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July 7, 2017 12:31 pm

Israeli Leaders, Jewish Groups Enraged by ‘Delusional’ UNESCO Decision Declaring Hebron’s Tomb of Patriarchs an ‘Endangered Palestinian Heritage Site’

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Jewish worshipers inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli officials and Jewish leaders in the Diaspora reacted with fury following Friday’s vote at UNESCO — the UN’s global cultural agency — to declare the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a key Jewish holy site in the West Bank city of Hebron, an “endangered Palestinian world heritage site.”

The resolution — which claimed the tomb was “faced with serious threats which could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics” while under Israeli control — passed UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee by 12 votes to 3 during a session of the committee’s annual meeting in the Polish city of Krakow. Six countries abstained.

The nations voting in favor included “the Arab bloc, Cuba, Zimbabwe and other dictatorships,” a report from Geneva-based monitoring organization UN Watch said.

The storm of condemnation in the wake of the vote was led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who denounced it as “another delusional UNESCO decision,” and reaffirmed that Israel would “continue to guard the Cave of the Patriarchs, to ensure religious freedom for everybody and guard the truth.” The first Biblical patriarch, Abraham, and several male and female members of his immediate family are buried at the site.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely slammed UNESCO for passing another in a series of anti-Israel resolutions; just this week, UNESCO described the Jewish state as an “occupying power” in its capital, Jerusalem.

“This is a badge of shame for UNESCO who time after time chooses to stand on the side of lies,” Hotovely said. “In another thousand years, the Cave of the Patriarchs will remain under Jewish sovereignty and UNESCO will cease to exist as a heritage organization.”

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador at the UN, attacked UNESCO for its decision “to disassociate Israel from the burial grounds of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our nation” as “an ugly display of discrimination, and an act of aggression against the Jewish people.”

Other Israeli influencers took to Twitter to register their disgust, among them Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, ex-IDF international media spokesman Peter Lerner and Knesset member and former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren.

International Jewish groups also expressed outrage. In a speech to the World Heritage Committee, Shimon Samuels — director of International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center — declared, “Mr. Chairman, no other people or religion has been so maligned in the WHC. We would have been the first to protest were the victim have been Islamic heritage, but the Judeo-Christian heritage is continually under attack in this Chamber.”

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), stated it was “disconcerting that UNESCO member states have adopted yet another cynical distortion of reality, a subversive attempt to rewrite history and deem the Old City of Hebron as a Muslim-Palestinian site alone while denying its historic and religious importance to Jews and Christians.”

Yishai Fleisher, a spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron, called upon the Israeli government “to issue an appropriate answer to this reprehensible decision: to immediately suspend all payments to UNESCO and transfer those very same funds for projects that will strengthen Jewish Hebron.”

A number of country delegations at the UNESCO meeting expressed their exasperation over the vote. Australia’s representative criticized the “divisive decision on Hebron” that was “harmful to Israel-Palestinian relations,” while Canada said it “takes issue with the decision today on Hebron which ignored expert opinion.”

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) — a professional body that investigates claims that historic sites are endangered on behalf of UNESCO — earlier rejected the Palestinian claim that the Tomb of the Patriarchs was an endangered site. Its assessment on Hebron, published on Sunday, criticized the Palestinian proposal for ignoring Jewish and Christian heritage in the city, “even though extensive remains testify to these links.”

The United States delegation said the vote was “divisive, confusing, impossible to justify,” given that the Tomb of the Patriarchs was “under no danger or imminent threat.” This followed Tuesday’s appeal from Nikki Haley — the US ambassador to the UN — to the heritage committee not to “waste” its time “on this sort of symbolic action.”

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  • Efram Paul

    Why does anyone care what the UN says? Does it really have any relevance in today’s world, other than as a breeding ground for antisemitism?

  • brenrod

    this old story is getting boring… stop whining and do something…. and I dont mean taking away a million in contributions…. Israel owns the west bank it can do whatever it wants.. if unesco insults then ban them from west bank… ban muslims from the cave… deport them fromhevron… show who owns and to who it belongs…. bibi is a fake, always pretending to fight but doing nothing of value
    Israelis have themselves to blame…. now that Israel is at its most powerful it operates like the most weak… Jews died to have a jewish sanctuary which is daily violated by others…. bibi does nothing becuase it will mean a loss of money. Do the Jews deserve Israel… those that died must wonder.

  • Tony George

    Who were the 6 nations that abstained: cowardly Western nations that refuse to vote for reality in order to pander to the muslim minorities? The West is in a downward spiral.

  • pamelalevene

    The very fact that the “Palestinians” expend so much energy and fight so hard against Jewish historical rights shows the truth. These fake newcomers are desperate to hide the evidence that the Land of Israel is the true ethnic homeland of the Jews, that the Bible is history as well as a religious treatise, that there is of course no trace of these modern day claimants to be found. .

    You only have to look at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, full of the most breath-taking archeological remnants of Jewish History and compare it with the “Palestinian Museum” an empty building, to know why they are so afraid of the truth coming out

    How tragic it is to see so much misspent effort put into negativity. Imagine if they put even a fraction of this energy into actually looking for a peaceful solution and moving forward for the sake of the “people” they claim to represent?

  • Lauren Rischel

    Basically, when arab officials’ lips are moving, they are lying, and the UN is their mouthpiece. Period. Anything else is just noise.

    This is what they are, and expecting anything different only verifies Einstein’s quote concerning insanity.

  • brynababy

    Outrageous!! Lies don’t make it so.