Who does really try to change the status quo?

This time, after their umptieth attempt at erasing the millenary ties of the Jewish people with its most certified and indispenable origins in the Land of Israel, the Palestinians had to withdraw the motion they presented to UNESCO to transform the Western Wall as an “integral part of the Al Aqsa Mosque”. Yes, exactly.

They had planned to adjoin the Jews’ most important sacred monument, a symbol of their attachment to Jerusalem, to an Islamic territory . No small thing, mind you. It would have been the symbolical takeover of the Jews’ holiest site, a cultural and moral aggression of the worst kind.

It would also have been a very smart move, considering that until now the UN’s education and culture agency has always been most complacent with its votes. But this time, with the Western Wall they went too far. At the last moment the motion was corrected when it was rejected even by countries such as Russia, Cuba and China, that habitually back up the terrible cultural offensive that designates the Palestinians as legitimate heirs of the area’s tradition.

The motion, however, with 26 votes in favour, 5 against and 23 abstentions, has assigned to the Palestinians two other very important sites of Jewish tradition. The first is Rachel’s Tomb, a small, simple but touching monument on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Rachel is one of the four mothers of Israel, and the house that is her tomb is all the more coveted by the Jews because, according to tradition, any woman desiring to have a child must visit it in pilgrimage.

The second historical and religious offense committed by UNESCO is the alienation of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where for thousands of years the Jews have celebrated the memory of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – what could be more biblical? In addition to these two imaginative assignments, the motion contains a series of accusations aimed at the Jewish State based on lies and claims and aimed at stopping the hands of Israeli archeologists and restoration experts.

They are accused of carrying out excavations and works of all kinds in Jerusalem, as if Israel had no right to operate within the Ancient City, when everyone knows that during the works done according to the Waqf, the excavating machines swept away tons of findings that could have helped in describing the history of the Temples of Jerusalem, of Salomon and of Herod, namely the Hebrew heritage described a thousand times in the ancient texts and that was acknowledged in bygone times by the very same Waqf.

The State of Israel has indignantly objected to the UNESCO resolution, arguing that “the aim of the resolution is to transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious war” and that the committee “has joined the arsonists that have set fire to one of the most sensitive areas of humanity”.

Even the director general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, warned that such an extreme position would have “incited further tensions”, but the fire brigade has managed to put out only a part of the flames that could lead to disaster. Indeed, the more the Palestinians can rejoice because the Jews are denied even the right to visit, and in small numbers, the most holy of places, the Temple Mount, the more they will be encouraged to continue their negation strategy regarding the history of Jerusalem. Netanyahu has anyhow declared that “the deep Jewish ties to the holy sites of Jerusalem and its surroundings (referring to Jerusalem and Hebron, editor’s note) are undeniable, and no decision by UNESCO can change them”.

The failure of the unbelievable petition to annexe the Western Wall to an Islamic site is a measure of who is attempting to subvert the status quo, i.e. of those who deny the legitimate relationship between the Jews and the State of Israel.

The Western Wall, built 800 years before the Mosques in order to contain the embankment of the Second Temple, is not merely an audacious construction of pinkish stones. It is God’s PO box, into the crevices of which, as they cry and pray before it, Jews as well as non-Jews from all over the world stick prayer notes asking for miraculous healings, impossible love, bread, peace…

Memorable was Pope Wojtyla as with a trembling hand he stuck his note into a crevice of the Wall. Equally memorable are the sobs of the Jewish crowds as they gather at the Temple to commemorate on the Tisha B’Av the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D..

Every Jew in the world, from New York to Rome today, yesterday in their shtetls as well as in the concentration camps, dreamed of touching those stones. It’s barbaric to try to transform Jewish history into a land of conquest. It is paramount to the Islamic extremists’ destruction of Palmyra.



This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (October 23, 2015)

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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