Fragments of dead sea scrolls.
(photo credit: DANIEL J. ROTH)
NEW YORK – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened an exhibit at the United Nations on Thursday that presents historical evidence of the Jewish people’s presence in Jerusalem centuries before the Christian era.
Titled “3,000 Years of History: Jews in Jerusalem,” the exhibit was initiated by Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
Among the archeological finds on display at UN headquarters are a 1,700-year-old seal “belonging to the governor of the city” found in the Western Wall Plaza, a seal bearing the name of King Hezekiah from the eighth century BCE, and a seventh century BCE seal with the inscription “the fifth to Netanyahu, his sons and his relatives.”
“This is a magnificent exhibit,” the prime minister said. “There is a long history that is being cherished by us and by the friends of the Jewish people and the friends of truth and is being denied by those who seek to erase the history of our people, our connection to our land and our connection to our eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Side by side with these archeological wonders were fragments of the “2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls,” which the exhibit describes as bringing to the world “an original voice of the much older writings that morally guided humanity for more than two millennia.”
The ancient texts were discovered in 12 caves around Wadi Qumran near the Dead Sea between 1946 and 1956 by Beduin shepherds and a team of archeologists.
Some experts have argued that the manuscripts were the product of Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves as they were fleeing Roman persecution.
“Walking along the walls,” literature from the event proclaims, visitors “will find themselves observing not only the remarkable part of the history of Israel and the Jews, but also aspects in the history of mankind.
“Bringing moral – social, juristic, economic and political – values to the world; fighting for freedom; struggling against oppression and tyranny; offering a hand to those in need – it is all reflected on these walls, in this building that made these values a foundation of its existence,” the literature adds.
Other treasures presented at the exhibit included the Tel Dan Stele, dating to the First Temple
Period around the eighth century BCE; an incised menorah and “Temple Altars likely to have been made by artists” in the first century BCE; and a Second Temple period artifact containing a tomb inscription dedicated to King Uzziah of Judea.
Elkin said he was pleased that Israel “succeeded in showing – here at the UN – the unvarnished truth.”
“The Jewish people’s more than 3,000 years of history in Jerusalem will not be gainsaid by any ridiculous UN decision. Our message here is both strong and clear,” he said.
“We were here over 3,000 years ago and we will be here for another 3,000 years. We will continue to struggle for the international standing of Jerusalem in the framework of our international plan at the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry.”
A disclaimer the UN placed at the entrance reads, “The content of this exhibit is solely the responsibility of the sponsors. The holding of the exhibit in UN premises does not imply endorsement by the United Nations. Please direct any queries to the organizers.”
A person who described himself as an employee of the United Nations later told reporters that all exhibits are presented with the same disclaimer.
The employee refused to provide his name or job title to reporters.
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