Monday, July 20, 2009

The Dead Sea Scrolls: Palestinian Artifacts?!

Arabs and their leftist sympathisers are protesting in Toronto, Canada at an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports as follows about protests at the exhibit.

"Toronto's Jews have responded with their wallets to accusations that an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls is illegal.

More than 500 tickets were sold last weekend to the exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum following an e-mail blast from UJA Federation of Greater Toronto to community members warning that pro-Palestinian groups want the exhibit closed.

Toronto's Palestine House and the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid say the "Words that Changed the World" presentation is illegal because Israel looted the "Palestinian artifacts" during the 1967 Six-Day War.

In a statement, Palestine House said it "boycotts the exhibition unless the ROM admits the factual history that these scrolls are Palestinian property."

On July 10, about 30 members from the groups held a protest outside the Israeli Consulate in Toronto with placards stating "Stolen Scrolls." A small counter-demonstration by members of the newly reconstituted Jewish Defense League took place outside the museum.

The pickets by the pro-Palestinian groups will continue and the campaign will "escalate," said spokesman Rafeef Ziadah.

Sally Szuster of UJA Federation said the e-mail blast encouraging Jews to buy tickets to the scrolls display was modeled after a successful campaign last spring in which anti-Israel groups called for a boycott of Israeli wines during Passover. Instead, virtually all Israeli wines sold out after community members were notified by mass e-mails.

This time, "we want as many people to see the exhibit as possible to understand why the [scrolls] are so important to the Jewish people," she said.

Szuster said she's heard that the anti-scrolls demonstrations will take place every Friday."

If there is a prize for sheer audacity, it should go to those who refer to the Dead Sea Scrolls as "Palestinian artifacts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were left hidden by a reclusive communal sect that is referred to as the Essenes. The group existed about 2000 years ago, around the time preceding the destruction of the Temple. They were also around at the time that Jesus was alive. The scrolls are divided between Jewish religious works and rules for members of the religious commune. Since 1947, when they were discovered, archaeologists have worked non stop on reconstructing and translating them. Despite being Jewish in origin, access to the Dead Sea Scrolls was restricted to Christian scholars.

Two events were critical to an increase in Dead Sea Scroll scholarship. One was the 1967 six day war. The other was in 1991, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were offered in microfilm on an open basis to all interested scholars.

Dead Sea Scroll scholarship has thrived since the scrolls were returned to Jewish hands . There is no doubt that they are a Jewish national treasure of direct interest to the study of the Jewish faith . Christian scholars look eagerly to their translation in hopes of shedding light on the birth of Christianity.

Palestinian protests about the Dead Sea scrolls being Arab property are brazen falsehood. The scrolls are clearly of Jewish origin. Although they were discovered by Bedouin Arabs, they are clearly Jewish National Treasures. Greece, Egypt and other countries with ancient civilisations enact laws to preserve their national treasures. Israel is exercising the same right as every other nation that wishes to preserve its heritage.

The Western Wall was in Jordanian possession from 1948 to 1967. When it was finally liberated in 1967, the Israelis found that the Western Wall as well as cemeteries in the Holy City had been desecrated by the Jordanians.

Since 1967, the Wakf, the Muslim religious authority in charge of the Temple Mount upon which is built the al Akhsa mosque have conducted massive additions to the mosque, using powerful earth moving and tunneling equipment that has destroyed archaeological treasures on the Temple Mount. They have even claimed that there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount.

Given the record of neglect and willful desecration that has occurred whenever Jewish archaeological treasures fall under Arab control, it would be a disservice not only to the Jewish people but to the world to declare the Dead Sea Scrolls to be Arab property. Even since 1948, you can look at what happened to Joseph's tomb in 2000, when the site was destroyed by a crazed mob, despite the assurances of the Palestine Authority.

A family friend went with his children's yeshiva to a traveling Dead Sea Scroll exhibit. The children had been studying in text book form some of the scrolls on display. During the school trip, they were reading from the scrolls on display and translating passages. In a real sense, their studies came alive in the museum that day. The connectedness of Jewish visitors to the scrolls on display was vivid evidence of their Jewish provenance.

Israel has protected its national treasures with loving care at every opportunity, indeed, it has done a better job of protecting sites considered holy by Christians and Muslims than any prior government ever has. Its record of allowing free access to members of all faiths to sites they consider holy is a service to the world that gets all too little recognition.

Those governments who have desecrated Jewish holy sites and objects before will do it again. given their past record,they should not be given another chance. Sphere: Related Content

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