Inside the Middle East
October 29, 2010
Posted: 1726 GMT

Ultra-Orthodox Jews praying at Rachel's tomb (Getty Images).
Ultra-Orthodox Jews praying at Rachel's tomb (Getty Images).

A UN agency's decision to identify a Jewish holy site in the West Bank as a mosque  and define it and another shrine as Palestinian has prompted cries of bias and distortion from Israel.

"The attempt to separate the nation of Israel from its cultural heritage is absurd," said Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement released Friday.

"It is unfortunate that an organization that was established with the goal of promoting the cultural preservation of historical sites around the world, is attempting due to political reasons to uproot the connection between the nation of Israel and its cultural heritage."

The harsh words stem from a decision earlier in the week by the executive board of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which read:

"The Palestinian sites of al-Haram, al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem: the Board voted 44 to one (12 abstentions) to reaffirm that the two sites are an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law..."

It was, according to UNESCO spokeswoman Susan Williams, the first time the U.N. agency's executive board had referred to the religious site in Bethlehem as a mosque . The one vote against came from the United States.

Williams said the mosque designation had been proposed by some board members earlier in the year.

"Owing to the Rules and Regulations of UNESCO, its Secretariat is not in a position to change the wording of the title of the agenda items proposed for inscription by its Member States...." Williams said in a statement.

"The usual practice at UNESCO is to adopt decisions and resolutions of its governing bodies by consensus as it is believed to help keep focus on operational matters in UNESCO's specific fields of competence and avoid politisation of issues being brought to the attention of the Executive Board."

Known more popularly as Rachel's Tomb, the Bethlehem location is believed to be the burial place of the biblical matriarch Rachel.

The designation of the site as a mosque drew quick rebuke from Jewish religious authorities.

"This decision is contradictory to the truth," said Shmuel Rabinovitch,  the official rabbi of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. "The Muslims never claimed this was a holy place for them. The decision adds another location to the Jewish-Arab conflict and has no value, it only causes harm."

The UNESCO statement also included the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the city of Hebron - known to Palestinians as  the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Both locations are considered holy in Judaism and Islam and have been a point of frequent conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians for decades.

In February 2010, Israel announced it would include Rachel's Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in a list of 150 Zionist heritage sites. Palestinian and international reaction to the announcement was highly critical, and in the days following violent clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers ensued.

A statement released at the time by the Revolutionary Council of Fatah, the political faction  that dominates the Palestinian Authority, called the Israeli plan a move to "consolidate the occupation" and an effort at "judaizing" Palestinian land.

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Filed under: General •Islam •Israel •Judaism •Palestinians •Religion •United Nations •West Bank

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proud zionist   October 29th, 2010 9:02 pm ET

like they were silent when the pals burned joseph's tomb

john A cut-and-paste must be a member of their council, together with smith from oregon

John A   October 30th, 2010 12:13 am ET

"the two sites are an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law..."

Are there still some crazies out there that don't know Palestine is illegally occupied by Israel and that Israel breaks international law.

They break international law because of "The one vote against came from the United States". The United States always helps Israel break international law with its one vote at the security council.

America remains Israels partner in crime, as usual....

Marina   October 30th, 2010 4:11 am ET

Unbelievable. What is next? . The Bible – historic Islamic heritage? Or Jesus – Muslim boy from Nazareth? Enough with all this absurdity about Jerusalem. Bethlehem and Hebron should be returned back to those people who value them as Bethlehem and Hebron, not as Al-something. UNESCO should be fired tomorrow for not attending elementary schools! Anyway, those are all emotions, the real job should start fighting this cultural terror How about that: everything that existed in Palestine before Islam was born in 7Th century – has nothing to do with Islam. Fair? Who cares! Oil does not smell.

Benjamin   October 30th, 2010 7:25 am ET

What? the Palestinians burned Joseph's tomb? Was UNECO informed about this? They must have taken this seriously...

Logical   October 30th, 2010 8:45 am ET

The UN will become the United Nations for Islamic states.

Israel will be the only democratic state in the world after the Islam will conquer Europe and USA. That becasue there are idiot people all around the world, and Europe is licking for the Arabs.

