Israeli Minister Calls UNESCO Recognition of Hebron as World Heritage Site, “Holocaust Denial”
Let it never be said that Israeli pols don’t know how to chew the scenery when they have to act the part of the outraged victim on the world stage. In recent days, UNESCO declared Hebron’s Old City and Ibrahimi Mosque as World Heritage sites. Though the wording of the resolution wasn’t released, since the Palestinian representative offered the proposal, its passage at least tacitly acknowledged that Hebron as a Palestinian site. To anyone in their right mind, this would be obvious. After all, there are nearly 250,000 Palestinians living in Hebron and its vicinity. It is one of the three largest towns in the West Bank, otherwise known (to most) as Palestine.
The resolution also indicates that the world body considers these two locations to be endangered. UNESCO will now undertake to review their status yearly and report on any further dangers the sites face. This of course enrages Israel, which believes that it “owns” the lands conquered in 1967 and can do with them as it wills, despite international consensus to the contrary.
אונסקו בחברון: שטייניץ המריא לשיאים חדשים של ספין ואמר לאריה גולן הבוקר כי החלטת אונסקו היא הכחשת שואה ומחיקת קיומו של העם היהודי. לא פחות.
— Shemuel Meir (@ShemuelMeir) July 9, 2017
UNESCO also didn’t take into account the histrionics of which any self-respecting Israeli pol is capable. After the announcement, geshreis could be heard all the way from the Knesset in Jerusalem to the foreign ministry in Tel Aviv. Perhaps the best came from Yuval Steinitz, junior minister and close Bibi confidant who told an interviewer that the decision amounted to “Holocaust denial” and “erasing the existence of the Jewish people.” The Holocaust reference is to a 1929 massacre of 67 Jews which ended centuries of Jewish presence there. While this certainly is a dark historical stain and tragedy, it is not a “Holocaust.” Rather, use of that term is a flagrant exploitation of a far more horrible trauma that threatened the very existence of the entire Jewish people. Sometimes I wish there was an intellectual, if not a codified law, that forbade cretins like Steinitz from abusing Jewish history for their own personal, partisan ends.
Another Likud minister called Hebron a “national symbol of the Jewish people.” If it is, then I suppose the Lenni Lenape tribe which allegedly “sold” Mannahatta to the Dutch for $24 in trinkets, could call Manhattan their own “national symbol” and demand its return.
Bibi Netanyahu falsely claimed that Israel guarantees freedom of worship for all at what Jews call the Tomb of the Patriarch:
Netanyahu pointed to extremists blowing up religious sites in the Middle East and said, “It is only in those places where Israel is, such as Hebron, that freedom of religion for all is ensured.”
He neglects a terribly inconvenient historical fact: that Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians at the site in order to stake his claim to the site as belonging solely to Jews. Further, Israel regularly restricts Muslim access to the site and reserves it for exclusive access to radical settlers.
Israel further ghettoizes Hebron’s residents by sealing them off from the Old City, formerly the commercial heart of the city. All the shops there are nailed shut by the IDF and there is no longer any activity on Shuhadeh Street. All for the sake of 800 settlers who return the favor by throwing chairs, stones, urine and feces at their Muslim neighbors every chance they get. I’ll let you be the judge whether the town’s Old City and its Palestinian residents are endangered…
Netanyahu’s fit of piqué extended to penalizing the UN by further reducing Israel’s contribution to the UN by $1-million. He used a similar ploy when UNESCO released a statement endorsing Muslim claims to the Haram al Sharif. If he keeps this up, Israel’s contribution will fall to nothing. Then the next UN outrage will make him demand that the international body pay Israel for the crimes it commits against the Jewish people.
