The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) just guaranteed further violence between Israel and Palestinians. On Friday, the United Nations’ cultural organization declared an ancient shrine in the city of Hebron a “Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger,” erasing any acknowledgment of Jews from their history in the city.
Jews have lived in Hebron since its antiquity, disrupted only by Arab riots and a massacre of the cities Jewish residents in 1929. The Jewish connection to Hebron transcends the modern politics of the State of Israel, but instead of highlighting this connection, UNESCO attempts to erase it.
UNESCO makes no distinction as to the significance of Hebron to Judaism. As Solon Solomon notes in Haaretz:
[T]he historical identity of a building or a site is something that goes beyond current political realities.
Indeed, in other cases, UNESCO has made such a distinction … Things would be different if UNESCO recognized the old city of Hebron comprising the Cave of the Patriarchs as a Jewish site, inter alia, lying in the territory of the future State of Palestine.
UNESCO made no attempt at creating any distinctions regarding the significance of Hebron to Judaism. Rather, it attempts to diminish Jewish history in favor of the Palestinians’ political narrative, a decision which further entangles the city into modern conflict.
UNESCO has a history of taking anti-Israel and anti-Semitic measures. In October 2016, UNESCO passed a resolution denying Judaism’s connection to the Temple Mount. In May, it voted to deny Israel’s claim to any part of Jerusalem. In addition, just days before the Hebron vote, UNESCO further denied Jewish connection to the Old City of Jerusalem and called Israel an “occupying” power. In 2011, the U.S. cut funds to UNESCO after it accepted the “State of Palestine” as a member state.
The only real result of UNESCO’s decisions seems to have been the escalation of tensions. The Jerusalem Post reported that following UNESCO’s recent decision on Jerusalem, PA spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud called on the international community to “enforce these decisions on the ground in order to lift injustice, oppression and domination practiced by the occupying power against our steadfast people in the city of Jerusalem and against its Islamic and Christian holy places.”
The wrongheaded action towards Hebron is another act by UNESCO will only serve to embolden those sworn to Israel’s destruction. The terrorist group Hamas has released a statement that highlights this:
The spokesperson of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Hazem Qassem has stated the following:
The UNESCO’s voting that included the Palestinian city of Hebron on the world’s heritage sites list is a new evidence which asserts our right in the city as well as all the Palestinian land.
The voting process reveals the counterfeited and twisted Israeli version surrounding the old city. It also demonstrates that all the Israeli attempts to distort reality have failed in the face of the Palestinian people’s steadfastness on their land and the increasing world support for the Palestinians’ right in their land and holy shrines.
While UNESCO claims to seek the advancement of “international peace and of the common welfare of mankind,” it has shown itself to be nothing more than a group willing to sacrifice peace in order to spite Israel and the Jewish people.