Israel’s leaders are essentially trying to convince the world that anyone who recognizes Palestine is anti-Semitic.
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 Labor’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.
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.
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 anti-Semitic, that’s another thing entirely.
This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call.