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Two minutes in the "protected" space..and other news

November 24, 2016 22:51

When the siren sounded at 11 a.m this morning for the practice drill, the people in my office in Jerusalem dutifully trooped down to the "protected" room. Two people refused to come in due to claustrophobia; the boss opened the steel window to get some air; we discovered there were only two chairs for 12 of us and a file cabinet was propping the door permanently open. Oh, and we all left after two minutes of speculation as to whether the IDF would use the opportunity to bomb Iran while all the citizens were safely in the shelters!

In other news of the day:

A repentant American Christian tourist who had "acquired" an 8lb piece of a marble column excavated from the Temple Mount 12 years ago, shipped it back to Israel last week.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority reports:

“In 1997, a twenty one kilogram fragment of a marble column disappeared from one of the excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority was conducting south of the Temple Mount.

Several weeks ago, the IAA received an unexpected e-mail from a priest in the state of New York: “I am requesting forgiveness for a member of my congregation”, he writes. “The fellow confesse d to me that twelve years ago he took a stone from Jerusalem and his conscience has bothered him ever since. I wish to return the stone to Israel and hope that you will forgive the man for his transgression”.

A letter from the fellow was attached to the heavy stone fragment, which arrived in Jerusalem in a wooden crate that was specially constructed for the flight back to Israel. “I came to Israel on an organized trip. As a student of archaeology, I was very excited when we visited an excavation south of the Temple Mount. I asked how I can purchase a stone from the excavation because I wanted a souvenir with which to pray for Jerusalem and was told it was not possible. On the last day of the trip our Israeli tour guide approached me and took the stone fragment from inside his coat. ‘Take it’, he said. ‘It’s a present from me’. I asked him how he obtained the stone and he replied, ‘It’s okay; don’t worry’. I was very happy and took the stone with me on my flight back to New York. Only later did I realize that he probably took the stone from the excavation without permission. For the past twelve years since then, rather than remind me of the prayer for Jerusalem, I am reminded of the mistake I made when I removed the stone from its proper place in Israel. I am asking for your forgiveness”.

According to Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem District Archaeologist in the IAA, who directed the excavation from which the stone was taken, “What we have here is a column fragment that was discovered during the excavation of one of the Umayyad buildings located south of the Temple Mount, similar to others that were found and that are on display in the archaeological garden in the Davidson Center. These are four very large structures that extended over an area of c. 200 dunams, which were probably the official palace complex of the Umayyad caliphs c. 1,200 years ago”.

Shay Bar Tura, Deputy Director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the IAA, stated, “Because of the unique case of sincerity and the fact that the20item was ultimately returned, we decided not to take any legal steps against the people who were involved in the incident. In the coming days the stone will be turned over to the State’s Treasures after which it will be returned to the archaeological garden from whence it was taken. It should be emphasized that any activity conducted at an antiquity site requires permission from the IAA. Taking archaeological artifacts from antiquities sites constitutes a severe criminal offense which is punishable by law with imprisonment”.

So why aren't they going after the tour guide? And, as Aaron Lerner of IMRA notes, one would hope there would be as much or more concern over the wholesale destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount carried out under the auspices of the Moslem Waqf over the years.

November 24, 2016 22:51

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