Once again demonstrating its thinly veiled anti-Semitism and appeasement of Muslims, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) passed a resolution Wednesday saying that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem were no longer Jewish sites but were actually Muslim sites.
An initial draft of the resolution had also called for the Kotel (Western Wall) to be listed as an Islamic site – or more specifically as an “extension of the AlAqsa Mosque” – but that detail was hastily withdrawn after widespread condemnation, including from UNESCO’s own Director-General.
A major strategy of the Palestinians in their goal of ultimately taking over all of Israel is to deny Jewish ties to the land. They do this by de-legitimizing the Jewish connection to the site and/or destroying Jewish Holy sites. That’s why they hold on to the Temple Mount, destroying artifacts. That is why they burned down Joseph’s Tomb. and it is why they claim the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb.
But it’s not only Jewish sites that the Palestinians have designs on. They also laid claim to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and in 2002 invaded and trashed Jesus’s birthplace in Bethlehem.
The Cave of the Patriarchs was the first piece of land ever purchased by the Jews in Israel. Approximately 38 centuries ago, Abraham purchased a cave (at full market price so there would be no question) in Hebron to bury his beloved wife Sarah. The story is retold in Genesis, Chapter 23.
The cave and the adjoining field were purchased and now house the remains of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. Some say that Esau’s remains are also there.
Rachel’s Tomb lies on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, about 500 yards south of the Jerusalem municipal border.Jews have visited the site for generations, coming to pray, request, and plead. The place became a kind of miniature Wailing Wall where suppliant Jews came to pour out their hearts and recount their misfortunes at the bosom of the beloved mother, where they could find consolation and cure.
In 2000, after hundreds of years of recognizing the site as Rachel’s Tomb, Muslims began calling it the “Bilal ibn Rabah mosque.” Members of the Wakf used the name first in 1996, but it has since entered the national Palestinian discourse. Bilal ibn Rabah was an Ethiopian known in Islamic history as a slave who served in the house of the prophet Muhammad as the first muezzin (the individual who calls the faithful to prayer five times a day).When Muhammad died, ibn Rabah went to fight the Muslim wars in Syria, was killed in 642 CE, and buried in either Aleppo or Damascus. The Palestinian Authority claimed that according to Islamic tradition, it was Muslim conquerors who named the mosque erected at Rachel’s Tomb after Bilal ibn Rabah.
The Palestinian claim ignored the fact that Ottoman firmans (mandates or decrees) gave Jews in the Land of Israel the right of access to the site at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Palestinian claim even ignored accepted Muslim tradition, which admires Rachel and recognizes the site as her burial place. According to tradition, the name “Rachel” comes from the word “wander,” because she died during one of her wanderings and was buried on the Bethlehem road. Her name is referred to in the Koran, and in other Muslim sources, Joseph is said to fall upon his mother Rachel’s grave and cry bitterly as the caravan of his captors passes by. For hundreds of years, Muslim holy men (walis) were buried in tombs whose form was the same as Rachel’s.
The Palestinians are targeting the Jewish sites in the holy land by saying that they were really Muslim sites. But Christian Heritage sites are next. Appearing on official Palestinian TV on September 16 of this year, Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the man who arranged for the financing of the Munich Massacre said, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque [Temple Mount] and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are ours.”
And don’t forget that the Temple Mount which the Palestinians claim for themselves is also holy to Christians who are also not permitted to pray at the site.
The UNESCO vote today is simply the latest attempt of the Palestinian Muslims using the world body to steal holy sites from other faiths to remove any association with the holy land.
A message to my Christian friends if you don’t fight it now, your holy sites will be targeted by the U.N. next.
A more in-depth version of this article is cross-posted at The Lid