Palestinian Arabs have zero connection to the artifact. Yet the Biden administration appears to buy into Palestinian myth that Arabs are the indigenous inhabitants while the ancient Jewish people never existed.
American law calls for repatriation of certain artifacts to Indian tribes, if “the requesting Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization can show that the object was owned or controlled by the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization.” That is, the Smithsonian would return a qualified Cheyenne artifact to the Cheyenne tribe. It would not return a Cheyenne artifact to, say, the Pawnee.
Under that principle, one might have expected the United States, or even the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, to repatriate a 2,700 year-old Judean artifact to the Jewish State, Israel.
One would have been wrong.
Today we announced the repatriation of a nearly 3,000-year-old antiquity to the Palestinian Authority, marking the first time a cultural object has been returned to the Palestinian people from the United States. Read more here: https://t.co/7NmJJ64SdI
— Alvin Bragg (@ManhattanDA) January 5, 2023
As reported by JNS:
The artifact was seized from Jewish-American billionaire Michael Steinhardt as part of a criminal probe in New York. As part of a deal to avoid prosecution, Steinhardt agreed in late 2021 to turn over $70 million worth of stolen antiquities that authorities claim were illegally acquired in Israel.
Officials say the cosmetic spoon first surfaced on the international art market in January 2003, when Steinhardt bought it from an Israeli antiques dealer who has been accused of dealing in illicit Israeli and Middle Eastern antiquities.
There is no indication as to what makes this object culturally Palestinian. Yet the head of the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs, George Noll, stated that his office “is proud to facilitate the return of this rare antiquity, an example of Palestinian cultural patrimony.”
— U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs (@USPalAffairs) January 5, 2023
The artifact is an ivory cosmetic spoon, etched with a winged figure on one side. Objects of this type were used to pour incense onto fires during rites for gods and the dead. The item dates to between 800 B.C.E. and 700 B.C.E., during the time the Neo-Assyrian Empire dominated the region.
According to the online Smithsonian Magazine, the spoon was from the Khirbet al-Koum area in Hebron. Khirbet al-Koum or el-Qom is an archaeological site in the West Bank, in the territory of the biblical kingdom of Judah, between Lachish and Hebron. (A press release from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spells it El Kom). The New York Times and Almayadeen reported more vaguely that it was likely from Hebron.
Hebron is about twenty miles south of Jerusalem. Jews lived in Hebron continuously for some 3,000 years, until the 1929 Arab pogrom drove them out. Sixty-seven Jews were murdered, and the survivors fled. After the Six Day War in 1967, Jews returned and re-established Hebron’s Jewish community.
Arabs conquered the region during the seventh century C.E., or some 1,300-1,400 years after the time to which the artifact is dated. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “To this day, the PLO regards itself as pan-Arab… The first article in the 1964 Palestine Liberation Organization’s Charter declares ‘Palestine is an Arab homeland bound by strong Arab national ties to the rest of the Arab Countries and which together form the great Arab homeland.’” Hamas has linked the Palestinians’ origins to Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula.
In other words, Palestinian Arabs have zero connection to the artifact.
More recently, the Palestinian Authority has found it expedient to deny Jewish history and to present Palestinian Arabs as the supposedly indigenous people of the land. The P.A. has even gone so far as to claim Jesus was a Palestinian (a venture which Israel-hating politicians like Ilhan Omar are happy to endorse), and to deny that a Jewish Temple ever existed on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Their political allies in the United Nations have succeeded in passing resolutions that refer to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim title (Haram al-Sharif) and completely ignore its Jewish connection.
Palestinian denial of Jewish history isn’t just theoretical. The Palestinians have a track record of physically obliterating archaeological evidence of Jewish history. The waqf controlling the Muslim compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount brought in bulldozers in 1999 to dig a pit, and simply threw out the debris without making any effort determine whether it contained anything of historical value. Such evaluations are standard practice in construction projects in many places where there is much less reason to believe anything of historical value exists.
Tragically, the Biden administration and its woke allies at the state level seem to have joined the Jewish history deniers. By turning over a Judean artifact to those who deny Jewish history and are trying to destroy it, instead of turning it over to the Jewish State, the Biden administration has fed the pernicious myth that the Palestinians and not the Jews are the indigenous people of the land.DONATE
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