Photo Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority
The Dead Sea Scrolls have been the subject of many books, articles, documentaries, and controversies. The latest controversy about the Dead Sea Scrolls is brewing in Canada.
The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is planning a six-month exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The exhibit is being cosponsored by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The exhibit will run from June 27, 2009 to January 3, 2010.
However, top Palestinian officials have declared that the exhibit violates international law and have demanded that the Canadian government and the museum cancel the presentation.
Palestinian officials have sent letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and to executives of the Royal Ontario Museum arguing that the scrolls were illegally acquired by Israel after Israel annexed the West Bank in 1967.
Hamdan Taha, the Director of the archaeological department in the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said: “The exhibition would entail exhibiting or displaying artifacts removed from the Palestinian territories.”
Palestinian officials believe that the exhibition violates international laws on the treatment of archaeological artifacts that were illegally obtained.
The state of Israel believes they are the legitimate custodians of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Israel also believes the scrolls preserve valuable historical evidence of their past and confirm “an ancient Jewish bond with the Holy Land, reaching back to the destruction of the second Jewish temple in 70 AD – and beyond.”
This effort by the Palestinian Authority may be an attempt by the Palestinians to claim authority over what they call “the occupied territory” since they claim that the scrolls are a few of the many artifacts Israel has removed illegally from Palestinian territory since 1967.
Read a news report on the controversy by clicking here.
Who is right in this controversy? Since there are international laws to regulate the treatment of archaeological artifacts, it may take an international court to settle this dispute. However, the way world opinion seems to be stacked against Israel, if the case were to be adjudicated by an international court today, Israel would probably lose the case.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary