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Desecration of Joseph’s Tomb Prompts Protest by Jewish Official

March 3, 2003
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has petitioned a U.N. agency “to vigorously protest the barbaric desecration of Joseph’s Tomb” by West Bank Palestinians.

Shimon Samuels, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Paris office, wrote a letter of protest after a group of Jewish chaplains found last month that the site “is now destroyed, the building cracked open with hammers, a huge hole in its dome, and the grave littered with trash and car parts.”

In a letter to Francesco Bandarin, director of the U.N. World Heritage Committee, Samuels also wrote, “Palestinian claims that Joseph’s Tomb is also sacred to them have been vividly discredited.”

Samuels noted that “In October 2000, under the pretext of the intifada that had been launched a few days earlier, Palestinian violence willfully desecrated the tomb of the biblical patriarch in the vicinity of Nablus. The compound was set on fire and sacred Hebrew texts were burned.”

Samuels also wrote to the committee, which serves as UNESCO’s watchdog for the protection of the world’s cultural sites and historic monuments, “We would have expected global expressions of outrage had Islamic or Christian sites been deliberately vandalized.”

Recalling that the committee had condemned the destruction by the Taliban of two giant Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, Samuels concluded, “We would expect a similar condemnation of this new crime against cultural heritage.”

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