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Tomb of the Prophet Nahum
MKs turn to UNESCO to save prophet's tomb
The Prophet Nahum's tomb is located on the border between Kurdish controlled territory and territory controlled by the central Baghdad government, and is under threat from ISIS; Israeli MKs have turned to UNSCO to try and get help saving this and other Jewish heritage sites in Arab and Muslim countries.
It's no secret that the situation facing Jewish heritage sites in the Arab world is dire, especially in light of the absence of stable leadership in many of these countries, neglect, and never ending wars.

 

 

In Iraq, the majority of the ancient Hebrew egravings in Ezekiel's tomb have been destroyed. In 2014, ISIS blew up Jonah's tomb in Mosul.

 

Now, the prophet Nahum's tomb in the town of Alqosh in northern Iraq is under threat. However, it's not under threat by ISIS – at least, not directly.

 

The crumbling 2,700 year old tomb of the Prophet Nahum (Photo: Shardar)
The crumbling 2,700 year old tomb of the Prophet Nahum (Photo: Shardar)

The tomb lies on the border between the Baghdad government's area of control and the Kurdish Regional Government's territory.

 

There is a real danger of the tomb collapsing due to neglect, as the site lies in an area on the border where responsibility and sovereignty is undefined. Along with this, it is clear that ISIS's control over parts of northern Iraq – especially over the nearby city of Mosul – have exacerbated the worry over the existence of the tomb.

 

Hebrew inscription in the tomb of Prophet Nahum (Photo: Shardar)
Hebrew inscription in the tomb of Prophet Nahum (Photo: Shardar)

Knesset Members across the spectrum turn to UNSCO

The courtyard of the 2,700 year old tomb is decrepit and full of boulders. The ancient walls are beginning to buckle, and the ancient Hebrew engravings on the walls are falling off and fading.

 

The tomb of the Prophet Nahum – who wrote the Book of Nahum, prophesying the fall of the fall of the Assyrian empire – was kept and protected by the Jews who lived in Kurdistan until they left and made Aliyah to Israel in the 1950's and 1960's. The local people who remained then took responsibility over preserving the tomb.

 

The crumbling 2,700 year old tomb of the Prophet Nahum (Photo: Shardar)
The crumbling 2,700 year old tomb of the Prophet Nahum (Photo: Shardar)

 

Now, the only people taking care of the dilapidated site is an Assyrian-Christian family who do it at their own initiative. They were recently contacted by MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) who established a lobby to preserve and care for Jewish heritage sites in Arab and Islamic countries.

 

After receiving pictures detailing the poor condition of the site, MK Svetlova, along with several other MKs, went to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with a letter asking them to help preserve this and other Jewish heritage sites.

 

The crumbling 2,700 year old tomb of the Prophet Nahum (Photo: Shardar)
The crumbling 2,700 year old tomb of the Prophet Nahum (Photo: Shardar)

 

"We heard worrying news about the fate of the site recently, which, as we know, is in a region of geopolitical and economic turmoil," the letter read. It continued, asking UNESCO "to work in every way possible to protect the site and mitigate damage to it, and to bring it up the next time you discuss protecting ancient sites in your council."

 

"We need to save what we can"

The MKS also turned to the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, and asked them to get involved in the issue. If the UNESCO request doesn’t bear fruit, then the MKs will turn to other Jewish organizations who deal with the issue of Middle Easter Jewry.

 

"We are talking about the birthplace of the Jewish prophets," said MK Svetlova. "We need to save what we can, especially the Tomb of Nahum, which isn't in a conflict area."

 

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