Museum fires Arabic speaking guide
after PMW report
Guide at Tower of David Museum
called Jewish history "lies" on PA TV
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
The Tower of David Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem has fired the head Arabic speaking guide after a Palestinian Media Watch report. PMW reported that on PA TV the guide, history scholar Abir Zayyad, boasted of her presenting Israel's and the Jews' known history in Jerusalem as "lies" and referred to the Jewish Temple as "the alleged First Temple."
PMW translated and published the interview, sent a copy to the mayor of Jerusalem, whose municipality funds the museum, and supplied the museum with a translation and a copy of the taped interview.
The following is the Jerusalem Post story on the firing of the guide, and the expression of concern by other museums that it may be a general phenomenon:
"Following an interview broadcast by Palestinian TV in which she [guide Abir Zayyad] and another guide of the Tower of David Museum denied that there are any Jewish roots in Jerusalem, Abir Ziad, until recently head of the guiding department in Arabic at the museum, was fired. Ziad's interview, first revealed through monitoring provided by Palestinian Media Watch, included her admitting that she wouldn't tell Arab visitors to the museum the official version but the truth - that there is no evidence whatsoever of a Jewish presence - including the Jewish Temples - in the city. The revelation caused great embarrassment to the museum - owned by the city - and finally led to the firing of Ziad. In the framework of this incident, two other museums in the city are concerned that similar incidents could happen to them too. In the two institutions, there are many guided tours of the different exhibitions - including some connected to the ancient history of the city - that are given in Arabic, mostly for students.
Shosh Yaniv, director of the Tower of David Museum, responds: "...the statements made on Palestinian Television by a guide of the museum do not reflect the content of guided tours of the museum. That guide is no longer part of the museum staff."
Two independent Palestinian news agencies also reported on PMW's exposure and the resulting firing of the guide Abir Zayyad:
The following is the transcript of the PA TV interview as reported by PMW with history scholar Abir Zayyad and another employee of the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem which led to their dismissal:
"Abir Zayyad, a researcher and archaeologist, was dismissed from her position as director of the Arabic department at the 'Tower of David' museum in Jerusalem, in the wake of reports and articles and because she expressed her personal opinion... [Zayyad] granted a special interview to the Palestinian satellite channel, in which she emphasized that Solomon and David never existed in the city, by means of research and readings of various history books. The Israeli establishment used these articles to apply pressure on the 'Tower of David' museum to dismiss her from her post, in such a way that an Israeli organization, Palestinian Media Watch, in cooperation with "Yedioth-Jerusalem" and with the Jerusalem municipality, and with the Ministry of Education, gathered all the materials pertaining to Zayyad, and using these they set the Israeli media against her, according to Zayyad."
[PNN Palestine News Network (independent Palestinian news agency), Jan. 5, 2010]
"The Israeli press has been attacking the researcher and archaeologist, Abir Zayyad, in the wake of a special interview which she granted to Palestinian TV in Arabic... [An Israeli] newspaper, publicized the TV program which had hosted Ms. Abir Zayyad... In a different part of the same article, Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, whose task is to monitor Palestinian media and the Arabic TV and press, disclosed that it is worrying that Arab guides employed at the Israeli 'Tower of David' museum speak out against Judaism: 'In my view, this is the beginning of incitement.' ... Ms. Abir Zayyad says... 'Every word I said in the interview - I emphasize it here, just as I do not retract what I said in my previous articles and interviews...'"
[Al-Nahar News (independent Palestinian news agency), Jan. 6, 2010]
Abir Zayyad, history scholar, employed by the Tower of David Museum
Rubin Abu Shamsiya, Arabic-language tour guide at the museum
PA TV Host, Khuloud Al-Afifi: "[Speaking about the site known as David's Citadel] So we've spoken about its importance, its location, and its connection to the Christian religion, and that it's an Islamic structure, but what, inside this Citadel... is [related to] the alleged Israeli history, which the Israelis claim? What exactly is inside the Citadel?"
History scholar Abir Zayyad: "... In the hall pertaining to the Bronze Age, which they [the museum] call the [period of the] "First Temple" - and this appellation is not correct - in that period they focus on the issue of Palestine - that the Jews, comprising 12 tribes, entered it, and how Palestine was divided in this period between the 12 tribes, and the process of the conquest of the city of Jerusalem by David, and the construction of the alleged First Temple by Solomon."
[Zayyad goes on to say that the archaeological findings indicate that David and Solomon did not live in Jerusalem or in "Palestine", and that there are no structures in Jerusalem that can be attributed to them.]
Host: "What are they [the Israelis] proving by means of their version? And what is inside the Citadel? What are they trying to create in order to prove this matter and to sell it to the world?"
History scholar Zayyad: "It's the creation of a historical right and a historical dimension, claiming they were here 3,000 years ago, and that they had buildings here, and that they had a presence here, and that all of Palestine was under their rule, as though they created the city of Jerusalem and created all of Palestine."
Host (addressing tour guide Rubin Abu Shamsiya): "Mr. Rubin, when you accompany groups of tourists, how do you treat [the subject] - especially when you see the [museum's] history full of lies, the artificial and alleged history - how do you relate to these groups of [Arabic speaking] tourists in presenting the history that is found there?"
Tour guide Abu Shamsiya: "From my tour-guiding experience in the Tower of David Museum, I see many historical deceptions, which are displayed on the [museum] walls... Obviously, if I try to treat it in a more neutral way, from a historical point of view, I try to show the neutral historical point of view by means of information which I have drawn from a number of [other] historical institutions. I do not rely exclusively on that which is written on the museum's walls and texts. It is more important to me to convey the Arab point of view, but by means of greater historical neutrality."
History scholar Zayyad: "There is a documentary film at the Citadel which they present on the history of Jerusalem. This film is full of historical lies and historical deceptions and their dissemination."
[PA TV (Fatah), Nov. 13, 2009]