UNESCO Hebron motion important to all faiths

An Israeli soldier walks past Ibrahimi Mosque, which Jews call the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the West Bank city of Hebron July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RTX3AJ9Z

Article by Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist, a media activist and a columnist for Palestine Pulse. He is a former Ferris Professor of journalism at Princeton University and is currently the director-general of Community Media Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region

UNESCO’s July 7 decision to name the old city of Hebron a World Heritage site in danger has been reassuring to many faithful believers around the world. By classifying the old city of Hebron as a world heritage site, despite Israeli protests, UNESCO confirms that the city’s heritage is much bigger than disputes between Palestinians and Jews.

The UNESCO decision used the English word Hebron and the Arabic word for the city, Al-Khalil. Al-Khalil means companion, a reference to the biblical words that called Abraham God’s companion. Safeguarding such a holy place should be a goal of members of all faiths. Palestinians argue that attempts at monopolizing such sites to one faith or using religion as an instrument of political power is not a helpful move.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “delusional” and said that “this time they determined that the Cave of the Machpela (Patriarchs) is Palestinian, meaning it is not Jewish.” Netanyahu may be inferring that designation based on the committee’s decision to accept the request from the “state of Palestine.” (UNESCO is one of the only international bodies to recognize Palestine as a state).

Israel had blocked a UNESCO delegation from visiting Hebron late last month.
Read more in Al Monitor