Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Plunder before Conquest?

In contrast to the traditional spoils of war, plunder now occurs independent of a military victory and, as such, holds new significance for cultural security. Has present-day plunder taken on a role in tactics for conquest?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has produced a few examples. According to an article in The Art Newspaper last year, “Israelis and Palestinians are racing to claim cultural heritage sites in the West Bank.” Since, reports have indicated that both sides engage in destruction of evidence of heritage of the other. For example, an Israeli daily newspaper cited a report that Muslim authorities were demolishing archaeological evidence on Temple Mount. The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), which is entrusted with preparing documents on Israeli attempts to Judaize Jerusalem, recently met in Amman, Jordan and highlighted the role of the organization in documenting Israeli violations against Palestinian cultural heritage.
The destruction of cultural property is not a new practice in erasing the identity of the conquered. In the midst of attempts at diplomatic resolution of conflict, however, claiming cultural heritage sites and razing archaeological evidence are creative twists on an old tactic.

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