Officially sanctioned Islamic art? And the problem with archaeology here.

by ray goodlass

‎9 January: to the Islamic Art Museum, through the sleet and snow of a -1 degree day.  And as a quick insert, before I post this entry, I’ve just looked out the window and everywhere is white with a fairly thick covering of snow. I wish I could send some of the ‘wetness’ home!

The Museum was interesting, but I felt it was officially sanctioned Islamic art, seeing as it is in the heart of Israeli West Jerusalem.

En route, I passed an archaeological site, and was reminded of how contested archaeology is here, in that there is definitely a sense  from the Israeli government and the powers that be that the Palestinians must not be allowed to develop much of a claim on the past – that is reserved for Jewish history, and, grudgingly, Christian and Muslim, as long as it doesn’t translate into Palestinian or pan-Arab nationalism. There’s a real sense of archaeology serving the creation of the Jewish state, i.e. being used to justify it. I suppose this happens in lots of countries, I am, for example, aware of how it was (still is) used in England, but here the remains of the past do not belong just to one party, to the exclusion of others, which makes the Israeli policy problematic. 

Also on my way, sheltering from the snow, I popped in for a coffee and a chance to warm up my frozen hands to a couple of up-market hotel lobby coffee shops. No different to up-market hotels anywhere, I guess, but it seemed to me that the clientel had a strong sense of ‘ownership’, and I don’t think I’m being overly aware of the status of Israelis in this part of Jerusalem, though perhaps I am?

 

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