Photo Credit: Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90
Antique flooring from the time of the Second Temple period, found in the Israeli settlement of Shiloh in Samaria.

Last week, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal to disclose information on archaeological excavations in Judea and Samaria, ruling that the publication might expose the archaeologists to an academic boycott, as well as the excavations themselves and future political negotiations with the PA, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

Two anti-Israel NGOs, Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh, appealed the 2016 decision of the District Court, which rejected—in its capacity as the Court for Administrative Affairs, a freedom of information request regarding excavations conducted by the Archeology Staff Officer of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories in the Civil Administration in the liberated territories.

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The 1954 Hague Convention prohibits an occupying power from extracting archaeological findings from an occupied territory, but, of course, in order for there to be an occupation under the Geneva Convention, there has to have been a legitimate sovereign in the territory in question, which there wasn’t (the Brits left in May 1948 and left the area to no one).

The petitioners, who are active in the BDS movement, asked to receive the names of the archaeologists who are carrying out the excavations in Judea and Samaria, so that they could turn around and destroy their future careers. They also demand to know the location of the excavated finds and the list of loaned artifacts going to museums, institutions, research and exhibitions – so that they can turn around and destroy those as well.

Justice Yosef Elron accepted the state’s position that exposing the names of the scientists in question could jeopardize them, ruling that “there is a clear and real concern that the publication [of their names] may cause real damage to their professional and economic interests and to the institutions to which they belong, and expose them to an academic boycott, in a way that could sabotage their research work and their academic future.”

In his decision, along with Justice Noam Solberg, Elron listed the potential danger in “limiting the researchers’ ability to publish their research in international platforms; participate and appear in academic lectures and conferences; cooperate with colleagues and volunteers from other countries; receive scholarships and research grants; and take part in advanced programs in academic institutions around the world.”

Justice Elron added that the publication of their names and projects may even harm the researchers’ ability to complete the digs and to publish their findings in the future.

Justice Anat Baron, who opposed the ruling, wrote a minority opinion saying “the discussion may call for criticism of the diggers, and it is possible that they would be boycotted, as claimed by the respondents; but silencing the discussion by hiding information would not remedy these fears. There is no democracy without a free market of ideas and opinions, and so the prevention of public debate because of the fear of criticism, and even boycott, constitutes the real danger to the values ​​of democracy that the State of Israel espouses.”

She warned that “the fear of a slippery slope in this matter also takes on a tangible dimension” in this case.

And so, weighing the destruction of Israeli researchers’ careers versus handing them over to the worst enemies of the Jewish State, Justice Baron sides with the criminals.

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