There is no Palestinian state and never been. Palestine is the name given to "The country of Israel and Jeuda" by the Romans when they captured Israel and destroyed the Temple. The Palestinians are arabs who came from Egypt and Jordan because nobody want them there. If palestine will arise, Egypt will take controll of it, and then Israel will be destroyed.

After that, the arabs will say that the United States is belong them because Muhamad loved this country and you'll have to give them America and Europe.

proud zionist   October 30th, 2010 9:31 am ET

Johnny A cut-and-paste antisemite

"Palestine is illegally occupied"

What exactky are you referring to? the well known centuries old state of Palestine? with the capital city of? with the currency of?

the only law the pals have is that selling land to a Jew carries the mandatory death penalty.

but you don't see all of this. you don't see the call by the Pals to murder Jews. you don't see the explosive devices sent to Synagogues in Chicago as antisemitism.

you don't see the lynching of Israeli soldiers as wrong, or the massacre of the pregnant mother and her 5 daughters by headshots as wrong.

you are blind, ignorant and incite to murder, hate and destruction.

I wonder whether your mother can look you in the eyes?

miriam   October 30th, 2010 6:26 pm ET

Another UN body dominated by the OIC and non-aligned states, who have the ability to revise history and invent a false new reality based on myth and the erasing of Jewish heritage.

John A,

You continue to quote the UN as if their statements are actually legal and valid. Unfortunately, the body is controlled by politically motivated, non-democratic, anti-Western states that cannot agree on very much other than the delegitimization and demonization of the Jewish state and evidently Jewish heritage. It's too bad, that they are blind to the fact that by making such decisions they are in fact denying the foundations of their own religious beliefs.

Once again, under international law, there is no occupation since the territory was not controlled by an internationally recognized sovereign when captured in a defensive war and anyway, Jordan no longer has any claim to it. The territory was never part of a Palestinian state and at present is disputed between Israel and a potential Palestinian state and it is those two who need to negotiate a solution.

Since almost all Jewish heritage sites are located in the areas Palestinians claim for themselves, the Palestinians will have to come to terms with a way to acknowledge Jewish history rather than reject it and pretend it never happened.

Shimroz Khan   October 30th, 2010 8:16 pm ET

Indeed the United States is a SUPERPOWER.
This is the best example of proving this.

It is due to US's one vote which has always been with Israel, that Israel has been able to get away with endless illegal occupation of palestine, use of phosphorous in warfare, human rights abuse, harrasment of businesses in Palestine, unchallenged nuclear arms, and what not.

When will Americans wake up to the Israel's reality.

ruth   October 30th, 2010 8:41 pm ET

Yasser Arafat said that Jesus was a Palestinian freedom fighter.

Jesus was a Palestinian prophet of Islam (Source: Palestinian TV (Fatah), Apr. 21, 2009) (Palestinian Mufti, Muhammad Hussein:)
"We're talking about an ongoing chain [of prophets of Islam], from Adam to Muhammad, representing the call for monotheism and the mission of Islam… The prophets were all of the same religion [Islam]… [e.g.] Jesus was born in this land in Bethlehem… He also lived in Nazereth, moved to Jerusalem, so he was a Palestinian … We respect Jesus, we believe in him [as a prophet of Islam], just as we believe in the prophet Muhammad".

Filipe   October 30th, 2010 11:00 pm ET


pretty funny stuff !!!! Should be on the comedy channel !!!

Smith in Oregon   October 31st, 2010 5:23 am ET

Sadly the entire world knows that the Apartheid State of Israel has no respect nor do they uphold International Laws which they flaunt and break as if with utter impunity.

America at this time is a 'super power' only in name. No Super Power can exist without a significant portion of it's industrial manufacturing being in that same nation. The Zionist thralls, Republican lawmakers have outsourced and moved much of America's manufacturing to China, India, Vietnam and Cambodia greatly weakening America in the process, how ironic or was it entirely by Zionist design to do that?

SAGESISTER   October 31st, 2010 8:03 am ET

THEN .......
Give Back the Grounds & all the land where the Bet Hamikdash belongs....

Yusil   October 31st, 2010 8:58 am ET

As long as the US of A uses a veto to protect the roque state of Israel nothing will change in the ME. Israel will continue it's criminal activities and interpret International law as it sees fit.

