A coalition of pro-Palestinian organizations is demanding that the Royal Ontario Museum close a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit that opened last month, saying Israel looted the “Palestinian artifacts” during the Six Day War.
Toronto’s Palestine House and the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid say the “Words that Changed the World” presentation is illegal.
When the museum refused to cancel the exhibit, which runs through January 3, the NGOs instead asked it “to release to the public and publish on its Web site the legal opinion that it obtained and on the basis of which it decided to go ahead with this exhibit,” Palestine House said in a statement
The organizations are asking the museum to seek an opinion from UNESCO on the legal and ethical issues involved in the exhibit.
“We do not object to the Dead Sea Scrolls being accessible to the public,”the statement continues. “The issue we raise relates to Israel’s looting of Palestinian artifacts and the ROM’s complicity by lending legitimacy to it by hosting the exhibit.”
According to Palestine House and the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, the Israeli government obtained the scrolls through looting and force during the Six Day War. The scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves in the Qumran area, along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Prior to 1967, they were housed in the Rockefeller Museum in eastern Jerusalem. After the Six Day War, the scrolls were moved to Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum.
“Neither the location of the discovery, nor the location of the [Rockefeller] museum are, or ever were, under Israeli sovereignty. The seizure of the scrolls was illegal under international law,” according to a press release. (CRAP!)
“[The accusation is] part of an ongoing effort to deny the continuous Jewish presence in Israel. The Dead Sea Scrolls provide incontrovertible proof of the historical facts that underpin the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state,” David Koschitzky, chairman of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, wrote in the e-mail. “As such, they pose a threat to the ongoing attempts to obscure the unique relationship of the Jewish people with the land of Israel. We are informed that the government of Ontario and the ROM have ensured that Canadian laws regarding cultural property have been fully respected.”
“We want to send an unequivocal message that our community celebrates the Dead Sea Scrolls as part of our cultural and spiritual heritage,” Koschitzky wrote in an earlier e-mail. “Any attempt to deny Israel’s historic presence in Israel from at least the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls – 2,000 years ago – will not be successful!”
The exhibition DEAD SEA SCROLLS includes 17 of the Dead Sea Scrolls, four of which are on public display for the first time. They include the Book of War Scroll, the Messianic Apocalypse Scroll, and a section from Genesis that tells the story of Potiphar’s wife’s attempt to seduce Joseph.
Along with the scrolls, Jewish and Roman artifacts from a variety of locations including Qumran, Jerusalem and Sephoris (Tzipori) are on display. (And not a Muslim artifact in sight) JERUSALEM POST
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