Question: Rabbi and Peggy, what were you doing at UNESCO Headquarters in New York?
Answer: We were representing over 120,000 responders To Protect Our Heritage’s Petition regarding Arab efforts to deny that The Cave of Machpelah ie. The Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Tomb of Rachel are Jewish Heritage sites contrary to designation by UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization].
It became evident by the outpouring of emotion and the huge response, that To Protect Our Heritage was not “A voice calling in the wilderness.” People from every walk of life, from every continent, from every religious group were moved to lend their support for our efforts to point out the injustice of the Arab efforts to revise history. The Bible, in the very first book, Genesis, tells how Abraham purchased The Cave of Machpelah from Ephron, The Hittite, for 400 shekels of silver [Gen 23]. Similarly Genesis 35 records the death, burial and memorial to Rachel near Beth-Lehem. Certainly fairness recognizes the Biblical record as preceding the rise of Islam by 1500 years…or more. Thus raising the question of why the Arabs wanted to deny the Jewish identity of such ancient sacred sites?
Our alarm over the Arab efforts to deny the Jewish relation to these two holy sites was occasioned by Arab efforts to succeed Jews, yes super-succeed-to replace Jewish claims to our historic identity and ancient roots in Israel with claims of their own. This is not the first attempt to overturn Jewish claims to ancient ties to the Holy land. The excavations within the Old City of Jerusalem and in uncovering the extent of the walls of the Holy Temple incited riots and deaths by Arabs seeking to advance their own claims to the Holy Land by erasing those of the Jewish People.
The Arab efforts to deny the Jewish identity to The Cave of Machpelah and the Tomb of Rachel have emboldened the same parties to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian State by the UN General Assembly.
And so To Protect Our Heritage PAC, true to our name, sought to protest, arouse public opinion, and seek justice for our Heritage from UNESCO.
We met the Head of UNESCO in New York, explained who we are, the reason for our appearance, and the volume of protests world over from Jew and non-Jew. UNESCO Commissioner Philippe Kridelka was most receptive. He recognized the depth of our feelings. And he explained that while it is true that the vote on the Arab attempt was 44 for, 12 abstaining and America opposing. The results meant that the attempt did not become enforced because unanimity was necessary to establish such a policy. Furthermore, he was grateful for ordinary citizens taking note of UNESCO’s deliberations and urged our continued vigilance.
Now we are working with Congresswoman Shelley Berkley [D] of Nevada and Congressman Robert Dold [R] of Illinois to present the second set of petitions to Congress for their attention. This is important because Congress holds the purse strings and the US is the major funder of UN operations. Our efforts will help To Protect Our Heritage.