COLIN WILSON   October 31st, 2010 11:59 am ET

the lord said,"i will sepeate the sheep fom the goats".

Reality Check   October 31st, 2010 12:52 pm ET

If the US is the only nation to vote on the basis fact and morals in that institution, why does it continue to finance it? Better to withdraw, cut off funancing and swith off the lights at UNESCO, and draw down the deficit a bit.

Jeff   October 31st, 2010 1:17 pm ET

That land has changed hands many, many times since the beginning of civilization. The Phoenecians were there first, even before the Jews 4000 years ago. Then the romans, then the Crusades happened with multiple changes of control. The point is that land belongs to whomever is currently in control of it and strong enough to keep it. That is reality. No one will ever volunteerily hand over that coveted land. It has to be taken by force. The Muslims had it for 600 years consecutively. Guess what...that's over.

In addition, in the 60 years that the Israelis have had the land they have irrigated and cultivated that desert into a habitable, beautiful land. The Jews appreciate this land like the Muslims never did. Mark Twain actually visited the land prior to it becoming Israel and he has some very pointed remarks on how horrible of a place it was.

This land needs to stay in Jewish hands for as long as possible. It is worth fighting for. Appeasing the extremists by handing over Israel would be a turning point in the extremist's fight that would only empower them to continue their savage tactics.

miriam   October 31st, 2010 1:53 pm ET

The US vote here was not a veto.

The US was just the only country brave enough to express how rediculous the resolution was.

Shame on all of those cowards who knew the proposal was rediculous but only abstained in the vote.

Ben-Yamin   October 31st, 2010 2:21 pm ET

Aaaaiii, so sweet

combinine   October 31st, 2010 2:33 pm ET

Thats all drama... as previous dramas giving Israel a chance take eyes from real issue of Palestine freedom and settlement in these area. they agree on this mosque issue and control more areas from Palestinians . Don't forget see the difference between the powerful israel taking over lands. and poor palestinians living with hunger and poverty now u decide what is wrong and what is right.
but at the same saying that truth and oil has same nature always come on the top and become obvious.

combinine   October 31st, 2010 2:39 pm ET

My israeli brothers and sisters don't be extreme in u r thought if u r good help and good religious persons so please help u r neighbors don't let them in poverty , thats obvious that u guys have enough to help them not with might but with right. come to the common terms with u have. God humanity messengers prophets monotheism and lots more so lets come together bring peace with positive not for negative if u believe in that other wise every thing will go opposite with oppression and power.

Robert   October 31st, 2010 4:41 pm ET

The reason people like John A. think it is OK to steal the Jewish homeland and heritage is because they have no respect for our nationhood. This phenomenon of Jewish nationhood denial occurs because many people fail to understand that all ancient nations had a unique religious identity that could not be separated from the underlying nationhood. But with modern nations, religion is not a national dimension, so modernists are at high risk of being prejudiced against ancient nations like the Jews.

This is a very important point, and one that needs to be discussed and disseminated both in the Jewish world and in the world at large. I do believe that one day, the vast majority of humanity will realize the historic injustice that has been and continues to be perpetrated against the Jews in the name of misguided national justice.

Filipe   October 31st, 2010 5:14 pm ET

How can something be declared a mosque if it existed before the invention of the islamic faith???

Another invention??

dreadHerb   October 31st, 2010 11:49 pm ET

Arabs didnt come from Egypt , Egypt is also a victim of Arabism but unlike Isreal, christianity left it to the mercy of arabs by branding it pagan . Its holly sights defamed and tombs opened to shame .Is there any voice that will shed a tear for this holly land of Egypt but we shall sit in patience and wait cos no man has the power to unseat God . these times will pass and an era of AMUN will arise.

Lina   November 1st, 2010 2:08 am ET

UNESCO ???? Those who voted for it should study history. It was there before Islam, shame...shame... by the way I am not Jewish. I am just a history student.

Fred   November 1st, 2010 2:10 am ET

Another UN and Mohammedans hogwash.

miriam   November 1st, 2010 12:54 pm ET


You will be pleased to hear that Israel has not allowed the Palestinians to live in poverty and hunger.

Most of them have standards of living, rights and freedoms far higher than their brethren in the rest of the Middle East.

