Herod Exhibit at Israel Museum Sparks Dispute With Palestinians

Did Israel Steal Artifacts From Occupied West Bank?

wikimedia

By Reuters

Published February 12, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The first major museum exhibition on the divisive biblical figure of Herod the Great has provoked a modern-day row between Israel and the Palestinians over who has the right to dig up his artefacts.

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday unveiled a display dedicated to Herod - branded a baby-killer in the Christian tradition but remembered by many in Israel for rebuilding the Jewish Temple two millennia ago.

Palestinians have complained many of the exhibits were taken from the occupied West Bank, land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek as part of a future state.

The show includes busts and statues of figures from the period when the Romans occupied the Holy Land and appointed Herod the monarch of Judea.

The highlight is a reconstruction of part of Herod’s mausoleum housing what experts believe is his sarcophagus.

Palestinians said the artefacts were removed without their consent from Herodium, the builder-king’s excavated palace on an arid hilltop a short drive from Jerusalem.

The Palestinian minister of tourism and antiquities, Rula Ma’ayah, told Reuters all Israeli archaeological activities in the West Bank were illegal.

“Many dig locations (in the Palestinian territories) fall under Israeli control … and we are unable to reach them. All the work at digs in the occupied territories are against the law, but Israel carries them out and even if they don’t dig themselves they don’t allow us to do so,” he said.

Israel Museum director James Snyder said archaeological digs on West Bank land were carried out according to international conventions and protocols laid down in interim Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.

Snyder said he was unaware of any discussions with Palestinian archaeological officials over the exhibit and there had been no way to study the artefacts properly on site at Herodium.

The relics, he said, would eventually be returned to Herodium once proper facilities to house them were in place.

In the Christian story, Herod ordered his men to kill all baby boys in and around Jesus’ birthplace Bethlehem, fearing one would grow up to become “King of the Jews” and challenge his rule.

According The Gospel of Matthew, Jesus and his family escaped the slaughter by fleeing to Egypt.

Historians said Herod ruled Judea from about 37 BC until his death in 4 BC - four years before Jesus’ official birth day, though that date is also contested. He rebuilt the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and was also renowned for other grandiose construction projects.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.