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      UNESCO Erases Israeli Protests from Rachel's Tomb Protocol

      Netanyahu attacks UNESCO decision to recognize Rachel’s Tomb as a mosque as an “absurd” attempt to “detach Nation of Israel from its heritage.”

      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 11/1/2010, 10:52 AM / Last Update: 11/1/2010, 12:18 PM

      Israel news photo

      “The attempt to detach the Nation of Israel from its heritage is absurd,” a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office asserts, in response to the UNESCO decision to recognize Rachel’s Tomb as a mosque and criticize Israel's inclusion of the Machpelah Cave as a "national heritage site."

      “If the nearly 4,000-year-old burial sites of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish Nation – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah – are not part of its culture and tradition, then what is a national cultural site?” the statement asked rhetorically.

      On Oct. 21, UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – resolved that "Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel's Tomb [is] 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." 

      Rachel's Tomb, located less than a kilometer south of the Jerusalem municipal border, has been recognized for more than 1,700 years as the tomb of Matriarch Rachel. Only ten years ago, some Muslims began calling it the "Bilal ibn Rabah mosque" as well. However, no Muslims have been known to pray there throughout the 43 years of Israeli control of the site.

      “It is sad,” the PM’s office stated, “that an organization that was established for the  purpose of promoting the legacy of historic sites around the world tries, for political reasons, to uproot the ties between the People of Israel and their legacy. The State of Israel, as opposed to our neighbors, will continue to maintain freedom of worship for all religions in these sites.”

      UNESCO Erases Israeli Protests from Protocol
      INN has learned that UNESCO erased from the protocol at which the resolution was voted on the remarks of protestation by Israeli representative Nimrod Barkan. UNESCO claimed that his words were “too aggressive.”

      Barkan said afterwards, “The decision is politically slanted, and UNESCO is making a mockery of itself.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a similar statement.

      When Did it Ever Become Moslem?
      Even the UNESCO decision itself could barely explain the Moslem connection with Rachel’s Tomb. In an explanatory note to the proposed resolution, prepared by seven Arab states, the holy site is called “the Tomb of Rachel, home to the historic Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque.” But nowhere in the 11-paragraph document is it explained how or when the site came to be Moslem.

      In fact, Rachel’s Tomb was venerated as such by Moslems for centuries, and up to only a few years ago, official Palestinian Authority publications never referred to the "Bilal bin Rabah Mosque.”  Nadav Shragai notes that a publication called “Palestine, the Holy Land,” published by the Palestinian Council for Development and Rehabilitation, with an introduction by Yasser Arafat, simply says that "at the northwest entrance to [Bethlehem] lies the tomb of the matriarch Rachel, who died while giving life to Benjamin."