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A Palestinian Culture War Through UNESCO

editor - 15 November 2017

The Palestinian Authority has asked UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to acknowledge the old city of Hebron, including the Cave of Machpelah, as Palestinian world heritage. By this, the Palestinians once again try to wipe out a piece of Jewish history and turn the world against Israel.

Ever since UNESCO, as the first UN organisation, recognised the ‘State of Palestine’ in 2011, the Palestinians have tried to rewrite history through the UN cultural organisation. The Palestinians already tried to claim the Cave of Machpelah as Palestinian heritage in 2010. UNESCO adopted a resolution in 2015, in which the burial cave in Hebron and Rachel’s grave in Bethlehem were recognised as an ‘Islamic sacred place’. At the end of 2016, a UNESCO resolution was passed stating every Jewish tie with the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall was to be denied, and Islamic names would exclusively indicate these places. Then, in June this year (2017), UNESCO had a conference about this Palestinian request to recognise the Cave of the Israeli Patriarchs as Palestinian world heritage in Kraków, Poland.

>> In Danger
The Palestinian appeal builds on previous resolutions concerning Hebron and Jerusalem. Here, Israel was described as an ‘occupying force’ and was condemned for archaeological projects in Jerusalem and Hebronwhich ‘harmfully violate the authenticity and integrity of historic places’. Not only do the Palestinians want the Cave of Machpelah recognised as Palestinian world heritage, but as world heritage in danger. This danger would include Israeli attempts to destruct the complex. The Palestinians find a justification for this in Israeliwork activities, which are blown up to unrealistic proportions by the Palestinian reports. In reality, Israel carried out the work in good dialogue with the Islamic Waqf, the organisation that controls the Islamic part of the cave. The objective of the work was to make the complex more easily accessible to both Jewish and Muslim visitors.

>> Hijacked
It is clear that the Palestinians have hijacked UNESCO’s agenda through their membership and fight their political battle with the support of Muslim countries. They do this in subtle ways, taking small steps each time, each constituting a basis for the next step, increasingly backing Israel in a corner. First, the historic Jewish ties and the historic Islamic ties are made uniform. Then, the Jewish ties are denied. Subsequently, Israel is portrayed as an occupying force and a threat to the ‘Palestinian cultural heritage’. Slowly, the world has to believe the way Israel tries to destroy Palestinian history.

>> Distorted
In reality, the situation is distorted. Historically, the Cave of Machpelah and the Temple Mount have much stronger Jewish connections than Islamic ones. Islam only emerged in the sixth century, many centuries after the patriarchs were buried in Hebron or Solomon built the first temple in JerusalemIsrael cherishes these historic places and has always diligently taken care of the maintenance and improvement of them. Additionally, Israel has always guaranteed that followers of other religions also have free access to these places.

>> Culture war
What the Palestinians are doing through UNESCO, is nothing but waging a cultural war against Israel, to the despair of many. Even UNESCO director Irina Bokova watches the hijacking of her organisation’s executive body, in which resolutions of the Member States are democratically adopted or rejected, with sadness. She has repeatedly spoken up for Israel, but she is powerless against a large bloc of Islamic countries that support these political resolutions and against many Western nations that, because of political or diplomatic reasons, abstain from voting, making it possible for these lies to be recorded by the UN. What would happen if Palestine was recognised as a Member State by other UN organisations too… gives pause for thought?



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