Friday, August 07, 2009

ROBERT CARGILL responds at the Bible and Interpretation website to Palestinian protests of the ROM Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition:
On the Curious Protests of the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition in Toronto

By Robert R. Cargill

Center for the Digital Humanities,
Qumran Visualization Project


August 2009
The pro-Palestinian protesters outside the ROM claim that the Dead Sea Scrolls were “illegally moved” from the Rockefeller Museum to the Israel Museum. The PNA claims the scrolls are looted “Palestinian” artifacts. However, this claim intentionally overlooks the fact that prior to 1967, the Kingdom of Jordan controlled east Jerusalem and the West Bank, not the PNA, which wasn’t officially formed until the Oslo Accords of 1994. Thus, there could be no realistic “Palestinian” claim to the Dead Sea Scrolls, since they were discovered prior to the existence of any recognized Palestinian governmental body. If anyone other than Israel can make a claim on the scrolls, it is Jordan, not the PNA. The PNA’s claim that the scrolls belong to them is a creative attempt to politicize archaeology and interject an anachronous revision of history into the present day dispute between Israel and Palestine.

Further evidence that the Toronto ROM protests are not about archaeology, but rather politically motivated attempts to unfairly chastise Israel is the fact that there have been no such protests against the Jordanian government. The Copper Scroll is presently on display in the Jordan Archaeological Museum in Amman. Yet, we do not see pro-Palestinian protests against the Jordanian government across the street from the Jordan Archaeological Museum demanding the return of the “looted” Copper Scroll to the PNA. The PNA vociferously demands the return of scrolls in Jewish hands, but not of those in Arab hands. This double standard betrays the underlying reality that the Toronto protests are nothing more than a hypocritical attempt to use archaeology to advance the PNA’s agenda against Israel.
One small point: the bulk of the Dead Sea Scrolls remained at the Rockefeller Museum at least until the early 1990s, when I worked there on the ones I was editing.

Background to the protests is here.

For more background to the exhibition, see here, here, and here.