There is a great deal of truth in the allegation that Israel’s claim to the Cave of Machpelah and Rachel’s Tomb as national heritage sites has a political dimension to it. However, that is only half the story.
The other half is about Palestinian assertions, that have only
surfaced over the past decade, that Rachel’s Tomb is, in fact, a mosque.
Given the background of Palestinian attempts to delegitimize Jewish
historical claims regarding Israel, including Yassir Arafat’s observation
that there was never a Temple in Jerusalem, it is clear that we also need to
be cautious of Palestinian efforts to hijack our heritage.
While Israel may be playing politics, the assertion that the UNESCO petition seeks to deny Moslem authenticity seems to me to be overly generous to the Palestinians.
Let’s be fair. They are just as eager to claim these holy sites, which were originally
Jewish, as their own in precisely the same way as Umayyad Caliphs
commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock
on the site where King Solomon’s Temple stood.