Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Solomon's Pools circa 1900

{Originally posted to the author’s blogsite, My Right Word}

I’ve just read this:

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U.S. Consul General Launches Conservation Project at Solomon’s Pools in Bethlehem
Jerusalem – Consul General Donald Blome joined Palestinian officials and dignitaries to launch a major conservation project to protect and preserve the famous Solomon’s Pools archaeological site in Bethlehem. The USD $750,000 project consists of a $500,000 grant from the State Department’s Ambassador Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) and a complementary $250,000 grant from Consulate General Jerusalem. Both projects will be implemented through a partnership with the Solomon’s Pools Preservation and Development Center (SPPD). The program will help protect this historic site, damaged in recent years by erosion, and support tourism and the Palestinian economy. The project includes a supporting conference and other events.
In his remarks, Consul General Donald Blome said, “This contribution from the U.S. government not only underscores America’s respect and admiration for Palestinian heritage and its treasured antiquities, but also the imperative of supporting the Palestinian economy as an essential element for peace.”…
The U.S. Government, through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, supports the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects, and forms of traditional cultural expression in more than 100 countries around the world.
I don’t think I need to be too verbose in my reaction.

First of all, thanks for conserving a Jewish engineering site.

The pools were part of a complex ancient water system, initially built between sometime around 100 BCE and ca. 30 CE.

…The growing water needs of the Jerusalem Temple and the pilgrims it attracted during the later part of the Second Temple period, led to efforts to create a conduit able to reach the relatively high top of the Temple Mount by gravity alone…The water system gradually created consisted of two aqueducts feeding the pools, which themselves acted as a collection and distribution facility, and of three further aqueducts carrying the water north to Jerusalem (two) and to Herodium (the third one). Together, the five aqueducts totalled some 80 kilometres in length.

…evidence suggests that the lower pool was probably constructed during the Hasmonean period, between mid-second and mid-first century BCE….A second phase occurred when Herod the Great, using Roman engineering and in connection with his rebuilding program of the Second Temple, created the sophisticated Wadi el-Byiar Aqueduct, which fed the upper pool…In a third phase, Roman prefect Pontius Pilate built 39 kilometres (24 mi) of aqueduct bringing yet more water to Solomon’s Pools from the large collection pools at Arrub to the south.
Of course, there’s always an alternative “fake archaeological facts” version:

“The pools were named for Ottoman Sultan Suleiman al-Kanuni [Suleiman the Magnificent], who renovated and expanded them,” Palestinian archeologist Nour Taha told Anadolu Agency, in reference to the three ancient water cisterns in the village of Al-Kahder located some 5km south of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Ottoman sultan restored the pools in 1536 and extended the aqueducts that supplied the walled city of Jerusalem with water.
And this:

some Palestinians and others involved with the renovation of the poolsbelieve that the traces found through excavation in the last centuries point only as far back as the first century AD

Secondly, are you sure the area is actually a “country”?

In 1931 (view from the west and notice how densely populated the area):

Third, there are other sites that need US support in that region including Tel Shiloh, Tel Hebron, Herodian, Sebastia and others.  Just ask me.

Until then, is the US Consulate insistent in ignoring Jewish needs and rights?
_____________________

UPDATE
Jewish Press:

We wrote the following to some State Department officials here in Israel:

We’d like to receive a clarification from the State Department and the Embassy regarding the recent statement by the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem vis-a-vis Solomon’s Pools.

In a statement Consul General Donald Blome said, “This contribution from the U.S. government not only underscores America’s respect and admiration for Palestinian heritage and its treasured antiquities, but also the imperative of supporting the Palestinian economy as an essential element for peace.”

We’d like the State Department to please clarify exactly how Solomon’s Pools — built by a Jewish king to service the Jewish Temple in the Jewish city of Jerusalem at a point in history approximately 2,000 years prior to Arab Palestinians — could possibly be considered any part of a “Palestinian heritage.”

Considering the recent withdrawal of the United States from UNESCO, due to the one-sided and historically inaccurate positions UNESCO has taken against Israel, will Consul Blome be offering a retraction and/or apology?

We received the following response:

Thank you for raising this to our attention.  The statement you cited had been included in an earlier version of remarks, but then removed after a discussion on the history of the site.  It was not delivered in remarks and should have been removed from the press release – it was left in due to a clerical error.

We are removing the press release from the website and will issue a corrected copy.  Thank you for flagging.

Best regards,

Clayton Alderman

U.S. Consulate General

Press Officer

 

The Arabic however still reads:

وسينفذ هذا المشروع الذي يجمع ما بين القطاعين العام والخاص إصلاحات طارئة لجزء من الجدار والصهريج الذي انهار في العام الماضي. وسيقوم أيضا بإعادة تأهيل البركة للحد من مخاطر الانهيار في جدرانه ومنصاته. سيقوم المشروع بإصلاح وحماية القنوات وإنشاء مسارات المشي المخصصة وذلك لحماية العناصر الأثرية المحيطة وفي نفس الوقت سيسمح للزائرين بالتجوال في الموقع دون تعريضه لاي ضرر.
“This contribution from the US government not only confirms the American respect and admiration for the Palestinian heritage and its precious effects, but also the need to support the Palestinian economy as an essential element of peace,” said US Consul General Donald Blum.

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