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Ma’an publishes different accounts of same story; accuses Israel of “archaeological forgery”

On the same day, the independent Palestinian news agency Ma’an posted two articles-- one in English and one in Arabic-- about ancient Jewish artifacts found near the Temple Mount. While the English article reported only the Israeli archaeologists’ announcement about the find, the Arabic article quoted the Israeli Arab Al-Aqsa Institute for Islamic Trusts and Heritage in denying the authenticity of the find. The Arabic article further libeled Israel, claiming that Israeli archaeologists frequently plant forged artifacts in excavation sites for the purpose of “Judaizing the history of the area.” No such claim was mentioned in the English article.

Ma’an’s Arabic article, translated to English by PMW:

     “The [Israeli Arab] Al-Aqsa Institute for Islamic Trusts and Heritage asserted: ‘Attempts to falsify archaeological artifacts and Islamic and Arab culture, for which the Israeli occupation branches led by the Israeli Antiquities Authority are responsible, are no more than plots and frauds that contradict the truth and whose purpose is to turn reality on the ground upside down.’

The institute was referring to archaeological finds [that include] a gold medallion with a Jewish menorah (candelabra) engraved on it, which they [the Israelis] said belongs to the Byzantine period.

The [Israeli] Antiquities Authority claimed that it was found… in the vicinity of the Umayyad palaces, 50 meters from the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s southern wall, implying that it is directly connected to the ‘history of the Temple’ according to Jewish ideology.

In the statement, a copy of which reached Ma’an, the [Al-Aqsa] Institute [for Islamic Trusts and Heritage] said: ‘The falsification campaigns led by archeologists who answer to the Antiquities Authority are invalid and have been politicized. Their purpose is to prove the existence of an imagined Jewish heritage by excavations in the vicinity of the Umayyad palaces… and to confirm the story of the alleged Temple, which they believe is located beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque.’

The Al-Aqsa Institute noted: ‘At present, the occupation agencies and the Antiquities Authority are carrying out a crazed operation to distort history and falsify culture in the area surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque.'

The announcement – which was made at a special conference held by what is called ‘the City of David Visitors’ Center,’ according to which ancient archaeological artifacts of stone were found with marks that, according to [the Visitors’ Center], are Hebrew letters from early historical periods – is nothing more than a fabrication and another method to destroy the Islamic and Arab archaeological remains in the area of Al-Aqsa, and is an obvious attempt to market the lie about the alleged Temple. Lecturer Abd Al-Razeq Matani, an archaeologist at the Al-Aqsa Institute, said: ‘Day after day, Israeli archaeologists attempt to prove a historical right over Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque area, using unfounded and worthless evidence that cannot be relied upon as historical evidence.’
The Palestinian researcher added: ‘Those who carry out excavations in the area of the Al-Aqsa Mosque are among the most ardent supporters of the Zionist ideology and they serve this ideology. Some of them supervised the major operations of Judaizing the history of the area of the Umayyad palaces and are known for using antiquities [for their purposes] and for eagerly trying to make the biblical story come true, a fact that was confirmed by Israeli researchers.’

Matani concluded by saying: ‘The Israeli establishment is constructing a history and turning a false tale into a reality on the ground. Therefore, it is no surprise that such [Jewish] items are planted [in the excavation sites] to serve as ‘proof’ of the false story’s truth.’ He noted: ‘The field of archaeology, especially in Jerusalem, has become fertile ground for acts of archaeological forgery.

Excavation sites have become full of fake items that for the most part have Jewish marks and engravings, with which they [the Israeli archeologists] reinforce the Jewish story, but the lie is quickly revealed after it has exhausted its basic role.’”

Ma'an's English article:
     "Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a Byzantine-era hoard of gold in Jerusalem's Old City, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced on Monday.
Dig director Eilat Mazar described the excavation of 36 gold coins, a gold medallion inscribed with a Jewish ritual candelabrum and a selection of gold and silver jewellery as 'a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime discovery.'

A statement said that the treasure was found about 50 yards from the southern wall of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount and venerated as the site of the Jewish temples of kings Solomon and Herod.

Mazar, of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, said that while excavations in the same area had revealed artifacts from the time of Solomon's temple, which according to Jewish tradition was razed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, the seventh century finds were completely unexpected.

'It would appear that the most likely explanation is that the... cache was earmarked as a contribution toward the building of a new synagogue, at a location that is near the Temple Mount,' the statement quoted her as saying.

'What is certain is that their mission, whatever it was, was unsuccessful. The treasure was abandoned, and its owners could never return to collect it.'

Mazar estimates they were abandoned in the context of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 CE,' the statement said.

'After the Persians conquered Jerusalem, many Jews returned to the city and formed the majority of its population, hoping for political and religious freedom.

'But as Persian power waned, instead of forming an alliance with the Jews, the Persians sought the support of Christians and ultimately allowed them to expel the Jews from Jerusalem.'"