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The Roman Catholic Church hailed UNESCO’s decision to grant the world heritage status to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. According to the Vatican authorities, the UN decision is a “diplomatic victory” for the Palestinian Authority. Last Friday, the United Nations approved the Palestinian bid to place Jesus’ birthplace on its list of sites of World Heritage in danger. Israel called the decision “absurd” and “a sad day.”
The Palestinian agenda at UNESCO is the de-Judaization of the land of Israel by Islamicizing the holy sites. Oras Hamdan Taha, the Palestinian minister who deals with antiquities and gets funds from UNESCO, made clear, “it’s writing or rewriting the history of Palestine.” Less known is that the Vatican institutions are collaborating with the Palestinian autocracy.
The Vatican already declared its support of waving a Palestinian flag over the Temple Mount in the heart of ancient Jerusalem. Next in line is Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem, Judaism’s third most holy site, which for millennia has served as a place of longing, pilgrimage and prayer for the Jewish people. In 1996, Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority began referring to the site as the “Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque,” and this is how UNESCO shamefully listed it in 2010.
Many Catholic groups worldwide already embraced the Palestinian myth. Pax Christi, one of the most famous Catholic organizations, on its website, repeatedly calls the Jewish site a “mosque.” Then there is the Bethlehem University of the Holy Land, the only Vatican-run educational institution in the area and whose founding can be traced back to the visit of Pope Paul VI in the holy land in 1964. The Catholic University recently launched a project about the Rachel’s Tomb. The document calls it “a historical religious site for followers of Christianity and Islam,” whose location is “on Palestinian lands.” The Vatican institution seems to ignore that all of Rachel’s Tomb belongs to Area C, which the Oslo Accords gave to Israeli jurisdiction. The very title of the Catholic project, “Rachel: An Alien in her Hometown,” suggests that the tomb is a spot hijacked by the Israelis. The tomb, the Catholic report says, “is also known by Muslims as the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque.” According to the Vatican university, the Jewish shrines are Arab treasures stolen by the Zionists and the Israelis are no more than invading colonizers.
A few months ago, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, welcomed enthusiastically the agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah, despite both the PLO and Hamas covenants’ call for the use of violence against the Jews. Last September, Patriarch Twal, named by Pope Benedict XVI, was at the White House for a meeting with the American administration — as well as for the purpose to support the PA statehood bid at the UN.
Last January eight Catholic bishops from Europe and North America, including UK Archbishop Patrick Kelly and French Archbishop Michel Dubost, visited Gaza under Hamas control. “I asked prisoners in the largest prison in Europe (in Evry) to pray for you,” Dubost told Gazans. The inference is clear: Palestinians are living in a big prison terrified by Israel. In the same period, Father Manuel Musalam, head of Gaza’s Catholics, met with Hamas leader, Mahmoud al Zahar, and declared that “Christians are not threatened by Muslims” but that everyone faces the same problem, that of Israel’s “humiliation.”
A few weeks earlier, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales offered the Palestinians another piece of powerful propaganda: the comparison with Jesus’ passion. “We are to be freshly attentive to the needs of those who, like Jesus himself, are displaced and in discomfort,” Archbishop Vincent Nichols said during his last Christmas Mass sermon at Westminster Cathedral. “A shadow falls particularly heavily on the town of Bethlehem tonight … We pray for them tonight” It would have been more in keeping with Nicholas’ mission to mention hundreds of Christians losing their lives to Islamic terrorism and oppressed by Palestinian dictatorship.
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