Gaza Museum Curator Knows not to Display Certain Artifacts that would Anger Hamas

The article in today’s The New York Times, “Museum Offers Gray Gaza a View of its Dazzling Past“, provides the reader an insight into the reality of life under Hamas. A wealthy Gazan is opening an archaeological museum focusing on Gaza’s rich archaeological heritage. One would think that the Hamas rulers would encourage the museum’s growth in order show both Gazans and outsiders that civil society can thrive under their regime.

But some of the most significant items cannot go on display in Gaza.

His collection includes thousands of items, but some of the most extraordinary will not go on display now, including a statue of a full-breasted Aphrodite in a diaphanous gown, images of other ancient deities and oil lamps featuring menorahs.

Asked why, Mr. Khoudary noted Hamas’s rule and the conservative piety of the population and said simply, “I want my project to succeed.”

He did, however, bring a Hamas government minister to see the exhibition recently and pointed out two crosses on Byzantine columns to make sure he had no objections. The gap between what he calls the narrow-mindedness of today’s Gaza and the worldliness of the past is what most saddens him, he said.

The menorahs and crosses are evidence that other people lived in Gaza before Arab Muslims, which everyone, including Hamas, knows. But history is a tool to be manipulated for political means, in Hamas’ view. The menorahs are especially uncomfortable, validating a Jewish presence that existed well before a Muslim one.

The Aphrodite poses two problems, being sexually suggestive and a symbol of pagan Hellenistic culture.

Hamas-run Gaza (and potentially, the West Bank) lacks even basic freedoms of expression and religion, and is well on the way to becoming as oppressive and paranoid as any regime in the world.  

The headline should read, “Museum Offers Gray Gaza a View of its Dismal Future”.

2 Responses to Gaza Museum Curator Knows not to Display Certain Artifacts that would Anger Hamas

  1. Eliyahu says:

    Mr Khoudary is a glow of light –however dim– in the darkness, the benightedness, of Gaza. He shows respect for non-Arab, non-Muslim cultures, or at least for their remaining artifacts. Islam teaches that remains of the Jahiliyyah, the pre-Islamic culutres, do not deserve respect.

    The Arab/Muslim destruction of Jewish antiquities is rather well documented for Gaza. One case is the Jewish inscription in Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek formerly on a column in the Great Mosque of Gaza, originally a Crusader church built using old Jewish structural members. Another case is the rather well known mosaic of David playing a harp or lyre. In this case, after the mosaic’s discovery by Egyptian archeologists before the Six Day War, the face of David was destroyed although the Hebrew words next to the body were left intact. The motive here may have been the offense to Islam of a depiction of a human face, while the defacers may not have known that the caption was in Hebrew. See link:

  2. Eliyahu says:

    Forgot to mention that before the Arab conquest, Gaza was home to a school of Greek rhetoric. It was a fairly civilized place by the standards of the time.

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