Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jordan claims Dead Sea scrolls: another pathetic attempt to poke Israel in the eye

From The Toronto Sun, 11/1/10, by Mindelle Jacobs, QMI AGENCY:

The Muslim world does not have a particularly good track record of treating other faiths and religious sites and relics with respect.

After Israel was established in 1948, five Arab countries attacked the tiny new state and Jordan ended up with control of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The armistice agreement stipulated that there be free access for all to the religious holy places.

But Jordan destroyed the Jewish sector of the Old City, including demolishing synagogues, and refused to let Jews visit Judaism’s most sacred site — the Western Wall. In a further gesture of degradation, the Jordanians used the wall as a garbage dump.

This is the same country that wants ownership of the Dead Sea scrolls, arguably Israel’s most treasured antiquities.

The 2,000-year-old Dead Sea scrolls have just finished a six-month exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Jordanians have complained to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) that the scrolls belong to them.

This follows claims by Palestinian authorities to Stephen Harper and the ROM last year that the scrolls belong to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority, of course, has turned a blind eye for years to the vile anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred and violence spewing forth from its mosques.

What would the Palestinians do if they actually got their hands on the Dead Sea scrolls? Respectfully put them on display so people could see them?

How long would it be before a nutbar swayed by anti-Jewish propaganda destroyed them?

After all, the Dead Sea scrolls have nothing to do with Islam. The manuscripts — the Old Testament, several books of Apocrypha and assorted writings about an ancient Jewish sect’s beliefs and practices — date back hundreds of years before Islam emerged.

What significance could this precious Hebrew collection, written by Jews from the third century BCE to the first century CE, have for the Muslim world other than as a figurative battering ram with which to foment more intolerance?

The Palestinians have astonishingly claimed the scrolls as part of their heritage even though they never thought of themselves as a people until several decades ago and the scrolls are obviously culturally and historically Jewish.

Legally, the Palestinians have no claim to the manuscripts anyway since there is no entity called Palestine, notes Patty Gerstenblith, a professor of law at Chicago’s DePaul University.

Jordan at least has the capacity to make a complaint but UNESCO has no power to do anything, she says.

“There is no court at UNESCO and they have no authority,” explains Gerstenblith. “Going to UNESCO is, at most, a gesture.”

Theoretically, Jordan might have a claim to the scrolls under the 1954 Hague Convention which governs the protection of cultural property during armed conflict, says Gerstenblith.

But Jordan gave up any claim to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, many years ago, the Ottoman Empire no longer exists and Palestine never has been a country.

The reality, says Gerstenblith, is that the Israelis aren’t going to give up control of the scrolls.

And why should they? Since Israel’s birth, the Muslim world has largely been either openly hostile or coldly indifferent to its existence.

The Dead Sea scrolls are safe in Israeli hands. This brouhaha is just another pathetic attempt to poke Israel in the eye.
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