Nadia Abu El-Haj’s Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society is a provocative attempt to challenge the very historical roots of Israeli nationhood. Not unlike Yael Zerubavel’s Recovered Roots, the author explores the role of national myth and sacred spaces in modern Israeli identity. Yet while Zerubavel’s work seeks to problematize accepted political interpretations of ancient Israelite history and their implications for modern Israeli identity, the clear intention of El-Haj’s book is to delegitimize this history altogether. Ultimately her political agenda far overshadows the potential analytical strength of her work and prevents her from providing a fair or balanced account of the role of archaeology in the construction of national identity in the Israeli-Palestinian context. ---more---
Here is a nicely balanced, not overstated, but completely devastating review by Ariel Zellman of a highly tendentious book by an opinionated and bigoted, if not utterly anti-Semitic, professor.