Just where on the Zionist dupe spectrum you'd place Australian expat, one-time journalist (SMH & WSJ), convert to Judaism, essayist and fiction writer, Geraldine Brooks, I'm not quite sure. I'll canvass some of the available evidence in my next post.
For now, however, I intend merely to examine two extracts from the promotional essay she's written for her latest novel, The Secret Chord, on the 'life' of the strictly legendary biblical King David.
The first is this:
"In the 1960s, Israel's then leader, David Ben Gurion, granted more than 240ha for this reserve with the idea of recreating an entirely biblical landscape - a facsimile of the land of 'milk and honey' that Joshua found when he led the wandering Hebrews across the Jordan River. But centuries of overgrazing had worn the land down to its rocky ribcage, so topsoil had to be trucked in to support the biblical species such as grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates that now flourish here." (Pilgrim's progress, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 3/10/15)
Now apart from the fact that a) all of those grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates flourished all over Palestine long before Ben-Gurion's backyard blitz and imported topsoil came along, and b) they continue to do so today in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (absent destruction by Israeli settlers, walls, and land-grabs), what strikes me here is Ben-Gurion's capacity for projecting his own Zionist fantasy of a biblical Hebrew Israel onto the contemporary Palestinian landscape - which he, of course, had ethnically cleansed, Joshua-style, of its indigenous Palestinian Arab owners in 1948.
The other thing that strikes me is that Brooks, it seems, has no problem with this - probably because she too appears to be engaged in the business of seeing only what she wants to see and ignoring the rest. Which brings me to this second extract:
"We visit a controversial dig that has uncovered buildings dating from the Davidian period, including one whose size, decoration and location suggest it may well have been associated with a leader of David's stature. But the dig runs under a Palestinian neighbourhood and the residents are angry and suspicious of the tunnelling beneath their homes. They watch, stony-faced, as our group lines up to tour the dig site. I want to see what kind of building might have been fit for a king in 900-and-something BC. The Bible says David built a palace from dressed stone and cedar from the forests of Lebanon, but I'm sceptical: what could they possibly have meant by 'palace' in the Second Iron Age? Turns out they meant... palace. The ruins suggest real opulence, with finely carved stonework and beautiful terraces... I'm glad to be able to put David into rooms such as these, to imagine him as a recognisable king rather than a simple tribal leader."
The ruins, of course, must have had a sign on them: Welcome to Dave's Place!
Of the fact that this tunnelling is taking place in ISRAELI-OCCUPIED Arab East Jerusalem, she speaks not a word.
The Palestinian residents' very real concerns are mentioned only in passing.
Obviously, Brooks has more important things on her mind... like, er, King friggin' David.
Yet what is really going on around her, and under her, the real story, is scrupulously ignored. Here it is:
"These tunnels, like those of Hamas, are being dug under a heavy cloak of secrecy. As with the Hamas tunnels, they serve as a tool for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are also being dug under the houses of uninvolved civilians. In this case Palestinians. However, while the Hamas tunnels have been described as serving terrorist purposes, these tunnels have been authorized by the Supreme Court of Israel, and all the relevant arms of the state have been mobilized in their support." (From the introduction to Orly Noy's interview with Israeli archaeologist Yonatan Mizrahi, Israel's very own tunnels of dread in Jerusalem, 972mag.com, 6/9/14)
On the subject of current archaeological practice, Mizrahi has this to say:
"Archaeologists have stopped digging tunnels because they understand that this technique does not help in understanding the development of the strata, the context of what one sees - what came before what, what was built over what, what are the connections between them. Actually, in many cases, it makes understanding our finds more difficult."
On archaeological finds at the site:
"On the professional level, it is true that any time you dig you find something. They revealed an ancient water tunnel, a section of a street and other such remains, certainly in the Western Wall Plaza. This is unquestionably an experience for the tourists, but on the level of archaeological research, the information that can be obtained from these excavations is almost worthless."
On the extent of the tunnelling:
"There is digging all the time. There are excavations carried out by the Elad* foundation from the Pool of Siloam to Givati Parking Lot, and actually all the way to the Mughrabi Bridge. It is a never-ending project. The digging goes on all the time, in an attempt to enlarge the underground space."
[*On Elad, see my 6/4/14 post Archaeology with Attitude.]
On the fears of Silwan's Palestinian residents:
"This is indeed the most amazing story. Actually, there are two aspects: one, the very fact of digging under the houses of residents... and then there is also the political aspect, which is much more dangerous than the story of the Hamas tunnels... The inhabitants of Silwan live in a village where Israeli settler activity has been ongoing for 20 years, and then one day they discovered that there had been digging going on underneath them. They always knew they were being 'dug under' in the metaphorical sense, and one day they discovered it was physical, too. And so, they say the most human thing possible, something that Israelis today can perhaps empathize with more: 'We are afraid. Someone is digging under our house. We do not know who is digging, how much, how deep, how this threatens the house, what will happen tomorrow.' They know nothing. They do not know if tomorrow a settler will emerge from under their house and say 'This room is mine'."
On the ultimate purpose of all this Zionist madness:
"I think the ultimate goal of these tunnels is to create an Israeli-Jewish Jerusalem. This is how I understand the excavations: digging under reality, strengthening the national narrative. They understand that the tunnels are a central tool to prevent a political solution in the area of the Historic Basin. For the Elad association, Silwan is the City of David; this is what it has come to do and this is what it is doing, above ground and underground... [Elad] wanted to advance [settler] construction in Silwan, but the Antiquities Authority prevented them from doing so, claiming that one could not build in an archaeological site. This was in the 1990s. Over time the policy changed. So, when the Elad association understood that it couldn't have massive construction here, it joined the Antiquities Authority with the aim of reaching an Israeli consensus through archaeology and the history of the Israeli people."
Of all this, incredibly, Brooks has NOTHING to say.
To be continued...