Biblical Archaeology Review 1:3, September 1975

Kathleen Kenyon's Anti-Zionist Politics—Does It Affect Her Work?

By Hershel Shanks

What is not in doubt is that Kathleen Kenyon is virulently anti-Zionist. The more subtle question is whether this affects her work as an archaeologist. It is not hard to find Israelis who think it does. Others suggest it is only a professional cantankerousness that so often sets her against Israeli archaeologists. In any event, important questions of archaeology and history are at stake.

Several years ago, a rumor circulating among Israeli archaeologists had it that Miss Kenyon had written an article entitled “From Jericho to Deir Yassin”. When the walls of ancient Jericho came tumbling down, the Israelites destroyed the entire population of the city (except for a prostitute who had served as an informant and her family); Deir Yassin was an Arab village in which women and children were killed—whether by members of the Haganah or by Stern Gang terrorists is disputed—during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. Deir Yassin has become a slogan but it was in fact an isolated incident in which, as one Israeli put it, the Jews behaved as the Arabs so often did.

Crystal Bennett, current director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem was asked about the rumor that Miss Kenyon had written an article with such a title. Mrs. Bennett answered my query at afternoon tea with other members of the staff of the British School: Miss Kenyon had not written an article with such a title and in fact did not write about politics. A member of the School’s staff then suggested that the title of the rumored article was the kind of language Miss Kenyon might have used in private conversation. No one disagreed.

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