Fiamma Nirenstein

UNESCO’s shocking choice: the Western Wall is not a Jewish symbol

Presently, anyone who wants to vote at some UN institution on a motion to say that there exists sirens or that the Vatican has never been the seat of the papacy can do it.

It will pass. Because UNESCO, the UN’s culture and art arm, on a proposal set forth by the Palestinians and Jordanians (the first that should be a credible partner for a peace process, and the second, which have already signed a peace treaty) is about to approve a motion which denies any historical relationship between Judaism and the Temple Mount.

That is, among other things, the Western Wall, the first holy site of the Jews for centuries and centuries. Yesterday, the Assembly passed a preliminary motion: 21 nations, guess which, voted in favor of the motion, 26 abstained (again, guess which ones. But seriously almost all the Europeans? Even Italy? Yes, really), and six brave nations voted against it.

Those six are the United States, Great Britain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Germany, and Estonia. How embarrassing, what a shame that one of the most documented archaeological and historical truths, of which moreover there is clear evidence in Rome. It can be seen in the bas-relief of the Arch of Titus (who conquered the Temple), which portrays Jewish prisoners carrying the menorah with seven branches on their shoulders from that same temple which now will be called Al-Buraq, from the name of the horse that carried Muhammad to heaven.

The resolution began its process in April by tying the site solely to Muslim history. It does not matter to UNESCO if the terrorist attacks “in the name of Al Aqsa Mosque” hits dozens of victims every month. Nor the fact that terrorism’s one of the favorite activities is that of denying the Jews any connection with their history, of which its origin in Jerusalem is intertwined.

Never mind: it’s important to manipulate the international scenario with any crazy political move. In July, the resolution was formalized but the vote (the session was in Istanbul) was moved because of the failed coup in Turkey.

Irina Bokova, the director-general of UNESCO, had the decency to declare that it’s a mistake denying the relationship between the three religions and the site the UN’s anti-Semitic fever is more acute.

Thus, we have arrived at this pre-vote, and next week to the final vote. Thirty-nine members of the U.S. Congress, in a bipartisan group, have urged UNESCO to oppose this crazy initiative, but given that Rachel’s Tomb and the Hebron synagogue, where the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried, have been declared Muslim heritage, there’s reason to expect the worst.

If you want to consult a document that will tell you the entire truth about the Temple Mount, there is a 1924 brochure prepared by WAQF, the Islamic authorities, who, actually, with great pride says that there is no doubt that the site of Solomon’s Temple was that of Herod (not the killer of children, the father). But there are countless records.

One doesn’t need to be a historian to know that Jerusalem and the Jews belong to each other, and that in the Bible the Mount site is the place of Isaac’s sacrifice (Mount Moriah), then King David’s conquest (and here there is a lot of archaeological proof), then Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 632 by Nebuchadnezzar, then Herod’s Temple, and that even Jesus Christ, as a good Jew, went on a pilgrimage there in order to preach to the merchants who bought and sold there. One can still see their stone shops and the stairs that Jesus Christ climbed as a child.

Furthermore, the remains of the City of David, along with Tacitus and Flavius Josephus’ writings that testify to the fall of the temple, are famously known. We know well that the Muslim reference to Jerusalem as a holy city is hardly noted: a line in the Koran for Mohammed’s flight to the Masjiid al Aqsa, the “distant mosque” when no mosque yet existed since Mohammed died in 632 and it was built in 705.

UNESCO’s resolution leaves you speechless and makes us sad, as well as leads us to think that we live in a moment in which anti-Semitism still triumphs.
Through this all the Jews will continue to go on forever and ever to Jerusalem as their home town, to touch their Western Wall of the Temple of Jerusalem, and will weep. Everybody should weep now: this latest resolution by UNESCO is a form of destruction similar to that of Palmyra, or haven’t we noticed?

Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal


This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (October 14, 2016)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.
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