If you are a Jew who cares about Israel, unless you have been living under a rock, you know by now that UNESCO, had by an anti-Israel resolution, attempted to delegitimize Israel’s connection to Judaism’s holiest site, Har Habayit, the Temple Mount.
What is UNESCO? How did the resolution come about? What does it mean? Was there more to it than the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? And should anyone care?
UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the words, “Building peace in the minds of men and women” are prominently displayed on its website. The agency, an autonomous organization incorporated within the United Nations, was created in 1945 and has 195 member nations and 10 associate members. (The UN itself has 193 member states and two non-member observer states: the Holy See (the papal diocese in Rome) and the non-state “State of Palestine.”)
The “Introducing UNESCO” page of the organization’s website says, “UNESCO was created in order to respond to the firm belief of nations, forged by two world wars in less than a generation, that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace. Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.”
Naturally, anything peace-related associated with the United Nations has nothing to do with morality or intellect. Or with humanity, for that matter. Think corruption and hypocrisy.
UNESCO wastes its time and budget moralizing about education, culture, social sciences and other things, and its cultural designations include such things as World Heritage Sites, a list of landmarks having a unique significance.
On October 13, UNESCO’s executive board consisting of 58 member states voted on a committee stage resolution entitled Item 25: OCCUPIED PALESTINE submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan as follows: It was supported by Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam. Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States voted against the resolution. The others (26) abstained or were absent for the vote (2).
What infuriated Israel and its supporters, and rightly so, is that the resolution only referred to the plateau area within the Old City of Jerusalem by its Muslim name, “Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif,” leaving “Temple Mount” off the label, not even referencing the words “Temple Mount” anywhere within the resolution text. This in effect, delegitimizes Judaism’s connection to what makes Jerusalem and Israel itself so important to Jews, and Christians as well, around the world.
The day after the resolution was drafted, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova released a statement criticizing the body’s vote for its not recognizing the importance of the name, Har Habayit, or Temple Mount and she said among other things, “When these divisions carry over into UNESCO, an Organization dedicated to dialogue and peace, they prevent us from carrying out our mission. UNESCO’s responsibility is to foster this spirit of tolerance and respect for history…”
Also, on October 14, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, through a spokesman at a press briefing repudiated the resolution by saying, “The Al Aqsa Mosque/Al‑Haram al‑Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit — or Temple Mount — whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, a few steps away from the Saint Sepulchre church and the Mount of Olives, which is revered by Christians.”
By the way, the Western Wall is not Judaism’s holiest place, the Temple Mount is, and Jews also revere the Mount of Olives, the location having begun as a Jewish cemetery over 3,000 years ago. No surprise a UN secretary-general is ignorant of history.
The resolution was adopted by consensus on October 18 with 25 member states in favor, six against, and 25 abstaining. This was done without the previous support of Mexico, which changed its position and decided to abstain after its UNESCO ambassador walked out of the proceedings rather than vote as his country directed. Andres Roemer, a Jew, could not in good conscience cast his country’s vote, and considered resigning. Mexico saved him the trouble by firing him instead. Brazil which voted in favor expressed reservations.
Not as publicly known, but another outrageous insult is that the resolution refers to the Western Wall area, where Jews have been praying for over 2,000 years as, get this, the ‘Al-Buraq Plaza “Western Wall Plaza,”’ please note the resolution drafters’ quotes. Also, the resolution calls Israel “the occupying Power” [sic] even in regard to the Western Wall area!
So the Western Wall, once known as the Wailing Wall because of the heartfelt prayers made there by countless Jews over the generations, recognized the world over as Jewish even by definition, has no genuine connection to Judaism according to the hateful resolution drafters and their supporters! And its status must be confusing to the spineless abstaining member states.
The resolution didn’t stop there. It criticized Israel in several ways over Gaza, such as “including the killing and injury of thousands of Palestinian civilians,” never once mentioning why Israel has had to confront the terrorist enclave, and it criticizes Israel over its actions regarding the “Al-Haram Al Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs In Al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabaḥ Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.” The resolution at least recognized the religious significance for Jews and Christians of those two sites, but calls them Palestinian.
Endeavoring to convince the world that Israel has no historical claim to Jerusalem and other parts of biblical Israel, the Palestinians, Muslim countries and sundry anti-Semitic groups have over the years done their best to try and disassociate the Jewish people from their holy sites such as the Temple Mount, no matter what the bible says about the Jewish connection to that location – even before David planned the First Temple there, his son Solomon built it, and returning Jewish exiles from Persia built the Second Temple, later remodeled by Herod the Great.
Archeological evidence unearthed nearly every day proves these facts.
Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, went to the mount to sacrifice his son Isaac over 2,000 years before Muhammad was born. And in that most famous of history books, the Bible, Abraham was given this place and all of Israel for his future Israelite generations, and for eternity.
So does any of this matter? Who cares if yet another impotent United Nations mouthpiece condemns Israel and attempts to delegitimize Jewish history, even that related to its most holiest place for several millennia?
It does matter and we should care.
At a time when a US president bends over backward to satisfy Israel-haters, “correcting” the transcript of his speech at an Israeli president’s memorial service by striking out the word “Israel” from “Jerusalem, Israel,” at a time when more and more countries and misguided individuals and groups boycott, not just Israeli products, but academia and entertainment as well, at a time when anti-Semitism is rampant and increasing all over the planet, at a time when Israelis and Jews worldwide suffer attacks and murders at the hands of Islamic radical terrorists who welcome such resolutions, all people of good will must continue to fight anti-Semitism, which includes attempts at delegitimizing Jewish connections to Jewish sites.
Although the biased, hateful resolution was adopted, the outcry it generated exposed the moral bankruptcy of a United Nations institution along with its member states, it highlighted the ways Israel-bashers try to change history to reinforce their dangerous desires, and it forced some countries to come to terms with how it should fairly treat the Jewish State.
In the end, the resolution delegitimized itself.