Is Israeli Archaeology an “Old Boys’ Club”?

In a follow-up interview in Tuesday’s Haaretz newspaper, Benjamin Kedar, outgoing chairman of the IAA Board of Directors responds to this query, and weighs in on a host of other issues impacting archaeological thinking and practice in Israel (and Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem). He describes some of the political cross-currents he has encountered during his tenure and also comments on the proposed changes (see yesterday’s post) which, if enacted, will inevitably affect the makeup of Israel’s upper echelon of archaeological leadership and decision-making. Some excerpts:

Prof. Benjamin Z. Kedar has been chairman of the board of the Israel Antiquities Authority for 11 years. He is also the deputy chairman of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Kedar will leave his position at the authority at the end of July. Haaretz reported yesterday on an amendment to the Antiquities Authority Law, proposed by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, that would make it easier for her to find a replacement for Kedar. At present, the chairman of the Antiquities Authority board must belong to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Livnat’s bill would require only that the chairman be a “leading scholar in the field of history or archaeology.”

Senior archaeologists criticized Livnat on Sunday, claiming that the purpose of the amendment was to enable her to appoint archaeologists who are identified with the right or who will toe the establishment line. Livnat’s critics say the bill reflects the anti-intellectual winds blowing through the government ministries. Kedar rejects this interpretation, but cautions against amending the law.

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