Not to be outdone, Naftali Bennett, whose political brand should be, “The Settlers’ Friend,” likened the UNESCO decision to false statements attributed to Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Khamenei:
“It’s disappointing and embarrassing to see UNESCO denying history and distorting reality time after time to knowingly serve those who try to wipe the Jewish state off the map.“
A bit of historical context is necessary here. Jews and Arabs lived in Hebron for centuries until European Zionists launched the First and Second Aliyot. This brought tens of thousands of eastern European Jews to settle in Mandatory Palestine. The resulting heightened tension incited riots and massacres targeting victims in both communities.
In 1929, such a pogrom led to the murder of 67 Jews. As a result, the 750 Jews living there abandoned their homes. An attempt to repopulate the Jewish community failed in 1931, when the British refused to permit 160 Jews to resettle there. Once Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967, it permitted the historic revival of the Jewish presence in Hebron. Eventually, 800 ultra-nationalist settlers came to live in a small enclave fortified by hundreds of Israeli troops and reams of barbed wire, checkpoints, and security fences. Israel spends millions of dollars every year to maintain this presence, which serves as a perpetual irritant to the vast Palestinian population. Settlers have also fraudulently stolen Palestinian property in an effort to Judaize the town.
Thus there is a historical connection between Jews and Hebron. The city is part of ancient Jewish tradition. But it is no less central to the lives and heritage of its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. The way to ensure a Jewish presence in Hebron is not at the tip of the bayonet. Israel cannot force 800 rabid Jewish zealots down the craw of the city’s 250,000 Palestinian residents. That is why Occupation fails and must end.
After a settlement of the conflict, Jews like the followers of Rabbi Menachem Froman, who accept Palestinian political sovereignty might be able to re-establish a Jewish community here. But they could only do so acknowledging that they live among Palestinians and must find a way to co-exist with them not as invaders or conquerors. But as spiritual seekers honoring an ancient tradition that has no political ax to grind.
20 thoughts on “Israeli Minister Calls UNESCO Recognition of Hebron as World Heritage Site, “Holocaust Denial” – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Some very fair and good points. Sadly, there are some despicable things done in Hebron on both sides and the saddest thing of all is the propensity of (these both sides) to engage in respicere post tergum (looking back) rather than looking forwards, to that end, Froman is truly a visionary.
Nonsense. Typical lib Zio crap. Palestinians in Hebron never had any problems with Israelis until crazy messianic settlers & their army bodyguards moved in & shut down their city. So blaming Hebronites for the problem is a non-starter. And stop bullshitting us with the same old mantra: if only the Palestinians would stop nursing old grudges & accept the new realities, then everything would be cool. God, that makes me sick…
From The Guardian:
“In heated scenes, Israel’s Unesco ambassador, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, reportedly stormed to the desk of the session’s chairman after the vote, and accused the committee of not conducting a truly secret ballot.
In the immediate aftermath of the vote, Shama HaCohen took out his mobile phone and scornfully informed the committee: “It’s my plumber in my apartment in Paris. There is a huge problem in my toilet and it is much more important than the decision you just adopted.”
I saw part of the session on the UN website, incredible to hear the Australian ambassador to the UN claiming that putting Hebron on the World Heritage Site list would endanger peace in the region and a future solution.
Israel demanded that the vote be secret, and it was accepted, so we don’t know which three countries voted against: but I guess the US, Canada and Australia.
The results weren’t published but the ballot was without a curtain which would promise secrecy.
The UN will never be where the solution is made bc since its inception Arab/Muslim countries have been voting on issues as a block. There are other countries using Israel to deflect attention from their own doings.
At the end, this Palestinian win is a semantic one with no real affect. It’s a win nevertheless.
So if there was no secrecy you know which states voted against? No you don’t. Hence there was secrecy.
Rather hilarious considering that Israel has a solid block of western nations/Security Council members willing to vote as a bloc to protect its interests.
If that were true then Bibi, Yuval, Tzipi H., Naftali, etc wouldn’t be howling with rage at the result.
