Nikki Haley, WJC Blast PA Bid to Re-Label Hebron at UNESCO

The backlash against declaring Machpela a "Palestinian Heritage Site in Danger" is growing.

4.7.17, 19:28
Ambassador Nikki Haley is the latest voice in the backlash against the Palestinian Authority's bid to claim the Tomb of Machpela as their own World Heritage Site is increasing. Following their campaign to declare the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as a Palestinian site, they have now submitted a request to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to label the ancient burial site of the Biblical Matriarchs and Patriarchs a Palestinian heritage site. To fast-track the process, the PA has claimed it is "in danger."

Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations blasted the move in a letter to Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General and Irina Bokova, the UNESCO Director-General. She wrote, 

“The Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to three faiths, is in no immediate threat. Such a designation risks undermining the seriousness such an assessment by UNESCO should have.”

She added, "Many precious sites — from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Libya to Iraq to Syria — are under real and imminent threat of destruction today. They urgently demand UNESCO’s full and immediate attention, which should not be wasted on this sort of symbolic action.” 

UNECSO's own experts have also rejected the PA's claim, stating their bid exclusively focuses on Muslim history. ICOMOS-the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which UNESCO used to determine classification, wrote an 11-page report rejecting the PA's proposal.

"A further weakness is the definition of the property as a Mamluk town, as this excludes the extremely important time depth of Hebron, a town whose history can be extended back at least a thousand years before the Mamluk period and possibly much longer," ICOMOS said.

“Although it is stated that the nominated property is thought to be one of the oldest cities continuously inhabited in the world, the emphasis of the nomination is on a small period of that history in the form of the Mamluk town, apart from the earlier structures of the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque/The Cave of Patriarchs," the ICOMOS report stated.

“This means that the association of Hebron with Jewish and early Christian societies is given little recognition, and Tell Rumeida [known in Hebrew as Tel Hevron where the Tomb of Jesse and Ruth is location] and other sites are excluded from the boundaries,” the report explained.

The World Jewish Congress came out against the proposal by contacting all 21 countries that sit on the UNESCO panel. WJC CEO Robert Singer stated: "It is wholly disconcerting that the World Heritage Committee would support yet another biased motion accusing Israel of damaging the character of the Old City of Jerusalem and effectively stripping it of its sovereignty within its own capital, and now seems likely to approve an outrageous request to designate the Old City of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as a site in danger on an emergency basis."

"These are manipulative and cynical distortions of reality, and a clear attack on Israel and its right to self-determination. The dangerous implications of these motions – on both a political and religious level - cannot be understated. Moreover, the Palestinian motion poses a severe abuse of the emergency mechanism. The World Jewish Congress urges the international committee to recognize that this request is a subversive move to deem the Old City of Hebron as a Muslim-Palestinian site alone, denying its historic and religious importance to Jews and Christians."

In the last year and a half, UNESCO members have continuously voted to deny the Jewish connection to Israel’s holiest...

Posted by World Jewish Congress on Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A group of Polish-born Holocaust survivors have sent a letter to the foreign minister of Poland asking for his assistance in defeating the bid. The vote,which will take place this Friday will be held at the 41st World Heritage Committee in Kraków, once home to a thriving Jewish community before the Nazi invasion of Europe. The lopsided number of majority-Muslim countries on UNESCO's member states list has led to a concern of bias.

The survivors noted the sad irony that hundreds of Jewish cemeteries in Poland were desecrated and destroyed during the Holocaust and now the Tomb of Machpela, may be desecrated by the UNESCO resolution.

Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, the best-selling American author and lecturer visited Krakow this week and spoke about the issue.

"The United Nations has not batted an eyelash to the slaughter of Arabs in Aleppo, but they have come together in Krakow to attack Israel about Hebron," he stated, holding up a poster of the large, 2,000-year-old Herodian structure that houses the underground burial caves. Rabbi Boteach was joined by the Jewish community of Hebron's international spokesperson Yishai Fleisher who added, "not only are they erasing Jewish memory, but they're also justifying a jihad against us by calling us occupiers in our ancestral homeland. We won't let that happen."
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Defends Hebron in Krakow

"The United Nations has not batted an eyelash to the slaughter of Arabs in Aleppo, but they have come together in Krakow to attack Israel about Hebron." - Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. #Hebron #ShmuleyBoteach

Posted by Hebron Jewish Community and Biblical Heritage Site on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Member of Knesset Sharren Haskel, a frequent visitor to Hebron came on Sunday to show her support. She stated, "This is a test for the international community. The Palestinian claims are baseless and distort reality. The Palestinians want to rewrite history and use UNESCO as their mouthpiece. As religious sites that are thousands of years old are being destroyed in the Middle East, Israel preserves the sites that are sacred to everyone, and they are open to all religions to visit and pray," MK Haskel said.

On Friday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely spoke with the Korean Deputy Foreign Minister and emphasized the Palestinian's attempt to exploit UNESCO for narrow political interests. 

This comes days after MK Hotovely met with a group of foreign ambassadors in Jerusalem to explain to them Hebron's rich history and its Jewish connection. 

Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely spoke with foreign ambassadors in Jerusalem this week about...

Posted by Hebron Jewish Community and Biblical Heritage Site on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

MK Tzipi Livni, co-chair of the Zionist Union party (Labor) attended a UNESCO conference in Paris last week on Women's leadership. She also defended the holy city, stating,

"They are going to hear what one woman from Israel thinks of these decisions. I lead the opposition in Israel, but not an opposition to the history of my people nor an opposition to the truth. These resolutions won't harm my people's ties to these sites, but they will harm UNESCO and the ability to advance shared efforts."

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