News Tip: Experts Can Comment on Legalities of Iran Conflict

President Trump has threatened to attack Iran’s culturally significant sites if Iran retaliates for the assassination of Gen. Soleimani.

“The statement by President Trump that he would bomb cultural sites in Iran if the regime were to retaliate for the assassination of Gen. Soleimani is in direct contravention of The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the first international treaty that focused exclusively on the protection of cultural property in armed conflict -- in force since 1956 and ratified by 133 countries,” says Eric Meyers, a biblical archaeologist and professor emeritus of Jewish studies at Duke University.

“Trump’s actions may not be approved by the military establishment since it violates a core principle of the rules of engagement in war.”

“Modern Iran is the successor to a rich Persian culture that has left its mark on world civilization in literature and material culture. It has even left its mark on the Hebrew Bible when Cyrus the Great recognized the Jews in his territory and allowed them to return to their homeland. So important was this act of beneficence, today preserved in the Cyrus Cylinder, that the prophet Isaiah names the Persian monarch ‘my shepherd’ in 44:28, and in 45:1, ‘His anointed one’ or messiah.”

“Those who care about Biblical history should be very concerned about threats to Iran’s cultural sites. Some of the finest archaeological remains from the Biblical era are in Persepolis, some 60 miles northeast of Shiraz. And in addition to ancient Jewish and Christian holy sites, modern Iran is home also to some of the finest Islamic sites in the world. Its place in understanding the beginnings of urbanism and of high culture in Near Eastern antiquity is paralleled only by the wealth of ancient Iraq and Egypt.”

Eric M. Meyers, a Biblical scholar and archaeologist, is past president of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), and Bernice & Morton Lerner Emeritus Professor of Jewish Studies, Duke University.

For additional comment, contact Eric Meyers at:

In addition, other Duke experts discuss various aspects of the Iranian conflict here. Experts available to discuss the conflict include:

  • Charles Dunlap, a professor at Duke University's School of Law and executive director of its Center on Law, Ethics & National Security. Dunlap can discuss issues related the use of force under international law, military justice, and ethical issues related to the practice of national security law. Contact Dunlap: (919) 613-7233; email
  • Shane Stansbury, a professor at Duke University's School of Law, specializes in cyber crimes, law, and policy; national security law; and investigating and prosecuting national security cases. He can discuss issues related to terrorism, cybercrime, and espionage, and cyber threats to national security. Contact Stansbury: (646) 554-4307; email

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Alison Jones
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