+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

There's nothing anti-Semitic about UNESCO's Hebron vote

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

An Israeli settlement water tank stands near the Ibrahimi Mosque or Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron. All settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law.

An Israeli settlement water tank stands near the Ibrahimi Mosque or Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron. All settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law.

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.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      As usual, the leftist ignore the historic, national and religious heritage of the Jewish people. That is why they do not have success in Israel. As we do not recognize “Palestine” or the “Palestinian” people, the Unesco vote is for us Jews insane. But the good news is that in retaliation there will be a big Jewish museum in Kyriat Arba.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joshua Fisher

        You got you country from the UNO. So STFU and take what you got, don’t steal from neighbours.It’s in the 10 amendments, dude.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Grandpa Frost

      The entire Palestinian narrative is bogus and is very much anti-Semitic. Let’s stop pretending that support for the so called Palestinian people is anything, but pure, unadulterated antisemitism.

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        @Grandpa Frost

        Please explain the following in your post:

        1) What do you mean by the “entire Palestinian narrative”?
        2) How is this “narrative” bogus and what is the true narrative?
        3) How is this same narrative anti-Semitic (or even “very much anti-Semitic”)?
        4) Who do you mean when you refer to the “so-called Palestinian people” and how do you think they should correctly be addressed?
        5) How does support for these people amount to “antisemitism” (or if you prefer, how is it anti-Semitic”)?


        Reply to Comment
        • Grandpa Frost

          Richard Lightbrown,

          I’ve posted about this many times before. Your questions are really broad, and I’ll try to answer them without going into too much detail. The entire claim that the Jews/Zionists stole an ancient country called “Palestine” is utterly bogus. The Palestinian identity simply did not exist before Israel was created. In fact, it came into existence after 1967.

          The true and easily verifiable fact is that Israel was a victim of Arab aggression in 1948 which caused both Arab and Jewish refugee crises, the scale of the latter being much greater. While Israel still have an almost 2 million strong Arab minority, there are almost no Jews left in Arab countries.

          On the issue of antisemitism, here are just a few examples:
          Many in the international community demand that Israel accepts Arab refugees of 1948. They are the ONLY refugees in the world whose refugee status is passed down from generation to generation. Also, there is no precedent in human history, where a country that had won the war, and which was the victim of aggression was held responsible for the enemy’s refugees. There are plenty of oppressed groups of around the world, who are genuinely oppressed and desperately need help, yet the “Palestinians” receive most of the attention. Clearly, the only reason the international community focuses so much on Israel is not because of what they do, but because of who they are.

          The “Palestinians” are just another group of Arabs and they are no different from Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese, etc. There is no need to distinguish them from other Arabs. Their entire identity depends on the existence of Israel.

          Reply to Comment
        • David Schulberg

          Too much to say in reply to your post. But let me just say this about the invention of Palestinian peoplehood:

          Before the Six Day War, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), founded in 1964 and led by Ahmed Shukhairy, had been instrumental in helping to provoke conflict. Shukhairy made a speech at the U.N. describing graphically what the PLO would do to Israel and its Jewish inhabitants if ‘it will be our privilege to strike the first blow.’

          Shukhairy drafted a charter for the PLO that was ratified in 1964. In Arabic, the document is called “Al-Mithaq Al-Kawmee Al-Philisteeni.” Mithaq was at first translated as covenant, but later the word “charter” was adopted. Palestinians claim that “Al Kawmee” is untranslatable. It evidently implies that Palestinians are less than a nation in their own right, and are part of the Arab nation or Ouma. So at that time a Palestinian national identity emerged essentially as a knee jerk reaction to Israel’s continuing existence and the politically-inspired notion of the Palestinian people came into being.

          Reply to Comment
          • Grandpa Frost

            This was said by a high ranking PLO official in 1977. Back then it was still PC enough to say:

            “There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity, because it is in the interest of the Arabs to encourage a separate Palestinian identity in contrast to Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity

            Trouw (Dutch newspaper) March 31, 1977
            Zuheir Mohsein, Member of the Supreme Council of the PLO.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Frost/Halevy, this is really a kind of mindless recitation of the word “anti-Semitism,” a ritual magical incantation, a transparently anti-Semitizing reality inversion. Your words are blatant anti-Arab/Palestinianism. You have got used to casual Israeli racism like this being given a pass but readers of Israeli-written +972 Magazine know the score. Sorry guys. You haven’t refuted a single sentence of what Orly Noy writes. If you want to go after a real anti-Semite go after Netanyahu:

        Reply to Comment
    3. David

      Orly Noy is wrong.
      Refer to http://tinyurl.com/ycudbkbu section 30.III no 13
      UNESCO “shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam”
      That hardly suggests that UNESCO does not comment on the religious aspects of heritage sites as she has intimated.

      Reply to Comment