Recreation of Statue Destroyed by ISIS Denounced by Jewish and Christian Extremists

From the website of the Dubai Future Foundation:

The UAE has officially inaugurated the Digital Archaeology Exhibition “The Spirit in the Stone” in the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City. The pioneering initiative saw the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) partner up with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations and the Institute of Digital Archaeology at the University of Oxford.

The project seeks to preserve the cultural heritage and archaeological sites of the region – especially those threatened with destruction or vandalism – by documenting them and then replicating them using 3D-printing technology. At the inauguration event, the Foundation unveiled a newly created, with 3D technology, replica of the rare Statue of Athena, which joins the replica of Palmyra’s historic Arch of Triumph, the gateway to the ancient Syrian city that was destroyed by ISIS terrorists.

Nothing can adequately replace the original antiquities destroyed by the Islamic fundamentalists, but this takes us as far as we can in safeguarding and curating the memory of what has been irrevocably lost. It’s also an encouraging sign that Muslim governments are committed to the historical preservation of the region’s pre-Islamic heritage.

However, not everyone is happy – but the complaints are coming in from Jewish and Christian extremists rather than Islamic militants. A religious website called Breaking Israel News reports:

Rabbi Elad Dokow, the head rabbi and lecturer at Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology, was not surprised that the United Nations would feature a display of pagan symbols.

“There is currently an unmistakeable rise of paganism and idol worship in the world, more than any other religion, and it is naive to believe this display is disconnected from this phenomenon,” Rabbi Dokow told Breaking Israel News. “Paganism creates the ability for each man to create his own truth, as opposed to Judaism and Christianity, which state that there is an objective truth man must abide by. The UN, like paganism, is a place of subjective reality created by a vote.”

The article also tells us that:

It is also believed that the Greek goddess Athena was based on the earlier Mesopotamian goddess Ashera and was later incorporated into early Islam as al-L?t, worshipped in Saudi Arabia as the consort of Allah mentioned in the Koran. This would be consistent with the statue’s history at the site in Palmyra, which was used as a temple by the Mesopotamians, Romans, and Muslims in succession.

This is garbled. The notion that Athena must be “based on” a Mesopotamian goddess presumably derives from the out-dated assumption that we should look to historical information in the Bible for the origins of ancient religious phenomena – in fact, however, it would be more accurate to state that Athena and Ashera have a common derivation in a Cretan-Mycenaean goddess whose name is preserved on linear B tablets from Knossos as “a-ta-na- po-ti-na-ja”.

The second sentence is obviously meant to mock Islam by alluding to the “Satanic Verses” – a story in which Muhammad is said have been deceived by Satan into describing Lat (or Allat, “the Goddess”) and two other goddesses as “exalted”. However, this supposed message was quickly repudiated by Muhammad, so to say that Lat was “incorporated” into Islam is mischievous (although from the Bible it appears that Ashera was an ordinary part of Israelite religion until the goddess was purged from Israelite theology). Allat-Athena, as venerated at Palmyra, is a late combination. To suggest that the UAE project is motivated by “idol worship”, and that this is somehow derived from an element within Islam, is an absurdity.

Meanwhile, denunciations by Christian fundamentalists have been assembled by the conspiracy website WND, including a quote from WND editor Joseph Farah:

“Most people today don’t realize how much of a hold ancient pagan beliefs, practices and images still have on their lives,” said Joseph Farah, author of “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.” “In fact, pagan values and traditions have never left us. Even Jews and Christians are impacted by them. And they are not innocent because the gods of paganism are actually demons, according to the Bible. It’s not something to be played with.

“The question confronting us right now is: Why would the United Nations be involved in resurrecting these occult images and icons of the past? Do they not understand what this represents – the false gods of child sacrifice and all kinds of abominations and perversions?”

Various self-styled “prophecy experts” and pastors concur: the article goes on to quote the likes of Jonathan Cahn (who famously predicted an economic crash for September 2015), Carl Gallups (a depraved Sandy Hook Truther who has explicitly mocked a grieving parent), Bill Cloud (blogged here) and WND‘s Joe Kovacs. According to Gallups:

“The Bible warns us that in the days before the return of Christ, there would be an unprecedented demonic outpouring,” Gallups told WND. “We are the first generation to live in the days of instantaneous communication and information technologies connecting the entire globe. The demonic have a stage like never before. And now the ‘gods’ are parading out their images, manipulating and using human agents to do so. The ‘gods are behind the ‘thrones’ of earthly powers. Satan is furious, he knows his time is short, as Revelation 12 says.”

There is some irony in seeing Christian fundamentalists in the USA superstitiously denouncing the activities of historians and art restorers as the work of the devil while an authoritarian middle-eastern state sponsors what is actually a commendable and enlightened educational project in the public interest.

I previously blogged on the reconstructed “Triumphal Arch” here. That project provoked similar responses, while an earlier plan to recreate the arch from Palmyra’s Temple of Baal prompted warnings that its erection in New York would create a Ghostbusters-style trans-dimensional portal.