Sunday, 9 July 2017

Netanyahu accuses UNESCO of 'Denial of the Past'

Following the UNESCO resolution on the Tomb of the Patriarchs, PM Netanyahu decided to cut $1 million from Israel's UN membership funds. The funds will be used to establish the Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Kiryat Arba and Hebron and related heritage projects. Against UNESCO's denial of the past, Prime Minister Netanyahu is determined to present to the entire world the historic truth and the Jewish People's deep connection – of thousands of years – to Hebron.
In doing so, PM Netanyahu shows his total ignorance of the nature and function of the World Heritage Convention and the WHL. The long history of the site itself and its general significance make it entirely suitable for inclusion on the World Heritage List, regardless of the administrative district in which it now lies.   The move makes Hebron’s old city the third Palestinian world heritage site. Apparently the Israelis wanted the site decalred an Israeli World Heritage Site, despite being in the Palestinian territory:
Netanyahu called it “another delusional Unesco decision” and said Israel would “continue to guard the Cave of the Patriarchs, to ensure religious freedom for everybody and ... guard the truth”. "This time they decided that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is a Palestinian site, meaning not Jewish, and that it’s in danger. Not a Jewish site? Who’s buried there – Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaa’kov. Sarah, Rivka and Leah. Our fathers and mothers. And the site is in danger? Only where Israel rules, like Hebron, is freedom of religion guaranteed for all.”
Quite apart from the issue that there was probably no historical Abraham, he is also seen as one of the founder figures of Islam. While it's probably better that the Israeli Jews spend money on a museum 'of the heritage of the Jewish people' and not more bombs for killing Palestinians, the use of the cultural heritage to produce a monothematic museum for nationalistic purposes, instead of one presenting more holistically the history of the region, suggests the extent of the Israeli government's commitment to the peace process in that region. This of course goes right against why UNESCO has an interest in cultural heritage in the first place.

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