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The Politics of Archaeology - Christian Zionism and the Creation of Facts Underground

Author: Mimi Kirk
September 2022
Volume 55 , Issue 2
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From the Editor:

After an unintended extended hiatus, The Link is back, more indebted than ever to the patience of our Reader.

It is a pleasure now to introduce you to AMEU’s new board president. Mimi Kirk picks up this Link thread on archaeology, where biblical historian George Wesley Buchanan left off in 2014 (v43/3). In that issue, Buchanan’s epiphany at the Spring of Siloam (shown here in David Roberts’ “Gihon Spring”) illuminated some of the shaky cornerstones on which contemporary Holy Land archaeology rests. When Dr. Buchanan died recently just shy of 100, his principal finding-- that Solomon’s Temple was not built on the Temple Mount, Haram al Sharif— remained relevant not only to archaeologists, but to the many Palestinians in whose crosshairs their homes lie.

Approaching the subject from a different angle, Kirk looks at enabling actors from America’s Christian evangelical communities, and how their interests coincide with archaeologic pursuits in occupied Palestinian territories. She details the relationship between American Christian Zionists and powerbrokers from Israel and the U.S., exposing the cynical politics that lie behind the digging. The damage these craven partnerships has wrought was on particular display during the Trump era, when groups like John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel were enlisted by billionaire donors and political minions to serve extremist agendas. New theologies and so-called “prosperity gospels” lead legions of American evangelicals to effectively disavow core values of both church and state, leaving one to wonder, What master do they serve? In a closing paragraph, Mimi Kirk underscores the urgent need to reverse these destructive tides and undo some of the harm she chronicles from the City of David, Tel Shiloh and Qumran.

Separately, 40 years ago this month the literally unspeakable crimes of Sabra and Shatila unfolded. Just as we were about to go to press, a poet friend sent us his memory of the horror of those few days in Beirut. We share it on page 15, never forgetting the innocents who were massacred that September.

Lastly, on behalf of the AMEU board we are elated to announce The AMEU/John F. and Sharon Mahoney Award for Service, a new initiative to honor and amplify the work to which John’s four decade-long tenure continues to be devoted. The award will include a significant honorarium, and will be given each Fall to a person who has made -- or will make-- meaningful contributions to help Americans achieve a more complete understanding of the Middle East and its many peoples and traditions. The first awardee will be announced at the Fall meeting of the Board in November. More detail is available on-line at www.ameu.org.
Nicholas Griffin
Executive Director

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