Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Golda Meir in a June 15th, 1969 Sunday Times interview foolishly said that "There was no such thing as Palestinians." Many Israelis and conservative Christians in the US also believe that the idea of Palestinian nationality was invented in the 20th century, and that those who claim to be Palestinians are actually Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, and/or Lebanese. This too is of course ridiculous. I believe that the world would be a much better place if people knew more about the Palestinians, and I recommend this Wikipedia article for starters.

What got me thinking about the Palestinians? Well, I just got back from Israel where I spent a few days in East Jerusalem at the Albright where I got to see many of my Palestinian friends and colleagues. These past five years have been brutal on them. I was in the Old City on September 28th 2000 when Sharon visited the Temple Mount, sparking what has come to be known as the Al Aqsa intifida. The infamous and illegal "Wall" is dividing families and reducing the chances of a viable Palestinian state. Plus, I just watched a fascinating documentary called Control Room. Basically it is about Al Jazeera’s coverage of the US invasion of Iraq, and the death of reporter Tareq Ayub by US missiles. It did a great job of discussing reporter bias, government control of the media, staged events for lazy journalists, and spin. But I found myself struck at how two societies view the same events in such completely different ways. For example, most people in the US believe that our military would never intentionally shoot at journalists. They also believe that the torture at Abu Ghreib was done by "a few bad apples." Most Arabs, of course, believe that Al Jazeera was being sent a message with those missiles, and that torture is a common part of US military prisons. Americans do not see any relationship between Israel's occupation of Palestine and the US occupation of Iraq. Yet, most Arabs see these as itinimately linked. I'm also reminded of the death of the child Muhammad al Dura during the first few days of the intifada. Most Palestinians say that he was killed on purpose by Israeli soldiers, most Israelis claim it was either an accident or that he was killed by Palestinian bullets.

Personally I believe in a two state solution with 1967 borders and a divided Jerusalem. Barak and Arafat with Clinton's help came awfully close. Sure this is a controversial issue, and tempers are raging in Israel with the Gaza pullout set for mid August [And by the way, settlers and settler supporters, quit ruining the color orange]. But for now, I recommend seeing Control Room.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Letters I Get-The Positive Part

Then, to bring balance back into the world, I got an encouraging letter from this guy I knew from excavating Wadi Feidan Jordan way back in 1999. His name was Mark Cooley, and he had an exploding thumb. More important, he was the Eggboy, but that is a very long story, and I hope that over the years Mark has received some professional help for his abnormal obsession for the thin shelled ovum of the domestic fowl. The Eggboy had some very nice things to say about his experience in the field that summer, and I thank him for that. In regards to a statement in my Teaching Philosophy which reads "When others, especially former students, look back on my life, I want to be remembered as a good teacher," Mark gave the following erudite advice: "You should probably shoot for something higher then good, as I remember you better then that." How nice is that?

Letters I Get-The Negative Part

I'm still experiencing jet lag, and being wide awake at 4 AM, I thought I'd check my email. Someone wrote me the following:
"I just purchased "the Bible for Dummies" and searched on the net for your name just to inquire as to your choice of denomination. I was very disappointed to see that you were Roman Catholic as I feel that you would look at the Bible with a slant that would conflict with my Christian views ... I read the statement of faith from the adoption agency and I agree with their position. Catholics do not have the same biblical beliefs as Christians. I will now read the Bible for Dummies book with a different slant. I wonder what your co-authors religion is."

I receive about three of these types of letters each week. I'll bet people who study French History don't have to deal with this sort of thing.

World War III

A recent poll suggests that six out of ten Americans believe that World War III is likely.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Going Down From Jerusalem

Late tonight my daughter Kalypso, my student Roy DuBose III, and I all leave Israel. We're currently staying at the Albright Institute in East Jerusalem. We'll stay for tea at 4PM and then head to the airport at 5. It will be good to be home. Things are growing pretty tense here with the Gaza withdrawal set for mid August. More than anything else in the world, I hate going through Israeli security at the airport. They have it in their computer database that I once had two passports (1 for Israel, 1 for Syria and Lebanon), and that means they go through everything I have and even make me take my clothes off. I feel more sorry of course for the Palestinian families subjected to the same demeaning treatment. The season at Zeitah was fantastic. We found something really great in my square, O-19, in fact it was by far the coolest thing I've ever seen discovered on a dig in which I participated. But, I am sworn to secrecy as to what it is, so give me a few months and I'll let you know.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

More Stupidity in Dixie

It seems that someone decided that money raised from Choose Life license plate tags in Mississippi should not be used for adoption when the parents are Catholic according to this website. Being adopted, and Catholic, I find all of this absurd.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward

Last Thursday Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the lead editor of the official 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, and certainly a man with the pope's ear, wrote an op-ed piece for the NY Times. While I think he was attempting to clarify Catholic dogma on evolution, I once again found myself disagreeing with just about everything a church official had to say. Some quotations:

"Scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of "chance and necessity" are not scientific at all, but, as John Paul put it, an abdication of human intelligence."

and my favorite:

"Throughout history the church has defended the truths of faith given by Jesus Christ. But in the modern era, the Catholic Church is in the odd position of standing in firm defense of reason as well. In the 19th century, the First Vatican Council taught a world newly enthralled by the "death of God" that by the use of reason alone mankind could come to know the reality of the Uncaused Cause, the First Mover, the God of the philosophers."

So the Crusades, the Inquisition, the excommunication of Galileo, and the horrible treatment of women were all in defense of the "truths of fatih given by Jesus"?!? Perhaps I am a self-hating Catholic, but gee whiz, can't we just accept that evolution took place on a round earth which is quite a bit older than 6000 years which spins and rotates around a sun in a sun-centered solar system and then get on with our lives?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London July 7, 2005

My heart goes out to my dear friends and all the people in London on this day of horrendous attacks.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Roy's Discovery

Early this morning Roy DuBose III found a ceramic head in 0-19 that is that appears to be female and dates to the Iron II period. Congratulations Roy.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Ashkelon Beach

Today I went to the beach in Ashkelon with Kalypso, John, Kate, and Erin. I drank a Tuborg Red in a Goldstar cup and read about 100 pages of Crime and Punishment. Tomorrow we begin week four of the excavation.