The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will soon decide whether to honor the Palestinian application to award The Church of the Nativity the designation of a World Heritage Site—a title reserved for locations considered to have outstanding Universal Value. The World Heritage Committee is now meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, presumably to decide to whom to award the Church of the Nativity, said to be the birthplace of Christ, as well as the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem.
Here is where it gets problematic: although only applicants recognized as having an independent state are eligible for consideration, the Palestinians are being considered even though they do not meet that qualification.
This ambitious move by the Palestinian Authority [PA] started in February 2011; Palestinian Tourism Minister Khulud Daibes was explicit about the motive: “The timing is crucial for us; it is part and parcel of our plan to end the (Israeli) occupation and build the institutions of the state of Palestine.”
The drive to have the Church of the Nativity recognized as a global heritage site is nothing short of offensive. Christians have been driven out of their ancestral lands; Palestinians have shown nothing but hostility to both Christians and Jews. Moreover, Christ himself was a Jew.
Upon the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, Bethlehem had a Christian population of over 80 percent. With the rise of the Muslim population, Christians dwindled in numbers. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority took over the town in 1995, thanks to the Oslo Accords. Along with the PA, came a tribal political system which caused Bethlehem’s Christian population, already at 15%, to further sink to 2% today. Under this political system Christians are targeted, seen as inferiors, and subjected to threats, violence, discrimination and acts of terrorism.
Upon entering Bethlehem Yasser Arafat was strategic in overtaking the Christian populace. He first expanded municipal boundaries to include 30,000 Muslims living in refugee camps, as well as Muslim Bedouins who lived east of the town.
The first and second intifadas further drove Christians out of their ancestral town as they became trapped in the crossfire between the Palestinians and Israelis. The violent struggle predictably drew international attention, and created the ideal platform for Palestinian sympathizers to levy blame on the so-called Israeli “occupation.”
Israel’s so-called “occupation” and “aggression” were solely based on self defense: both the PLO and Hamas Charters call for Israel’s obliteration; Israel’s southern cities still live under nearly daily attack by hostile Arab States and forces seeking its destruction.
The Muslim aggression on the other hand is based on a conditioned, generational hatred against the Jews (and Christians) evidently determined to see the Jews of the State of Israel, a country the size of Vancouver Island, pushed into the sea, while an Islamic Caliphate is formed to rule the Middle East.
This tiny democracy, Israel, which lives by individual freedoms, equal justice under law, and respect for universal human rights, is an affront to these autocratic regimes.
In mid-June, Palestinian Media Watch identified a program in which children are being indoctrinated to hate Jews and Christians.
Given the plight of beleaguered Christians in Bethlehem, the Palestinian delegation to UNESCO still brazenly included duplicitous high praises for the Christian heritage in its application, while Islamicizing the Christian tradition: “Jesus’ role as Issa,” it stated,”the divinely inspired prophet in Islamic belief, is equally significant and underscores the sanctity of the place”; and further, that “there is no other site in the world that bears such an exceptional outstanding religious value for more than 2 billion Christians. There is only one site in the world that has the honor of being the birthplace of Jesus.”
As one step closer to the Arab vision of Palestinian statehood, the U.N. General Assembly voted to allow Palestine admission as a full member into UNESCO last October after President Mahmoud Abbas—whose PhD featured Holocaust denial– unilaterally made a case for Palestinian statehood and full U.N. membership.
Many Western nations condemned this unilateral maneuver, and protested that it would be best to allow negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to continue — yet even to begin negotiations, Palestinians should first recognize the fundamental right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, and change the contents of their charters to reflect this change. How can anyone negotiate anything with people who posit that you have no right to exist?