Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Response to Critics of the Temple Mount Sifting Project

Last week we noted an article about the Temple Mount Sifting Project by Ilan Ben Zion in The Times of Israel. If you have any interest in the subject, you’ll want to read today’s response by the director of the project, Zachi Dvira. He counters charges made by three critics interviewed by Ben Zion.

Israel Finkelstein has never even visited the excavation. Yonathan Mizrachi said that the sifting project “doesn't have any archaeological value” after he failed to get a job at the worthless project!

The only interviewee that spoke to-the-point and  is worthy of a response is Professor Marwan Abu-Khalaf, who claimed that the area from which the earth was removed was an Ottoman dump, and questioned our ability to glean information from soil without clear stratification. In our published articles we’ve already addressed these issues, including the well-known fact that the Ottoman finds come from a local dump – this being a good thing, since dumps provide the richest archaeological data from periods with no destruction phases.

And then there’s this:

Ben Zion gives an account of the contents of the introductory presentation given to visitors at the Sifting Project, and reports that there was no mention of the “Islam or Arabs, and solely emphasized the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount”. This is completely false. The reporter listened only to the beginning of the presentation, and then left due to a phone call.

I suspect that the problem, besides a certain amount of journalistic incompetence, is the desire for a story that generates lots of clicks, and for that you need controversy, not truth. I’ll keep that in mind before I recommend articles by this author in the future.

Read Dvira’s full response here.

HT: Joseph Lauer

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