Jerusalem – At a secret meeting held last week between Turkish ambassador to Israel Namik Tan and Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, the latter asked that Turkey return to Israel the Shiloah Tunnel Inscription, one of the most important archaeological findings for Judaism.

This ancient stone inscription at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum is a highly significant slice of history for the Jewish people: A stone on which historical testimony from the First Temple period is inscribed in Hebrew.

The Shiloah Inscription was discovered in Jerusalem in 1880, and it serves as evidence of the regime of King Hezekiah in Jerusalem and of the manner in which he fortified the city against threats from the Assyrians. The inscription describes the hewing of the Shiloah Tunnel, an operation that was conducted with the purpose of guaranteeing a water supply to the region even in the event of a siege. The inscription supports the description of events in the biblical books of II Kings and Chronicles.

For thousands of years, the inscription remained in the tunnel until it was taken to Istanbul at the end of the Ottoman Empire’s rule over Israel in 1917.

Over the course of the 120 years since the inscription was discovered, tens of thousands of visitors and tourists have continued to visit the tunnel, but the inscription itself remained in Turkey. Now senior Jerusalem officials are asking that it be returned to its native site.

However, the Hague Convention, signed in 1954, forbids the transfer of cultural assets from country to country.

But this convention is not retroactive and is not applicable to what was taken during the Ottoman period. Lupoliansky noted that although by law Turkey is not required to return the item, he is asking that it do so as a gesture of goodwill between nations.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2007


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.