How the UN is advancing an anti-Israel agenda, more than 70 years after the Holocaust
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I’m on a Holocaust and Jewish history tour in Germany and Poland. I seek to better understand the planning and execution of the Holocaust seven decades ago. I seek to better understand the machinery of state execution and psychology of mass murder.

What was unexpected on this trip was the United Nations through UNESCO marching into Krakow, a mere 40 miles from Auschwitz, to erase Jewish memory in Israel.

Krakow is a city that at the start of the Second World War had a Jewish community that numbered at 70,000, and which had existed since the 13th century. By the end of the war, there were almost none. About 55,000 were deported at the start of the war, first to the Polish countryside and eventually to their deaths in nearby concentration camps. The Ghetto established in Krakow in March 1941 was one of the most horrific to be seen throughout the war, one which featured nine forced-labor camps and was perpetually marked by squalor, disease and starvation.

After the implementation of the Final Solution in early 1942, the Nazis would run three deportations, amounting to approximately 15,000 Jews, to the Belzec death camp, from which none would emerge alive. By 1943, Himmler would order the liquidation of the Ghetto, an order the SS hastily carried out with the mass shooting of 2,000 Jews in Krakow itself on March 13, 1943, with another 2,500 being sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

After the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the Nazis decided to murder virtually all remaining workers at Krakow’s labor camps. Between September and December 1943, SS guards brutally murdered up to 9 thousand prisoners in the city of Krakow. By then, there were none left to kill.

Given this history, you would think that the United Nations would think twice before using this city as a venue for an assault against the Jewish People and Israel.

On July 2, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is set to vote on a motion that will strip any Jewish claims and connections to the ancient city of Hebron, making it instead a “Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger.

 

They’ve done this before.

This past May, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee passed a motion on Israel’s birthday marking Jerusalem a world heritage site but without any connection to the Jewish people, which would be comical if it weren’t tragic. Well, actually there was one connection. The Jewish state, they claim, was actually compromising the integrity of the Holy City. The motion noted with the U.N.’s classic anti-Israel rancor that there was a need to “confront the dangers posed by the illegal practices of Israel, the occupying power … that threaten the cultural and historical integrity of these invaluable sites. 

Hmmm.

Not being satisfied with going only after Jerusalem, the U.N. now sets its sights on Hebron.

The unbreakable Jewish connection to Hebron is undeniable and unassailable. Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible, and is the world’s oldest Jewish community. Hebron was actually the first part of Israel ever owned by a Jew.

As the Bible relates in Genesis 23, the patriarch Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah as a burial place for his family. All of the Jewish forefathers and mothers are buried there until this very day, in a site marked by a massive mausoleum built by the Jewish king Herod in the first century BCE. It is considered the second holiest Jewish site on earth after the Temple Mount.

Hebron was also the political capital of the Jewish people under King David before his conquest of Jerusalem, and it was in that city that he was anointed king over all of Israel (II Samuel 5:1-3) and reigned for seven years. Even after the Babylonians destroyed the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE, Jews continued to live in Hebron (Nehemiah 11:25), which was later incorporated into the Jewish-Hasmonean kingdom under John Hyrcanus.

According to Josephus, extensive battles took place in Hebron during the Great Revolt from 66-70 AD (Josephus 4:529, 554). Jews, however, continued to live in Hebron even after that revolt and the one that followed in 132 AD. The remains of a synagogue dating to the Byzantine period has been recently unearthed in Hebron, signifying a Jewish presence in the city even after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Despite forced expulsions of the Jews by the Crusaders in 1100 and the Ottoman Turks in 1517, the Jews of Hebron kept on coming back. By 1838, there was a community of 700 Jews in Hebron. After a pogrom in 1929 that saw the slaughter of 67 Jews in Hebron, the Jews would leave the city fearing for their lives. Following Israel’s recapture of the city in 1967, however, the Jews would once again return.

That an ancient Jewish capital mentioned extensively throughout the Hebrew bible, containing the bodies of our nation’s founders and having had a continuous Jewish presence for nearly 3,000 years, could possibly be listed as a Palestinian heritage site is par for the course for a world body that has distinguished itself with its anti-Israel bigotry. That this decision to rob the Jews of one of their holiest cities, however, could be made 40 miles from Auschwitz is an affront to decency.

I will be in Krakow over Shabbat to speak at the annual Polish-Jewish festival and on Sunday will join Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich for a press conference at mid-day to address the Hebron UNESCO issue. Stay tuned.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, "America's Rabbi," whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international bestselling author of 30 books including his most recent “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley


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