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Holocaust survivors urge Polish FM: Stop UNESCO Hebron vote

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July 4, 2017

12 survivors born in Poland and now live in Israel send letter to Polish government, which is hosting the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting, calling on them to prevent vote on resolution to declare the Cave of the Patriarchs as a Palestinian World Heritage Site.

A group of 12 Holocaust survivors, who were born in Poland and now live in Israel, have sent an urgent letter to the Polish foreign minister, asking him to call on his government to thwart the UNESCO resolution seeking to declare Hebron’s Old City as a Palestinian World Heritage Site.

Poland will host the 41st gathering of the World Heritage Committee in Kraków this week. During the gathering, the committee is expected to vote on the Palestinian draft resolution that would recognize the Cave of the Patriarchs—where the Biblical fathers and mothers of the Jewish nation are buried according to tradition—as a Muslim site.A similar UNESCO resolution passed in 2015 recognizing Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as a Muslim site under the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority, while ignoring Jewish claims to the site. That resolution was followed by protests and strong condemnations from the State of Israel and the Jewish community worldwide.

Shurat HaDin, a legal NGO accompanying the survivors in their plea to Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, described the move at the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a “pitiful resolution that creates a Palestinian narrative that is a complete lie.”

Shurat HaDin founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner went on to say, “If this decision passes, it would be another desecration of the memory of the millions of Jews murdered on Polish soil, and I expect the government of Poland to prevent the vote.”

“UNESCO is an anti-Semitic body working to erase the people of Israel’s historical ties with their homeland and to promote a false Palestinian narrative,” Darshan-Leitner added. “Hundreds of Jewish cemeteries in Poland were desecrated and destroyed during the Holocaust. We’re asking the Polish government not to take part in desecrating another grave in Hebron.”

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has sent a letter to UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova, urging her to oppose the resolution.

“The Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to all three faiths, is under no immediate threat,” Haley stated. “Such a designation risks undermining the seriousness such an assessment by UNESCO should have.”

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, praised Haley’s letter. “Nikki Haley’s letter speaks for itself about the absurdity of persecuting the Jewish state in all international arenas, and particularly in UNESCO. Unfortunately, there is not yet a new American ambassador appointed for UNESCO, and if only we had an ambassador here at our side with Haley’s determination and courage, the battle conditions would have been different.”

Shama-Hacohen went on to assert that “Nikki Haley’s comments should have been obvious and be said by all nations of the free world, but most of them prefer to remain silent and roll their eyes, despite the fact this time the persecution of the Jewish state is done a short drive away from the most horrible and sensitive place to every Jew and to every person who hasn’t lost his humanity.”