April 12, 2009

Protest Canadian museum decision to display stolen Palestinian antiquities

The Coalition Against Insraeli Apartheid calls for a campaign against the display in Canada of Palestinian antiquities stolen by Israel.
The Dead Sea scrolls, confiscated from East Jerusalem during Israel’s 1967 military invasion and occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, are coming to Toronto. The move is part of Israel consul general Amir Gissin’s official “Brand Israel” campaign that attempts to ‘rebrand’ apartheid Israel beyond its systematic repression of the Palestinian people.

Since 1967, hundreds of thousands of precious artifacts have been illegally removed by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), Israeli soldiers, and illegally operating antiquities dealers from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. These removals of the joint cultural heritage of the region are in direct contravention of at least four international conventions or protocols on the treatment of illegally obtained cultural goods.

Please stand up and let the ROM know that you do not accept the right of museums to display illegally obtained artifacts stolen from occupied territories. The history of such theft and dispossession is a sad legacy of colonial history that Canada and its museums have also been complicit in. It is time to begin reversing this legacy by canceling the current exhibit in accordance with the precepts of international law and refusing to allow the ROM to be politicized for the rebranding of an apartheid state.

For more information please contact the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid at: endapartheid@riseup.net (http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/6120)
The good news is that this is a rare occasion that the PA government dares to issue demands that effectively call for boycott.

JERUSALEM–A planned Toronto exhibit of ancient Middle Eastern manuscripts is threatening to plunge Canada, along with the Royal Ontario Museum, into the thick of the long-running conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Beginning in June, the ROM will host a six-month exhibit of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls, organized in co-operation with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

But top Palestinian officials this week declared the exhibit a violation of international law and called on Canada to cancel the show.

In letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and top executives at the ROM, senior Palestinian officials argue the scrolls – widely regarded as among the great archaeological discoveries of the 20th century – were acquired illegally by Israel when the Jewish state annexed East Jerusalem in 1967.

"The exhibition would entail exhibiting or displaying artifacts removed from the Palestinian territories," said Hamdan Taha, director-general of the archaeological department in the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

"I think it is important that Canadian institutions would be responsible and act in accordance with Canada's obligations."

The Palestinians say the planned ROM exhibit violates at least four international conventions or protocols on the treatment of cultural goods that were illegally obtained.

Both Canada and Israel are signatories to all of the agreements, the Palestinians say.

The letter of protest sent this week to Harper was signed by Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority and its second-in-command. The letter to the ROM bore the signature of Khouloud Daibes, minister of tourism and antiquities. (The Star, April 9, 2009)

The Canadian authorities are the proverbial deer in the headlights. Listen to this lame reply.

"I'm just hearing about this issue," William Thorsell, CEO of the ROM, said yesterday. "I do understand the Palestinians are making an issue of the ownership. But I'm quite certain the scrolls fall within the parameters of the law."

Officials at Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs had no immediate response to the matter when contacted yesterday by the Star.

It is difficult to ignore the demand to observe international law in Canada, especially when it is being made by the darling PM appointed by the West, Salam Fayad. But don't expect therm not to try; to give in would be a win to the BDS arguments and strategies. We have yet to see whether the PA is going to act on this with the necessary persistence to win this very winnable battle. Let's hope so.

Click on the first link to see a suggested letter to the ROM. Send them your polite opinion. NOW!

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