Danny Danon

A whole new level of absurdity: UNESCO and the obsession with Israel

The recent UNESCO decisions to rewrite history shattered previous records for irrationality. UNESCO and its members passed resolutions recognizing a history where there is a Jerusalem without a Jewish people. Jerusalem without the Jewish people is like water without oxygen. It simply is not possible.

UNESCO was founded to celebrate the richness and diversity of cultures and heritages in our world. Instead, it has abandoned this seemingly noble calling for another mission: to ignore and rewrite the holy and undeniable connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. What other people or nation has underdone the ridiculous questioning of their history and heritage by UNESCO nonetheless in the past year? The answer is obviously none.

The very notion of questioning and rewriting other people’s history is at odds with UNESCO’s stated goal to “build intercultural understanding through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity.” When the eternal capital, not only of a state, but also of an entire people, is questioned and deemed illegitimate, there is no understanding; only bigotry. When the rights of a more than three-thousand-year-old people, not only to their city, but to their history as well, are overturned and deemed a farce, there is no ground for cultural diversity; only politically motivated anti-Israel slander.

As with so many of the United Nations’ bodies, organizations and committees, Israel has become such a target of criticism that even its ancient foundational stones are now called into question for the crime of merely existing as a sliver of religious tolerance and as a sliver of Jewish life in a Middle East tens of thousands of times the size of Jerusalem and Israel itself.

Ironically, this abhorrent UNESCO resolution highlights the basic values of acceptance and diversity that are found on the ground and celebrated by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike throughout the Old City of Jerusalem. As a Jewish people, we respect, and celebrate the richness of the other cultures whose history is also tied to our soil — and we teach our children to do the same.

If our diverse population can celebrate, and coexist in our holy city, why can’t UNESCO do the same? What pressures are forcing UNESCO to forgo its charter and join the chorus of anti-Israel operatives throughout the United Nations who openly want to see Israel wiped off the map?

The most troubling aspect of these resolutions is that they lead some members of the United Nations to wonder why even have a Jewish state at all if there is no connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. This is a dangerous path upon which the UNESCO resolutions are leading us, and additional resolutions that erase and rewrite our history as a Jewish people can be expected to follow.

Clearly UNESCO, as with many UN organizations before it, has traded in its dignity and values for politically motivated slander against not only the Jewish State, but also against our deeply rooted history as Jewish people in Jerusalem, our eternal undivided capital. This is unacceptable. This will not stand.

We will forever remain the chosen people as millions of Jews pray daily facing Jerusalem and facing the ancient stones and telling the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel. Written by our King David almost three thousand years ago, and uttered by the Jewish people as we were exiled from Jerusalem following the destruction of our Temple, the following ancient words are recited as new Jewish stories are born anew under the huppah canopy at each and every Jewish wedding: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.”

Today, we have a united Jerusalem, a Jewish state and, most importantly, a place to rightfully call home as our past and future mold into one strong and sovereign nation, the State of Israel. This will never change.

No other nation and no other people have been made to defend their legitimacy as a people, nation and state. In reality, some facts are as clear as water: Jerusalem and the Jewish people are tied together in an unbreakable bond forged by thousands of years of history and of longing. This bond cannot be broken nor even slightly weakened. Not by UNESCO and the malicious intent that lies beneath such resolutions against us.

Danny Danon is Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

About the Author
Ambassador Danny Danon served as Israel's 17th Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He is currently Chairman of the World Likud, and a candidate for the Knesset, running with the Likud party.