Palestine Twilight: the
                                      Murder of Albert Glock
                                      and the Archaeology of
                                      the Holy Land

                                      Edward Fox

                                      Digging for victory

                                     A fatal pursuit of archaeology

                                     THIS book starts with an engrossing account of the
                                     American archaeologist Albert Glock's last day, in
                                     January 1992. Glock went to church, and drove from
                                     East Jerusalem to the campus of the Palestinian Birzeit
                                     University, in the Occupied Territories, where he worked.
                                     While dropping off a message at the house of a
                                     colleague, the archaeologist was shot three times. The
                                     assailant was a masked man, in the kaffiyah worn by
                                     Arabs, who drove away rapidly in a car with Israeli
                                     plates.

                                     Although there were daily killings during the intifada,
                                     carried out by Israeli undercover groups as well as
                                     fundamentalist Arab organisations such as Hamas, it
                                     was rare for foreigners to die. Americans in particular
                                     were spared. But Albert Glock was not the usual
                                     American to have fetched up in the Holy Land. He was a
                                     Lutheran pastor from Missouri who had trained as an
                                     archaeologist, and had lived in Israel for almost 30
                                     years. He was director of the Jerusalem Albright
                                     Institute, which specialised in pukka biblical digs. At
                                     some point he decided that old-fashioned archaeology -
                                     the pursuit of relics or sites whose worth was tested
                                     against often spurious scriptural authority - was a
                                     dangerous social delusion.

                                     Glock's identification with the Palestinian cause led him
                                     to formulate a new style in digging. Rather than seek bits
                                     of the Temple, or re-excavate the non-existent walls of
                                     Jericho, he and his Palestinian disciples (he had fallen
                                     in love with one of them) began to scour the rubbish tips
                                     of villages. The lost Ottoman years (a time when the
                                     Jewish presence was non-existent) naturally excited
                                     them. They sifted through layers of cast-off pots in order
                                     to demonstrate that Palestinians had lived in the same
                                     villages for many generations, and that it was the
                                     Israelis, who claimed to have been there first, who were
                                     the interlopers.

                                     In many other parts of the world, this type of activity
                                     would have seemed a harmless way of establishing the
                                     obvious, but not in Israel, where archaeology, as Amos
                                     Elon has observed, plays "a psycho-political role", and
                                     where sites are keenly fought over as items of inherited
                                     prestige. Abandoned by his Israeli acquaintances, Glock
                                     was initially feted by the Palestinians.

                                     But they, too, changed their attitude. Glock refused to
                                     recognise that the Palestinians, like the Israelis, wanted
                                     their own archaeology. So many old Coke tins might
                                     prove to be definitive evidence that the land was theirs,
                                     but this did not add up to a Palestinian past capable of
                                     rivalling Israel's. When Glock responded poorly to
                                     demands for more glamour, his colleagues turned
                                     against him. Despite his vulnerable position as an
                                     American, Glock wouldn't budge.

                                     This is a brave but often frustrating stab at higher
                                     reporting, written in a determinedly personal style, and
                                     with numerous digressions. Page after page is spent on
                                     a redundant account of archaeological
                                     misrepresentations committed across the centuries. In
                                     true New Journalist style, Edward Fox incorporates
                                     himself within the narrative, recounting his decamping to
                                     a Palestinian village, with wife and child. There are good
                                     descriptive passages set amid the trash mountains of
                                     Ramallah and Gaza, and one is given a vivid sense of
                                     just how awful it must be to live under Israeli occupation.
                                     But the narrative tone is uneven, marred by intrusive
                                     authorial hyping of Glock, and the excess weight given to
                                     his somewhat banal ideas.

                                     So who did kill Albert Glock? Most Palestinians would
                                     like to believe it was the Israelis, or, failing that,
                                     "collaborators" in their employ. But it turns out that the
                                     official Israeli explanation was probably the right one.
                                     The polemical roasting that Glock received in the
                                     Palestinian press attracted the attention of the
                                     murderous xenophobes in Hamas.

                                     According to an operative broken under torture, Glock
                                     was thought to be "in the habit of cursing Muslims". He
                                     was murdered, not by his enemies, but by those whom
                                     he wished to serve. This is a sad footnote to the intifada,
                                     and it makes even sadder reading now.

                                     Nick Fraser