Jewish tombs now Muslim sites?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution last Wednesday, Oct. 21, listing Ma’arat HaMachpelah, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron—the world’s most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people and Kever Rachel, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem—Judaism’s third holiest site—as Muslim sites. These sites are part and parcel of the Jewish tradition and history and present a direct connection between the Jewish People and their ancient homeland.
Buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs are Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah—all direct descendants of the Jewish people. The Arabs can only claim kinship to Abraham through Ishmael, the son of Hagar (an Egyptian). Abraham’s son Isaac, who was the “child of promise” according to the Torah, is the father of Jacob and Esau. Esau gave up his birthright and eventually married one of Ishmael’s daughters.
Ishmael and Esau are not buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after wrestling with an angel. Israel means “You have striven with G-d and with men and have prevailed.”
Jacob and Leah had 10 sons who became 10 of the tribes of Israel. Jacob later married Leah’s sister Rachel, who bore him Joseph and Benjamin.
Rachel died delivering Benjamin enroute to Hebron. Jacob buried her on the road to Bethlehem. Ancient writings describe the grave marker as 12 stones that represented the 12 tribes of Israel with one large stone that symbolized Jacob. The prophet Jeremiah wrote that Rachel weeped for her children as they were led into exile to Babylon in 423 BC, but G-d comforted her and told her “Your children shall return to their own country.”
Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim whom Jacob adopted. Not a one of these descendants are Arabs or in this case, Muslims. They all followed the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Muhammad didn’t even come on the historical scene until 570 Common Era.
Now, according to UNESCO, these two sites are deemed Muslim historic sites.
“UNESCO is taking sides in the delicate status quo of religious sites in the region, a move which undoubtedly will only serve to distance any possibility of peace and exacerbate existing tensions on the ground,” StandWithUs, an international, nonprofit Israel education organization, said in a statement condemning the action.
“The passage of the Palestinian initiated resolution by the executive board of UNESCO is offensive and a distortion of history,” said Stephen M. Greenberg, chairman of the Conference of Presidents.
Backed by six Arab UNESCO members: Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who spearheaded the initiative on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, 26 countries voted in favor of the resolution, with 25 abstentions. The leaders of the United States, Germany, Estonia, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the Czech Republic voted against the resolution. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova also opposed the resolutions content, recognizing that it is a total distortion of the truth and is an affront to Judaism, Christianity and those who value Judeo-Christian traditions.
“As a UN Special Envoy for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches (WCICC), I call upon UNESCO to repeal this despicable disinformation campaign that emboldens global genocidal anti-Semitism, said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations, in a press release. “The Islamic Waqf, much like ISIS, are attempting to destroy Judeo-Christian biblical history and UNESCO is giving their stamp of approval.”
Originally included in the proposal was the demand that the Western Wall be declared an “integral part” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. However, the Palestinian delegation dropped this bid and proposed a new version of the resolution, removing the clause declaring the Western Wall a Muslim site.
Also removed from the proposal were all references to Jerusalem as “the occupied capital of Palestine.”