“We shun controversy,” BAR editor Hershel Shanks likes to tell visitors to our offices.
BAR was not founded as a muckraking publication, but in our day we’ve had our share of causes, controversies, battles—even an international lawsuit. We don’t go looking for fights, but we don’t walk away from them, either.
The tone was set early. In just our fourth issue (December 1975), we published a big blank square where a picture should have gone. The space had been reserved for a photo of a kernos that had just been accidentally discovered in a kibbutz field (a kernos is a hollow round tube with figures attached to it that is thought to have been used as a ritual object). The Israel Department of Antiquities, as the Israel Antiquities Authority was then called, had given a photo of the kernos to the Jerusalem Post, so we assumed we would have no trouble obtaining a copy. We were wrong. For reasons never made clear, our request for a photo was rejected. The blank square was our form of protest. It was, as we will see, just our first tangle with Israel’s antiquities authorities. (We should add that the Department of Antiquities later relented and we published the photo in a subsequent article.)