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Report: Jordan to complain to UNESCO over Dead Sea scrolls
Published Sunday 18/12/2011 (updated) 21/12/2011 14:31
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A picture taken from the Israeli side of the River Jordan shows Jordanian
soldiers securing an area on their side of the border in 2009.
(AFP/Menahem Kahana)
AMMAN (Ma'an) -- Jordan may complain to UNESCO over Israel's exhibition of the Dead Sea scrolls in the US, Jordanian media reported on Sunday.

Faris al-Hamoud, Director of the Department of Antiquities in Jordan, told Jordanian daily Al-Arab Al-Youm that his office plans to notify UNESCO of the international exhibition currently on tour, and complain of Israel's use of stolen Jordanian artifacts.

The scrolls were discovered between 1948 and 1957 by Jordanian archaeologists following the first find by Palestinian Bedouins in 1947.

The West Bank was under Jordanian administration between 1948-67 and the scrolls were kept on display in a Jerusalem museum administered by the Jordanian government and under international conventions protecting cultural heritage items.

A year after Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, the Jordanian government filed complaints to UNESCO complaining of Israeli appropriation of the manuscripts, which include religious and secular texts over 2,000 years old.

The scrolls went on display in New York for the first time on Friday.

Jordan, which registered the Old City of Jerusalem on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1981, is already lobbying the body to protect an access bridge to the Dome of the Rock compound that Israeli municipal authorities slated for destruction citing safety concerns.

Now that Palestine has joined UNESCO as a full member, it can apply to classify its monuments as World Heritage Sites, including a pending application for the city of Bethlehem and its Church of the Nativity.

When the scrolls went on display in Canada in 2009, the Palestinian Authority wrote to the government saying the seizure of the artifacts from Palestinian territories was illegal.
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1 ) Colin Wright / USA
18/12/2011 21:15
That is true. The scrolls are either Palestinian artifacts, or possibly Jordanian artifacts -- but certainly not Israeli artifacts. Israel will nevertheless feel compelled to hold on to them -- and make herself look that much worse. A journey of a thousand miles is made of little steps. Keep taking them.

2 ) Andy / Malaysia
19/12/2011 17:53
What nonsense?! These are not "palestinian" -- these are JEWISH screws. Written in HEBREW. Jordan ignored them for decades. And by the way, look at how the rest of the arab world treats Jewish property when their Jews were stripped of citizenship and expelled from the country. This is crazy, but typical, hypocritical behavior on the part of jordan.

3 ) Samson / USA
19/12/2011 18:13
They are Jewish artifacts, created long before there was such a thing as Palestinians, Jordanians or Islam. They belong to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

4 ) Colin Wright / USA
19/12/2011 22:11
To Andy and Samson: Your arguments depend on the thesis that modern Israel is somehow a resurrection of ancient Israel, that Israel existed at the time the scrolls were written, and that the inhabitants of modern Israel are the descendants of the people that wrote the scrolls. Some of that is obviously false, the rest demonstrably false.

5 ) Delilah / the Philistine
20/12/2011 01:18
Interesting! The Dead Sea Scrolls authenticate the jewish connection to the land AND proves a literally nonexistant "arab" presence in judea & samaria. Judea & Samaria belong to the "children of Israel"! Anybody who says otherwise, has obviously not read the scrolls which have been published! But, we all know that lazy brains speak/write BEFORE they have verified their facts!

6 ) Salim / Canada
20/12/2011 11:39
The language and characters of the writings of the scrolls attest to their authors and owners who are Jews. The fact that they were found and confiscated by the Jordanian occupiers during the Jordanian occupation of that part of Israel during 1948 - 1967 doesn't change the ownership. Palestinians did not exist and the fiction of "palestinians" was not yet invented when these manuscripts were found and confiscated.

7 ) Basil / USA
20/12/2011 13:47
The Palestinians are descendants of the ancients and not by conversion, but by ancestry. The Dead Sea Scrolls are part of the heritage, and they were found in what is Jordan. It's irrelevant whether those holding it call themselves Jews or not. By the way, Arabs did rule parts of the land. They were Nabataeans. That part is left out of the history on purpose.

8 ) Yacoub / "Israel"
20/12/2011 16:18
Dear Colin & Basil,

We should at least consider that Palestinians may be of as much of "foreign descent", given the ancient and repeated Arab history of invading the region, as the Jews are indigenous, given their ancient and repeated deportation history.

Also, we should at least consider, that if the oldest Quran ever found, along with historical records of the Prophet's life, had been within the 1948 regions of Israel, would they now belong to the Israelis ??


9 ) ian / australia
21/12/2011 00:44
Salim #6 "The fact that they were found and confiscated by the Jordanian occupiers during the Jordanian occupation of that part of Israel during 1948-1967 doesn't change the ownership." Perverse in the extreme! Does Italy own Roman artefacts dug up in France or Syria? What are the facts? The scrolls were found by Bedouins in Mandate Palestine before the creation of Israel, handed over to Jordanian archaeologists and displayed in the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem where they were looted..

10 ) ian / australia
21/12/2011 00:44
(contd.)…as spoils of war by Israel in 1967! Your claims are pure spin!

11 ) ian / australia
21/12/2011 00:46
Delilah #5 "The Dead Sea Scrolls authenticate the jewish connection to the land AND proves a literally nonexistant "arab" presence in judea & samaria." Nonsense! They are artefacts produced by ONE of the groups living in the region at the time and quite possibly the ancestors of people who became Muslims centuries later. Their connection to modern Israelis is pure spin! Christians have as much stake in, say, early texts of Isaiah as Jews!