Most problems they have can be blamed on their leadership and the international bodies who prefer to feed them propaganda and false hopes rather than truth and realistic aspirations.

Robert Tulloch   November 1st, 2010 5:40 pm ET

Islam is an affront to humanity

John A   November 1st, 2010 7:16 pm ET


Obviously you flunked history at school. But to humor you, please explain the historic boarders which divide Christian countries. After all, you think nations evolved from their religion.

Robert, please answer with your theory. It never surprises me to see how uneducated and prejudice Israeli supporters are. To support Israel and its many crimes one needs an IQ lower than the lowest level of prehistoric horse $hit.

Samuel   November 4th, 2010 9:20 am ET

The same UN that permits the two worst abusers of woman rights ,Iran
and Saudi Arabia to sit on it,s council ,give us a break ,already ?

Samuel   November 4th, 2010 9:25 am ET

When you talk about prejudiced and uneducated Israeli supporters Jonh A you need to look in your bathroom miror and see who is uneducated
and prejudiced ,yourself, as Istanbul ,previously a Crusader major capital was Constantinople ,overrun by marauding Ottomam Muslim thugs ,centuries ago ,so when does it revert back to Christian inhabitancy ,seeing that you,re a so called unprejudiced ,educated whatever ?

John A   November 4th, 2010 12:53 pm ET

While foaming at the mouth you failed to express your hatred with any lucidity. Would you like to tray again?
And this time work a little harder to make a point with sense & meaning.

Rachel Bai   November 5th, 2010 2:44 am ET

UNESCO – Undermining National Executive Sovereignty Coercive Organisation

At the 184th session of the Executive Board, an item 184 EX/37 concerning “the two
Palestinian sites of al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilâl
ibn Râbâh Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem” was introduced on the agenda upon the request
of Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic and Tunisia. The same
Member States, joined by Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Malaysia, Pakistan, Senegal,
Venezuela and Viet Nam submitted 184 EX/PX/DR.5 to the PX Commission.

Alex   November 26th, 2010 7:25 pm ET

Wonder how many days it will take before the Pals burn this one down to the ground to. Think I'm kidding? Just watch

jcpa   December 12th, 2010 12:01 pm ET

Rachel's Tomb, located some 460 meters south of Jerusalem's municipal boundary, has been identified for over 1,700 years as the grave of the Jewish matriarch Rachel. Many generations of Jews have visited the place for prayer. The depiction of Rachel's Tomb has appeared in thousands of Jewish religious books, paintings, photographs, stamps, and works of art.

Jewish caretakers managed the site from 1841 until it fell into Jordanian hands in 1948. In contravention of the armistice agreement, Jordan prevented Jews from accessing the site during all the years of its rule (1948-1967). On October 19, 2010, the anniversary of her death, some 100,000 Jews visited Rachel's Tomb.

In 1830 the Turks issued the firman that gave legal force to Rachel's Tomb being recognized as a Jewish holy site. The governor of Damascus sent a written order to the Mufti of Jerusalem to fulfill the Sultan's order: "the tomb of esteemed Rachel, the mother of our Lord Joseph...they (the Jews) are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to prevent them or oppose them (from doing) this."

Ironically, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, whose government has been described as "neo-Ottoman" in outlook, told the Saudi paper al-Watan (March 7, 2010) that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb "were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites."

If You want to read more u can go in to this link:,_a_Jewish_Holy_Place,_Was_Never_a_Mosque

grasshoope   March 4th, 2011 4:23 pm ET

It appears that sharing and reposting others’ comments is becoming a trend. You can definitely copy, repost, or email mine to anyone including lobbying senators, state representatives and any other public officials who shape our country’s foreign policies.

The main Zionist claim is that they have a supreme right to some of Palestinian territory because they lived there thousands of years ago. Let’s examine the core and real nature of this claim.

Firstly, this claim is mistaken and selfish in its core concept because Zionists fail to recognize that history is a continuum and that there were other people living in majority in Palestine before the Jews and also after the Jews. Zionists simply cut history at a convenient point for them and claim ancestral ties to the land as of that convenient point.

