The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid and Women in Solidarity with Palestine have launched a protest against the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), for their exhibition of the looted Dead Sea Scrolls. For past two weeks, they have conduced successful protests (see video, pictures and media coverage below). Friday pickets are ongoing to keep up the pressure on the ROM and to continue to inform the public about the theft of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The demands of the protest are:
– Demanding the ROM recognize the Scrolls are looted Palestinian artifacts.
– Demanding the ROM dissociate itself from the Israeli Antiquities Authority
which has systematically looted millions of Palestinian artifacts.
The pickets were called after activists tried every avenue to avoid a protest – representatives from the Palestinian community and other organizations have attempted dialogue with the ROM – but none of the concerns have been addressed. They were left no choice but to publicly protest, as the ROM has refused to make public the documents it claims prove the legality of the exhibit. It has also refused to seek a UNESCO opinion on the matter.
For more information please contact Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid at endapartheid[at]riseup.net or Women in Solidarity with Palestine at wsp.toronto[at]gmail.com.
Video from ROM picket:
Pictures from Last week ROM picket:
Robert Fisk (Independent): You won’t find any lessons in unity in the Dead Sea Scrolls http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fiskrsquos-world-you-wont-find-any-lessons-in-unity-in-the-dead-sea-scrolls-1741943.html
Lea Kaplan (Jerusalem Post): Toronto Jews rally around museum taking flak over Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit
Since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, millions of artifacts have been systematically removed, looted and excavated from Palestinian territory, endangering Palestinian cultural and archaeological heritage.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. The bulk of the artifacts were excavated from Qumran in the West Bank, between 1947 and 1956 by the Palestine Archaeological Museum in a joint expedition with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Ecole Biblique Franí§aise. The Scrolls were displayed at the Palestine Archaeological Museum (the Rockefeller Museum) in East Jerusalem until 1967.
In 1967, the Scrolls were confiscated and illegally removed by Israel when the Israeli military occupied East Jerusalem. Since 1967, additional excavations and findings by the Israel Antiquities Authority took place in Qumran and the surrounding area. Those artifacts have also been illegally removed from Palestinian territory. Today the ROM, in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority, is importing and exhibiting artifacts illegally removed from the occupied Palestinian territory.
Under international law and in accordance with Israel’s obligations as a signatory to the 1954 UNESCO convention and protocol for the “Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”, Israel is not entitled to these artifacts. The repatriation of the Scrolls and millions of other artifacts to Palestine remains a key issue for those seeking peace and justice in the Middle East.
In 2005, Canada signed on to several UNESCO conventions and protocols aimed at preventing the removal and the exhibition of illegally removed artifacts from occupied territories. It adopted its international obligations as part of domestic Canadian legislation in the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, which makes it a criminal offense, for example, to import cultural property in violation of the conventions.
By exhibiting the Dead Sea Scrolls the ROM is complicit in the theft of Palestine”s cultural heritage that continues to take place regularly through Israel”s military occupation and apartheid system with the unlawful removal of approximately 200,000 artifacts annually from the occupied territory since 1967.