Don’t say ‘Palestine’ – it’s an antisemitic word

1) Orly Noy, +972 – UNESCO decision not antisemitic; 2) The Unesco statement; 3) Netanyahu quotes the Bible to prove his point

The tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan, Iran. Iranian authorities recognise it as a Jewish site, not an Israeli one.

There’s nothing antisemitic about UNESCO’s Hebron vote

Israel’s leaders are essentially trying to convince the world that anyone who recognizes Palestine is antisemitic.

By Orly Noy, +972
July 09, 2017

UNESCO’s resolution to recognize the Tomb of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Tomb and Hebron’s Old City as Palestinian World Heritage Sites brought on, as expected, knee-jerk cries of anti-Semitism by Israeli politicians. And it wasn’t just the right wingers. Even Labour’s Merav Michaeli, known for her dovish views, called the resolution “insane.”

I wonder how many of these politicians bothered reading the resolution before they ran to Twitter to trash it. As opposed to what Israel is attempting to portray, UNESCO does not comment on the religious aspects of heritage sites, or to whom they are or are not considered holy. This is not the Israeli Rabbinate. UNESCO deals with two questions: whether a site is worth being included in the list of World Heritage Site, and which national entity it falls under.

Israeli settlers have sited their water tank as close as they can get to the al-Ibrahimi mosque/ Cave of the Patriarchs. It is in Hebron/Al Khalil

As Yonathan Mizrahi wrote last week, since UNESCO recognized Palestine as a state in 2011, the Palestinians have had the opportunity to submit nominations for World Heritage Sites. The fact that the Tomb of the Patriarchs should be included in that list is undisputed. Even Israel doesn’t dispute that fact.



Geographic reality. Map of southern Palestine (West Bank) clearly showing Hebron plumb in the middle. Google map


What UNESCO has established, however, is that the Tomb of the Patriarchs is located in Palestine. That’s it. In no way does the resolution deny the Jewish connection to Hebron or the Tomb of the Patriarchs — on the contrary. In fact, every time a resolution about Hebron comes up, it uses the city’s Hebrew name before its Arabic name (“Al-Khalil”), and recognizes the fact that the city is holy to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Palestinian resolution openly states this fact.

One can say that the resolution contradicts Israeli policy, but it is silly to claim it is anti-Jewish. The overlap between the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic exists only in Israel’s manipulative demagoguery. Esther and Mordechai’s Tomb in Hamadan, Iran is recognized by the Iranian authorities as a Jewish site, yet no on would dream of calling it an Israeli site. Just as the Church of the Multiplication in northern Israel is a Christian site, yet is located in Israel and therefore an Israeli site.

If Netanyahu and Bennett want to claim that anyone who recognizes Palestine is antisemitic, that’s another thing entirely.

Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town

UNESCO/ World Heritage Site

The use of a local limestone shaped the construction of the old town of Hebron / Al-Khalil during the Mamluk period between 1250 and 1517. The centre of interest of the town was the site of  the Al-Ibrahim mosque/ the tomb of the Patriarchs whose buildings are in a compound built in the 1st century CE to protect the tombs of the patriarch Abraham / Ibrahim and his family. This place became a site of pilgrimage for the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The town was sited at the crossroads of trade routes for caravans travelling between southern Palestine, Sinai, Eastern Jordan, and the north of the Arabian Peninsula. Although the subsequent Ottoman Period (1517-1917) heralded an extension of the town to the surrounding areas and brought numerous architectural additions, particularly the raising of the roof level of houses to provide more upper stories, the overall Mamluk morphology of the town is seen to have persisted with its hierarchy of areas, quarters based on ethnic, religious or professional groupings, and houses with groups of rooms organized according to a tree-shaped system.

PM quotes Bible to lambast UNESCO decision on Hebron

Lashing out at agency, Netanyahu says Jewish connection to city’s Tomb of the Patriarchs possibly without parallel in human history

By Jacob Magid, Times of Israel,
July 09, 2017

Raging over a decision by a UN body to declare Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs apart of endangered Palestinian heritage, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday recited Biblical verses meant to prove the millennia-old Jewish connection to the West Bank site.

On Friday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to list Hebron’s Old City, home to the shrine holy as the burial place of Abraham and other biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, as an endangered Palestinian world heritage site.

According to the Bible, the burial cave was purchased by Abraham to inter his wife Sarah. Later, he and his descendants were also buried there, according to Jewish tradition.

“And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant… And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre — the same is Hebron — in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying-place by the children of Heth,” said Netanyahu wearing a skullcap while quoting verses 16-19 from chapter 23 of the book of Genesis.

The prime minister said the UNESCO motion was “delusional.”

“The connection between the Jewish People and Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs is one of purchase and of history which may be without parallel in the history of peoples,” he said.

Attempts to make legal or diplomatic cases based on Biblical accounts are most often ridiculed or not taken seriously.

Israel reacted furiously to the UNESCO decision, which came despite a flurry of diplomatic activity, and Netanyahu said on Friday he would cut $1 million from money Israel gives the UN. He said the funds would instead go toward “the establishment of a ‘Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Kiryat Arba and Hebron’” and to other projects related to Jewish heritage in Hebron.

Netanyahu said he also ordered the completion of a visitors’ centre at the City of David archaeological site in lieu of a separate May decision by UNESCO’s executive board to ratify a decision disputing Israel’s claim to Jerusalem.

“The entire world will see the truth and the first visitors whom I will invite there will be UNESCO and UN delegations,” he said of the Kedem Visitors’ Centre.

The cut brings Israel’s slashing of funds to the UN to $10 million since December of last year. The announcement Friday marks the fourth time in eight months that Israel has reacted to UN resolutions it deems biased against it by announcing the slashing of its payments to the body. Israel will now pay just $1.7 million into the UN budget.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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