Holy Land turmoil puts cultural heritage at risk
War imperils evidence of historic land claims
By MIKE TONER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
WASHINGTON -- While Israeli and Palestinian officials spar over the future of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the past that both sides share is rapidly being lost to neglect, looting and development.
While the search for historic truths has been clouded by modern politics, it has been thoroughly stymied by the current conflict. Recent cultural tragedies include the abandonment and burning of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus during the early days of the intifada, the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and charges by Israel that the Palestinians are destroying archaeological evidence of Jewish temples as they renovate and expand the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.
The civil unrest last year prompted 22 archaeological teams to cancel excavations, reducing the usual force of international volunteers and researchers who dig in Israel by about 1,000.
The cutbacks even halted work at what many believe is the ancient site of Armageddon, the scene of cultural clashes for thousands of years and, according to the Book of Revelations, the site of the final climatic battle between good and evil in the world.
I'm glad all this is finally receiving some attention but - dammit! - it's the Book of Revelation, not "Revelations"! Why can't reporters ever get this right?