More than 2000-years-old, the Dead Sea Scrolls are far from being a dead issue. A couple of months ago I posted about a battle between two top Jewish American intellectuals who differ in opinion as to who wrote the Scrolls â€“ one held that they were wrote by the Ascetic Jewish sect, the Essenes, where as the other held that they were collected by various scribes throughout the country.
Well now the battle is not between intellectuals, but two governments and incidentally, two religions.
Jordan has complained to the United Nations that the Dead Sea Scrolls belong to them, and Israel should give them up. They claim that the Jewish country seized the ancient texts during the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel had “illegally” annexed East Jerusalem.
Rafea Harasheh of Jordan’s antiquities department said this in a statement:
“The kingdom has filed a complaint to UNESCO that the scrolls belong to Jordanâ€¦the government has legal documents that prove Jordan owns the scrollsâ€¦we have been trying our best to restore our stolen antiquities, including the scrolls. Stealing our antiquities violates international treaties and ethicsâ€¦Israel seized the scrolls and other antiquities from the Palestinian Museum, which was managed by Jordan, in east Jerusalem when it occupied this part of the city in 1967.”
The scrolls, some of which as old as the third century BC, were put on display at an exhibit at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.
In April, top Palestinian officials called on the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to step in and cancel the exhibition.
Furthermore Jordan has asked Canada to seize the scrolls, invoking the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Canada insisted that the situation is between Jordan and Israel. It will be interesting to hear the UN’s take on this.