Christianity and Islam grew out from Judaism. Abraham and the other Patriarchs are part of all our stories. Hebron is an ancient holy site revered by millions around the globe. Of course it should be a World Heritage Site. It is a factual matter that it is outside the borders of Israel, in Palestine. Furthermore, it is part of the Palestinian’s national identity that they are the guardians of the Holy Places. (The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is been in the care of the same Muslim family for 400 years). Of course the Palestinians must report to Unesco if the site is in danger from Israeli activity. If that is true, Israel should be forced to stop that activity, and apologize to the Jewish, Christian and Muslim world.
“Jews and Arabs lived in Hebron for centuries until European Zionists launched the First and Second Aliyot.”
You make it sound like it was all ‘skittles and beer’. It was anything but for the Jews of Hebron, who suffered pogroms, blood libels and massacres over the centuries. For seven hundred years, the Muslim authorities completely forbid Jews entry to the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Jews were only allowed to ascend to the seventh step, and no further. They could only peer from outside and below.
That’s nonsense. I’ve read the history of the Jewish community in Hebron & no accounts I read speak of any such violence predating 1929. YOu may not understand the rules here: if you make a claim you support it with credible evidence. You make a claim & don’t support it with evidence, not only is it meaningless, you will be hooted with derision.
As for the treatment of the Jews regarding the Ibrahimi Mosque, I have no idea what source you’re using to make such claims. So again, they have no merit. But I would like to know where in the Kotel Plaza Muslims are welcome. You might also let us know when the Rabbi-monopolists who run the Kotel reached out to Muslims & invited them as a goodwill gesture.
Please forgive my innocent rule infraction. Here are a few cites.
Six years later, while on pilgrimage to Hebron, Baibars promulgated an edict forbidding Christians and Jews from entering the sanctuary–Micheau, Françoise (2006). “Eastern Christianities (eleventh to fourteenth century): Copts, Melkites, Nestorians and Jacobites”. In Angold, Michael. Eastern Christianity. The Cambridge History of Christianity. 5. Cambridge University Press. pp. 373–403.
The Ottoman Turks’ conquest of the city in 1517 was marked by a violent pogrom which included many deaths, rapes, and the plundering of Jewish homes.– Auerbach, Jerrold(2009) Hebron Jews: Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel. Rowman & Littlfield, page 40.
In the early 18th century, the Jewish community suffered from heavy debts, almost quadrupling from 1717–1729, and were “almost crushed” from the extortion practiced by the Turkish pashas. –Barnay, Jacob (1992). Goldblum, Naomi, ed. The Jews in Palestine in the Eighteenth Century: Under the Patronage of the Istanbul Committee of Officials for Palestine. University of Alabama Press
In 1773 or 1775, a large amount of money was extorted from the Jewish community, who paid up to avert a threatened catastrophe, after a false allegation was made accusing them of having murdered the son of a local sheikh and throwing his body into a cesspit.– Auerbach, Jerrold (2009) Hebron Jews: Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel. Rowman & Littlfield, page 45.
In 1834, Hebron was sacked by Ibrahim Pasha’s army. Most of the Muslim population managed to flee beforehand to the hills. Many Jews fled to Jerusalem, but during the general pillage of the town at least five were killed–Schwarz, Yehoseph (1850). Leeser, Isaac, ed. A Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine. A. Hart.
In short: A Mamluk general forbade Jews and Christian to enter the sanctuary 800 years ago, and there was looting, rape and murder by Turkish troops 500 years ago. You want to pin this on the locals?
@ Elisabeth: And let’s not forget that 5 Jews were killed in Hebron in the 19th century (as were many Muslims undoubtedly) in a sacking of the city. I don’t know, but this doesn’t sound like anti-Semitism to me & certainly not sustained anti-Semitism. It sounds like bursts of violence against either the entire city or segments of it during bouts of political unrest. I’d say Anya has an axe to grind and that it’s exceedingly dull.
Yes, I did not even bother to bring up the looting of 1834, as there is no indication that Jews were specifically targeted.
Now, if you’re done putting words in my mouth and ascribing my motives.
