Israeli archaeologists excluded from Ramallah confab


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Antiquities Authority said it was excluded from an international archeological conference in Ramallah.

The IAA condemned the World Archeological Congress in a letter to its president. The conference, called "Overcoming Structural Violence," discussed in part several regions in Jerusalem where excavations are being conducted by the IAA.

"In this way the organization is introducing the [Palestinian-Israeli] conflict into the professional side of archaeology," the IAA said in a news release issued Thursday.

The IAA was informed of the conference by e-mail this week as the meeting was opening in the West Bank, according to the letter.

Conference participants visited the Temple Mount, which the conference refers to by the Muslim term, Haram al Sharif, and the City of David Archaeological Park in Jerusalem without coordinating with the IAA, deputy director Dr. Uzi Dahari charged.

"It would be best if the World Archaeological Congress would focus on archaeology and not on politics," Dahari said.

"We remind you that this is a conference organized by the World Archaeological Congress and not a Palestinian archaeological organization," the letter said. "This requires you to make it universal. The omission to include or invite Israeli speakers to address issues that directly affect their daily work shows that this conference is certainly not that. We need not remind you that one of the principles governing the WAC is the promotion of dialogue between archaeologists, but this conference is a monologue."

The letter adds that the conference program is "full of abstracts condemning Israeli archaeology" containing "huge numbers of inaccuracies."

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