Living in this country is not exactly about the holiness we claim in religions. IT is not about Jesus, Moses or Mohammad. IT is about the heritage of human civilization that is beyond religions and beyond people as we try to trace.
I always felt this enigma of a place like Jericho, never realizing the astonishing fact that, there lies the oldest city in human civilizations (6-8 thousand years BC) (until Aleppo was declared oldest a decade ago). Having the Umayyad Palace of Hisham with its astounding mosaics. Growing amid the walls of Jerusalem and its surroundings. Sometimes it only felt like taking history for granted…
It is bliss… a blessing … growing up in a place that witnessed the making of civilization. It’s rise, and it’s collapse from one civilization to another. Somewhere …farer than what we know of our struggles on religions who came first or later.
I understand in general why a regular Palestinian somewhere in the village occupied with agriculture or basic needs of living, or survival from attack from settlers can care less of archaeological sites, that’s if he realized it in the first place.
An Israeli colleague of mine, from an Israeli organization that stands against Israeli policies (Emek Shaveh) in what is claimed to be archeological and national parks as means to displace Palestinians and grab more control on the land, found while surfing some archaeological journals on the web, about some new findings in Deir Dibwan, a town on the outskirts of Ramallah in what is categorized as a B area according to Oslo Accords. The excavated site was in the C area of the village, which seemed to have been conducted by an American mission belonging to a theological institute within the University of Texas for the last twenty years, without even bothering to search for the landowners or taking any permission. The Israeli Coordination offices in charges of area C, however, no one has the right to enter a land and use it, excavate it without the permission or the notice of its people. Something that kept happening for twenty years. What we know from the journal and thanks to this!!! That the area has a 1500 years old Byzantine city, the excavations revealed a church, homes, potteries, and more. The university has been conducting exhibitions on the findings in the last years.
When the mayor of Der Dibwan knew about it, he contacted the school that apologized for not asking for permission and promised they would not be there anymore. Well after twenty years, all that they needed to take, know, whatever has been done.
The area is in a somewhat distant location from the village is inhabited. People knew about these Americans coming twice a year with special or military armed forces, but they never knew why they were coming, thinking it is part of Israeli forced actions. The villagers suffer enough from the settlers from the other side of the village.
Deir Dibwan is one of the Palestinians villages whose inhabitants live big numbers in the USA since the early years of occupation. SO it was likely that people could have also been confused with the word “Americans.” Whatever it was, it does not take away the word negligence, but I firmly believe that people are simple; it is more likely the responsibility of authorities. The whole sense of awareness of people is strongly connected to the bodies, a how it works on the public awareness in such cases.
There are many examples to point to in the negligence that is strictly related to the authority here, regardless of the impossibilities and constraints the Israeli administration puts on the Palestinians.
But here, I am trying to take this theological institute into accountability. Not the Israeli authority, which is likely to allow, and it allowed the excavations, which could be something good. Israel usually is interested in diggings that reveal Jewish heritage. So this was not of particular interest. The mission came under the authorization and the protection of the Israeli civil administration for the last two decades. But by all means, neither the Civil Administration nor the mission has the right to use the land without the permission of its owners. Something that never took place.
Here, we have a scene where this American mission that totally ignored the presence of the community, and used the naivety and ignorance of people in that village. For 20 years…
For twenty years… they come, dig, steal, and go home to America and exhibit findings….