Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How Dodgy are those Artefacts 'Legally Bought' from Israeli Dealers?

More fallout from the Hobby Lobby scandal ('Arrest of Jerusalem antiquities dealers opens a smuggling Pandora’s Box' Times of Israel, August 1, 2017):
In a conversation with The Times of Israel, Eitan Klein, deputy director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Looting, said the case is significant in that it highlights the fraudulent use of Israeli law in the dealing of artifacts looted across the Middle East. As Israel is the only country in the region that legally allows antiquities commerce, dealers of looted antiquities and smugglers from neighboring countries make use of the Jewish state as a clearance point for resale in order to give their wares a veneer of legitimacy. “In all other countries — Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq — it is illegal to deal antiquities. The problem is that the dealers that we gave permission to deal antiquities are using our law to deal in looted artifacts,” said Klein. The position of the IAA is that antiquities sales should be forbidden in Israel, said Klein, and it is in exploratory talks with the Justice Ministry to investigate legal options after twice failing in the Knesset to amend the existing law.
The main issue in the current case against the Israeli dealers arresed a few days ago, apparently in connection with the Hobby Lobby case is
unreported tax and forged documents on the sales, because over 90 percent of the sales were done abroad. The suspected purchase and sales of looted artifacts in Dubai that were then sent to America are not the purview of the IAA. However, sales that were sent through Israel directly to the US were allegedly made with forged documents, and those are being investigated by Israeli police. The IAA is currently investigating the dozens of unreported artifacts found in the dealers’ houses and shops.  According to Israeli law, all found artifacts must be reported and turned over to the IAA within 50 days. The punishment for looting is incarceration for between seven months and a year, said Klein. Sales of items considered as looted by the IAA carries a punishment of up to two years in prison. Klein noted that each year more than 40,000 antiquities artifacts are exported from Israel. The IAA estimates that some 99% of the artifacts sold today are purchased by dealers from looters.
How dodgy are artefacts 'legally bought' from Israeli dealers?

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