, in extensive survey projects in the West Bank in order to resolve the long-standing debate about the character of "Israelite settlement." That project of fact collecting substantiated the West Bank as the biblical heartland, materializing its identity as Judea and Samaria in archaeological facts. And that territorial conception, in turn, is cardinal to settler claims that the region is rightfully an integral part, and, in effect, the most fundamental part, of the Jewish state.

Arguing over details - in this instance, whether or not ancient presence legitimizes contemporary rights to territory, insisting that the past should now be "detached" from present claims - cannot simply alter or efface a grammar of colonial-national practice and historical understanding that has long been operative in Palestine and Israel.

Israel's ideological commitment to being a national and not a colonial state was and is empowered by a historical practice that substantiates the ancient nation and its homeland in empirical form.
[I document settler archaeology - archaeology funded by settlers and/or facilitating settlement - more fully in a later post.]

Nadia Abu el-Haj did not say or suggest that 'archaeological data are not discovered but invented'; she suggested that archaeologists ought to consider and address the ways that they and others use the archaeological data they generate.

It is interesting that Joffe (October 2005: 297n1) referred to biblical studies Professor Keith W. Whitelam's (1996) work on 'the invention of ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian history' when he placed Abu el-Haj's work 'in the context of recent deconstructive analyses of Biblical Archaeology, and the Bible itself, with which she shares a remarkable vehemence'.

As Abu el-Haj (2002: 307n22) had noted (naming them and providing suggestions for further reading) in an earlier footnote, '[t]here are a variety of treaties that prohibit the excavations in and removal of cultural properties from occupied lands' and as she (2002: 316n26) had pointed out in another footnote, specifically in relation to Whitelam,
he does not make mention of the fact that the evidential basis for his own reconsideration of that Iron Age history is drawn from archaeological research conducted during the occupation, which required getting permits from the archaeology branch of the occupying military administration.
These matters dealt with, in the next post I can look at critiques of Nadia Abu el-Haj's methodology.

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