Yisrael Medad
Analyst and commentator on political and cultural issues.

UNESCO’s Parallel Reverse Universe

UNESCO is part of the United Nations. And that means trouble for Israel.

The organisation, among other things, seeks to be involved in “Building intercultural understanding: through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity” and one of their efforts is the program “Teaching Respect for All”.  It is a

tool used to break down biases and promote dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis

They conducted a peacebuilding workshop that brought together Israeli-Jews, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in Israel, to discuss ways of overcoming prejudices and facilitate dialogue and the reaction was that the program’s materials were

…instrumental in helping both rival parties (Israelis and Palestinians) understand their psychological barriers, and overcome their deep seated mistrust, fears, victimology, stereotypes and self-defeating policies

The project is directed by Professor Alean Al-Krenawi, a prominent researcher on conflict resolution, diversity, multiculturalism, and underserved minorities in Israel and Canada as well as Professor Tawfiq Salman, the General Director of the Palestinian Neuropsychiatric Rehabilitation Center of Bethlehem.

Are you still with me?

Well, UNESCO does other things, like adopt resolutions and here is one from this week:

The foreign affairs committee at UNESCO’s executive board on Monday adopted a resolution submitted by Jordan and Palestine that reaffirms the definition of Al Aqsa Mosque as the entire sacred complex surrounding it.  The resolution, supported by the Arab and Muslim group, confirms that Bab Al Magharbeh, the largest entrance for non-Muslim visitors to Al Aqsa Mosque complex, is an indivisible part of Al Aqsa..

That “Bab” mentioned is the gate all non-Muslims enter the Mount, next to the the Western Wall Plaza (the site of another religious controversy where Jewish women arrange for a Torah scroll to be smuggled in so they can create a new status quo – when Jews are prohibited from altering another status quo above, inside the Temple Mount).  It’s part of the joint Jordanian-Palestinian Authority attempt to co-opt the external environs of the compound as per the March 2013 agreement, as Ruth Lapidot explained:-

…the new agreement [delineates Al Masjid Al Aqsa as including]…the Qibli Mosque of Al Aqsa, the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock and all its Mosques, buildings, walls, courtyards, attached areas over and beneath the ground, and the Waqf properties tied-up to Masjid Al Aqsa, to its environs or to its pilgrims (hereinafter referred to as ‘Al Haram Al Sharif’),” namely, the whole Temple Mount and even its “environs.”
In addition, the text refers to all the places that are sacred to Muslims, without specifying their names, and recalls “the special status of Jerusalem as a holy and sacred city in Islam.” This means that the entire city could be considered a Holy Place of Islam.

And as the new resolution makes clear that Israel is called upon

…to cease all excavation work and demolitions within the Old City…that exacerbate tension and conflict among the followers of various faiths…put a stop to actions disrupting reconstruction work at the site…[and] end the forced entry of Jewish extremists and armed military personnel to Al Aqsa courtyards and their assaults on Jordanian awqaf department personnel in Al Haram Al Sharif.

all of which essentially conflicts with Jordan’s international treaty commitments with Israel, which include this:


Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance…The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.

there is a contradiction in what UNESCO is now doing.

But at UNESCO, a parallel yet reverse universe exists and everything having to do with Israel is topsey-turvey.

About the Author
Yisrael Medad, currently is a Research Fellow at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem and Deputy Editor of the English Language Anthology of Jabotinsky's Writings. American-born, he and his wife made Aliyah in 1970. He resides in Shiloh since 1981. He was a member of the Betar Youth Movement World Executive and is a volunteer spokesperson for the Yesha Council. He holds a MA in Political Science from the Hebrew University and is active is many Zionist and Jewish projects and initiatives.
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