Monday, December 08, 2014

Report on that UNESCO conference

ARUTZ SHEVA: UN Attempt to Save Jewish Sites from ISIS - Too Little Too Late? Urgent conference held to preserve ancient sites in Iraq and Syria - but how serious is UNESCO about protecting Jewish heritage sites? Lyn Julius saw little to be optimistic about. Excerpt:
In one important respect the conference might achieve results: museum chiefs declared they would treat with suspicion any artifacts offered to them from the Middle East, and would conduct "due diligence" checks as far as possible. But private collectors were less likely to be circumspect about the provenance of items. The international art market was a vessel too leaky to render watertight.

It is tempting to conclude that organisations like UNESCO, which were founded on the pillars of intergovernmental law, seem well past their sell-by date in a world where non-state actors ride roughshod over "kaffir" international treaties and conventions. Even before the era of Islamic state, neither Syria nor Iraq were signatories to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict.

The great and the good gathered on that foggy day in Paris were right: education was the answer. But it would take many generations to instil respect for the Other. Too late for the Jews of Iraq and Syria, at any rate.
Background here.

UPDATE: In an e-mail message Joseph Lauer notes the following:
The Comments section following the article contains the following exchange.

Richard McBee, who has written on Art for The Jewish Press, noted and asked, “The Dura Europos synagogue murals (235 CE), the earliest and most important example of Jewish narrative art, were proudly displayed at the National Museum of Damascus in the heart of Damascus, Syria, currently in the midst of a prolonged civil war. Does anyone know what is being done to safeguard this invaluable Jewish heritage or even if they are still extant?”

Lyn Julius, who wrote the Arutz Sheva article, responded, “I think the murals are safe. Dr Abdulkarim, the General director of Antiquities in Syria, who addressed the conference, said everything under his control was safe.”

We can only hope that is correct and that the murals will always be safe.
Let's hope so. Background on the situation at Dura Europos is here and links.