- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad has
made a formal complaint to the Canadian government regarding the intention
of Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum to collaborate with the Israel Antiquities
Authority to host "Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World"
from June 27 to January 3, 2010.
- Palestinian Archaeological Department Director-General
Hamdan Taha explains, "The exhibition would entail exhibiting or displaying
artifacts removed from the Palestinian territories... I think it is important
that Canadian institutions would be responsible and act in accordance with
- The Israeli exhibition violates international conventions
or protocols that Canada has ratified and that protect cultural property
during armed conflict. The State of Israel seized the Jordanian-owned Rockefeller
Museum in Jerusalem in 1967 to take possession of the scrolls and has continued
to loot similar Palestinian cultural property from the Occupied Territories
ever since. Under the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing
the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property
and the 1954 Hague Convention along with its two associated protocols,
Canada is legally obliged "to take appropriate steps to recover and
return any such cultural property" at the request of the wronged party.
- The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition is part of Israel's effort
to re-brand itself. According to The Economist, American Jewish groups
and Israeli diplomats are trying to create the perception of Israel as
"hip, cool, cultured, fun and creative." The campaign has included
placing sexually suggestive advertisements in Maxim and other men's magazines.
- Harvard Professor Stephen Walt suggests in his Foreign
Policy blog that the re-branding effort is foredoomed to failure: "Restoring
Israel's image in the West isn't a matter of spin or PR or `re-branding;'
it's a matter of abandoning the policies that have cost it the sympathy
it once enjoyed. It's really just about that simple."
- The archaeological component of the propaganda campaign,
however, uses subliminal suggestion to bypass such political arguments.
A top Israeli re-branding advocate argues, "[Let's] get to that first
stage when people associate Israel with science and music and archaeology...Then
we'll take it from there."
- In Facts on the Ground Columbia Professor Nadia Abu Al
Haj writes, "In the context of Israel and Palestine, archaeology emerged
as a central scientific discipline because of the manner in which colonial
settlement was configured in a language of, and a belief in, Jewish national
return." Even though asserting ownership to a country after absence
of 2000 years is preposterous, Israel's theft of Palestine from the native
population is popularly legitimised through the claim that today's Jews
descend from inhabitants of Greco-Roman Judea.
- According to New York Times Reporters Ethan Bonner and
Isabel Kershner in "Parks Fortify Israel's Claim to Jerusalem,"
"[There] is a battle for historical legitimacy. As part of the effort,
archaeologists are finding indisputable evidence of ancient Jewish life
- This claim is nonsense.
- Intellectuals of Jewish origin in 19th century Germany,
influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, invented their
folk narratives `retrospectively,' out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish
people, argues Tel Aviv University Professor Shlomo Sand, author of How
and When the Jewish People Was Invented.
- There is no single founder population for modern Jewry
any more than there is a single founder population for modern Christians
or modern Muslims. Late ancient and early medieval texts describe an ethnically
diverse collection of communities associated with proselytizing pre-Rabbinic
- In English to use the word Jew is anachronistic before
the 10th century when medieval Rabbinic Judaism crystallised thanks to
the efforts of Saadyah Gaon (Sa`îd bin Yûsuf al-Fayyûmi)
and his colleagues.
- With the revolutionary codification of Rabbinic law these
communities became part of a vast trade network that spanned the Christian
and Muslim world and that extended into China and began to exchange members
on a large scale. The main population-exporting region seems to have been
located in territories near the Black Sea.
- Current genetic anthropological findings based on DNA
analysis indicate that the male ancestors of Yiddish Jewry were of Eastern
European and non-Levantine Southwest Asian origin while the female ancestors
were Eastern Europeans.
- Sand admits, "[The] chances that the Palestinians
are descendants of the ancient Judaic people are much greater than the
chances that you or I [meaning Israeli Jews] are its descendents."
- The Palestinians' ancestors created the Hasmonean Kingdom,
composed the Hebrew Bible, followed Jesus, wrote the New Testament, compiled
the Mishnah, and redacted the Jerusalem Talmud. The Palestinian people
constitute the living link to the earliest beginnings of the heritage from
the Torah and Gospel.
- Zionists are almost pitiable, for they are so ashamed
of their own history that they have usurped one belonging to another people.
When the Israeli government sends the Dead Sea Scrolls to Canada, by its
own law Canada must turn them over to their rightful owners - the Palestinian
- Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East
affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil
Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women.
Joachim Martillo contributed to this article