History has always assisted the religious, the ideological, and politicians in their attempts to implement their ideas in real life.
Ideologically-driven political actions are most frequently based on texts. The written Law, for example, motivated the people of Israel to take possession of the land of Canaan – and return to it as their homeland in the twentieth century.
The first archaeologist in the service of a religiously-motivated emperor may well have been Helena, Constantine the Great's mother. Combing Jerusalem in search of hard evidence for her faith, she unearthed – among other things – the original cross and the shroud in which Jesus was buried.
Today, texts and artifacts are used – maybe even more vigorously and blatantly than before – to support the Palestinian claim to the Land. Hamdan Taha, Assistant Deputy Minister of the antiquities and cultural heritage section of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, claims that “archaeology is a tool to reconstruct the past” – proceeding to complete the task by dismissing any evidence for an ancient Jewish presence in the "land of Palestine."
On this premise, Palestinian reconstruction works inside the Mosque of Omar on the Temple Mount, for example, have transformed the Second Temple structure underneath it known as "Solomon's Stables" into a mosque.
Such a revision of history which seeks to de-legitimize Jewish sovereignty over the entire region hopes to convince the world that the Palestinians are the direct descendants of the Hittites and the Canaanites – and therefore the rightful heirs of the Land. Those who have ears, however, may hear the stones of ancient ruins, magnified through this new column, "crying out" – in Hebrew.
A case in point is a 2,700 seal discovered near the walls of Jerusalem's Old City in 2009. Bearing the inscription "Bethlehem" in ancient Hebrew script, the tiny clay seal dates back to the period of the first Temple – between the eighth and seventh centuries BCE. This is the oldest reference to Bethlehem ever found outside of the Bible.
Although the Hebrew name of the town has kept through the ages, including its Arabic name – Beit Lahm – hard evidence appears dispensable in the eyes of Palestinian nationalists and their supporters. The webpage of Bethlehem's municipality thus unabashedly informs the reader that: "Three thousand years before the birth of Christ, Bethlehem was already known as a Canaanite settlement ... the word Bethlehem is derived from Lahmo, the Chaldean god of fertility, which was adopted by the Canaanites as Lahama … Bethlehem clearly established its Canaanite origin 3,000 years before the birth of Jesus."
The word Jewish – in case one wonders – is nowhere to be found in this Palestinian version of Bethlehem's history!
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