Thus said the Lord: A cry is heard in Ramah— Wailing, bitter weeping— Rachel weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, who are gone. Thus said the Lord: Restrain your voice from weeping, Your eyes from shedding tears; For there is a reward for your labor —declares the Lord: They shall return from the enemy’s land. And there is hope for your future —declares theLord Your children shall return to their country. (Jeremiah 31:15-17)
Last week the UNESCO Executive Board adopted resolutions stating that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are both “an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
These resolutions weren’t the first UNESCO’s action against these Jewish heritage sites. In July 2017 UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee declared that the old city of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs were endangered “Palestinian” heritage sites. A 2010, report by the organization branded the Tomb of Rachel a mosque.
A strategy of the Palestinians in their ultimate goal of taking over the entirety of Israel is to deny Jewish ties to the land. They do this by taking over and destroying Jewish Holy sites. It is why they’ve used the UN to target the Temple Mount, the Cave of the Patriarchs, Rachel’s Tomb, and other places holy to the Jewish people.
Approximately 38 centuries ago, Abraham, our forefather purchased a cave in Hebron to bury his beloved wife, Sarah. It was the first piece of land officially owned by what would become the Jews. According to the Torah (Genesis chapter 23 verses 1-20), Abraham overpaid for the land so there would never be a doubt that he owned it fair and square (I guess God didn’t tell him about Antisemitism and the UN).
Eventually, Abraham’s son Isaac and his wife Rebekah, Jacob and one of his wives Leah, and according to Midrash, Esau’s head joined Sarah in the cave. He was beheaded when trying to prevent Jacob from being buried in the cave. “With a mighty blow of his sword, Jacobs’s grandson Chushim severed Esau’s head, which rolled into the Cave of Machpelah and came to rest in Isaac’s lap, where it remains to this day. Thus it came to pass that Esau’s head lies in the bosom of Isaac.” The Jews had owned land in the city of Hebron from that sale of the cave to Abraham and were the majority of the population until a Shabbos morning in 1929 when Arabs massacred 67 Jewish men, women, and children under the watchful eyes of the British who were supposed to keep the peace.
Rachel’s Tomb has a special meaning to the Jewish people, as it says explained in Jeremiah Rachel is seen as the mother crying for the spiritual and physical return of all Jews and elicits a promise from HaShem that they will return one day. Jews have visited the site for generations, coming to pray, request and plead to Mother Rachel to intercede with God to help them.
As explained by the JCPOA:
“On December 1, 1995, Bethlehem, with the exception of the enclave of the tomb, passed under the full control of the Palestinian Authority. Rachel’s Tomb is now an outpost marking Jerusalem’s southern border. It has been massively fortified and Jews can only reach it in bulletproof vehicles under military supervision.”
“In 2000, after hundreds of years of recognizing the site as Rachel’s Tomb, Muslims began calling it the “Bilal ibn Rabah mosque.” Members of the Wakf used the name first in 1996, but it has since entered the national Palestinian discourse. Bilal ibn Rabah was an Ethiopian known in Islamic history as a slave who served in the house of the prophet Muhammad as the first muezzin (the individual who calls the faithful to prayer five times a day). When Muhammad died, ibn Rabah went to fight the Muslim wars in Syria, was killed in 642 CE, and buried in either Aleppo or Damascus. The Palestinian Authority claimed that according to Islamic tradition, it was Muslim conquerors who named the mosque erected at Rachel’s Tomb after Bilal ibn Rabah.”
That new Palestinian claim ignores accepted Muslim tradition. Even the Ottomans issued decrees saying Rachel’s Tomb was Jewish. In August 1830 the governor of Damascus sent the written order below to the Mufti of Jerusalem to fulfill the Sultan’s order.
“This is our order to you: (the following matter) was submitted to us by the subject of our order, the sage representative of honored Jerusalem’s Jewry and his translator that 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….It turned out that at this holy site, they have been visiting since ancient times, without any person preventing them or trespassing on their property and they (have it) as was their custom. In accordance with the respected judgment, I order that our commandment be issued to you so you will treat them accordingly without addition or without subtraction, without hindrance and without opposition to them by anyone in any way whatsoever.”
When Muslims deny the heritage of Rachel’s Tomb, they deny their faith, just as Christians who deny its Jewish History deny their faith as chapter two of the Gospel of Matthew, quotes the verses of Jeremiah referenced at the top of this piece.
At the end of 2017 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that Israel would be leaving UNESCO at the end of 2018 because of its anti-Israel bias,
As they do every year, at the end of last month the leaders of the world gathered at the UN to make speeches to the General Assembly. Trying to lure Israel into staying in UNESCO, the organization held a conference on Antisemitism and invited the PM to attend.
Not only did Netanyahu refuse to attend but he gave them the criticism they deserved, issuing a statement that said in part
“Since 2009, UNESCO has adopted 71 resolutions against Israel and only two resolutions that protect all other countries together Antisemitism once discriminated against and defamed the Jewish people. Today it distinguishes against and defames the Jewish state. If UNESCO wants to erase this mark, the organization should do more than just host a conference on Antisemitism , and it must stop being anti-Semitic.”
UNESCO, indeed the entire UN denies the history and traditions of the Jewish people. No other faith suffers the same treatment by the world body. By rejecting the Jewishness of the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s tomb the UN, as well as every nation on the UNESCO Executive board that voted for the resolution, wasn’t being anti-Israel, they were anti-Semitic.