Palestinian officials are openly talking about using UNESCO to prohibit Jews from worshipping at Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Religious freedom in the Holy Land’s always a hot media topic during the Christmas season, and Karl Vick of Time got himself a scoop sure to raise red flags:
There’s not much about the site that’s in doubt, including what Palestinian officials aim to do with the property if they get control of it — stop Jews from praying there.
The stated reason: The massive stone structure built atop the cave by King Herod, a Jew, and held for a time by Christian Crusaders, has since the 14th century been a Muslim house of worship. The Ibrahimi Mosque has minarets, rugs, washrooms for ablutions and anterooms lined with racks for storing shoes.
“It’s a mosque!” says Khaled Osaily, the mayor of Hebron. “You don’t have to be an architect to see it! Will you allow me to pray in a synagogue or a church?”
. . .
So why frame the World Heritage application as a bid to restrict the use of a religious site, when the only practical effect will be to create bad feelings? For the same reason Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, in his September speech to the U.N. General Assembly, evoked the the Holy Land by name-checking Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed but said nothing about the Jews: In a word, spite.
I have to credit the mayor: At least he’s honest enough to say Jewish ties to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will get absolutely no sanction, and that UNESCO will enable this.
(Image via Wikimedia Commons/Ooman)