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Knesset Treasures: 73 Years of Gifts from Around the World Israel today


An ancient Korean crown, a rare Persian rug and a Greek baton - these are some of the thousands of gifts the Knesset received in its 73 years • "Israel Today" enters the secure room where historical items from the world are kept

Those who pass by the room at the entrance to the zero floor of the Knesset, can not imagine that behind the heavy door, which opens only by attaching an encoded card and with the approval of the Knesset Guard, there are hidden treasures.

Thousands of gifts received by Knesset members and heads throughout its 73 years of operation north of a secure room, which is at the height of a digital screening and documentation process, and an expert appraiser evaluating the value of the gifts, who came from around the world.

Now, for the first time, most items also have an official price tag estimated at tens of millions of shekels.

Pottery in the Knesset display, Photo: Oren Ben Hakon

"Upgrading technology and a joint catalog interface with the Knesset archives will help us discover some of the lost stories behind the exhibits, and preserve for future generations the stories of the various countries and cultures that gave the gifts," notes Knesset Director General Gil Segal.


The director of the Knesset's warehouse department, Kobi Mahalav, says that the rare gifts were given by presidents and prime ministers, high-ranking diplomats and citizens of the world, who visited the country or hosted the members of the Mishkan and its leaders in their countries.

He tells of a Persian rug embroidered with gold threads, worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, which was received in the 1970s as a gift to the Knesset from Jews from Tehran, and another, 'more modest' rug, worth 70,000 shekels. From the ancient Korean crown from the fifth century, valued at thousands of shekels, given to the then Speaker of the Knesset, the late Yitzhak Shamir, by a member of the National Assembly of South Korea.

Chess board, gift from the President of the Czech Parliament, Photo: Oren Ben Hakon

Among the surprising items are a variety of weapons, such as swords and knives, which without the diplomatic stamp would not be safe at all if they had passed the Knesset Guard's approval: "Many years ago we received a war sprout from an African tribe," "Handmade engravings, with a ball head wrapped in thorns, called the 'Dawn Star', in the pattern of an ancient scary weapon."

"Dawn Star" sprout, gift from a Greek MP, Photo: Oren Ben Hakon

Also among the gifts - carved ivory from the Congo, given at the inauguration of the Knesset in 1966;

Wood-carved swans, received from the Russian parliament;

Pure silver Judaica items, each valued at tens of thousands of shekels, such as a crown and flying breastplate for a Torah scroll, a pair of grenades and an ark from the 16th century donated by the Parma community from Italy, and placed in the synagogue of the synagogue;

And many silver plates with dedications from world leaders, including the one with the inscription "Peace" in Hebrew, English and Arabic given by US President Jimmy Carter in 1979, when he visited the Knesset after the peace agreement with Egypt.

Golden elephant, gift from the Speaker of the Ivory Coast Parliament, Photo: Oren Ben Hakon

Yael Richards, director of the Knesset's foreign relations department, explains that "according to diplomatic practice, gifts are exchanged during mutual visits between senior officials. The gifts tell the story of the various countries and cultures, and also reflect the spirit of the period in which they were given."

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2022-01-17

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