Janet Lahr Lewis serves as Advocacy Coordinator for the Middle East for the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries headquartered in New York City.
Lewis set off a firestorm of criticism in a piece that was published in a newsletter produced by the UMC. In the article, which has been removed from the UMC’s website, but has been archived here, Lewis calls on people to boycott Holocaust remembrance museums “until there is one built to remember the other holocausts in the world: the on-going Palestinian holocaust, the Rwandan, the Native American, the Cambodian, the Armenian … You could be waiting a long time!”
Lewis’s assertion that there is an “ongoing Palestinian Holocaust” is false.
The Palestinian population has quadrupled since Israel’s creation in 1948. The Palestinians are not victims of a genocide, as Lewis suggests.
Lewis also accuses Israelis of destroying “archaeological artifacts in an effort to wipe out evidence of non-Jewish cultures, except Roman, throughout history in the region.”
Here, Lewis is accusing Israeli archeologists of what Palestinians have done as they have created an underground mosques on the Temple Mount. They shipped the soil they removed off to the dump. An article published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 2002 reports the following:
After September 2000, [Muslim authorities] closed off the Temple Mount entirely to any archeological oversight by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Then, in order to complete new underground mosques at the site, it removed to city garbage dumps some 13,000 tons of rubble from the Temple Mount that included archeological remnants from the First and Second Temple periods.The intention is to turn the entire 36-acre Temple Mount compound into an exclusively Muslim site by erasing every sign, remnant, and memory of its Jewish past, including the destruction of archeological findings that are proof of this past.In a country where construction projects may be held up for months out of concern for the preservation of antiquities, the free hand given [to Muslim authorities] destroy Jewish artifacts at Judaism’s holiest site is hard to comprehend.
To lend credence to her assertion that Israeli archeologists have destroyed historical evidence Lewis reports that “apparently is no written set of standards similar to those in engineering, for example, by which archaeologists can be held accountable.”
On this score, she is wrong.
Archeology in Israel is regulated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (the institution that Muslim authorities ignored when they destroyed historical evidence on the Temple Mount in 2000).
The IAA enforces Israel’s antiquities law of 1978. Lewis’s assertion that there is no “written set of standards … by which archeologists can be held accountable” ignores the existence this law and the bureaucracy charged with its enforcement.
In her article, Lewis revealed herself to be a propagandist who does not know what she is talking about.