For some reason the most recent Royal Ontario Museum exhibition of Dead Sea Scrolls has ignited a lot of debate. The most recent headline to cross my digital threshold was one I had not heard before (but I don’t look for these things as a rule). They make some interesting arguments, perhaps fueled by the debate over the Elgin Marbles. From The National, a UAE paper:
The problem for Palestinian Authority officials, who contacted ROM executives in April, is that the exhibition contains artefacts illegally acquired by Israel when it annexed East Jerusalem in the 1967 war.
The PA’s archaeological department said it was important for Canadian institutions to be responsible and act in accordance with their country’s obligations.
“I’m not saying those scrolls are not Jewish and Christian in nature,” said Issam al Ahmed, the executive director of Palestine House, an educational and cultural organisation in the Toronto area. “But they were discovered prior to the Israeli occupation and they were exhibited in the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem in Palestine.”
At least they are not saying “those scrolls are not Jewish and Christian in nature.” Although I would say they are not Christian in nature. Britain is no closer to returning the Elgin Marbles so I expect it is highly unlikely that the Scrolls will go anywhere but back to the Shrine of the Book.