My intent was only to clarify the historical record, and nothing else, but since you’ve opened up the door, I will now voice my opinion.
Life for the Jews of Hebron, a city holy to the Jews, had been exceedingly difficult, and made even more difficult by a centuries old law restricting freedom of worship, and, a classic anti-Semitic blood libel in the 18th century.
Despite these, and many other hardships, for over a thousand years, Jews never stopped migrating to Hebron and settling there, in order to be close to their revered Patriarchs.
Jews will remain in Hebron regardless of what UNESCO, or the World Court, or any national government, has to say about it.
@ Anya: You didn’t clarify much. You muddied the waters. You proved that there has been significant unrest in Hebron during certain small periods of time over half a millennium; and that some, but by no means all of the unrest affected the Jewish population.
Besides, if you measured the level of disruption of the Jewish community compared to the level of disruption of Polish or German Jewish communities during the same period, there would probably be significantly less disruption to Hebron than to the European communities. THat’s because Christian Europe was deliberately and consistently hostile to Jews, while the Muslim world wasn’t. Yes, there was some hostility or second-class restrictions placed on Jews. But nowhere near the level of violence, pogroms, etc that were directed specifically against Jews in Europe over the centuries.
As for Jews in Hebron, you cannot maintain a tiny enclave within a sea of hostile indigenous natives forever. South African proved that. If you insist on maintaining this presence through repression & hate, then the Jewish presence cannot last. Eventually, it will end. But if you seek a modus vivendi based on compromise & co-existence then you can maintain such a presence. You clearly have no will or interest in doing so. A shame really, but not surprising.
What ‘Anya’ forgot to mention:
A Peasant Arab revolt broke out in April 1834 when Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt announced he would recruit troops from the local Muslim population. Hebron, headed by its nazir Abd ar-Rahman Amr, declined to supply its quota of conscripts for the army and suffered badly from the Egyptian campaign to crush the uprising. The town was invested and when its defences fell on 4 August it was sacked by Ibrahim Pasha’s army. An estimated 500 Muslims from Hebron were killed in the attack and some 750 were conscripted. 120 youths were abducted and put at the disposal of Egyptian army officers.
The only thing Anya finds worthy of mentioning is that 5 Jews were also killed, and she tries to spin in in such a way that it was local animosity against Jews. Hilarious if it weren’t so sad.
Barbarella, this is one of your worst impersonations.. .
Concerning the looting in 1834: this is in the hight of the Anti-Ottoman uprising in Palestine so Anya speaking about Jews being killed is the usual Judeocentrism, many scholars, also Israelis, consider 1834 to be central in the development of a specific Palestinian identity and future nationalism.
It may be that the accusation of murder in the 18th c. was an extortion ploy, but using the term ‘blood libel’ is hysterical and, frankly, ludicrous. Did this Muslim family adopt a Christian, European tale about babies being killed to make matzoh? (It does not sound as if the son was a baby either.) Or does throwing the term ‘blood libel’ around simply give you pleasure?
@ Elisabeth: Terms like “blood libel” and “Auschwitz borders” are like the bell to Pavlov’s dog. They make the hasbarati instantly salivate. Not that I’m diminishing the tragedy of blood libels or Auschwitz. It’s just that I hate them being abused since they are such sacred unassailable symbols of suffering & injustice.
“The UN will never be where the solution is made bc since its inception Arab/Muslim countries have been voting on issues as a block. There are other countries using Israel to deflect attention from their own doings.”
Yeah, like voting that shi*** Partition Plan back in November 1947.*
And poor Israel, used as a scapegoat …. so I guess you agree with American-turned-Israeli Michael Oren who on i24news claimed that the vote was antisemitic.
*Today, France is commemorating/celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Exodus that set out from Sête to Haifa in Palestine. All day we’ve heard plain propagande on the radio, the Exoduc incident is presented as the one major event that let to the partition of Palestine by the UN.
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