Jordan Canada Dead Sea Scrolls: Jordan asks Canada to Seize Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are on display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Jordan has asked Canada to invoke international law and seize the scrolls, and keep them in Canadian custody until lawful ownership is determined. The exhibit started in June 2009. At that time, the Palestinian Authority made the same request.

During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel removed the scrolls from an East Jerusalem museum, pre-war under the ownership of Jordan. Scholars in Jordan and Israel believe the scrolls are the work of “an ascetic Jewish sect known as the Essenes, and were hidden to keep them out of the hands of the Romans. Palestine also agrees that the scrolls are Jewish, “but argue that they are also part of Palestinian heritage (of which there really is no true heritage).

Summoning the Canadian chargé d’affaires in Amman two weeks ago, Jordan
cited the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property
in the Event of Armed Conflict, to which both Jordan and Canada are
signatories, in asking Canada to take custody of the scrolls….

The Hague Convention, which is concerned with safeguarding cultural
property during wartime, requires each signatory “to take into its
custody cultural property imported into its territory either directly
or indirectly from any occupied territory. This shall either be
effected automatically upon the importation of the property or, failing
this, at the request of the authorities of that territory.”

This means Canada must act, says Jordan. “The Government of the
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan would be grateful if the Government of
Canada would confirm … whether it is prepared to assume its
international legal responsibility, and the means by which it intends
to do so,” it wrote.

Canada sees it differently:

[Canadian spokesman] said yesterday that “differences regarding ownership of the Dead Sea
scrolls should be addressed by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian
Authority. It would not be appropriate for Canada to intervene as a
third party.”

Word of advice to Israel: keep your ancient antiquities at home. As much as we all appreciate an exhibit like this coming to a museum near us – your enemies strike at every good will gesture. Read more about the Dead Sea Scrolls here, here and here.