Monday, December 12, 2011

From Karl Vick at the Time magazine blog:

Now that Palestine has been voted into UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, officials are preparing applications for the organization’s marquee designation: a World Heritage Site. Candidates are abundant. Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity stands atop the cave where believers kneel to kiss the spot, confidently marked by a starburst, said to be where Jesus Christ was born. Jericho, which marked its 10,000th birthday last year, is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet. And Hebron boasts the final resting place of Abraham, whose covenant with the Almighty led to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Genesis 23 lays out the details of his grave in Deed Office detail, including the price (30 shekels)[sic - it was 400 shekels - EoZ]  paid for the cave and the adjoining field from Ephron the Hittite. There’s not much about the site that’s in doubt, including what Palestinian officials aim to do with the property if they get control of itstop Jews from praying there.

The stated reason: The massive stone structure built atop the cave by King Herod, a Jew, and held for a time by Christian Crusaders, has since the 14th century been a Muslim house of worship. The Ibrahimi Mosque has minarets, rugs, washrooms for ablutions and anterooms lined with racks for storing shoes.

It’s a mosque!” says Khaled Osaily, the mayor of Hebron. “You don’t have to be an architect to see it! Will you allow me to pray in a synagogue or a church?”

And as a practical matter, the vagaries of bureaucratic scheduling means no Palestinian site will be even considered until 2014 by UNESCO, which after all “was created to work for peace,” notes an official speaking from the organization’s Paris headquarters. “You’d be hard pressed to find a person at UNESCO who says, ‘Yes, Christians should be banned from there or Muslims should from here.’”

So why frame the World Heritage application as a bid to restrict the use of a religious site, when the only practical effect will be to create bad feelings? For the same reason Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, in his September speech to the U.N. General Assembly, evoked the the Holy Land by name-checking Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed but said nothing about the Jews: In a word, spite.
"Spite" is not an accurate description of the reason that they want to ban Jews from the site. It is Islamic supremacism.

Since the 14th century, Muslims banned Jews - and specifically Jews - from worshiping at Judaism's second holiest site. This is not "spite" against Zionism but an expression of Muslim supremacy over Judaism.

And the idea that UNESCO would not allow the site to revert to being Judenrein is not as ridiculous as Karl Vick makes it sound. After all, last year UNESCO declared that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb were "Palestinian:"
The Palestinian sites of al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem: the Board voted 44 to one (12 abstentions) to reaffirm that the two sites are an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law, the UNESCO Conventions and the United Nations and Security Council resolutions.
Which means that under UNESCO's rules, Israel's allowing Jews to visit those sites after 1967 would have been considered a unilateral move and violated UNESCO guidelines.

And the idea of banning Jews from their holy sites in Judea and Samaria is mainstream in the Arab world. Here's part of an Arab League note to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1994:

A statement issued by the Islamic Committee in the middle of the preceding month gave a clear indication of the intensive and repeated Israeli attempts to formulate specific arrangements aimed at imposing control over a number of Islamic mosques, including the Ibrahimi Shrine.

The statement referred to information that had recently been leaked by Israeli sources, to the effect that the occupation authorities were discussing the future supervision of some of those Islamic places of worship, through the establishment of special arrangements under which religious rites could be performed by both Muslims and Jews, after the settlers demanded the right to engage in acts of religious worship, like the Muslims, in a number of mosques, including the Ibrahimi Shrine, Joseph's Tomb at Nablus, Nabi Samwil at Jerusalem and Rachel's Tomb at Bethlehem.
Outrageous that the "settlers" would insist on the right to worship - like the Muslims!

Here we have enshrined the Arab insistence on Muslim supremacism over Judaism, in stark contrast to Israel's attempts to maintain open access by all to Jewish holy sites (except, of course, to its restriction on Jews from praying on the Temple Mount.)

And now we know exactly how the enlightened, moderate and culture-loving Palestinian Arab leaders intend to use their UNESCO membership.

(h/t Honest Reporting)

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