Two thousand years ago Hillel was asked to sum up Judaism while standing on one foot. He replied, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow”.
Can I explain, while standing on one foot, why peace between Israelis and Palestinians is elusive? A UNESCO resolution ratified this week provides a concise answer.
The controversial Arab-sponsored resolution ignores Jewish (and Christian) history in Jerusalem. It passed by a vote of 23 nations approving, 6 nations opposing, and 25 nations abstaining.
The resolution refers to the Western Wall and Temple Mount only by their Arabic names. The site on which both the First and Second Temples stood predates Islam by some 1700 years. The Hebrew names appear only in quotation marks.
The resolution also negates Jerusalem’s centrality to Christian faith. This is the city of the Via Delarosa, where awestruck pilgrims retrace Jesus’ path to crucifixion and affirm their belief in his resurrection. Where the many denominations, with their delicate understandings, proudly bear witness to Jerusalem as the cradle of Christianity.
The UNESCO Jerusalem resolution is an ugly (and futile) exercise in historical denial and assertion of theological hegemony.
Director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, opposed the resolution, saying: “The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city”
For this principled stance Bokova is now getting death threats.
Palestinian leaders and their international enablers are peddlers of a false narrative and a nefarious dream.
The false narrative rests on a stupendous lie, one that writes Jews out of their own history. It denies that Jews are an ancient people who originated in the land of Israel over three thousand years ago.
The false narrative crowd ignores vast historical and archaeological evidence of the Jewish people’s roots in Israel.
They are deaf to the longing of the exiled Jewish people expressed in the Psalms. They refuse to hear the hope of “next year in Jerusalem” that concludes the Passover seder.
They are incapable of seeing that Jews worldwide pray facing Jerusalem. They refuse to see Jews as native sons and daughters of this land who have come home, at last. They portray Jews as colonial interlopers that can be driven out someday. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Thus the false narrative finds expression in a nefarious dream. No more Israel, no more Jews.
This is an ongoing danger for Israel. But it is a tragedy for the Palestinians.
Palestinian leaders, and those that enable them, are blind and deaf as well to the Palestinians’ best interests. Instead of building a better future for the Palestinians, these leaders craft preposterous resolutions. Like a sugar addict who just downed an entire cake, they revel in the brief high that comes from symbolic victories based on lies.
When the high fades, the Palestinian people will not be one bit better off.
On Palestinian self-deception, Dror Ben Yemini wrote : “The addiction to lies does not change reality or solve any problems-it pushes away the chance for reconciliation or peace.”
I know Palestinians who reject these lies. They work tirelessly for the development of Palestinian society. They have made peace with the existence of the Jewish homeland. They want to create something just as wonderful for the Palestinians. Palestinian leaders’ lies and UN shenanigans make the work of reformers immeasurably harder.
Perhaps the Palestinians ‘victory’ at UNESCO will turn out to be a defeat. UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer analyzed shifts in the usual voting patterns for this resolution. Many countries that vote against Israel on these sorts of resolutions abstained this time. This is not exactly a badge of courage but it’s a start.
Change comes slowly, but change must come. The international community must stop indulging Palestinian leaders’ mendacity, giving legitimacy to lies. Until they do, peace will remain elusive and so will hopes for a better life for everyone in the region.
A situation that one can summarize, tragically, while standing on one foot.