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July 16, 2012 3:14 pm

UNESCO Politicizes World Heritage Site

avatar by Jordanna McMillan

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Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. Photo: wiki commons.

UNESCO defied its own rules recently when it added the Church of the Nativity to the World Heritage List with a non-existent nation state as its location: Bethlehem, Palestine.  Due to an approaching deadline, the Palestinians requested that the Church be added under an emergency procedure claiming that the Church needed urgent repairs and was endangered by the Israeli occupation.  Ignoring the recommendations of their own technical advisory body, as well as its secretariat, and despite the fact that their application did not meet the necessary criteria to be listed through the emergency procedure, UNESCO forged ahead with the designation anyway.

Middle Eastern news sources lauded the move, claiming that the birthplace of the Muslim prophet Jesus was just as important to Muslims as Christians and therefore worthy of becoming a Palestinian World Heritage site. Yet not one statement from the PA reflected this more “spiritual” view. On the contrary, this highly politicized move by UNESCO was met with matching politicized rhetoric by the PA.

“This gives hope and confidence to our people in the inevitable victory of our just cause,” PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a statement following the decision.

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“It increases their determination to continue efforts at deepening readiness for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, with its capital in east Jerusalem, within the 1967 borders.”

What does the UNESCO move have to do with protecting the Church of the Nativity in the end? Absolutely nothing. This hijacked agency of the UN has simply become another avenue to further delegitimize and attack the State of Israel.

Should the Palestinian government truly care for this historical and meaningful place, they would not have aided and abetted the terrorists that invaded the Church of the Nativity in 2002. A senior Tanzim commander at the time, Abdullah Abu-Hadid, related, “The idea was to enter the church in order to create international pressure on Israel… We knew beforehand that there was two years’ worth of food for 50 monks…” Eating and drinking through that supply in just over a month, the terrorists desecrated Bibles and prayer books and held the monks and nuns hostage throughout the ordeal.  There were even reports of the gunmen beating and attacking clergymen. Upon entering the Church, the IDF found that the front doors had been booby trapped with explosives.  Kind of puts a leaky roof into perspective.

The PA’s current claim is that this historical site is in danger due to a leaky roof, and subsequently the Israeli occupation.  The PA could fix the roof at any time. But this is not about preserving history – it is about rewriting and revising it.

The irony of this whole fiasco is found in the city’s true roots – Bethlehem is a Jewish city.  It is the burial place of the matriarch Rachel and the birthplace of the future great king of Israel, David.  It is known in the Bible as Bethlehem of Judea and the City of David. A Jewish Jesus was born to Jewish parents in this Jewish city, the Christian New Testament tells us. BeitLechem would also be the site where years later every young Jewish male baby under the age of 2 was slaughtered in case the rumors of a coming king that the Roman King Herod had heard proved true.

Google BeitLechem today and you would never know that it was ever so intimately connected with the history of the Jewish people and their historic homeland.

And so the debacles of yet another UN body continue.  An organization that is meant to protect the world’s heritage sites has succumbed to choosing sides in a regional conflict. The Church of the Nativity and its home city are merely being used by the Palestinians to advance their political agenda, and once again, with no regard for the consequences.

Jordanna McMillan is the IIACF’s Director of Outreach and Development.

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  • kevobx

    Blessed is he who reads, Christians are spiritually dead? (Notice, shall all the tribes of the earth mourn) *Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Revelation 21:12 the twelve tribes are the children of Israel at the end of time) What tribe do Christians belong to?

  • kevobx

    America, the eagle favours the Israeli’s being (king David worshippers) and not the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Why is the state of Israel waiting on an inheritance? *Isaiah 19:25 Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. *Jeremiah 16:16 And first I will recompense their inquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things. (Revelation 18:6) *Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

  • kevobx

    America, the eagle favours the Israeli’s being (king David worshippers) and not the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Why is the state of Israel waiting on an inheritance? *Isaiah 19:25 Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. *Jeremiah 16:16 And first I will recompense their inquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things. (Revelation 18:6) *Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

  • kevobx

    How did the state of Israel escape bondage in Egypt? Who were the people that went from Africa, to America, name them? White people, alway say that’s in the past, so is Hitler the future? Esau, descendants are always claiming they are Jews (Revelation 2:9) Does a Negro claim he is Black, when speaking? Who is black, and called Negro, but colored folks followed Esau’s culture, to become African American. Tell the truth who wrote all the laws of the land in their eyes? (John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.) God is love, love truth, hate opinions *1st Kings 18:21 equals *Matthew 17:12

  • john

    ” The PA could fix the roof at any time. But this is not about preserving history – it is about rewriting and revising it.” Funny you bring up rewriting history. Israel is pretty good at that, especially on tactics they used to remove Palastinians after their founding.

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