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Germany Slammed for Denying Israel’s Ownership of Dead Sea Scrolls

A German politician criticized his government for denying’s Israel’s ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which led to the cancellation of a planned exhibit of the ancient text next year, Benjamin Weinthal reported Friday for The Jerusalem Post.

“If Germany is unwilling to clearly express the legal status of the fragments of Qumran as Israeli world cultural heritage goods, it would dramatically change the coordinates in our German-Israeli relations,” Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor of Frankfurt told Weinthal. “And it would mean the construction of a wall toward the places of the birth of Christianity in the holy country, because it would be the same for Bethlehem, Jericho, east Jerusalem and many other places of Jesus’ work.”

Becker sent a letter of protest to both Monika Grütters, Germany’s minister of culture and media, and German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel. Gabriel is currently lobbying in the United States to support the nuclear deal with Iran.

Germany’s refusal to acknowledge Israel’s ownership over the valuable historical texts prevented the Bible House Museum in Frankfurt, which was to have displayed the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit from issuing an “Immunity from Seizure” document, ensuring that the scrolls would be returned to their home in Israel.

Becker pointed out that museums in other European nations, including Austria and the Netherlands, have issued “Immunity from Seizure” documents allowing the Dead Sea Scrolls to be displayed there.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, believed to have been written by a Jewish sect called the Essenes during the Second Temple period are evidence of the historical ties of Jews to the land of Israel. The Palestinian Authority last year had approached UNESCO, the cultural agency of the United Nations, about demanding possession of the texts. In October both the United States and Israel withdrew from UNESCO following its passage of a series of resolutions effectively denying the historical Jewish connection to the land of Israel.

[Photo: Ken and Nyetta / Flickr]