Secondly, whatever the claim, it is beyond absurd to try to shape modern world based on thousands of years old maps. Imagine if the rest of the world would be reshaped by who was on the land thousands of years ago. It would cause horrific wars, countless refugees, and unimaginable human suffering, exactly what is happening in Palestine.

Thirdly and most disturbing, Zionist goal was to establish a Jewish state wherever possible. Palestine may have been a preference, but Palestine was not the only location that Zionists planned as their state in modern times. Another location was Argentina where Jews have been migrating for hundreds of years for the purpose of establishing a state. Also, locations in Europe were on the list and that’s why the Catholic Church was killing/expelling Jews since Roman times (read the history of the Holly Inquisition). Whatever the location, Zionist plan was to simply occupy the people living on the land even if that would mean imposing a regime worst than Nazi Germany’s from which they escaped. And Zionists would just use a different ideological coloring than the one used in Palestine in the attempt to rationalize the occupation.

In conclusion, the main claim on which the Zionist regime is built in Palestine is erroneous, selfish, and a lie. I am categorically against generalizing, and recognize that many Jews are against the crimes the Zionist regime is committing and that many Jews are leading the global resistance to it. They should be proud.

racergal   March 4th, 2011 4:43 pm ET

The only solution for a lasting piece is absolute democratic process (that we Americans cherish so passionately) for the entire territory in question, otherwise, the peace will not last. All people who lived there without regard to religion, race, etc. should vote on how they would like their one country to be run. I favor one state solution because two states would only attempt to “legalize” Zionist occupation that will be remembered in history until it is corrected by future large scale conflicts, so no lasting peace will result.

The only issue with the fair democratic process is what to do with all manipulated Jewish people who the Zionist regime imported for decades to increase the Jewish population from around 100,000 to over 5 Million since the start of the occupation. This is obviously an attempt to unjustly manipulate any future democratic process by forcefully increasing the occupier’s population at the expense of others. Any compromise other than the absolute fair democratic process with no manipulated population will be temporary with terrible conflicts looming to correct it in the future.

The truth is that the Zionist regime will not accept any democratic process even if the manipulated Jewish population is included because it cannot exist as a democratic country as Zionists will be outvoted by all others who live there (Zionists were in an infinite minority before the occupation). The Zionist regime can only temporarily exist through the force of its arms as a one people country where only select ones can vote and where different laws apply to different people.

The world must stand up against the Zionist regime by cutting all diplomatic and economic relations with it. Many countries have already stopped all relations with the Zionist regime and others are in the process of doing the same. We Americans need to completely distance ourselves from this oppressive regime through urging our state representatives and senators to do what the rest of the world is doing.

Wallace Edward Brand   February 15th, 2012 4:39 pm ET

In 1920 the WWI Allies granted the Jews exclusive political rights to Palestine in trust until they became a majority of the population in all Palestine. This was to avoid the exercise of sovereignty by a population minority that everyone agreed would be antidemocratic. The Jews had had a plurality of population in Palestine since 1845 and a majority since 1963, but in 1917, the time of the Balfour Declaration, they had only about 10% of the population in all of Palestine. The League of Nations, that adopted the Balfour policy provided for trusts or guardianships of the peoples in the lands captured from the Ottomans in the Middle East. See the first two paragraphs of Article 22 of the League covenant. They awarded exclusive political rights in Palestine to the Jews in recognition of their historic association with Palestine. What was unsaid, was that there had been continuous presence of Jews in Palestine for 3 to 4 thousand years. They were the last surviving indigenous population of Palestine and the Philistines and the Canaanites were no longer in existence. England decided to abandon its trusteeship or guardianship in 1948 because of its great expense. Some 700,000 Arabs fled voluntarily or at the behest of the Arab Higher Executive to clear the way for invasion by the armies of surrounding states. According to Mahmoud Abbas, they told us to get out of the way, and we could come back in in a couple of weeks after they had annihilated the Jews. We got out, but they didn't get in. And we have been in refugee camps ever since.

With the mass emigration of the Arabs and the mass influx of Jews, escaping from the Holocaust or its aftermath, the Jews became a population majority in all of the area within the Armistice boundaries. It would still be a population majority if it annexed Judea and Samaria. Judea and Samaria are what the Arabs call the West Bank,likely because wouldn't it l;ook silly for them to talk about the Jews illegally occupying Judea.

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