Western Wall rabbi condemns UNESCO for declaring forefathers' tombs to be Islamic sites

The UN cultural body asserts that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel on the outskirts of Jerusalem are an integral part of Palestine.

October 29, 2015 17:14
2 minute read.
Cave of the Patriarchs

Cave of the Patriarchs. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Supervisor of the Western Wall and the holy places, strongly condemned UNESCO, the United Nations cultural body, for asserting in a resolution of its Executive Board that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel on the outskirts of Jerusalem as an integral part of Palestine.

The Cave of the Patriarchs is the most ancient Jewish shrine in the world and the second holiest site of pilgrimage in Judaism, while also revered by Muslims. The Tomb of Rachel has also been a place of pilgrimage for Jews and was not until the 1990s identified as an Islamic holy site.

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“Centuries of documented history prove not only the deep and strong connection between the Jewish nation and this tomb, as is evidenced by the pilgrimage made to it even during hard times and at great personal risk, but also that there has never been a Muslim claim to the site,” wrote Rabinowitz in an open letter to the organization.

“Anyone with eyes can see the despicable act of utilizing religion and faith in God for territorial gain and harming the sacred sites of another people. I find it hard to understand how a body like UNESCO, whose stated purpose is preservation of cultural and heritage values of the nations of the world, takes such a clear stand behind such an imaginary claim.

“Especially during these days, when false libels about Israel wishing to harm the Temple Mount are being espoused and young hotheaded Muslims are wounding and murdering Jewish citizens in the name of G-d, your decision feeds into the despicable, evil lies and raises not only the height of the flame, but to my great regret, also the amount of innocent blood shed.  Is this the way an organization that claims to be ‘Building peace in the minds of men and women’ is supposed to act?  Is this the way to build peace? By strengthening lies and fanning the flames?”

Rabinowitz also condemned UNESCO for failing to protest and halt construction and excavation work done by the Jordanian Islamic Waqf that administers the Temple Mount during the mid 1990s which severely damaged archaeological remains at the site.

The same UNESCO resolution, proposed by Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, condemned what it termed as Israeli security measures taken in response to the month-long wave of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Palestinians, terming these actions as “the targeting of civilians.”

The resolution initially sought to define the Western Wall as “the Buraq Plaza” and “an integral part of al-Aksa Mosque/ al-Haram al-Sharif,” but this clause was withdrawn after strong objections by the US and others.

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