In the Face of Forged Dead Sea Scroll Fragments, the Museum of the Bible Owns Up to Its Mistakes

On March 13, the Museum of the Bible announced that all sixteen of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments in its possession have been shown to be forgeries. While many experts had originally believed these fragments to be authentic, some have been airing doubts for several years. When the museum first opened in 2017, it put some of them on display alongside notes indicating their uncertain provenance. Collette Loll, whose firm conducted the two-year investigation into the artifacts, defends the museum’s handling of the issue:

Instead of quietly removing the fragments from view, the Museum of the Bible, to its credit, went public with the news. Although headlines shouted “Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scrolls Are All Forgeries,” the real news was the length to which the museum went to discover the truth, and what it means for other museums and research institutions that also have questioned fragments.

The tools we have today to detect forgeries have advanced since 2002, when a new batch of arguably authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments appeared on the market. Science is constantly evolving, making it easier for collectors and researchers to distinguish treasures from trickery. Unfortunately, interrogation of works usually occurs too late, only after their purchase. It does nothing to prove legal or ethical ownership status. The more nefarious threat to the historical record comes from the many actors who legitimize dubious acquisitions by lending their professional and scholarly authority to objects that appear on the market, often unprovenanced. This scenario has only two possible outcomes, neither of them acceptable. Either they are forgeries or, worse, authentic and unprovenanced.

The best way for collectors and institutions to guard against deception, which is costly in terms of both economics and reputation, is to insist on solid provenance documentation—that is, to know exactly where an artifact or a piece of art comes from. . . . The Museum of the Bible and its founder no doubt made mistakes in the past, many of them stemming from a lack of due diligence and provenance verification. The unfortunate result of their mistakes provides a lesson that reinforces their commitment to adhering to collections best practices.

Read more at National Review

More about: Dead Sea Scrolls, Museum of the Bible

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy