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Petition/Advertisement regarding the Treatment of Prof. Hanan Eshel

22nd November 2005

As many of my readers would be aware, I have tried to cover the events surrounding Prof. Hanan Eshel’s recovery of some ancient scroll fragments of the book of Leviticus (for more on the Leviticus fragments see my coverage here).

Eshel’s actions (purchasing the fragments from the bedouin, among other things) led to an investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority, inlcuding the detention of Hanan Eshel (see my post on the investigation here). After the investigation he was released with all charges dropped.

From the very beginning of this issue — and especially after my interview with Hanan Eshel — I have supported his actions in this matter. Obviously the ideal situation would be to discover ancient artefacts in controlled archaeological digs, this doesn’t always happen. What is most important is that through his actions Hanan was able to preserve the scroll fragments.

As a protest to the way Hanan was treated, a number of scholars placed an advertisement in the Hebrew news paper Haaretz on Friday 18 November 2005. A scan of the Hebrew ad is available here. Below is an English translation of the ad, courtesy of Robert Deutsch via the ANE email list.

The subject:
The proceedings of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) (i.e. Shuka Dorfman) regarding Prof. Eshel’s Affair

We, archaeologists, historians and researchers in other fields of Humanities, wish to express our protest regarding the actions taken by the IAA against Prof. Eshel. Hanan Eshel and his student, Roy Porat, purchased a scroll fragment from a Bedouin and handed it over to IAA. About this fact there is no dispute. Therefore, blaming the teacher and his student of (illegal) trade with antiquities, is absurd. The police months lasting investigation, search in Eshel’s house, confiscating his passport, delivering misleading statements to the press, and sending TV crews in order to record him leaving the police headquarter – is intolerant. We are convinced that Eshel rescued the scroll fragment, which could otherwise be lost. His treatment as an average criminal is a vengeful act, not wise, unfair, and an unparalleled public institution attitude toward a scientist.

Joseph Aviram – Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem
Prof. Edna Ulman-Margalit – The Center for Rationalism, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Shmuel Ahituv – Bible, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheba (Emeritus)
Prof. David Ussishkin, Archaeology, Tel Aviv University (Emeritus)
Prof. Eliezer Oren – Archaeology, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheba (Emeritus)
Dr. Eithan Ayalon, Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv
Prof. Miriam Rosen-Ayalon, – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Emeritus)
Prof. Israel Ephal – History of the Jewish People, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Albert Baumgarten – History of the Jewish People, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan
Prof. Albert Baumgarten – History of the Jewish People, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan
Dr. Adrian Boaz – Archaeology’ University of Haifa
Prof. Anna Balfour-Cohen – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Jehoshua Ben-Arie – Geography, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Emeritus)
Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor, – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Emeritus)
Dr. Dafna Ben-Tor, – Archaeology, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Prof. Dan Barag, – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Na’ama Brosh – Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Magen Broshi – The Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem (Pensioner)
Prof. Menahem Brinker – Philosophy, Hebrew literature, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Bezalel Bar-Kokhba – History of the Jewish People, Tel aviv University
Prof. Moshe Bernstein – Bible, Yeshiva University, New York
Hillel Geva – Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem
Prof. Ram Gophna, Archaeology, Tel Aviv University (Emeritus)
Haim Gitler, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Prof. Johanan Gluker, Classic Studies, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Trude Dothan, – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Emeritus)
Michal Dayagi-Mendels, Archaeology, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Prof. Shimon Dar – History of the Jewish People, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan
Dr. Ruth Ha-Cohen-Pinchover, Musicology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Beth Halperin – Theology, Vassar College, USA (Emeritus)
Malka Hershcowitz – Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem
Uzza Zevulun – Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv (Pensioner)
Dr. Ester Hazon – Orion Center, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Yael Israeli – Archaeology, Israel Museum, Jerusalem (Pensioner)
Prof. Moshe Kochavi – Archaeology, Tel Aviv University (Emeritus)
Prof. Israel Levin, – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Aren Maeir – History of the Jewish People, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan
David Mevorach – Archaeology, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Prof. Judy Magness – Archaeology, North Carolina University, USA
Prof. Amihai Mazar – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Pinchas Mendel – Hebrew literature, University of Haifa
Dr. Zeev Meshel – Archaeology, Tel Aviv University (Emeritus)
Prof. Nadav Naaman – History of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Michael Stone – Theology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Daniel Sivan – Hebrew Language, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheba
Prof. Zeev Safrai – History of the Jewish People, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan
Prof. Israel Finkelstein – Archaeology, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Irit Ziffer – Archaeology, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Elisha Kimron – Hebrew Language, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheba
Prof. Frank More Cross- Semitic Languages, Harward University, USA (Emeritus)
Dr. Silvia Rosenberg – Archaeology, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Prof. Abraham Ronen – Archaeology, University of Haifa
Prof. Alexander Rofe – Bible, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Ronny Reich – Archaeology, University of Haifa
Prof. Elhanan Reiner – History of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv University
Guy Stibel – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Daniel Scwartz – History of the Jewish People, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Prof. Laurence Shifman – Hebrew and Judaism, University of New York
Dr. Ilan Sharon – Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

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