An Open Letter To Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Dear Madame Bokova,

The recent decision of UNESCO, of which you are Director-General, recognizing the claim of the Palestinians to Temple Mount, historic and holiest place for Jews for several thousand years, is a grave distortion of history.

Two of our holy Temples stood on that spot for two thousand years before the birth of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. The Al-Aksa mosque was built centuries later.
It is for Jews the holiest place in the world while for Muslims it is the third holiest place after Mecca and Medina.

When Jerusalem’s Old City was under Jordanian occupation from 1948-1967, not one Arab monarch or government leader ever came to pray at the Al-Aksa mosque nor to visit in Jordanian-occupied Jerusalem.

Solomon and Herod, kings of Israel, built our holy temples on Mt. Moriah, the place wherein lies the rock upon which our patriarch Abraham prepared to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice at God’s command.

When God saw Abraham’s faithfulness, He sent His angels to stop Abraham’s hand from slaying his son. As a reward for Abraham’s fidelity, God promised that the land of Canaan would be an inheritance for him and for all his generations.

That covenant is sacred to Jews and our connection to the Temple Mount has been a central part of our faith for millennia before a single Muslim’s foot ever touched the holy ground.

We are deeply disturbed at UNESCO’s recent decision to re-write history and to give formal credence to false Palestinian claims.

Madame Bokova, you are a Bulgarian and surely you know how your nation, people, king and church protected and saved the Jews of Bulgaria during the Nazi occupation in spite of the fact that Bulgaria was a Nazi ally. Jews had been living in your country for centuries and there was never anti-Semitism in Bulgaria.

We know you to be a fair-minded person, not an anti-Semite, and all the more reason for us to dispute the decision of the international body, UNESCO, which you as Director-General represent.

Permit me to share with you a story of my people.

There were once two brothers who lived in what became Jerusalem. One brother was married with children and had much wealth. The other brother was not married and was poor. Both brothers loved each other. The married brother said to his wife, “My brother is poor and alone. We are wealthy and are a family. I will bring an extra portion of the harvested wheat to my brother that he may not go hungry”.

And so, each night at darkness the married brother carried a bundle of wheat and placed it in front of his brother’s door and fled unknown into the darkness to return to his home. This practice continued for a long time.

Meanwhile, the poor brother said to himself, “I am alone and have no need to eat much. My brother is married with children and he must need more grain to feed his family”.

And so at the dark of night he made his way to his brother’s home, bearing sheaves of grain.

One night, the two brothers happened to meet one another, each on his way to the other’s home. When they realized what had happened, they embraced one another and kissed.

God saw their love and devotion to each other and He said, “On this spot where the two brothers met in love, I will build my holy temple”.

And the spot was Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount of the Jews.

Madame Bokova, I urge you to reconsider UNESCO’s recent recognition of the Jews’ holy temples as a Muslim site. Let it, if need be, be recognized as “Temple Mount of the Jews and Al-Aksa Mosque of the Muslims”. This at least will be a more fair and balanced correction of UNESCO’s very serious error.

Politics should not over-power thousands of years of religious faith, tradition and yearning.

As a humble Jew and a proud citizen of the Jewish State of Israel, I turn to you and beg you to do the right thing…re-consider UNESCO’s horrendous decision to distort history.

Jerusalem is sacred to the three monotheistic religions but is holiest to the Jewish people. It was our capitol since the time of King David since 900 B.C.E.. It is the capitol of the State of Israel. And so it will ever be.

Madame Bokova, as the Passover season approaches, I hope you will look deeply into your conscience and will succeed in convincing your UNESCO colleagues to correct a terrible mistake. We look to you in good faith to save our people’s dignity and history, just as your Bulgarian compatriots did in World War II.

May God guide you and grant your good efforts with success.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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