12 ) ian / australia
21/12/2011 00:49
That said…stolen or not, and questions of Israeli exceptionalism (and compensation) aside…in a spirit of things reverting to their rightful, natural owners, the best place for the Dead Sea Scrolls is the Shrine of the Book in Israel! They are ancient Jewish artefacts, Essene texts in Hebrew, parts of Isaiah etc. and belong to the Jewish people for whom they have most significance…just as the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Old City including the Haram (but excluding the Kotel...

13 ) ian / australia
21/12/2011 00:51
(contd.)…and Jewish Quarter) belong to THEIR natural and rightful owners who have lived in the region, and in fact have never lived anywhere else, for centuries! Fair?

14 ) Maureen / Australia
21/12/2011 21:36
ian/Australia. Today's Zionism (invented Jews) is not 'yesterday's' Hebrew!

15 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/12/2011 21:49
To Yacoub #8 'We should at least consider that Palestinians may be of as much of "foreign descent", given the ancient and repeated Arab history of invading the region, as the Jews are indigenous, given their ancient and repeated deportation history.' What I've read indicates that on the one hand, the deportations of Jews are either exaggerated or completely fictitious, while on the other hand, the Arab conquests involved very little actual immigration as far as Palestine was concerned.

16 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/12/2011 21:55
To Ian #9-13. It's nice to see someone able to consider both sides of the argument. Leaving aside the question of whether I actually agree with you, it is refreshing. The texts are, by way, in Aramaic as well as Hebrew.

17 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/12/2011 21:58
Re Ian's argument (I) There's also the question of whether rabbical Judaism (which arose after the period of 'temple' Judaism) can really lay sole claim to these documents. After all, both Christians and Muslims see themselves as heirs to the ancient Hebrews as well -- and indeed, I'd argue that in the case of the Palestinians, they literally are the heirs.

18 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/12/2011 22:03
Re Ian's argument (II). It's my belief that today's Jews are largely the descendants of converts -- I'd call that a fact, but others disagree with me, so leave it as my opinion. That said, can they really lay claim to the scrolls on the basis of their faith? Let us suppose I choose to believe in the gods of ancient Greece. Do I thereby acquire a better claim to the Elgin marbles than modern Greeks -- who do not practice the faith in question -- have?

19 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/12/2011 22:08
re Delilah #5 'The Dead Sea Scrolls authenticate the jewish connection to the land AND proves a literally nonexistant "arab" presence in judea & samaria. ' Lessee. I think this is covered in education classes... Ah yes. 'That's an interesting idea, Delilah...does anyone else have an answer?'

20 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/12/2011 22:13
To Ycaoub #8 'Also, we should at least consider, that if the oldest Quran ever found, along with historical records of the Prophet's life, had been within the 1948 regions of Israel, would they now belong to the Israelis ??' Note that Muslims do see themselves as 'the children of Abraham' -- and Christians take the same attitude. The Old Testament is sacred to both Christians and Muslims. If the Quran was sacred to Jews, you might have a point.

21 ) Business / Israel
24/12/2011 01:12
Does the "king" of Transjordan want something else for the British museum in his home town of London? The british museum has enough already. The "king" might enjoy visiting there and seeing his mother country's (literally his mother's country) antiquities though.

22 ) ian / australia
24/12/2011 05:06
#14 Maureen, I suppose my post was intended as a provocation to Israel supporters here (with an underlying air of exasperation) saying, "We will accept the "Jewishness" of something and Israel’s "right" to it (however much a fantasy) (like the scrolls...tatty and underwhelming as they are) if Israel, in good faith, accepts a Palestinian claim to something self-evidently Palestinian or Islamic...like the Haram al-Sharif or Muslim Quarter. So, I guess I was going for strategic rather than factual.

23 ) ian / australia
24/12/2011 05:07
(contd.) I would add: best to choose battles you can win. Technically the scrolls are plunder, booty from the conquest of Jordanian East Jerusalem but agitating for their return I would call a waste of effort and I think Palestinians would trade claims to them in a heartbeat for a reciprocated recognition of something Palestinian! The same applies to the Kotel (Western Wall)...technically Jordanian territory seized by war...

24 ) ian / australia
24/12/2011 05:13
(contd.) ...but just try lobbying for the return of THAT particular piece of real estate to its "rightful" owners! Merry Christmas!

25 ) ian / australia
24/12/2011 05:15
#16-#18 "The texts are, by the way, in Aramaic as well as Hebrew." Also Greek! Colin, deftly argued as always and really, there is not a word I would disagree with, but there is a danger in getting too, well, "rabbinical" about all this! It's important to remember that in the sane world ownership is established by laws and rights and modern secular values not arguments about purity of blood or ancestry. ALL such claims, no matter who makes them, including assertions about who is "invented"...

26 ) ian / australia
24/12/2011 05:33
#16-#18 "The texts are, by the way, in Aramaic as well as Hebrew." Also Greek! Colin, deftly argued as always and really, there is not a word I would disagree with, but there is a danger in getting too, well, "rabbinical" about all this! It's important to remember that in the sane world, ownership is established by laws and rights and modern secular values not arguments about purity of blood or ancestry. ALL such claims, regardless of who makes them, including assertions about who is "invented"

27 ) ian / australia
24/12/2011 05:34
(contd.) and who is whatever the opposite of "invented" is deserve, in my view, a resounding and contemptuous "So what!" Justice for Palestine will come in modern terms, in the pressure of world opinion, not arguments about entitlement based on identity, religion or race! Merry Christmas!
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